Protecting and upholding the values you firmly believe in is a powerful fight worth taking on, no matter what circumstances you face in the battle. That compelling courage is the intriguing driving force for the characters, cast and crew in actress Teri Reeves‘ new action film, ‘Black Site Delta.’ The performer fearlessly portrays the lone female protagonist in the drama, and stunningly showcases the need for more confident women lead roles in the action genre. Reeves notably wasn’t afraid to approach performing her own stunts in the movie, which smartly highlights the daring take-charge attitude her character takes on while she fights for her freedom.
XLrator Media has released ‘Black Site Delta‘ in select theaters today, and will also distribute the drama on VOD and iTunes this Tuesday, May 9. The action movie was helmed by first-time feature film director, Jesse Gustafson, and written by Guy Stevenson.
‘Black Site Delta’ follows a despondent war vet, Jake (Cam Gigandet), who mysteriously wakes up to find himself in a secret maximum security military prison after he was involved in a violent bar altercation. After meeting several other prisoners, including Vasquez (Reeves), Jake realizes that they’re being kept in a black site prison for special cases. The group also discovers that the prison is serving as a cover for a secret drone control operation.
While the general public has no knowledge of the prison’s existence, terrorists have become aware of the drone command center, which is hidden within the building. The terrorist group has plans to take out a major U.S. city, unless Jake, Vasquez and their fellow inmates manage to take control of the situation.
Reeves generously took the time recently to talk about starring in ‘Black Site Delta’ during an exclusive phone interview. Among other things, the actress discussed how she was drawn to play Vasquez in the movie, as she previously worked with Gustafson while they attended theater school together, and she has always enjoyed his work. The performer also expressed her appreciation for being offered the chance to play a strong female action hero, as she feels that there’s a lack of powerful women who are included in the genre on screen.
“The first thing that interested me in the project was the director, Jesse,” Reeves revealed when she began talking about why she drawn to portray Vasquez in the action drama. “We went to theater school together, and he said, ‘I’m directing my first feature film, and I think there’s a part for you.’ I have always wanted to work with him, so he sent me the script.”
The screenplay “was right up my alley, as it’s my favorite kind of movie. It’s an action suspense film, and I love that sort of thing. So I was drawn to the project right away,” the actress further explained.
“I also like that the character I play is the only woman among this group of guys. There’s a lack of females that are portrayed on screen. So this film offered me the opportunity to cut my teeth on this strong female role. So I was really happy to be a part of this film,” Reeves also divulged.
“I think it’s important for audiences to see women on screen in roles that are strong,” the performer further elaborated as she continued discussing the importance of including strong female character in action-driven movies. “That’s not to say that women are completely the same as men. But we can still stand up and fight for what we believe in, and what we’re passionate about. So I think having a woman do that amongst a group of men, and have (Vasquez) hold her own with these men, is a great example of what we’re capable of doing.”
Since ‘Black Site Delta’ is driven by Vasquez and her fellow inmates fighting the terrorist group that invades their prison, Reeves then detailed the process of creating the physicality, and performing the stunts, for the movie. “I have done roles like this one before, but this is my first full-length feature doing this type of work,” the actress revealed. Reeves added that she holds a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. “Fighting, or learning how to defend myself, is a passion of mine in my regular life. So I look for acting roles that allow me to use that skill.”
The performer also praised the members of the action film’s stunt team, particularly James Logan. “He pulled me aside and showed me how to do foot work and tosses, and it was exciting to learn all of that. So all of the stunts in the film are me,” Reeves proudly revealed.
“We also had Special Ops guys on the set with us, and they showed us how to operate guns. When you hold an M4 in your hands, you realize how important it is to take it seriously,” the actress divulged. “It’s important to hold it accurately, and know how to run with it. So it was fascinating to learn what those guys go through physically in real life. It was physically taxing for me, as well, because we would shoot for 12 hours per day. But that experience helped me use my whole body in my physicality.”
Following up on her earlier declaration of admiration for Gustafso’s work, Reeves then discussed what her experiences were like of working with a first-time feature film director. “Jesse has previously made short films, some of which have won awards. So I watched them, and immediately knew he was very talented at translating our theater background into the film world.
“When we worked together as undergrads in theater school, he directed me in a one-act show when I was 18. So I knew going into this movie that he knew how to talk to actors,” Reeves shared.
