Ayvianna Snow is quickly becoming a recognisable name in the horror genre, thanks to her roles in such films as The Lockdown Hauntings and Hollow, as well as new flick Barun Rain and the House on the Cliff, out now in cinemas.
Celebrating her recent roles, we spoke to Snow all about filming The Lockdown Hauntings in the midst of a pandemic, as well as the challenges that came along with the role and more...
When Howard Ford contacted you about appearing in The Lockdown Hauntings, were you surprised that someone would attempt to shoot a film under such difficult conditions? What was your initial reaction?
Of course, I am always pleased to hear from Howard, but I did wonder how on earth we were going to make it work under the lockdown conditions! But I trust him, and I know he is a great filmmaker, so I knew he would find a way to make it happen safely.
What were some of the practical difficulties?
There were huge practical difficulties; we weren't allowed to have a crew, so Howard had to do every job himself; DOP, camera, sound recording, directing, prop master, make up effects etc. He was a one-person film crew! And things were complicated further by the fact we had to stay two feet apart at all times!
To get around the travel restrictions, Howard filmed actors in their own homes. So, none of the actors met each other or left their bubbles.
What were some of the creative implications?
There were times I had to imagine conversations with other actors who weren't physically present, which was challenging as I like to look into the other actor's eyes and try to connect with them truthfully. But I sometimes had to say my lines into an empty space and imagine the other actor's performance, and still make it work!
In a sense, my frustration mirrored what my character was going through, as she found herself feeling increasingly isolated, so I tried to channel that in my performance.
Filming as a duo, without the support of a crew, how did you manage things differently to make it work? Were there any moments that made you laugh or made you feel frustrated?
There were times when there were almost too many jobs for just two people to do! For instance, there was one moment when we wanted the door to close behind me of its own volition; I was meant to jump around in fright – a classic 'jump scare'. Normally, you would have a crew member to help with a special effect like that. But we had to improvise; Howard tied a piece of thin wire around the door handle and then pulled the door himself on cue while also holding the camera and feeding the other character's lines! Multi-tasking!
When a situation strips everything back like this, do you think it can be beneficial to the creative process?
It forced us to think creatively and be resourceful. Howard wrote some scenes featuring horror legend Tony Todd and found a way of filming him over Zoom, as obviously, he couldn't fly to America to shoot. But he found a creative way of weaving the Zoom scenes into the main narrative, so it doesn't feel artificial.
What elements do you think make a great horror movie, and what is your favourite horror film?
For anyone interested in the horror genre, I would recommend watching 2013's Lights Out. The set-up is simple: the lead actress switches off the lights and sees the silhouette of a naked woman. She puts the lights back on and sees nothing, but each time she switches the lights off, the creature moves closer and closer. The filmmaker David Sandberg had no funding, so literally shot the piece in his own flat with his wife as the lead actor. It is less than three minutes long, yet it is a perfect example of what can be achieved with a low-budget horror; there is no reliance on special effects, no extraneous scenes. Just a terrifying situation played to its natural conclusion. It is absurdly simple yet effective and plays on our primal fear of the dark.