Holt Boggs had quite the year since we spoke to him last summer. He battled ghosts and creatures, braved caves and a post-apocalyptic world, entrusted his life to a furry co-star with deadly sharp teeth, and traipsed through the woods hunting Bigfoot (or was Bigfoot hunting him?). We caught up with Holt who is currently on location starring in the feature film Bigfoot Wars with C. Thomas Howell and Judd Nelson.
MV: Welcome back to Movie Vine, Holt.
Holt: Thanks so much Jan!
MV: Last we talked you were headed to Texas to film back to back films. A year later you have relocated from California to Texas, and both films are releasing soon. How would you sum up this past year?
Holt: Wow, the past year has been a little nuts and a lot’s happened. Yeah, l had absolutely zero intention to relocate to Texas when we last spoke. Nothing against Texas because I love it here, but LA is, well, where actors are supposed to be. I was getting a decent amount of work when I lived there, but not from LA. After doing some research and some soul searching, Austin seemed to make the most sense. The day I got back from Hostage, I talked it over with the wife and ten days later, we’d sold everything and were headed to Texas. Now, I’m up to my eyeballs in Tex-mex and Chinese buffets. It’s pretty sweet.
MV: Let’s talk about Hostage. What can you tell us about the story and your character Eugene?
Holt: This might be annoyingly vague in an effort not to spoil it, but I’ll give it a shot. Hostage is a paranormal thriller written and directed by Michael Yurinko. I play Eugene, a guy who’s fighting to numb the loss of his wife and young daughter. He’s a wreck. He wakes up in the middle of the night to find that his cabin is fully engulfed in snow. Desperate to break out, he fights for survival, but we find that he’s not in there alone in the cabin.
It’s kind of a mix between Paranormal Activity and The Exorcist, but what’s cool is that I’ve never seen a paranormal film, told this way.
MV: Since you were filming back to back you only had a week off before production on Hostage. In that week you also had to drop about twenty pounds, correct? I can only imagine that you were not a happy camper. How did you manage to survive that week?
Holt: Yeah it sucked a lot, but in all fairness, I got lucky had more than a week. The first film, The Underneath, we shot in linear order for the most part, which is highly unusual. So after we’re down in the caves, in the story we had no food and we’re hungry, so I just quit eating then. It was pretty tough because we were in Texas and beer and burgers seemed to be flying by everywhere. I’m a big fan of beer and burgers.
MV: The weight loss wasn’t the only hard part about Hostage. Do you mind sharing some of the bizarre moments that happened on set during filming?
Holt: Yeah, something was very off about the cabin we shot in. I dunno, I’m not a big believer in all the paranormal stuff, all I can say is that it felt very heavy in the cabin, if that makes sense. It’s the only way I can think to describe it. Just weird stuff was happening. On multiple occasions, we found missing props in the ditch right outside the cabin. Small things like forks and coffee cups etc. We had a stunt go bad and a suspension cable snapped and I almost hung myself. The cable was rated for I think in the ballpark of about 2000 pounds, so very odd that it broke. All of that aside, the only thing that really freaked me out, was after we did a take of me walking down the hallway, a lightbulb fell and smashed on the floor right behind me. There was no light fixture above me though. Many people saw the lightbulb smash, but no one saw where it came from. It seemingly came from nowhere.
MV: Wow! It must have been really tough to be in Eugene’s shoes for almost a month. What are some things that first attracted you to Eugene that you ended up resenting about him in the end?
Holt: Well, I knew a head of time that this was going to be a really tough shoot. The entire process was just not fun. Emotionally, Eugene was a mess, dealing with the loss of his family. What I felt with that is how alone he was. I didn’t talk much or socialize with the crew and had headphones in a lot. That can get pretty lonely. You add that on top of the hunger and I was just pretty miserable. I also was trying to stay as pale as humanly possible and there I am in the beautiful Poconos area in the Summer. On my days off, I just stayed in. Whenever I did go outside, even to and from set, or to lunch, I had a hoodie on covering my face and it was hot as hell. To answer your question, everything!
MV: As both a husband and a father how do you prepare for a role where your character is dealing with the brutal loss of his wife and child?
Holt: That was the toughest part for me. That’s by far my worse fear. I’ve always told my girls that nothing bad would ever happen to them as long as I’m around. It’s a promise I made to them, and I truly feel that if anything bad did happen to any of my loved ones, I’m responsible. And so to make that a reality, was emotionally very brutal. As far as preparation, it obviously helped that I was away from family and missed them tremendously, but I think we’ve all heard stories about someone losing their son or daughter in a horrible way and our heart drops as we can only imagine. Same kinda thing, except the story was in the script. I write a lot too, and wrote extensive backstories on everything. I wrote about how they died, and I’d visualize very vividly how I found out, what their funeral was like. I could hear my daughter crying, scared, calling for daddy to come save them. It was a very very ugly place for me. I’m happy with the film and knew it was going to be tough, but not fun to shoot.
MV: So you ended up having to go pretty far down into Eugene’s despair. Once you were there how did you manage to bring yourself back up to reality?
Holt: To be frank, I was in a pretty shitty place, you know? I was so uncomfortable all of the time, emotionally and physically. I was chain smoking to manage the hunger and I was sweaty all the time. I cried at least once a day off the set and probably drank a little more than I should’ve. It was tough, but after we wrapped, I called and talked to my wife and kids, heard their voices and I was so happy! I then hit the wrap party and it was a frickin buffet! Also, the crew got me some ice cream and a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts and except for a belly ache, I was good.
