Every week, we're featuring interviews with the cast and crew of Rooks. This week's spotlight is on actors Kaleal Cerafici and Kirsten Bornkessel.
Kaleal and Kirsten are both newcomers to the Accented Films gang, not that it took them long to settle in. They were both welcome additions to the cast and showcased their incredible talent every day on set.
Kirsten, a full-time student at UNH, professional singer, and member of the Air National Guard, responded to a casting call last summer for the role of Annie, and after meeting with Director Robert Maynard, she decided Rooks would be a fun opportunity. Kaleal, meanwhile, was recommended to the production after another actor had to step away from the role. Kaleal is a podcaster, boxing trainer, and amateur kickboxer who was drawn to the character of Percy by, in his words, “the allure of those sweet fight scenes and chance to play a more dramatic and dark character, who’s got some goofiness to him! The character is a bit of a loner found friend, so I basically used the high school experience to motivate my feelings. Everyone knows the feeling of being alone, and being scared of being alone again. So it was a big driver for Percy’s motivations.”
Kirsten plays opposite Kaleal in many a scene: “I tried to not only bring a little bit of myself into the character, but also think about the power she brings to the table and how I could represent that on film.”
One thing they agreed on: working with the cast and crew was a blast. “Everyone was such a fun and friendly artist, whether they’d call themselves that or not. There’s a lot of love because this isn’t a studio production. Everyone is there because they want to be. Everyone is just welcoming and fun.”
Turning to some specifics, we asked them to discuss their favorite moments from set. In terms of locations, it was a no-brainer for both of them… a scene set on top of a frozen lake. Says Kirsten, “Even thought my toes were numb, I definitely loved filming out on the lake. I feel like I got most into character in that moment, and it was just a super cool shoot!” Kaleal added, “It was absolutely frigid, but I think it was a beautiful scene you won’t find almost anywhere else.”
While Kirsten’s particularly excited to see the fight scenes of the film on screen, Kaleal zeroed in on a specific part of his performance that he’s most excited to see: “I really enjoyed the moment where I had to imitate Jamie’s character, who is a woman, and had to use her mannerisms. That was a fun one for me.”
As always, we closed by discussing favorite movies and filmmakers. Kirsten’s favorites are I Am Legend and Andrew Garfield. Kaleal’s are Everything, Everywhere, All At Once and The Karate Kid, and he counts Quentin Tarantino and Jackie Chan not only as his favorite filmmakers, but also as sources of inspiration: “Tarantino is a true artist… he wants to express the story in the clearest vision he has. I try to let that freedom come through in all my work. And Jackie Chan… his comedy and fights made me think he was a superhero, and I wanted to be like that. Funny, cool, and a complete legend.”
In addition to Rooks, you can catch Kaleal in two projects from FQ Studios: Agent Stone (which was nominated for 4 awards and won 3, and in which Kaleal played a big part in the choreography of the fights), as well as the currently filming Map Heist with Forest Quaglia. Kirsten has been cast in two projects by Brooke Grondin, the TV series The City of Children and the film The Culled. All of her projects are listed on her website.
See Kaleal as Percy and Kirsten as Annie in Rooks, premiering at The Strand in Dover, NH, on December 17. On Amazon Instant Video December 23.
Want a printed copy of one of these posters? You can pre-order and pick up at Premiere Night!
Every week, we're featuring interviews with the cast and crew of Rooks. This week's spotlight is on Assistant Camera Bobby Hill and Art Director Stephen Hill... and if those last names seem similar, you might be on to something.
For Stephen, the most exciting part about working on this set was the new experience. "I loved supporting my good friends! The set is a mix of busy work, but also meeting new and amazing people!" For Bobby, this was a bit more about career development: "I’ve been wanting to get into filmmaking and this looked like an excellent opportunity to pursue that goal. Not to mention the prospect of being to represent my home state on the big screen. Everyone was very welcoming. Since this was my first time working with them I was a little nervous participating with such a tight friend group. However, over the course of principal photography, I slowly became acquainted with everyone, as they did with me."
