I recently got the chance to talk to Ben Seton about his role in ‘The Millennium Bug’. Here, Ben talks about what it was like working with the cast and crew on-set and which three guests he would invite to dinner…
Hey Ben. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your new film ‘The Millennium Bug’.
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
Thank you Matt! ‘The Millennium Bug’ is a horror film set during the Y2K craziness. The Haskin family is getting away from it all on the Eve of 2000 and they go camping in the forests of the Sierra Diablos mountains but they are captured by a crazy, inbred hillbilly clan that are looking for new blood to spice up their lackluster gene pool! It becomes a nightmare for the Haskin family as they fight to escape from the hillbilly Crawfords but it soon becomes everyone’s nightmare when the millennium bug itself appears on the scene!
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
I play a misunderstood, desperate, deformed hillbilly named Rip Crawford. He cannot speak properly so he expresses himself with screams and guttural noises. I had one yellow eye and another that drooped halfway down my face which was completely out of shape along with my dental work and back. There was a lot of sitting around in the make-up chair and because it was summer in LA I spent most of the shoot boiling and sweating it right back off! But it was all worth the fun of playing Rip. The Cran brothers originally wrote Rip to be a big hulking scary character but as soon as I got out of the make-up chair and looked in the mirror my opinion changed. While he was scary and hideous he also looked desperate and misunderstood so I allowed that desperateness to inform the playing of Rip. And what can I say, I’m an actor, I know what it means to be desperate! Ha!
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
My good friend and talented actor Benjamin Watts who did the suit work for ‘The Millennium Bug’ itself encouraged me to audition for Rip. I’d heard all fantastic stuff about the Cran Brothers and the film through Benjamin.
How would you say this film is different and unique?
This film is an incredible labour of love on the part of the Cran Brothers, Dustin Yoder and many others involved. What makes it stand out is there is no CGI!! These guys built it all! From miniature town models to forests and life-size Bug heads! With the exception of an opening shot of the movie everything was filmed in a tiny little warehouse. This meant that locations were built and shot one at a time. I don’t exactly know how long it was but I think the Cran brothers had been shooting in that warehouse for at least a year before I walked on the set! Anyway I think having “REAL fake stuff” is a big part as to why the fans love it. It’s kind of rare these days to NOT use CGI and I think people appreciate the immediacy and quality that it brings to this film and the genre.
The film stars John Charles Meyer, Jessica Simons, Christine Haeberman, Jon Briddell, Ken MacFarlane and your good self – with Kenneth Cran onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set? Any good anecdotes?
I had a blast! I was usually wondering around the set in character drooling everywhere. When I got bored I would try to cut people’s hands off with a table saw that happened to be lying around. Normally people would freak out and the director, Kenneth Cran, would have to step in and tell Rip to stand down but then we would start singing Black Eyed Peas “Lovely Lady Lumps” except we reworded to “My Lovely Mutant Lumps…check em out!” and all would be forgiven! So the cast and crew were, in fact, really fantastic to be around. They seemed to have no qualms about tying me to a rope attached to a car outside the warehouse and dragging me through the sets “forest floor” but that was because they are so nice and wanted me have all the fun! They were very unselfish in that regard.
Let’s talk a bit about you Ben. What made you want to get into the industry in the first place?
Loved it ever since I was a little kid! Any opportunity to perform and I was there. I found a deeper appreciation while at high school performing Coriolanus in ‘Coriolanus’, one of Shakespeare’s lesser known tragedies. It was while doing this action packed play where I got to swing from the rafters and be an Elizabethan action hero that I decided this was my thing. There were many personal defining moments that prompted me to take the path of the traveling actor but it was my years at Riverview College in Sydney, Australia under the guidance of Melvyn Morrow that gave me the grounding to enjoy this for a lifetime!
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into the industry?
I like to follow the advice that Anthony LaPaglia told me…”Don’t put your life on hold for the industry as it will always be there when you get back!”. I’ve found the industry can be fickle and if you find yourself seeking its approval it’s hard to get up in the morning and things aren’t so fun anymore! I find it important to ask, if there was no industry at all would you still want to be acting? Or if your only audience was a bunch of blokes in the Outback would you still feel the urge to act? If the answer is yes then you will keep working and being creative no matter what the circumstances. Passion for doing what you do is vital and I think finding good training is a must. Proper training, however you find it, through mentorship, on the job or taking a class is what will give you the tools to keep going. While I’m definitely not the best at giving advice about the “business” of acting and how to make the industry accept you, I do know that the only times that they have noticed me is when I’ve focused on my own acting endeavours and projects! J
You’ve been in a number of different films and TV projects – who have been your favourite actors/actresses to work with so far? Any good stories?
Ooooo! I hate to play favourites! But if I must…I would say my good friends Benjamin Watts and Cassius Willis. I’ve worked with them both on various projects now and it’s not just because they’re my friends and are great at what they do but because it’s always great fun seeing what they come up with. All you need to do is check out the fantastic characters they created on our web series ‘Matchstick McCoy’ in the ‘Big And Black’ episode and you’ll see what I mean! Most of my fun stories all come from working in theatre but I guess I’ll save them for another time!
If you could have dinner with three guests – (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
William Shakespeare because he’s responsible for me getting into acting in the first place and I have to dispel the myth that he’s more than one person. Leonardo Da Vinci so I can bring him up to speed and lastly my brother Xavier Seton who is still alive because I will need someone to laugh about it with after.
Also we will need our combined powers of drawing on serviettes, gesticulating and meager Italian to get our questions across to Leonardo.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things could you not live without?
Well assuming food and water was available…then music because I’ve tried creating some myself and I’m horrible. The internet, because then I wouldn’t feel so lonely for ideas and I’d also be able to start a forum on how to build a canoe on a desert island. Lastly a crate of cigarette lighters…what..? It’s a lot of effort to start a fire without one! Have you tried?
What’s coming up for you in 2012?
I’m shooting a musical comedy web series this April called ‘Malfalia’ where I play Prince Charming in a Disney-ish kind of world. We have Juliet Landau from ‘Buffy’ and Kevin Sorbo from ‘Hercules’ attached. It’s all original score and is already proving to be a lot of fun as we’ve started recording some of the music. I’m excited about 2012 because several projects that I’ve shot over the last few years are looking like they are near completion and will find an audience. To name a couple, I will be doing the final voice over for ‘The Vanquisher’, a sci-fi film which has been four years in the making now and also ‘The Burning Man Project 3D’, where I play an alien from out of space who lands at the Burning Man festival. It looks like a fun year ahead!
Thanks for the interview!