In ‘Vino,’ Macon actress Preston enjoys a glass of truth

pramati@macon.comJanuary 20, 2014 

Bernard White and Carrie Preston star in a scene from “Vino Veritas.”

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What happens when two couples drink an exotic Peruvian wine that forces them to tell the truth?

Perhaps the ultimate game of “Truth or Consequences.”

That’s the premise for Macon actress Carrie Preston’s new comedy/drama “Vino Veritas,” which debuted last week through Video On Demand and iTunes.

Based originally on a play by screenwriter David MacGregor, “Vino Veritas” shows how two long-term marriages are affected when spouses drink from the special wine on Halloween night. When the four protagonists -- played by Preston, Heather Raffo, Brian Hutchinson and Bernard White -- find themselves telling the truth no matter what the consequences, they are forced to re-examine their lives -- and relationships.

Preston plays Claire, the seemingly perfect housewife (to a physician) who tries to hide her growing frustration with her marriage. Preston provides some of the movie’s funniest moments, including an unusual analysis of Winnie the Pooh.

“I looked at the script and I was really taken with it,” said Preston, who added that director Sarah Knight contacted her through friends to read the script. “Once I read the Winnie the Pooh speech, I thought I had to do something with that.”

Preston spends nearly the entire movie dressed as Queen Elizabeth I. The 30-pound gown was a punishing choice of costume, given that the movie was shot during a July heat wave in Lincoln, Neb.

“They had these huge industrial air conditioners with these tubes,” Preston said. “Between takes, we would stick our heads in the tubes. I stuck one of them up my dress.”

Preston said one of the reasons she enjoyed making the film was that she hasn’t had the chance to perform on stage in eight years. Given that the entire movie takes place within a single home, she said she felt like she was returning to her stage roots.

“I got to get my theater fix and my independent film fix at the same time.”

“Vino Veritas” has played at 10 different film festivals across the country, and it won Best Comedy at the Wine Country Film Festival in Kenwood, Calif., in September. Because of the changing way that independent films are being distributed, Preston said the film won’t be making it to any movie screens, but it is available to anyone for download.

“There’s not a business model anymore for releasing independent movies on screens,” said Preston, noting that most cities outside of places like New York and Los Angeles don’t have art-house theaters any more. “Now movies are being watched at home on hand-held devices. It’s the best way to get the film out to the rest of the world. ... It’s a style that’s much more suited to the rest of the country.”

Preston has just begun filming the final season of the HBO vampire series “True Blood.” Unlike some TV productions in which details of the final season are kept under wraps by producers, Preston said showrunner Brian Buckner has been transparent with the cast on what the final season will cover.

“He’s given us an idea to the general place it’s going,” she said. “I really appreciate that. But it also makes it harder to not want to share it -- I don’t want to spoil it for everyone.”

Preston compared the first table read for the show to the senior year of high school, a mix of sadness and excitement.

“I think we’re all very aware of it,” she said. “We’re making sure we’re not taking anything for granted.”

If there’s a downside to Preston’s work on “True Blood,” it’s that she won’t be making any guest appearances on “The Good Wife,” for which she won an Emmy last year, or “Person of Interest,” which stars her husband, actor Michael Emerson. Preston said she did film one episode of “The Good Wife” just before the holidays, and it should air in the next few weeks.

She’s also still trying to raise funds for “Your Ass is Grass,” a movie in which she’s set to star in and produce.

Meanwhile, she’s in postproduction for the web series “Darwin: The Series,” which she directed. It can be found on the SnagFilms website, www.snagfilms.com.

“It’s really great learning about that world,” she said. “The future is here. It’s a meeting between cable and the Internet.”

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

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