Natalie Burn (EXPENADABLES 3, AWAKEN 2015) is a brilliant actress who started her own production company. She is a trained dancer/ballerina. She wears many hats including: Actress, producer, writer, stunts (in which she was hurt while filming AWAKEN), casting director and composer.
Natalie’s film AWAKEN has won 1st place in the Feature Horror category at The Indie Gathering Festival. Natalie is currently filming her new movie “Ghosts of Garip.” She spoke with me in a Horrornews exclusive about producing, Vlad Tepes ghost, her amazing AWAKEN cast and being a bad ass.
“A group of young adults wake up on a deserted tropical island in this suspenseful thriller about black markets and body parts. Billie, a skilled martial arts expert, had been searching for her missing sister, Rina, when she was attacked and dumped on an island.
She finds others like her…fit healthy adults in the prime of life, with no idea why they’ve been kidnapped, then let go, only to be hunted down like animals. Billie searches for a way off the island and finds the horrifying answers to some of her questions… a human organ harvesting operation that picks and chooses from the strongest and most fit survivors.” DIRECTED BY MARK ATKINS
It was great watching a film with a strong female lead, what inspired you to write this film?
Natalie Burn- The inspiration came from the fact that I came to L.A. as a young actress and I wanted to make movies and I wanted to act. I found myself troubled with a lot of auditions and the competition. I knew that I had to do something more than just being an actress. So I opened my production company and I wanted to make movies. Afterwards when I start thinking okay, what is my best asset, like what can I push myself at? I realized that there are not that many strong female characters. In fact in movies a lot of times females don’t even get the lead role because there have been so many males that have dominated the industry. I was like this is what I should be doing. I should do that and it could be a great power for me to go out there and make a movie and produce it and showcase a very strong character. I wanted to find other females out there because there are so females that are doing the same thing as me that are strong and powerful and know more than maybe some men do but they’re just not confident enough to just go out there and do something. If I could inspire actresses maybe I could inspire other females as well. I thought if I am going to do something I want to make movies with strong female characters.
What was it like working with the cast of AWAKEN?
Natalie Burn- It was great, I really enjoyed it. I wanted to surround myself with a cast that has done movies who knew what they were doing. In case something happens, I am a producer and I knew those actors who have done so many movies and they are so versatile. They will be okay, they will be on set and they will do their job and they will create a lot more than what is written on the paper and everybody will be fine. That is exactly what happened with this amazing cast including Daryl Hannah, Robert Davi, Vinnie Jones, Michael Pare, Jason London, Edward Furlong. They all knew what they were doing. I didn’t have to watch them and think are they really bringing the characters to life the way I wanted. They made them even better. It was more than I expected. That was the only element in my process of making “Awaken,” that I didn’t have to worry about.
You are an actress, writer, producer, and stunt-woman. What has been the most challenging role?
Natalie Burn- Definitely producing. Producing because it was tough because I am a film-maker and I’m an artist before anything, I’m an actress and I always wanted to do this because I wanted to act. But then when I got on set and I realize that when I was getting into my character I was like oh my god I have to run and deal with little details like craft service or parking tickets or things like that where it takes away from what I’m doing as an artist. That was a challenge for me because I wanted to spend more time developing my character and I wished I had more takes but I only gave myself one take every time because I knew they had to shoot other actors. I wanted to give more time to Daryl Hannah, give more time to everybody else. I am going to deal with other stuff so that was a bit of a challenge.
You injured your ankle while filming, how did you manage to keep going while injured?
Natalie Burn- It was definitely something that I did not expect because I wanted to the stunts myself. That was my main reason why I started doing this. I want to make sure that I do all my action, I want to make sure that its shot in a proper way where I cannot fool anybody and they can see that I did it. When I injured my ankle it was a complete accident. Things like that happen all the time especially when you are making action movies for a very low budget film.
That even happens on a big budget film. A lot of things happened on Expendables 3. You have to expect that. If you are doing your own stunts you have to expect to get hurt somehow. It is just natural. So when I got hurt the stuntman fell on top of my leg and when the director called cut the stuntman did not hear him. He continued with the fight and he literally just fell on top of my leg and I was on my knee and my ankle just cracked. I fell down and I heard the sound, everybody heard the sound, everybody heard the sound and they were like uh-oh. And of course being a dancer/ballerina I’ve done that so many times to my ankle that I already knew how bad it is, I knew that can I walk and if it swells up like a tennis ball then I know that I’m going to be out for a little bit but can I still feel it, can I not feel it?
