EXCLUSIVE: Into the Storm with Alycia and Jeremy
By: Lynn Barker
Kidzworld is with young actors Jeremy Sumpter (from the movie Soul Surfer and a lot of TV work) and Alycia Debnam-Carey (soon to star in “Galyntine” on TV and winner of the Heath Ledger acting scholarship in Australia) to find out just how real their scary scenes in the weather disaster film Into the Storm were.
Alycia plays high schooler Kaitlyn who is busy shooting an environmental documentary when the storm strikes. She ends up with a guy who has a crush on her in a water-logged pit in an isolated location. Jeremy plays Jacob, a budding cameraman who is talked into joining a storm chaser team by his best bud and bites off way more than he can chew.
Let’s check in with Alycia first.
Kidzworld: What was it like filming in that hole filling with water for hours? Were you freezing or claustrophobic? Any injuries?
- Alycia: It was definitely a first time experience to be in such an incredible set because they built the whole set in a studio and put us in a pit of water and covered up the lid so that was quite extreme but luckily neither Max (Deacon who plays Donnie) nor I was claustrophobic. But, once they started filling it up with water, it’s a little hard not getting a little bit claustrophobic. At least they have to keep the water at a certain temperature to make sure you don’t get hypothermia and we had wet suits on. It was over a five day night shoot so 6 P.M. to 6 A.M. in that pit.
Kidzworld: Yikes! You are kind of new to Hollywood. What has been your favorite thing to discover here and what do you dislike most?
- Alycia: When I first came out it was certainly different. I think the thing I disliked the most was learning how to drive. I didn’t know how to drive in Sydney. In L.A. you can’t really get around without a car. I feel like if you can drive in L.A. you can drive anywhere.
Kidzworld: Have you ever been in any kind of big storm in your native Australia?
- Alycia: Not really. Sydney has a temperate climate. It’s more the wildlife that will kill you. We’ve got every kind of dangerous snake you can imagine but no tornadoes.
Kidzworld: Did you meet with any of the other young actors to get to know them before shooting or did you just arrive in Michigan and they threw you in a pit?
- Alycia: (laughs) Funnily enough I had done some chemistry reads with the boys auditioning to play Donnie so I’d done that with Nathan Kress and Jeremy Sumpter. Both of them were auditioning for Donnie. They were told “You aren’t quite right for this role but we’d love to have you play different roles” so that was great. But we all got to Detroit and had a few weeks of prep before shooting to get our relationships down.
Kidzworld: Did you or any of the guys have any time to play a prank or joke around?
- Alicia: I think nobody knew how real the on set effects were going to be. We got on set and they said “We’re just going to spray you with water for about twelve hours”. Really? But the next few weeks we’d be absolutely drenched so I’d say it was Steve (Quale) the director playing a prank on the cast.
Kidzworld: Your character is an environmentalist. Do you do anything to protect mother earth and her creatures? Are you into any conservation or animal charities?
- Alycia: Not as yet but I want to be a part of that. The environment is an important thing for us to look after. It’s the world we live on and deserves all the respect we can give it. It’s an issue that’s becoming much more important. I do my bit recycling and taking public transport when I can but I want to be more involved.
Kidzworld: What band or music artist are you really into right now?
- Alycia: I’m a huge fan of retro stuff. I’m particularly a fan of “Steely Dan”. Not sure a lot of teens are into that but, at the moment, Ed Sheeran’s new album has definitely been on repeat. I think he’s such a brilliant singer/songwriter.
Kidzworld: We’re asking everyone: If you were faced with a huge tornado coming at you, would you shelter in place, run away or hurry toward it?
- Alycia: After this, I’d say I’d be running! I’ve seen enough. I’m gonna run over here for a while. There’s a morbid curiosity surrounding those disasters. I know, as a kid, I was fascinated by natural disasters and tornadoes; one of mother nature’s beautiful, destructive forces but they’re dangerous. They are a very real threat for a lot of people.
Kidzworld: I hear that part of your audition for the role was to ad lib saying goodbye to your family or a loved one? What did you think of while doing that?
- Alycia: It was an improv scene saying goodbye to someone you loved based on a scene in the film. It was an incredibly intimidating scene especially in a sterile casting situation where it’s just you and a camera. For me personally, I had previously watched (the documentary) Phone Calls From 911. It’s incredibly awful but it was the closest I could come to even imagining what that situation would be like. I wanted to try and do that justice. For some people it has been a reality. You should be true to the situation. There was a rawness in that scene.
Kidzworld: Do you have a favorite disaster movie?
- Alycia: Twister for me is so good. When I first saw it, that was the real deal. It was a new age then for cinema. It was the first time they’d really done that type of special effects. It’s been nearly 20 years so it was nice to do something similar. My eight-year-old spirit was very happy.
Kidzworld: What is next for you? What is “Galyntine”, a TV movie? Who do you play?
- Alycia: It’s an AMC pilot that I just finished shooting in Utah. The cast and crew are phenomenal. A lot of them had been on “Walking Dead” and “Breaking Bad” which I was a huge fan of. I play the young heroine of the group. She’s free-spirited but smart and calculated and about to make big waves and changes in a community.
