Published on September 2nd, 2014 | by Edwin Millheim
On The Set of the Horror Thriller “Sanctuary”
(All photos copyright 2010-2011 Nice Wonder Films unless otherwise noted some Photos courtesy of Dan Reid set photographer and is copyright Dan Reid and used with permission. We also have some screen captures right from the film! With some exclusive first looks at the Demon’s in the film)
Update: This film is right at this time getting additional scenes filmed as of this month August/Sept 2014.
Horror, action, suspense, comedy and so many sub –genre combined creates many different entertaining results. The film process from screenplay, script, to audition often takes a small army. From hiring actors to film, crew from so many different departments all combining together to create a cinematic vision. The stress of filming and keeping things on schedule, combined with unexpected events such as an actor or actress suddenly having an illness can set things back and make the stress high on set. While the right film crew and dynamics can make the whole process much easier, some egos can cause the process to be a living hell. When it all clicks for the collective vision of the finished product, it shows on screen.
My time on the film set of “Sanctuary” was a mixed bag; sometimes, it was nice and easy. Sometimes it was difficult, more often than not due to dropped communication concerning scheduling it was a stressful time. Night shoots are perhaps the hardest in my opinion. The cast and crew where incredibly resilient in their efforts and professionalism, even when everyone was dog tired.
As most will attest though, to any production, the crew and actors over time, form almost a family because you spend so much time together. These where great people to work with and I would work with them on another project, just because they are on it, that would sell it to me.
After working with stage combat for over 20 years, I was surprised at almost dropping the ball. Most of my students where 100 miles from production, so I could not get any one very quickly to come on set. The flub was due to scheduling, and my surprising lack of foresight.
(Above: Reid Nicewonder on left goes over an action scene with Edwin Millheim on right with Blake Logan in Back ground)
Long before production even started, it was explained, I wanted to be on set for my part as fight/stunt coordinator. Here was my schedule when I am available, assurances where made and there had been some times that it was not followed through. Along the line for one evening of filming, I had to use one of my students to watch over some of the stunts. All went well thankfully, since I did find out a few days ahead that scheduling had to change due to production needs.
It just goes to show that when being a part of such a massive undertaking, it is best to be flexible. With all my years of experience, I never considered having an assistant ready to be back up as needed. On film or any production, there may be times that the staff and talent have to be fluid and ready to go into a different schedule to get things done because of something unexpected. One may argue that part of pre-production is getting the schedule down, and getting everything in a row…stuff happens.
The actors and actresses I had worked with over and over in rehearsal on the fights and stunts, all did spectacular work at delivering intense performances…while keeping with my safety directions on how to deliver the fights. It was a true pleasure to work on a film again rather than a live show. I do enjoy both, and either one has its challenges. During a live show, you get one shot at making it right. With film, you can tweak things and reshoot if needed. However, you have to be ready to get it in one or two takes so as not to waste time. In film especially, time is money.
Who influenced me over time concerning stunts and stage combat? Growing up I really enjoyed Bennie Dobbins work. The guy did everything from western style horse stunts, to high falls and car stunts and of course what I specialize in, action and fight sequences. He worked from the 1950’s on to the late 1980’s some of his action set pieces are just iconic. Bennie was stunt coordinator for such films as 48 hours and Commando. The other influence for me is Jackie Chan in making a scene more than what it is, using unexpected things to make it more interesting…I use that philosophy more on the live action stage combat shows I do, sometimes in film as well. Over the years, I have learned so much from people that have become dear friends and teachers.
Such folks as Roy Cox, way- back when I was younger he was my first experience working under a stunt coordinator, Later Patrick Johnson, I learned a lot from Pat. Such as not just doing the fight or action, but also bringing character out in the action sequences.
Then also, my dear friend Dean Chandler Bowden, Dean and I worked up through the years doing many live shows, I think he was like 15 or 16 when he first did a fight on the human combat chessboard at a live show. Over the years, Dean also became a stunt coordinator/director and I learned from him a lot about being more patient with things I had no control over, rather than bluster and be frustrated. I will never forget that. Dean is wonderful to work with; he is a spectacular fight coordinator. From his theatre and film background, he sees the big picture and brings it all into focus in the performers.
Speaking of character, Gary Conner is another friend and is spectacular when it comes to interactive comedy. I wish I could do half of what he does off the top of his head with improv acting. He is a true force of nature when it comes to improv acting.
Now for my time working on this Horror film “Sanctuary”, I had such a great time. Who would not want to work on a Horror film? A well designed and presented horror film plays on those deep dark hidden fears in the human psychology, evoking a visceral response at a particularly well done shocking finale.
Speaking to the very talented writer, Josh Ingle.
Impulse Gamer: Can this be considered Reaper 2.0?
Josh Ingle: No way. I love Reaper, and will finish it as soon as school lightens up, but I made Reaper at a much earlier stage in my filmmaking education. The final Reaper product will look like an extremely good amateur film. Sanctuary will look completely professional. At most, Sanctuary is a spiritual successor to Reaper, since both are suspense films set in a fictional universe, taking place almost exclusively at night. It’s a subgenre in which I like to write.
