***The following interview contains spoilers for episode 7.11***
Tonight, on an all-new episode of Fear the Walking Dead
, Daniel (Ruben Bladés)’s mental state declines, and it puts everyone in danger. The episode, called “Ofelia,” marks the directorial debut of Alycia Debnam-Carey, who stars as Alicia on the series.
Debnam-Carey had thought about directing long before working on Fear
. “It is something I've thought about for quite a long time, I'd say,” the actress told SciFi Vision in a recent exclusive interview. “I think, even as a kid, I was always framing my worldview at a perspective that was quite sort of cinematic and had a frame of the world that kind of always [had] the storytelling aspect. I think that's just a part of my creativity as a person, I suppose.”
Working on the series, however, was when it became real for the actress, when she was encouraged by other directors, as well as producing director on the series, Michael Satrazemis.
The actress felt lucky to have the support of fellow cast members in the episode as well. “I love working with Ruben and Colby [Hollman] and Danay [Garcia] and Spenser [Granese],” said Debnam-Carey. “They were all really generous, really trusting, really open actors…I've known their character arcs for years; I’ve known them as people for years. There is that inherent level of trust that we have, and they wanted to see me succeed.”
Debnam-Carey admitted that the fact that a lot of the dialog of the episode is in Spanish made it more difficult, as she doesn’t speak the language. The performers helped her with it, however. “There were certain things that we did change and we did adapt from their expertise and their understanding that we wanted to change in the script, so it made more sense, so it facilitated the story and their relationship better. So, there was a level of trust in that. Obviously, I was really lucky to have them wanting to make sure it all made sense and share that with me, but it definitely made things a little harder.”
The actress also talked about filming one of the difficult scenes in the episode, which involved Arno (Granese) inside a large cage. “That was definitely the piece that I was the most anxious about, because it was so complicated. It was, logistically, technically a really big set piece…Also, I wanted to make the cage feel like its own terrifying character, and that it had that massive scope and that, as the audience, you're kind of in it with them, and you're feeling [it].”
She, however, was quite happy to do it. “It's not every day you get to kind of play with that,” said Debnam-Carey, “especially as a first time director, and I had a lot of incredible support from literally every department to make that possible…everyone was just so encouraging and helpful to make it it's best.”
For more, be sure to read the full transcript below and watch all-new episodes of Fear the Walking Dead
Sundays on AMC and AMC+.
SCIFI VISION: How long have you wanted to direct? I mean, is that something you've always thought about, or was that relatively new?
No, it is something I've thought about for quite a long time, I'd say. I think, even as a kid, I was always framing my worldview at a perspective that was quite sort of cinematic and had a frame of the world that kind of always [had] the storytelling aspect. I think that's just a part of my creativity as a person, I suppose.
When I was in high school, I was in film class, and I did a little short film, and I think it was really then that I was like, “Oh, I love this.” I loved the collaboration. I loved that there was a lot more creative control. I think from that point, I knew it was something that I really enjoyed doing.
Then, it wasn't really until I was working on Fear
that it was presented as a real opportunity and a real thing that I could actually do.
Then, having seen both Lenny [James] and Coleman [Domingo] do it, and [I] talked to a bunch of directors, especially female directors. Actually, there were a handful of female directors that really were like, “You should do this. If you have an interest in it, you should do it, because we want more female directors, and we want more female points of view. So, if you're interested, we encourage you to do it.” So, I think then, once Michael Satrazemis, who was our producing director, kinda got word of it, he was like, “I am so supportive; I’m so encouraging. I want you to shadow me. Let's really do this, and I really believe in you.” So, then I decided to throw my hat in the ring with Ian [Goldberg] and Andrew [Chambliss], and they were like, “Let's do it.” And then there was no turning back.
Was there a reason they picked this particular episode? Or did they just kind of pick one that you weren't in to make it a little easier?
