Today, Ryan talks with Danny Shayler, featured actor in the new
sci-fi thriller film, Hangar 10. Learn how Daniel got involved with
the film, some interesting stories from behind-the-scenes, and
the startling real-life events that ultimately inspired it all.
How did you get involved with the film?
I initially read about the HANGAR 10 film project on a British casting website called 'Spotlight.' After being ignored by the film's casting directors, I then contacted Laurie Cook, one of the film's producers, and I was offered an audition. Following a second call-back audition, where I met the film's director Daniel Simpson and shot improvised, screen-test scenes in London's Hyde park with Abbie Salt, who plays Sally in HANGAR 10, I was offered the role of Jake.
What is the film about?
Metal-detector enthusiasts Gus and Sally go 'Night-hawking,' (illegal metal-detcting on private land) in search of a hoard of Saxon gold, swords, treasure etc. They invite Jake, Sally's old film-making friend, to come along and film the expedition for posterity, and to capture the moment they find Saxon treasure and change their lives forever. When their navigation equipment begins to fail in Rendlesham Forest, it transpires that Jake, Gus, and Sally have strayed onto M.O.D (Ministry of Defence) land. Strange lights appear and even stranger events soon unfold, connecting this present-day story to the original 1980 Rendlesham Forest UFO incident. However, you will have to watch the film for the full truth to be revealed!
What role are you playing in the film?
I play Jake. Jake is a London lad, a strange hybrid of profane, working-class humour, mixed with the more profound spiritual/artistic side of his character. Jake is a truth seeker. He believes there is more to this world, and universe, than meets the human eye.
Can you describe the character and how you went about playing it?
Playing Jake was a blast, as I was free to improvise my dialogue and inject spontaneous wit into otherwise serious and disturbing subject matter. I brought a fair amount of my own personality to Jake, which I was cast to do, as with the found-footage genre it is a bad idea to start 'acting' too much. In fact, it is always a bad idea to 'act' too much when working in the film medium. There is a world of difference between 'acting' and 'behaving.' The best actors 'behave' and 'inhabit,'. Bad actors 'act.' I'm not proclaiming to be either a good or bad actor. I am more interested in learning and growing in my pursuit of acting...or non-acting, as it were.
How did the idea for the film come about?
Daniel Simpson, our director, had recently moved to Suffolk, UK, and was riding a bicycle around the perimeter of Rendlesham Forest, exploring his new environment, when he came upon RAF Bentwaters M.O.D Base. From outside the security fencing, Dan observed large aircraft hangars in the distance, igniting the spark of his imagination to conceive a film narrative around the location of the military base. I believe Dan then began to research the 1980 Rendlesham Forest UFO incident, and out of this, HANGAR 10 was born. Dan has said that he is often inspired to create stories around locations, rather than character and plot. Dan is a very visual artist, with a background in stop-animation, therefore I feel Dan is deeply focused on film 'atmosphere,' rather than contrived 'plot.'
Had you any previous knowledge of the Rendlesham incident beforehand?
Yes. The film was very much 'under-wraps,' and there was no mention of Rendlesham Forest in the casting-call for HANGAR 10. However, years before being cast, I was a "late night conspiracy theorist internet surfer," as it were. The UFO phenomenon was a big interest of mine, so I was well-aware of the Rendlesham incident. Also, I have good intuitions/instincts, so I had a strong feeling that the film I had just been cast in would be connected to the 1980 Rendlesham Forest incident. Just before we began principal photography on HANGAR 10, I was told that we would indeed be shooting in Rendlesham Forest. So my intuitions/instincts were spot-on.
How long was the filming process?
We started shooting HANGAR 10 in April 2011 and wrapped in December 2012. And I even did some studio ADR (additional dialogue replacement) as late as 2013. We shot through all seasons, changes of hair-styles, marriages, births, walk-outs...the whole deal. It is amazing the film cut together with the seamless character/location continuity it has. Testament to a good editor...or in this case, editors. We shot in staggered blocks of 6-8 weeks, spread out over the aforementioned time-frame. More than once we were told, 'This is the final block of shooting'...only to return to the dreaded forest once again for re-shooting changes in story-line, etc.
What was your favorite part of the process?
Working with the director Daniel Simpson and shooting at the actual sites where the shit really went down in 1980.
How was the creative process with the director and the other actors?
