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Actor Tanner Beard on how ‘We Summon the Darkness’

Coronavirus may be causing trouble in the film industry, but actor Tanner Beard isn’t letting that stop him from having a successful 2020. After another great job with the Mammoth Film Festival, which he helped found and still acts as president for, his latest project We Summon the Darkness is getting a VOD/digital release.

Leading the film alongside Alexandra Daddario and Johnny Knoxville, Beard is Sheriff Dembrowski, the man in charge of solving the bloody murder spree as the bodies pile up. Of course, this is far from Beard’s first role in horror, as he’s also appeared in From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, Hidden in the Woods, and Barracuda, among others. 

While not getting to watch We Summon the Darkness on the big screen is a disappointment, it’s still worth adding to your watch list in your quarantine binge. In celebration of the film’s release, we talked with Beard about his acting journey and his inspirations. 

Tell us about your history in acting. How did you start your journey?

Starting out, I got to work on a feature film that rolled through my hometown. Where it was shot is such a small community, I was lucky enough to get to work on it by simply volunteering to drive some cast and crew around as I had just gotten my newly earned drivers license! Can still see Grand Champion on streaming networks today, ha. 

But Snyder was a great place to grow up, close family there and fortunate for me I was able to get an early film school with that motion picture that came through, so that’s when I really started looking at film as a career. 

Who are your current influences?

I have so many current influences but right now, Christan Bale just seems to be untouchable in everything he does. Daniel Day Lewis has always been the best but pound for pound Mr. Bale is. . . you can just watch him in anything and he makes so many movies a year.

Are you involved in any acting communities?

An acting community I’m involved in right now is the Mammoth Media Institute which puts on amazing panel discussions and even acting workshops through the Mammoth Film Summit – It’s new but an amazing group of fellow filmmakers.

What was the one movie you saw that made you want to go into acting?

The movie I saw that made me want to be an actor was Willow, or at least really early on I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up, I just knew I wanted to be “Madmartigan”, which was Val Kilmer’s character in the film. I was pretty young. It was later I saw Val Kilmer in Tombstone as Doc Holliday that had me hook, line and sinker – this is what I wanted to do. So, thanks, Val!

How was working on We Summon The Darkness? What did you learn from the experience?

Working on We Summon The Darkness was like a really quick summer camp. So many of the cast was close to the same age and we shot in a really small town so we got to spend a lot of time together. I think I learned that making movies is the same wherever you go if you have a group of people at the helm that truly loves it. 

Tell us about your career before you found acting.

I grew up in a small town in Texas called Snyder. Home of the White Buffalo. Close family there, so a lot of good Holidays. Played a lot of sports growing up there and showed a lot of interest in golf for a long while before about 16 or 17 when I started making some home camera movies in the backyard and around town, mostly school related or for little contests, but it lead me to do more film-related study along with theatrical performance and competitions. It was a great place to find motivation. 

Where did the concept come from for the way you played your role in We Summon The Darkness?

I play a small town police deputy, called out to a seemingly harmless disturbance and this film is set in the late 80s, so I just researched a lot of pictures from the times in many small midwest towns and just tried to play him as real as possible coming from a small town myself. I actually think I was also playing elements of some school principles I had. 

What music inspires you to create?

All music inspires me, it really does. . . but I do like Movie Soundtracks when I’m sitting down with a new blank slate of creativity.

What tips do you have for new actors?

For all those new to acting, find and hang out with other actors, especially ones that are better than you! Ha, it’s the best way to learn and always be in the mindset of doing it.

What part of acting do you geek out about the most?

The part of acting I think I geek out about the most is when you really do find that scene or line or even a simple moment or thought inside of you that you know came across as so genuine that you just completely get lost a for a small moment in time you truly are the person that you’re playing. You’ve literally become someone else and that’s kind of a rare, cool thing, I think. 

If you could only watch one movie for the rest of your life, what would it be?

If I could only watch one movie for the rest of my life, I’d have to say Tombstone.

What’s your next project?

