Stories on the Rise | An interview in 3 parts: two actors & the film-maker behind “Rayden Valkyrie: TV Pilot” by Seventh Star Studios

Posted Wednesday, 23 August, 2017 by jorielov , , , , , 3 Comments

Stories on the Rise Banner created by Jorie in Canva

The Rayden Valkyrie TV Pilot began as a crowd-funding project via Kickstarter. Once funded production began and the pilot grew into a project which is now finding position within the current television market to gain traction to be built into a full production of a serial. This interview goes behind the scenes – where two of the pilot’s actors share their takeaways with being a part of the pilot and where the film-maker behind creating ‘Rayden Valkyrie’ (the character based on his novels) shares a few secrets with his readers, his future audience and those of us who have followed his publishing endeavours (via Seventh Star Press and their authorly collective) in the book blogosphere.

Seventh Star Press is one of the first publishers I started to host for during the Autumn of 2013 shortly after I launched Jorie Loves A Story. This interview was conceived to shine a light on the pilot which is the secondary focus of this lovely blog tour which illuminates the series which launched the pilot.

Follow the Journey of Rayden Valkyrie the tv adaptation | Tweet your Support

Read Stephen Zimmer’s blog post about why he wanted to produce the pilot

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Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

I can well imagine what you might be thinking – why is Jorie showcasing a Sword & Sorcery story-line involving Heroic Bloodshed and steeped in Viking History? Not quite her typical cuppa is what is most likely coming to your mind, eh? And, in this regard – you would be right! It’s a series of stories penned by an author I appreciated finding when I first read Chronicles of Ave (in 2013) entitled the Dark Sun Trilogy. Except for the Vikings – as I first had an introduction into Anglo-Saxon early histories & the presence of the Vikings through my readings of Avelynn (of which I will be re-exploring this Autumn as I read the sequel!). Add to the random things which become introduced to you as you explore Literature and Ancestral passageways, I recently started seeing the Vikings threading into my own ancestral past – something I’ll touch on as I read Edge of Faith!

You might remember seeing Seventh Star Press titles pop up now and again on Jorie Loves A Story, as this is one of the first Indie Publishers I started to host for as a book blogger whilst finding myself readily engaging with their eclectic offerings across Science Fiction, Cosy Horror (smirks) and Fantasy – including Urban Fantasy (where I found out I love cheeky fey humour); anthologies of the Fantastical and Horrific (this side of Cosy, of course!), Altered Historical time-lines, a dash of Superhero Fiction and a pinch of Space Opera! However, if was the DRAGONS and Murkens (shifters) who stole my heart the most!

When this tv pilot originated on Kickstarter, I took stock and interest of it’s journey towards production – not only because I have been following the career of the writer behind the pilot – but also due to my personal passion for film-making (with an eye on Indies) which led me to cheer from afar for this little project would not only find traction with a (potential) audience but it would gain the backing it needed to go into production. Kentucky is one of those states which is known for film-making but hasn’t quite captured awareness of being one of the better states to conduct film business inside; a bit of a surprise to myself, as the film world isn’t as big as one would perceive – there are certain regions where film-making has legs to grow and develop in a viable economy prime to allow for said growth to reshape the active market. Kentucky thus stands on the fringes of being more of a forerunner rather than a secondary option! This is another reason why I wanted to highlight this pilot – as it allows others to start to take notice of how film and television are continuously shifting how they are being utilised in our backyards.

I continued to oversee the journey when videos popped up on YouTube – both for promotion of the pilot being filmed and for the process of taking it into production. There isn’t a lot I missed between the conception of the idea and the birth of the pilot – all of which, I have happily cheered on Mr Zimmer and his lovely cast and crew – seeing how they were shaping his vision for this story to take flight and to be brought to a visual audience who likes well-written stories with fierce historical roots and a well produced production to boot!

