How do you defend yourself from the undead when you can’t see anything? There’s an extra layer of terror that is added in Deadsight. Adam Seybold plays Ben Nielson, who wakes up to discover the world has been overrun with zombies (much like the opening of 28 Days Later and the Walking Dead), and that he has gone blind. With the help of a pregnant police officer (played by Liv Collins), they must survive the outbreak for as long as they can.
I briefly spoke with Seybold about his role and the challenges of being blind while fending off the living dead.
Chris Aitkens for Nightmare On Film Street: In Deadsight, you play a blind character. What was it like pretending to be blind?
Adam Seybold: The process was, we had these pads that would go on over my eyes and there was a gauze bandage that would wrap around it. On the first day, we were shooting out near this remote cemetery, close to Owen Sound, but really far from civilization. So the first day, I thought “how about every day, from the moment I get to set to moment I leave, I’ll just be blind, all day. I’ll go full method with this thing.” And I made to lunch on the first day. It’s just so silly, because everybody on set had seven jobs anyway, so nobody wanted to be getting me food and helping me walk around, and do all that kind of stuff.
In addition to the gauze pads and bandages, I would have to wear these milky contact lenses that Sean Hunter had. He was the guy who designed all the zombies. I normally wear contacts, so my vision was obscured anyway. Just walking around, not being able to see for that many days in a row, made me grumpy all the time. Between action and cut, it was all about trying to feel my way through whatever situation I was in and having my eyes closed, unless there was some kind of stunt or a fight with one the actors playing a zombie, or with Liv [Collins], or with shooting firearms, then I would have to be able to see, but make it seem like I’m not seeing. It was a challenge. I thought it would be easier than it turned out to be. It definitely was not.
NOFS: And especially those scenes where you have the bandage wrapped around your eyes, how would you navigate yourself, be aware of your surroundings and where the camera was?
AS: I’ve said this before, but I’m sure that Jesse [Thomas Cook] has hours of outtakes of me wandering out of the shot. Jesse would be calling off camera, like “Left!” or “Right!” As long as I was in the shot, it was okay. But I was really just trying to play the reality of it. But then sometimes, you’re losing the light, you’re working fast. This is low-budget independent filmmaking so you don’t have time to go method, you have to get to the point. It was really just a question of what’s the best thing for the situation. If I was playing a scene with Liv, the real challenge of being an actor, especially if I was in a close up, the eyes were a tool in my toolbox I just couldn’t use. I had to convey thoughts through some other mean, whether it’s through breath or just a tilt of the head. It’s not easy.
NOFS: For the combat scenes and the stunts and the firearms, did you need any training for that?
AS: Not really, because my character doesn’t have any training. It’s not like I’m playing John Wick. I don’t need to go get SWAT training. I was more like a guy who doesn’t know how to fire a gun, it’s not that far off from my own personality. It’s just a question of making sure that everyone is safe in those situations. He’s not a superhero, that’s for sure.
NOFS: Your co-star, Liv Collins, you also acted opposite to her in Creep Nation. Was that casting a coincidence, or do you have some kind of partnership with her?
AS: I’ve been working with the Foresight Features guys for almost a decade, and Liv has been working with them for a significant number of years as well, so we’ve all known each other for a long time. For Foresight, it’s important to create that family atmosphere. Because if you’re making movies in extreme conditions, especially zombie movies in the fall and winter in rural Ontario, you want to be on set with people you can have a drink with at the end of the day. That’s one of the reasons why I’ve known them for that long.
So working with Liv on Creep Nation, where we played brother and sister, I think we both have a similar personality on set, where we like to talk and make jokes and make each other laugh. So it made it really easy to work on Deadsight together, because I was playing a visually impaired person, Liv was playing a pregnant woman, and was also extremely pregnant when she was doing it, so having those kind of vulnerabilities made us have to depend on each other more than if we were doing something else. And I think that adds to the tone of the film, being what it is.
NOFS: You’re a writer as well. Can you tell me a bit about your next project, Under Duress?
AS: I can tell you a little bit. I don’t want to get in trouble, so I don’t know how much I can say or how much I can’t, but it’s a project I’ve been working on with a guy called Michael James Regan, who’s a filmmaker and an actor and a producer down here in Toronto. He’s really one of the hardest working guys in show business, and he’s just an endless go-getter, an unstoppable force. He had this idea that he had been kicking around for a while, so we spent a couple of years developing this idea about this group of friends who are in Mexico for a destination wedding. They go out for the bachelor party, then are kidnapped and forced to perform an escalating series of crimes “under duress.” They’re caught up in this conspiracy, so it’s a conspiracy thriller set in Mexico, it’s got a lot of action and cool stuff in it. It’s a project that I’m really excited about, and Michael’s making it happen. So we’re hopefully going to be shooting that in the next few months.
NOFS: Any last things you want our readers to know about Deadsight?
AS: I just hope people go see it. There’s a lot of zombie movies that are out there. I think people might think “Oh, god, here we go, another zombie movie.” But I think this is a different take on it, it’s got a different tone. There’s more naturalism, and it’s not campy. There’s a lot of great performances by Liv, obviously, but also Ry Barrett appears in it, and he’s an icon of horror film here in Ontario. And all the actors playing the zombies like Carrie Cathrae-Keeling and a bunch of other folks give excellent performances. So it’s something I’m really proud to be part of.
Deadsight is available on DVD, VOD and Digital HD on July 2nd. Talk all things Deadsight, zombie invasions, and horror with the Nightmare on Film Street community over on Twitter, Reddit, and the Horror Movie Fiend Club on Facebook!