Actor, Producer and writer Paul S. Tracey stars in the new intense Horror film based on Andrei Chicatilo who was executed for torture, murder and cannibalism. GHOUL (2015) Directed by Petr Jakl and stars Jennifer Armour, Alina Golovlyova and Jeremy Isabella. Paul spoke with me for a Horrornews.net exclusive. GHOUL (2015) is Available on VOD & DVD June 23rd so pick up a copy.
How did you prepare to play Ryan in GHOUL?
Paul- Well, I did a lot of research on documentary filmmakers for one and interviewing people for documentary filmmakers because I wanted to have the perspective of a documentary filmmaker going into it because that is a big part of my role.
What was it like working with Director Petr Jakl?
Paul- Working with Petr was good. It was definitely interesting to work with a director from another country. We were speaking three different languages on set. The crew is from the Czech Republic and then we hired a lot of local Ukrainian people to help. Petr is definitely somebody who knows exactly what he wants for one. There were times where we do takes for twenty times. I would say there was an average fifteen to twenty times per take for each scene. There was also a lot of translation going on so you have to start listening to what people mean not necessarily what they say if that makes sense. If you focus on the words you are limited to translating things. So there was a lot of translating going from English to Ukrainian to Czech because we had a crew from the Czech Republic, we had a lot of crew from Ukraine and actors from the Ukraine and American actors as well. So there was a lot of different translation going on. Usually on a set I can hear when the director is telling the DP guy something or the lighting guy something, the pa something or the grip something. I’d hear all of what is going on so I usually adjust myself pretty quickly like if they are saying something about the lighting or the blocking. Everyone has to get told individually in their own language. Interpretation and things would work a little differently.
Why did you decide to take the role of Ryan in GHOUL?
Paul-I did not even see a script before I went over there. I got a script a week or two before I was supposed to travel there. I agreed to the project based on the idea of the story. I was confident enough to do the project because I knew I was working with a professional director.
There is a unique story within the film, did you feel that the story impacted you in how you would play your character since cannibalism is considered taboo?
Paul- I would say that part of being a documentary filmmaker is being somewhat removed from the material your observing so there is sort of a detachment there and for my character specifically, he’s very focused on doing what he wants to do and what he needs to do to get something completed. So for me I kind of had to detach myself a little bit more than I normally would to the people around me, to the relationships of the other characters. As Paul I would have been like, let’s get out of here. As Paul I would not have approached that material and that subject matter the same way that the script was written for Ryan. It is a very taboo subject. What those people went through in real life is a very terrible situation, when you look at the numbers and you look at the statistics it makes the Holocaust look like a walk in the park. I think coming from the characters perspective I had to be more detached and observational.
What was it like for you working with your fellow cast members?
Paul- It was great. I really got to give to Jennifer in particular and Alina because Alina. Both of them are incredible actresses. Everyone is a great actor, Jeremy is a great actor as well but the amount of exertion and energy we had to put into this. It was a lot of long shooting days like at least twelve hour days of shooting. A lot of times it was an hour drive to the set from the hotel and an hour back to the hotels. We wore the same clothes the entire time, we basically had the same wardrobe. It was definitely a growing project to work on. Everyone really stepped up to the plate, everyone showed up. We all had our days where we had less patience or less energy than others. It was really great to work with everybody.
What was it like working with the Ukrainian Actors?
Paul- For me it was really cool as an actor to work with the Ukrainian actors because they are so trained and so talented. They have such a different perspective on the craft because you know in the States we are taught that we have to become T.V. stars, celebrities and famous to really get acknowledged and appreciated as artists. There’s really limited room for financial success let alone famous success and they are really focused on the theatre still and the government really supports the theatre. But the way that they approach and think about acting is so different and I think it’s not like revered, it’s not like, oh my gosh these people are put on a pedestal but it’s also not looked down upon. It’s just like any craft, any profession and I just found that to be really refreshing and really cool.
What advice would you give to other Actors?
Paul- I don’t know, there is so much advice out there. I think the best thing and the thing I always strive for is to just keep learning about yourself, keep understanding who you are as an individual and to allow that fullness of who you are to come out in your work. Because that is what everybody wants to see and even though it makes us feel different, it’s really what connects us the most. That would be the main advice I would have to give another actor.
