Q: How did you get connected to the project? Did you have to audition? If you did, would still have got the part?
Dustin Ardine: First let me say that I don’t usually like to take roles that I don’t have to audition for. I know many who would disagree with me but the way I see it is this. If a part is written for you or given to you without an audition that means that you only got the role either because of the way you look or because of who you know. I HATE THAT! I want to get roles based on my acting talent. As an actor I want to change myself to fit the character. Not have the character fit me.
And I NEVER want to get a role just because of who my friends are. Anyway, on this project the director Romane Simon and I had actually meet about a year and a half before this film. He had scene my work in previous films I had done and personally contacted me because he wanted to work with me on a project of his. However, that project never materialized and was dropped. Then he contacted me again about a film called “I am not for sale: the fight to end human trafficking.” He wanted me to audition for one of the lead roles in the film. We meet up and talked about the film and the role of Roy. Later I came back to audition and won the part of “Roy”.
Q: As one of the main cast on the project, how did this ‘choice’ work for you?
Dustin Ardine: I never take any role lightly. I don’t want to be known for just banging out a bunch of random crap. I only want to take roles in films that I truly believe in. Film that have a great message to send and have a great character that I want to play. Something I haven’t seen before and this project seemed like a project that I wanted to be involved with. Now, I have been in situations before where I really thought that a film would do really good but then somewhere after we filmed the director or editor changed things or saw things differently and change things after the fact in editing and the whole thing ended up being a big letdown for me.
As an actor unfortunately we really don’t have control of things like that so I like to sit down with the director and see where their head is and how they see the film before I make my decision to come onboard. After talking things out with the director I had a good feeling and joined the project officially. I just hope it turns out the way that I had hoped it would. I have not yet seen the finished film but I’m hoping for the best.
Q: What part of the story challenged you when you read it? What drove you to get on the project?
Dustin Ardine: To be honest the entire film was challenging. It’s a film about human trafficking and the Horrors that these victims are put through. That’s why this film was very important for me to come on board of because it’s a very important topic. We hope our film Can Shed light on this issue so we can put a stop to it. So the subject matter alone is very serious and challenging. In addition to this was the fact that I’m playing one of the lead villains in the film. So I had to become this horrible person doing these horrible things.
That in itself would be enough of a challenge however you add that to the way that I work and how I put together my characters and I had to find what made this character the way that he was. I am not one that believes a villain is just a villain to be a villain. No there’s a reason behind it. There’s a story to where this character’s life went askew and even though he is technically a villain he’s not black hearted. Evil villains can still have values or rules or the way that they see things. All of these things is what made Roy such an engaging character to play and my job as the actor was not only putting this all together but also showcasing this to the audience. Yes he is a villain but there’s a reason.
My character is kind of the adopted son of the main villain of the film betrayed by Daytime Emmy Award winner Judy Evans whose performance was amazing! My character kind of sees her as a mother so he never really had a chance to be anything but bad but he isn’t her and he still does see things a different way and doesn’t necessarily agree with everything that she says. So a challenging part of the film for me was figuring out when to showcase this side of him to show the audience he’s not all bad he never really had a chance but he still is a villain and a scary one at that.
Q: You’re not new to indie films. What do you enjoy about the work that keeps you working?
Dustin Ardine: As an actor just working is a victory. LOL The hardest part about being an actor is finding work. Getting cast in great projects and showcasing to people what you can do and why they should work with you. It’s not just auditioning and waiting to see if you got the part. There’s so much more that goes into it. You need to showcase why people should want to work with you.
Show them your work ethic and show them that nobody will work harder for them than you will and nobody can do this role like you can and that’s the reason that they should cast you. Then you have to follow that up and do all the hard work and show them they were right to cast you and hopefully they want to cast you a million times more. To be perfectly honest when I’m not on set and not bringing a character to life I’m not really happy. Being on set as another person is where I want to be.
Acting is what I want to do. So the drive to keep working and keep staying on set and keep bringing characters to life is always there and keeps me wanting more.
Q: Give an example of a direction you received from the director during the production?
Dustin Ardine: There was a scene in this film that we shot that was never in the original script and it was a gigantic change in the script. It changed everything that came after it both for my character and the film as a whole. Without giving away any spoilers I can tell you that’s a very difficult challenge to do because it’s something that you’re completely unprepared for and it changes a lot of the choices you have made for the character.
But the choice was made to go this direction because of things happening behind the scenes and the director came up to me and told me this is where they wanted the film to go and why it was needed and the director told me to run with it and go as far with it as I wanted to go. So that’s what I did. I went all out in the scene and sort of steered straight into the huge change for my character and for the film.
Once the scene was over and shot everybody on the crew and cast came up to me and told me how amazing I did and that this part was going to be a pivotal part of the film and probably the scene that my character is remembered for.
Q: How did you create your character from ground up?
Dustin Ardine: I’m a method actor and I always go completely into the characters that I play. In order to do that I have to build them from the ground up. First I read the script fully through 3 times. I make notes on a broad scale dealing with time period, dealing with setting, dealing with themes, story arcs, and that kind of things. Then I do a ton of research on all the notes that I made. After that I then begin reading the script again a ton of more times paying close attention specifically to my character.
Learning the whys of the character and the how’s of how he became the way that he is and learning how he would react to different scenarios in his life and I build a complete background based on these things. The character of Roy is that yes he is a villain but he is not a complete black hearted person. But there’s a reason for why he does what he does. I gave him this backstory- He was given up for adoption when he was born, his own parents didn’t want him. He ran away from the orphanage as soon as he possibly could and lived on the streets. He became a criminal to survive. Stealing things pickpocketing doing what he had to do to live.