Impulse Gamer: On set, there had been times you were a whirlwind of rewrites, is there a point at which the process ends and what is on the page is on the page? When is that for you?
Josh Ingle: Different screenwriters deal with this issue in different ways. But for me, nothing is final until it’s on the screen. On bigger Hollywood productions, last minute script changes could have severe financial and logistical repercussions. They still can on a smaller budget, but if you can rewrite something without those repercussions, and it will make the film better, there’s no reason not to do the rewrites, even if you’re filming the scene the very next day.
Impulse Gamer: When did you start the script for “Sanctuary”?
Josh Ingle: We’d been talking about the idea for years, but I finally wrote a script in April 2010, just three months before we started shooting. Needless to say, I did nothing else for those three months besides polishing the script.
(Above: Josh Ingle in center goes over the script with Actor Fedor Steer on Left and Director Reid Nicewonder on the right)
Impulse Gamer: Was it a tough sell to get Reid Nicewonder to do this film? What did you do to present it?
Josh Ingle: I got the idea for Sanctuary in 2007 (a year after we finished Reaper). The story was really rough, but I spent a few hours one night telling it to Reid, who liked it. We were busy with Generation Why, so we shelved the idea, and were ready to pick it back up in 2010.
Impulse Gamer: What was it like seeing the characters come to life from your pages?
Josh Ingle: That’s always the best part. Seeing Blake, or Fedor, or anyone else in makeup and wardrobe for the first time. It’s an honor for something that began in your imagination to be fully realized on screen – not many people get that opportunity. I’m extremely fortunate, and thankful.
Impulse Gamer: You have directed as well as acted, and screenplay writing is in the mix too, what do you like about each? What do like least about each?
Josh Ingle: Writing is nearest to my heart. I love creating fictional worlds and characters which examine elements of the real world in unique ways. Writing is probably the most difficult, because you can keep writing forever and never know when it’s good enough to put into production. I’m a perfectionist, so at some point I have to convince myself its good enough. (Or I run into a time deadline, which is usually the case.)
Directing is the most rewarding, but it’s also the most stressful. Directors are under so much more pressure than anyone realizes.
Acting is the most fun. It can be very intense, depending on the role, but I think it’s very freeing, especially compared to directing. You can get completely out of your head, and have some fun. It’s difficult to find actors who will both take their work seriously, and not beat themselves up over it. There’s a comfortable median between relaxation and professionalism when it comes to acting. The only downside of acting is that you never know what quality of project you’ll end up on. You could go through this strenuous audition process and wind up being directed by some hack who has no clue what he’s doing. I tend to stick with writing and directing because of that factor, but when the opportunity comes along to act in a good project, I jump at the chance.
Impulse Gamer: You had been very easy to present ideas to regarding scenes. The film process is very collaborative, from writer, director, camera director, actors/actresses, stunt coordinator…do you think this process brings out the best in the film, and why?
(Above: Screen play/Script Writer Josh Ingle)
Josh Ingle: Collaboration absolutely brings out the best in any film. When ego gets involved, it invariably leads to a breakdown of trust, and the film suffers for it. We certainly had some difficulties on Sanctuary, but overall we had a good thing going. I know a lot of us are planning to work together again.
Impulse Gamer: When it came to the action, the Stunt Coordinator suggested even ramping the action towards brutal in a certain scene involving a rape. A touchy subject no matter how you present it. Some people felt uneasy about it, you backed the coordinator up. The scene was intense and closed set during its filming. Tell us about that scene.
Josh Ingle: Sanctuary is rated R, and it explores some mature themes. You don’t want to go too over the top, or you risk alienating your audience, but on the other hand, you don’t what to have X character just blabbing about how he just raped someone. That would be bad exposition. Rape is terrible when it occurs in reality, but in fiction, you have to get away from that disgust, and ask yourself what is best for the story you’re trying to tell. If that involves a scene depicting the beginnings of a rape, it would be self-censorship to not go for it. You just have to be sure to get other people on board who have similar sentiments.
Impulse Gamer: What was your favorite moment during filming?
Josh Ingle: For all the cool action, cinematography, and underwater shooting that took place, my favorite moment happened during the first night of reshoots. So much had gone wrong, and for a while, we were not even sure, if we could finish the film, then things seemed to go okay during that first night of reshoots. We all hugged and caught up with each other, and the scene scheduled for that night was this scene in which the two leads play piano together. Since Michael could not play piano, Marco – our director of photography, who is quite proficient at piano – served as Michael’s hand double. Therefore, John Heppe was at the camera, and Reid said action, and we watched and listened as Marco and Allie sat side by side, playing this deep, dark piano duet, written by Paul Stoughton. The music washed over everyone in the room, and we were like statues mesmerized by this surreal beauty which was suddenly in front of us. When Marco and Allie finished, we all looked at each other in awe. It was a small moment compared with the rest of the production, but it really brought us back together after our two-month break. After that scene, there was a feeling that everything was back as it should be, and we were definitely going to finish the film.