Could you discuss your next project you are working on?
Paul- Yeah, absolutely. I just finished this short film that’s being submitted to festivals now, it’s called “I am You.” It’s about a brother and sister who are living in the Tenderloin District which is a poor area of San Francisco and I play the brother Gabe and he begs for money in the streets and his sister works as a prostitute and over the years they developed a codependent relationship on one another. I wrote, produced and acted in the short film and a collaborator of mine Micah Van Hove Directed it and I’m currently in the process of producing the feature. I am also working on a Horror script that I wrote and I am developing and as well as a T.V. show, maybe a possible web series. And then obviously I am auditing for other projects as well.
Which role has been the most challenging for you since you are an actor, writer and producer.
Paul- I would say they all have equal challenges in different ways. I think with acting, one of the biggest challenges for me with acting is being patient and waiting for the next opportunity to act. I am always in class, I am always looking for the next audition. Obviously my favorite thing to do is be on set and shooting and collaborating that way but I would say just the patience of waiting for things to happen and waiting for the next opportunity to work. I think that writing and producing has been a way for me to alleviate some of that because it still gives me a way to channel my creativity and tell stories that I want to tell instead of waiting for them to come to me. With writing I think the biggest challenge is the time it takes to sit down and write. When you are in the flow it’s one of the best feelings in the whole world, it’s like you’re in this whole world and you don’t need anybody but yourself and your computer or your pad and your pen. But it also takes if you want to finish something and do re-writes and it takes a lot of discipline and it takes a lot of time and you’ve got to take for yourself. Sometimes the actor in me who likes to be out there in the world experiencing doesn’t have the patience to sit down and be alone in my room for hours and hours and hours. And then the challenging part of producing, I think is probably just going back and forth between the business side of things and the creative side of things because I like to work from a very organic creative place but not really thinking outside of myself. But producing is so much about thinking what’s available on the market and tailoring what you have to meet what’s desired by other people. So, I focus on the acting but they all have equally challenging parts in different ways.
When you were working on GHOUL did you have any intense or strange moments?
Paul- You know I personally did not have anything strange or really spooky happen to me on set except for one of the producers hid in the barn when I was doing a scene and spooked me out super bad. You know the part where I head outside with that pickax and I say something like well, if its Valerie or somebody I can deal with them and I walk out the door and I am going into the shed to turn on the generator. Well at one point one of the producers hid in the door way right when I walked in and it’s dark and I am in character and you are already in that place of fear, excitement and craziness. I walk inside and all of the sudden I feel and see somebody in the corner of my eye and out of instinct I raise the pickax and it was the producer and nobody played anymore jokes because I think he got really scared too. I almost got maimed here. I personally don’t believe in supernatural, well it’s not that I don’t believe in it, I just don’t look for it. I’ve never seen a ghost, I’ve never really had anything crazy or creepy happen to me so I don’t look for it. I don’t want to see anything if it does exist out there I don’t want to see ghost. I have no desire. Nothing really crazy happened on set. I was living over there and I am living with the crew, I am on set every day. It was really like you lived the extreme. It is the best way to work. You can be immersed in it cause I’ve done films where we have to pick up every couple weeks and you have all this time to go back to your regular life and then you have to go back to this other world and you kind of get disconnected going back and forth and you have to kind jump back into it. Whereas with GHOUL it was like I just had to be there. So nothing really creepy or weird or spooky happen to me though.
Do you think there will be a sequel to the film?
Paul- I think it depends on the general reaction is from the audiences and the director had ideas in mind for potential sequels so you never know. It was definitely left open for sequels and I’d love to see this story continue. I don’t know if I would be involved in it because my characters is gone, apparently. I mean you never see his body so you never know. I know the Director right now is working on a huge historical epic that’s shooting in Prague. I think he is collaborating with a lot of American studios or production companies and he is looking to work with some big American actors so I guess it’s just depends on if he has the time and what he wants to focus on next.[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOk3Af8zysA&feature=youtu.be[/youtube]