Thomas James Longley

An Interview with Thomas James Longley (Sparrow)

One thing I really enjoy is speaking with up and coming actors, Unbridled enthusiasm and a true passion for film typically shine through.

Below is a conversation with Thomas James Longley one of the stars of indie horror flick Sparrow.

CA:Being a young actor, how did you get the part?

TJL:I remember being contacted by Shaun, the director, asking if I was interested in auditioning for a then untitled horror film.  I was given the script in advance and I loved it.  A number of casting calls went out if I remember correctly and I eventually had to audition in front of Wojciech Stuchlik, who owns the rights to the script.  Luckily he liked me, and I was offered the part.


CA: Originally the film was to be called Camp Nightmare what prompted the name change to Sparrow and how does the new title relate to the film?

TJL: Shaun was always unhappy with the title and it went through a number of name changes before Sparrow was ultimately settled on.  “Bloody Machete” was even one of them, I think!  Sparrow is much better related to the storyline and the urban legend that’s involved.  Not to give too much away, of course….


CA:Your characters name is Matt, can you tell me about him?

TJL: Well, Matt’s the leader of his group.  He’s a little bossy, I guess, which means I got to order everyone around which is always fun….  I considered him to be well-meaning, if a little naïve, he just wants the best for his friends.  That’s what endeared me to him when I first read the script.


CA:Right now there are not a lot of details on Sparrow aside from a group of kids going into the woods and an urban legend killer turning out to be real. What can you tell me that I don’t know?

TJL:Ooh, well I wouldn’t want to give too much away!  There are a few twists and turns along the way of course, but it’s pretty firmly established in the blueprint of a teen horror.  There’s something very eerie about the film as well – it’s hard to describe.  I suppose, in a way it’s taken what made the horror movies of the nineties pretty slick but it’s still jumpy to watch, you can never really tell what’s coming…


CA:Was this your first time in Poland? What’s it like going into the woods in a foreign country to shoot a horror film?

TJL:Yeah, I’d never been to Poland before!  Being surrounded by an entirely foreign country with different customs, and, of course, language, helped me to get to that isolated feeling that Matt and his friends go through.  Naturally, a lot of the crew spoke English and we had the fortune to be surrounded by some of the nicest people, but getting to hang out in the woods at night in a foreign land really helped me as an actor.  There’s this one scene in which one of the guys tells the rest about an urban legend, a man who still haunts the area after a terrible accident.  And I’m sitting there, trying to remain in character as I look into the fire, listen to the creepy story, and surrounded by nothing but woodland and darkness and fog, and it was just very very surreal….


CA:What’s your most memorable moment of being on set?

TJL:The very first scene I shot!  It’s the moment all of us settle down to camp and start setting up our tents.  So many things went wrong that day, lots of technical stuff, and it really slowed production, but in retrospect, it allowed us all to relax and helped us get into character more.  You know it was a sort of ”break the ice” kinda thing.  I suppose it was meant to happen.


CA:Is sparrow bringing anything new to the genre?

TJL:Well, it brings a little more honesty and grit.  It’s a kind of pre-Scream horror movie but still with a tongue-in-cheek style, and yet the action and horror feels genuine.  In allowing itself not to be too involved in taking the horror genre and making it something else, it sort of revels in it’s own simplicity and it works, it really works.


CA:There is a common pattern in Horror films that the black cast member always dies.  Does Eric Kolelas character duncan break the pattern?

TJL:You know I think every character in the film manages to break all kinds of patterns in their own subtle ways ,  Dawn has this innate strength yet vulnerability that was really well acted I think.  And Sitcom also came across as pretty realistic.  Honestly, that’s a testament to the performances that always add so much more of a dimension to the characters, which is pretty fundamental for the audience when they start to disappear….  Eric was great too, but you’ll have to wait for the film to see if Duncan completely breaks the pattern….


CA:Without giving too much away whats the most creative way someone dies in Sparrow?

TJL:Er, wow! Well, let’s just say one of the character’s will find it very difficult to speak for a long, long while…


CA:Is there anything else that you would like people to know about yourself or Sparrow?

TJL:As far as I’m told, there’ll be a premiere in both London and Warsaw, and you can find up to date information on the website and facebook pages….  It’ll also be released on DVD at some point as well, so everyone will have the chance to access it.

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