For Ben Feldman, appearing in a found footage movie that breaks the mold was just one part of the joy of making As Above/So Below. The actor, who stars as an ancient linguistics and ancient history expert who helps Perdita Weeks in her effort to unearth some 1,000-year-old secret, relished the time working and living in Paris. In fact, he felt like he had earned some Parisian cred, he told us in our exclusive interview.
As teased in the As Above/So Below trailer, Feldman and Weeks head beneath Paris into the iconic catacombs in search of the answer to an ancient riddle that has eluded Weeks’ character and her father for decades.
Feldman also dishes the freedom that is making a found footage movie, and yet how that would -- in turn -- make him feel like he had never worked so hard on a movie or television set in his life.
Movie Fanatic: First of all, what was it like shooting and living in Paris while making As Above/So Below?
Ben Feldman: It was incredible. I have long ties to Paris. My mom lived there for the past 15 years. I would visit my mom and go to Paris, and it was like this big, intimidating group of kids that was way cooler and more popular than I’ll ever be. Now, after living there for an entire summer and having done this movie, I don’t feel like I’m one of them, but that they’re not mad that I’m there anymore [laughs]. You don’t turn down a movie that shoots in Paris over the summer.
Movie Fanatic: Who doesn’t want to live in France?
Ben Feldman: I think everyone kind of wants to be French. Their country and our country both equally look up to each other and hate each other at the same time. We’ll make fun of them, but we want to be them, and it’s vice versa too.
Movie Fanatic: There’s so much that your character has to convey with such a rich knowledge, did you ever have any moments on the set where all that research… people just told you, “Too much, Ben. Too much?”
Ben Feldman: [Laughs] Yeah! One of the reasons I loved this movie when I first saw the script was it was not just a bunch of pretty kids walking into a haunted house running around screaming. Everything that is referenced you type it into Google, and it has a Wikipedia page and 8,000 other pages. This was really cool to exist in this world of alchemy and history and all that stuff. It was what made it exciting. I geeked out on it. I probably got a little annoying with it. I looked up too much stuff! At some point, I was told we need to be a scary movie -- stop rambling about what year that bridge was built. Seriously, one scene we were under a bridge and I went on and on about when the Russian government gave it to France and what the bridge stood for and they would say, “Ok, that’s great, now be scared that you’re walking under this Russian bridge in Paris!”
Movie Fanatic: It’s not just your run-of-the-mill found footage or horror film, there’s a lot of history and science. I talked to your directors (the Dowdle brothers) at Comic-Con and I was so impressed with those guys. And I know one’s the writer-producer and one’s the writer-director, but what impressed you about them?
Ben Feldman: For starters, the fact that you and I both refer to them as “our directors.” Even though one of them directed and one of them produced. That’s their style. There’s no "this guy is important." They’re two really happy, really cool guys who care a lot about the movie that they’re making. Life on set trickles down like that and everybody reflected their feelings towards this movie. It was a real collaborative experience and we were all trying to make something great.
Movie Fanatic: And it had to be such a unique experience in that for you as an actor, it is a found footage movie. Was it freeing or restrictive to know that all your actions were being captured from a dozen different angles?
Ben Feldman: On a traditional set you are constantly reminded that you are on a set. You’ll set up a shot and light up and do your scene and do it a couple of ways and then sit in your air conditioned trailer and wait to be called back. Here, there are cameras looking in any direction. A camera can swing around and get you at any moment. There’s not one wall covered in cameras and another covered in lights. You’re in a 360 universe and it makes it a lot easier to be in the moment. I really lived what was going on in the scene. At the same reason, it was exhausting. My wife is the hardest worker in the world and has a truly tough job. When I come home and complain about my day, I learn really quickly how easy my job is and what the hell am I complaining about. This movie, in the best way possible, I earned my end-of-the-day complaints!