Finding out a bit more about Kentucky in the process – from location shoots to how the natural elements were broached into the background of the pilot itself was quite enjoyable, too! I love how you can find elements of our world set within the otherworlds of Fantasy – as it not only helps root you into the story but it offers a beautiful gap between the fantastical fictional realms and our living realities. Getting a chance to converse with two of the actors attached to this pilot was heartwarming as I truly loved how they approached my questions – they gave me answers which I feel helped bring a rounded introduction of the pilot to my readers and to those visitors on the blog tour itself – as it’s a step outside what might have been expected to be found! I love surprising my readers – it is a joy unlike all others! Also, I wanted to anchour their replies to Mr Zimmer’s – giving the presence of three different perspectives on the same subject – thereby, giving you an up close and personal definition of who Rayden Valkyrie is and why the pilot is such an important project.

So you see – sometimes I might surprise you – some stories interest me even if perhaps on the surface you might think it wouldn’t be something I’d be akin to liking! Besides – of all the cross-related tv series Mr Zimmer mentioned as being ‘one’ of a similar feather to Rayden Valkyrie – there is one from my own past which I admit, I did enjoy watching: Xena: Warrior Princess! Come now – who didn’t like watching Xena? Lucy Lawless played her to perfection!

Grab your favourite cuppa and sit back for a conversation in 3-parts!

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Part I : Conversing with the lead actress

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Sol Geirsdottir as 'Rayden Valkyrie' as portrayed in the tv pilot. <br>Photo Credit: Silvio Wolf Busch.<br> Photo used with permission of Seventh Star Studios.
Sol Geirsdottir as ‘Rayden Valkyrie’ Photo Credit: Silvio Wolf Busch. Used with permission of Seventh Star Studios.

Sól Geirsdóttir made her stage debut at the age of 13, performing traditional Norwegian folk songs. Since then she has been creating and producing music with her band Vǫluspá, who will be releasing a full album in 2017. Sól has also appeared in several theatrical plays and was given a part as “Jora” in the TV pilot ‘Rangers: A Shadow Rising’ in 2014. She has worked with Ron Newcomb, Ian Hencher, John Wells, Marita Tathariel and many more.

Sól is an alternative model and has been featured in several magazines such as Fae Magazine and Dark Beauty. She currently attends the University of Oslo pursuing a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. In addition to this, she is a trained vocalist, an accomplished belly dancer and a seemstress specialized in Viking Era clothing. Sól is thrilled to embark on the epic journey of playing the role of “Rayden Valkyrie” in the Rayden Valkyrie: Saga of a Lionheart TV Pilot.

Blogs @ The Viking Queen | @solgeirsdottirOn Instagram as The Viking Queen

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What attracted you to the role of Rayden Valkyrie and how did you want to portray this heroine?

Sol Geirsdottir responds:

I actually got contacted by John Wells who portrays Hallad, about an audition and thought it sounded very interesting. As I read the script, I instantly got that “oh my, this is something I just HAVE to do”- feeling. I have always wanted to portray a warrior woman and I wanted her to be strong – in every sense of the word.

I had the joy of requesting a quotation from the script for the television pilot and I believe Ms Geirsdottir would say this particular quote speaks well of how Rayden embraces her warrior spirit:

“There are some battles we fight without choice, and there are some we
choose. This one, for me, is both.” – Rayden Valkyrie

taken from the RaydenValkyrie: Saga of a Lionheart TV Pilot.

Quoted with permission of Seventh Star Studios.

All women should feel their inner warrior – feel their internal strength & not be afraid to be strong in the face of adversity or during moments of ordinary life where fortitude and perseverance are the qualities every woman should embody and embrace. I definitely think we need more strong female leads and women who are beautifully complex inside and out!

I did not realise until I received Ms Geirsdottir’s replies how serendipitous my interview sequence truly became – being that I sent a query of questions off to Mr Wells where in turn, he was the one who inspired her to take the part!

You have an incredibly artistic blog and personal style – you not only embrace the Viking spirit but you have a firm passion for the historic past. What originally motivated you seek out how the traditions of the Vikings have survived in the modern era?

