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A Hollywood-style Escapade

Scheduled to be released in early 2016, the movie “Pegasus” will feature some local talent in the cast. Actress Sally Victoria Benson talked to Magazine & More about her experience in this film, which was also shot in Macau, as well as the challenges she faces as an actress in this corner of the world.

M&M: What is “Pegasus” about?

Sally Victoria Benson: The film “Pegasus” is an independently produced movie shot in Macau and China, and it’s in the genre of film noir and new objectivism. The film started by doing a worldwide casting call through Lotus movie channel to find some actors and a few actors ended up winning roles in the film. I was only privy to the parts of script that I was filming in so I’m unsure on the whole story of the film, just how my role interacted with it. However I do know it’s centered on “the Pegasus”, a person with extraordinary talents in fighting and self-defense who is searching for justice in a world engulfed in bank fraud, underworld feuds and financial crisis.

M&M: Regarding your character, did you have some sort of preparation?

Sally Victoria Benson: Like with all movie roles, preparation is key and I did prepare, it’s the same for a small role as for a large role, at least in terms of character building. Each actor prepares differently and for me I like to visually create her in my mind. How she might walk, stand and talk. Before even looking at the lines I like to go with my gut instinct as to what I feel her essence is. I do general research online about her career or job if available to me and then try to build her back-story from there. Then I move onto the script, scenes and the lines I have. I always make sure I have my lines perfectly down as on the set, it’s very common for things to change or there to be distractions, if you aren’t sure of your lines, this can make the environment stressful and delay the shoot. The wardrobe and makeup team were fantastic on this film and really helped to shape and mold the visual presence I was after with her.

M&M: The movie was filmed also in Macau, can you disclose some of the locations and the challenges of shooting there?

Sally Victoria Benson: They shot in many locations around Macau, however I only shot on rooftops around San Ma Lou, particularly near the HSBC bank on the corner. It’s a densely populated intersection so it proved a good backdrop for overhead shots while I’m looking for my “target”. They also shot at Fisherman’s Wharf around more of the European looking backdrops. I’m sure there will be some iconic shots of Macau in there and I’m excited to see the finished film.

M&M: How did people react when you were filming?

Sally Victoria Benson: I was filming on rooftops so I’m not sure if anyone saw me at all. But the crew was stationed down on the sidewalk so I’m sure some people were curious on what was going on. When I was walking around downstairs between shots and when I finished filming, lots of people were staring at me in my costume and even people were staring from their cars at me.

M&M: Any funny or curious stories happened during shooting?

Sally Victoria Benson: Well one thing that was interesting and kind of funny was while I was filming my scenes with the prop gun. I’ve obviously never held a real one before and I didn’t have time to rehearse much with the prop gun as I shot with it for just one day. The prop department did an amazing job, it was a replica of the weight and size of a real one and it was so heavy and hard to hold. The funny part was during the takes, I kept knocking the magazine clip (the bullet clip) and we had to keep calling cut, the crew thought I was very funny and quite cute trying to control this prop gun. Some of my lines are speaking into a radio telling the person on the other line my progress. So the director calls “action”, I say in a very serious way “target is in sight” and then I move the gun and knock the bullets out and start laughing. I started laughing quite a few times which was the complete opposite of how my character and these scenes was supposed to be shot. But we finally got the shot in the end.

M&M: When will people be able to see it in Macau?

Sally Victoria Benson: The film is scheduled to be released early 2016.

M&M: The movie is bilingual, but for you that is not a problem. You also speak both languages on screen for this one?

Sally Victoria Benson: I usually act in both Mandarin Chinese and English, actually over the last 10 years most of my work has been shot in Mandarin. It usually depends on the character and, of course, the story. This is a bilingual film however for this role, as it’s a smaller role, I only speak English. I think it might be confusing if I spoke Chinese for the audience if they aren’t given my back-story as to why I speak Chinese in the film.

M&M: When did you decide to get into acting and how’s the experience so far?

Sally Victoria Benson: When I was living in Macau as a child from 1993, there weren’t a lot of creative activities for kids. Macau was small and there weren’t drama classes back then. I started to get involved in anything I could to be involved in that was related to performing. When I returned to Sydney for the last two years of high school I chose drama as my elective, got an agent and never looked back. I went to as many drama classes as I could afford, attended as many workshops as I had time for and worked on as many short films for free as I could for experience. I attended the actor’s centre in Sydney to study acting and when I graduated I moved to Beijing to pursue my career. I always knew I needed to put myself in a market where I could standout and not be just another blonde actress at an audition. I didn’t speak Mandarin before I moved to Beijing and so I enrolled in classes in January 2008. I got my first commercial two weeks later and the work just didn’t stop. I shot around 15 commercials that year. Once my language fluency was strong, I could finally start getting bigger roles. My first big break was in 2011 on a 44-episode TV series that was watched by many Chinese households and gave me a name within casting circles and agencies. My experience in the Chinese film industry has been great, as I’ve had the chance to perform in a range of different projects.

