Actress Kristin Booth is seeing double. The multi-talented and Gemini award-winning actress has dual roles in the horror/thriller “Below Zero”; a film in which she stars alongside Edward Furlong (Terminator 2) and horror legend, Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes).
Written by Signe Olynyk, Below Zero tells the story of ‘Jack The Hack’, a once successful screenwriter who now suffers from a severe case of writers block. In a rather extreme attempt to cure him of his “ailment”, his agent forces him to spend five days in a meat locker to help clear his head. When the temperature drops, the lines between fiction and reality blur as both he and a young mother (Booth) are stalked by a cleaver-wielding psychopath…..or are they?
With exquisite cinematography and multiple story lines that keep you guessing until the very end, Below Zero is a thrill ride from start to finish.
I had the opportunity to speak with Kristin about her Below Zero experience and much more in this exclusive interview!
goJimmygo (gJg): What attracted you most to your role in Below Zero?
Kristin Booth (KB): The idea of playing two characters and the challenge of doing that really interested me and made me want to be a part of the project.
gJg: Are you a big fan of the horror genre?
KB: I am a huge fan! I had never actually been in one before but my best friend and I have rented pretty much every horror movie there is. We just love watching them and getting the crap scared out of us.
gJg: Well, then I have to ask you: What’s your favorite horror movie of all time?
KB: That’s a good question. We both had gone to see Texas Chainsaw Massacre when it was in the theater. I remember, we ran screaming from the car to the house; that’s how scared we were! It scared the bejeezus out of us. I’d have to say that film because of the sheer thrill we got out of it.
gJg: You were able to work with one of the real horror legends in Below Zero: Michael Berryman!
KB: Michael really is a horror legend and for me to have the opportunity to work with him was surreal and very exciting. I had seen him in “The Hills Have Eyes”, another movie that scared me; to the point where I had to close my eyes halfway through. <laughs>.
The funny thing about Michael is that you see him in all of these scary movies but in reality, he is the nicest man you’ll ever meet. He loves animals and has lots of great stories. He used to work security for Bob Dylan. He’s one of those people who’ve seen and done a lot. Being around him was great.
gJg: What was it like working with Eddie Furlong?
KB: Eddie and I were both actually in the movie “Detroit Rock City”. Even though we didn’t have any scenes together, that was a topic of conversation when we met for the first time. It’s funny how we were both in the same movie but had never met. Sometimes that’s just the nature of the business. I remember we both had different ways of approaching things for this movie, but it was great because the characters we played mirrored that so it worked out well.
gJg: Describe the story of Below Zero.
KB: It’s a look into the mind of a delusional writer. It’s also a little bit like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book because there are many different ways of looking at it. That’s what makes it so interesting!
gJg: What was your favorite scene?
KB: The cinder block scene was my favorite. I actually couldn’t wait to shoot it, although I’m sure the stunt man was a little nervous about it. <laughs>
gJg: What did you enjoy most about your experience making this movie?
KB: Meeting and working with Signe and Bob (Schultz, Producer). It was a small indie film but they were both so passionate about it. I like to see people that passionate about their art make their dreams come true.
It was a pleasure to work with them and I hope to get a chance to work with them again in the future.
gJg: What do you like to do when you’re not acting?
KB: I studied to be a yoga teacher years back so I still dabble in yoga. I’ve also just had my first baby, so I’m knee-deep in mommy duty!
gJg: What projects do you have coming up?
KB: I just finished another indie movie called “Sex After Kids“. It’s about a group of people who are all in the same boat of either having or trying to have kids and what happens to your sex life after these kids are introduced into the world. It deals with marriage and relationships and the challenges of keeping those relationships fresh. It’s quite funny, and is actually five-story lines of different couples who interact and share their stories, or nightmares as the case may be. <laughs>.
When a group of friends decides to go camping in the deep woods, it’s a decision they’ll forever regret.
