Casey Killoran Talks Viral Beauty (Interview) [Update]

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[Update] Casey has informed us that the film is premiering at the Frozen Film Festival, 1 – 4 February, 2017. Viral Beauty set to be screened on Friday, Feb. 3 @ 9pm- Weyerhaeuser Auditorium.

On December 20, the star of Viral Beauty; Casey Killoran took time out of her busy day to have a chat with Mike’s Film Talk about the film.  We talked about altering your appearance for a role  and the challenges of wearing two hats on a project; executive producer and actor.

Virtual Beauty follows Marsha Day, an average young woman who advertises for a date on the Internet and ends up getting millions of subscribers. We are privy to her ups and downs as fame comes courting and we learn that there is a price to be paid regardless of where fame comes from.

Ms Killoran gave us some background on the film. It was written by her one time flatmate Elizabeth Lam, who is the sister of the film’s director David Tyson Lam.

The Interview:

Mike’s Film Talk: Hello Casey! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. I’ve got to say that I loved the film, its message,and what you brought to the role.

Casey: Thank you.

Mike’s Film Talk:  No problem! Now right off the bat, I’ve got to ask you what, apart from aspect of producing and starring in the film,  drew you to the project?

Casey: I think that the message and the story of the film is something that is so current and so “right now.” We were working on it over two years ago and even then it was something that was just starting.  I hadn’t seen anything like that before. The emersion of the Internet and one person’s journey that was so personal. You get to really follow their journey and learn what happens to someone who stumbles onto fame versus actively searching for it.

We see what happens to them when they become famous and this is happening right now online. People promote themselves and do that sort of thing. Once they “hit” and their stuff goes viral, they are catapulted into this stardom and it is so different from what it used to be.

Mike’s Film Talk: Yes.

Casey: Stardom used to be a secondary thing. People who wanted to act or sing focused on their craft. They worked at being good at what they did. They practised to become proficient at their passion and the fame came later. Right now, fame has become warped.  Which is what drew me to the film.

Mike’s Film Talk: I think the film shows that brilliantly. The film really shows that this is the “era of the Kardashian.” No talent needed, we’ll just make you famous to sell all these products. (Casey laughing.)  So how did you prepare for the role of Marsha?

Casey: The film actually started life as a short. I started working on it three years ago and then the short was put on pause. I went away and started doing my own stuff. The writer then went away and was working on her own thing.

I actually lived with the writer for three months.  She got to see me and how I navigated being an actor and producer in New York City. She picked up a lot because, while she is a writer,  her expertise is in the tech field. She does tech security. She thought it was interesting seeing me navigate the entertainment industry and she (Elizabeth Lam) was inspired to “sort of” make Marsha based off me and my experiences.

I was much heavier then and when she left, I lost a bunch of weight. I lost a significant amount of weight and that was when we stepped away from the short. She then came back and was “I wrote this whole feature length film, do you want to do it?”

I read it and was, this is so good but I can’t play this role, I’m not overweight anymore! What am I going to do? So the director; David, approached me and asked, very kindly, “Would you gain weight?”

(Casey laughing.)

It was a real battle for me. I tried several approaches. “Can we re-write it? Can she have another problem besides the weight? Isn’t there something we can do?” And they were like, no. They did say that they were not asking me to gain all the weight back but, a significant amount had to be put back on.

The reason was they needed me to look overweight enough that people would notice. My character could not be “celebrity thin” she had to be a slightly overweight girl. Heavy enough that people would say, “Why the ‘F’ does she get to be so popular.”

So I said okay and gained so much weight in about two and a half months. I ate oreos and just really messed up my metabolism. My poor body was like, “What are you  doing to me?” I had lost all that weight and then put it back on and now I’ve lost it again…

Physically the transformation was a huge part of it.

Mike’s Film Talk: Yes.

Casey: It was also interesting that as I was physically changing myself…I gained over 30 pounds, I noticed that I was being treated differently when I got so heavy over such as short period of time. I took all the pent up hostility and animosity that I was getting and brought it to the role.

Mike’s Film Talk: I was going to ask about the weight thing and about how hard it was to do it. You seem to have worked out a system…

Casey: It was still a lot of work and a lot of focus. Then everyone steps away from the production when it finished filming. And I was like, “Oh great. I now have about four months to lose all that weight again!” (Laughing.) Now I have to go to the gym everyday…

Casey Killoran as Marsha Day

Mike’s Film Talk: Well you certainly couldn’t relax and take time off.

Casey: (Laughing) No I couldn’t.

Mike’s Film Talk: I was reading in the film’s notes that you ate real cat food…

Casey: Yes.

Mike’s Film Talk: Was that a last minute request by David or did he give you some time to work up to it.

Casey: It was always a kind of joke that was thrown around. And I was like David… The thing is, it was only in one scene. We never really sat down and discussed it but I was invested so I thought, “If I going to do it, I’m doing it.”

It really did help the scene though.

Mike’s Film Talk: I agree!

Casey: It’s become a talking point. People ask, “What was it like?” I always answer, “what do you think?” So it was funny.

Mike’s Film Talk: I found myself wondering what brand of catfood it was under the “fake” label. I decided it was “Fancy Feast.”

Casey: (Laughing) I’ve actually forgotten what brand it was. We picked it up from our corner bodega so I can’t tell you. I don’t really want to know. Going into the store and seeing the stuff and thinking “I ate that.” (Laughing)

Mike’s Film Talk: So…How was it? Was it really horrific or was it not that bad?

Casey: It was like, it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good. It wasn’t like I would eat it again. (Laughing) It wasn’t completley gross, it was more the thought of eating catfood that actually made me gag. It just tasted like a really bad pâté or something which I don’t like anyway. So it was so gross. I’ve always had a cat so…

Mike’s Film Talk: Yes I’m a cat person as well. Fun facts aside, how much of the film was actually scripted? Was there a certain amount of improvisation going on?