M&M: What are the biggest struggles for an actor to work in this corner of the world?

Sally Victoria Benson: I think the biggest struggle for all actors no matter where you work or where you are based is the constant feeling of being unemployed. Unless you are at the level of a Hollywood actor, you are always hustling for your next job. Even though I was lucky to have a steady stream of work, I can only see that in hindsight and be thankful. At the time I was always concerned where my next job would come from. The other struggle of being an actor in Macau is the lack of developed industry and jobs available to all forms of film industry personal, not only actors.

M&M: How do you think people in Macau will react when they see the film?

Sally Victoria Benson: I’m not sure to be honest, I’m hoping it receives an exciting reception and that people head out to watch it and support the movie. It’s an exciting feeling to see your city on the big screen and while this is not a Macau story so to speak, the city is part to the film. It’s important to entice more film productions to shoot in Macau and to encourage independent productions to invest and produce movies here. So I’m hoping it is received well.

M&M: Many big productions have filmed in Macau during the last few years. What do you think attracts directors to shoot here?

Sally Victoria Benson: I think directors and producers in general are looking for something new, new landscapes to shoot, new cities to capture on film. Every one is sick of filming with the same city backdrop. Macau is unique in the sense that it’s a very Asian city but with a lovely touch of European influence. We have unique stories that cannot be found anywhere else in the world, the hard part is turning these stories into film language and being able to capture the essence of the story and portray it well on screen so that an audience unfamiliar with Macau can relate. For now we have a mix of films being shot here, some who use it just for its backdrops and some who film to tell the stories central to Macau’s history and identity.

M&M: Any other projects you are working on now or will start working in the future?

Sally Victoria Benson: I’m currently involved with a few short films shot in Macau, Hong Kong and Mainland China. I’m getting more involved in producing as a way to create my own work opportunities in Macau as well. I produced a short documentary this year called “The identity of the Macau egg tart” and I hope to produce some more soon. I have a short film coming out that was shot in Hong Kong last year called “As closely linked as flesh and blood”. The filming team is mostly American and it’s currently being entered into film festivals around the world, I’m excited to see how that ends up. I finished filming the lead role in “The Return” shot in Wen Zhou, China, last month, which is set to release online into a short film competition for CCTV. I can also be seen in Chow Yun Fat “From Vegas to Macau 3” which is expected to release sometime next year.

聚集了本地人才的電影「天馬」將在2016年初放映,Magazine & More 有幸邀請到電影女演員 Sally Victoria Benson 分享她在澳門拍攝電影的經驗,以及作為女演員在電影行業所面對的挑戰。

M&M: 電影「天馬」是講述一個怎樣的故事?

Sally Victoria Benson:電影「天馬」是在澳門和中國陸聯合拍攝的獨立電影,其電影風格是黑暗和新客觀主義。剛開始電影透過蓮花衛視開展全球演員試鏡招募,最後有好幾名演員入鏡。由於我只負責我自己的部分,所以我不是太清楚整個「天馬」的故事情節。但是我知道電影是講述「天馬」,一位具有功夫和自我保護能力天賦的人為世界陷入銀行欺詐、黑社會和金融危機抱打不平。

M&M: 關於你的角色,你作出了哪些準備?

Sally Victoria Benson:與以往拍電影一樣,無論角色大小,準備是關鍵的一點。我也事前瞭解了這電影中角色的性格特徵。每個演員的準備都不同,對於我來說我喜歡在腦海里幻想我的角色。想象她是怎麼走路、怎樣的站姿和怎麼說話。在看對白之前,我就喜歡憑著我的感覺去感受她的氣質。我會上網搜集關於她的事業或工作,然後開始建立她的幕後故事,開始學習腳本、情景和對白。我會確保我對自己的對白在情節中了如指掌,因為在拍攝的時候由於各種變化或者干擾很容易就會忘記對白,這樣整個拍攝環境都很會變得壓抑或者會延遲拍攝。而電影劇組的幕後團隊和化妝組都十分出色,幫助我塑造出我想象中的她。

M&M: 電影是在澳門拍攝的,你能夠透露一些拍攝的地點和在拍攝過程中遇到的挑戰嗎?

Sally Victoria Benson:電影有很多場景都是在澳門取景,但是我只在新馬路附近的屋頂進行拍攝,特別是靠近匯豐銀行的那個角落。這是一個人口密集的十字路口,所以能夠很好的從上方拍攝我在正尋找「目標」。電影也有在漁人碼頭拍攝,取其歐洲背景為多。電影拍攝了許多澳門標誌性的地點,我也十分期待,想看到這出電影。

M&M: 你們正在拍攝電影時,市民有沒有什麼反應?

Sally Victoria Benson: 我是在屋頂拍攝,所以我不確定有人看到我。但是攝製組在街邊駐扎,所以我肯定有些人在想到底發生什麼事。當我走下樓、在拍攝當中和拍攝完畢,都有好多人都盯著我的服裝看,甚至有人從車窗望著我。

M&M: 在拍攝過程中有沒有一些有趣或新奇的故事發生?

