Lost Solace, directed by Chris Scheuerman, tells the story of a diagnosed psychopath garppeling with the intensity of emotion for the first time. After using a new form of new form of ecstasy, Spence (Andrew Jenkins) is forced to deal with the consequences of his careless actions. With an impressive festival run, Lost Solace earned several awards at the Canadian Film Fest, the Boston Science Fiction Film Festival, and the Leo Awards. Described during the festival circuit as American Psycho meets Limitless, the film is a thought experiment on how a person wrestles with seeing the world through new eyes.
Drawing from some of the darkness in their own lives, the film is a collaborative effort from best friends, director Chris Scheuerman and actor Andrew Jenkins. With help from psychologists and neuroscientists, the two set out to craft a story that explored what it might be like for a person with no regard for the world around him to evolve. Andrew Jenkins, the film’s lead who also holds a writing and producing credit, sat down with us recently to talk about the film.
Nightmare on Film Street: So you made the film with Chris [Scheuerman]. I understand you two are best friends.
Andrew Jenkins: Yeah, Chris and I go back over a decade at this point. We are best friends and I think that was really helpful in the execution of our project. We had to go to some pretty open and sensitive places.
NOFS: How Did you guys meet?
AJ: We’re both from the prairies, we both kind of grew up in the middle of nowhere in Alberta and we both moved around the same point in time to Vancouver, he to peruse a career in film as a director and myself as an actor and performer. We met actually, we met working at a restaurant just months after both of us had moved there and there was just a real kinship there. I think a friendship and a trust developed really quickly and then sort of a collaboration sort of sprouted somewhere in there in the first couple years.
NOFS: You guys worked on the screenplay together, I see you have a story credit for [Lost Solace]. Is it something you came to him with?
AJ: It’s something that we collaborated on, Chris is a screenwriter so as far as putting all of the words on the page and all of the concepts, that is his baby. I did come to Chris with an idea. In the early I had just played a psychopath for an audition so I got to go down this- You know, to prepare for an audition you kind of get to go the rabbit hole and you do the work. So, I went to this place and I had done a little bit of research and this idea of playing a character who has no guilt or empathy, or remorse but is able to put on this false front that makes people think that he or she does, was just really, really attractive to me. And so I really got into this whole idea about things like that. I remember kind of running the idea by Chris and bringing him books and we started to go down this rabbit hole together, and eventually he had this really awesome, unique idea that ‘Hey what if we take this psychopath and at some point he begins to feel emotions for the first time, and I think was a really great premise from which we built the rest of the story.
NOFS: Oh yeah, definitely. I think it’s a really original take on just the ‘psychopath’ itself. You see a lot of dystopian movie where you take drugs to block emotion and all of a sudden Christian Bale has feelings for the first time! That’s interesting and all but Lost Solace is a little more grounded in reality. It’s something that I could actually see happening.
AJ: You know technically, really there is no “cure” for Psycopathy. When we were doing our research, a lot of psycopathic tendencies sort of mellow when the man or woman reaches sort-of middle age, most of the time. Not all the time, but we did work with psychologists and neuroscientists and the most plausible thing that any f them could come up with was psychoactive drugs because that would have you know, that effect on the frontal- I think it’s in the emigdela. The part of the brain that doesn’t light up in psychopaths but lights up for the rest of us. We did work with scientists to identify which specific drug would be the most plausible way, if in the future this were ever to happen, that this wold be the way.
NOFS: We’re seeing a lot more studies regarding ecstasy and prescribed MDMA to get through PTSD, but it seems like it’s being used for a multitude of things.
AJ: I think one of the little bi-products of all of our research that we realized is that we’re in a golden age of neuroscience and there are so many breakthroughs happening, even with psychopathy and as you mentioned PTSD. You know, obviously the drugs that were talking about right now are not the answer but there is some really, really interesting cross-over there.