Sol Geirsdottir responds:

Why thank you ever so much! Hehe.. Why do we love the things we do? What attracts us to them? I have been interested in the Viking Era ever since I was a wee child, it is just something within me I guess. There is no choice for me but to express this inner longing for the past. As for traditions – we know very little about the Viking Age, unfortunately. It lives on through the people who are  – like me – interested in the old ways and through research. If I’ve truly captured the Viking spirit might be up for discussion, but I consider myself to be a true heathen, I am Pagan to the bone. In other words; I live and breathe the Viking ways in every aspect of my life. And for me, what is in your heart is what truly counts if you are to embrace the Viking spirit in an authentic and honorable way.

You’re most welcome! I admit, I have pondered this question myself oft-times seeking to understand my own passions and inclinations – similar to how you’ve wholly embraced your Viking essence and magnetic attraction to their traditions, I too, have sought out the murmurings of my soul and heart, too! I think, as creatives – we tend to let our instincts guide us – we listen to our inner spirit and we feel ourselves moving into directions where we are meant to alight – especially if we know who we are and we understand where our talents lie in the creative arts we endeavour to stay focused upon! I think the way you’ve approached full immersion into the Vikings culture is quintessential for their heritage to be re-identified now and appreciated for a longer period of time than perhaps they could have even foreseen possible.

I whole-heartedly agree with you about ‘living your authentic truth’ and owning who you are in all instances!! Rock on! You are definitely an inspiration to everyone who comes across your blog and your creative work as an actress! I have a feeling your dedication will not only inspire new creatives to find their paths but for those of us who embrace ‘old world arts & crafts’ to realise we’re all striking out onto passageways we feel most akin to traverse!

Did anything surprise you about Rayden whilst preparing for the role or whilst tapping into her spirit as you portrayed her in the pilot?

Sol Geirsdottir responds:

The depth of the character surprised me. She is that “my way or the highway” type, but at the same time – she risks her own safety to save others. She has some vulnerability to her that might be difficult to spot at first glance, but she has faced a lot of trials in life and knows the dark sides of it.

This is why I love finding out the hidden layers to characters as I am reading them in books or listening to their lives in audiobooks – sometimes what you first perceive isn’t their full scope of their character but only half of whom they trust they can share with you. I think the layers are what readers and actors love the most – they force us to re-access how we understand each other and of how perception and insight are not always akin to the truth hiding beneath a strong facade.

At the same time – I watch a lot of tv serials and motion pictures – when actors can pull into themselves the truth of their characters, they’re able to emote the innermost feelings of their characters in such a way to reveal a character in a truer light than if they hadn’t fully attached themselves into the part… I am sure you know what I’m hinting about – some actors fade out of sight and ‘become’ the character right before our eyes – others, you can tell are playing a part, keeping a portion of themselves visible – and then, of course there are the differences in approaches… I think how you’ve embraced Rayden speaks to your Viking heart – you go all-in, enveloping yourself in your inspiration and drawing a firm glow on the person you want everyone to see of whom as become a part of you and is you in that moment.

What do you think is Rayden’s greatest strength and what do you hope will come next for her after the pilot?

Sol Geirsdottir responds:

That she isn’t afraid to go her own ways, and how much loyalty means to her. I sure hope that we get a full season after the pilot. The cast and crew are wonderful people and I felt honored to be in this pilot episode with them. I know we have something that audiences will love here, and this is just the beginning of the epic saga of Rayden Valkyrie and her band of warriors, I’m sure of it!

I truly hope you will be able to carry forward Rayden’s adventures if the pilot gets tapped by a network or any of the television outlets in today’s multimedia world of release! I think you would bring a great depth of centreing Rayden’s heart and spirit to her audience but also, allowing us to peer at her layers and understand her at a deeper rate of insight as you’ve tapped into her in such a way as to understand how to bring her to life.

Can you share your favourite moment on set and why it left you with a memory of joy?

Sol Geirsdottir responds:

Oh my… There were so many moments of joy on set! It is hard to choose a favorite amongst them. Laughing and giggling between takes with all my new (and old!) friends makes me think back on the whole experience with great joy. We are all just a buch of kids, such goofballs all of us. And I must add- hugging Stephen after nailing takes!

I loved hearing this reply! I think this is the hope everyone shares when they go into a production – to meet new friends, feel a closeness of a family you’ve known for longer than the space of producing a piece of film and the joyful moments which unexpected gave you the most happiness to experience! Humour is a beautiful thing to share – I am so very happy hearing everyone on set was a champion for everyone and helped make the production such a memorable feast of memories! I smiled reading your last revelation! That would be wicked sweet.

