Interview with Deiondre Teagle, star of Death Ranch
By James Whittington, Sunday 11th October 2020
thumbnail_Brandon Blood

Grimmfest 2020 is packed with new talent and one actor that stands out is Deiondre Teagle who styars in Charlie Steeds' grindhouse homage, Death Ranch. Here Deiondre explains his role and what it was like being part of such a bold movie.

HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to be an actor?

DT: I've definitely known my whole life I've wanted to be an actor. One of my favourite movies of all time is the original Men In Black. When I was little (about 3 or 4 years old), I would re-watch my VHS copy of that movie over and over and over again. I would re-enact every scene. Since then, my love for acting and film has just grown. I have such a love for the craft.

HC: Are you a big fan of horror movies and were you aware of grindhouse and exploitation cinema?

DT: I am a big fan of horror movies. I love the feeling of a good jump scare. It just makes you feel alive when your heart skips a beat, and you lose your breath. Woooo! Some horror films definitely stick with me more than others. Anything supernatural or dealing with possession I can't watch by myself. I was definitely aware of the grindhouse genre. I'm a HUGE fan of Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. The action mixed with blood and over the top dialogue makes for the best movie night. And of course I was very aware of the exploitation genre. As a young black actor, I feel that those movies need to be a part of my knowledge and homework. In the 70s those movies were really the only representation black people saw in blockbuster cinema. Plus Pam Grier!!!

HC: How did you become involved with Death Ranch?

DT: I sent in a self-tape audition for the role of Brandon. After that, I had a Skype call with Charlie Steeds our director. And basically, after that call, he told me I was just what he was looking for and he offered me the job.

HC: What did you think of the script when you first read it and what did you bring to the role of Brandon?

DT: When I first got the script and read it for the first time, I immediately thought to myself 'Oh man... this is for real!'. Because of the subject matter, it made me think of the 1915 film The Birth Of A Nation. In that film, the Klan is depicted as this heroic entity and Black people (black men specifically) are seen as these animalistic savages. Our film completely flips that disgusting narrative. We are the heroes in this story! Racism is something that I've had to experience throughout my life, so I'm always for fighting against it. I get to do that literally in the script. I feel I brought a bit of charm to Brandon's character which I feel is necessary for what he's been through. I feel I brought a sense vulnerability and made him relatable. And I feel I brought him relentlessness.

HC: This is only your second feature, were you nervous on the first day on set?

DT: No, I wasn't really nervous. I was more excited than anything. Just ready to get to work. Meeting everyone before we started filming definitely helped. We all clicked right away, so it made that first day on set easy.

HC: You have a great on-screen relationship with co-star Faith Monique who plays Angela, did you have much time to rehearse?

DT: Oh Faith! That's my sister right there! As soon as we met, our chemistry as little brother and big sister developed right away. We would constantly make fun of each other on set every day, shoot some hoops, talk about music, laugh, etc. She is so sweet and has such a bubbly, intuitive spirit. We didn't really have any time at all to rehearse, maybe for a bit in between takes but that's it. Our time off screen is what I think made our relationship successful on screen. Plus, as you can tell, Faith is a very talented actress. The fact that we both took a lot of time to develop our separate characters made our scenes together smooth without rehearsing a ton.

HC: It has some very controversial language in the film, how did you all deal with it on set?

DT: Well everyone involved was very professional. We all knew what the story was about and the content it presented. Charlie made it a point to keep the energy light on set so we wouldn't have a completely dark cloud over our heads the entire process. Everyone made sure Faith, Travis, and I were comfortable at all times. I was never afraid to be vocal. When you approach these kinds of projects with respect, sensitivity, and professionalism, there really shouldn't be any problems.

HC: The movie is very violent and bloody splattered to say the least, was it fun to shoot?

DT: Oh man it was SO much fun! Of course I had never worked with blood in that excess before, so it was fun to experience that. Especially in that southern, Tennessee heat!

HC: Will you be nervous when the movie has its world premiere at Grimmfest?

DT: A little bit to be completely honest. Only because a story like this hasn't really been shared on screen. Also because of our current climate. But I do think it will be cathartic. Not only to see the ass kicking of racism, but to see the nod to Blaxploitation and grindhouse. I'm just excited for the Grimmfest fans to see the work and to see how they digest it either way.

HC: So, what are you working on at the moment?

DT: There are a couple of projects in development that will hopefully begin filming at the beginning of 2021. I'm currently writing a screenplay, a Psychological Crime Thriller. I'm also a choreographer and teach dance full time, so I'm trying to keep busy which is a blessing.

HC: Deiondre Teagle, thank you very much.

DT: Thank you so much James for having me! I can't wait for everyone at Grimmfest to check out Death Ranch. It's an honour!

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