Interview with Ben Browder of "Dead Still" on Syfy - Primetime Article From The TV MegaSite

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By Suzanne

star Ben Browder in "Dead Still"

Interview with Ben Browder, director Philip Booth and producer Christopher Saint of "Dead Still" on Syfy 9/29/14

This was a very strange call (given the subject matter, perhaps it was jinxed or haunted!). For one thing, Ray Wise was supposed to be on the call, too. For another, the call was only 14 minutes long! That's very unusual, especially for a call with 3 people. And at the end, they said there were no more calls.  Usually they tell us only to ask one question and then maybe one follow-up question, and then queue back up for another question. So I did that, and so did at least one other journalist I know of, yet we didn't get to ask another question, which is very strange since we only had 14 minutes. And then lastly, the movie aired this past Monday, yet they didn't send me the transcript until today, two days later.

I was glad to speak with them, but I was a bit upset that I didn't get to ask Ben Browder a question. He was going to be my second question. If I'd known I wouldn't get a second one, I would have asked him first! Since he's one of my favorite actors, ever since Farscape! He was also great on Stargate SG1 and a wonderful guest-starring role he did on "Doctor Who". I wanted to ask him a seemingly-frivolous question, how he keeps looking so young. Because right before the call, as I was doing my research, I discovered that he's only 1 year younger than me, making him 51! He sure doesn't look it. I don't either. I guess it's the baby face!

I haven't seen this movie... they often send us a copy before the call, but they didn't this time. It's not really my kind of movie, but it did sound interesting... I love not only Browder, but Ray Wise, who plays his ancestor in the movie.

NBC UNIVERSAL Moderator: Gary Morgenstein
September 29, 2014 2:00 p.m. ET

Operator: Good afternoon, my name is Julie and I will be your conference operator today. At this time, I would like to welcome everyone to the Dead Still conference call.

All lines have been placed on mute to prevent any background noise. After the speakersí remarks, there will be a question and answer session. If you would like to ask a question during this time, simply press star then the number one on your telephone keypad.

If you would like to ask the question during this time Ė sorry, if you would like to withdraw your question, simply press the pound key.

Thank you. Gary Morgenstein, you may begin your conference.

Gary Morgenstein: Hello, everyone, and welcome to the original movie, Dead Still, which will premiere on Syfy Monday, October 6 at 9 p.m.

Weíre delighted to have the star Ben Browder and producer Philip Booth and director Christopher Saint Ė no, wait, I got that wrong, didnít I? Itís reversed.

Philip Booth: Thatís always the way it is with twins.

Gary Morgenstein: Yeah, I mean, I canít even see you guys and I got it wrong. So, weíre going to Ė so, welcome everyone. Operator, would you put forward the first call, please.

Operator: The first caller is coming from Tony Tellado. Your line is open.

Tony Tellado: Hi, gentlemen, itís great to talk to you, especially Ben. We havenít talked in a few years and Iím so glad youíre in this. This is going to be really cool.

How did the idea come for this movie? Like, if everybody could comment on that, please.

Philip Booth: Well, I guess, originally, the idea came when my wife showed me these images of these contraptions holding up dead bodies.

And I looked and she said, ďYou got to see thisĒ, and I looked at how the death portraits had been propped up by unusual stands and they were bolted, like, to the back. And it was this, oh my god, this would make an incredibly gruesome movie. At the same time, that whole period of death portrait photography was an amazing subject.

And I didnít think there had been a movie yet of anything like that. So, that was the original idea Ė concept out of the blue that came in there.

We started researching everything and we were just flabbergasted just how much detail and how many secrets were hidden back there Ė like, how they used to stitch their eyes closed and paint on the top of their eyes. And they would make smiles, you know, with stitches. And, you know, they would pose them next to the living.

Oh, it just was incredible. And how mothers would hold the babies dressed in black cloths. And they were called Hidden Mothers. And now, honestly, if that doesnít make a good spooky movie, what would?

So, thatís kind of how we started.

Tony Tellado: And Ben, this guyís a photographer. How did you, kind of, prepare to play this guy?

Ben Browder: How did I prepare to play - well, basically I read the script. I read the script Ė you know, I did my due diligence about death photography. I knew that it had existed, because I had actually seen these kind of photographs, you know, particularly from, you know, particularly from the Victorian period.

So, you know, I just thought, yeah thatís really creepy. So, basically, you know, you read, you know, read the script and then talk to Chris and Phil, and talk about their vision of how they want to see it.

And thatís kind of the prep. I was actually Down Under. I was Auckland, New Zealand when I got the call about it, and I got on the phone and we talked about it and I thought, no, this would be fun. This would be great.

And, you know, shooting down out in the cane fields of - near Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in this old house that, I think, is probably haunted itself, the house that we shot in.

Just, you know, some really cool ambiance to it.

Tony Tellado: Sounds great. Iíll get back in line. Thank you, guys.