Yeah, it definitely needed to be one that I wasn't in, because I think I'm definitely not at the point where I could do both. I think you either have to be extremely, extremely experienced or like a genius, because I don't know how you separate those two world views. I was saying to a lot of people, when you're directing, it's like taking the blue pill in The Matrix
…You see a completely different parallel universe, or world view. [It’s] like, time is different; the kind of energy you're having to expend is so much more. You’re coordinating and delegating so much more. Suddenly you go from focusing on one thing, and then it's just like everything all at once, and it's insane.
…So, we picked the one that I wasn't in, so I could focus just on directing. But also, when I first was presented that episode, I was like, “Wow, this is a mammoth episode.” And they didn't cut me any slack, [where] they were like, “Oh, it's the best time;” they were genuinely like, “Nope, here you go.”
Do you think it makes it harder or easier directing your friends? Obviously, you have to boss them around, but at the same time, they may be little more forgiving.
I found it a really great joy and pleasure. Honestly, I love working with Ruben and Colby and Danay and Spenser. They were all really generous, really trusting, really open actors…I do feel really grateful that I did get to work so much with them. Ruben and Danay, because I've known their character arcs for years, I’ve known them as people for years, there is that inherent level of trust that we have, and they wanted to see me succeed. So, I was really lucky that I had that support. They were doing work on the script weeks before we began, because they were speaking a lot in Spanish. So, they really had my back, and I'm really grateful to have that. So, in a way, I kind of got a cheat sheet in that respect, that I had such loving, caring friends that were willing to be directed by me, but also, at the same time, when when we were butting heads and ideas or something, that's kind of part of that exciting collaboration experience. I think at the end of the day, it made for really great work. And I think I was always making sure that this episode was performance based, because as an actor, that's just how I interpret a scene, because that's what I know. I always had their backs anyway, and I made sure that they knew that.One thing you mentioned, I did want to ask you. Do you speak Spanish? Did that make it more difficult having them speak Spanish?
No, I don't speak Spanish at all, which is terrible for me to admit, seeing how much time I spent in Mexico, but it was just that everyone was so much better at speaking English than I was at Spanish. I think after a while, they're like, “That's cute that you're trying to learn, but we really need you to get to work.” I think I can understand enough and had worked on the script enough. I was actually surprised when we were doing a lot of these scenes. I wasn't lost while we were filming them. Like, I could tell when Ruben was suddenly going off script and saying things. I was like, “That's not the dialogue.” But at the same time…there were certain things that we did change and we did adapt from their expertise and their understanding that we wanted to change in the script, so it made more sense, so it facilitated the story and their relationship better. So, there was a level of trust in that. Obviously, I was really lucky to have them wanting to make sure it all made sense and share that with me. But it definitely made things a little harder. When I first got the episode, I was like, “Great. Everyone's speaking Spanish. We’re elevated twelve feet in the air at all times, and there's this huge cage that I don't know how we're going to build, but let's do it.”Can you talk about a bit about filming that scene with the cage? It does seems like that was probably pretty complicated.
Yeah, that was definitely the piece that I was the most anxious about, because it was so complicated. It was, logistically, technically a really big set piece. We had to build that cage; we had to build it so that it also had the ability to safely swing and go up and down. We had to be able to have an actor in there and for them to be able to move around in it, that we could also have our stunt walkers at the base of it be able to safely be there. We had to dig a hole in the ground so that his blue legs could actually be below the cage, but then the fake ones, like the prosthetics, would hang out. Then, also, I wanted to make the cage feel like its own terrifying character, and that it had that massive scope and that, as the audience, you're kind of in it with them, and you're feeling the levels. That's why we then needed a separate crane, a camera on a crane, to get a lot of those shots. We spent three days working with that cage, so it was a really big set piece, and a complicated one. But also, then, how cool and how fun [it was]. It's not every day you get to kind of play with that, especially as a first time director, and I had a lot of incredible support from literally every department to make that possible. Our special effects guys, our stunt guys, the camera team, everyone was just so encouraging and helpful to make it it's best.