On Friday, August 25, The Knockturnal was on the scene for a special screening of writer/director Justine Browning’s short film “Breach” at the beautiful Carragher’s Pub & Restaurant rooftop near Times Square.
The timing of the special screening was pertinent because the film focuses on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and that evening Hurricane Harvey was pummeling Houston, Texas.
Breach follows a man imprisoned before the ravages of Hurricane Katrina, who returns to the city and must face the lingering effects of the storm. August 23rd marked the 12th anniversary of the disaster. It features beautiful cinematography by Shar Adrias and a powerful performance by newcomer Nathan Wallace. The rest of the cast and crew are based in New Orleans including actors Gary Tucker and Lance E. Nichols.
Tell me a little bit about your character.
Nathan Wallace: Well, Liam’s kind of a complex guy because, you know, he’s obviously just getting out of prison … and he’s not wrongfully incarcerated. He did the things that ended up getting him locked up, but the reasons why he did them are a little more gray, and I think that, at his core, he’s a quality guy, but he’s had a lot of loss during his time in jail. So now he’s kind of trying to figure out … pick up the pieces of his life after having spent this long, formative stint in prison. He’s trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces and create a new life without his daughter, without the mother of his child, without his home. It’s a rough stint getting out … for anybody that’s first got out of prison, but I think for Liam … he’s kind of rediscovering his hometown and rediscovering a new life that, you know, he doesn’t know how to live yet.
And speak about collaborating with Justine and what you admired about her writing and the project.
Nathan Wallace: Well, Justine’s got a whole lot of energy, man. It’s really fun to come across folks that are passionate, invested, and I like to work with people, especially in short films at this level … There’s not a whole of money to be made, so it’s nice to work with people who give a sh*t. Justine gives a sh*t and so do I. If I agree to a project I want to see it through and work as hard as possible to get a quality piece of art out of it. I think Justine really wears her heart on her sleeve and will do whatever necessary to make her vision, or whatever that may be on the page, come to life. It sounds like a cliché, but it’s really not. It’s more rare than that, you know? She cares and that’s nice, and it shows.
Speak a little bit about going on location and how that was for you to just be in the real New Orleans, and shoot there, and have the environment inform your performance.
Nathan Wallace: So I had never been to New Orleans at all. I had done a ton of research, you know, documentaries, and then talking to folks, but I had never physically been to New Orleans. So I fly in Friday night, fly out Monday morning, and I’m kind of looking at my tickets … my itinerary, and I’m like, “How the f— are we gonna shoot this? How could I possibly do this really complex, beautiful city justice?” But it was kind of interesting because we were really running and gunning … that first day we probably had 10 locations, and I was walking around for probably three hours … I kind of got to see these wide swaths of the city, and as much as you can in such a small time frame, really tried to get a feel for it. Especially for the character, it was really jarring to see the neighborhood where Liam grew up and see it still in rough shape in a lot of parts. I mean, the people there are fantastic and they’re rebounding and really strong, but there are still pockets that are just like, how is this still looking the way it is after 12 years? So using that was a blessing, and then the culminating scene where we’re in the French Quarter, and it’s so lively, it’s so energetic … using the jazz music and kind of being like, “Okay, maybe I can turn a corner and I can move on. I can be alright.” It was almost like it was ready-made for that to use the surroundings in that regard. You know what I mean?
Lastly, can you tell us a little bit about yourself as an actor? Where are you from originally and how did you find acting?
Nathan Wallace: I’m from Dayton, Ohio. Now, I don’t know how familiar you are with Dayton. It is a mecca of invention. It’s a Midwestern city. The Wright Brothers are from there. We invented ice cube trays, the pop tab, so it’s a very manufacturing-heavy city, as a lot of Ohio is. So I didn’t come to acting until really late. I did everything else. I was a janitor, I was doing construction, I was doing all that jazz. I didn’t come to acting until I figured out that there is a middle ground between doing theater on the street and being a celebrity. I didn’t know there was a such thing as a short film, or independent film, or you could just pay your rent as an actor and then get to do cool projects and quality work. I didn’t know that ’til I was probably like, 25, so I’ve really only been at this for a few years. I’m a rookie on the scale of a lot of actors I’ve met out here, and I have a lot to learn and I’m very excited to do that. It’s nice to get opportunities like this one, and you know, I hope it’s not the last one. You never know.
So tell me about your vision as a cinematographer.
Shar Adrias: It was very dramatic and very real, so I just kind of wanted to capture the kind of atmosphere where there are no cameras. Where all you kind of see is the damage, that was the world at that time. So it was more just about capturing the fact that a lot isn’t fixed yet, and we just wanted to see all of that.
There’s a beautiful sunset moment, how did you find them?
Shar Adrias: Oh, my God, you’re talking about when he was by the levy wall, right? So Justine and I did lot of driving around. We just kind of went to the Ninth Ward and kept our eyes open, and then boom! There it was, it was so beautiful, and actually she had another house in mind, that ended up being boarded up, like we’d planned to do that, and then it wasn’t available. So we just walked around and there it was. I just feel like when you’re meant to get the shot it will come, it will happen, but it took a lot of exploring. So we were really lucky.
How was working with the lead actor?
Shar Adrias: Oh, he was wonderful. Nathan is the most natural human. I don’t want to say actor because you don’t feel him acting. He was so calm, and pliable, and whatever we needed he delivered it. He’s brilliant.
Anything else you would like to add?
Shar Adrias: I am really proud of Justine Browning for putting this together. This is something she’s been writing for a while, it’s her passion and she deserves to get her content out there ’cause she’s amazing. So we just had a really good time together.
During the event, guests enjoyed delicious NOLA-style cocktails.