INTERVIEW

Alicia plays the role of Chloe in HORIZON.

Alicia Ancel – Answer our questions!

Alicia has been acting since she was five years old. A colourful and sometimes alternative upbringing spanning the length and breadth of the British Isles, has provided her with a wealth of performance experience. After studying Primary Teaching at the University of the West of England, Alicia decided to focus on her acting as comprehensively as possible. With her coquettish charm and will to succeed in place, she soon found herself an agent and started to build up screen credits wherever possible, alongside a full-time job.

Alicia has been busy on a number of productions over the last three years, which include the feature films Dark Vision by Stray Spark Productions and One by Reel People Films. In 2013 she worked with Aardman Animations on Change4Life, where she was the face of the national TV campaign. She has also done corporate work for Dyson, The National Trust, Honda and Bristol Airport. Her television experience has included characters for Skins, Casualty, Trollied and Sherlock Holmes.

Alicia plays the character of Chloe in “Horizon”.

How did you get the part in the show?
The role of Chloe found me really. I met Simon Pearce (co-writer and actor on Horizon) for the first time whilst rehearsing for a film called Dark Vision. We then worked together again on a short film “Your Move”, which Simon produced. It was on this shoot that I met Paul Dudbridge, who was the director of photography. I believe that I met Simon and Paul at the most opportune time, as a couple of months later, Paul approached me about being part of the Horizon project; I loved the concept and the script and said ‘Yes’ immediately.

What were the highlights from the shooting of the show? Things you haven’t done before etc?
For me one of the highlights would have to be working on the Trollied supermarket set. We were so privileged to have such a comprehensive set, where lots of supporting artists were involved which added to the chaos of the filming process. We all had a lot of fun that day; firstly, walking the scene from outdoors to inside the supermarket; secondly hauling things off shelves; thirdly using crash mats and green-screens on an industrial scale. Timing and positioning were paramount to the success of these scenes, especially with all the VFX and the need to remain true to the pace of the episode.

Shooting Horizon was a wholly positive experience. It was a new concept and despite me having to tread completely new ground, I believe I have interpreted the director’s vision. I star in 6 out of 10 of the episodes, so it was akin to shooting a number of short films really, only with the same character each time. A bigger crew was used, which gave the series a professional structure; an established ‘chain-of-command’ was in place to ensure that the big decisions were taken quickly, which is critical when you’re working against long, cold days where good light is a premium! I learnt a great deal about the technical side of Horizon too. The crew were extremely accommodating and friendly, which allowed me to ask questions, to watch the process from outside of my scenes and to lend a hand whenever it was needed.

Regarding the craft of acting, what did you learn about or what might you do differently?
I have learnt how to be more assertive as an actor and to trust my instincts during my scenes. As an actor, I spend a lot of time reading through the script and ‘constructing’ this new character, whilst also exploring their interaction with other characters and objects; it’s at this point that I really begin to understand where the strengths and weaknesses of my characters lie.

When I am running a scene I am visualising my mood on a time line. I can go into a scene early and give it everything I’ve got, but is my emotion believable at this point? Have I left myself anywhere to go? Am I in harmony with the scene and its other characters? And more crucially, am I in control of my emotions? If I have given thought and attention to my actions in that scene, I then need to make sure that I am actively bridging the gaps in case anything is missing. This all needs to be done with an open-mind, as I never know what the other actors may feed me on set; I NEVER assume anything and I’m always flexible to whatever they may throw at me.

It’s the same with props and make-up; if a decision is being made to add or take something away, I feel it is my responsibility to make it work and/or find an alternative.

I also learnt how to fluctuate my emotions from episode to episode, especially useful when a lot of my footage was shot out of sequence. My aim was to develop Chloe’s character and to transmit her journey to the audience as truthfully as possible, against the backdrop of some complex on-screen relationships.

What was the hardest part of working on the show? Lots of lines, working with VFX, action stuff? The most challenging part of filming Horizon was doing the group scenes where visual effects were involved. To react to the same things and for it to be the same size and in a similar place for us all was really challenging, as we all had a different perspective on it. It was about creating that balance of the unknown and imagining how we would actually react in that given situation. This is especially challenging when you are filming a scene over a couple of days – and where you’re battling against short, cold winter days.

Finally, what would you do if the events of the show really happened?!
After filming Horizon I am well-rehearsed and don’t think I would panic as much as Chloe does. I’m a very curious person and it’s likely that I’d find a safe place to hide like a sniper and watch events unfold. But I know my Florence Nightingale side would soon get the better of me and I would be looking out for those in clear and present danger!

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