Impulse Gamer: Thank you Josh…
Reid Nicewonder directed the film, and he has an easygoing style. Anyone doing any kind of directing work knows that acting in film is demanding in a technical way. Sometimes for an actor, also the least rewarding in regards to the process, in film they often shoot out of sequence and may even shoot an ending first. Imagine having to give just as much as an emotional performance even though, they may not have even seen or acted the scenes leading up to it.
While in theatre or a live show, there is one steady flow from scene to scene. Let me tell you, on the film set before the actors and or stunt folks get up and even before the camera start shooting, there is a lot of waiting around while the crew gets things like lighting just right for the shot. So, it is very different than a live show. The result of good lighting and spectacular cinematography cannot be stressed enough, and the people working camera and lighting where good at what they did. Marco Cordero director of photography was behind the camera for the film shoot. Marco is a study of calm and masterful mind of a cinematographer. Measuring the lighting and the angles and knowing his shots either ahead of time or on the fly when a technical shot needed to be figured out right at the moment before cameras started.
I got the chance to interview several people from the production staff, and even the actors of “Sanctuary” for this article, first up the very talented Director Reid Nicewonder of Nicewonder Films.
Impulse Gamer: What is your favorite part of making a movie?
Reid Nicewonder : Beginning when I was around nine years old, I found it fascinating to shoot video with my Dad’s camera. This interest eventually led to filmmaking as a hobby. Now after graduating from film school, I hope to make it my career. As for my favorite part about making a movie, they say a movie gets made three times – in pre-production, production, and post-production. I would have to say my favorite is production. During this time, everything planned for gets set into motion and the movie comes to life. Your cast and crew come together and the cameras roll. Every day I get to satisfy my fascination.
Impulse Gamer: What was your most embarrassing moment, ever?
Reid Nicewonder : This happened back in late 2009. I was on a set for a friend of mine’s capstone shoot working as a steadicam operator. The action was two men run out of a building down a street. One man chasing the other, I would be in front of them both shooting the action backwards as I ran forwards. I’d done this type of thing many times before. Even on the day, this happened around the sixth take. What happened had to run faster and faster on each successive take, I managed to fall flat on my face while filming the shot with thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment going down with me. I came out of it with just a few scrapes, but I broke the DP’s brand new monitor which was rigged next to the camera (we didn’t have the right cables to use the Steadicam’s monitor). In other words, it was bad. I now hate cobbled stone roads.
(Above: Director Reid Nicewonder setting up a shot )
Impulse Gamer: You had a diverse crew (Assistant Director, Sound Mixer, Gaffer, Director of Photography, Stunt Coordinator, Production Designer, Wardrobe, and Makeup) on this film. Tell us how you decided on each individual and why.
Reid Nicewonder: For the most part, I chose my crew because I already knew them. I had worked with them before so I knew they could do their jobs well before they even started. This was the reason for our DP, assistant director, gaffer, and stunt coordinator. The rest we found through recommendations.
Impulse Gamer: What do you love most about filmmaking?
Reid Nicewonder: I love working with the people. Film is a collaborative art form. Just making something with others and being a part of something greater than your self is really fulfilling. Directing this film is the hardest thing I have ever done but it never felt like work.
Impulse Gamer: What do you not like about filmmaking?
Reid Nicewonder: I do not care for the business side of things. Funding and selling are just stressful. Marketing is not too bad.
ImpulseGamer: You have a very reserved laid-back style on set. Have you ever lost that calm working on a project? What caused it?
(Above: Director Reid Nicewonder on right going over a scene with Actor Michael Andrew Scott)
Reid Nicewonder: Not yet, no. No matter what, it is only a movie. I do not know what it would take to make me upset.
Impulse Gamer: What attracted you to “Sanctuary”?
Reid Nicewonder: In late 2009 my roommate Josh, the writer of Sanctuary, simply asked what kind of movie I would make if I could. I said without hesitation, “A horror movie.” He excitedly responded “Really?” ”Me too!” We had both never done anything like that. We were eager for the challenge, drama is cool and all, but genre movies are just so much fun.
Impulse Gamer: What was your most memorable moment during filming?
Reid Nicewonder: My most memorable moment was during the night we we’re shooting out in the front of our main high-rise location. It involved a character finally seeing the danger that surrounds her. There was some action during the shot; many wind effects, some lighting gags. It was intense. We decided to roll on the first practice take and when we did, I will never forget it. I was uncontrollably smiling the entire time. The shot looked amazing.
Impulse Gamer: When are we going to get to see the finished Movie?
Reid Nicewonder: The movie will be finished by the fall of 2011 this year. I hope that you will see it in festivals soon after that, ultimately online by 2012. (We know it’s now 2014 and new scenes are being filmed.)
Next, I spoke with Addison Bryan the producer for the film….
Impulse Gamer: How did you get started in film work?
