24th Jan2018

Horror-On-Sea 2018 Interview: Sophie Bryant talks ‘Mask of Thorn’

by Philip Rogers

Mask of Thorn is a throwback to the classic 80 slashers from writer and director MJ Dixon, which was been selected to play at the Horror-on-Sea Film Festival on Friday 19th January. I got chance to ask actress Sophie Bryant about her character in the film, How she prepared for the role and her favourite scenes to film.


What can we expect from Mask of Thorn?

A lot of action and by that, I mean deaths, a lot of running, and a lot of suspense. It is massively jam packed with everything you need in a horror to ensure the audience is gripped from start to finish. Not only all the conventional features that are stereotypical to appear in a horror but there is also some really fun scenes and comedic moments which I think makes it really stand out as an all-round thriller you as an audience.

Can you tell us a bit about your character?

Well, my character is called Olivia Almonde and she is best friends with Bethany Lovell. Olivia is a very interesting character as she has many sides to her personality. The way she dresses, and appearance wise she comes across as a very hard and strong girl shown physically through her studded leather jacket and huge gold hoop earrings. She is very strong vocally and values her friendship with Bethany a great deal as her other friends ‘the cooler group’ (Julia, Tom and Andy) dislike Bethany and don’t wish to celebrate her birthday unlike Olivia. Having said all this, she deeply cares about Bethany and expresses her love for her by risking her life to save her from Thorn. I absolutely loved portraying this character for MJ as it was a beautiful character to get my teeth into and bring to life as she had so many different and interesting sides to her.

How did you become involved in the film?

I became involved through a chain of coincidence. My Father has a friend called Paul, whose daughter and himself have been a part of multiple Mycho films. My father and Paul got talking one day about how their daughters shared a similar passion. Out of the kindness in his heart Paul then connected with me and then me with MJ. After introducing myself I recorded an audition tape and luckily MJ and Anna liked it! It then turns out that at this time – Paul and I were currently rehearsing for a show together not realising who each other were until the pennies dropped for both of us! Spooky!

What preparation did you do for the role?

Well, my character appears in Legacy of Thorn which this film is the prequel of. I watched that to gather an idea of what my character was like at the age of around 36 I then used her character to base the core of Olivia at the age of 16. On set I felt that MJ’s direction on the script was clear as to how he wanted scenes to run which was so helpful as an actress – it enabled us as to rehearse the scenes and understand the motives and emotions behind each line before we got infant of the camera. For my own understanding of the character I went through the whole script made sure I knew exactly what was going on and I went through each line and wrote the reason and emotion as to why Olivia would be thinking, feeling and saying what she was. It was great – I truly felt 16 again!

What was it like working on the set of Mask of Thorn?

Amazing, I don’t think I can describe it any other way. We became one big family! Meeting at 7pm and going all the way through the night till 6/7am meant that we all became very close. The set was incredible. Being able to film in a real abandoned school was incredible. It really helped me bring out my rebellious side for my character as we really were on school grounds out of hours! It was definitely a once in a life time experience and I can’t thank MJ and Anna enough for this opportunity.

What do you think makes Mask of Thorn stand out in the slasher genre?

I think that what makes Mask of Thorn stand out in the Slasher genre is the methods that the editing and production team use to achieve their outcomes. The way their shots are structured gives the full effect of the bloody horror that is about to happen whilst still keeping us guessing before we see a pool of blood or body slump to the ground confirming out thoughts.

What was one of your favourite scenes to film?

My favourite part was definitely the scene where all of the ‘kids’ are breaking into the school. Myself and Batty (Playing Tom) were perched on a windowsill whilst the rest of the cast were atop a shelving unit in the cupboard. We had to jump and help each other down in a choreographed order whilst acting the scene. It was super fun and exhilarating as I’d never done anything like that before. Also, the roof top scene, I hate heights so climbing a ladder to then be on the school roof for the next 3 hours was definitely a moment where I had to overcome some fears. I had to swing my legs round over the edge and learn forward as though I was about to jump off. It took me quite a few tries before I could do it with some ease ha ha. I mean there are so many moments to pick from, it was just the most amazing experience filming every scene.

Do you have any new projects which you are working on?

Last year I shot a pilot called Ultimate Adventure and I should be filming the second episode in the new year which is very exciting. But my main focus right now if the Christmas Pantomime Aladdin, which is on at Barton Village Hall 16th January to 20th January – feel free to come and watch it’s going to be a great show filled with lots of jokes for the adults and kids! John who was played by George Horn is also staring n the Panto with me as Aladdin and I am Jasmine! Definitely a character change from this film.

What advice would you give to someone who is looking to get into acting?

Just do it! I have had the most amazing 3 years since finishing sixth form. I have been up and down the country, meeting people and creating short films for people’s university degrees and having the opportunity to shoot films like this. If you have the passion and drive to do it then you need to follow it through. I am so thankful that I stuck with my dream because I am now living it. Make sure you surround yourself with positive people who believe in you and don’t take the little opportunities for granted because often big things come of them. Connect with everyone who you work with and join in to make sure you are a part of that production family and you’ll never have a dull moment.

You can find out more about Sophie Bryant and her future projects on her website www.sophiebryant.co.uk

Mask of Thorn screened at the Horror-on-Sea Festival on Friday 19th January at 8pm.

For more information on the event and to purchase tickets for the Horror-on-Sea please see the website for details:  https://www.horror-on-sea.com


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