Casey: Well, we had a pretty full script when we started. I came to set, off-book, everything memorized and was ready to go verbatim, word-for-word, but as we went on, we noticed somethings just cropped up. For me though, I pretty much delivered everything that the writer had down for my character.

There were things that were added on as time went on. On the days when I was not working in front of the camera, I was producing and, I have to say, I never tried to blend the two functions. I was never both.

What happened was the writer wrote everything for the other characters but on the day, David was like, “Okay not do it this way, or that way.”  Which was good as you got to know the person almost automatically. They had a two second intro but you knew who they were immediately.

Mike’s Film Talk: I was also going to ask, I cannot find the original source, about filming the movie. I read somewhere that a variety of devices were used, like smartphones and laptops, to record the film.

Casey: It’s funny you should ask. We did do some practise runs where we recorded things with a laptop camera.  But in the real takes, everything we used was film with our very nice cameras. Each shot was “downgraded” so it looked like an iPhone or a webcam.

Mike’s Film Talk: Oh brilliant!

Casey: Yes our DP Edna Luise Biesold who did an amazing job. She would come in before the script was done and say, “Okay we need to study the lens of the phone and the laptop, what are the dimensions and dynamics, lighting (is it more green) and all that.

I have to thank her for getting everything so right. Everything was downgraded to make it look just right. She gave each shot a little bit less quality, after shooting  so well, to give us what we needed. She did a brilliant job making it all look so real.

Mike’s Film Talk: I agree. It all looked spot on. I remember the first scene where Perez Hilton shows up, his nose is red and he seemingly has no makeup on. It certainly felt like iPhone footage. The way the film ends…it seems to be hinting that there could be a part two?

Casey:  Yes, it kind of has, but we’re not sure if we want to venture down that road just yet. The open ended place where we leave the characters i open for discussion. I mean the director is still coming up with ideas! David will say we can have them do this…He has about a thousand more ideas, he still says, “Oh we can have them do this.”

The writer is already working on other projects. One of which is another feature length film. We are looking at our next feature, which has nothing to do with “Viral” but there is always the possibility of going back.

It would be a different scenario. In this film we did not have a “blockbuster” budget and if we came back, the world would be that bigger so maybe we could increase our budget to match that. Of course that would all depend on how well Viral Beauty is recieved, and it actually is being received very well…

We have discussed it but there is no script as yet.

Mike’s Film Talk: If people want to see the film where can they find news about where it may be premiering?

Casey: They can follow our Facebook page, we have an instagram account, a twitter account and we update the big news all the time.

Mike’s Film Talk:  I just wanted to ask you, looking at your credits, this looks like the first time you’ve been in the role of executive producer. How did you like it?

Casey: Well, I’ve executive produced before, for shorts, but this was my first feature length film and I loved it. It is a lot of hard work but it is such a different quantity of work. A short is roughly over a couple of months, here and there, while a feature is over two years. It is a big chunk of your time and it is constant until someone buys it.

I’m really glad I liked the story so much. I did learn very quickly never to try doing the producer’s job while I was acting and vice versa.  That was my number one rule and the other producers all agreed with it.

When we had business meeting it was the business side of things that were discussed and not the acting. I was part of a team and I really enjoyed the aspects of producing. I really like details and have no problem talking to people I don’t know.

David has other things that he does better than I do so I left those things to him.

Mike’s Film Talk: Looking at your other credits, you’ve got Gross People, a short, that is in post production. Have you got anything else coming up in the near future?

Casey: Hmm. In the near future. We have that, Gross People we are working on another project, minus Liz as an executive producer but we are adding on the DP on Viral Beauty and we are working on a new piece right now. We have been writing for close to three months now but it is still in “baby form” now.

Edna is taking a short sabbatical right now but the topics we’re turning to now are more about taboo subjects and bit more serious and darker.  But, we will still have comedy in there because the three of us will naturally err on the side of levity. Although we’re also very intense (Laughing) so we don’t mind taking really dark subjects and shining a light on them.

The Wrap Up:

The interview ended with a look at that “lighter note” and we asked Casey which comic scene was her favorite in the film.

She responded that it was not the cat food scene  and while she did like acting with her cat, her favorite bit was getting egg smashed in her face. Casey also like the “racist rant” which is, she says, so far from her. She also liked dancing with her cat.

We both agreed that not only was the Internet moving ahead at frantic speeds but that gaming and technology are also advancing at amazing rates. Virtual Reality was discussed and the idea that not only would robots become a daily thing but that the Star Trek Holo Deck was only one step away.

For those who have not seen the trailer, have a look now and see what we have been talking about.

Taylor Hickson Talks Aftermath, Ryan Reynolds and More (Interview)

 Aftermath - Season 1

Taylor Hickson is currently working on the apocalyptic SyFy thriller Aftermath. She plays Brianna, a headstrong teen that is struggling to survive the end of the world with her family. Taylor’s co-stars are Anne Heche, James Tupper, Levi Meaden and Julia Sarah Stone.

Taylor was born and raised in Kelowna, BC Canada. She started working age 12 traveling and singing with her father on stages across British Columbia. As time progressed, Taylor began writing her own songs and graduated from high school a year early to work on her music career.

She stumbled into acting when a relative talked her into auditioning for an agency at 16. Taylor started landing roles right off the bat; she worked opposite Anthony Hopkins, Ray Liotta and Julia Stiles in the psychological thriller “Blackway.”

Next Taylor landed the role of Meghan Orlovsky in the blockbuster film “Deadpool” where she worked opposite Ryan Reynolds. She then starred in the biopic film Hunting Pignut. The film is based on writer and director Martine Blue’s life and follows the life of Bernice (played by Taylor) a 15 year old runaway who is trying to solve the mystery of her father’s disappearance.

Ms. Hickson stars in the indie thriller Residue (produced by Motorcycle Boy Productions and XLrator Media) which will hit cinema screens in early 2017. The film follows James Clayton’s character, P.I. Luke Harding. The private investigator reads a book with somewhat sinister overtones and inadvertently puts Luke and his daughter Angelina (Hickson) in danger. Angelina has to fight for their lives and souls.

