A heavy metal concert leads to a violent night of unexpected horrors in We Summon the Darkness, the latest movie from Marc Meyers (My Friend Dahmer). Following the film's world premiere at Fantastic Fest and its closing night screening at Screamfest, we caught up with co-star Tanner Beard in our latest Q&A feature to discuss playing Sheriff Dembrowski in the film, acting alongside Alexandra Daddario, and his experiences working both behind and in front of the camera.
Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us, Tanner, and congratulations on We Summon the Darkness! What was it about the character of Sheriff Dembrowski that made you want to play him, and what was the audition process like for the role?
Tanner Beard: Appreciate it, thank you. I’m finally playing a guy on the right side of the law, so that was actually fun and different for me, as the last couple of years have gone into playing some character roles. Loved that it was set in the ’80s. The look, feel, equipment, and cop car were such a blast to use to find my character. The audition was just the old-fashioned way, where a tape and some conversation about the character got me up to Canada to film.
We Summon the Darkness features a stellar cast that includes Alexandra Daddario, Johnny Knoxville, Logan Miller, and Amy Forsyth. What was it like working with them to bring this film to life?
Tanner Beard: Stellar, indeed. Alex and I had the majority of the scenes that I was in together and we had a really great dialogue exchange with Alan Trezza’s script. It was raining the whole time during one scene, so there was a lot of downtime where I really got to rehearse it a lot with Alex, which I think added to some of the running and physical requirements while the set was soaked.
We Summon the Darkness is directed by Marc Meyers, who recently helmed My Friend Dahmer. What was your experience working with Meyers? Did he give you creative freedom to add your own insights to Sheriff Dembrowski?
Tanner Beard: Marc really seemed to direct through the lens, which I really like. He’ll see a take and walk up and give you nuances you may not have thought about since he’s watching as the audience would see it. He gives you a lot of rope to create the character yourself, but never enough rope to hang yourself. He’s a lot of fun to work with.
In addition to acting, you also have experience as a writer and director. Have your experiences behind the camera impacted your work in front of the camera? Did you take any filmmaking lessons away from We Summon the Darkness?
Tanner Beard: Making movies is such a massive undertaking behind the camera, it takes a whole army, while being in front of the camera is a far more concentrated experience, for me anyway. I always feel like I should grab a few sand bags while I'm just standing around in between takes, but you respect whose job it is to do that, and they respect yours. So, I just tend to drown it all out and try and stay around the set pieces in order to live in that world on the day.
Looking back at your time on set, is there a favorite or memorable moment that stands out?
Tanner Beard: I had a great time on this set, but particular moments… we were filming on my birthday, so a few of us went out when we had a weekend off and the director Marc took the whole cast out to a dinner. That was really nice, and I got to know everyone better. The producers were so incredible on this film because they made everyone feel like it was a big family in the small amount of time we had out there. Also, Austin Swift and Keean Johnson are hilarious, so lots of laughs.
Ultimately, what do you hope viewers take away from We Summon the Darkness?
Tanner Beard: I think they are going to be caught off guard with this one. Some performances you haven’t seen some of these great actors do before.
We Summon the Darkness world premiered at Fantastic Fest and was the closing night film at this year’s Screamfest. What has the reaction been like to the film so far?
Tanner Beard: My family has seen it and they always shoot me straight. The verdict is in and let’s just say it passed the test! They loved it!
In addition to We Summon the Darkness, do you have any other projects coming up that you’re excited about? Also, where can our readers go online to keep up to date on your work?
Tanner Beard: I’m proud to chat about Mammoth Film Festival. We’re being called California’s Favorite Winter Film Festival and we’re excited about our upcoming year happening from February 27th–March 2nd, 2020 in Mammoth Lakes, CA. Check me out at: @TannerBeard across the board on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. And visit MammothFilmFestival.org to enjoy some big-time world premiere movies at our festival!