Updated: Jul 4
Every week, we're featuring interviews with the cast and crew of Rooks. This week's spotlight is on Third Assistant Director and Location Manager Rachelle McKeown, and Stunt Coordinator Mike O’Brien.
Rachelle McKeown and Mike O'Brien on set
An avid reader and writer, Rachelle knew she wanted to be involved with Rooks in some way after she read the script. She’s not into superhero content, but “there was more of a fantasy element to this story that I liked.” Rachelle stepped into two roles on the crew. As location manager, she identified and secured permission to film at most of the locations you see in the film. As third assistant director, she coordinated the extras you see on camera. Both were new territory for her, but she says she particularly enjoyed hunting down locations. “Poor Boys Diner was my favorite find because the family who owns the business was so nice and willing to work with us!” Rachelle cameos in the film, and she actually needed to rehearse a stunt as part of her performance. Not that she minded… she loves working out and cooking healthy when she’s not at work or on set! And who better to assist with prepping for a stunt than Mike? When asked if he wanted to help out with the film by both director Robert Maynard and lead Justin Gatcomb, it seemed too exciting to Mike to pass up the opportunity. It just so happened the role they needed him in was one Mike is incredible well suited for! Mike coordinated the stunts of the film, alongside Justin, and had his work cut out for him with a cast of actors and performers ranging from expert fighter to completely inexperienced. For example, Justin, Mike himself, and Kaleal Cerafici all have experiencing with boxing, jiu jitsu, and other martial art forms. Devon Stanley has training in gymnastics. Almost everyone else was green to stunt work. Mike wasn’t fazed by the challenge, though: “Honestly, it was an absolute blast!” Mike points to one particular stunt performed by Ramon Antonio as among his favorites: “He learned it just moments before filming and just performed it without hesitation! I have to say, too, filming on the mats at Nostos MMA, my home gym, was a really cool moment!” However, he’s most excited to see the film’s biggest stunt sequence at Premiere Night. “That was a joint labor of love for the whole stunt team, and I can’t wait to see how it came out!” Rachelle, meanwhile, is excited to see everything get pieced together. And that takes on a slightly different meaning for her, as her biggest challenge as location manager was ensuring filming locations felt like they belonged to our fictional city of Passant, organically connected but distinct. She and director Robert Maynard designed Passant to have four districts, and used four extremely different New Hampshire cities for the shoot. Portsmouth stood in for Passant's quieter residential neighborhood, featuring some parks and a beautiful view of the river than runs alongside the city. Manchester acts as the city's run-down, poorer neighborhood Varia Bay. Durham was used to film the city's financial district with sleek, modern buildings. Finally, private land in Sutton was used for a more heavily wooded residential area, making scenes set there feel isolated but still connected to the rest of Passant. Favorite movies: Mike’s is Unforgiven and Rachelle’s is Forrest Gump. When asked about their favorite filmmakers, both offered up individuals known for their equal abilities as actors and directors. Says Mike, “Clint Eastwood certainly kills it in both roles as actor and director.” Rachelle’s answer echoed that: “Jason Bateman wears both hats and has an amazing range as an actor.” Rachelle published a book two years ago: Broken Hearts, Open Minds. It’s available on Amazon now! You can find Mike often at Nostos MMA, 38 Market St, Somersworth, NH, and he asks you to consider this interview your open invitation to stop by and train with him!
See Rachelle's and Mike’s work in Rooks, premiering at The Strand in Dover, NH, on December 17. On Amazon Instant Video December 23.