There’s no better way to describe the story of “PELT”, a Richard Swindell horror film that pays homage to classic slasher films of the 80’s generation.
PELT re-lives the horrific events that took place in Caveland, Kentucky during the summer of 1991. The film is a guilty pleasure; complete with all the blood, promiscuity, recreational drug use and humor that had audiences flocking to theaters when hockey-masked malcontents were all the rage.
I had the chance to speak with Travis Goodman and Matthew Robinson; two of the stars of “PELT”, and get their thoughts on the making of the movie as what the future holds.
Travis Goodman as “Mark”
gJg: What’s the best way to describe “PELT” ?
TG: It’s the stereotypical 80’s slasher flick! That’s the part that was so fun about it. For me, it was like a throw back to my childhood.
gJg: What did you like most about your role as Mark?
TG: When I first started reading the script, I immediately found a lot of things that connected me with the character; his playfulness was something that was very ME. Mark’s kind of the glue that holds everyone together. He was the one constant between everyone else in the group, and I think that’s something that’s also very characteristic of myself; he really cared for his friends.
gJg: What was it like working on a horror film with a cast of relative new comers?
TG: I felt really fortunate to be a part of this project. It was low-budget, so I knew that the entire cast and crew were really doing it for the love of making a great movie. When you get people together in that kind of scenario, it always works out for the best. Everyone got along right off the bat.
gJg: The campfire scene with you, Ashley (Watkins) and Matthew was one of my favorites.
TG: You know, that was one of my favorite scenes to film. It was the time that I felt the most comfortable on set. A lot of my own personality really started to show through with Mark.
gJg: What’s your favorite horror film of all time?
TG: That’s a tough category for me. My friend and I always used to watch movies like “Night of the Demons” and “Axe”. I think if I had to choose one, I’d say “Scream” because I really like what it did for the genre.
gJg: What’s next for you?
TG: I’m continuing to audition. Also, my girlfriend and I are working on two different features right now.
We’re hoping those will start going through by the end of the year. I’m looking forward to that.
Matthew Robinson as “Mike”
goJimmygo (gJg): Matthew, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of “PELT”?
Matthew Robinson (MR): It’s a guilty pleasure. It’s also a film that’s better to watch when you’re with friends!
gJg: If you had to describe the story of “PELT”, what’s would you say it’s about?
MR: It’s a story about a group of friends who have a bright idea and decide to go exploring and reap any consequences for it later. Unfortunately for us, there was no later… <laughs>
gJg: What did you like most about your role as Mike?
MR: I liked the fact that my character was the comic relief. I was the one who got to make everyone laugh and keep everything fresh and fun.
gJg: For me, one of the funniest scenes in the entire movie was the part where everything was falling apart and then you discover the porn magazine.
MR: You know, my friends still use that on me! I’ll call them up and they’ll answer the phone and say, “Porn? Gimme that!” <laughs>
gJg: In most of the movie you’re wearing pajamas with little ducks on them. What’s the story behind that?
MR: That actually wasn’t written in the original script. On the drive up to location, Brian Gork (Producer) mentioned about me wearing the duck pajamas in one of the scenes. Everyone was laughing and I said, “Let’s do it!” That was how it first got into the script.
Then later, Brian thought it would be even funnier if I wore the ducky pajamas the entire time I was running!” I was down for it, and so that’s how the ducky pajamas came about. <laughs>
gJg: What did you like the most about this being your first feature film?
MR: I really liked the unity. Everyone in the cast got along so well together. For me, this being my first film, it made me feel comfortable.
gJg: Do you have any hobbies outside of acting?
MR: Recently, I’ve gotten into directing and I’ve done a few videos for up and coming artists, so we’ll see where that takes me.
gJg: Any film projects coming up?
MR: I’m working on an action short film and am also directing a few short films of my own as well. I’ve also just completed production on another feature. It’s a comedy called “The King of Hearts”.
gJg: What has the reception been like for Pelt?