Stephen is the film's Art Director, meaning he lead a team to develop the look and feel of the film. From designing sets and props to working out the details of costumes, hair, and makeup, Stephen's attention to detail was paramount in ensuring things went smoothly. "Being able to work at UNH and develop an office space was by far my favorite part of this whole thing. The hotel, too. It really felt official to be able to use the space for part of the movie. But really, what’s amazing is coming out of the shoot with new friends, being able to meet so many new people and to have this much fun surprised me for sure!"
Bobby, meanwhile, was the film's Assistant Camera, meaning he worked with DP Sarah Elizabeth Bailey to ensure recordings came out smooth, occasionally filling in for her. He loved the cabin in Sutton, like so many of his crewmates, and recalls, "A lot of great moments from the movie were filmed there."
Speaking of great moments from the film, they both will be on the lookout for specific things come premiere night. For Stephen, it's the chemistry of the cast. "Seeing the friendships outside of the film develop on screen was amazing, I'm excited to see that on film." Bobby, meanwhile, is excited to see one particular scene with one particular actor: "Watching Ryan Anastasi act for the first time gave me amazing chills. There's a scene with him during our first big shoot at the Garrison Hotel, and watching that was by far my favorite moment from set."
We finished, like always, by asking their favorite movies and filmmakers. Bobby offered The Shawshank Redemption and director Edgar Wright. Stephen's favorites are Dune and Godzilla vs. Kong, and he added, "I love Zendaya for sure!"
Bobby continues his filmmaking journey with the submission of a script to the New Hampshire Film Festival this year entitled The Bite. Stephen, meanwhile, says he hopes to be back on set with Accented Films next time we gear up for a new production.
See Bobby’s and Stephen’s work in Rooks, premiering at The Strand in Dover, NH, on December 17. On Amazon Instant Video December 23.
Beginning this week, we're featuring interviews with the cast and crew of Rooks. This week's spotlight is on a few of the actors: Ryan Anastasi, Adrianna Angeline, and Kaden Kirton.
Ryan's the only member of this trio that had acting experience prior to Rooks, but they all brought their A-Game to set. Adrianna talked a bit about why she was interested: "I had never acted before, but knowing my sister (Michela Lamparelli) felt comfortable acting for the first time too made me want to give it a shot. Stereotypical little sister wanting to do whatever their older sibling is doing!" Ryan, meanwhile, onboarded this film a bit differently. A longtime friend of director Robert Maynard, he simply knew he had to be involved from the moment he learned about the project.
Ryan approached developing his character Anders Shane as he does with all his characters, by developing a back story to understand the motivation and intent behind their actions. "For Anders, I thought about how he worked diligently to become a successful CEO of his company and thought about challenges he may have faced along the way and how he overcame those obstacles." Adri found her character Valerie to be less of a step outside the box, offering "I was attracted to Valerie’s character because I could see a lot of myself in her, so my process to get into character was to really just be myself." Kaden, meanwhile, practiced his lines daily so he would be prepared on set to portray his character Griffin.
Kaden has the distinction of being the youngest cast member in the film. Twelve now, though eleven when he shot his scenes back in April, Kaden found it both challenging and rewarding to be on the set. "When we were at the diner and I got to meet other cast members, I think that was my favorite moment from set. Everyone was really friendly. Getting to see the cabin was a lot of fun, too!"
He's referencing the cabin in Sutton where a number of shoot days took place. Although Kaden never filmed any scenes there, he came to visit set and learn a bit about the process. Ryan also got to see the cabin, and counts it among his favorite locations for filming. His favorite moment, though, was something he shot on his second day: "We were shooting a scene at a hotel, and I got to use a one-time-use prop that was really fun and looked great live and on camera."
Adri didn't shoot any scenes at the cabin or the hotel, but she was a huge help in securing one filming location: her workplace (because who doesn't want to go in to work on their days off, right?). Adri helped in getting the production access to film in Paul College on UNH Campus for a weekend, which functions in the film as an office building... not a big stretch. "We got to use so many different places within the building, it was my favorite place to film!"
