This is an interview that I carried out with actor Mike Beckingham for his new on-demand film The Host (2020). The film is not one I was a fan of due to being too convoluted and derivative, but it is impressive for a very low budget feature and Mike himself gives a decent performance. I am in bold and he is not.
When you received the script could you see how inspired it was by Hitchcock, especially Psycho?
Absolutely, the film ‘The Host’ is inspired by the Hitchcock style of horror and the Psycho drama as well as many others. It’s a film with many onion layers, for instance presenting the Norman Bates character as a woman and witnessing the differences gender brings to the role, and my role as Robert can be compared to the role of Marion – but as a male, what society expects of me as a wage earner for success brings light to many other messages. I feel everyone was very aware of this going into production. The film wasn’t trying to emulate such a classic and pioneering film, but to pay homage to it with a modern-day twist.
Did you feel the production was bigger than it was despite the small budget (relative to big blockbusters or even large-scale dramas)?
We had between cast and crew a few hundred people working on this film. At the time in my career when this film came about it was a substantially bigger budget than I had worked on before, and for me it was what I had been working towards and the next step on my career path. What this production achieved with the budget they had was nothing short of incredible.
Following on from the last question, watching the film I felt the production was very ambitious compared to the relatively small budget – being on set how do you think they achieved this and did the director manage to keep everything on track?
I think that’s great you picked up on that, ambition is something you should never lose. Zachary Weckstein (Producer) did so well with the budget he had, how he did it I have no idea, but I certainly appreciated all his hard work as we filmed almost all the film ‘on location’ and as an actor to actually be in these places helps a great deal. Andy Newbury, the Director, was brilliant, and he’s from a successful TV background so was used to working fast. Andy also has such a wonderful style of calm direction that really helped when the pressure was on.
Having studied Robert’s character and gotten into his mindset – do you think he deserved his fate or do you wish his story had a different ending?
Really good question, my thoughts are just because you make some bad decisions in life, that doesn’t make you a bad person. I feel this is very much the case for Robert, he’s not a bad guy, just made some very bad decisions but these decisions come from a good place. I would have liked his story to perhaps have gone a different way, the consequences of his actions are very severe, but I do feel this adds to the thriller element of the film as you don’t know where his story is going.
Do you have any funny or cool tid-bits from working on set?
The cool bits were being in Amsterdam, a city I had never been to before and really loved. Also, making life-long friends from a wonderful group of cast and crew. And filming in the locations we did, we filmed in a huge mansion, two airports, we even shut a street down in central London, that’s always pretty cool!
What path do you see your career trajectory taking, are you enjoying exploring independent films or would you be interested in venturing into bigger productions and franchises?
If you look at in recent years two films that won the Oscar for ‘Best Picture’ had a budget of just $3 million, or very similar. You can make incredible films on very little money nowadays. I very much look at the character and story rather than the size of a production. I have my own goals and philosophy which I stick too, I feel it is important to have in your head a clear path with goals. If in my career I can have a nice blend of huge blockbusters and Indie films I’ll be over the moon with that.
With a brother already in the industry did you feel it was important to establish your own unique filmography and work with creatives you’re meeting for the first time on set? Do you think you’ll collaborate with your brother on any future projects if it feels right?
Absolutely, we’re very different in terms of our styles. I’m very much an apprentice in terms of my style, I learn through ‘doing’ and so I did as many short films as possible to gain as much experience as possible, and it’s very much the same now. Every project teaches me something new. One of my goals was to work with my brother but we both knew I needed to get to a certain level before doing so. I am so lucky to have my brother where he is, I think having Simon show me and inspire me has helped huge amounts and helped with my negotiating within the industry. The most important thing though, is to climb as many runs on the ladder as you can, it’s not about trying to get to the top the quickest. Myself and Simon actually worked with each other last year on a TV show coming out on Amazon Prime in 2020 called ‘Truth Seekers’. I play a character called ‘Bjorn’ who is in the office with Simon’s character. It was the greatest experience of my career thus far to work with my brother and we had a lot of fun on set. If you are a Pegg/Frost fan I can assure you you will not be disappointed with Truth Seekers when it’s released later this year, watch out for it.
Would you desire to write and direct any films of your own?
For me honestly acting fulfils me enough, it’s a big enough challenge for me. I have so much admiration for people who do the writing/directing/producing role, it’s incredible they spin that many plates but for me acting is everything I need.
What genres are you interested in working in?
One of my goals as an actor is to show ‘range’ so it really would come down to the role as to which genre I do next. I’m due to start filming this year for a movie written and directed by Bill Fishman called ‘Waltzing With Brando’ with Billy Zane. It’s based on a true story about a brilliant pioneering architect called Bernard Judge who ends up in Fiji and falls into this wonderful partnership with Brando (played by Billy) to build the first self-sustaining hotel. I’m playing Bernard Judge and due to him being a real person, still very much alive, it’s a completely different role to what I’ve done before and this excites and terrifies me a great deal in equal measures.
What is the number 1 thing you want the British film industry to improve upon having now gained a lot of experience in the field? Or alternately is there anything uniquely special about working in film & TV in the UK?
It sounds cliché but every set, every production I’ve been part of is special. I think the film industry as a whole now is going to evolve again due to the current situation, we’ve sort of hit reset, it’s a great opportunity to start fresh. I’m confident the industry will bounce back stronger and I’m excited to see what happens.
iTunes hyperlink: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/movie/the-host/id1493955861
Amazon Prime: https://amzn.to/2Vl7MaC