Interviews: Actor Andy Gates Talks About The Indie Horror Film The Blessed Ones

An isolated cult prepare for the prophesied apocalypse in Patrick O’Bell’s frightening The Blessed Ones, now available on Amazon Prime from Wild Eye Releasing. An isolated cult hiding in a desert enclave prepare for an prophesied apocalypse, led by a charismatic Jim Jones-like leader. As the end of the world allegedly approaches, he binds them all to a suicide pact, in hopes of transcending earth for a new life in paradise. Two dissenters flee through the vast desert wasteland on the eve of the ceremony, hunted by the cult’s enforcer – who will stop at nothing to insure that they keep their part of the bargain. 

We had the chance to speak with actor and producer Andy Gates, who played Spencer in the film. 

TMS: First off, can you provide us with a little bit of background information. Did you always want to act? 

AG: I was born on the east coast outside of Cleveland and moved around a lot to NY, PA and CA. I got into acting in high school – when presented with the outlet of a drama club I jumped. I think I always wanted to act - I was a big TV and movie head growing up, loved CHiPs and Star Wars and I especially loved horror movies, and being scared. I honestly wanted to be just like Corey Haim, that sounds really strange to say now, but it’s the truth man, I really looked up to that dude. My acting inspirations did mature over time. 

TMS: Did you have a lot of support when you decided to get into acting? 

AG: Yes my parents were both very supportive but they insisted I get a formal education, I went to Emerson College. In high school I studied at ACT’s Young Conservatory in San Francisco and my father routinely drove me the 100 miles to rehearsals and classes from our Sacramento home. That definitely got him into my Oscar speech. 

TMS: What’s up with The Blessed Ones? Where can people see it? And what do you want them to know about the movie? 

AG: It is streaming on Amazon Prime. It is the psychedelically tinged journey of an everyman that joins a cult that is set to commit mass suicide in a desert compound as the apocalypse is approaching (so they believe), it’s a thriller and a drama. I think David Lynch might like it…or at least appreciate what we were trying to do. 

TMS: What attracted you to the project? How did you end up being cast? Did you go through an audition process? 

AG: My partner at Lost Order Films, Patrick O’Bell, and I got the inspiration to explore this kind of a story through a documentary he showed me. I was excited by the idea of telling a story of cult escapees from the inside, but as a thriller. We had been trying to get this horror film LOST CANYON ROAD off the ground with our other producer Maureen “Mo” Whelan and we just didn’t have the financing at the time so we pivoted to this. I didn’t audition because I got in on the ground floor and helped develop the project. I guess that was my reward, ha ha 

TMS: How was the audition process? 

AG: We didn’t hold any auditions, we hired actor friends of ours and got referrals from them to meet new cast members who we didn’t know. 

TMS: What type of preparation and research did you undertake for this role? 

AG: All the LSD I took in college all those years ago prepared me. Honestly I watched a documentary on the Heaven’s Gate cult and others like it. The one ex cult member that I would’ve loved to have interviewed I didn’t meet until after we wrapped! 

TMS: How was the shoot? Was it tougher than other films that you've worked on? 

AG: It was grueling in the sense that it was a micro budget feature and you just don’t have the resources that you need – ever. As a co-producer as well as oneof the main characters it was par for the course to be ordering lunch and cutting checks and cramming lines for the next scene and telling a cast member where to park, it was never ending. 

TMS: I can't help but plug one of your other films, the hilarious Garden Party Massacre. It's not traditional horror, but it's one of my favorite microbudgeted horror films of 2017. Is that the most unique script/concept that you've come across? And, what was it like working on that film? 

AG: Oh I loved the concept and adore Gregory Blair the writer, director, actor (sensing a theme? Ha ha) That movie was a blast to work on, obviously the material was a little lighter, but nonetheless it was still a low budget indie and you have to bring your A Game because there’s always a shortage of time, so you work as fast as you can – and not to mention there were so many talented comedic actors that you’re sharing the screen with so I didn’t want to mess up. There was almost constant laughter on that set. 

TMS: Can you tell us anything about the other projects that you are working on or planning on working on? Or, anything else that you would like to plug? 

AG: Thank you. Patrick and I are shooting a slasher film called DEPARTER which will be finished early next year and we are starting soon on a dark comedy called INHERITANCE. Lost Order Films does not just stick to the horror genre, we just have a film making habit and we are trying to improve with each project. And if that wasn’t enough I am collaborating with three different writers on three other scripts, I like to juggle. It’s never boring!