It’s been great. I remember when the movie first hit Netflix, it was kind of a shock to me. People started coming up and recognizing me. But it’s all been good. As an actor and artist that’s the best.
Louis Pasteur once said, “Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity”. You can find no better example of this than in Sarah Zurell.
The young actress, who once broke down during her first audition, quickly overcame her own fear and is now forging her own path in Hollywood.
How ironic that fear would be the subject of Sarah’s first feature film “Pelt”, a Richard Swindell film that pays homage to the classic horror slasher films of the 1980’s.
Sarah plays the role of Debbie, one of seven young friends who take a backpacking excursion deep into the woods and come face to face with ultimate evil.
I had the chance to speak with Sarah and get her thoughts on “Pelt” as well as why there’s no limit to how far she’ll go!
goJimmygo (gJg): What are your first thoughts when you think of Pelt?
Sarah Zurell (SZ): It was a fantastic experience. “Pelt” was actually the first feature film that I had ever worked on. I didn’t even actually live in LA when I was cast for it, but was so excited just to be a part of it.
We filmed for close to a month and stayed in a great cabin while we were filming. Everyone got to really bond closely with each other. It was awesome!
gJg: What attracted you most to the movie?
SZ: The thing that really attracted me was just how warm and awesome Richard and everyone else was in the audition room. It really made the whole experience amazing for me. “Pelt” is also an interesting story and Debbie was such a fun character to play for my first role.
What’s funny is that the story of “Pelt” is about a group of people who have been friends forever and I think over the course of filming, that’s what we all became. It’s one of the best projects I’ve ever worked on!
gJg: Were you always a big fan of horror movies?
SZ: Truth be told, I grew up in a very religious family and wasn’t allowed to watch many horror movies. They always gave me nightmares. It wasn’t until I watched this one all the way through and actually saw how they’re made that I discovered they weren’t really quite as scary as I thought. <laughs>
gJg: Did you always know you wanted to be an actress?
SZ: Entertaining is the only thing I’ve really ever wanted to do. I love performing and acting. I danced from the ages of 3-15 and also performed in school plays. When I was 14, I suffered a dance related injury which gave me the opportunity to audition for a spot in a local theater’s version of “Anne Frank and Me”.
I remember it was my first, really big time audition, but when they called my name I completely freaked out. I just started bawling my eyes out while doing the read; it was horrible. Needless to say, I didn’t get the role. <laughs> But, I didn’t give up.
The next show they had in the spring was “Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs”. I went back in, did a great job and was cast as part of the backup ensemble. From there, I began doing show after show and just working my way up.
Eventually, I won best actress of the year at the theater and shortly after college made the move here to LA to make this dream come true. I’m trying to change the world, one movie at a time. <laughs>
gJg: Are there any projects you’re working on right now?
SZ: I’m pitching a superhero show that I’ve been developing. It’s about a girl who grew up with privilege and decides that she wants to share her wealth and fix problems. So, she goes around town as a superhero trying to solve them. It’s a really cute script.
I’m also in the process of starting a fashion media/marketing company as well with a couple of friends. We’ve been helping our first designer get her dresses in stores and on celebrities for the red carpet. I love to design clothes so that will also be a great outlet for me once we begin to develop a rapport with outlets and designers.
gJg: It sounds like you’re really beginning to live the dream!
SZ: I am. I’m of the mindset of, if you don’t like what you’re doing, you should do something else!
gJg: Is there anything else you like to do outside of acting?
SZ: I love to bake. So much so, that as a child I was actually able to send myself to summer camp by selling cupcakes. My parents didn’t have the money to send us, so my sister and I baked cupcakes and made over $2000 that summer selling them.
I think if you want something you just have to work hard and you can get it. Dreams don’t come true by sitting around and waiting for your fairy godmother to come along. Perseverance and putting in hard work is what it takes!
You can keep up with Sarah Zurell by following her on Twitter: Click Here!
