Above Image: Alan Weissman, All rights reserved, image not monetized. All images on this interview are copyright by the original owners, and used for promotional purposes only.
Greetings valued Dan's Movie Report readers. A special treat, an interview two years in the making. Producer and actor Natalie Burn stops by for an extensive chat about 'Hollow Point' and her film 'Acceleration' along with newer projects. Natalie has a unique and deep background In film and is highly knowledgeable on both sides of the camera. Sit back, relax, because now is the time to burn and read the exciting new chat with Natalie!
DMR: Chat about your casting for Hollow Point, did you meet with Director Daniel Zirilli and Producers Dilan Jay and Adel Nur prior to getting the part with auditions or was it we have a cool detective part for you.
NB: I was very fortunate to know Daniel Zirilli for many years prior to working with him on Hollow Point. He was gracious enough to call and tell me there's a detective role that he's thinking of for me, and he would like for me to meet with his producing partner, Adel Nur to interview for this role; and that's how it happened! Adel and I really connected with one another. He is extremely polite, and I love his energy and enthusiasm over the movie. After getting acquainted with Adel, he said that I'm definitely this role of Detective Emily Plaza and he's excited to work with me on set. So, I didn't have to read for the role, but I did have to do a proper meeting with the producer and the director, in order to see if I fit the criteria. As for Dilan, I met Dilan for the first time on set, and after we got acquainted, we kind of felt like we've known each other for years. He's an old soul, who’s very talented, and we were thrilled to work together. I'm hoping to work with him again someday.
DMR: Chat about creating some of the detective mannerisms for your Emily Plaza character? How long did you rehearse the scenes prior to shooting?
NB: I try to work on my character as soon as I get the script, but that's not always the case sometimes. I like spending the time to get to know my character on a deeper level and understand the backstory as well as mannerisms; however, I had limited time to prepare, as I got brought into this project a few days prior to shooting. So, for me, when I’m in this type of situation, the lines are the most important thing right now and then we can work on everything else from underlying meanings to specific actions taken by my character. What primarily attracted me to the character Detective Emily Plaza is that she’s a female detective in this man’s world. In the story, she really cares about Dilan’s character and the fact that she wants him to get justice after losing his wife and child; it’s very personal to Emily Plaza, and I personally felt like there’s a deeper connection that she’s feeling. She has this need to help him no matter what, and that’s what I kind of been trying to find, but within my own personal life; in other words, I try to find that depth or loss of something and regain it or bring it back in the moment. Basically, this approach drives me throughout the whole script and guides my character to be strong and successful. Overall, it’s nice to have more time to prepare for these roles but an exciting challenge nevertheless.
DMR: You had some pretty cool scenes on the film, discuss the helicopter scene, and searching for the bad guy at the end, no spoilers please.
NB: I was super excited when Daniel told me I'll be flying a helicopter! Since I was a kid, I’ve always wanted to learn how to fly a helicopter. It was part of a deal with my brother. When we were young, we just told ourselves there's certain things we are going to do no matter what, and one of them was how to learn how to drive a boat, and the other one is to fly a helicopter. The instructor was very nice, as he taught me how to operate the helicopter and once I got the hang of it, it was amazing! The feeling is so overwhelming. I'm not afraid of heights, I'd go up into the sky all day long and just look over the amazing city view.
DMR: Very cool story about flying! Chat about the interaction with the established actors like Luke Goss and Michael Pare, what did you learn from them?
NB: Oh, I love Michael Pare! Michael Pare has been one of my good friends for years, we've done at least four or five indie movies together. We also worked together on my movie Awaken that I produced, as well as Uwe Boll's indie movie called Blood Rayne: The Third Reich. Michael is just a wonderful actor. He's also a member of the Actor's Studio, like myself. I literally saw him grow and become this lifetime member right in front of my eyes. He's such a fascinating person, who has been acting for a long time, and yet, he's constantly open to growing, and he is growing. He’s always trying to find different ways of becoming a different character, in addition to finding a different way of communicating with people in the scene. I mean, he's exactly the actor that you want to be. I think what blends the most from him is that no matter how much you had worked in this industry, no matter how old you are, no matter how much you already know, it's never enough. There's never a time where you can say 'I know it all now. Now I can stop learning.' That's never the case about Michael when it comes to acting.
