Interview: Ari MillenAugust 30, 2019
Recently we had the chance to talk with Ari Millen about his latest film I’ll Take Your Dead, while a guest of Black Fawn Films at Toronto’s Fan Expo
So how did you get into the acting business?
Ari: The other half of Black Fawn, Cody Callahan and I, grew up together and his mom was an art teacher at a high school, so on the weekend she’d bring home one of those big VHS Camcorders. So the two of us would just run around the woods making horror movies and Monty Python spinoffs, stupid little videos, and I guess for him and I, that’s where it started.
Once you got a taste of acting did you realize that’s what you wanted to do in terms of a career?
Ari: It was something that I did, something that I enjoyed doing but it didn’t become a big thing until I had to make a choice in high school, like what am I doing with the rest of my life, that sort of thing. Even then it was like ok, I want to go into film, I want to be on the other side of things and at some point, it switched, I just applied and got in and kept going with it.
Was Orphan Black the big break for you? How did it feel to get that role?
Ari: Oh yeah, that was the big one. When I got it, it was the biggest thing I had ever done but I didn’t know what it was until the end of season two. I came in during season two and when I signed on it was only supposed to be for six episodes and then I was supposed to get killed off. Then I didn’t get killed off (laughs) and I kept going and going and at the end of the season they were like hey, how would you like to be doing this next year and I was like yeah, I could handle that. It was a lot of happy accidents, a lot of surprises and a lot of appreciation.
So how did you get involved with the film I’ll Take Your Dead?
Ari: Oh, Cody. Yeah, and through Cody, I met Chad and Chad got to direct me before Cody did (laughs). Cody and I just finished something and he’s not here because he’s over in the editing suite but yeah, we’ve been looking to do something together for a very long time, and this one worked out and we had a blast.
This was an excellent but very different film for Chad and Black Fawn. Did you get that sense when you were reading through the script?
Ari: When I was reading through it, it was like finally, a chance to work with them, so it didn’t really matter. Then as we were going it was like wow…the set was really authentic and the actors I was working beside were fantastic and then, of course, watching Chad and following his lead. It was fun, it really was, but when I saw the final product I was legitimately blown away. You read something, you see it shot but you never really know how it’s going to turn out and this is one of those rare things that was better than what was on the page, better than the performances you saw, it was just a combination of everything and it was fantastic.
What is the best thing about working for Black Fawn?
Ari: Flying by the seat of your pants, they’re very giving, they’re punching above their weight and I don’t think anyone would believe the actual budget once they see it. People would probably guess three, four, five times the amount of money that is actually going into it, they just make low budget look effortless and put other bigger budgets to shame. I think that’s the biggest thing they have going for them, they’re continuous creativity, they’re drive and they’re execution.
You brought The Oak Room to Black Fawn as a possible idea for a movie, correct?
Ari: Yeah, I did. It was a play I was in at The Toronto Fringe Festival in 2013. Cody and I were having chats like we always do, and he asked me, do you have anything, something new? I was at the Blood in the Snow Film Festival and I ran into the writer, Peter Genoway, and talked about trying to set something up with these guys. He sent the play to me, I sent it to Cody, and it was like pulling teeth to get him to read it, he was like Ari, a play, really? Then he finally did read it and was like, there is no way we can’t do this. They then brought it to Breakthrough, and Cody said the pitch for this was the most impossible thing he’s ever done, but after they read it they agreed, they had to make it. It was a lot of hard work, a lot of blood sweat and tears but we’re all very, very excited about it.
So what do you have coming up next?
Ari: Well, we’ve got The Oak Room, which we just finished and is editing and we have something else coming up that we’re hopefully doing in the fall.
I want to thank Ari for taking the time to talk with us