Ashley Watkins has arrived. The Hollywood newcomer has already made her mark in the horror genre by playing the lead role in the Richard Swindell film, “Pelt“; her first feature film.
Ashley plays the role of Jenny, a level-headed girl whose instincts are put to the ultimate test when a camping adventure goes horribly wrong.
From the film’s website: Sudden, gory, death, hides behind every bush. When beautiful Jennifer and her friends embark on a backpacking excursion deep into the woods, they come chest to chest with an evil as old as the trees. Listen…above the crackling of the campfire…is that the sound of a twig snapping or your best girlfriend’s neck? The interlopers discover that when the locals warn you not to trespass, it’s a warning you should heed.
I recently spoke with Ashley and discussed her character as well as what she enjoyed the most about her experiences filming “Pelt”.
goJimmygo (gJg): I love your role in this movie. Your character is so dramatic and level-headed.
Ashley Watkins (AW): Thank you! Jenny was the smart one. If they would have listened to her, they would have survived. <laughs>
gJg: How did the role come about for you?
AW: The casting director gave me a call and told me about the audition. She didn’t have much information and the audition was that very night. I almost didn’t go because it was so last minute. But I went in, auditioned and got a call back. To this day, it’s still one of the best shoots I’ve ever been on.
gJg: Did you originally audition for the role of Jenny?
AW: I originally auditioned for the role of Debbie and actually got a call back for that role. Sarah (Zurell) was the original choice for Jenny. During the table read, the two of us along with Richard (Swindell) decided that something just didn’t seem right. So, Sarah and I wound up switching roles and it worked out awesome for both of us.
gJg: What did you like most about playing the role of Jenny?
AW: It was a fantastic role to start off my feature film career with. I am a huge Wes Craven fan and “Scream” is one of my all-time favorite movies. Neve Campbell is one of my inspirations.
This was kind of like that role for me; the lead in a horror film. Jenny is smart and intelligent but she’s not being a superhero; she’s normal.
As a female actress starting out in Hollywood, it’s very rare to find good, strong female roles. Jenny was not only the latter, but intelligent as well. One thing that Richard did great was create all of Pelt’s characters as fighters, including the women.
Nobody just “accidentally” tripped over a log or instantly got killed. Every character went down with a fight! So, it was great to experience that level of empowerment for the entire cast, and especially as a female. They didn’t just give up or give in!
gJg: What did you like most about making the movie?
AW: I remember how excited I was during pre-production when Richard was explaining his vision of Pelt to me.
Richard is a fan of Judd Apatow and I’m a big Wes Craven fan, so when he said he envisioned it to be a “Scream meets Superbad!” I smiled REALLY big! I knew right off the bat; this was going to be great! It’s a horror cake frosted with comedy!
I’m also a nature freak so for me, getting out of the city was a lot of fun. Then of course, we had such a great cast and crew. We were out in a remote area where there was limited cell phone service and contact with the outside world.
The location scouting was also amazing. I remember the tower scene, it took us 45 minutes just to get there and pretty much everything you see inside was already there.
gJg: What’s the story of Pelt?
AW: Pelt is the story about seven young friends who go out exploring the uncharted territory of the woods and unfortunately, begin to get knocked off one by one. It quickly becomes the process of survival. For me, it was more of a mind game. It’s a horror story with over the top goriness but also has some funny moments mixed in as well.
gJg: Were you always involved in the arts while growing up?
AW: I figure skated competitively & danced here and there for many years during my childhood. I then transitioned fairly easily into dance during college because of my skating background. When I moved to LA, I started with a few small dancing gigs, which eventually lead into a full professional dance career.
I have been blessed to make a living as a dancer for the past three years, while pursuing acting. I get paid to work out and enjoy losing myself in the moment to music!
gJg: You’ve also done some TV work as well. What would you say are the differences between filming a feature like “Pelt” as opposed to “Entourage”?