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Part II: Conversing with the film-maker & writer behind ‘Rayden Valkyrie’

Illustrator: Bonnie Wasson

Read how Rayden Valkyrie came to life in Heart of a Lion

Read how Rayden Valkyrie originated in a Sword & Sorcery, anthology!

Mr Zimmer created the series ‘Dark Sun Dawn’ Trilogy wherein the character Rayden Valkyrie comes alive and where readers can follow her adventures even though she was inspired into being ahead of this trilogy. Her further chronicles will be across mediums currently being explored in television as a pilot entitled: Rayden Valkyrie: Saga of a Lionheart. Zimmer isn’t only is the writer, but he’s the film-maker, screenwriter, producer and director of the pilot itself.

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Stephen Zimmer (Author Photograph) August 2017.

Stephen Zimmer is an award-winning author and filmmaker based out of Lexington Kentucky. His works include the Rayden Valkyrie novels (Sword and Sorcery), the Rising Dawn Saga (Cross Genre), the Fires in Eden Series (Epic Fantasy), the Hellscapes short story collections (Horror), the Chronicles of Ave short story collections (Fantasy), and the Harvey and Solomon Tales (Steampunk).

Stephen’s visual work includes the feature film Shadows Light, shorts films such as The Sirens and Swordbearer, and the forthcoming Rayden Valkyrie: Saga of a Lionheart TV Pilot.

Stephen is a proud Kentucky Colonel who also enjoys the realms of music, martial arts, good bourbons, and spending time with family.

Site | @sgzimmer | Instagram | Facebook

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What was your greatest challenge about adapting your novel to the screen?

Stephen Zimmer responds:

Screenplays and books are very different entities, and for me the biggest challenge is making sure that the Rayden Valkyrie viewers see on screen resonates with the Rayden Valkyrie which is found on the page. This TV Pilot is an original story line, so there is no book to compare it to, but there will be expectations when it comes to the tone and the character of Rayden Valkyrie. This is why I took great care in the casting, to make sure the actress playing Rayden brought the essence and feel of the book character to the screen. I am confident we achieved this with Sol Geirsdottir in the TV Pilot.

Yes, I hadn’t realised this when I first sent over my questions to you – I initially thought the pilot stemmed out of an adaptation of one of the novels but then, I realised my error of oversight when I noted this was entirely a separate yet connected entity of who Rayden Valkyrie is for those who read the stories whilst offering a bit of a new gateway for those who will meet her on the screen – perhaps both audiences and appreciators will move in and out of her mediums of influence or you’ll have two separate but equally passionate fan bases! Even from afar, I can attest you found the right actress to step into Rayden’s shoes! She truly found her heart!

As you started to see the cast emerge out of themselves and into their characters’ what went through your mind the first time you saw them embody the characters you had created and were now bringing to life on set?

Stephen Zimmer responds:

It is a really incredible experience to see the cast bringing the characters in the screenplay to life. Even further, seeing Sol as Rayden Valkyrie, a character from my novels, was a very surreal experience. It was the first time I had seen a book character of mine being portrayed by a real person, so I have to admit that was quite special. The real thrill comes from those moments where you see them become those characters on a given take or scene. Seeing the cast emerge in a strong way was very encouraging and invigorating, as it validated the hard work and choices made leading up to the production itself.

I think it would be an experience hard to put into words – how the person you imagined is now being brought to life and is living right before your eyes through the actress who not only understands your character but has found a way to intuit her straight into her own essence in order to draw out the most of who Rayden is to everyone. I am very happy hearing you had this experience – as I’ve seen how dedicated you’ve been all along the journey of this pilot to not only bring together the right cast and crew but to make sure all the elements of what gives your story-telling the wings of delight to readers to carry this joy into the hearts of film goers and television lovers seeking the same from a screen adaptation based on a novelised character.

Which actor surprised you the most on set for developing one of your characters in a way you hadn’t expected?