Addison Bryan: I would like to say that my love for film did not begin in the cliché’ way, but it did. I always had a camera in my hand and was always making short films with my best friend in the neighborhood. I did not think I could harness that into something productive until my 2nd year at USF where I was studying engineering at the time. Staying home for college was essential to save money and USF did not offer a film program, not did I think my family would be too supportive if I pursued it somewhere else. I found UCF’s program online and took a leap of faith, telling them that this is where I wanted to transfer too, and film is where I wanted to be. They supported every step of the way and I was on my way to Orlando. Many students just get their education in the classroom, get good grades and move on, but I wanted to make an impact and get connections so I tried working on as many student projects as I could. Moved from production assistant, up the ranks, met many great people and the rest is history.
Impulse Gamer: You wore many hats on the production of “Sanctuary” what was the hardest part and why?
Addison Bryan: Being the person that EVERYONE came to for his or her answers took a lot of getting used to. I am used to following directions and getting the job done, but playing the role of the “answer man” producer was extremely difficult and I learned more on one set than I will in the rest of my days in the film industry. I felt as if I should never let anyone down in that position, but it is just not possible and so I gained a lot of confidence after the first go around, so when it came to the re-shoots I was much more prepared.
Impulse Gamer: It seems you are a multi-talented person. You even recorded some of the sound while filming. How important is it for a filmmaker to have knowledge in so many aspects in filming and why?
Addison Bryan: The knowledge to understand what your crew needs and how they are feeling is essential to run a positive and productive set. The more experience you have in the different fields of filmmaking, the better. If you need to take over someone’s job, or you need to provide guidance, you have the confidence that you are giving them the right information to get the job done, as if you were doing it yourself.
Impulse Gamer: How did you get involved with “Sanctuary” and why did you choose to do this project?
Addison Bryan: Reid and Josh (director and writer) both came to me with this idea and we had a round table discussion about what each of our respective jobs would entail, along with developing the idea into something concrete. I wanted to do this project because the three of us had always discussed the possibility of creating a feature film on top of the web series that we have done.
We all thought it would be an adventure and we knew it would be tough, but with our experience, we could pull it through and be proud of such an accomplishment. The project was very ambitious and not the typical film college students would even touch as their first movie but we jumped in headfirst and it turned out to be a landmark, life-changing moment.
Impulse Gamer: Being film students and in school still, it is said that film students don’t do such large projects, while still in class. How difficult was the project? Would you do anything different?
Addison Bryan: Film school was definitely looking out for us, but I think everyone needs to have an experience like this, to open their eyes. Everyone I talked to on set said they too learned more on this set than they have on any previous films, whether it was good or bad. There are definitely things I would have done differently looking back on it and many of the changes are common sense that I just never thought would be a factor. For our web series, Generation Why, we were used to 4 hour days, working on one episode and the cast and crew comes over, we shoot it and everyone goes home.
This was 30 straight days of intense 7pm-7am night shoots, away from home, and everyone living in cramped quarters because of limited funding. Any philosophies we had for our series would have to eventually fly out the window and we would just hold on for the ride. We had the most amazing and resilient cast and crew that anyone could ask for, so when had our hand forced to operate a specific way, they rolled with the changes brilliantly and I cannot thank them enough for that.
Impulse Gamer: How has filmmaking changed in the past ten years?
Addison Bryan: With the development of affordable personal cameras and YouTube, it is now possible for anyone that has an idea, to shoot it, edit it and put it out there without having to contact a studio for major funding or distribution.
One of the motivations for going to UCF was the notion that the creators of “The Blair Witch Project” attended UCF and with their education, they were able to pull off the most profitable film ever (at the time) with a camera, some actors, crewmembers and an extremely low budget. That is something we needed to apply to this film and for future films until we can get some solid ground under our feet and with all of the recent developments in the indie film world, we are living proof that it is possible. Independent film is rising dramatically and it could not have come at a better time for us.
(Above: Addison Bryan doubling up as Sound Man, and Edwin Millheim Action Stunt fight Coordinator Just before an action scene involving a car)
Impulse Gamer: Some say that the art of filmmaking has suffered with technology, losing the character story telling. What do you think and why?
Addison Bryan: I actually believe the contrary. I think with new technological developments, filmmakers are able to expand in the ways they tell a story and are able to do that with CGI and special effects. However, there are many that do not take this route and unfortunately, some of these big blockbusters are the only ones that are seen, because of name recognition incessant marketing. Technology can always be for the greater good of film, if it is used appropriately while enhancing the product rather than being the reason why the film was made.
Impulse Gamer: What was your favorite part about working on the project “Sanctuary”?
Addison Bryan: Of course, I have many favorite moments throughout the shoot, but I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed casting. Watching our film come alive through the voices and actions of people we did not even know, was amazing. All of these actors took time out of their day to come audition for us, some from hundreds of miles away and we are thankful for such a deep talent pool from which to choose. These were actors that the audience would relate to. The fact that we could instill full faith that they would tell our story in their own special way was awesome.
Impulse Gamer: What is next for you?
Addison Bryan: The three creators have been working on Josh’s thesis, 15 Minutes of Faye, for the MFA program at UCF and we will be set to shoot in July. We will be able to take all that we learned from Sanctuary and apply it to his film, and since it is allot less complicated, that should make for a great experience. Reid and myself are also hoping to be in LA late this year to “take the film world by storm,” so they say and make the best out of any opportunities we can get our hands on.
