Kassandra Santos – (The Collapsed – 2011).

I recently got the chance to talk to Kassandra Santos about her role in ‘The Collapsed’. Here, Kassandra talks about how she got involved in the project and what it was like working with the cast and crew on-set…

Hey Kassandra. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your new film, ‘The Collapsed’.

What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?

‘The Collapsed’ is about a family of four that have to survive insurmountable odds during the fall of civilization. They make their way to their rural hometown of Dover’s Bend in hope their estranged son/brother is still alive. Along the way they face something otherworldly that may threaten everything.

Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…

Karyn Marshall is a practical survivor that has joined a group of others in from a small town along the way – she’s pragmatic to a fault, and usually the first to call for the ‘hard choices’. Realistic though she may be, she still has a vulnerability and nervousness about her, which probably comes from recent events in the film. I found it pretty easy to relate to her and really enjoyed my time as her.

How did you get involved in the project in the first place?

Ah Facebook…Facebook is truly an amazing thing. I’ve been using it to network for years now and it definitely plays a huge part in my involvement in this, and many other projects I have done and hopefully will continue to get. Director Justin McConnell found me via Facebook by way of Vincent Thomas’s suggestion. Vincent and I have worked on several projects together over the years so when the question came up of whom to cast for Karyn, the wheels were set in motion that way.

How would you say this film is different and unique?

The film attempts to take a more down-to-earth approach to the apocalypse, focusing on a few key characters and telling the entire story from their perspective only. In a lot of ways, the film keeps the audience as much in the dark about what’s happening as the characters. It’s much more a slow-burn thriller than modern audiences are used to.

The film stars John Fantasia, Steve Vieira, Anna Ross, Lise Moule, Vincent Thomas and Stefano Gallo – with Justin McConnell onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set? Any good anecdotes?

Every project I work on is different from the last. I meet new people, I learn new things and I get to be a part of something I believe in. Working on ‘The Collapsed’ was an amazing experience. Everyone involved was invested 100%. Everyone arrived ready to give it his or her best. Sacrifices were made (which usually happens in the case of indie film making) and even so, we knew that at the end we would have something to really be proud of. I loved working with this cast and crew…all a bunch of truly talented, funny and creative people. It was great to work with my friend Vincent Thomas and also Neil Green who I co-starred with in Ryan M. Andrews’s horror ‘Black Eve’ and who is from the same small hometown as me – (Thunder Bay, Ontario).

Not to give too much away for those who haven’t seen the film yet but I have a newfound dislike for fake blood more so now than I ever did before. Let’s just say that by the end of the shoot I was sticking to everything and cleaning corn syrup out of almost every nook and cranny. Another fun thing about the shoot was that some of it was filmed on a ranch and we kind of adopted this little kitty that kept coming around…I nicknamed him S-cat – (set cat). He liked one of the crew members in particular a great deal and even perched himself on his shoulder.

Let’s talk a bit about you Kassandra. What made you want to get into the industry in the first place?

Oh boy, this is such a loaded question for me and I imagine it is for most actors. The short and narrow of it is that when I was a little girl I kept changing my mind on what I wanted to be when I grew up. One minute it was a ballerina or a piano player, the next it was an archaeologist like Indiana Jones or a zoologist like Diane Fossey. I quickly realised I wanted to do it all! Greedy little girl wasn’t I? I’ve also always loved making people laugh, being entertaining etc. so I decided I COULD do it all. I started out doing theatre at a very young age in school, which is thanks to an education system that includes it as part of the curriculum here in Canada. I was involved with theatre all the way until I graduated secondary school in my teens. I had visited Toronto with my family when I was younger and I knew that it had the reputation of “Hollywood North”. I knew I couldn’t stay in Thunder Bay to be a film and television actress so I moved to Toronto by myself 2 days after I graduated high school when I was just 18 years old. I just celebrated my 14-year anniversary here and have no regrets in moving here. I’ve done everything from corporate videos, voice-overs and web commercials to music videos, film, TV and stunts. It’s certainly been a roller coaster ride from day 1! I chose arguably the hardest industry to break into, I often say it would have been easier for me to become a rocket scientist, but I chose something that gives me such happiness and fulfillment.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue a career in the industry?