Stephen Zimmer responds:

It is hard to single one character out, but I will give one example and say Silvio Wolf Busch, who played the warrior Sagaras, made a number of very good choices in his portrayal. The way in which he brought across the thoughtfulness of the Sagaras character, through expressions, postures, and even the places where he would position himself in a group, demonstrated a real command of character and resulted in a first rate performance.

I loved how you gave us an inside glimpse into how he approached his character but also, it was so kind of him to take photographs whilst on set – as I am featuring one of his photographs on this post! I love photography as you know – so anytime I can give credit to a photographer is a joyful moment for me! I felt like I was there observing him bring this character to life simply by how you described the moment you saw him do it in person! Thanks for giving such a cardinal view of a day or rather a succession of days on set!

Which day of the location shooting did you feel was the hardest to produce (either due to climate, lightning or other unforeseen hurdles)?

Stephen Zimmer responds:

I would have to say the day we shot a great cave scene involving the warrior Ragnar, Rayden Valkyrie, and two forest witches, was probably the most challenging because we used a downsized crew for that particular day while having to navigate some hurdles of the natural setting. A small spring channeled out of the cave wall near the entrance, making the short slope entering it very tricky as far as footing. A little pool of water ran from one side of the short, narrow pathway into the cave. I almost slid into this pool myself! We had to use boards and long pieces of carpeting to improve the footing, but still had to take great care to make sure that nobody hurt themselves.

Oy vie! This is usually the fodder you find on the Bloopers Reel or the after tales which make films seem so very normal after the fact – as productions run the full gambit of ordinary woes whilst their being filmed! Everything from natural disasters to what you’ve experienced on this day on the shoot – where you could not circumvent the issue but you surely proved your moxie in trying to find a quick way to recover from having it get the best of you! Champion!

Was there a particular moment during production where you saw the pilot gaining traction to where it could expand into a series with the actors you’ve selected? Where you could sense the pilot had now grown it’s wings to fly on it’s own separate from the novels?

Stephen Zimmer responds:

The first days of a shoot always have a little chaos as the crew and cast begin to settle in. About the third day into the shoot, when we were on a gorgeous location (Lake Cumberland – view the tourism page!), I saw the group getting traction and you really could sense the magic that could lead to a full series with this group. The scene being filmed was a closing scene, and I really did have a sense that the story would go on. All the actors did a great job on that day, and you could see them feeding off of the spectacular environment. No question this was where you could see everyone coming together in a strong way.

You hit the sweet spot on that third day – where all the pre-work which went into the production was finding it’s traction where all the elements – cast, crew, story, set, location, make-up, and costumes all pulled together to thread your vision into one experience shared by all! I think the best productions are the ones which have become so incredibly moulded and formed ahead of time – everyone simply steps out of this world and into the world they’re portraying as if they weren’t transported at all but simply started ‘carrying on’ with where they left off!

As a proud Kentuckian what do you think is Kentucky’s greatest strength as emerging as a forerunner for Indie Film?

Stephen Zimmer responds:

Kentucky has a wealth of scenery, a proactive film commission, numerous communities who are very hospitable to productions, load of cast and crew talent that can work local, and a good climate for business.  All these things contribute to making Kentucky a very attractive state for productions and the potential of movie/tv production here is vast.

I definitely agree with this statement – I’ve noticed Kentucky is slowly gaining more and more ground in the world of film-making (which I noted earlier) and I am thankful due to the climate for a proactive film-making economy, you have a lot of wicked delightful opportunities right in your backyard to pursue!

Which method of release will readers and film-goers be able to enjoy Rayden Valkyrie?

Stephen Zimmer responds:

We are just now entering the phase of finding a solid home for the TV Pilot and future series, and there are so many options in this day and age. Many networks and services are putting high levels of resources into productions and we just have to find the one which understands the potential of what we have in our show. With a powerful heroine and a strong ensemble cast, in a plot loaded with action, twists, turns, and all kinds of fantastical things, we know it will appeal strongly to audiences who enjoy shows like Game of Thrones, Vikings, Xena, The Shanarra Chronicles, and even the Spartacus series. I will be very busing in continuing with the novels and short stories, alongside the TV series, so both readers and film/TV fans can look forward to plenty of content!