Now I also got the chance to get some interview time with the screen talent.
Me being the stunt/fight coordinator I had no idea what I was going to get in the screen talent… in terms of, not only physical abilities…but also the ability to follow direction so the scene would not only look good, but be safe also. After all, as I said my introductions to the talent, I said again, what had become my mantra over the years. “Our job is to look dangerous, not be dangerous. After meeting everyone and then starting the preliminary blocking of the chases and or fight scenes, I was actually very happy with all of the talent.
The two women on set really put the men on notice when it came to action. Both of the ladies where very professional when it came to doing the action scenes. The extremely beautiful Shanna McLaughlin was a true delight to work with. She plays Heather in the film. She is a Playboy model and actress with a wit as sharp as the crack of a whip. At this time, the lovely and talented Shanna is working on a show looking for a network, the show called “Shop Angels” In the basest terms its beautiful women working on vehicles. You can check out “Shop Angels” here… http://www.theshopangels.com/
I was especially impressed with a young woman who was a fireball when it came to her action. While all of the actors/actresses on set where very open and understood about following direction, this young woman seemed to have a fire for knowledge and doing her role to the fullest. I am speaking of Alexandra Willers.
Not only is she that type of actress that the camera just loves, but she was so eager to learn about her action and chase scenes, how to fall, how to slam into a door jamb…and she did it in the moment. The emotional desperation she put forth in the character during these action scenes and chases was amazing.
Alexandra has done theatre musical and comedy, and has been on an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, she played Angelica Carlos in an episode called “Let It Bleed.” Two dead bodies in the same dumpster, one committed an armed robbery in a stolen police uniform, and the other is the teenage daughter of a South American drug lord.
In Sanctuary Alexandra Willers plays “Crystal”
Impulse Gamer: You had some time in California; tell us a bit about your pursuit of your acting while there.
Alexandra Willers: While I attended college in La Verne, California, I attended as many auditions as possible while balancing school and acting. I lived about 35 miles outside of LA, so I would commute into the city for an audition and then rush back for class at ULV. It was quite hectic to say the least.
Impulse Gamer: You ended up in Los Angeles around August 2007, about when the writers’ strike was affecting many shows. Did the opportunities disappear with the strike? Where there any auditions going on? On the other hand, was the town on hold?
Alexandra Willers: Yes, I arrived in L.A. right around the writers’ strike and the halt of productions. As far as auditions go, opportunities did not exist due to the hold on production. However, the strike allowed agents more time to review submissions, so in a way, it was good timing for any newcomer seeking representation.
Impulse Gamer: For the CSI gig your head shot was the first thing that got the director’s interest, tell us a bit about what you did for the audition.
Alexandra Willers: At the first audition, I read one line for the casting director. My callback took place in front of the director, writer, and producer at the Universal Lot. I remember being so nervous, to the point where I was shaking, and all I had to do was read the same line. I really did not know what to expect walking into the room, and just being on the Universal Lot was overwhelming for me. After being introduced to everyone, I read my line, and then they asked me to perform an improvisation. Everyone was really nice and encouraging, and a few days later, I was on the set of CSI, as the dead victim in the dumpster. It was surreal.
(Above: Alexandra Willers on left and Playboy Model and actress Shanna McLaughlin in a scene from the film.)
Impulse Gamer: Do you believe in roles that are more traditional for men and women, or is it better to break the mold? In addition, Why?
Alexandra Willers: I believe choosing a traditional role or breaking the mold is up to the individual, depending on one’s goals.
Impulse Gamer: How was the audition process for “Sanctuary”? What drew you to do this film?
Alexandra Willers: I am always nervous when I go on auditions, and the audition process for “Sanctuary” was a little nerve racking for me. However, the callback is one that I will never forget because it was really hands-on and fun. We had plenty of room, so we were running across the stage with the script, yelling, and laughing. It really did not feel like I was in an audition and overall it was a great auditioning experience.
As far as what drew me to the film, I would have to say it was the character and the paranormal activity in the script.
Impulse Gamer: Tell us about your character in this film, what kind of place is she in when we first see her?
Alexandra Willers: My character in this film is Crystal, a troubled young adult dissatisfied with her current lifestyle. When we first see her, she is in a dark place struggling with the reality of her life.
Impulse Gamer: Do you have any favorite scenes you did in the film, and why is it your favorite?
Alexandra Willers: My favorite scene was the first exterior night we shot. After a relatively quick and calm rehearsal, I remember Reid calling action, and suddenly, leaf blowers were blowing full force, production lights were shining from ten stories high, and Fedor and I were in the moment battling invisible entities. It was a real adrenalin rush and a neat set up.
(Above: Alexandra Willers character about to stab Fedor Steers character in a scene from “Sanctuary”)
Impulse Gamer: It is no secret that I have been surprised with how well everyone picked up on the fight choreography during the filming. Further, it’s no secret how impressed I have been with how you throw yourself into the action scenes. Tell us a bit, about what was going through your mind for the action scenes. Was there anything your especially proud of accomplishing, action scene wise?