Asked about what it was like working with the cast and crew, all three had very positive things to say. Said Adri, "It can be easy to stress out over forgetting lines or not getting the scene just right, but everyone is so lighthearted and the sense of humor on set is second to none. It helped that many people on set were also alumni of UNH, so even if it was my first time meeting them, we already had things in common to talk about."
Wrapping things up, we asked each of them their favorite movie. Ryan's is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Adri's is Taken, and Kaden's is The Conjuring 2... yikes, I'm not even old enough to watch that one yet. We also asked their favorite actor... Ryan said, "Tom Hanks, a great actor and a wonderful role model," while Adri said, "I secretly love Woody Harrelson, we share a birthday!" Kaden said that his favorite actor is Justin Gatcomb, with whom he shares all of his scenes. We agree... Justin is a pretty great actor!
See Ryan as Anders Shane, Adri as Valerie, and Kaden as Griffin in Rooks, premiering at The Strand in Dover, NH, on December 17. On Amazon Instant Video December 23.
Want a printed copy of one of these posters? You can pre-order and pick up at Premiere Night!
Premiere Night December 17 at The Strand in Dover, NH.
I can’t see the future. But one of the characters in Rooks can, and SHE told me to tell all of YOU… something’s happening next week. Might be worth a follow…
Congratulations to Kirsten Bornkessel for wrapping on Rooks early Saturday morning! Kirsten is an incredibly talented actress we were fortunate to have with us for this journey. I can confirm that her co-star Kaleal was going in for a congratulatory hug in this photo, despite the prop knife in his hand!
We had a “family dinner” last night to celebrate a milestone. We’re halfway through production! I am fortunate and humbled to have all these amazing people in my corner, and it was a joy to take some time and celebrate with them!
We resume production on April 2, with a target wrap in early June!
I started writing this story almost two years ago. Every day I work on this project, be it writing the script, casting the actors, coaching them through their scenes, and even the tiny bit of editing work we’ve already done, I can’t help but continue to fall in love with these characters. Yesterday was a real treat for me… for the first time, these eight incredible actors were all in the same room, sharing a scene. Weirdly, it almost feels out of my hands at this point. They’re not mine anymore. These characters belong to their respective actors now, and I have the pleasure of watching the story unfold before me. And I couldn’t ask for a better cast to do that.
Now, trying to take a picture of all eight of them without someone telling a joke… that’s my new challenge.
Rooks is now in production! Day 1 of filming was completed yesterday, huge thanks to Nostos MMA and Conditioning Facility in Somersworth for allowing us to use their space for rehearsal and filming.
Today was our first stunt training day! Justin and Mike did a fantastic job working with the cast, and Devon, John, and Nick rolled with the punches (pun intended) throughout the day. We’re extremely excited to begin filming in just 3 more weeks!
We're pleased to announce that we've reached 15% of our fundraising goal for Rooks! Please share this link with your network, and consider donating to the cause if you can. Just $10 gets your name in the credits! Each subsequent donation tier includes even more rewards, so no matter how much you donate, we're happy to show our appreciation. Thank you!
The fundraising campaign for Rooks is now live! We're so excited to begin production in a few months, but in the meantime, we're asking you to share this link to the campaign page, and if you can, please consider donating to the project. The cast and crew are incredibly thankful for all the support.
Cinematographer Sarah Elizabeth Bailey will shoot Rooks, supported by assistant camera Bobby Hill. Rachel Natzel will storyboard. Following our success with shooting one sequence of Crossing using this method, Sarah will shoot much of the film with the built-in 4K camera of the iPhone 11 series, as well as the built-in 4K Dolby Vision HDR camera of the iPhone 12 series, aided by the cinematography app suite designed by Filmic Pro.
The entire cast and crew of Crossing shares in this celebration… I’m humbled to be recognized by the Global Monthly Online Film Competition.
Happy Birthday to the incredibly talented Nicholas Pitcher! Nick composed the music for Crossing, and we’re thrilled to confirm today that he’s returning to compose an original score for Rooks.
Yesterday, June 26, we began preproduction for our latest venture, a feature film entitled Rooks. We had our first meeting as a cast and crew, bringing together the largest group we've ever worked with. We look forward to bringing you more updates this summer as we plan our production.