Operator: Okay, the next caller is Jamie Ruby from the Your line is open.

Jamie Ruby: Hi, guys. Thanks so much for talking the call today. So, can you just talk about, kind of, some of, more of, what we can expect? I mean, I know itís about death photography, but we havenít seen a screening yet.

So, can you, kind of, tell us about your characters and things like that?

Ben Browder: Well, I guess, if weíre talking about characters, you must be talking to me. This is Ben. Has Ray joined us yet?

Okay. The character that Iím playing is a modern day photographer whose father and grandfather were also photographers. His grandfather was a very famous death photographer.

So, he has this lineage that he ends up following down almost as though itís a family curse. And, father, grandfather, great grandfather Ė so itís a kind of generational story of how heís connected to this cursed and haunted past. Through his camera, through his great grandfatherís camera, and through the death photography.

Jamie Ruby: Okay, great. Thank you so much.

Ben Browder: Youíre welcome.

Operator: Okay, your next caller is Suzanne Lanoue from The TV MegaSite. Your line is open.

Suzanne Lanoue: It looks really creepy and spooky from the trailer I saw. Can you tell us anything about what in particular goes towards making this type of movie, as opposed to just a regular drama?

Philip Booth: I guess Iíll jump in on that one. The thing about making this film is, with all our films that weíve done, we try to use real elements involved.

The camera itself, when we found the camera, it was actually a death portrait camera from 1905. It actually still had the plates in the back of actual death portraits.

And after seeing Ė going down and doing - to actual recreations of death portrait and spirit photography, we thought this would be an amazing journey to hook real facts, true events, in with these characters and then push the envelope.

I mean, the bottom line is, when you journey inside the camera, where the son - Benís son, whoís played by Gavin Casalegno Ė who was in Noah Ė is, when he journeyís inside the camera, we go into whatís called the negative world.

And that was going to add a Silent Hill-type element to a regular Ė itís kind of like Saw meets Conjuring meets Silent Hill. And those three movies together, to me, added a classic new horror element.

To just not doing just, like, a slasher film, or just doing a ghost story. But what about mixing Silent Hell, meets the Saw, meets The Conjuring-type flavors. And thatís what I think you see a little bit in the trailer.

And plus the visual effects to be over-the-top. The gore to be really unique and fresh, and not just the same old death-type scenes you see in movies.

So, thatís kind of just, you know, an example of what we felt when we were making this film.

Suzanne Lanoue: Great, and does Ray Wise play Benís grandfather or Ė I didnít really Ė in the movie?

Philip Booth: Ray plays Benís great grandfather, a famous death portrait photographer from the late 1800s, that Ben, as a photographer, always idolized, because, you know, seems like an Ansel Adams, you know, a famous photographer.

Since Benís character is a photographer, he would idolize this man, his light, his shadow. Nobody understood what he did - his reasoning in posing these bodies. That all comes to a shocking realization when he gets to meet his great grandfather and finds out all about the secrets of the past and the death portrait photography.

So, Ray, when we first met Ray, was on the set. And he showed up in his wardrobe test, in a top hat and a cape. And it was like watching Vincent Price walk into a set. And the shivers we all got. You know, he had the grey goatee and everything down pat.

So, I canít wait for people to see the way Ben and Ray interact with each other. Because this film has got great characters. Not just great visuals and great music and great story and great performances. But the characters should be, you know, little game figures, they should be little, you know, figurines.

And that was the whole thing. To take this thing over-the-top.

Suzanne Lanoue: All right, thanks very much.

Philip Booth: Youíre very welcome.

Operator: Our next caller is Heather McLatchy from TV Goodness. Your line is open.

Heather McLatchy: Hi, guys. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us today. Can you talk a little bit about what it was like to shoot down in Baton Rouge?

Christopher Saint Booth: It was incredible because to Ė as all our films, we like to shoot on location. We donít like to use sound stages, so actually shooting in a haunted house was a big part of it Ė actually was a plantation, which actually had a slave quarters in the back.

Which no one dared go into because it actually had all the stuff that was still in it from the, you know, the late 18th Century.

But shooting Baton Rouge has always been, has always been Ė besides the humidity, of course Ė but itís always been a great thing. Actually bring in all the original Ė which they really werenít props Ė it actually was a real camera or real gurneys, real needles, real wardrobe, everything. It was overwhelming.

Baton Rouge is a great place to get that whole mystique of spookiness going on.

Heather McLatchy: Great, thank you.

Operator: All right, Mr. Morgenstein, at this time, we donít have any other callers.

Gary Morgenstein: Thank you. Thank you, very much. Thank you, Ben. Philip. Christopher. Thank you, everyone, for joining in the call.

Remember, Dead Still premieres only on Syfy Monday, October 6th, at 9pm Eastern. Take care, everyone. Thank you.

Gary Morgenstein: Bye-bye. Good-bye.

Operator: That concludes todayís conference call. You may now disconnect.

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