During one of the breaks she and I got to talking and we got onto the topic of a feature screenplay she had written and was in the process of producing. I was very impressed at her gumption and the passion as she described this gory tale of hers which I found out was inspired in parts by her own life story and the death of her father when she was only 10 years old.
A few weeks later I received an email from Sarah where she had attached the latest version of her script, saying that she thought I would fit the role of Oliver and asking if I would be interested in joining the project. This was in late 2015 and I had just started shifting my focus more towards acting and this was the first major role in a feature film that I had been offered. I quickly glanced through the script, making the rookie error of only seeing how many scenes I was in and replied instantly with a yes. (I now always read the full script before replying to any offers)
It wasn’t until a few months later, in the spring of 2016 that the project began moving forwards for my part. I asked Sarah if there was going to be a table read and she replied that she would get back to me with the dates (I later learned that she didn’t know what a table read was at the time and only planned it after our conversation, clever girl). At the table read I got to meet the rest of the team and cast. I recognised the director, Andres [R. Ramos] from the Kickstarter campaign videos. He was warm and accommodating, very open and willing to discuss things. Jasmine [Martinez] was also there, it was the first time that we met and at first I wasn’t sure what to make of her directness, this I later learned is in fact one of her greatest traits and what makes her such a great A.D. Ludvig was also there at that first meeting and a few others that I had worked with before as well.
We had a mixed cast of seasoned actors and newbies and the read through was an interesting experience.
After that first meeting I approached Sarah and asked who was producing and who was keeping track of the budget and schedule etc? She explained that She, Andres and Jasmine had decided as friends who had a joint love of the horror genre, wanted to try their hands at making their own movie and that it was a; learn by doing experience. Indie at its finest folks (I love the just do it approach!). I offered to assist in any way I could and that is how I ended up becoming the executive producer.
The shoot started in May and we had 6 weeks ahead of us. The very first scene on the very first day on set was to be the sex scene between Oliver [Me] and Elina [Sarah]. Everyone in the crew was there and it was both of our first times filming an intimate scene like that on camera. It was very awkward so Sarah and I went for a walk to discuss how we should tackle it and get to know each other a little better. We came back and we just did it, very professionally – as professionally as you can with a dude with a camera standing over your naked butt while someone sprays you with fake sweat and another is pointing a mic boom at you and another getting the best light for your, still, naked butt.
It was an interesting experience and I feel it went very well. In fact Sarah and I ended up having a relationship for an entire year after that and are of course still very good friends today.
The rest of the shoot had its fair share of issues with people not turning up, actors calling in “sick”, crew being called to other jobs, props being rushed in at the last minute, memory cards and back-ups not doing what they are supposed to.
The most impressive thing I found was that all of the effects in the movie are practical. What that means is that no CGI or Visual effects were used. The props were all ordered from a friend of Sarah and she did most of the Special Effects make up and blood work herself while also acting and co-directing.
My gory fight scene ends with in my opinion some of the best effects in the whole movie. And include the now iconic hedge cutters.
END OF SPOILER
I did a lot of driving for the movie and ended up being on set most days, even after my scenes were wrapped. We shot a lot of the movie out in a cabin in the woods and the road leading to it was an off road gravel way, twisting and turning through the trees – I LOVED that road, my car – not so much.
Driving cast and crew to and from set was a great opportunity to get to know people and I learned a lot from the process and mistakes we made on that film.
The issues we had I felt could have been avoided and ended up being the fire that fuelled my ambition to produce and direct a new project, which ended up being Rotten Love and then many more since then. I have yet to produce or direct a feature however and would love to have the opportunity to do so. We have been working on the script for 2 sequels where I have even been a part of the story development process and I have signed on to direct both.
When it came to the post production stage of Sargad we asked Javve [Javier Vilar Ehrlin] who was the DOP (Director of Photography) on the shoot to edit it. He did the first trailer very quickly, which is awesome.
But then things took some time and we discovered that the hard drive with all the files and latest edit was faulty. We lost the whole project and Javve and the rest of us tried frantically to find who had a more up to date export. We found one but it was highly compressed and the sound was terrible. Javve managed to save some stuff from the hard drive and worked his magic on the file, tweaking the image and sound and the final film is the result of that process. All in all a good save, not the end result we had aimed for, but a lot higher then I believe Sarah, Andres or Jasmine had ever though when they first started the project.
With the film finished my role was kicked into high gear and I did what I did what I learned when producing The Self-Titled EP with Our Untold Story. I took the final product and packaged it to be as beautiful and professional looking as possible.
We created posters and merch which Sarah was great at selling through her social media channels (and we actually managed to break even for the entire film budget before the film was even released because of that!) and I managed to get a distribution deal to get the film out on DVD and we submitted to festivals. We attended several events and panels and Sarah still goes to conventions and is currently working on the SARGAD book and of course the scripts to Sargad 2 and 3.
Proudly Present 'SARGAD'
A Film written by Sarah Giercksky and Directed by Andres R. Ramos
STARRING - Sarah Giercksky Jesper Hall Xander Turian Tindra Hedlund