That’s another doozy of a question. It’s different for everyone. Some people go to university and take an acting program and that helps them get into the industry. Some people are at the right place at the right time and get discovered by someone who’s in a position to place them in the industry. Most people start by doing small unpaid projects and build their resumes. It’s difficult because unless you are already wealthy, most people have to work to sustain themselves and their daily lives. It’s really one big juggling act. But you have to stay strong, you have to be determined and you must set yourself small goals each year. If they are accomplished you move on to the next ones. If they don’t happen, you need to ask yourself what went wrong and what can you do to make them work.

The common thread for all is dedication to what you’re doing. You have to accept that you will face a lot of rejection and at the same time remain confident in your abilities. You may not be someone’s cup of tea most of the time but one day you will be and until that day comes you need to prepare yourself, you need to learn as much about your craft as possible, always be asking questions, be fearless. Also surrounding yourself with people who can help you and people who believe in you is extremely important. And if there are people who tell you “you can’t”, make sure to use this as motivation to drive you to your goals. After all, isn’t it a great feeling to prove those naysayers wrong?

Also make sure you have a great agent, someone who will work for you and that understands your goals. And in this day and age, one of the most powerful tools you have is yourself! Don’t wait around for others to do things for you….go out and do it yourself! Networking is key; make others aware of who you are.

Ultimately, I think everyone has a different journey depending on what they want. But success comes down to each individual’s perception. Just keep going…it is a guarantee that you will face obstacles, but remember to just keep breathing, have fun and acknowledge your little victories. Stay as positive as possible and make your footprints seen, no matter how little you may think them, someone out there will see them as giant. Good luck!

If you could have dinner with three guests – (living or dead), who would you choose and why?

Hmmmm…I see this question sometimes in interviews and to be honest I’ve never really given it any thought. I guess I’d really like to have dinner with Josephine Bonaparte. I read the trilogy by Sandra Gulland and I’ve always been really fascinated with anything to do with The French Revolution – (I am half French after all). Maybe also someone like George Lucas or J.R.R Tolkien…I’m a huge ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Lord Of The Rings’ fan – (anything sci-fi, fantasy or horror actually) so that would be pretty fantastic. And lastly, I think it would be interesting and definitely very entertaining to talk with myself as a little girl. I’d love to hold her in my arms and tell her – “Everything is going to be great”.

What is your favourite holiday destination and why?

I was very fortunate to have had parents that knew the value in taking their kids on trips. Being French and Portuguese, I went several times to my parents’ home countries and learned a lot about my heritage. I love France and Portugal; two countries so different from the other and yet both so magical. I also been to places like Spain and the United States and really enjoyed them. I used to DJ professionally for several years which took me across Canada and again all over the US but I had never been anywhere south of Los Angeles until just this past January when I went to Cuba for the first time for a destination wedding. I had an amazing time and definitely want to go back. The people and culture are simply wonderful! But if we’re talking about dream destination…I’d have to say New Zealand. Once again based mostly on inspiration from ‘The Lord Of The Rings’ scenery and I’ve always heard people say great things. I’d also love to go to Fiji, Bali, Belize, Brazil, Ireland, England, Scotland and Italy. That’s quite the list! I better start working on some bigger budget films that can facilitate my traveling desires, lol.

What is your favourite word?

Lol, oh boy…hmmm…just one? I guess I like words that sound interesting or feel fun to say….um, pamplemousse? How about anything with the word douche attached to it like douchebag or douchemonkey? Then again there are words I love that have meaning like magic, hope and love.

What’s coming up for you in 2012?

After the successes of my films ‘The Collapsed’, ‘The Unleashed’ and ‘Black Eve’, and my work on a few television and web series like ‘Nothing Personal’ and ‘I Kill Monsters’, I was happy to have enjoyed some time off at the beginning of this year but have several things lined up to take me to the end of 2012. I’ve just signed on to co-star in a Steampunk inspired web series called ‘Aether Dancer’ and am developing a new web series with Steve Vieira from ‘The Collapsed’. I’m also going to be on the cover of Banana Fusion Magazine based out of Montreal and that edition should be out near the end of this year. I’ll more than likely end up working again with some of my past colleagues, which is always a treat. I’m forever trying to keep busy and love trying my hand at new things. It’s my hope that I will soon be working on a film in the UK or Europe. I would love nothing more than to be in a great place doing what I love doing most.

Thanks for the interview!

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