Taylor also has roles in the MGM film “Everything, Everything” and “Incident in a Ghost Land” working with Mylene Farmer, Crystal Reed and Anastasia Phillips. The horror thriller was written and directed by French filmmaker Pascal Laugier.

In “Aftermath,” Taylor plays Brianna, the fiercely independent teen daughter of Karen (Heche) and Joshua (Tupper) who is initially separated from her family and struggles to meet back up with them in the new apocalyptic world.

Taylor spoke with Mike’s Film Talk on Friday 18 November.

Photos by Ryan Orange Photography

The Interview:

Michael: Hello Taylor! Thanks for speaking with Mike’s Film Talk today.

Taylor: (Laughing) Well thank you for speaking with Taylor Hickson today!

 Michael: (Laughing) Right since the feeling is mutual, we’ll get right down to it. So, how did you get cast as Brianna? Did “Deadpool” or “Hunting Pignut” play a part?

Taylor: Wow… That’s a good question. I don’t think either one played a part. “Aftermath” was a new audition and it was really a bit nerve wracking thing for me. They didn’t know who I was… I kind of came out of nowhere, I was really new and they were willing to work with me. They saw potential and that is something I’ll be forever grateful for.

 Michael: Well you do a brilliant job on the show, in my own humble opinion. I love the character and love the arc Brianna has gone through.   Oh. I’ve got to tell you, I was speaking to Levi yesterday and he says “hi” and can he have his Bowie shirt back please?

Taylor: (Laughing) That’s fantastic. Oh my gosh I love him so much. I really miss him and he really was my older brother and Julia really was my sister. We totally have a sibling dynamic on and off screen. It made everything so easy and smooth and it was awesome.

Michael: He said much the same; that you all got on really, really well, on and off camera. So what’s it like working on the show. It really is pretty grim subject matter, isn’t it?

 Taylor: Yes it is quite a grim subject matter…

Michael: Do you have any favorite scenes?

Taylor: Absolutely! Most of my favorite scenes are the sibling scenes. I think there’s one coming up in the very next episode. There is a scene between Dana and me and a lot of pent up stuff comes out on the table that really needed to be said and everybody gets called out. It was one of my favorite scenes to shoot because she did such an amazing job. Julia is so talented and she made me feel like I was in real fight with my sister. Everything was so real that it was unbelievable she is just amazing.

Michael: I have to agree. I like the “kids” on the show. I am a huge Anne Heche and James Tupper fan, but the thing that has really stood out in the show has been the kids.

Taylor: Really? That’s awesome.

 Michael: Who has been your favorite cast member?

Taylor: Ooh…As a person or as an actor?

Michael: Both please.

Taylor:   Wow. That’s really hard…Actually there are pieces of all of them that I would use to build a favorite character or cast member. They are all such a huge contrast to each other but I have to say that I’m kind of in love with all of them.

 Right off the bat, I knew I was walking onto a project with a lot of respected artists who had long resumes and a lot of experience. I knew I had a lot of work to do. I also had a lot of studying to do. So I started watching them and the way that they worked and the way that they felt and the way that they spoke and moved.

 I learned a lot just by studying them as people and studying them at work. Anne (Heche) I watched a lot. Mostly because I felt that my character takes a lot from her. So I was watching her for a character aspect because she is incredibly talented.

Michael: Yes.

Taylor: I learned a lot from her and she mentored me a lot through the show and I learned so much. She pushed me to get better and work harder and that was something beautiful. She is not soft about it. She is not like “Oh nice try sweetie. It’ll be better next time. She is blunt and to the point but  because of the industry I’ve learned not to let my feelings get hurt and I found it to be very helpful. I pushed myself and we would go out for dinners and stuff and she’d sit down and talk to me.

 The whole cast are all so beautiful and it would be impossible to pick out just one favorite.

 Michael: You all seem to have a brilliant rapport and there is a splendid bit of give and take on the show. The way the show is set up, your character seems to take after her mum and Dana (Julia) takes after her dad. It all works out really well. Now your character has gone through an awful lot…

Photos by Ryan Orange Photography

Taylor: (Laughing) That’s an understatement…

 Michael: Yes it is, very much so. So how do you prepare for the heavy-duty scenes? Say, for instance, Dylan’s death or the death of Aunt Sally?

Taylor: Wow. You don’t. You don’t prepare for that. How could you prepare for someone’s spontaneous death? I think that is the aspect that you have to walk in with. You have to walk in that day and think ‘this is going to be some heavy sh*t,’ and you never know how it’s going to play out or what the director is going to ask you to do.

 There have been countless times that I’ve walked in with an idea or an interpretation of how I think the scene, or the mood of the scene is going to be. And then quite often find  that the scene will be rewritten. If that happens we all sit in the tent before hand with the director and the writer. Then if we’re not agreeing on something it’s “Okay go.”

 Then we all just spin out ideas until we find something that matches and find something that works. There are other things too; there was something I saw Anne do as an actor. The way that she would break down scenes was just incredible. She would catch stuff that blew me away. I was like,” How did you see that?” It would be something that I just read right past and because she is so on the ball she gets it.

 Plus she’s a mother; her son would be there quite often and working with her husband… She has so much on her plate. She was flying out and taping other shows at the same time. And the way she managed to keep her head in the game was so inspiring.

 Michael: She is a true professional.

Taylor: For example, the Aunt Sally [death scene] Anne said come on guys we have way too many women crying over this. She said, “I’m not going to do it.” What I watched her do shocked me, maybe even confused me and at the end of it, I thought, ‘wow, that is freaking brilliant.’

 She just lay down beside Aunt Sally and just; she almost had no emotion… What it made me think of was my grandma who had been very, very sick with cancer. She suddenly went from having three months to live to three weeks. I couldn’t quite understand, or cope. I think everyone goes through that at one time in their life, and when you’re not prepared for someone’ death it is a shock to the system.