The actress also admitted that what surprised her “when we were preparing for the film together was that he called me and translated the dialogue into actor film speak, which was amazing. He’s able to speak to actors on the best visceral level, so all that’s going on inside of us is picked up by the camera. That was just so helpful.”
Gustafson “also knew the characters so well, and knew my character better than I did before we spoke. We talked about the story arc and the journey, and what she was thinking at any given moment, and he’s incredible in that way.” Reeves added that the director is “also a visual guy, and film is a visual medium. So when you look at what he shot, he filmed us actors in a way that shows us in the best light.”
The cast and crew often shot the action movie for 12-hour days, and many of the scenes were filmed overnight, Reeves also revealed. “That’s another talent that Jesse has-he kept the energy up, and stayed positive. Even when the cast and crew wanted to go to sleep, he was our biggest cheerleader.”
In addition to praising ‘Black Site Delta’s director, Reeves also expressed her admiration for her co-stars on the action movie, including Gigandet, Benjamin Charles Watson, Dion Mucciacito, Casey Hendershot and John Brodsky. “The rest of the guys, or the Big Six, as we called ourselves, are fantastic humans and actors. We were all thrown together-I think we all arrived the day before principal photography started. So we had one read-through of the script around a table the first time we all met. It felt like we were a team right away,” the actress revealed.
“All of these guys come from really heavy acting training, so they really know their craft…We were all able to immediately relax and trust each other, on and off screen. I became friends with all of them, and we still chat and hang out. It was a great gift working with these guys,” Reeves further noted about her relationship with her co-stars.
The actress then divulged that since most of the drama’s story is set in the black site military prison that the inmates are trying to escape from during the terrorist attack, the majority of the movie filmed shot at a real locations. “We actually shot in a real prison, and it’s always fun to be in real locations. But when we were at the real prison, there were some guys walking around in what looked like a costume to me. So I started chatting with them. Then one of the other actors pulled me aside and said, ‘Those are the real prisoners.’ I thought they were extras! But the prison was actually still an active facility, but the floor we were shooting on wasn’t being used,” Reeves revealed. She added that she enjoys the energy that goes along with shooting a film in a real place.
“There was another facility where we shot that handles emergencies, so it had all of this amazing equipment. It had this great basement that we got to go into. Being in real places, with all of their smells and lighting, offers you texture as an actor, and makes you feel as though you’re really in the world” of the story, the performer also added about the benefits of filming on location.
Reeves then began discussing the experience of shooting ‘Black Site Delta’ independently, and how that process influenced the creativity on the set. “I love shooting independent films. There’s a scrappiness that makes everyone band together. We all have to work together, because we don’t have a ton of money to make the movie. I love the energy that this type of experience requires from this type of group of creative people. But it does mean that you have longer days, and you’re cutting corners here and there,” the actress admitted. “You also have to solve problems that you wouldn’t have on a bigger set.
“But shooting independent films is exciting. There is more creative freedom on this type of project, as you only have to answer to yourself and the group of guys who got this film going in the first place. Everyone really cares about the project,” Reeves emphasized.
The performer also shared her views on ‘Black Site Delta’ playing in both select theaters and on VOD and iTunes. While she’s never appeared in a film that has had such a vital On Demand release before, she does see the value of having this type of indie having a simultaneous theatrical and VOD distribution. “How fun is it to see this type of movie on the big screen, and then take that energy and share it with your whole family? You can then share that excitement on social media. If people missed the premiere or a screening in a theater, they can watch the movie On Demand. I love that films like this one do have such an availability to audiences!” Reeves exclaimed.
The actress also expressed her appreciation for having the opportunity to star in theater productions and on television shows, in addition to appearing in films. “I’ve had such amazing experiences on television. My last role on ‘Once Upon a Time’ (as Dorothy Gale) was amazing-she was a warrior,” Reeves noted.
The actress also pointed out that “Television moves fast, so you don’t have time to second guess yourself. You also work with huge crews, and the whole experience is exciting. Everyone just jumps in and goes, which is one of the elements of television that’s fantastic.
“I’ve poured all of the building processes I’ve done for my theater and film characters into my television roles. But overall, television is more moment-to-moment acting, as…you don’t always have the opportunity to build an entire arc for your character,” Reeves explained. She pointed to the fact not all television shows have all of their scripts written once the actors begin shooting the season’s initial episodes. “But I love the diverse experiences of acting in all of the mediums, and feel lucky to be able to do all three.”