Alexandra Willers: I really enjoyed shooting the action scenes and learning the different choreography. During the action scenes, I wanted to make sure that I was hitting the right movements, landing in the right spot, and not hurting the other person or myself. I am proud that I was able to accomplish the action sequence with Blake because that was one of the most challenging action sequences for me in the movie. I was proud of my bruises too.
Impulse Gamer: What can you tell any other young people wanting to get into acting?
Alexandra Willers: I would suggest to anyone wanting to get into acting should enjoy the process and take small steps. Explore the different outlets provided, such as school productions, acting classes, and local theaters.
Impulse Gamer: After seeing the footage and was blown away by it, I can only say the camera loves you….what is next for Alexandra Willers?
Alexandra Willers: Thank you Edwin next would be to focus on graduating and to continue learning from all the experiences, opportunities, and challenges that come my way.
Next, I got to speak to one of the male actors Blake Logan. A great guy, who is very passionate about acting.
Impulse Gamer: What is one of your most favorite acting experiences, be it film or theatre…and why is it your favorite.
Blake Logan: My favorite acting experience so far has been that of Simon Kraus in “The Miseducation of Simon Kraus”. It was the first time I actually carried a film and not only did it make me a better actor, I came out of the experience with some of my best friends.
Impulse Gamer: When you first started working in film, what where you most surprised at working in front of the camera?
Blake Logan: I am constantly surprised and so often times amazed at just how much labor and actual people go into making the most seemingly mundane looking shots look absolutely brilliant and relevant.
Impulse Gamer: What is your professional philosophy?
Blake Logan: Give it your all both on and off set and always treat everyone with respect.
Impulse Gamer: Describe your acting process for a character.
Blake Logan: I try to put myself in his shoes and then create mental scenarios from which the character’s personality has an opportunity to be forged.
(Above: Edwin Millheim Action Stunt Fight Coordinator on left going over a knife scene with actor Blake Logan on right)
Impulse Gamer: Tell us about the character you play in the film “Sanctuary”.
Blake Logan: I play Brandon – a former cop turned entrepreneur who has pretty much given up on
Impulse Gamer: What was your favorite scene and why?
Blake Logan: I think my favorite scene was when Brandon confronts Cole about needing to breakup with Crystal and “get rid of the f*@king baby”. Brandon is at his most manipulative self and reveals his sense of dark humor.
Impulse Gamer: You picked up the fight sequences pretty fast, tell us about the stunt fights. Was there anything you liked the most? Surprised at?
(Above: Blake Logan in a scene from “Sanctuary”)
Blake Logan: I had stunt experience on a previous film “Gutter King” and onstage in plays like “King Lear” so I felt somewhat familiar with the fight choreography process, but I’d never say I feel comfortable doing stunts. I am always afraid I am going to hurt someone. It takes me dozens of times to get comfortable enough with the choreography before I truly feel I can incorporate the character. However, I was happily surprised to learn that I have retained some of the knowledge that various fight choreographers have passed on and I hope to apply those new techniques learned from Edwin to my future projects.
Impulse Gamer: You were quite the care free joker on set, then when camera rolled you were in the zone, that takes some professional discipline, was that hard to come by or was that just something that is you?
Blake Logan: Being the eldest of three siblings, I’ve had years of experience as a professional instigator. I enjoy making people laugh and I do think it helps me relax into whatever emotion the character must play. Tension/self-consciousness is, for me, the biggest obstacle to acting or anything creative, so if laughter eases or eliminates that tension, you had better believe I am going to do it. A byproduct of all that fun is that I think it makes me a more efficient actor and not one who must spend forever “getting into character”.
Impulse Gamer: What’s next for Blake Logan?
Blake Logan: Who knows! That is the exciting answer. I moved to L.A. October 25th 2010 and absolutely love it here. I am thrilled to now be a part of this amazing city and hope to join the ranks of the acting elite. I few of my films will be hitting the major film festival circuit this upcoming year so keep an eye out for Blake Logan!
Next I spoke to the sometimes hero, sometimes villain of the film Fedor Steer. I was anxious to work with Fedor after seeing his audition footage. One second there was this normal guy, then the next instant it was some loony. It was great footage and he of course brought that electric performance to the character in this film.
Impulse Gamer: How long have you been an actor?
Fedor Steer: Depends on how you count the years! I started acting in the late 90’s and I was starting to get pretty busy with it. But then I flew to the Caribbean, met my wife, moved to Thailand and the Middle East, had kids, and the whole acting thing got put back on the shelf for a while. It’s only been the last year and a half that I’ve been able to get into it again. It’s nice to be back.
Impulse Gamer: You worked on a couple of episodes of the Disney TV show “Honey I Shrunk the Kids”. Tell us, what was your most memorable experience on those sets?
Fedor Steer: That was my first time on a big budget set. The first episode was a little part, but I was on the sound stage for about five seconds when I was cast in the second episode as a photo double for Michael Berryman (of “The Hills Have Eyes”). That was a thrill because, people kept telling me, that I’ll get work because I have unique look, it was actually happening.
