Picture of Melissa courtesy of Timur Emek

Picture of Melissa courtesy of Timur Emek

Melissa Bolona is a young actress whose star is definitely on the rise. This month you can see her in The Neighbour, a taut thriller in which a young couple find out what happens when they dig too deep into their neighbour's business. Melissa plays Sarah, a young woman who proves to be a pivotal character in the film and I was lucky enough to grab 10 minutes with her to discuss her role and her experiences on set...

FB: How was your experience working on The Neighbour?

MB: It was one of my favourite films to work on, because it was a smaller cast of actors and we were really, really lucky to have a group of people who fit together so well. Being on set every day there was really seamless and efficient, everyone was there for the "greater good" of the movie. It was just overall such a good experience.

FB: Your character, Sarah, goes through quite an ordeal and seems a quite physical role …

MB: It was very hard for me and my biggest challenge as an actor so far, because I had to really get into character and keep up the hysteria and the sadness, and constantly being afraid, so it was a huge challenge to stay there. Especially when you're surrounded by such nice people who you really want to talk to! But it was a really rewarding experience, and thanks to Marcus Dunstan because he really helped me to stay (in character) and get the best work out of me. So yeah it ended up being a great experience as an actress.

FB: Lets talk about the videotape scene, where the kidnappers are making their ransom demand - how challenging was that to film?

MB: Well, I did have real handcuffs on me, tying me to the chair but they always had someone on set whose job it was to get me untied quickly. It was so funny though because there was one take where I had a rubber tube in my mouth as a gag, and during the first take of that I had a horrible gag reflex so during that take it must have looked very realistic because I was like choking - but not actually choking, it was my horrible gag reflex - and the whole crew were looking at each other going "do we step in?!" and I'm thinking to myself I hope they don't step in! Because it looked so good and so natural. So I think we got some good footage from that!

picture courtesy of Christopher Shintani

picture courtesy of Christopher Shintani


FB: Speaking to Marcus Dunstan last week and he was full of praise for your performance and seemed very impressed with your scene where you had to escape from a pair of handcuffs…

MB: Yeah there was a little movie magic involved there. The handcuffs weren't like super-tight, so I was making it look like more of a struggle than it actually was. But I was telling everyone on set that I was going to have so much trouble with the scene because that kind of stuff with the wrists and everything…just freaks me out! But, it came out really well.

FB: Were all of your scenes shot at night?

MB: Yes, most of the filming was night shoots.  It was a bit strange as I was going to bed about 8am, heading back to the hotel all covered in dirt and blood -the hotel staff must have wondered what on earth was going on but towards the end the must have had some idea!

FB: How do you keep the energy up on a long night shoot?

MB: Well eventually you get adjusted to it, and sometimes you feel so tired just before you go to work - but there's a lot of coffee involved!

Picture courtesy of Christopher Shintani

Picture courtesy of Christopher Shintani



FB: One of your co-stars really surprised me: Bill Engval, who plays Troy, I was surprised to learn that he's a well-known stand up comedian in the US…

MB: Bill was just a laugh a minute. He's the same person onstage as he is in real life and was just the best guy to be around. So it was a bit weird sometimes because he's this funny guy you want to crack jokes with but at the same time, in the film he's the enemy.

FB: What sort of background information were you given for the character of Sarah, to help you get into the role?

MB: Well, first I had a read through of the script then I met Marcus in Santa Monica and talked a lot about the characters. Sarah was kind of a commodity to Troy - we talked a lot about Troy and his motivations and how he's just trying to do right by his children and provide for them. He's not actually trying to hurt anyone, in his own mind but meanwhile in the real world the truth is that he's the bad guy.

FB: What projects are you working on now?

MB: Well, I'm currently shooting a horror film called Malicious, down in Mississippi near where we shot The Neighbour. My character is night and day compared to Sarah, I play the younger sister to a woman whose just had a miscarriage and I'm all spunky and sassy, loud and proud, you know? And I'm also shooting an action thriller called Category 5 - that's filming out in Prague and I'll be heading back out there in a couple of weeks.