AW: It’s cool to be on set for television, but unless you’ve got a specific role, it’s only a one day taping. For Entourage, I was a featured dancer. As far as films go, you become more like a family when you make them. You develop as a character, as an actress and a person. But most of all, as is the case with Pelt, you also make great friends for life!
David Banks is forging his own path. The actor, known mostly for his comedic side, isn’t one to sit idle and let opportunity pass by.
Instead of just waiting for roles and auditions to come along David, together with longtime friend David Rountree, decided to take a more “aggressive” approach. The team wrote and developed “CUT!”, an upcoming horror film with a unique storyline.
While indirectly paying homage to the original “The Hills Have Eyes” movie by casting Suze Lanier-Bramlett and Gabrielle Stone (the daughter of legendary actress Dee Wallace); Banks and Rountree have also created a horror film within a horror film.
With a release date of Halloween 2012, it seems likely that the stars are aligned for a new horror classic!
I had the chance to speak with David Banks and get his thoughts on the movie and why it’s so unique.
gJg: Is CUT! the first collaboration for you and David Rountree (Actor/Director)?
DB: David and I have actually been friends for a long time and we’ve written quite a lot of comedy based stories together. CUT! is the first time we’ve collaborated on a genre outside of comedy.
gJg: What’s the current status of the film?
DB: With the film near complete, we are beginning to shift our focus toward getting a trailer for the fans to see. Our film is tentatively scheduled for a Halloween release and we’re really excited about it!
We were looking for the ideal person to “cut” a trailer for us that would really convey our film best, and put it to life, and we found gold with Ryan Thompson from Britain! We were searching YouTube late one night for hours and came across this guy, wrote him and told him we were instantly a fan and could he work his magic. It was a real blessing to find him.
gJg: What made you decide to write a horror movie like CUT!?
It always sparks my interest to see that something is “based upon true events.” That adds an immediate element of realism and credibility to a story. One of our biggest complaints; however, is that with traditional horror movies, they don’t quite grasp that natural element of being as raw as what the real thing may be. We’ve all seen those moments where we stop and say “Aww come on, that would never happen!”
For CUT!, we decided to play on that fact by having a horror movie within a horror movie. Two people actually decide to kill people for real and capture it on film, yet market it as a film with just great raw acting.
gJg: You and David both wear multiple hats in this movie (acting, producing, writing, directing). Why did you decide to go that route?
DB: A casting director once told me something very interesting. She said, actors can always wait around for the right role and audition to come along, but what better way to shine then to do your own thing. Write your own project that’s catered to you and do it as only you can do. For us, CUT! is the end result of that.
gJg: What was the casting process like?:
DB: The whole casting process wasn’t your typical one where we held auditions. We didn’t want to do that. What we did was find really great talent who can deliver. People like Sam Scarber, William McNamara and Dahlia Salem.
We also found out about this “new” girl: Gabrielle Stone. We already knew about her Mom from “The Hills Have Eyes” and “ET” but when she sent her reel over we were completely blown away.
She was so good and I remember telling David right then and there: “We need to get her, RIGHT NOW!” She’s going to be huge someday!
gJg: You also have another “Hills Have Eyes” connection with Suze Lanier-Bramlett!
DB: Suze is amazing. We were always a big fan of hers and the original film. It just so happens that David and I both share the same manager (Eileen O’Farrell) as she does so it really worked out for us!
gJg: Tell me about you character, Lane Hayes and the CUT! story:
My character, Lane Hayes, is an ex con with an addiction to drugs and violent tendencies towards women. Rountree plays Travis Simon, a guy who spent years in film school trying to become a director, but has only managed to find work renting out equipment to other filmmakers.
With access to everything we need to make a movie, the idea is born to just scare people and capture the footage. However, something goes horribly wrong and the first person in this attempt is killed for real.
After reviewing the video to help cover our tracks, it is decided that we have such shock value in the real kill, that maybe that is what we need to do. The story takes off from that point as every gut wrenching authentic death “scene” is captured on film and I do all the dirty work.
gJg: What’s next for you?
