Hailing from Belgium and taking on the world with her brilliant talents, Sasha Wilhelm is a name you should remember, as she’s on the rise and shows no signs of slowing down. Recently producing and starring in short film The Mechanism of Suspended Time, we caught up with Sasha to chat about the movie, as well as other projects she has coming up, goals and ambition and her biggest tips for those wanting to make it in the acting industry.
First of all, what can you tell us about your new short film The Mechanism of Suspended Time?
The Mechanism of Suspended Time is an original French period tale of true love set in Paris about two destined lovers, Camille and Pierre. From rival families, these two young people meet through very strange events caused by a most mysterious pocket watch, that tells the right moment and the right place for all that really matters in life, and that will change their destiny forever. It’s a film about the power of love and listening to the little voice inside of us, learning to trust our instincts, and a reminder that at the end of the day true love is really what unites us as human beings.
You don’t just star in the movie, you produced it too; what was that experience like?
I had in mind for some time an idea for a short film I wanted to create. To me it was important to not only tell a meaningful story but also create a visually rich experience for the public. Being there from the start of the project, being able to find the right people to fulfil my vision, assist them in the process and now having the film touring festivals worldwide has been an extremely gratifying experience and an incredible learning curve too.
You star alongside Yohann Chopin; what was he like to work with?
We wanted Pierre the character played by Yohann to carry with him a sense of adventure and mystery. We had a few casting rounds before we met Yohann, whom we thought was the perfect fit for the film. He has an old-world charm about him that he beautifully brought to his character.
Similarly, how did you find working with the film’s director Stefana Brancastle?
When I set out to find a director that could put onto screen the vision I had for this film, I met with people in Brussels, Paris and London. When I met Stefana, it was as if we had known each other our whole lives. We shared the same artistic references and similar backgrounds and soon it was obvious she was the one I wanted to collaborate with. She’s an incredible artist with so many talents (all the artwork in the film was handmade by her), but she also has a beautiful mind and soul which made collaborating together a true pleasure.
The film’s already bringing in awards; how does it feel to be named Best Film at a number of events?
It is wonderful and so humbling! To me it is a testament to the incredible talent and hard work of the whole team who took part in this project. This film was really a labour of love that demanded sacrifices from everyone and I couldn’t be happier to see that the film touches people in the way we hoped it might when we started working on it.
A lot of the time, short films don’t get the same recognition as major motion pictures and the like; why do you think that should change and people should give short films a chance?
Traditionally speaking, short films are seen as less prestigious and are usually the entry door for filmmakers as they are less expensive to produce than feature-length films. However, things are changing. I think short films are a fantastic way to show different points of view on a specific subject like the Women’s Tales project sponsored by Miu Miu for instance, that each year invites female directors from all over the world to create a short film celebrating the modern woman. These films are then premiered at the Venice Film Festival. Or the feature-length film, Paris I Love You, which is made of 18 short films directed by different filmmakers and showcasing different stories in different parts of Paris. It is a true love letter to the city in all its beautiful diversity. It’s already happening but I think more cinemas should put on short film nights around a thematic, during which you would get to see a few short films that share a similar subject matter, but approach it in different ways.
What can you tell us about the three movie projects you’re filming in the US in the near future?
I’m very excited about these projects, as they are all so different. It’s going to be a busy year ahead and truthfully, I can’t wait! The first film, Sarah Q from director John Gallagher is a coming-of-age drama about a girl of a fairly simple background going to NY to pursue her acting dream.
The second film is a dramatic comedy inspired by true events called Heavy Shadow, about young, overweight teenagers attending summer camp and trying to get in better shape. I play one of the camp counsellors.
The third film is a Tarantino-like Western, called Death’s Just A Jingle Away; a story of revenge and strong, independent women willing to free themselves from the pressure exerted on them by men and society in the wild west.
Are there any huge franchises or series you’d love to be a part of moving forward?
Star Wars is to me one that stands out as far as film franchises are concerned. With TV, we are so lucky as actors about the new era of TV that started with HBO and then Netflix a few years back and is now completely booming. There are so many amazing TV shows out there whether it’s House of Cards, Game of Thrones, Sherlock, Big Little Lies, Fargo; it would be impossible to pick just one. What’s great is to see more and more TV shows have strong women as their main characters.
Finally, do you have any tips for anybody who’s looking to make a career for themselves in this industry?
My first advice would be to be curious. Read as much as you can and inform yourself about all aspects of the industry. My other advice would be to train yourself to do more than one job and learn as many skills as you can, even skills you think might be irrelevant; they always end up being useful and will in turn help differentiate you from other people. And finally, get with some friends or colleagues and create your own content; you will learn so much in the process and it will give you an opportunity to showcase your talent to other professionals.