Did I break it? Straightaway, within ten seconds I could tell that I am out for several days. I know I cannot even fight, I cannot walk, I know that because I looked at my ankle and it started blowing up like a tennis ball. But I knew I didn’t break it and that was a good thing. I didn’t break it, rip the ligament, I just injured it. I just fractured it or pulled it. I was like I can still do it. I’ve done it before, it’s fine. I got up and hopped to my trailer and I said okay that was the last shoot of the day. I just needed some time to think about this and put ice on it and the next day I could not walk.
I said we cannot stop the production, I’m the main producer so we are still shooting. You can see in the movie we have a lot of close-ups and that is mostly because of that. I could not walk. I have a girl that we brought in and she would walk instead of me but every time I had to shoot it was mostly me. Then my final fight at the end of the movie with James Young, I was like I had to do it and that happened literally two days after the accident. I was like I don’t care how, I am going to do it! Two days later my ankle is not better, I strap it real tight which I’ve done before in the ballet. I froze it so I don’t feel it and I did all the fighting myself. I can only do a kick up from down up once because I could make it even worse. Everybody kept saying, how are you going to do it and I said I don’t know but I have to do it.
Do you think being a trained dancer/ballerina helps you more so you can do your own stunts?
Natalie Burns- Oh, of course absolutely. Because of my ballet it developed my personality and developed my character. I am who I am today because of my training, my brutal training since I was three years old, almost twelve hours a day. That’s all I did all my life. I don’t know anything else. I know how to push my body. I know to what extent I can push it, what happens with it. I know when I can go on and when I can’t go on. I am very in tuned with my body just like actors and actresses are in tuned with their emotions. That’s what I had to learn after that is how to be in tuned with my emotions. It is something completely different from what I’ve done in my life. I didn’t know how to talk, I didn’t know how memorize words. I was expressing myself through movement and that is a completely different technique. It definitely helped me.
Can you talk a little bit about your next project?
Natalie- Yes, I worked with Jessica Alba on “Mechanic: Resurrection” starring Jason Statham in Thailand. That was amazing, that was great. I was so fortunate to be a part of that project. I’m not sure how much I can say about it but I played a reporter and I was very happy to be a part of that crew. It was a way bigger crew than I was used because of “Awaken” but I did work on “Expendables” so. My movie right now that I am co-executive producing and were shooting right now in Turkey and it’s called “Ghosts of Garip.” It’s based on a true myth/story about Vlad Tepes who was later announced to be as the DRACULA. It is his last days before his death, he was held captive in this town, in this village in a castle in Tokat which is where we are shooting. We are literally shooting in that castle. We are shooting the story about it. It is like a horror-thriller film that has a lot of truth to it. It has a lot of stuff that actually happened in the fifteenth century. Some say that his ghost is still wondering around that castle. I don’t have to play to be scared.
Did you feel anything strange yet walking around the Tokat Castle?
Natalie Burn- You always do when stuff like that has happened to people. You definitely feel something and slightly negative energy. You feel that something painful was going on. I’m very in tuned with things but I can definitely feel that it is not a very calm place. It is not a place you want to be at night and that is when we are shooting it. So you feel that energy and you feel that fear like a vibration. But it’s really good for the character I guess.
You are such a strong bad ass female. What advice would give to actors/actresses and Artist in general to maintain a long career?
Natalie Burn- I think continue researching yourself and continue understanding who it is that you want to be. Because of us getting older, we always change, our thoughts change, our approach on life changes. With that I think our characters should change in films and we should be perceiving different roles and we should be expressing ourselves differently. And to sustain a career where you want to continue doing what you do and be successful at it you should continue studying, study yourself and study in general, the craft. There are so many things out that we still don’t know. Like I still don’t know what I’m doing half the time but that is the beauty of it. I love that though because I want to know more and I want to know how to do it but you figure it out and when it clicks and you put it all together it’s amazing. That is the best feeling in the world because you’ve done something yourself. So I would just encourage people to continue studying and researching and knowing things. It’s so much fun.