Interview By Paul Salfen
Horror films have always been a form of escapism enjoyed by audiences, but given 2020’s uneasy nature, the genre has done especially well as audiences seem to want to get out of their heads with some fantastically gory fare. WIth Triggered, viewers will find a teen horror flick that has elements of the classic 80s horror films of yore combined with the technologically advanced and more modern gore of franchises like Saw. Here, 9 friends wake up in the woods with suicide bombs strapped to their chests and a shared secret that threatens their lives, including a way they can add more time by taking away time from others.
Our villain here is played by Sean Cameron Michael, the South African-born “Black Sails” actor, who was most recently seen as The Ghost in “MacGyver” and Netflix’s The Last Days of American Crime.
Here’s more from Michael from Cape Town, South Africa:
AMFM Magazine: We’re all stuck indoors right about now and we needed a wild distraction and this was certainly one.
Sean Cameron Michael: [Laughs] Awesome, thank you. You know, most of us haven’t seen the final cut of the movie yet. We’ve been hearing a lot from other people and getting the excitement around that, so that’s cool.
AMFM: Would you call this a horror movie per se? It seems to be a mix of genres.
SCM: It’s interesting, I think Ariye Madeb, the producer, and the writer, David Jones, are such big fans of movies like Saw and Battle Royale, so I think they’re ticking a bunch of boxes paying tribute to a bunch of different genres. When I read the script, I was like, “Wow, this is really crazy and really intense,” but at the same time, you’re laughing out loud from some of these hysterical one-liners, so as an actor, I love the TV shows and movies in this kind of genre – it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s supposed to be fun and entertainment, with some scares along the way.
AMFM: Set seemed fun – kids happy to be there
SCM: Oh yeah. I was just very excited to work with Alastair [Orr, director]. He had done a great movie called House of Willow Street and Alastair is a really exciting up and coming indie film director in South Africa, so I was excited to work with him and some of the actors, like Suraya Santos I had worked with before in a sci-fi movie called Broken Darkness, so it was exciting to reteam with Suraya and work with some actors I had never worked with before. The whole thing was one big ensemble piece, so it was fun.
AMFM: Was there a day, scene, or time that was especially memorable on the set?
SCM: The character is really amusing. He’s a science teacher whose son had died from an overdose and his wife had comitted suicide – he’s a very damaged individual that’s out for revenge. I was only there for two and a half days and I arrived on the set in South Africa and it had started raining and was very muddy so with my great entrance with my gun in hand, I fell on my ass and everybody was laughing their heads off when they were supposed to be terrified and scared. [Laughs] That was very fun. But I got back into character and carried on.
AMFM: What kind of headspace do you have to be in to play such an extreme character?
SCM: I’ve been lucky that over the years I’ve played these intense multi-layered characters and it’s funny, people meet me and they say, “Oh, but you’re so nice and friendly and funny in person but you always play these intense characters.” But that’s acting for me – I always disappear into these imaginary characters and breathe some kind of life into them. I don’t see them as baddies, they’re just people that are flawed in their own way. It’s always interesting and exciting to make these characters as interesting and believable as possible. I’m always looking for a challenge and this one was a challenge in its own way.
AMFM: You worked with a lot of young actors that are up and coming here. What advice did you or would you give them?
SCM: I think because I’ve been doing this a long time, I’ve always had this rule of every time that I’m fortunate enough to be working – because 90% of your career you’re auditioning and not getting jobs and only 10% where you do get the jobs and you get to play, so I’ve always had the attitude of being appreciative of the jobs I do get but at the same time, I never want to stop learning and growing as an actor and a person, so I always approach every project in there’s an opportunity to learn something new, so my advice to younger actors is to get as much experience as you can: do as many short films and music videos and experimental indie films to perfect your craft. It doesn’t matter if you’re an A-list movie star or famous director or big producer, we’re all figuring out every project as we go along and I’ve actually found that quite freeing to not be intimidated by big movie stars or famous movie directors. They’re all just human beings and we’re all out there to have fun, so my advice is to collaborate with other actors to keep moving forward.
AMFM: We always ask people their Hail Mary Moment, the moment in their life or career where they had to go for it and it worked out for them. What do you suppose that was for you?
SCM: Oh, absolutely for me that moment was about six years ago, Michael Bay decided he wanted to produce a TV series called “Black Sails” and there was a role on there I was really excited about and after Season 2, which we shot in Cape Town, and I was in my early 40s and I had been doing this since I was about 12 years old, I decided I was really to attempt the whole Hollywood thing. When we wrapped, I applied for my green card and packed everything up and relocated to Los Angeles and that was 5 years ago. It was a defining moment for me. I felt like I finally had the confidence to attempt something that seemed like a really, really big mountain to climb.
AMFM: I know it’s a strange year to ask “what’s next” but you do actually have a few things that we can expect I see.
SCM: Yeah, I did a movie just before Triggered called Fried Barry, which is a really, really crazy experimental horror movie, so it was good to be a part of the film festival circuit. That should be coming out next year so that’s one to look for, then there’s The Last Days of American Crime on Netflix and that’s a movie we did with Michael Pitt and Edgar Ramirez and I’m in pre-production on a movie called Collision, which was also shot in South Africa and should shoot at the end of this year of the beginning of next year depending on lockdown and COVID and those crazy things.
AMFM: During these times, we need escapism. Doesn’t it seem like the right time for films like these?
SCM: Oh yeah. The world is so crazy right now and we’re all going through it together in our own way globally. The biggest escapism from the craziness that’s going on in the world right now is TV and film and with Triggered, you get a good scare, a good laugh, a good thrill and it’s cool for me to be in a profession where I help people to escape.
Triggered is available on digital and On Demand now.