Machination is coming out on Friday and it stars Steffi Thake. How did she prepare for the role? What was it like working with the filmmakers? Give a read to this exclusive interview with the star below.
What a movie. How hard is it to psyche yourself up to play a role like that?
Yeah! It wasn’t an easy one, for sure. Playing a role with a high level of mental illness like Maria is very challenging, especially in trying to get the interpretation to be believable and authentic.
Since movies are not always shot in sequence, the character doesn’t have that natural progression through the story as you see in theatre performances. So, additional preparation and work need to be done before shooting each scene.
From the outset, was it the character or the story that interested you predominantly about the project?
The character is the story in this movie! The pandemic has been an insane reality for people all over the world, and I thought it super interesting to try and delve into the mind of someone with an underlying mental illness going through a situation like this. What an incredible challenge!
And did you know the filmmakers -?
I had initiated a conversation with them when they were looking for actors for a different movie they shot a year before Machination. They’d then seen a short horror film called Camilla that I starred in and loved it. In mid-2020 they approached me with the concept for Machination and asked me to play the lead role, so we finally got to work together.
What kind of direction did they offer?
I loved the way we prepared for this movie. It’s completely improvised, but Sarah and Ivan had a plot synopsis to follow and critical moments to hit. Everything else was entirely up to me based on the character preparation we outlined together. We worked hard for a few weeks before shooting, building up relationships with the other cast members, and truly understanding who Maria is at her core.
During shooting, they allowed me to be free and play around with different choices and actions until we found something that really worked well for Maria and for the story progression.
In films like this, you’ve got to have an imagination, I imagine – I especially for some of the more ‘fantastical’ scenes?
Yeah, it was a very delicate line to thread because we tried to capture the realistic effects of full-blown psychosis. Maria was having hallucinations of hearing voices, and Ivan helped me out by saying those things to me from behind the camera. In the more severe cases, I had to imagine all the voices and screaming in my head and decide how that would affect Maria trying to get about her day.
Anything you added to the film or the character that wasn’t on the page?
Everything 🙂 It’s an improvised movie! Joking aside, there were a lot of elements of the film that came about through everyone’s collaborative efforts.
I think that one of my favourite choices for Maria is her washing up routine upon coming home from work. Maria is obsessed with cleanliness. When she comes home, she goes through several steps to disinfect her clothes, bag, shoes, keys, and self before settling down at home. I loved building that routine step-by-step!
I’d love to see what a second collaboration between you, Sarah Jayne and Ivan might look like. Have you discussed that?
We haven’t! Sarah and Ivan are happily travelling the world and love to work with new people on new projects. Although, if we’re ever in the same country again, I’d definitely be up for another collaboration!
MACHINATION is available this week on digital.