DB: David and I have another project we wrote called “Mr. Reality”. That’s going to be a lot of fun and we’ve already got people in mind for casting.
When David and I get together and write, good things happen.
It’s not often you come across someone as cool as Marie Bollinger, an actress making her mark on the Hollywood scene in commercials and movies like “Pelt” and the soon to be released suspense/thriller: “HUFF“.
Marie is an adventurous powerhouse and a force to be reckoned with. One look at her video reel shows that she can play a multitude of roles.
From scream queen to dramatic actress to comedy she’s the total package. Did I also mention she’s cool?
My first encounter with Marie was from her role as the voyeuristic Jessica in “Pelt”, a Richard Swindell film that pays homage to the classic camper/serial killer movies of the 1980’s. Marie was fantastic as the promiscuous camper who winds up getting captured, caged and, well you’ll just have to watch the movie to find out.
Marie’s latest role is that of Brixi in the Paul Morrell directed film “HUFF”, a twisted take on the classic story of “The Three Little Pigs” which also stars former “Bachelor” Charlie O’Connell, scream queen Elina Madison, Elly Stefanko and Jenna Stone.
“HUFF” was recently screened to an enthusiastic crowd at the Texas Frightmare Weekend and received rave reviews from hardcore horror fans. With an official release scheduled for September, Marie’s star is certain to rise to new heights.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Marie and discussing her roles in both “HUFF” and “Pelt”. In addition to being a phenomenal actress, I also discovered that Marie has amazing athletic prowess, an interesting musical hobby and an awesome sense of adventure.
Yeah, she’s cool.
goJimmygo (gJg): Marie! It’s so great to speak with you!
Marie Bollinger (MB): Yeah! Same here!
gJg: Was the “HUFF” screening at Texas Frightmare Weekend your first experience at a horror convention?
MB: Yes it was. It was the first time I’ve been to any convention actually. It was something I’ve never experienced before and it was amazing! I couldn’t believe how many horror fans were there. They’re so loyal. Texas Frightmare was really a great place to premiere the film.
I remember at one point meeting a guy who told me that it was his sixth time coming. He said he keeps coming back to them because he likes meeting the film makers and hanging with friends watching films. Everyone there just shares their love of the genre together. It’s pretty cool.
gJg: What was the screening like for “HUFF”?
MB: It was awesome! There was such a great turn out and most of the cast was there too which made it even better. I actually sat next to Elly and Jenna and we watched the completed film together for the very first time.
gJg: When is “HUFF” going to be released for the rest of us?
MB: We’re being told sometime in September. That’s what we’re shooting for.
gJg: How did you the role of Brixi come about for you?
MB: I actually landed the role in part from a movie I had done previously called “Pelt”.
A mutual friend had introduced me to Paul Morrell (the director of “HUFF”). Paul had seen “Pelt” and liked my performance. He found me through Facebook and called me in to audition for the role of Brixi.
gJg: How did it go?:
MB: I remember the first audition went really well. But after the callback I remember walking out thinking I had just blown it. I went home down on myself. And then on 11-11-11, of all dates, Paul called me up and offered me the part. <laughs>
gJg: What’s the premise of “HUFF”?
MB: It’s actually a really twisted take on the story of “The Three Little Pigs”. There’s an abusive step father, Huff (Charlie O’Connell) and a selfish mother, Lorelei (Elina Madison) who is blind to what is going on between her daughters and Huff.
My character, Brixi knows that she has to get out of the situation and ends up taking on the role of martyr in order to protect her sisters Shay (Elly Stefanko) and Styx (Jenna Stone).
Meanwhile, Lorelei takes Huff’s drug money and gives it to us to start new lives. That’s when Huff comes after us and the real horror element of the film begins. Up until that point the movie is more of a thriller.
So we run off and without giving too much away, let’s just say we make some decisions that got the crowd going at Texas Frightmare. <laughs>
gJg: What was it like working with Elina Madison?