The director Daniel Simpson gave me a lot of room early on to experiment/improvise and find my feet with Jake. Although there was apparently a script/screenplay, I was never given a copy to read. For the first couple of blocks of shooting I had no idea what would happen to us out in Rendlesham Forest. Many times we were just given our destination co-ordinates on the navigation equipment and sent out into the pitch-black of on our own, just myself, Rob (Gus), and Abbie (Sally). Sometimes we were given instructions/print-outs of what had to happen within a scene, or moment, but there was a natural-response element involved. For my creative contribution, the director asked me to capture certain specific things on-camera, but I was also given the freedom to film/comment on anything I felt the impulse to film/comment on. A lot of footage was shot, and the concept/narrative of the film went through many permutations. Several different films could have been made out of all the different story-lines we shot. But in the end, the award-winning editor, Andrew Hulme was brought on-board, after other editors had been doing their best to assemble the mountain of footage accumulated, and when Andrew got his fingers on the footage, he was instrumental in assisting Dan in boiling the narrative down to its bare essentials. So, I feel the film leaves a lot more questions than offering spoon-fed answers. In one sense, yes, the truth is revealed...but in another sense, the audience are left to connect the dots in their own subjective way. The film is very pure, simple, and understated. Not a big Hollywood spectacle.
What was it like being on location where the original incident occurred?
Initially, for the first couple of blocks of shooting, the experience was genuinely heart-pounding...as we didn't know what 'they'...Dan and team...were going to do to us, as we wandered through the pitch-black forest alone. On one occasion, we came across trip-wire, stretched across trees at ankle height, and that fucked us up for sure. We thought we might be dragged away into the forest...or worse. (The trip-wire footage was cut from the film) In terms of shooting on the actual M.O.D base at RAF Bentwaters, that was an exciting block or two. We got to explore the place and really absorb the atmosphere...a real kick and privilege. One very early morning, a thick fog had descended over the base. So we were fortunate enough to capture that on camera. And that really was 'atmospheric.' No CGI post-production needed there. Fond memories.
What message do you feel the film brings across?
I feel HANGAR 10 poses more questions than offers answers. I think it is in the film's favour that it does not tie everything up with a nice, neat little bow at the story's conclusion...dictating to you what you should think and feel about events both fictional and real...where boundaries often become subjectively blurred. The truth is revealed in HANGAR 10, but only one side of a complex truth, that can perhaps never be truly revealed...or understood...in our often blinkered, and primitive human minds.
What are your personal thoughts on the UFO phenomenon? Had they changed at all in the making of the movie?
I keep my mind and eyes equally open. It is very clear to me, with the staggering amount of evidence continually piling up, from reputable sources in positions of military, political, social responsibility, that the UFO phenomenon is quite real and undeniable...when you have an open mind and open pair of eyes, or if you even just scratch the surface of evidence available, relating to the UFO phenomenon. I had personal experiences just before shooting HANGAR 10, and after completion of the film, that didn't so much change my thoughts/feelings about the UFO phenomenon, as confirm what I always felt and believed.
In viewing the trailer, the special effects look extremely compelling. Who created the effects?
Dan (Director) did a lot of the special effects himself, and the rest of the CGI was created by a London-based company called Lipsync. However, I have to say, we captured a lot 'in-camera,' manipulating lights etc. Dan is very old school...and most impressive...that way. Many years ago Dan made a stop-animation film called 'H,' set in medieval England, which took Dan over two years to make...meticulously moving each of his intricate models millimetres at a time. Now that takes a certain creative insanity and obsession...in a good way. I learnt a lot from Dan about film-making...and acting...and I have a great deal of respect for him and his ingenuity/tenacity.
What are the plans for the film? Festivals? Distribution?
HANGAR 10 is being distributed by IFC MIDNIGHT in the USA. The film is released in select American theatres and VOD on Friday 7th November 2014. (This Friday) The film will be released in select UK theatres and VOD on 9th February 2015, with the altered title: THE RENDELSHAM UFO INCIDENT. After the cinema run, Daniel Simpson is going to be adding a lot of deleted scenes for the DVD release, some really great stuff that unfortunately didn't make it into the tight and streamlined final cut. Also, I hear that Dan has made a documentary, shot in Rendlesham Forest, that will also be included on the DVD release.
What is next for you in terms of acting/film-making?
I am currently seeking funding to direct my debut feature film, from a screenplay I wrote called THE EDITOR. I will be directing and playing the story's protagonist. It is about an editor of pornographic films who, after his death, is given a second-chance to re-edit his misspent life. However there are opposing forces at work that propel mysterious characters and events into a head-on collision of biblical proportions. The tag-line is: If you could re-edit your life, which parts would you leave on the cutting-room floor?'
Where can we find out more about HANGAR 10?
I believe the American distributors of HANGAR 10, called IFC MIDNIGHT, are setting up a HANGAR 10 Facebook page in the next couple of days, so look out for that. Other than that, keep checking on-line for further release/screening details about the film.
Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with The Artist's Corner, Danny!
Thank you for your engaging questions. I've enjoyed this trip down memory lane...even if the lane is not paved, but made of soil, pine cones, and high-levels of radiation!
To learn more about Danny's work, please visit his personal
View the Official Hangar 10 trailer below!