I had a feeling you might have to keep this a bit more ambiguous rather than more solid in regards of ‘where’ the pilot will alight or find it’s proper level of traction… I look forward to seeing the next ‘chapter’ of this production and of cheering for the day where the full series is green-lighted with the cast and crew you’ve brought together! I know there are times where those who work on pilots are not always asked to return for a series but in this instance, I am hoping for the best!

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Part III : Conversing with supporting cast member John Wells

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Screen Capture of John Wells as 'Hallad' in the tv pilot for 'Rayden Valkyrie: Saga of a Lionheart' being used with permission and provided by Seventh Star Studios.
Screen Capture of John Wells as ‘Hallad’ in the tv pilot for ‘Rayden Valkyrie: Saga of a Lionheart’ being used with permission and provided by Seventh Star Studios.

A life long artist and now international multi-award winning actor, John Wells began his film career in 2006 and has since been well acclaimed for his dynamic versatility, emotional range, and dramatic presence on screen.

Wells has delivered scene stealing performances in a string of features such as the genre bending action/comedy, OVERTIME, and the satirical sci-fi romp, PIRANHA SHARKS. He earned applause as founding father, Patrick Henry, in FOX’s historical docudrama series, LEGENDS & LIES: THE PATRIOTS, and was called a “tour de force” in reviews for his performance in the depression era drama, THE OLD WINTER.

Celebrated international filmmaker, Leigh Scott, director of Witches of Oz and Piranha Sharks calls John “a rare talent. Able to immerse himself into any character roles that have little resemblance to his normal persona, while having the charisma and gravitas to carry an entire film. He is both a character actor and a leading man.”

2011’s Fright Night Film Festival presented him with Best Actor and Delivery of Best One-Liner for his work in OVERTIME. 2014’s gritty paranormal thriller, THE PAPER TIGER, would earn him Best Actor at the Floyd Film Fest. In 2015, Wells won Best Actor at the Open World Toronto Film Festival, and at home was honored with the Médaille d’Or Award for Outstanding Achievements in Film by a Kentuckian.

In addition to acting, John is a writer, musician, fitness enthusiast, and family man. Recently he has taken on the mantle of producer on a handful of his own film endeavors.

Site | @johnscottwells | Instagram

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What did you love most about your character Hallad? Did you meet him first when you read the script or did you read the novel ahead of taking on the role?

John Wells responds:

I knew nothing of Hallad prior to reading the script. After reading, Stephen and I had a few conversations about his character traits, sort of how he fits into the group. The master tracker, a woodsman, bit of a loner and introvert. But much of him was left pretty open to interpretation. Because it’s a pilot episode and with such a large cast of characters, more time was spent on introducing the band and following the story and action rather than digging further into who they are and what drives them. Something to be saved, hopefully, for future installments. So that left room for imagination and play for the actors, to fill in the spaces and make a bigger picture than what’s expressed through scripted dialogue…mannerisms, quirks, subtleties and expressions, why they are the way they are. I enjoy that. I love painting the internal picture, building the character from the inside out, and I definitely wove facets of my own soul into Hallad. I look forward to the opportunity to expand upon him, his past, digging deeper and building an even more layered character around what we’ve established.

I love this – how you were able to intuitively connect inside the mind and heart of Hallad whilst sorting out more about who he is as you portrayed him – giving you a lot of room for growth and for self-discovery as well. I am oft curious how actors can dissolve inside the mind and heart of their characters – generally I find their process is similar to those of us who are writers – it’s a work in progress of fine tuning who a person is and how best to give that person representation and flight to be themselves. I think your approach is wicked brilliant as it allows you to give dimension and insight but also, helps pull the audience into Hallad on a personal note – the more you emote out of his depths, the more connected the person feels whose watching the film! This is something I saw as a bit of your personal trademark from the videos I watched of “The Old Winter” on your website; a film I’m still hoping will one day be available to see on dvd.

What do you think motivates Hallad to join Rayden and to seek a way towards overcoming the evils of this world?