NOFS: I was reading a little bit that Chis had gone through some really in-depth therapy, and I was curious if any of that involved medical-grade MDMA. Is part of the idea, where the drugs [in the film] came from, our was it just the idea of becoming a different person.
AJ: Sorry, are you aksing if Chris does drugs as part of his therapy?
NOFS: You know, I realized phrasing it like that, it does sound really silly but, yeah.
AJ: No, no. The answer is no [laughs]. You know, my knowledge of it; Chris did experience a panic and anxiety disorder and he did go to a holistic therapy for that, and he did counselling, and through that experience we were able to understand, because you’re feeling- and I can’t speak for Chris, but I imagine that you would feel these emotions at Mach 5, right? And so I think as we worked through the screenplay, Chris was pouring a lot of his experience into what it would feel like to be really, ultra sensitive to these things. I mean, having him as a resource, having been through this and having really come out the other end was really useful to me, you know, as a performer because he was able to provide some context. When Spence has those panic attacks and I can only imagine with him directing you, he’s basically trying to say ‘this is exactly how I felt’.
NOFS: What was that like?
AJ: I had never had a panic attack when we did shoot this film so I did have to use me imagination. And you’re right, Chris walked me through what the sensations in the body would feel like, where they would be, and I think it’s a little bit different for everybody. And I think another thing is how it looks too. You know what you’re experiencing as a performer is one thing but I think what we needed tackle was how are we going to make sure that when the audience is watching me go through these things that we’re also telling the story as well. It was a combination of a whole bunch of different things. We found little triggers and little things that I would do in the performance. You probably noticed that we’re kind of consistent every time he has one of these panic attacks. But it was not easy, it was exhausting!
NOFS: It does look exhausting, yeah. I couldn’t imagine putting myself out to do that, but even just every day, waking up going to the set, going ‘Okay, so when he says action, I care about nobody here’.
AJ: Yeah, yeah- Until the character starts getting these little strokes of emotion and these panic attacks which is why, as an actor, I found that premise so cool because he get to oscillate from feeling nothing to then feeling things at Mach 5, and then sort of unwrapping the heart in this character which I think by the end we kind of begin to see.
NOFS: So, I was just taking a quick look through your IMDB page, and I see that you’re working on Siren. How’s filming that been?
AJ: It’s been really great. I originally auditioned for a different character on it, a couple summers ago. You know when you’re reading all the new pilots and stuff, a lot of them can just mesh together and you kind of don’t remember what’s what, but I remember reading that pilot thinking ‘this is really cool,’ and then a few months later I went in for a completely different character, the brother to the character I originally went in for and I got that part. And I can honestly say that it’s been an awesome experience so far. Everybody is rally putting in the work, the footage that I’ve seen so far looks really cool- I mean the premise is really cool too. I don’t think that we’ve really seen anything like that quite yet. I’m excited for it, to be honest.
NOFS: One last question, that I usually ask everybody at the beginning but I’d forgotten to do it this time; What’s your favorite horror movie, and why? It’s usually a good ice-breaker but I guess we could end on it.
AJ: Well first of all, I have to be honest- I don’t watch that many horror movies. And only because I’m kind of a chicken. Every since I was a little kid. I remember, I went with Chris to see- I think it was called Quaratine, it was a found footage film. Oh man! I remember, I almost flipped backwards in one of the theatres. People were jumping out at me- you know it really gets me going. But, you know what- where I’ll leave it, my favourite horror film is The Shining because I love Stanely Kubrick and I think Jack Nicholson is just creepy as hell in that. Every time you watch it- I think with all of Kubrick’s films, there’s just something new to discover. And it’s just this real, eerie presence that plays throughout the movie that I really love.
Lost Solace was written, produced, directed and edited by Chris Scheuerman. It was produced by Andrew Jenkins, Lori Triolo and David Angelski. The film is being distributed in Canada by Raven Banner Releasing, and in the US by Freestyle Releasing.
Lost Solace drops on VOD as an iTunes exclusive January 30, 2018 before its full VOD release beginning March 30, 2018.