Same thing with Luke Goss. I mean, I didn't know him before Hollow Point, but once I met him, I felt like I've already known that guy. He's such an enthusiastic actor, and he gives it all his best. He's physically strong, and knows how to do amazing action scenes, and he inspired me to become an action star later on. I was already fighting and training with some of the best trainers, including Arnold Chon, but Luke is the one who kind of motivated and challenged me during the movie, which shifted my focus more on actually becoming a female action star because there's definitely a market for that. It's really cool to be in an action movie. It's like a dream come true!
DMR: I also like Michael Pare and Luke Goss, I am thrilled you got to work with them. Chat about working with Dilan Jay as star and producer, I know that your upcoming own film 'Acceleration' you wore two hats on. What did you learn from working with Dilan, and for that matter Daniel Zirilli and Adel, on 'Hollow Point'?
NB: Dilan is such a smart person. His background is primarily in music and real estate, but he's a true business oriented and artistic entrepreneur, who is open to collaborating and multi-tasking on several things at once. When I observed that type of work ethic, it was inspiring. I also realized if he could do this, then I could do it as well, which is kind of my curse and my blessing. I look at people and for some reason I always feel the need to compete. And it's not always the best thing to do in relationships, but it's great in work because I get motivated by people's successes; not necessarily out of jealousy, but I definitely always think like ' Well, if they can do it, I can do it.' I believe there's nothing that I'm not capable of doing myself. Dilan made that film, which inspired me to then later make my movie 'Acceleration.' I figured, 'hey, he played the lead. He did action, and I can do the same.' The only difference is that I'm a female and he's in man. I believe any woman out there can commit to equal jobs as men do. So, like I said, he definitely inspired me to become a producer and get control over my own movies. When I worked with Daniel and Adel on Hollow Point. They constantly work. They don't stop. They create their own content and they continue making movies because that's their passion. They don't wait for a phone call for some big studios to call them, they create, and they just continue to succeed. That is kind of what I've taken from the experience of not waiting for permission to achieve my own goals and aspirations.
DMR: Yes it is pretty amazing about how Dilan just decides to make his own film. Final Hollow Point question, although you did not have a lot of scenes together chat about working with actress JuJu Chan, and the importance in general of having a balance of strong female characters in current action films.
I think it's more important today to have a female action star who is
capable of doing her own stunts, or doing her own fight
choreographies. I believe the studios and independent market is more
open towards those type of female actresses with those specific
assets. That is why I feel JuJu has huge potential. Since she’s of
Asian decent as well as a professional martial artists, she
definitely has the traits and qualities to her advantage. The reality
is casting directors now are looking for talented actresses with a
wide array of skills depending on the role. An actress may look the
part, but if it comes down to two actresses who have the same look,
but one has a special skill that the other candidate doesn’t, which
also benefits or reinforces the creative vision, then it's convenient
to make a decision.
When I worked with JuJu, I saw her fighting skills and I said to myself 'wow!' That's what I want to do. I definitely want to push myself forward. Given my background as a ballerina, I was able to transition easily into fight choreography because I already had the same discipline, flexibility, and agility. So, with my movie Acceleration, when I started training with Arnold Chon, it didn’t feel as challenging, as it may with anyone who is just starting out. On the other hand, those who do have a specific skill set or training, I encourage them to utilize and leverage it to their advantage while challenging themselves.
DMR: Acceleration really has piqued my interest with some killer established stars including Danny Trejo, Dolph Lundgren & Sean Patrick Flannery, chat about working with them.
NB: I've worked with Dolph Lundgren on about five different projects already, but we've been friends for about nine years. I've seen his career rise back up and he definitely deserves the recognition for his work in this industry. But working with him in general is always a privilege. Especially, knowing somebody who has been in the industry for as long as he has and still retains value and demand from his fans, which is very inspiring overall. I mean, it takes dedication, training, and perseverance to really continue working as an actor. But, no matter what, Dolph is still here, he's still making movies, and we still want to watch them. Once again, to me, that is very admirable, which aspires me to eventually reach his level some day. With Sean Patrick Flannery, I mean 'wow!' He's an amazing Emmy Award-Winning Actor, who I just absolutely adore. He has got tons of secrets and talents that a lot of people don't actually know; in fact, Sean trained me a few times, and he's an absolute champ and an amazing master. Sean was just wonderful to work with. He creates the most unique and creative characters. Basically, I've never looked at somebody's eyes and got so hypnotized that I couldn't stop smiling. It always works against me because my character is so serious in Acceleration. When I met Danny Trejo, I was so surprised by his personality, by who he is, and in real life, I mean, you see him play these intimidating bad guy-type roles, but he's actually a warm teddy bear. Danny is so kind and extremely happy; he's always smiling!