Sally Victoria Benson:拍攝時的確有很多趣事,有一次我在拍攝時使用道具槍,但我之前是沒有使用道具槍的經驗。我只需拍攝一天的持槍鏡頭,所以我也沒花太多的時間上網做資料搜查。但道具組做工十分出色,雖說是道具,但是道具槍的重量和大小跟真槍相當,所以很重和很難拿。搞笑的是在拍攝過程中,我不停敲到子彈夾,我不得不停下來,劇組共組人員都認為我拿槍的姿勢很搞笑和可愛。有些時候我的對白是要對著鏡頭說,所以當導演說「Action」,我就很認真的說「目標已經出現」,然後我就移動道具槍,槍的子彈夾彈出,然後就開始忍不住笑了。我笑場好幾次,跟我本身拍攝需要的效果完全相反,但是最後還是拍到想要的效果。

M&M: 電影將於什麼時候在澳門上映呢?

Sally Victoria Benson: 電影安排在2016年初上映。

M&M: 電影是雙語的,但對於你來說完全沒有問題。在這電影你是不是也使用雙語呢?

Sally Victoria Benson: 我本身是說國語和英文的,其實過去十年我的演出大多是說國語,當然也是要視乎角色和故事情節的需求。雖然電影是雙語的,但是我的角色戲份較少,所以我只說英語。我覺得如果我說國語觀眾會比較混淆,根據我的背景故事在想為什麼我會說國語。

M&M: 是什麼時候你開始演動作片,目前的經驗如何?

Sally Victoria Benson: 我從1993年開始就住在澳門,對於小朋友來說並沒有很多創新有趣的活動。澳門也很小,那個時候並沒有什麼演出課程。開始的時候我希望盡量參加一切與表演有關的活動。當我在悉尼讀高中的最後兩年,我選擇了戲劇學作為我的選修課程,於是我從中獲得了試鏡的機會,然後就這樣一直堅持下去了。我盡所能的參加很多喜劇課程,還有免費為一些小的電影製作作積累經驗。一直以來努力學習表演,畢業之後我就搬去北京追尋我的夢想。我一直都知道我要在市場中突出自己,并非像是試鏡過程中的一個普通金髮女演員。我搬去北京之前我是不懂國語的,為此我在2008年一月報名學習國語。在兩星期之後我得到我的第一個廣告,之後就一直都開始有工作。那一年,我大概拍了15個廣告。當我的語言更加流利,我就可以開始演出更重要的角色。我第一個突破的機會是在2011年拍攝的44集家庭連續劇,很多中國家庭都有看,在圈內稍有名氣。我在中國電影業的拍攝經歷十分好,因此我也有幸能夠參加不同項目的演出。

M&M: 作為演員,你遇過最大的困難是什麼?

Sally Victoria Benson: 我認為無論你在哪裡工作或者演出,對所有演員來說最大的困難一定是沒有工作。除非你是荷里活級別的演員,你才會一直有下一份工作。儘管我很幸運有穩定的工作,我還是比較居安思危和心存感激的。我一直都會為自己想下一份工作是什麼。作為澳門演員的另外一個困難就是澳門的電影業發展一直處於滯後,這不僅僅是演員面對的困難。

M&M: 你覺得澳門觀眾看到電影的反應會是怎麼樣?

Sally Victoria Benson: 老實說我還不確定,我希望好評如潮,大家都可以去戲院支持電影。在大屏幕可以看到自己的城市而且又不是講述澳門的故事是非常有趣激動的,城市是電影的一部分。在澳門拍攝更多的電影是十分重要,這樣會吸引更多的投資和電影製作來到澳門,所以我希望電影能有很好的評價。

M&M: 很多大的電影製造商都來過澳門進行電影拍攝,你覺得是什麼吸引這些導演來拍攝?

Sally Victoria Benson::我覺得導演和製片商一般都在尋覓一些新的場景,新的城市去拍片。大家都對同樣的城市背景厭倦了。澳門是十分獨特的,既有濃厚的東方韻味又有歐洲色彩。我們的故事是世界獨一無二,最困難的部分是將故事拍成電影的語言,把握故事精髓,將澳門描繪其中,讓對澳門不了解的觀眾都能融入。現在,我們在澳門拍了好多不同的情景,有些是背景,有些講述澳門的歷史和身份的故事。

M&M: 你現在還有沒有參加其他影片,還是將來會接新的工作?

Sally Victoria Benson: 我現在還在拍一些澳門、香港和大陸的微電影。我也獲得在澳門自己製片的機會。我負責過一個紀錄片的製作—「葡撻的身份」,我希望很快能參與更多這類型的拍攝。還有一個短片在香港叫做「血肉相連」,製片組大多是美國人,目前參加了全球電影展,所以我很激動能取得這個成果。還有,上個月我完成了在國內溫州拍攝的電影-「回歸」, 該片將會在網絡放映并參加中央電視短片比賽。你們也將會在由周潤發主演的「賭城風雲3」電影里看到我。

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