An Interview with Juan Fernandez – By Duane L. Martin

You had a small role in Suburban Sasquatch, Dave Wascavage’s previous film, before you went on to star in his current film Tartarus. Had you done any acting before that, or was working with Dave on his films a whole new experience for you?

Believe it or not SS was actually my first film. When I was younger I had done some background work on a music video and then a TV commercial but that was about it. Then I met Dave and he took a chance on me. I was nervous of course, and afraid of messing up my lines, but he gave me an easy going character that I could get into and I think that it all came together pretty well.

Is acting something you’ve always thought you would be good at, or is it something that you just tried on a lark and decided that you liked it and wanted to do more of it?

I have always wanted to act, I can remember being 12 and making home movies, horror films at that. About 10 years later I went to acting school and it was definitely something I want to pursue. Finding roles is tough though and I was always working, one day I thought "I’m just not getting any younger" and I put my all into getting myself out there. So I would say its been for the past 3 years that I have really been out there and auditioning and doing what I can to break into the mainstream.

What did you think of the script for Tartarus when you read it for the first time?

I thought it was twisted and I loved it. I am the biggest horror buff and to be able to act in something like this was like me being in my element. It was a great experience and fun at the same time. It was awesome writing.

Dave goes on and on about what a super nice guy you are. What was it like for you being such a nice guy in real life and then having to play such a rotten bastard in the movie. Was it hard for you to get into that mindset and bring that type of a character out for the camera?

Well I look at it like this, in order to be a good actor you have to be able to adapt to your environment, whether its being a nice guy or the "rotten bastard"! LOL I think that we all have a bit of that in us anyway and in order for me to pull this character off I knew I had to pull it out. It wasn’t too tough to do, and the character was given alot of room to explore with this attitude, no holding back. It gets a bit easier when there aren’t limits. Besides who doesn’t love to hate a bad guy?

When it came down to doing the film itself, how difficult was it for you to deal with the non-existent CGI settings and props you had to work around? What kind of direction did Dave give you on how to deal with the various scenes?

It was difficult to interact with the CG, of course, it was hard to imagine a spaceship when there wasn’t one chasing you. It was difficult trying to get on point with the scene when you weren’t sure when or how to react to the "unknown". Dave does a great job with directing, he makes it really easy to understand his vision for the film and what your character is supposed to be doing in the film. Not to mention the CG goes into the film after all is said and done, so he tweaks it to fit around the performance you did, which is a good thing.

Did you have an appreciation for b-movies and independent cinema before making this movie, and how have your feelings changed now that you’ve starred in one?

Yes I did, I will sit down and try to watch any movie, especially horror. Some of the best horror films of all time were Indie films. Now that I have acted in some I have a new appreciation because I see all the work that truly does go into making one. They aren’t all the cheesy slasher flicks that the stereotype makes them out to be.

What were some of the biggest challenges for you during production? Did you have any scenes that you had to shoot over and over again because they just weren’t coming out right?

There weren’t really any scenes that had to be redone because they were too challenging. But we did end up goofing off alot and making each other laugh during scenes, so when it became time to get serious that was the challenge. Those were the times we had to reshoot a scene, which in my opinion is a good thing…It means that we are comfortable and friendly enough with each other to be able to do that.

The "Soul Table" for lack of a better name, which was the table where your character was tortured and probed and what not, was basically in real life a table that had been spray foamed and painted and made up to look quite bizarre. Unfortunately, it also looked extremely uncomfortable. How was it having to do all those scenes where you were strapped down to the table? Was it as uncomfortable as it looked? Also, what problems if any did you encounter with the table?

Well the table was meant to fit John throughout his the years, so all that work to create it was for a very significant reason in the story. It was very uncomfortable though. After 12+ hours of laying on it, I felt like it was really my flesh on that table. It was wet, cold and messy, but so worth it to pull off those scenes in the movie. There weren’t any real problems with the table itself, but I did lose my voice filming a couple of those scenes. I gotta say it is one cool table (which now resides in my home).

What did you think of the finished product? Were you happy with it? Was there anything you’d like to go back and do differently?

Yes I was extremely happy with it. But I am sort of an acting perfectionist, meaning that I critique myself after the fact. There are things that I see that I would have liked to redo and try and do it a bit better. I see parts where I feel I messed up or didn’t give it my best. But the direction, production, script, cast and crew were all amazing. I think that overall it all ended up being a really good film.

Juan with Dave Wascavage.Would you like to be able to devote yourself to acting full time, or is it something you’re happy doing off and on while having a life and career that are separate from that?

It is definitely something I would like to do full time, and it is what I am working towards but it’s a little tough right now. I have a life and job outside of acting, which sucks for me cause its my passion, but I will take what I can get at this point and just hope that eventually I will be in Hollywood. But for now I am content with the projects I have done and will do.

What are you doing acting-wise currently? Anything coming up that we should know about?

I have a role in Dave’s next film coming out called Zombies by Design. (A little name dropping there. LOL) I have also done small roles here and there in some other films, but nothing is set to come out yet. Just keep a watch for me out there on the Indie scene. I also have an extra scene in a major film coming out.

What are your feelings about the UFO phenomenon and extra-terrestrial life in general? Obviously they don’t all look like Dave in a rubber mask.

The thought of life on another planet has always intrigued me. With so many opinions out there it’s hard to form your own. But those with imagination can be separated from the skeptics…I like to think I have imagination.

What kinds of things do you like to do outside of acting? (Hobbies, sports, etc…)

I enjoy taking care of my body physically by keeping up with a routine schedule at the gym. And of course taking care of my mind by playing video games on a routine schedule as well LOL. Hey maybe Dave will turn Tartarus into a video game. All jokes aside, in my spare time I do just like to relax.

Is there anything else you’d like to talk about before we wrap this up?

Acting is an art form and you almost have to mold yourself into the character. I know so many people out there have this dream of making it. I would like to tell them not to give up, just making one film is worth it. It’s a tough business and the key is sticking to it, taking your faults and learning from them to better your acting, and of course the old saying "When one door closes, another opens".