John Wells responds:

Hallad has a deep rooted foundation in honor. He’s a mercenary, yes, and a complex history has lead him to choose some morally gray paths at times, but ultimately he’s driven by a desire to serve a greater good. He see’s that in Rayden, a rare sense of courage and selflessness, and he finds it a bit inspiring. I think he sees that, and it reminds him of the person he may be fundamentally. But I also think he’s intrigued and excited by the challenge at hand. While skilled at combat by necessity, he’s not a lover of violence…but he does love the thrill of a hunt. That’s his dominion. It’s what he does, it’s what he excels at, and it’s one of the few things that gives him a sense of excitability.

This puts Hallad at an interesting cross-roads – and of course, gives Rayden an interesting comrade to have in arms! I thin it’s his dual conflictions – of his innate nature and also of his willingness to help others in need which will prove to be what gives the best scope of understanding into who he is and why he is the way he is as well. I am sure as the back-story starts to be revealled on Hallad, more will be understood about the things your describing here – as an actor, I can see why your thrilled with the prospect of developing Hallad on the screen and I do hope you and the rest of the cast and crew will have the chance to carry the series forward! You’ve already laid a good foundation from what I’ve read and observed in the pilot!

You tend to gravitate towards deeply moving dramas and evocative story-lines where the heart and spirit of your characters shine through your performances. What draws your eye towards taking on these characters and how do you approach portraying their journey?

John Wells responds:

I’m drawn by escapism and self exploration. That’s the heart and the appeal of acting for me. I’m intrigued by roles with layers and complexities, challenges, and internal confliction. Characters who span the vast spectrum of emotion and life experience, because that’s what it is to be human. There’s a truth to it, an honesty, and through that one can really learn and stretch themselves. That’s exciting to me. It’s the ultimate exercise in empathy, and for me, also a great escape. As a socially awkward introvert who’s usually uncomfortable in his own skin, it’s profoundly liberating. I don’t necessarily have an exact method or process in approaching a role. It really differs from part to part, but essentially I just do my emotional homework. Study the character, familiarize myself with their history, develop their thought process. Then, I just get on set, try to connect with the rest of the cast, and and be in the moment with them. I try not to over think it on the day. I find it’s usually best to just let it happen organically.

It’s the self-exploration I can relate too myself – as this is why I pursue different mediums of art and artistic expression myself. It was my GrandMum who first planted the seed for me to get into theatre – something I haven’t yet had the opportunity to explore, but I have visited black box theatres and had conversations about living in the world of theatre arts – where I still remember how I felt crossing the stage as a ‘visitor’ – somehow I think acting will be in my future, if only for what you’ve described so very well – part of what draws us into wanting to take on a role is to see what we can discover about ourselves – of facets within us which are yet unknown and through acting we add a new layer of insight into our own creative spirit.

I was quite surprised when you disclosed how introverted you are and how uncomfortable you are in your regular life outside of acting – as I must admit, seeing your film reel, it shows such strong confidence of presence and such a keen insight into the different personas your portraying, I never would have guessed this about you! Which is of course, a credit to your performances and for expanding outside of your own ‘self’ in order to dig into the spirits of the characters your performing to give them a presence which shines through your organic approach to centre yourself into their depths.

I am an organic writer – so I do understand how digging into a creative pursuit through allowing the process of what allows the genesis of growth, discovery and creation to germinate is the best route to take – as it gives the most flexibility to the creator but also holds back a few things from us as well – leaving just a few bits of ‘unknowns’ which give us a bit of unexpected blissitude, I think in seeing what develops out of our efforts!

As both “The Old Winter” and the “Rayden Valkyrie” pilot were produced in Kentucky, what inspires you about seeing this level of film-making being actively created in your home state?

John Wells responds:

Kentucky is a beautiful state with a wide variety of landscapes and locations. I’m often surprised, myself, by how much versatility it offers. It’s perfect for filmmaking. And while the industry here has been steadily improving over the last couple years with the new film tax incentives, it still has a lot of growing to do. Anything which helps draw more eyes to the area for potential film production, I’m all for. It just opens up new opportunities for the community.