Kidzworld: Why will teens especially enjoy seeing Into the Storm?
- Alycia: I think the special effects are second to none; very realistic. What’s so great about this film is, while there is that element to it, there is an element of consequence. You see all these huge special effects films and it seems like there is no consequence to them but with this, you see the way it interacts with and affects the town and the way these people have to band together and form relationships and experience it together. That’s a lovely human characteristic of this film.
Jeremy is joining us.
Kidzworld: Hey, Jeremy. Did you ride with any real storm chasers or talk with them as research?
- Jeremy: I would have loved to but no. I grew up in Kentucky so I love tornadoes. I was a huge weather fan. I loved the movie Twister too. I had a tornado tear through my school when I was in the first grade. It was scary but for me, I loved it. I’m the kind of guy who would run toward a tornado and do what those guys do but my character Jacob is the opposite. He’s scared. He’s not a storm chaser. His buddy Daryl is. He’s is need of an extra cameraman and calls Jacob, “Come chasin’ tornadoes and make some money”. I’m thinking we’re going to be shooting tornadoes from far away. Little did I know that we’re going to be cozying up to these things and trying to get in them. He gets more than he bargained for.
Kidzworld: The movie looks frighteningly real but can tornadoes really pick up huge airliners from the ground and toss them around?
- Jeremy: What happens in this movie can happen. It’s a two and a half mile tornado with wind speeds of over 300 mph and that’s happened. A Boeing 747 only needs 140 mph to take off sooo, it can be picked up and tossed around.
Kidzworld: Scary! Was that storm chaser vehicle the “Titus” as cool as it looks or just a prop?
- Jeremy: It drives. It’s a working vehicle. They built it out of a Dodge Ram. They stripped it all out and built this stuff. I rode in it every day. It was awesome. It’s what you see in the movie but it had its moments. It was a bit of a diva. Sometimes she’d just lash out at us and not work but when she did, it was awesome.
Kidzworld: Did you learn any new skills to make the movie or while making the movie? Maybe camera operating skills?
- Jeremy: Well, I shoot short films on the side when I’m not working so I knew how to use a camera. The camera I use in the film is kind of the same type of camera I’ve used before. A lot of the stuff I shot is in the film. We did a lot of the shooting ourselves. We were shooting real stuff and the camera guys would go in and reshoot some of it afterwards but they did use our stuff.
Kidzworld: Talk about the wire work you did. You fly way up in the air. I mean when you were much younger you were on wires for the movie Peter Pan, right?
- Jeremy: Yeah, I was. It was an awesome scene. I had my big action hero moment. A big explosion goes off behind me, I fall down and I’m getting dragged and pulled up into the air. It was bad**s! It was a lot of fun.
Kidzworld: Any injuries on that?
- Jeremy: Well, when I was being dragged, I was trying to grab things and my thumb kind of twisted backwards. But, it’s fine. I’m an adventurous, kind of sporty guy so it was okay.
Kidzworld: Was that the most challenging scene for you or something else?
- Jeremy: A lot of scenes were challenging for us. We had a lot of them where we are running around in 140 mph winds from these big wind machines, and rain and flying debris and fires going off and, in the midst of that, we had to keep our eyes (on mark) for 4 or 5 tornadoes moving around all the time so it was hard to determine exactly where they were. We had to be on point and do the scene but still keep in mind where each of them was going to be. It was difficult to process all that at once.
Kidzworld: If you are really into weather then maybe a big storm isn’t your biggest nightmare. What would be?
- Jeremy: That would be flying. I’m afraid of that. It does send my nerves off. I stress out a bit when we take off. My stupid mind acts up. I’m never flying Malaysia Airlines.
Kidzworld: Did you get to meet and get to know any of the other actors before shooting or did they just throw you into a scene when you got there?
- Jeremy: Well, Arlen Escarpata (plays friend Daryl in the movie) and I knew each other. We play for the Hollywood Knights baseball team. Actually Max Deacon who is stuck in the drain with Alycia and I just worked together for months on the Isle of Man on a film called Take Down so we got close on that and we got to work together again but I didn’t know anyone else before.
Kidzworld: Any fun in or around Detroit off set?
- Jeremy: Oh, I played golf every day. That was great.
Kidzworld: Did you know Sarah Wayne Callies (who plays Allison, a scientist/meteorologist) from watching “The Walking Dead” on TV?
- Jeremy: Oh yeah. I love “Walking Dead”. I’ve watched every episode. I loved working with her. A lot of my scenes are with her. She’s a great person and we all got close and were having fun on set. What a cool chick to get to act with.
Kidzworld: What music artist or band has really impressed you lately?
Kidzworld: What type or genre of film have you not been in that you would love to?
- Jeremy: A Western but I have one coming up called The Unbroken. I’ve been doing rodeo riding for years now. I’m a cowboy at heart.
Kidzworld: Why do you think teens might especially enjoy seeing “Into the Storm”?
- Jeremy: I think they’re gonna love it because it’s a big blockbuster and fun to watch. It’s a thrill ride and roller coaster with the great sound effects and the story is great, the characters, everybody’s gonna love them. You leave the movie and it’s like you say “Wow, that movie was sick!”
Into The Storm is in theaters August 8th!