Impulse Gamer: Over your career as an actor, you have played a few not so nice characters, but you are actually a very nice guy in real life. How do you keep grounded?
Fedor Steer: Staying grounded is the easy part. I have no choice with a 3-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl at home climbing on top of me and demanding my attention. They are so much work, but also so much fun. They make me laugh, and that is all good.
(Above: Fedor Steer’s character in full fight damage makeup from a scene in “Sanctuary”)
Impulse Gamer: What was the audition process like for you, for this film?
Fedor Steer: The auditions came at a busy time of year for me, so I could not make the drive to Orlando. The producers let me submit a video, so I waited until my wife took the kids grocery shopping. I had about an hour to record some lines on a camera I propped up on a table, load the video onto the computer, and send it off. They emailed me for a callback, so I went through the whole process again the next time the family went to the store. I guess that was good enough because I got the part. I was happy to get it because Virgil is such an interesting and multi-dimensional character. Plus they were filming in Naples where I live! How often does that happen?
Impulse Gamer: Tell us a bit about your character Virgil in this movie.
Fedor Steer: Virgil is normally a quiet, introverted person who is caught up in a fantastical world he would not even have dreamed existed. The “real” Virgil only lasts a couple of minutes into the film. Without giving too much away, I can say that from then on, he exists in various altered states, struggling to help the people trapped in this world, but at the same fighting to define himself in the changing circumstances. It was enjoyable playing Virgil. It took me a while to figure him out as he figured himself out.
Impulse Gamer: Sanctuary was shot all at night. There is one scene where your character goes face first in the pitch-black waters of a marina. Tell us a bit about that, and what it felt like looking at those deep dark waters, knowing you’re about to go in.
Fedor Steer: That was one of the hardest things to shoot in the movie, not that I was worried about what may have been lurking below the surface of these shark-infested waters. The first take was actually quite easy. The second and third takes were difficult. By then I knew how much it would hurt when I hit the water flat. It knocked the wind right out of my chest. It took all my will power to push my body forward off the dock!
Impulse Gamer: How has it been working with your fellow actors on “Sanctuary”. Are there any particular scenes that where your favorite and why?
Fedor Steer: I really enjoyed chasing the beautiful Alexandre Willers around the set in one scene. It was a fun to just play the purely evil, nasty version of Virgil. Another scene that stands out is when Alexandra and I were trapped outside the building. The crew had a leaf blower blasting at us, and the wind and noise really ramped up the intensity. We were screaming our lines! However, I also have to say that any scene I did with Blake Logan and Michael Andrew Scott was just incredible. Those guys are such fine actors, and I enjoyed playing off of their energy. I will also remember spending two hours in the make-up chair as special-FX artist Josh Counsel worked his craft on me. Oh, and knocking down a Playboy Playmate (Shanna McLaughlin). That wasn’t much fun, but it just doesn’t happen every day, you know?
Impulse Gamer: Virgil’s body is like a punching bag in this film, though he does get to punch back from time to time. Tell us about working on the stage combat fights on the film.
(Above: In a scene from the film “Sanctuary” Alexandra Willers Character Squares off against Shanna McLaughlin’s character.)
Fedor Steer: Yeah, I got beat up pretty badly. However, we had a great stunt coordinator, Edwin Millheim, who put together well-choreographed fight scenes. We rehearsed a lot, and even after I thought we had it down pretty well, Edwin made us go through it another dozen times. Even so, once we brought the scenes up to performance speed, the challenge was to maintain control while releasing emotionally. I can’t say I was flawless in my execution, and I got a few bruises. But at the end of the day, I was pretty proud of my battle wounds, and I happily showed them off to anyone who would listen to my war stories.
Impulse Gamer: What would you like to tell our readers about “Sanctuary”?
Fedor Steer: I would say that yes, “Sanctuary” is a horror movie, but it is also a movie with brains. The “horror” part is secondary to a good story, written by the talented Josh Ingle. It will keep you thinking and talking long after you leave the theater.
Now finally the easy going young man Michael Andrew Scott, who plays Cole in the film.
Impulse Gamer: Tell us about how you got your start in acting, what was the draw for you?
Michael Andrew Scott : I don’t ever remember a time when I DIDN’T want to be an actor. My first “role” was as Count Plaqueula, the evil plaque-causing villain in my third grade parents’ day skit. I never looked back and from there on out it was a daily challenge for my mother to keep me from performing one-man shows on my makeshift stage, made from our living room fireplace landing and a cardboard box. As far as I was concerned the performing arts was the only real option there was for me as a profession.
Impulse Gamer: On set you broke into improv comedy between takes, what is your improv background and why is it perhaps a good skill for an actor/actress?
Michael Andrew Scott: As a teenager, I had the tremendous fortune of taking classes with famed “Groundlings” creator Gary Austin. From him I gained an enormous amount of invaluable education into creating something from nothing. In high school, I was a member of our “theatre sports” team, a group of drama students who competed against other school’s teams at improv games. We were champions three years in a row. Improvisation skills are, I believe, crucial to any actor in order to create a character or the dynamic of a scene, ESPECIALLY in film when nothing is ever set in stone and creating real, genuine moments on the spot is necessary to better tell the story.