MV: It had to be emotionally draining for the crew as well. What did everyone do to unwind?
Holt: Leave that damn cabin as soon as the day ended every day! Most of them hit the lake on their days off and there were some really great little pubs to hang out. The area was so incredibly beautiful, but I didn’t do a whole lot.
MV: Let’s talk about your co-star, the eighty pound ball of fur and teeth. How was it working with a full grown German Shepherd in the middle of highly emotional scenes?
Holt: Scary as hell. His name was ‘Nate’ and a really sweet dog, but he was frickin huge! At least I think he was huge. He might have been normal size, but when you meet the German Shepherd that’s gonna be coming after you for the first time, he seems a little like a dinosaur. I’d never worked with animals before and so yeah, I was a little nervous. There was one scene where he attacks me. I had the protective sleeve under my wardrobe and am told that as soon as I raise my arm, he’s gonna attack. We were shooting in a dark attic and all I see is this big dog, staring at me and licking his lips, waiting to come at me as soon as they call ‘action’. I tried not to shit my pants for the first few takes, but after that, it got kinda fun.
MV: I can only imagine. In The Underneath you play Wayne. Do you mind sharing a little about the experience of filming on a cave set?
Holt: That was so super cool and such a fun film to shoot. Sixty percent of the film was in the ‘caves.’ I remember the day I came into town, and they took me to the studios and you go inside and there were just these caves, everywhere! It really blew me away, the production design on this little film in Mineola Texas! It was also a very dirty shoot. We were constantly having to apply mud and dirt to us, so we were filthy for about ten hours a day, but it was a blast.
MV: It would be easy to become rather claustrophobic working in a confined space and additionally in a water tank. Did that add additional pressure to the day, or were you able to use it to your character’s advantage?
Holt: It did add additional pressure, but yeah it worked for the role. There were a lot of tiny tunnels Natalie Wilemon and I had to get through and in one scene, the tunnel collapses on us and we were literally buried with dirt. We did that for about five takes and it never got easier. The water tanks were just a lot of fun. To be able to get paid to go swimming in the Texas heat; doesn’t get much better than that.
MV: What are some of the creative ways you were able to manipulate a small space into looking like a massive cave?
Holt: That’s more of a question for Brian Jaynes and his camera department, but they did build some pretty massive caves.
MV: You recently partnered with your Hostage director Michael Yurinko to form Screengage giving you the opportunity to develop and produce several other films. What are your goals for this new and exciting venture?
Holt: Mike and I have very similar sensibilities when it comes to film. The crap end of the deal when it comes to filmmaking, especially on a lower budget, is often the scripts are shit, or you have to be a slave to the genre or you can’t pull in quality talent and often times, it’s all three. It absolutely doesn’t have to be that way. I personally know some amazing award-winning actors, directors and screenwriters, many who’ve worked with studios and on TV series etc and they have no place to go. We wanna provide that place. One of the really unique things we have, is our relationship with Origin Releasing, so distribution isn’t an issue. Hostage had a release date before we even shot the film. Long story short, we wanna pull in great talent and make amazing films that are commercial enough to perform well, without compromising the story or quality of the project.
MV: What can you tell us about your first project with Screengage the film October 30th?
Holt: Now, this is a perfect example. Patrick Hludzenski is an amazing writer who’s signed to a major agency. I read the script and was floored. So f*cking good on so many levels. It takes place on October 30, 1938, the day of Orson Welles’ famous “War of the Worlds” transmission. Three friends only hear part of the radio transmission and flee to a small town, hoping to find safety from the impending alien attack. They take refuge in a small hunting cabin, but find that they are being hunted by something very real. It’s a really original story and I love the cast Mike’s put together.
MV: For those that may not know the story, do you mind sharing what actually happened when Orson Welles premiered “War of the Worlds” on the radio back in the 30’s?
Holt: Well, back in the 20’s and 30’s, they used to have radio plays that were, well, just that. They’d perform scripted shows on the radio. On the night of October 30, 1938, Orson Welles performed the “War of the Worlds” that seemed like a real radio broadcast about an alien attack that was taking place. Many of the listeners thought it was real and mass chaos ensued near the New York area and people actually ran into the streets and tried to find cover from the coming doom. People were making make shift gas masks. Deaths were reported and several early births and miscarriages happed that night. The thing is that there were several breaks, announcing that this was just a radio play, but many of the listeners tuned in after the announcements were made and just lost their minds. In our film, that’s exactly what the main characters did.
MV: Last question, is there a film that has affected you as deeply as “War of the Worlds” did for its original audience?
Holt: That’s tough. I don’t know that I can compare. I have a huge love for film and many have moved me in many ways, but I can’t say that I ever had a film that blurred my reality like WOW did.
MV: Thank you for hanging out with us again, Holt.
Holt: Thank you so much Jan!
*For more information on Holt’s upcoming projects check out his official site HoltBoggs.com. You can also follow Holt on Twitter and Facebook. Hostage releases on DVD/VOD September 10th, The Underneath will release in mid-October, and be sure to catch Holt on this season of Revolution (NBC Wednesdays).