LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS Interview with Hattie Smith, star of The Axiom
By James Whittington, Sunday 24th June 2018
The Axiom is a tense and disturbing chiller from director Nicholas Woods. The film concerns a woman who travels into a National forest, in search for her missing sister. Once in the wilderness, they discover they have entered a multi-dimensional world full of monsters. The film is an adrenaline infused experience with some cool effects and a smart story. We chatted to lead actress Hattie Smith about The Axiom.
HC: How did you become involved with The Axiom?
HS: I went to school with Nicholas, the director. We both graduated from Chapman University, and I was a year or so behind him in the film school. At some point, I was recommended to him as an actress for the 48 Hr Film Festival. From there on out, I was always asked back to audition for his projects. I starred in one of his smaller horror shorts several months before the Axiom was completed, and my performance in the short got me an audition for the film. If I remember correctly, when I was first called in, it was to audition for the role of Darcy. After my first read he asked me to review the sides and read for McKenzie. I was called back for McKenzie several weeks later and booked it.
HC: What did you think of the script when you first read it?
HS: When Nicholas first asked me to audition, I wasn't really sure what the scope of the project was. It wasn't until I got my call back and requested to read the full script that I knew. First things first I was super impressed. It was clear how much time went into writing the script. I was honoured to be considered, and I was jumping at the idea of being in it. It would be a huge challenge and no doubt my hands would get messy, which to me is so exciting.
HC: How would you describe your character of McKenzie and how did you prepare to play her?
HS: McKenzie is very interesting. We're not the same person by any means, but I can definitely relate to her determination and dedication. Watching the film it's easy to notice that McKenzie doesn't have a huge amount of lines, which leaves for a lot of "moments". That's why it was so important for me to dive deep into what McKenzie's motivations were to the core. Her family is a huge factor in her decision making, which I can totally relate to. At first glance she is introverted, cynical, and a bit reckless; but when it comes right down to it, all of these attributes are spurred by this love and longing for some type of companionship and purpose. That kind of longing can bring people to put a lot on the line, especially when the "unconditional" love of family is at risk. Substitution played a big role in my preparation. I mentally started putting my own loved ones in the world of the Axiom so I could get a better take on that primal instinct. Then it was just a matter of applying that to my (McKenzie's) sister and brother in the film. I had to keep those relationships as strong as ever so I came up with super intricate back stories and memories. I had a journal. The rest kind of fell into place after that especially when on location. Being in the middle of the mountains is super powerful, especially with the story like the Axiom. They can really transport you.
HC: What does it feel like to be leading a film?
HS: I mean, it's amazing, but the cast/crew was essentially my family during filming. Each character serves such a specific purpose, and without them the story wouldn't flow as well. I will say it was really nice being on set every day and getting to meet and interact with everyone involved. I have a new found respect for leading ladies and men, it was thrilling but exhausting. All in all, I was happy to do my part in carrying the film from point A to point Z. It was a blast!
HC: Which scene was the hardest to film?
HS: It's probably a draw. There's an emotional scene in the cabin right after Edgar and Darcy have their big encounter. Stakes were high for everyone in that scene, and in order to get the best possible coverage we all tried to remain as focused and involved in the scene for every take. There were a LOT of takes. By the end, I needed a nap. The second was most definitely the night shoot. First of all, if you haven't noticed, McKenzie is in very short shorts for the duration of the movie...The temperature on the mountain fluctuated, but at night it was about 25-30 degrees. That night was a toughie. It called for a lot of energy and emotion.
HC: It's an intense movie, what was the atmosphere like on set?
HS: It was a dream. The crew was amazing and completely respectful when heavy scenes were coming up. There were so many talented people working on this film. It was incredibly professional, and so beautiful. Surprisingly enough the cast and I quickly became a quirky little family. We stayed on task, but there was NEVER a dull moment. There were a lot of tears in this movie, but we definitely made up for it in laughs off set.
HC: Are you a horror movie fan?
HS: So long as I'm not by myself in my apartment, YES. I'm a believer in the paranormal so I tend to lose sleep after a good horror film all alone in my apartment. But Halloween has always been and will always be my favourite time of year.
HC: What advice would you give to young actors wanting to break into movies?
HS: Practice patience, and always exercise your craft regardless of the work that's coming or not coming your way. You never know when something big may fall into your lap, and it's your job to make sure you're ready and capable of bringing you're best. Also trust your gut and always try to surround yourself with creative energy.
HC: So, what are you working on at the moment?
HS: I just wrapped my second feature entitled "Silhouette", which should be making the festival rounds in the near future. It's a romantic drama, so quite the opposite of Axiom. I also booked role on a comedic webseries called, "For Evan's Sake". On my own I am working to write and produce some of my own content which is on the dramedy spectrum.
HC: Hattie Smith, thank you very much.
HS: Of course. My pleasure!
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(Photo credit Dawson James Photography)
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