I recently watched a short film "Sacrifice" by Leigh Smith that I enjoyed so much I watched it again. The film stars Jesse Everett and Leigh Smith, Anna Maguire and Ernest Afran. Read More.
My goal here is to write a review without giving too much away and getting you, the reader, interested enough to find out more. I was thrilled to be able to connect with Leigh and Jesse for an interview which I share further below.
Sacrifice is a love story. It's emotional and I cried at the end (actually I blubbed so much it was pitiful). You see, Sacrifice demonstrates the true essence of a loving relationship whether it is between a man and a woman, a woman and a woman and in this case, a man and a man. As they say, love is love, and I'll add to that 'warts and all'.
We start getting involved in the relationship of Blake and James as they are moving house. At this stage I'm not quite sure why they are moving. I know for sure, James is not happy with Blake and it seems that it's all Blake's fault.
It turns out Blake is in the military and that can mean moving house and long absences so this is why James is not happy!
As the story unfolded I was on both of their sides! I get it, relationships are hard work and yes, it means making sacrifices sometimes.
I could not help but relate to both characters, the sighs, the looks! I've been there, done that! It also showed me that no matter if the relationship is hetro, gay or anything in between; relationships need work, commitment and sacrifice! They really do!
Three minutes into the short film my heart melted at a scene where Blake proves his love for James. As the film unfolds and despite true love, a sacrifice has to be made and it's not too popular with James.
There is a scene soon after this where Blake is serenading James as he is working his laptop. James tries to ignore the romantic gesture saying "I have important work to do too", but he soon can't resist his lover.
OK so things in the Blake/James household are on the improve until Blake has to go away! This does not go well with James, and after some conflict the pair settle down before Blake leaves for a deployment overseas. James keeps himself occupied as he counts down the days until Blake returns home.
Before we know it Blake has been away for nearly nine months and is due home soon.
Sacrifice is about that all those who make sacrifices regardless of race, gender or religion being recognised. It's not just a story about the sacrifice of a loving couple but how many humans pay a high price because they put others before themselves.
I’ve watched Sacrifice and it brought tears to my eyes, it is very moving. What inspired you to write this film?
Thank you so much! That is the reaction we could have only hoped for. The inspiration for the film came from an idea that was sparked many years ago. I have always wanted to tell a story of LGTBTQ importance and most significantly to bring into the world characters that people could love. I think this has been achieved through the eyes of James and Blake and their love for each other.
I think that it is important that sacrifices in all form are recognised and I feel that this angle was one that was untouched and my research into military relationships and regulations pushed me to dive into this even deeper.
What is the take home message you want for the audience?
I want the audience understand the message that love is universal and that sacrifices made in its name come from all walks of life. I also wanted to show that in the past sacrifices made by human beings have been forgotten due to the perception of love at a particular point in time.
There is no limit to the aspect of sacrifice regardless of sexual orientation, gender, race and everything in between. No sacrifice should ever go unrecognized.
What exposure has the Sacrifice had to date?
Sacrifice has been tremendously received and is currently streaming on a titan of the streaming world – Amazon which we could not be prouder of. The film has also been recognized in the industry of the USA, Australia and the UK an continues to gain momentum on the film festival circuit.
The reviews and accolades of the industry have been exceptionally positive and is far greater than anything I could have expected.
How did you cast for the film?
In casting the film as with most stories of love chemistry was pivotal to ensure. Luckily for me I was able to unearth this between myself and lead actor Jesse Everett. Jesse and I have worked closely in business over the last 5 years and I am and will continue to be very grateful that he gave his time and talent to take on the role of Blake.
The director Anna Maguire then ensured through vigorous exercises and training that we were able to pull it off. It was in no way an easy decision to make but once we began working on the film it was evident that the chemistry required was there and was going to come across beautifully on screen.
What awards has it won?
Sacrifice has been lucky enough to win awards so far in the centre of the entertainment industry – Los Angeles. We picked up an award for best musical score which was created by the incredibly talented Richard Steighner. This even included an originally written and performed song “Our Lot” with lyrics by Anna Maguire.
In fact, the music is one topic of praise that always comes from viewers and it is easy to see why – it captures the love and loss of the characters exceptionally well.
We have also been finalists in LA for Best Drama Short and Best Actor Performance for myself so this was also a blessing. We were officially selected to be screened at the longest running short film event in Melbourne at West Side Shorts.
We are looking forward to hopefully many more accolades as the story continues to work its magic on audiences all over the world.
For sacrifice it will continue to be exposed and shown to the world and the sky is the limit! For myself as a performer I am looking forward to a feature film release this year TKG: Kids of Grove which is a thriller which has not been seen. I also look to continue my connections and work within the USA.
What inspired you to audition for this film?
My inspiration to audition for the film came from a couple of places, one was a personal place of experiencing love and loss like the film is built upon, and the other was from a creative place that just saw the film as an extremely exciting opportunity I had to be a part of.
What's a typical day like making a short film like this?
One word...intense. I think we broke records in the making of this film with how much we squeezed in to the shoot days! It was a credit to the entire cast and crew for the professionalism of their work during the making of this film, it was by far the best short film project I have ever been a part of and the results speak for themselves. Every single person believed in the message, vision and direction of the film and despite the intensity of the shoot days it was an absolute pleasure to be a part of, and I know I speak on behalf of everyone involved when I say that.
What did you do to channel Blake's love for James? Was this challenging?
I mean it's not hard to love Leigh (James), so no it wasn't challenging at all! Haha no despite the personal chemistry and connection between myself and Leigh as long time friends, Blake and James's love was definitely something that was worked at by us both in order to capture the true enormity of their love and commitment to one and other. In any role I approach, my first point of focus is to find the love in the relationship then build from there. Leigh and I spent a lot of rehearsal time strengthening and developing the connection between characters which just made the challenge of putting up on screen the grandest of loves that much more attainable. I credit Leigh for being one of the finest actors I have ever collaborated with and allowing me to unlock Blake's grand love for James.
What did you learn from playing this part, considering how emotional the story is? I learnt so much about myself and my craft playing Blake, it was an exceptionally rewarding challenge. The emotional extremity of the film was a huge attraction for me to begin with, as an actor you are always hoping to be a part of stories that move and affect people and Sacrifice was certainly that. I really took so many invaluable lessons away from the film both personally and professionally which I will take forward in my future work.
What's it like to see yourself acting as a totally different person on film? It's what dreams are made of haha. It's always surreal for me when I see projects I'm apart of up on screen, but it's what you work hard for. In my earlier (and less experienced) days, I used to critique myself harshly when I would watch myself back on screen, now though I just try enjoy the experience and celebrate those achievements and just hope people resonate with them.
What's the next project for you?
I've been fortunate enough to be busy so far this year, I just finished a big tourism campaign travelling around NSW capturing great content for a big tourism company, I've just filmed multiple TVC's set to air throughout the year, shot some great print campaigns for national brands and have been busy in the audition room putting my best foot forward for all projects that come my way. The industry is a wave but you've just got to ride it and take the opportunities that come your way, and don't sweat it if they pass you by, that's the key to longevity in the industry and that's where I'm at currently...enjoying the process!
REVIEW BY USA BASED FAN (Andrew R):
“Not since Stéphane Giusti’s 1997 “The Man I Love” have I been so profoundly moved. Sacrifice is superb, deeply touching, and universal in its message. The actors are magnificent in bringing this story of love, loss and sacrifice to life, which relates to people from all walks of life regardless of sexual orientation. Well done Leigh Smith, Jesse Everett and Anna Maguire”.