 I was out with friends at around three in the morning and we were around the corner from my house, and we were listening to music in my friend’s truck and laughing and my dad called me at three in the morning. And my parents are very caring, they care a lot, and they knew where I was, just around the corner, and my dad called; he was in the gas station right behind me. He told me, “Your Gran has died.”

 I had seen her just three hours before, stroking her hair and she was telling me that she was ready to go. Life is so funny that way… I had no emotion at all and I stepped out of the car and walked over to an empty parking lot and just started walking and walking. Then I started sprinting and then I just fell down and I cried like I’d never cried in my life.

 So when Anne did that with Aunt Sally, I thought, she gets it. Then when it came to the crying part, she left that to me; to cry over Devyn’s body. That was a very hard scene, crying over Devyn and I’ve heard from other people on other shows that when they find out another character is going to die they say, “I can’t do this. I’m going to leave the show, I can’t do this.”

 I understood then what they meant. It was very, very hard.

 Michael: Quite emotionally taxing I should imagine.

Taylor: Oh absolutely. It’s like this show I’m working on now, I’m constantly fighting for my life in this movie and I’m just drained. It makes “Aftermath” look like a fun game. And I’ve been exhausted on “Aftermath.” This industry really beats you up but it makes you proud of the result when you look back.

 Michael: Definitely. On a slightly lighter note… You’ve used a number of weapons in the show. Although not quite as many as Matt or your mum. Did you get any special training for all that?

Taylor: (Laughing) No. They told me when I first got cast, “Yeah we’ll send you to all these shooting arenas and you’ll get some practice. We’ll do training with all of you and we’ll get you shooting like a Marvel villain. I was like, “Wow that’s going to be awesome.” I was thinking of them like “real” guns and that somebody was going to get hurt.

But things started happening so fast that we wound up having one day that was kind of like rehearsals. They said, “Okay! You’re all family now. But I never really got to shoot “proper” guns.

 Nerf guns and water guns were as bad a** as Taylor gets. I’ve never been paintballing or anything like that. So when we started the show I didn’t know how to hold a gun; the props people had to show me how. They were like; think about it, Brianna wouldn’t know how to hold a gun.

 And if you watch the show from the beginning she is just holding the gun and her arm will go flying when she starts shooting. Since that isn’t working, in Brianna’s mind she’s thinking, ‘now what have I seen in movies.’

 So then her other hand will start holding her wrist so it’s like “almost.” She finally figures out your hand goes under your other hand. As the season progresses you watch Brianna build her skill and confidence with guns.

 Michael: It tracks very well. Stepping away from “Aftermath” for the moment; are you still filming on “Everything, Everything?”

Taylor: No I’m working on another show right now. I’ve finished on “Everything, Everything.”

 Michael: So what are you working on now?

 Taylor: I’m working on probably one of the scariest, most horrible scripts I’ve ever read… In like the best way

 Michael: It sounds interesting.

Taylor: It’s raw and terrifying and beautiful at the same time. I’m working with Pascal Laugier and he is the most visionary director. I’ve never met anyone with the eye that he has, and the patience he has. We’ll spend two days shooting one scene, so taxing is a great word to use. It is very physically, emotionally and imaginatively draining and demanding.

 I’m very proud to be working with such amazing people. It’s got Crystal Reed from Teen Wolf, Mylène Farmer who happens to be the Madonna of France. She is an incredible, beautiful and amazing lady and the project is called “Incident in a Ghost Land.”

 I can’t say too much about it but if you look it up on the Internet, it’s just been put up on IMDb.

 Michael: It hasn’t been put against your name yet. It still shows “Everything, Everything” as filming.

Taylor: Well I’ve definitely finished my work on that film. I shot my part in Vancouver and then the company went down to, I believe, Mexico. I’m now working on Ghost Land.

 Michael: You had the starring role in “Hunting Pignut,” when will that be hitting cinemas?

Taylor: I don’t know. That one is still running through the festival circuit. I haven’t even seen it, if you want to know. Over half of Canada’s seen it and I haven’t even seen it. I asked for a link and they said, “No we want you to see it at the Whistler Festival premiere. So I’m like “Okay. I’ll wait.”

 All I’ve seen so far has been on the monitors or when we did ADR, that’s the most I’ve seen. It should be interesting; I’m not sure whether they’re going for theatrical release. Maybe in a few select theatres; like maybe in my hometown or one in Vancouver or something… It’s very Canadian so it may only be released in Canadian theatres. I’m not sure what the distribution plan is.

 Michael: You’re very busy right now; on screen at any rate. You’ve got Residue coming out in 2017 and I’m guessing “Incident in a Ghost Land” will be coming out either late in 2017 or 2018. Of course the big question goes all the way back to Deadpool, the first thing I ever saw you in, if they find a new director, will you be coming back as your character Meghan Orlovsky? Have you heard?

Taylor: I haven’t heard anything so I’m not sure. I believe they might have a new director; I’m not sure, there are lots of rumors. I’ve heard a lot of Marvel conspirators say that the character is in the comics. They say “your character is Megan Gwynn, aka Pixie, so you’re a Marvel character.” And I’m like, “I don’t think so… They didn’t tell me that.” And they go no you’re a superhero.

 So all the forums are convinced that I’m going on but I haven’t heard anything. But it would be fun to have another tiny appearance with another cast of Deadpool.

 Michael: I’ve got to ask… What was it like, working with Ryan Reynolds?

Taylor: Oh it was amazing. You know I’d been on a few smaller sets before because I was originally focused on music and it was massive. I didn’t really know how badly I wanted to work as an actor until “Deadpool.” I had worked with Anthony Hopkins before in my first role and that was incredible but it was just… I’d never had a chance to talk on screen and I didn’t really understand and I was trying to find my footing I thought it might just be a fun thing I did on the side. That was the thing that changed my life.

 There are all these people running around you and they all have different tasks, and a routine and here was this awkward teenager who knew nothing about anything and the atmosphere was very anxious. It was everything that would turn me off of acting and yet it pulled me in.

