There are very few directors who would be ballsy enough these days to put three young actors alone, stranded on a ski lift, and think that would work as an entertaining horror movie. This is what makes the upcoming Frozen and its director, Adam Green, that much more remarkable in terms of producing original genre films.
Green was willing to gamble on the performances of some relatively young talent – Shawn Ashmore, Emma Bell, and Kevin Zegers – to help lengthen his track record of successful projects. His gamble paid off. Now, with Frozen set to debut during the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, Dread Central thought this would be a great opportunity to talk with the trio of actors about the intricacies of filming Frozen.
“When I originally heard the initial concept of Frozen (three twentysomethings trapped on a ski lift), I thought there’s no way this is going to different,” said Zegers, who plays Dan in the film. “But I was completely shocked when I really read the script. My main issue with the genre these days is that there’s a lot of recycled bullshit out there so it was a dream come true to get to be a part of a project with some originality.”
For Bell, it was a combination of a great script and the opportunity to work alongside both Ashmore and Zegers that attracted her to Frozen. The newcomer, who plays Dan’s love interest Parker, explained her enthusiasm, “Frozen really was one of the best scripts that I had read in a long time. Plus, I was so excited for Frozen just because I got to work with some really talented guys, too, and I knew this would be a great challenge for me as an actress.”
“I guess that excitement distracted me from the reality of what the shoot was going to be because it didn’t really hit me until we got up on that mountain,” Bell joked.
The mountain Bell speaks of is located in Utah, so it’s rather appropriate that the film will enjoy its premiere during the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, which is held in Park City, about 35 miles from where Frozen was filmed. That area in Utah, famous for its ski resorts and powdery slopes, provided an appropriately snowy (and frigid) landscape for Bell, Ashmore, and Zegers to tap into the terror of freezing to death some 50 feet above the ground.
“This shoot would have been impossible to do in a studio,” explained Ashmore who portrays Dan’s best friend Lynch. “Being outside and shooting Frozen for real adds a whole new dimension when you get to see the film.
“We were miserable sitting there, and I think that adds to the authenticity of the movie. Being in those conditions was almost like a gift; we needed to embrace the experience so that we could do the best job possible for Adam and for the story he wrote,” Ashmore added.
Bell chimed in on the harsh conditions she and the guys endured while filming Frozen in early 2009, “The first few days of the Frozen shoot were a wake-up call for me. I specifically remember just how bad it was on the second night shoot we had. Shawn had to speak, and he couldn’t. We were all so cold that we could barely move our lips, and he could hardly get his lines out.”
“I just had to keep reminding myself that no matter what pain I was feeling, I had to buck up and keep going. There was no backing out,” added Bell.
Although Zegers relished the challenges of the Frozen shoot, he’s the first to admit that there was nothing glamorous about the conditions they endured stuck on a ski lift chair in blustery conditions for hours on end.
Zegers said, “There is no illusion about Frozen being a fun shoot. For me, the fun is in the challenge. I love taking risks. When you’re up there, you have to do your job, and that’s that. You don’t get that usual coddling that comes with working on a normal set. We had no fluff, no bullshit when we were shooting, and I loved that.”
Ashmore is no stranger to playing characters stranded in extreme situations. Prior to Frozen, he starred in The Ruins, which left the actor stuck on top of some deadly Mayan ruins in Mexico.
So how much did Ashmore rely on his experience with The Ruins for Frozen? Turns out, not as much as you might think.
“Frozen is completely opposite of The Ruins,” Ashmore explained. “This project was an opportunity to get to really develop a character. I love horror movies so it’s rare that you get to not only work on one, but work on one where you get to stretch as an actor.”
“Adam knew exactly what he wanted from our performances. There were so many ways this movie could have gone, but he always knew what worked best for the story. There were moments where Adam would have tears in his eyes after a take because he was so affected, and that’s just unique,” Ashmore added.
The trio credits the harsh weather conditions as one of the reasons they were able to put their everything into the emotional portrayals of three doomed snowboarders. After all, for the film to be effectively terrifying and engaging, everything was riding on their shoulders to deliver top notch performances.
“The concept of Frozen means that there’s no wiggle room in your performance,” explained Zegers. “There are no gimmicks here, and you can’t even be the slightest bit cheesy with your delivery. The drama is inside the characters, and we all had to dig deep to flesh out our characters.”
Zegers added, “The biggest challenge as an actor is keeping the audience engaged until the shit hits the fan; then you have to make sure you can keep them going along for the entire ride. If you don’t give a great performance, you’ll lose them before the credits start rolling, and I hope we’ve done that with Frozen.”
So, will Frozen deliver a chilling trip into the depths of terror? Fans will be able to find out for themselves when it is released in theaters on February 5th.
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