Interview with Sara Wiseman
Tell us about your character.
Annabelle is a Liberator, one of the people on the outside. Her brother is on the inside. Her brother is basically all she has got. Her parents are no longer around and you find out in her past that she's had not a great upbringing. She has taken on the responsibility of her brother and they are intensely close. A big thing that the writers were really interested in was is it that sends people into cults, what is it they are lacking in the real world that they feel that they need to find it in another community, which brings up in my flashback what sends Andy in there. Annabelle is pretty flawed although she seems very together with her hugely successful career as a doctor. Quite complex and out for her own agenda.
So what research did you go before filming?
My first bit of research was into the Jonestown documentary.
That just blew my hair back completely. How sad it is for all the
people on the outside not having any understanding of what's going
on, being ostracized by the people on the inside.
I found the scripts very ambitious, we don't normally do this sort of stuff in this country so there was a bit of in trepidation about "are we going to pull this off, is Joe Public going to take it?" But we had a cast and crew screening of episodes one and two and it really works, and I'm really excited about it.
I am the worst critic for New Zealand stuff, although I watch all of it, I found it really refreshing, looks amazing, the storylines are really strong.
Did you have any concerns about how the show was going to be perceived?
The concepts have never really been approached before in New Zealand drama. There is that concern of is it believable, can it really be happening here. The writers and producers have taken that into account. It's very much a New Zealand story with a big huge international concept.
Was there any concern about whether the New Zealand public will accept the storyline and concept?
I think this will break that apart thanks to the way that it's been filmed, the way that the storylines and the characters go. That was my major concern as well but this has blown it out of the water.
I guess compared to Shortie and Outrageous Fortune, which are very character driven storylines, this is very plot driven storyline. There are very developed characters; it is very much about why the characters get here.
The style they are shooting, the style of the red cameras they are using is fantastic. The director of photography Simon (Riera) has made it look unlike anything I have seen. It's very filmic.
What have been the challenges?
The elements have been pretty challenging. Where we shoot we have to drive out, the weather and environment has been bitterly cold. A challenge also is a lack of time, we are shooting so fast.