A familiar face to many South Africans, Sean Cameron Michael is a successful export to the United States having performed in a number of film and television productions including a regular recurring role in Black Sails. After moving to Los Angeles a couple of years ago, Sean flew back to South Africa to team up local film director Chris dos Santos and fellow South African actor Brandon Auret for the science fiction drama Last Broken Darkness.
Film director Chris dos Santos wrote the screenplay for Last Broken Darkness with you in mind, how did that make you feel?
Sean: It was quite amazing. I met Chris about six years ago while working on a short film called Tears in the Rain. During that shoot he came up to me and he would really like to work with me one day. Then about two and a half years ago I got an email from him asking if I would be interested in reading his script and playing the lead role. Obviously as an actor it is very flattering if somebody writes a script or a role with you in mind, it was such a compliment. What was quite ironic was that I had just received my Green Card and had moved to the USA, I was actually sitting in Los Angeles at the time. Shooting was about to start in a couple of week's time, so that was quite insane. I jumped on a plane and flew back to South Africa and we started production on the movie.
In one way I was concerned about the character of Sam because this guy has lost his family and is in a very morbid, sad place. That is why the casting of Brandon Auret was so pivotal to the movie because brings in that comedic element. You need that chemistry between the actors where I could bounce off Brendon's comedic character. That casting really helped to bring the character of Sam to life. The success in the movie I think is the fact that it blends all these different genres. It is not just another horror/zombie movie. It is really about the friendship between the characters.
“...What I love about indy film making specifically is that it is a collaborative effort. Your cast and crew are like one big family on a mission to do the best possible work that you can do on a limited budget and with limited time...” - Sean Cameron Michael
The movie was shot in the middle of winter in Johannesburg, what are your memories and experiences of being on set?
Sean: (Laughs) You know, when it comes to indy film making, one is working on a very limited budget which can make things very challenging. Last Broken Darkness was a twenty-six day shoot and virtually twenty-six night shoots. Chris would pick me up from the hotel and we would go through to the set which was sometimes an hour and a half away. Then we would wrap at around three or four or five o'clock in the morning. It was a very demanding shoot in that sense.
What really helped was the fact that we were shooting on real locations. If the scene was underground, we were literally shooting underground. We shot in mine shafts, underground in hospitals and tunnels. There was one scene where we go to this run down, deserted house in the middle of nowhere and it really was a run down, deserted house in the middle of nowhere. We had to lie down on these dirty couches or the floor while the whole crew was wearing masks because the smell was so bad!
What I love about indy film making specifically is that it is a collaborative effort. Your cast and crew are like one big family on a mission to do the best possible work that you can do on a limited budget and with limited time. It was a very tricky, daunting and challenging shoot but ultimately very fulfilling.
“...the awards are really just a pat on the back or two thumbs up, saying well done guys, you're going in the right direction...” - Sean Cameron Michael
You received an award for your role as lead performer in Last Broken Darkness at the Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival, tell me about that?
Sean: The Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival and the Sunscreen Florida Film Festival, where the movie screened, are very supportive of indy films. Obviously when a project that you have been working on for so many years wins best screenplay and best actor it really is just an affirmation that you are on the right track. I think it is like any job where your boss comes to you and says well done, you did a good job. So the awards are really just a pat on the back or two thumbs up, saying well done guys, you're going in the right direction. Most of all I am really excited for Chris, for his movie to actually be out there and be recognised.
Are you planning on working with Chris and Brandon in the future?
Sean: Brandon and I just did a television series together called Blood Drive which is currently screening in the States on the SyFy channel. Brandon is an amazing actor and so well loved in South Africa while Chris I think is a master of what he does. I would love to work with both of them again, it is all just about schedules as I am essentially based in Los Angeles and it can get tricky sometimes.
You landed a small part in the Tom Cruise movie The Mummy which is currently on circuit, what can you tell me about that?
Sean: I was in Los Angeles and my agent called me and said they are in the last couple of days of production of The Mummy and there is a small role going of a British archeologist. My agent asked if I want to go meet with the casting director because shooting will be happening the following day. It happened very quickly and it was an awesome experience working with Alex Kurtzman. As a writer and producer he has worked on projects like Star Trek and Transformers, so I was really excited. It is a small role but I can't imagine any actor in the world who would turn down the opportunity to work on a Tom Cruise / Russel Crowe movie.