An Interview with Cast Members of Sacrifice, by Avery Battles
Excited by what he’s been hearing about the in-production, independent giant monster film Sacrifice — despite the fact that so much about the project is being kept under tight secrecy — Kaiju Search-Robot Avery (aka Avery Battles) has interviewed two of those involved — Brent Heffron, who plays “Kyle Broughnam”, and Shanda Lee Munson, who plays “Atzi Olin”.
Avery: I’d like to start with allowing you to introduce yourselves to our readers by telling us a little bit about yourselves.
Brent Heffron: My name is Brent Heffron, and I’m a native of Arizona. I currently live in Tempe with my wife, and our plethora of animals.
Shanda Lee Munson: My name is Shanda Lee Munson. I am originally from the Midwest and have been living in Arizona for the past seven years. I am married with two children, a son who is almost five years old, and a daughter who will turn one in July. My husband plays professional baseball, and together we have moved over 30 times in the past ten years. He is currently a catcher with the Oakland Athletics. I graduated from college with degrees in Marketing, Public Relations and Spanish … but acting has always been my passion.
A: Could you give us some insight into the character you are playing? Who are they? What are they doing? What in particular attracted you to this script and to your respective characters?
BH: I play Kyle, the geologist that creates the satellite that finds the “material” that eventually leads us to our monster. He’s incredibly book-smart and he was born to do what he does. It’s really the only thing that makes sense to him. He loves Atzi and I don’t think he really gets why she’s in to him, but he would truly do anything for her. He’s also been her support system every since she lost her parents unexpectedly. I like Kyle cause he’s definitely not the traditional “hero”. He’s really just a big dork who gets himself in trouble.
SLM: My character’s name is Atzi Olin. She’s currently working towards her Master’s and completing her thesis. Atzi is an intelligent woman, with a very complex past. She’s very determined to overcome her own personal tragedy and help those around her uncover the truth about the town where she grew up. She’s in a relationship with Kyle, who is truly her best friend and constant support in whatever she does.
A: What in particular do you feel that you can bring to these roles? What would you say in your experience as an actor and in life has prepared you for it? How do you feel that you can relate to him/her? When it’s all said and done what would you like the audience to take from your portrayal of him/her?
BH: I’ve seen many times in these type of movies that the characters are really one-dimensional, and play into stereo types, but I’m really inspired by the depth that Kyle has and it’s my goal to hopefully bring that depth across in the film. I relate to Kyle in the way that he cares for Atzi; their relationship is very similar to my wife’s and mine.
SLM: I am personally always attracted to well written scripts. Believe or not, they aren’t always easy to come by. I also like fictional stories that incorporate factional history into them. I also love a good mystery! I felt very connected to Atzi because I could feel how driven she was, and loved how determined she is to work towards her goals despite the roadblocks she’s encountered along the way. I admire her relationships with people. She’s a very likeable character.
My goal with every role is to be as believable as possible, and to have a character with depth. I think that although I haven’t been through the exact same circumstances as Atzi, that I have had times in my life where I have felt the way she does. I try to draw from those personal experiences as much as I can. My ultimate goal is to just BE her, not just act like I would imagine her to be.
A: To what extent does this film fit into the monster-film genre? Has this genre always interested you or is this something altogether new?
BH: I’m a fan of sci-fi and I’ve watched my fair share of monster movies in the past, so I was really excited at the idea of being in this type of film. I think Sacrifice definitely fits the genre very well.
SLM: This is my first Monster Movie! I was excited to delve into a genre that was unfamiliar to me as a professional actress. To see and hear the excitement of the wonderful people behind this project was enough for me to want to do it. I think “monster lovers” won’t be disappointed.
A: Without giving much away, are SFX a big part of this film? Do you find yourself acting to a blue-screen? If so, how do you handle that experience?
BH: I think SFX will definitely help tie the film together to some extent. We’ve done some green screen already and I know we have some more coming up. It’s been a great experience so far.
SLM: At this point in the project it’s difficult to say how much special effects will be a part of the film. We will be acting with a green screen and I’m excited to try that for the first time. Another cool experience!
A: Who are some of your acting inspirations? Are there any in particular that you are drawing inspiration from for this particular role? Johnny Depp is said to have modeled Captain Sparrow on Keith Richards. Is that how you work when developing your role?
BH: I’ve been acting in some capacity since I was six, and really got into performance art aboutyears ago. Anybody who decides that they have a passion for this craft inspires me to keep diving into my work and to continue to grow. For this film I’m just trying to wrap my head around who I think Kyle is and go with that. I did watch Jeff Goldblum a bit when I first started thinking about Kyle for some reason or another, but I eventually broke away from that.
SLM: I started acting in musical theater at the age of three and haven’t stopped since. Professionally, I hope to continue to work in film and television for many years to come. Ideally, I want to make good movies with a great message. I look at every project as an experience that will make me a better actor. I feel very blessed to do what I do for a living, while still getting to be a stay at home mother to my two children. I do watch my favorite actors very closely and take from them what I can. I usually pay the closest attention to them when they are not speaking. The best ones can say so much without opening their mouths. That is a true gift!
A: What have your experiences on the set been like so far? Any humorous/exciting/poignant stories to share?
BH: The cast and crew has been great so far. We’ve really grown very quickly and it’s been a joy so far. One night we were shooting till roughly three in the morning and the two other actors in the scene with me had decided that we needed to create some of our own stunts that weren’t written in the script. I think the scene will really be better because of it, but my hip will hate me years and I may no longer be able to have children.
SLM: This set has been so much fun. The cast and crew are so wonderful to be around. We definitely get along and have come up with some great nicknames for each other. I am affectionately referred to as “Anthropology Barbie” while Brent is called “Plutonium Boy”. There is also Colonel Overkill played by the lovely Heather Liebenow. The rest of the names are not appropriate for publication. I kid! I know that even though the budget isn’t the highest, we all really want to work well together to make a good film, to prove that it doesn’t take big studio dollars to put out quality work. The crew has really put their lives on hold to get this done. I am proud to be apart of it. And Bob [Nelson, Director] and Sharon [Skinner, “Meda”, Wardrobe Director and Props] rock!
A: What is your take on all of the strict secrecy surrounding this production? Why was it felt to be necessary? Have you ever been involved in any previous projects to where the film makers were so keen on keeping everything under such tight wraps? What precautions are made during each shoot to prevent anything from being revealed?
BH: With this type of film I think part of it will be sold by some of the twists that the film takes. Without the secrecy I think the film loses something. For me this is the most secretive any project has been, but again I think it is needed this time around.
SLM: I think secrecy is necessary. Why would you pay good money to see a film you already know too much about? You just need to know enough to get you to come see it. Sometimes I wonder if I really know how this thing is going to end. I just have a sneaking suspicion Bob has some more things up his sleeve.
A: When it’s all said and done what in particular will make this film stand out from the rest? What will make it so unique?
BH: I think at the core of this film there’s a great story with good characters and even though the monster will be a huge, ball-breaking focus it won’t be the only focus. I just think this film will be multi-dimensional in terms of strong points and I’m very excited for it to come out. Thank you for your time, Avery.
SLM: Films like this one aren’t made everyday. I think anytime you can make a quality film that is out of the ordinary, people will want to see it. The crew is great, the cast is really talented. At the end of the day that is the perfect formula! I feel very blessed to be apart of Sacrifice.
A Gallery, including many on-location production pictures