Taya Calder-Mason: Blind Faith

July 26, 2017
Australian performer, Taya Calder-Mason, talks about the harsh realities of filming Beast No More in the Australian bush, and how her blind character fits into the horror setting.

The upcoming indie movie, Beast No More, the first feature by Aaron Warwick after a series of shorts, follows Mary Jane (Jessica Tovey), a woman haunted by the loss of her child. Taya Calder-Mason plays Mary Jane’s blind sister, Beth, as she and her brother-in-law (Dan Ewing) head out to find Mary Jane. Instead they get caught up in the impending horrors and uncovering of the truth behind the local ‘Mothman’ legend.

Can you give us a bit of context to your character and how you fit in within the film?

Beth is the sister of Mary Jane (Tovey). They have always been close but due to Beth’s physical demands as a child, Mary Jane grew up very independent. After MJ suffers a horrendous loss she takes off into the bush to continue her study of moths (which is her job). Soon she becomes uncontactable and her husband, Jake (Ewing), decides to take action. Jake seems to think that if he brings Beth, MJ will be persuaded to come home. Once they track her down they start to realise they’re all in much greater danger than just bringing MJ home safe.

As a blind character in a horror movie, how does your character fit in, given that horror is typically about visual scares?

It’s funny you say that because, yes, horror is very visual but personally I think there is nothing more horrifying than not being able to see your surroundings in a life or death situation. Beth (my character) was born blind, because of that she’s very self-sufficient and doesn’t rely on people to help her in her day-to-day life. But when taken into a new environment it’s definitely challenging. The film has many elements that are visually confronting and she bases all of her actions off what her sister, Mary Jane (Jessica Tovey) and brother in-law, Jake (Dan Ewing) tell her and her own instincts.

What was your process of getting into character to play a blind person?

I watched films that incorporated blind characters and worked a lot on the physicality of being blind. I spent an entire day blind folded as my friend drove me to an unknown location to have lunch. Once you get over the whole ‘I can’t see/everything is dark’ phase you start to fall into this sixth sense. It was really interesting. I also worked in the offices at Vision Australia and spoke to people with different levels of blindness, watched how they got around and lived their lives.

The horror genre is ever growing and expanding, how does this film aim to stand out and stay unique?

It never ceases to amaze me how many people love to be thrilled. It never gets old. Beast No More’s script was unlike anything I’ve ever read. It’s set in outback Australian bush land, which is a place a lot of Australians and tourists go. So, on a realism level, it’s very creepy. The characters are very real, yet they are experiencing this strange phenomenon which is entangled with loss and heartbreak. The story definitely takes the audience into dark and strange places.

We read that the secret filming location was quite a grueling place, what was it really like?

Gruelling. Haha. It was a horror film in itself. I sound so Aussie when I say this but it’s 100% true, when you left the set at night you would have to crouch down as you walked to your car because there were GIANT spiders making nests above the walkway. It was freezing through our night shoots and we had limited electricity. But that’s the truth of indie filmmaking – it’s hard work but you make it work and everyone’s there for the same reason. We love what we do.

Beast No More is currently in post-production with a release date to be announced.

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