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An Interview with Nicholas Wilder, Star of Ayla

by Mike Haberfelner

June 2015

Films starring Nicholas Wilder on (re)Search my Trash


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Your upcoming movie Ayla - in a few words, what will it be about, and what can you tell us about your character in it?


Ayla tells the story of Elton, a man whose sister dies at a very young age, and he never fully recovers from the loss. He, without giving too much away, manages to bring her back to life 30 years later as an adult woman. I’ll be playing Elton, who is a very passionate, emotional, somewhat flawed man. He has an almost tunnel vision like love for his sister, that’s both wonderfully endearing and heartbreaking.


How do you prepare for your role, and what will you draw upon to bring him to life?


I read the script over and over and over. And after that I read it some more. It seems obvious to say it starts with the words, but it really is all you have in the beginning. Before rehearsals, or discussions, or wardrobe, you have to make the dialogue feel natural coming out of your mouth. You have to make the character, this person whose skin you inhabit, feel like your own. You always bring a little of yourself into the character, whether they’re similar to you or not. Even if you’re playing a role that’s been done before, say Hamlet, it's being channeled through you and your experiences. I suppose I draw upon similar struggles and grief when playing a troubled character. If I put in the work to feel like I can become this person before we shoot, it makes the filming a much easier experience.


How did you become involved with the project in the first place?


I knew Elias [Elias interview - click here] after working him on Gut, a few years ago. Initially he asked me to read the script just for a fresh set of eyes to give him my thoughts. But after reading it I fell in love with it, and hinted to him about considering me for Elton.


To what extent could you identify with the film's horror theme?


I think the horror genre is wonderful because it's so broad and incorporates so many types of films. External or internal horror can be very different and equally effective. I studied psychology at school and am fascinated by what makes people tick. I really connect with the idea of struggling to let something or someone go. I think Elton has been struggling his whole life to let his sister go, but the fact that he can't means his life is devoted to her absence.


You have worked with Ayla's director Elias [Elias interview - click here] before on Gut - so what's it like working with him, and how closely do the two of you collaborate regarding preparation for your role?


I loved every second of it. Gut was not an easy film to make for many reasons, the subject is difficult, we had long days and time and money constraints, but every day on set there was such a love and desire to make a great film by everyone there. For Gut we met a few times before shooting to read scenes that Jason Vail and I had together to get a sense of how they would sound as well as get to know one another.

As a writer, Elias creates very complex characters, which is something you don’t always get when reading a script. Some people can write very good dialogue, but all the characters sound alike, or they're one-dimensional. This is the bad guy… this is the sidekick… etc.  Elias is able to show you the dark side of people and their flaws but still have you, as an audience member, care, and empathize with them. As a director I find him very generous and understanding of actors. Since he has also been in front of the camera, I think he understands how to communicate things to actors on a level most directors can't. We were shooting many pages a day but he never rushed our scenes, or skipped over taking the time to talk out small moments. He is very precise about what he wants and that makes my job much easier.

As for preparation, we’ve emailed and talked on the phone about the character and script. I think he puts a lot of trust in what I’ll bring to the table when we start rehearsals and shooting


From what I know, the film's still in its fundraising stages as we speak - are you in any way involved in the fundraising efforts, and any idea what the schedule is yet?


Yes! We actually have a Kickstarter up and running till july 15th:

I am involved as much as they need me, but our producing team knows significantly more than myself about how to raise money to produce a feature. It is quite difficult to try and make an independent movie and the support we’ve received so far has been wonderful to see that people still care about independent films. As for shooting, the plan is this fall in Seattle, Washington.


Any future projects beyond Ayla you'd like to share?


I'm working on a webseries with Broken Box Inc. The first episode The Promotion can be seen on YouTube:


What got you into acting in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?


I started as the class clown when I was quite young and realized that entertaining people was quite fun and I could maybe someday get paid to do it too! I went to school for literature and psychology and started acting professionally after college


What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Ayla?


I started making films about ten years ago. I primarily work in theater, but I make about 2-5 films a year between theater jobs. You can find more about films I've been in on my IMDb :


How would you describe yourself as an actor, and some of your techniques to bring your characters to life?


I'm not sure how I'd describe myself as an actor. Hopefully not a bad one. I like to start with the voice, the pitch, the rhythms of their speech. You can tell a lot about some from the way they speak to you, and I feel each character you play should have their own distinct voice. Something as small as lowering the pitch of your voice changes who the character is quite a bit. After that I think of their mannerisms… do they talk with their hands? Do they keep eye contact when speaking? How do they present themselves? Clean shaven? Hair combed? Things like this dramatically change how you play the character, but also how characters around you interact with you and how the audience perceives you. After that, I break apart the script in terms of what you want. Every character has to want something, some drive, or passion that moves the scene, and therefore the story, along. I usually don’t get to pick my wardrobe, but I find that helps quite a bit as well. Clothes will tell you a lot about someone. A character that only wears suits will act quite differently from one that wears old rags.


Actors (and indeed actresses) who inspire you?


Glad you said actresses too! Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Daniel day Lewis, Cate Blanchet, Tilda Swinton, Christain Bale, Naomi Watts, Paul Giamatti, Gary Oldman.


Your favourite movies?


21 Grams, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood (really anything by PT Anderson), The Big Lewboski, Fargo, Adaptation.


... and of course, films you really deplore?


Oh boy… I'd like to think theres some enjoyment in even the bad movies. Aren’t movies like Sharknado being made to be bad movies on purpose?


Your website, Facebook, whatever else?


My website is:


Ayla on IMDb:


Anything else you're dying to mention and I've merely forgotten to ask?


Well, thank you for reading and supporting independent films. Our Kickstarter is:

And whether you give or not I sincerely appreciate that you have some interest in the world of indie films, and how they are made.


Thanks for the interview!


Thank you sir!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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Thanks for watching !!!



On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD



Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...


Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!


Bauliche Angelegenheiten
ein Roman von
Michael Haberfelner


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