Sperl receives actress, filmmaker awards
For her new short film “Caroline”
LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles actor, director, guitarist, and model with New Ulm roots received more movie awards this week.
Natalie Denise Sperl, the daughter of Arlene and Dennis Sperl of New Ulm, received the lead actress and female filmmaker awards for her short film “Caroline” from Best Shorts Competition, an awards competition for short film, television, videography, and new media.
In addition, her film is a Los Angles Film Awards and Top Shorts Film Festival semifinalist.
Sperl said she can be seen in the film at 3 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 25 at the City of Angels Women’s Film Festival, a three-day festival showcasing extraordinary films made by women in LA and globally.
She described what drove her to create the fill.
“It was based on a few influences of mine — Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’ starring Tippi Hedron (of New Ulm) and Roman Polanski’s ‘Repulsion’ starring Catherine Denueve who played
Carol. There is a bit of director George Romero influence there as well,” Natalie said.
Sperl said she shot the entire film during a quarantine lockdown.
“It was initially part of the Roger Corman Quarantine Film Festival,” said Natalie. “It had to be shot entirely on cell phone, where you were quarantined, and could not be more than two minutes. The length restriction was a challenge for me. Every shot had to be strategically thought out. I had to tell my story fast.”
Sperl said she went to the grocery store and bought a single chicken wing. Everything else in the film was already her’s, making the total film cost $2.35, the cost of the chicken.
In addition to the earlier awards, she received an award for Best Cell Phone Media at the Best Shorts Fest.
“Judging is ongoing. I hope to get the film out there more. I already have a sequel planned,” said Sperl.
So far the film has been accepted as an official selection in the City of Angels Women’s Film Festival, The Los Angeles Film Awards, The Berlin Short Film Festiva, The International Hollywood Short Film Festival, and the LA Indie Horror Fest.
This year the festival honors Peter Bogdanovich with an Angel Award for his extraordinary work as a director and for creating unforgettable female actors throughout his directing career.
An Esquire magazine cover girl and former Coors Light Girl, starring with Kid Rock in a Coors Light Super Bowl commercial, Sperl was a high fashion runway model in Europe before landing several magazine covers and moving to Los Angeles.
Music is another one of her strengths.
Natalie is a singer-songwriter and the front woman of the band Kill My Coquette, an LA punk rock and roll band that also performs pop, alternative rock, punk and glam rock, ska, new wave, heavy, glam, and alternative metal.
The group performed at Whiskey a Go Go in West Hollywood, which was the launching pad for The Doors, The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Steppenwolf, Van Halen, and many other bands.
Sperl’s film start came quite by chance.
Several years ago, she met movie director Marcia Kimpton flying home from a Rolling Stones concern and felt a strong urge to meet her. The women talked and Sperl learned they had much in common.
“I told her I’d love to collaborate in any capacity on her next project ‘Bardo Blues,'” said Sperl.
Natalie was cast as Elizabeth, the lead’s girlfriend who, after hearing of the main character’s booking a flight to Thailand on her dime so he can find his estranged mother, fighting his haunting past by seeking solace, understanding the truth about his mother who abandoned him, and his own reason for existing.
Kimpton said the multicultural film was a semi-autobiographical story about her artist brother’s struggle with mental illness.
The film won a number of awards including Best Thriller/Mystery, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Ensemble Cast and Best Cinematographer. Sperl received a Best Supporting Actress Award from the 2018 Flicks Film Festival.
Natalie said she considered her best supporting actress award in “Bardo Blues” the result of her persistence paying off.
“Don’t ever give up on your dreams, ever,” Sperl said.
She played Greta Garbo in “Mank”, a film nominated for six Golden Globe Awards.
The black and white biographical drama about screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz and his development of the screenplay for Citizen Kane (1941) was released in a number of U.S. theaters Nov. 20, 2020. It streamed worldwide on Netflix Dec. 4, 2020.
Sperl later released a new musical single “CAGE,” mastered by Nathaniel Sperl at Zeller Productions in New Ulm.
“‘CAGE’ is an auto-biographical trip down memory lane for me leaving small town Minnesota for the big city to make it big,” Sperl said. “All the world is a stage. I’m breaking out of my cage.”
Natalie appeared in the movie “Around the World in 80 Days” and television shows “CSI: Miami” and “How I Met Your Mother,” among others.
For more information on the City of Angels Women’s Film Festival, visit https://bit.ly.coawff.2021invitation.
Music from her band Kill My Coquette can be heard at www.killmycoquette.com.
(Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@