Photos by Ryan Orange Photography

 We spent an entire night with a scene and it was very playful humorous. Ryan is very low key and nonchalant about the whole thing and I think that helped because he didn’t add to the anxiety so I just started speaking with him, he was a producer as well, and he was throwing out all these suggestions: “What if Meghan came up and hugged me and I was like, “Yeah that’s great.”

 I would start teasing him, “Aw, I have to hug you again.” We were doing “pick-ups” and I had to start by hugging him already and he would say, “Shhh. Listen to the sound of my heartbeat.” He was so weird and funny that it made everything loosen up. Later, as I was still awkwardly holding him he said “Shhh” and started patting my head.

 It all seemed totally weird and he says, “I never noticed those things told the time before.” He was talking about the things; I don’t even know what they’re called that’s how new I am to the business. I called it a clapper…

 Michael: Yes…

Taylor: That’s what I call it. And he was saying he never knew it told the time. He was saying he knew that it had times on it to sync the camera and the sound but never knew it told the time. And he says, “I’ve been doing this for how many years and never knew these things told the time.”

 So I was singing this song by Salt N Pepa, “Shoop” because the scene originally started with us all singing “Shoop” we were sitting there and like rapping the song at the start but they cut it out. It was taken out for pacing since they wanted everything to click along. A lot of lines were taken out to make it move faster.

 My two friends in the scene were also both cut out.

 So we had to sing the song again and again to get it exactly right, they were playing the real music for sound and then had to pick it up later, which is probably why they didn’t use it. I said to Ryan that this song is going to be stuck in my head for two months and he says, “This frickin movie is going to be stuck in my head for two years.”

 Michael: That’s funny. To wrap this all up, I know you have some favorite charities. Would you like to give them a shout-out?

 Taylor: Oh yes, thank you! Definitely IJM (International Justice Mission), they are incredible. They do a lot of things for young people in third world countries and they save a lot of children who are sold into slavery, and sex slavery, and they are absolutely incredible. I’ve been doing work on and off with them since I was 13. They are amazing.

 Another one would be Craig and his brother Marc who do We. [Free the Children] Have you ever heard of We Day?

Michael: No I’ve never heard of it.

Taylor: It is amazing Craig and Marc Kielburger, the charity’s founders, do all these things to help children and their families. I’ve donated and worked with them to fundraise for so many things. We got one village a school. I’ve done lots of work for them over the years.

 They do it all over the country, they’ve been held in Toronto, or instance and they always have loads of celebrities and singers attend. The aim is to help the children and their families across the world.

 Craig and Marc started the charity when they were young children and I’m so proud of what they’ve achieved and I’m very proud to be part of Movement.

  Michael:   So what does your schedule look like right now? Are there any other projects you want to mention?

Taylor: Well, I’m working on the film right now (Incident in a Ghost Land) and that will take me up to December and then I’ll be attending Whistler Film Fest for “Hunting Pignut”. I’m auditioning for tons of things and I’ve gotten an offer for something in January.

 In March or April I’ll be doing a film called “GLO,” it’s short for Giant Little One and it’s a beautiful script. It’s a brilliant film that we’ve been trying to do for a while. If Aftermath is brought back, there may be a conflict, we won’t know till January.

 There will be another movie, called Dry Swallow, written by Joel Thomas Hynes who played Pignut in “Hunting Pignut.” So there are lots of open doors and projects to look forward to.

Photos by Ryan Orange Photography

 The Wrap Up:

 Taylor finished with her feelings about Aftermath and her onscreen family. She pointed out, quite rightly, that as the season has progressed the audience learns more about the Copeland’s and the show is evolving. We also talked about the “flying dragon” and what it was really called (Quetzalcoatl and not a dragon, as Levi Meaden pointed out in an earlier interview) that her character calls “the Q thing.”

Ms. Hickson also talked about the basis of the show. It is based on the Book of Revelation but since each culture has their own version of this apocalyptic series of events, these were included in the show, hence the Quetzalcoatl and the Japanese man eating plant.

She would love to see a second season of Aftermath be approved as her on-screen family have all gotten so acclimated to one another that she feels the show would be even better. Taylor mentioned the series was shot out of order and how odd it was to see the final product afterward and the difference between watching it and “living it.”

We also talked about the mythology that went into the creatures that appear on the show (like the Q-bird) and Taylor mentioned that after each episode the YouTube channel “Geeksiders” do a complete rundown on all the creatures and cultures of each Aftermath episode. Taylor revealed that the channel is incredibly thorough: “They knew more about the show than I did”

Taylor Hickson is a very busy young woman who is enthusiastic about her job and the business. A talented young actress that had high words of praise for her co-workers.

Aftermath - Season 1
Taylor and Julia Sarah Stone

We also spoke of muppets and fraggles and how Julia played a prank on her with some M&M’s.

There are two episodes of “Aftermath” left in  this season.  The show airs Tuesdays on SyFy and Space in Canada.

Note: Unless otherwise stated the images used are by Ryan Orange Photography or Eike Schroter. 

Levi Meaden Talks Aftermath and More (Interview)

Aftermath - Season 1

Levi Meaden is starring as Matt Copeland on the SyFy channel’s apocalyptic science fiction drama, Aftermath.  Working alongside James Tupper, Anne Heche, Julia Sarah Stone and Taylor Hickson (who will feature in a Mike’s Film Talk interview shortly) Levi plays  the eldest son of a family struggling to survive the “End of Days.”

Meaden is a pleasant chap who was fun to talk with and he spoke highly of his colleagues on the show. He also emphasized how much he and his onscreen siblings got on like a family off-screen

Levi has been steadily working since 2012 and has been a regular on The 100, The Killing, and Olympus. He completed work on Incontrol, which we mention later and is slated to appear in the Pacific Rim sequel Pacific Rim: Maelstrom.