MB: Elina is awesome! I’ve known her from seeing her at some of the commercial auditions I’ve been to. It wasn’t until later that I discovered she had this extensive resume of horror which was very cool.
I remember her coming to the table read and just laying all of her cards on the table right away. She just told everyone that she was going to do her own thing and for us to not be offended if she went off by herself. She was that focused on the story. I respect that. She was very professional.
gJg: I have to ask you this important question: Did you know that Charlie O’Connell (Huff) was “The Bachelor”?
MB: I honestly didn’t. I had never watched “The Bachelor” before and had to look it up. I went in blindly so I really didn’t really know anyone. <laughs>
gJg: Any interesting stories you remember while filming the movie?
MB: Well, I actually lived on the set pretty much. We were offered places to stay while we were filming but I didn’t want to drive so I just decided to stay on location. Our casting director, Meg Hairell, didn’t feel comfortable with me staying there by myself so she stayed there too.
I remember having to wake up every morning before anyone, even if I wasn’t due on the set, because the makeup room also doubled as my bedroom.
If I wasn’t shooting I was often napping. Meg has a whole collection of photos showcasing my skills of being able to nap anywhere but mostly curled up in a corner of the room. <laughs>
It was a creepy place because it was next to a burial ground and people had said they saw ghosts walking around on the property. I was really hoping for something scary to happen but nothing did.
gJg: Having now seen the movie, what do you like most about it?
MB: I think the fact that there was a subtle comedic element to it. Some of my favorite horror movies all have a little bit of comedy in it. It’s not always obvious but it’s there. Charlie really brought some awesome comedic elements to it. I was surprised at how well the sprinkle of comedy worked. It’s all so subtle, yet also real.
gJg: What was your experience like filming “Pelt”?
MB: “Pelt” was a really fun shoot. I remember we all stayed in this great cabin-like hotel and really bonded together. It was great fun.
Here’s an interesting story:
One of my favorite movies from a few years ago was a film called “The Signal”. I remember that there was this guy in the movie who I thought was absolutely phenomenal but I didn’t know who he was.
Justin Welborn (who plays Jon in “Pelt”) and I became good friends during filming. After we had completed shooting the two of us were hanging out together and he asked me to check out this movie he had made: “The Signal”.
I was like: “No way, that’s YOU??” I had just gotten done working with him and had no idea that he was in one of my favorite movies, which says a lot about his ability to transform as an actor. He’s a chameleon of sorts. <laughs>
gJg: I found “Pelt” to be just like some of the other horror movies I loved watching during the 80’s. The “Friday the 13th” types with the over the top kills, the promiscuous ladies, the funny one-liners at the “wrong” time….
MB: Exactly! It’s supposed to be fun!
I remember being at the table read and Richard Swindell (director and a really cool dude) told us: “I’m not reinventing the wheel here. Let’s just have fun. It will be a great experience.” And he was right, it was.
gJg: I remember reading where Richard said he knew a joke was going to work in “Pelt” if it made you laugh during the table reading.
MB: Yeah, I have a sense of humor of a 12 year-old boy and so does Richard. It was a blast. <laughs>
gJg: When did you decide you wanted to become an actor?
MB: I think it was when I was in elementary school. I remember being involved in a poetry contest and at the time just thinking to myself that acting was something I really wanted to do.
I had always been involved in plays and drama during school but I was also an athlete. I won State my senior year in the high-jump and went to college on a scholarship. Being an athlete was a big part of my life.
I graduated college with a BFA in Electronic Media but was never brave enough to take that first step and do what I really wanted to do. Then one day my father, who always knew I had the desire to act, told me to just go for it. So I did. I moved to LA and immediately started booking commercials.
gJg: I was watching your video reels and saw your sky diving adventure. What was that experience like?
MB: It was such a great experience. For one second, and quite possibly the longest second of my life, I literally thought I was going to die. But once I realized that I was actually just free-falling, it was awesome! I love stuff like that: heights, being scared, adventure.
gJg: What do you like to do in your spare time?