DMR: Working with Director Daniel Zirilli again and Michael Merino on crafting the story and your character Rhona? Chat about working as well with EP Eric Brenner.
NB: I met Eric Brenner through our distributor. He's very kind and supportive, and I hope to work with him again some day. With Daniel and Michael, I can't tell you how happy and relieved I am that I put, not one, but two great directors, who were both very flexible and professional, on set. They worked really well together by being open to each other’s creative suggestions and feedback; in fact, I think that's the key in independent film-making. It's a collaboration and everybody works together instead of against each other. It was definitely a team effort at the end of the day, and having two talented directors on set made the process move quicker.
DMR: Must have been tricky to get the cast together on such a tight schedule, how many days did you have for rehearsals, then principal photography? Chat as well about your casting process.
NB: It was very tricky! I mean, you always have a tight schedule with independent feature films. I feel that as our industry grows with new and innovative ways of film-making, the schedules get tighter, and the budgets get smaller each time. Regardless, we still have to deliver the same expectations and product because that's what distributors want. I was fortunate to have such an amazing cast and crew. Everybody was professional, came in on time, knowing exactly what they were doing and why they were doing it. We shot 10 days of principal photography and then we had three days of pickups. So it was three to 13 days. With action it's tough because you have to be ready to take the time to shoot it from all different angles, different punches, etc. but still didn't have enough time. But the priority is to just "get it in the can," as they say, and figure it out in post later on. As for the casting process, my distributors were helpful to let me know which actors they wanted to recruit and that made the process easier. As I mentioned earlier, I already had a preexisting relationship with Dolph Lundgren and got him attached literally after shooting another movie with him called 'Hard Night Falling.' Dolph only had a one month time frame, so we had to almost scramble to make it work but eventually the movie came together and I couldn't of been more proud of how it turned out.
DMR: Thank you for giving my audience insight to formulating a film from scratch on limited time. Share a story from the set of 'Acceleration', can be funny, or scary etc...
NB: Oh my gosh! I have an amazing story! During our pickups, my character had to drive the Maserati throughout Downtown L.A.; unfortunately, we didn’t have the budget to get permits and block off the streets, but we were going to wing it anyway. So, here I am driving at 3:00 am with a fake license plate with fake money and fake drugs in the trunk of the car. I eventually get lost and while trying to find my way back, I get pulled over and am surrounded by four cop cars. I honestly thought I was being pulled over for the fake license plate, but actually it was for driving towards traffic. Of course, I was extremely apologetic and explained that we were shooting a movie, and eventually the police let us go without a ticket.
DMR: Indie filmakng, always an adventure, great story! Can you share any non spoiler plot details, from the film?
NB: I think the most interesting part of the film is how the entire plot unfolds towards the end.
You have the two most interesting antagonists Vladik, played by Dolph Lundgren, and Kane, played by Sean Patrick Flanery, whom each have their own goals and ulterior motives throughout the plot that intertwines with Rhona’s primary objective of getting her kidnapped son Mika, who’s played by Dobromir Mashukov, back. I believe the audience will enjoy watching how all of the characters meet up, while discovering the twists and revelations behind each of their motives.
DMR: Chat about the release of 'Acceleration'.
NB: The movie has already been released and is available on multiple platforms, including Amazon Prime, where you can check it out, be entertain, and leave a review afterwards. Also, feel free to connect via social media and tell me your thoughts.
DMR: Finally wrapping up, can you shed some light on Hard Night Falling and The Fourth Horseman films, I noticed the Dolph film Hard Night Falling has wrapped, can you chat a bit about your character no spoilers of course.
NB: Hard Night Falling is out on Hulu and Amazon, and you should definitely check it out if you’re into cool, kick-ass scenes! The Fourth Horseman is currently holding for the time being, but there are plenty of other movies down the pipeline.
For further information on Natalie Burn, please connect on these websites:
Demo Reel: https://vimeo.com/418702155