Michael: Hi Levi. Thanks for stopping by for a chat today. I’ve got to tell you that I love what your character brings to the show. He’s had a very impressive arc in the series. So what drew you to the part?

Levi: Thank you! I grew up as a huge sci-fi and fantasy fan as a teenager. I always loved the apocalyptic/post apocalyptic genres; like Mad Max…So the chance to run around with  guns and to  fight monsters just seemed like a lot of fun.

Michael:  Yeah. It looks a like a lot of fun.

Levi:  So I saw that aspect of it and thought, “Yeah let’s do it.”

Michael: Brilliant! I’ve got to ask you. Are you anything at all like your character, personality wise?

Levi:  Well, he’s certainly more of a football player/jock, which I certainly was not while growing up. He definitely has more of an affinity for guns and fighting than I do. Those are the differences, but, there is an  intensity and an underlying  “quick to anger” side to him that we both have in common.

Michael: Speaking of guns. Did you have to undertake any special kind of training?

 Aftermath - Season 1
Levi Meaden as Matt Copeland using a shotgun…

Levi: Not really. I’m already pretty familiar with shotguns as most of my family live on farms. I did go to the shooting range to get familiar with the different weapons, like the Glock and the shotgun,  just so I had it fresh in my head. Getting into the frame of mind of “fake shooting it for real.” 

Michael: Well it worked. Your character seems very competent.  You and Anne Heche looked quite proficient with the weapons.

Levi: Yeah, well initially we were very careful around the weapons but as time went on we got more relaxed as we got more familiar with them. 

Michael: I know we sort of broached this briefly, but what is it like working on the show. The subject matter is rather grim…

Levi: Yeah. Well we shot at such a breakneck pace that we really did not get a chance to get hung up on the grim moments. There were a lot of them (grim moments) and sometimes it did take a little bit of a toll on us. We liked the fast pace as it got us past the “grossness.” 

But it was kind of fun. There were so many stunts that we either took part in or watched and a lot of driving and shooting. Shooting the show at such a breakneck pace meant that things happened so quickly that the energy really translated to the screen.

Michael:  Yes it very fast paced. I’m guessing here, but is a lot of the work green screen? Is that hard to work through?

Levi:  Actually we were lucky. We didn’t have a lot of green screen. A lot of it was as practical as you could possibly make it.  The Quetzalcoatl, or the dragon as most people keep calling it…

(Sidenote: Many of the creatures that the Copeland family encounter are from different cultures. The Quetzalcoatl is from the Aztec culture and it does indeed, look a bit like a flying dragon.)

Michael: Yes, I’m guilty of that. I keep calling it a dragon as well…

Levi: Well that bit was pretty well laid out. We had parameters set out and we had a mark to show where the thing might be. So it was not too difficult. I’ve done green screen before and while practical FX take the challenge out of it, the green screen does become an acting exercise after a while.  It’s all about channeling your imagination to provide a realistic reaction to something like that. 

Michael:  Your character has actually evolved quite a lot in a short period of time. You mentioned it earlier when you said he (Matt) was a bit quick to anger. He does seem to be getting a handle on that. Where do you see Matt going next?

Levi: Well a lot of the storyline has him embracing that anger and the darkness allowing him to become a protector for his family. He also has to learn where to draw the line and not become like the evil he is fighting against. He’s already crossed that situation in the show and I think he is motivated a lot by retribution and getting revenge for what’s happening to his family.

The challenge for Matt will be getting back a part of himself that allows in some happiness which will make him less grim  and allow him to stop beating himself up so much. He has to learn how to draw back that anger.  

We’ll see him kind of embrace that a little bit more. Somethings will come in and allow him to alleviate his guilt.

Michael:  I’ve got to ask you. I’m a huge fan of Anne Heche and James Tupper.  What’s it like working with them?

Aftermath - Season 1
Levi Meaden, Anne Heche, James Tupper and Julia Sarah Stone.

Levi: Well, when they were together they brought this high energy to the scene, it was like that when they were apart too, but when they were together they really brought it. They also kept things simple and got the ego out of the way to server the story. 

It was also interesting to see how they would work out a scene and kind of turn it. Making the most out of a  scene’s impact and then watching them in the scene taking back and forth and creating the sense of a real partnership.

Michael: They have a splendid chemistry on screen, as do you all. The chemistry between all the characters is really impressive.

Levi: Thank you. 

Michael: You’ve been working steadily since 2012. Most of your work has been in television but lately, you’ve started doing more films. Are you starting to have a preference?

Levi: You know it all depends on the project.  They’re very different mediums, although they both involve storytelling. You know, working long term on a television show is fun because you get to work on your character for months. And that is such a blessing, it is so great.

In movies though, you kind of have the entire arc of the story and your character and where you’re going to go  so you really kind of plan for that and build those moments in.  And you then find the best way to tell that story and how to make that character’s journey more interesting. 

They are both the same beast, so to speak, but I do love doing the indie film thing once in a while because you get to experiment and have some fun. You get to push things and kind of do your own thing a bit more. I miss getting to do that. Maybe after Aftermath is finished…

Michael: I see that you’re down for Pacific Rim: Maelstrom, the sequel. Have you started working on that at all?

Levi: Yeah, we’ve started a little bit. The filming hasn’t started yet but things are gearing up and getting ready to go. I’m still waiting for some small things to get worked out and if Aftermath is brought back for another season, that will keep me  pretty busy. 

Michael: Brilliant stuff, let us know how that all works out. Being a huge fan of the first Pacific Rim, I cannot wait to see what the sequel will do.

Levi: I know.  It gsoing to be pretty exciting. 

Michael:  Have you heard about Aftermath being picked up for a second season?

Levi: No, we haven’t heard anything yet. 

MIchael: I’m actually going to be talking to Taylor (Hickson) tomorrow. Is that anything you’d like me to pass on to her.

Levi: [Chuckling] Tell her hi and that she needs to give me back my Bowie t-shirt.