My next project I’m currently shooting is a movie I just started in Utah, playing a war veteran with PTSD. We’re halfway through production now, so very excited to start talking about this movie but it’s called Sentinel directed by Shaun Hart.

Have you worked with mentors in the past? How would you recommend people go about finding them?

I have worked with mentors in the past, Suzanne Weinert was shooting a film and had a small comedic part and called and asked me to come to do it and I thought that was really awesome and a great example for finding that community of people you like to work with because sometimes that’s means they wanna work with you too. And the best way to find these kinds of people is just jumping in and doing something for them, with them or being a fly on the wall until you earn your place but persistence. 

What has been your biggest failure?

My current biggest failure is actually as a documentary filmmaker, I’ve been producing this music driven doc on a legendary hip hop group and unlike acting where you can almost be excited about the unknown, with this production I learned the hard way there is a LOT more that goes into the process and execution of having all your logistics together, so I’ve spend 5 years now on this same project that is already shot because wrangling all the writers and musicians to sign off on the project is incredibly difficult to do in an indie film manner. But it’s been a good “live and learn” lesson.

What’s your mission as an actor? Name the most important thing you want viewers to experience when watching your projects.

I think my mission as an actor is just to have an audience not see “Tanner Beard” as this person but to see a person they don’t know, and then be able to be engulfed by the story in seeing how this person reacts to the situation they’re in. Viewers experiencing the honesty of what they just saw would be the most important thing, then you know you did your job well. 

What has been your biggest success?

I think my biggest success as an actor right now has been From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series. Growing up in Texas, getting to shoot that there and working under the Robert Rodriguez umbrella in a recreation of something he and Tarantino did was a really cool project for me personally. And of course, We Summon The Darkness

Can we expect to see any episodic television from you anytime soon?

I don’t currently have an episodic television on the docket at the moment, just been doing movies, for the time being, I’d love to though!

What’s your five-year plan?

My five-year plan for sure consists of building up Mammoth Film Festival – we’re a new film festival that is making waves and changing the pattern a little bit but also to still be creating content with Silver Sail Entertainment and hopefully still being able to just work as an actor at least once or twice a year. And maybe some golf in between jobs. But if I could do that throughout each year, this is a 50-year plan. 

What indie filmmakers should be on our radar?

I think Shaun Hart, writer, and the director is doing some really great stuff, Jarod Einsohn has got some awesome stuff coming up. Jordan Foley is producing amazing content, and Russell Cummings is one of the most talented actors I’ve seen, who’s not on TV for some reason. Paul Khoury is always doing awesome work with the camera.

What indie actors should be on our radar?

Russell Cummings, that’s all I’ll say. Dude is awesome. Check him out.

What’s your favorite film of all time, and what did you learn from it?

My favorite film of all time is Tombstone but really I think No Country For Old Men should be the answer and what I learned from that film is how important good storytelling is. The Coen Brothers absolutely made a perfect film there. If you notice this movie is so good, they don’t even use any music in this film, a little ominous tone at the first and that’s it. Incredible.

Who would compose the soundtrack of your life?

John Williams, come on.

Tell us about working with Alexandra Daddario (we love her)?

Who doesn’t love Alexandra Daddario?! Working with her was great, the majority of my scenes were with her and I think I really appreciated how committed she was to her role, this is truly her movie and during downtime, I like to stay really busy with running lines or for instance I play a cop so I’d just sit in my cop car drinking coffee and I loved that her being a pretty big actress she was always, always down to rehearse and talk about how to make each and every scene better. 

You don’t always get that with some people and I’m a big product of rehearsal so it was cool she was down for that.

We’re big fans of the Mammoth Film Festival here, can you tell us about the 2020 edition and what we can expect from 2021?

Thanks so much, MammothFF 2020 was a landmark year for us, we are really becoming known as a world premiere destination for films, episodic and short form stories, we had some epic projects this year to which a few sold on the spot, so that is something we are really proud of. Proud to be California’s Favorite Winter Film Festival – And for 2021, just head to FilmFreeway.com as submissions are currently open!

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