I definitely think Kentucky is poised to be a critical arm of the film community – as it has grown in strength and incentives to entice those who might have overlooked it’s presence previously! I’ve been watching it’s surge in appeal ever since there was a shift in Film East (outside of Toronto/New York) being focused in the Carolinas and moving into Georgia – however, Kentucky, I felt had just a strong of a presence as both of the other states, if not more – as it can provide so much I felt which would appeal to both feature films and television (and/or streaming outlets like NetFlix).

Can you share your favourite moment on set and why it left you with a memory of joy?

John Wells responds:

I couldn’t possibly pick a single moment. Just simply the camaraderie. I had several good friends in the cast going into this and made several new ones throughout the experience, and we had a tremendous time on and off set. We became a beautifully bonded unit. Every day was filled with laughs and fun, and in think that helped our on screen chemistry as well. I already miss it a great deal.

Ooh, dear my! Of course you do! From what you and Ms Geirsdottir have mentioned, I can tell the crew and cast developed a close-knit creative atmosphere where there was a strong sense of everyone not only pulling together but of wanting to be together to work on this project! I know this isn’t always the case on a set, and I am thankful it came together so beautifully for you both! I look forward to seeing where this pilot finds traction and of which places those of us cheering you on from afar can look forward to seeing it once it ‘releases’. I definitely agree – the more you feel a close connection to those your working alongside, the more those bonds can re-translate into on-screen chemistry and sequencing a closer truth of the characters your bringing to life as they have an added layer of realism.

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Watch the Official Trailer for ‘Rayden Valkyrie’ which was produced by Seventh Star Studios & Frozen Creek Studios (for post-production).

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I would like to extend my gratitude to Ms Geirsdottir, Mr Wells & Mr Zimmer for being kind and generous with their time to answer my enquries on a production which only recently wrapped for post production! This interview was a true delight to put together & I do hope everyone has enjoyed our conversation! May this interview inspire you to support the continuing journey of bringing Rayden Valkyrie to a screen near you where you’ll happily watch her adventures brought to life by this incredibly dedicated cast & crew!

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This special 3-part Interview was courtesy of Tomorrow Comes Media on behalf of the blog tour for Stephen Zimmer celebrating ‘Rayden Valkyrie’ in print & screen.

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Rayden Valkyrie blog tour hosted by Tomorrow Comes Media.Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comSimilar to blog tours where I feature book reviews, as I choose to highlight an author via a Guest Post, Q&A, Interview, etc., I do not receive compensation for featuring supplemental content on my blog. I provide the questions for interviews and topics for the guest posts; wherein I receive the responses back from publicists and authors directly. I am naturally curious about the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of stories and the writers who pen them; I have a heap of joy bringing this content to my readers.

{SOURCES: Cover art of “Heart of a Lion” & “Thunder Horizon”; quote from ‘Rayden Valkyrie: Saga of a Lionheart”, photographs of Stephen Zimmer & Sol Geirsdottir as well as the screen capture for John Wells were provided by Seventh Star Studios and Tomorrow Comes Media respectively whilst being used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded by codes provided by Twitter. YouTube tv pilot trailer was embedded due to codes provided by YouTube. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Stories on the Rise badge and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2017.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Wednesday, 23 August, 2017 by jorielov in Action & Adventure Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Heroic Bloodshed, Jorie Loves A Story Features, Saxon | Viking History, Serial TV | Film, Seventh Star Press, Stories on the Rise, TV Serials & Motion Pictures

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3 responses to “Stories on the Rise | An interview in 3 parts: two actors & the film-maker behind “Rayden Valkyrie: TV Pilot” by Seventh Star Studios

    • Hallo, Hallo Melissa Ann!

      :) Thank you! I love hearing this – as I was hoping the things I am bringing to my readers & visitors are things that not only interest them, but perhaps give them something new to consider! :) It does look wicked keen doesn’t it for an Indie produced tv serial? I will be sure to update my readers with the news of when the pilot is released and on which platforms; if it is available for public viewing as it might be strictly used to get a full series greenlighted for production, too! I was hoping it might go into streaming or dvd release before/after it is shopped for a network/streaming company/media outlet for production! Wicked happy you caught sight of this – I had such a heap of fun assembling the questions for the actors and writer/director/producer!

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