MB: One of the things I like to do is collect vinyl record albums. I have a lot of classics like David Bowie, Brian Eno, Phil Collins, Patti Smith, Billy Joel. A lot of punk rock from the 70’s. Some garage rock from the 50’s and 60’s. Just a wide range of music.
I’m actually going through a big Leonard Cohen/Patti Smith phase right now. I think if I could have been born in another time it would have been the 60’s.
gJg: What’s projects do you have coming up?
MB: I have a couple of short films in the works along with a feature film called “Listening”. It’s a story of two broke college grad students who invent mind-reading technology. If it gets into the wrong hands, well then it may just be the end of free will. I play a brainy vixen in this one.
It’s a fantastic screenplay and I’m very excited about it!
At first I wasn’t sure if I should even tell you this story. Quite frankly, I was afraid that you might think I was crazy. I’m not talking “Oh, well we all have our moments” type crazy. No, I’m taking “put on the white straight jacket and throw me in the rubber room” crazy. But in the end I surmised that the notion of you thinking I was crazy pales in comparison to what actually happened to me and therapy hasn’t helped.
My doctor believes that writing this down might be cathartic for me since our sessions of late haven’t been going all that well. Sure, there have been some breakthroughs and revelations since my breakdown six months ago, although I’m still not even sure how I was able to suppress the memory of it for twenty years. He’s been wrong before, like the time he upped my medication and I slept for three days, but for the sake of my own sanity I’m willing to take his advice if it brings me closure.
You must understand that the thought of reliving events about my childhood and things that go bump in the night isn’t something that really appeals to me, but if it somehow brings me solace and gets me off of these meds I’m willing to take the chance. So here goes.
To tell this story properly requires a little explanation. Growing up, some children are prone to having imaginary friends. Some invisible person that comes to play with them, listens to their problems and talks to them in a voice only they can understand. A rite of passage some doctors believe may fill a void that exists in a child’s life. Something that’s very common and also quite healthy if you ask my shrink.
I too was one of those children who experienced the imaginary friend phenomenon growing up. But having the experience is where the similarities end. In those cases, the children all grew up to live normal lives. But in my case, the “friend” wasn’t invisible, didn’t come to play and surely didn’t give a damn about my problems. In reality (yeah, now there’s a funny word for it), my “friend” also wasn’t a person. Mine was actually a “thing” if you really want to know, and very far from imaginary.
When I was eight years old the visits started and they continued twice a week every summer for years. Always starting on the Summer Solstice, June 20th, and always the same way.
Deep in the night while tucked under the covers of my bed I could hear it. The scuffling from underneath. The sound that broke me out in sweat like a Pavlonian dog, making my heart race. Coming from the place I promised myself I’d never peek under for fear of what might come out and pull me down into darkness.
From the moment the sound began I quickly dismissed notion that it might be a mouse in the wall. Looking back, I wish it had been an army of rats. Anything would be better then what was coming.
I also quickly discovered that first summer that Spider Man wasn’t real either. The night light with the wall crawler on it that sat near my bedside, the one my Mom had bought me for Christmas, the one that religiously guarded me in my bed and vanquished all foes, would be of no help.
So I pulled the covers up to my nose and prayed to God to make it go away. Promising him that if he’d help me just this one time I’d be in church every Sunday for the rest of my life.
Telling myself that if I just close my eyes suddenly the sun would be shining and my mother would be yelling for me to come down for breakfast. I’d hear the sound of birds chirping outside my open window and the swaying of bed sheets hanging on the neighbor’s clothes line in the warm summer breeze. The smell of bacon would fill the air and I would reassure myself that last night was only just a bad dream.
But this wasn’t a dream. I was still under the covers in the middle of the night and could hear rain pelting the window outside. Worse still, I was too scared to call out for help as the shadow began to rise from under my bed.