In my opinion, acting is being able to access and imitate emotions. I believe in order to improve as an actor the two most important things I can do are: first, to constantly be observing life and the life around me, making sure to feel and remember my feelings as vividly as possible for the occasion when it will be necessary to call on them in character. The second is to stay in performance shape; by that, I mean reading plays, rehearsing scenes with friends and practicing character dissection and research even when I am not in a production. These are my tools and I keep them sharpened for the job.
Impulse Gamer: You and I joked a few time about doing unofficial stunts for the film, a trip here and there. But I was very happy with your stage combat skills. They serve you well. Tell us about some of your background with stage combat.
(Above: A sneak look at two Demons in the film “Sanctuary”)
Michael Andrew Scott: My first experiences with stage combat came from roughhousing with my kid brother. Since ACTUAL contact fighting would get us into serious trouble, we were forced to “fake fight” as my mother put it. We would fake punches, trips, and falls and react to each other’s jabs and kicks to the gut and face, never actually making contact. After a couple years of daily fake fighting we eventually were able to choreograph (or improvise) a pretty convincing (and scary) fight for anyone willing to watch. I eventually got formal training in stage combat through the Seattle Children’s Theatre from a veteran combat coach named Geoffrey Alm, who refined my “technique”.
Impulse Gamer: Would you want to be an action hero for a movie? What would it be about?
Michael Andrew Scott: I can’t imagine the director who would look at me and think “He’s the next Arnold!!!” On the other hand, if Tom Cruise could (sorta, kinda, but not really) pull it off then why can’t I?!?! It would probably be something like the Lord of The Rings, where the hero is someone more unconventional. I am not going to lie though, I have always looked up to MacGyver (I could rock the mullet).
Impulse Gamer: What attracted you to the Sanctuary script?
Michael Andrew Scott: What attracted me initially were the small cast and the fact that it was all in one location and dealt with the dark side of human nature. I liked the idea of playing a blind character (a first for me) and I love the people who wrote it.
Impulse Gamer: What was your favorite moment of filming Sanctuary, and why?
Michael Andrew Scott: On the final night/morning of filming, after we wrapped, the cast and crew sat around the living room table of the house we were filming in and we asked each other this exact same question. My answer at the time of course was that the whole shoot was so memorable that I could not single out any one moment as my favorite. However, since then several more people have asked, and after some thought I’ve realized that I was most deliriously happy when the whole cast and crew were together, goofing off between takes, making those long all-night shoots feel effortless and go by at a laugh a second.
(Above: Shanna McLaughlin trying to stay warm on left, Michael Andrew Scott on the right, and Director Reid Nicewonder in back between shooting a scene.)
Impulse Gamer: These where all night shoots, how tough was that?
I have had a miserable case of insomnia since I was in the sixth grade and have never really been a great sleeper, so actually the shooting schedule being nocturnal was perfect for my sleep schedule. I hardly had to adjust at all.
Impulse Gamer: When are you satisfied with your acting work?
Michael Andrew Scott: I am never satisfied with my acting work on film because there are an infinite amount of options and possibilities for each line and there are simply not enough hours in the day to do as many takes as I would want in order to explore them all. Recently, I found myself looking through the Sanctuary script and reading my lines in ways I had never thought to during rehearsals or the shoot, and think to myself “Aw, why didn’t I think of that!?!” There is no way to be completely satisfied; you just have to put your faith in the director and editor to find the take that does the most justice to your character and the story. However, because of its nature, I find myself constantly satisfied with my work in theatre because of how I am able to refine it through a month of rehearsal and anywhere between one to six months of performances, in front of a receptive audience. It is amazing how different the two mediums feel in the final outcome.
Impulse Gamer: Some actors and actresses find it hard to watch themselves in a film. How is it for you and why?
Michael Andrew Scott: I do have a slightly hard time watching myself on film because I cannot be genuinely objective of my performance. All I really see is me “acting”. But once I get over it and stop being ridiculous, I remember that it’s not really MY work I’m watching; it’s dozens, possibly hundreds of people’s, and I remember that I in fact played a VERY small part in the enormous mosaic that is a finished film.
Impulse Gamer: What is Michael Andrew Scott up to next?
Michael Andrew Scott: I’m developing a TV show with some friends based on the artistic design of a short film we did a year ago, which we’re hoping to pitch to the networks at some point (fingers crossed). I am also starting a theatre company in NYC where I will be producing and performing in new plays and musicals.
(Above: Edwin Millheim on right, with Shanna McLaughlin on set, going over a stunt about to be filmed.)
There you have it fellow Impulse Gamers, Some of the primary cast and crew of the upcoming Indy film ‘Sanctuary”. With exclusive first looks as some photos on set, behind the scenes and right from the dallies of the film. Check out Sanctuary the film https://www.facebook.com/SanctuaryFilm
Visit it on IMDB here http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2783986/?ref_=nm_flmg_stn_2