Michael: I have to ask you, in regards to the parents in the show. Joshua seems quite low key, although he is coming into his own as the series progresses, and Karen, the mum, is very “Rambo-esque…”

Levi: Yeah!

Michael: Are they anything like their characters when they’re not working?

Levi: Yeah, you know a little bit. Everyone was pretty much, I think, cast to type so that they are to a degree like the characters they portray. Like James is super insightful, quiet but direct and   to-the-point.  Anne is just a firecracker so yeah, they are similar to their characters. 

Michael: Brilliant stuff. That has me pretty much wrapped for today. Is there anything you want to mention? Like upcoming projects?

Levi: Yeah. I’m in a film called Incontrol that will be coming out in a few months. It’s on the festival circuit at the moment. It’s a thriller about these kids who find a machine that allows them to enter other people’s consciousness  and control them like an avatar. And they start getting addicted to it like a drug.  So that, Aftermath and Pacific Rim II.

That concluded our interview with Levi Meaden.  Incontrol is a Canadian film due out shortly  and it does sound very good. Pacific Rim: Maelstrom has a projected release date of 2018 so keep your eyes peeled for the first one and pencil “Maelstrom” into to your diary.

Aftermath - Season 1
Levi and his onscreen sis, Taylor Hickson.

 

In the meantime, fans of Levi’s can see him weekly on SyFy’s Aftermath. The series aries on Fridays and there are two episodes left in this season.

As mentioned in the interview Mike’s Film Talk will also be talking with Taylor Hickson, who places Levi’s sister on the show.

 

 

Channel Zero’s Paul Schneider Talks Candle Cove

Channel Zero: Candle Cove - Season 1

On October 25, Paul Schneider spoke to several members of the press about Channel Zero:Candle Cove and his character in the show; Mike Painter. Just prior to Halloween, Paul talked to a number of press sites about the adaptation of Kris Straub’s Candle Cove and, amongst other things, his preparation for the role of Mike.

Channel Zero: Candle Cove is about a series of child murders that takes place back in the 1980’s. Mike is convinced that the deaths are connected to an old child’s program Candle Cove.  He returns home to seek some closure and to see if he can keep the kid’s show from claiming any more lives.

Paul was asked by  SciFi Vision if he had done any special preparation to play child psychiatrist Painter, especially as the man had such a traumatic childhood.   Paul  replied that initially he had not.

However, he did read an old Abnormal Psychology textbook from his days at Columbia. Paul’s final diagnosis of Painter was that he had acute anxiety disorder.

Schneider then went on to talk about how he got involved with the project.  He explained that executive producer and show creator Nick Antosca and co-executive producer Craig William Macneill approached him. They asked if Paul would read the script. He did and loved the concept of the series.

Playboy asked if Paul had any idea why the shortened season of six episodes was proving to be so popular. The actor was also asked about why he chose to play Mike as such a quietly intense character.

Schneider could not really offer an opinion on the show’s seasonal format of six episodes.  He did say that his portrayal of Mike was based upon a man returning to his hometown. A place where he was uncertain of who was friend or foe.

He also points out that Mike’s relationship with his mother is very chilly. The character is also one who left small town life and became quite successful. Apart from returning to the scene of the crime, Mike is back amongst people who resent his success.

Voiceoftv.com asked if Paul had seen the original program on Straub’s Creepypasta and the answer was no. Paul went on to explain that he tries not to over research for any role. Reading the source material could, he said, completely change the way he approached the character.

He admitted to having never heard of Creepypasta or seen it before he took the part. It was only after he agreed to play Painter that he learned of the website’s existence.

Paul did say that he loved the idea of the website that it allowed those types of stories to be told.

As The Nerd Element started to question Paul, he joked that “listen to your answers is not anxiety provoking  at all…” He was then asked if he could see himself writing or directing a future Creepypasta series.  The actor answered that he had not been approached to do so.

Paul also explained how he approached any particular writing and/or directing job. He explained that it was a combination of story and whether or not it felt right for him.

He was then asked what film, book or television program, scared him as a child.  It turns out that The Elephant Man, starring John Hurt, made a huge impact on the young Paul Schneider.

It was, Paul said, the first film he had ever seen and it was not the film he was meant to be watching. His mother had taken him to the cinema to watch the Disney film, Song of the South, a kid’s movie  now considered to be racist.

Paul and a number of neighbor kids went to see the show but he broke away from the group and went to the toilet.  On his return he chose the wrong door and wound up watching the David Lynch film.

Five year old Schneider walked in on the scene of Merrick’s nurse bringing him a cup of tea. The woman sees Merrick in the flesh, sans his drape like clothing. The camera showed all the wrinkled and deformed flesh of Merrick.

Paul said that particular scene, “terrified and transfixed” him made the five year old react with a combination  curiosity,  enchantment and sheer horror. He went on to say that scene still gave him the “heebie-jeebies” and it was, oddly, his favorite film.

Inverse wanted to know if Paul could say what Mike was like before his return to Iron Hill and the whole Candle Cove business. The actor replied that he, and the series producers felt that Painter buried himself in academia.

He also felt that Mike wrote in a way to handle the trauma. Paul thought that Painter’s marriage allowed some cracks to appear in his carefully crafted exterior. The appearance of his daughter furthered his deterioration and he felt that Mike may have had a drinking problem.

The actor also revealed to  OMFGTV that he has not been keeping up with the series and that he watches them as they air. It has, Paul said, become an event that he and his wife share.

Schneider went on to say that the highlight of  the project was getting to work with performance artist Olivier De Sagazan who plays The Skin Taker in the show. He explained that their scene together was the most intense of the series.

(It is where the burning Skin Taker runs at Mike Painter in the show.)

He went on to say that everyone was buoyed by Olivier’s presence on the set.  Finally he talked about whether or not Jessica  (Natalie Brown‘s character) and Mike would have married if  he had not left Iron Hill. (The answer was yes)

There was some discussion about whether Mike saw what his daughter sees in the episode where he takes Lily out of her bedroom and Paul believes that Mike did see it. He has, after all, seen Jaw Bone in the woods.