Then he was found and taken in by Judy Evans character and sort of sees her as his savior. So he is insanely loyal to her. But he does have his own mind and he does see things differently because when he was on the streets he had to make his own decisions so even though yes he is insanely loyal to her there’s some things he agrees with and doesn’t agree with but when it comes down to it will always protect her with his life.
Q: As main cast on the film, describe the feeling of responsibility that you shouldered. Where you scared? Or did it fire you up? What scenes where difficult to shoot?
Dustin Ardine: The feeling of responsibility on this film not only for myself but definitely all the cast and crew combined was huge! This is a story of the Horrors that are inflicted upon the victims of human trafficking. We were being a voice for the voiceless. I was scared at the beginning of it knowing who I would have to become to showcase this horrible human being that my character is. I would have to play this character that I utterly hated but do it in a truthful way meaning that I needed to truly care about his story in order to show case it.
A Lot of the times when we hate someone we brush them off. But in order to be truthful to him I couldn’t do that. I would have to get deep in his mind to see his point of view. Now of course any film with such terrible circumstances is going to be hard to shoot, scenes involving rape, scenes that involved torture of these victims, were of course a huge challenge, but everyone involved in the project was so brave, especially these young actresses who played the victims. As actresses and actors portraying these situations we would have to be put in these situations. And even though they were fake we still had to let our emotions and the physical act of the scenes take us to these horrible places.
I completely lost myself in this character. Which is horrible to think but I had to be true to the character and even though I wanted to vomit and throw up at some of the acts that were portrayed in this film the responsibility fell on us to Show These. These are things that really happened to these victims and we wanted to showcase them in a truthful way in the hopes of people seeing our film and doing more for the cops of ending human trafficking forever.
Q: Explain one creative choice you made on set during production?
Dustin Ardine: One creative choice that I made was the choice of my character Roy’s accent and speech pattern. Roy grew up on the streets of New York and was very uneducated. He learned slang talk on the streets of New York. He was never really formally educated and while I did give him a New York accent I made the choice that his accent wasn’t going to be a region specific only accent of New York.
It’s not only from Brooklyn or from queens or from one part. Roy moved around and learned slang words from different parts of New York. He was like a traveler, a Drifter, he would pick up things here and there. So his whole speech pattern is different and his accent drawers differently than if he were only from one part of New York. I really took the liberty of crafting the way Roy speaks each word in each scene.
Q: What did you take away from the film production?
Dustin Ardine: I think the biggest thing that I took away from this Film Production specifically was watching just how courageous and brave the cast and crew were when telling this story. As I already mentioned we all felt a responsibility to speak out for these victims and in order to do that we had to go to very dark places within ourselves. In order to showcase these horrible events that these people have to go through which no one should ever have to go through is a vital thing to show for this film!
Taking myself to the Head space I needed to go to in order to bring Roy to life was very scary. I know many of the cast purposely stayed away from me during the shoot because they didn’t want to be anywhere near me and I can’t blame them. I didn’t want to be around myself. But nevertheless they worked with me and I work with them.
I saw firsthand these courageous actors and actresses push themselves beyond the breaking point all for the sake of telling this story and being truthful the real victims of human trafficking. Knowing how Brave and courageous people can be is something I will take away with me forever.
Q: What do you like most about the director, and his/her collaboration with his/her team?
Dustin Ardine: Well first I am a “tell it like it is” kind of person. And just like with any project this project had its share of behind the scenes issues. Anybody who has ever been on a set before knows there’s always issues that come up on set. Whether it’s drama or scheduling problems or whatever. Something is bound to go wrong. There’s always something. This film was no exception.
Its always a struggle to get films made for one reason or another but one positive was that the director and his DP had work together numerous times in the past and we’re always in sync. They knew what each other wanted and worked together to get it. When the director had to step away to deal with an issue or something else the DP would step in and vice a versa. They made a good team in that regard.
Q: What is next for you?
Dustin Ardine: I’m happy to report that I have a couple different projects coming up right now. First I have a feature film called “Proving Ground” that actually just got a cover story 10-page article in a Hollywood magazine written about it. The film is going to be directed by an amazing known director Joel Bender and it will star myself opposite a great cast including Dominique Swain, Mika Boorem, Danny Arroyo, and Vincent M. Ward. Also next year I will be traveling to Ghana in Africa to shoot a film called “Religion” that I have been cast as the lead for. Also I just found out that I have been cast in an upcoming horror Anthology film that deals with life and death. I am one of the lead roles. And lastly, I have a short drama film called “In Tune” set to shoot later this year. I play a drug addict in that film. It’s a wonderful story and I can’t wait to see where it goes.
Q: What advice do you give actors regarding what you learnt on the project?
Dustin Ardine: Whenever I am asked what advice I would give other actors usually I give the same and it isn’t specifically just from this project but more in regards to the industry as a whole. Protect yourself at all times! This is a wonderful industry that I love, however it is also filled with many bad elements. I have been straight up lied to by people I trusted. I have been given false promises. I have been short changed money. I have been put in ridiculously dangerous situations and at the end of the day it was my fault for allowing myself to be put in the situations.
Protect yourself first and foremost. Anything promised het written down! Never do a film without a contract and be ready to go to court if those contract obligations are not meet. I know as actors we are need to work and we want to work so bad we will do anything for the chance to show what we can do but you have to protect yourself. Its sad to say don’t trust anyone but unfortunately at least in my experiences it’s true. Always investigate who you may work with and never trust promises unless written down.
Deep Under is a short film by British Indie filmmaker, Eric Garson.
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