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An Interview with Sam Mason-Bell, Director of Acting

by Mike Haberfelner

August 2021

Films directed by Sam Mason-Bell on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie Acting - in a few words, what is it about?


Acting is about the process of method acting, and how far would you take it for the ultimate role.


What were your sources of inspiration when writing Acting?


I've always found method acting kind of fascinating, to put your own experiences into a role. It's both informing and dangerous. In Acting, Una is a very vulnerable actress who is dedicated to her craft but the trauma she's experienced in her own life is leading her down a downwards spiral. I love downward spiral stories like most of Darren Aronofsky's films, less of a morality story and more of a first person witness of mental collapse. 


You've written Acting together with your leading lady Annabella Rich - so what was your collaboration like during the writing process?


I had just produced Bella in Ryan Carter's debut horror film The Unwanted, we'd worked on a few things before but nothing where she was the lead. I tend to ask actors in general what would be your ideal role, and see if I can create something that suits it. Bella wanted to play a psycho! I had this old idea of how far method acting could take someone if they were to play a serial killer, so I rexplored it. Bella loved the concept and wrote the inner dialogue stuff from the script within the film The Black Widow, we both kept crafting the character together, so it only felt right that she was to share a writing credit for the film. 


You've shot Acting in long, often almost static and carefully framed takes, which is quite a contrast to many of your earlier films which often have a rather improvised feel to them - so could you elaborate on the film's style?


Well, Acting, like most of our films, was improvised, minus the inner monologues of The Black Widow. I wanted to explore something different with improv, firstly expressing emotion through physicality and sound as opposed to expressing through dialogue. I still wanted it to feel like a horror film, but the kind of horror film like Repulsion where it's paranoid and close. Also as acting is a method I felt the steps needed to be seen out of order, memory doesn't work in a linear fashion, it's invaded with other moments, especially when we've experienced abuse or in Una's case a partner who belittles and gaslights her.


So what can you tell us about your directorial approach to your new movie?


Every stage through the film is a different process of becoming the character, she's planned every intention, and this meant the direction needed more control with camera and lighting. This was also the first feature I had shot and directed rather than just directing. I had a preciseness I wanted to achieve!


Do talk about Acting's cast, and why exactly these people?


Well as I said the role was written for Bella, and she was simply fantastic. We have been lucky to collaborate more since the film, and I hope we continue to do so! Dan Rad who played the prostitute was a delight to work with. I wanted someone who'd be comfortable with the vulnerability the character's put in, but still cocky and self-assured. Bella had worked with Dan on Rob Ulitskis I am an Addict, and he was an excellent addition. Abbie Hills runs a talent agency which Calum Beeson came from. Abbie was already our AD on Acting, I wanted to keep to a minimal cast and crew, allowing us to shoot this in Jan 2020.


A few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?


Honestly, it was suprising how easy everything came together. The location was an AirBnB my friend owned, so we could just film and not be distracted. Being that the crew and cast was so small it kept the shoot focused. My crew was just me, Abbie Hills and Jessica Hunt [Jessica Hunt interview - click here] joined a day, excellent lovely people to work with! We shot for two days with mostly female crew and it just made things more comfortable, which was so important! There was 2 extra days of shooting, luckily one before the pandemic, and then final final day we managed to grab a day, I was fortunate that Jackson Batchelor [Jackson Batchelor interview - click here] and Ryan Carter jumped on to finish the film. Tend to find with a lot of improv work we do, we can explore additonal material after the edit, so on the first cut we could see more was needed for the ending, and we added the award speech on our last day of shoot. Bella nailed that so well.


The $64-question, when and where will Acting be released?


Acting is set to be released in October, release date should be annouced from our sales agent Adler & Associates Entertainment very soon.


Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Acting yet?


The most important thing for me was for people to empathy and believe in Una. So to see how much the audience loved Bella's performance, with her winning a lot of acting awards, is a real joy!


Any future projects you'd like to share?


We recently wrapped on Terror At Black Tree Forest for Dustin Ferguson's [Dustin Ferguson interview - click here] SCS Entertainment with HB Films, that's looking to be released later this year. We are also in post production on two 2020 horrors, Senseless and Home Is Where I Lay, which will start their festival run in 2022. As far as next production, fingers crossed me and Bella will be shooting a fun hearted witches curse horror at the end of the year with Chris Mills and Simon Berry. Main aim for first half of 2022 is to get Jackson Batchelor's next film produced!


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Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




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