Channel Zero: Candle Cove airs Tuesdays on SyFy.  There are two episodes left in this little chiller. Tune in and see if Mike can save this generation from Candle Cove.

Perez Hilton Talks ‘Most Likely to Die’ and Horror

Perez Hilton
Prior to the film ‘Most Likely to Die’ being released on on Friday the 13th (of May) Mike’s Film Talk spoke with Perez Hilton, who plays Freddie in the “throwback” slasher film. As we set up the interview, the celebrity blogger/columnist producer and actor spoke of his excitement over the film finally being released.

It should be pointed out that despite what must have been a hectic blitzkrieg press schedule, Hilton was not only gracious but fun to speak with. His enthusiasm for the project and his joy at being reunited with the film’s star Heather Morris (from ‘Glee’) was evident from the moment we started talking.

Perez: Hi Michael! How are you?

MFT: I’m fine. How are you?

Perez: I’m very excited that fans of horror films and slasher pictures are finally going to see this film.

MFT: I loved the film and watched it three times..

Perez: You watched it three times?!

MFT: Yes. I kept thinking that it was a throwback to films like ‘I Know What You did Last Summer’ and really enjoyed the feeling of nostalgia.

Perez: You know, I think it may have been written in the ’90s. I could be wrong, but I think it was. I believe it was written in the 1990s and not produced until 20 years later. Which is kind of awesome as it’s like a time capsule, almost. Written so long ago and produced in the 2000s. In the teens.

MFT: I’ve got to admit to being a fan, of your blog and I thought after seeing that film that you just killed it as Freddie. So, lets talk ‘Most Likely to Die’ and what drew you to the project.

Perez: Well, the honest answer is that I’m excited, and hungry, to do more acting work. The reason for that is twofold: A) I love acting and B) it gives people a chance to see me in a different way. And if you want to have longevity in Entertainment, you have to keep re-inventing yourself.

In my case, it’s not even a re-invention. It is a return to myself, a reconnection with my roots. This is what I went to school for. I studied acting in college and that was what I wanted to do when I left high school and came out to Los Angeles. Life sidetracked me though; wonderfully, I love my day job  and I love getting to do cool things like this.

I’m a true horror fan and love the genre. I was also pleased to work again with Heather Morris, I worked with her on ‘Glee’ and there were so many things that appealed to me about the project.

MFT: Wow, you are almost the perfect interview. You answered about three questions before I could get to them. One thing you mentioned was Heather. How pleased were you to work with her again?

Perez: (laughing) Very pleased she is such a great actor. AND a great dancer as well…its not fair. (laughing again)

MFT: Did you get a chance to do anything with Jake Busey?

Perez: No. He shot all his scenes before I even started.

MFT: Congratulations on those screams your character came out with. You are apparently a master at what I call the “Tom and Jerry Scream.”

Perez: (Laughs.)

MFT: Are you looking to do more horror?

Perez: I would love to. If I’m going to spend more time doing movies, I want to have fun and horror films are so fun. I’m very honest, realistic and objective; I’m not a super-star by any means. I’m not even that famous or anything. I”m known by people but there are not people banging down my door saying, “Work with me!”

But, if I have a choice of spending a few weeks of my life working on an Indie drama or an Indie horror film? I’d rather do the horror film:  A) Because it is more fun and B) Fans of the genre are so passionate. The business is such a crap shoot. You may love working in Indie drama but no may ever see it. But with horror, there are those loyal fans who will see almost every horror film that’s out there.

MFT: Very true.

Perez: Like this film for instance. There is a certain novelty factor in it;  “Oh Perez Hilton is in this” and “Look, it’s Heather Morris from Glee.” Apart from that though I would love to do more because I am truly a fan of the genre. I would love to do a big budget horror film that became a franchise. That would be rad but to be honest I just want to keep working. That is the goal of any entertainer. I want to keep entertaining people for as long as possible.

MFT: Well, watching the film it seems there is room for a sequel, is that something that, you would be interested in?

Perez: Really? A sequel? Listen, I had so much fun working that if my character lives in the film, I’d love to!

MFT: Moving away from “Most Likely to Die” it looks like you are very busy at the moment. Working on ‘Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie‘ and a couple of other projects. How did the AbFab film go?

Perez: I don’t have a huge role in that, it’s a cameo, but I am such a huge fan of AbFab. In the ’90s I was all about horror movies, talkshows, Madonna, ‘Sex in the City’ and ‘Absolutely Fabulous.’ So even if they cut my screen time down to 5 seconds I’ll still be happy.

MFT: Back to ‘Most Likely to Die,’ I’ve got to ask this; I’ve never gone to any of mine, have you attended any of your class reunions?

Perez: Oh my God, it is so funny that you’re asking me that. Because my 20th [class reunion] is happening this year, in September…And I don’t want to go. I’m not going and instead I’m planning my own. I’ve sent out an email thread and invited anybody who wants to go to meet me in Vegas instead of Miami. A few people have already taken me up on the offer.

It really is much better to meet up in neutral territory and at least in Vegas I can be guaranteed to have a good time. So I’m doing that.

MFT: So, have you got any upcoming projects?

Perez: Well, I’ve got the “AbFab” movie and I’m also in two sitcoms where I have cameos but they have not been announced yet, so I can’t say which two. But be on the lookout. I’m so grateful, thankful and lucky to have been able to do so much more acting lately.

MFT: Well, that’s our high sign to stop. So, thank you Perez  for taking time to speak with us today.

Perez: Thank you!

Perez Hilton is impressively natural in  ‘Most Likely to Die’ and he as well as the rest of the cast make this nostalgic gem well worth watching. The film premieres on Friday the 13th this month via a limited theatrical release and on VoD.

Mr. Hilton is re-visitng his roots and will be doing a lot more acting, in several other projects. Check out his work in this slasher film and see just how good he is.

Most Likely to Die poster
‘Most Likely to Die’ May 13, 2016 premiere