Keli Price in Sleep No More
Actor Keli Price (left) stars in director Phillip Guzman’s horror film, ‘Sleep No More.’

A seemingly beneficial experiment is actually leading a group of students to fight for their lives. That struggle for survival is the powerful driving force behind the new horror movie, ‘Sleep No More.’ RLJE Films is releasing the drama today on VOD, Digital and DVD.

Jason Murphy wrote ‘Sleep No More,’ which was directed by ‘Dead Awake’ helmer, Phillip Guzman. The movie stars Keli Price, Lukas Gage, Yasmine Aker, Brea Grant, Stephen Ellis and Christine Dwyer.

‘Sleep No More’ follows five graduate students as they conduct a study to prove the theory that once you’ve passed 200 hours without sleep, you will never need sleep again. As the hours tick by and their struggle to stay awake intensifies, they each start to have strange and unsettling experiences. Visions from the past, violent impulses and terrifying waking nightmares begin to take hold and turn this experiment into a desperate fight for survival.

Price generously took the time recently to talk about starring in ‘Sleep No More’ during an exclusive interview. Among other things, the actor discussed that he was drawn to star in the horror film because he not only enjoyed all the diverse story elements, but also the fact that he has a lot in common with his character of Joe. He also expressed his appreciation that he was able to easily bond with not only with Guzman as the director, but also his co-stars over the characters and story.

The conversation began with Price revealing that he was drawn to play Joe in ‘Sleep No More’ because he “loved the script. This script isn’t like the normal horror scripts I usually get; it had so many interesting elements to it, and I just gravitated towards it. It had the ’80s element, as well as early Spielberg elements. There were also references to ‘Flatliners,’ which I love…The script was really well written.”

While the screenplay was the first draw for the actor, the character of Joe also intrigued him. “There was so much I could do with this specific character. I saw a lot that I have in common with Joe. So it was both the script and the character, as well as my connection with the director, Phillip,” that attracted Price to ‘Sleep No More.’ “I had a lot of freedom (with the character). (Phillip and I) also got along from the get-go, which made the process really easy.”

Price followed up by explaining that he especially related to Joe in the sense the character “has a strong connection with his mom. That was a big part of why he wanted to do this (sleep) study-he wanted to help his mom. I also have a close relationship with my mom. So during my audition, one of the scenes that I did was me talking about my (character’s) mom, and how she was in the hospital, which really resonated with me, and the relationship I have with my mom. So that’s definitely one of the things that we have in common.”

The actor then delved into what the process of emotionally and mentally preparing to play a character like Joe was like, and the research he did to prepare to star in the drama. “I did a lot of research. While I was filming the movie, I was go over my lines every night in my hotel room for the next day’s scenes. There was so much scientific jargon that I wasn’t familiar with, but I had to know what each word meant. I also had to know what a person would be like without sleep for each specific amount of time, whether it was 48 hours, 64 hours or 100 hours. So I had to research each specific amount of time, and know how a person would be without sleep at each time frame,” he explained.

Besides doing research, Price was able to get into the mindset of his character because of his working relationship with Guzman. The actor then further expanded on what the experience of collaborating with the filmmaker was like on the new film. “My experience of working with Phillip was great! He was very detail-oriented, which was nice. We just vibed right away,” he shared.

“I think it was at the call-back that I met Phillip for the first time. I did the first scene, and he just walked up to me and gave me a high-five and hugged me. I’ll never forget that, because that’s a welcoming gesture for a director to do towards an actor, and it immediately took the edge off. Overall, I just felt very free to do what I needed to do to get into the role,” the actor explained. “On the set, I also felt a certain amount of freedom to do what I needed.

“But Phillip also has a vision of what the character should be, so we worked together on creating that. He did a great job in the editing room, as well,” Price added.

In addition to working with Guzman on ‘Sleep No More,’ the actor also cherished his experience of collaborating with his co-stars on the set, including Gage, Aker, Grant, Ellis and Dwyer. Although the cast “didn’t have any rehearsal time together prior to shooting the film, I met Brea, Stephen and Christine all at once, at the very beginning” of the production, Price revealed. “I met all three of them maybe the next day after I got to our location. Stephen and I had a lot of time together, so we’d always be be running lines. So that was like our rehearsal period. Brea, Christine and Yasmine were also involved in that a little bit.

“But I feel like Stephen and I were always together!,” the actor admitted with a laugh. “We would also play this baseball game on Xbox during our downtime. We had a lot of time to bond, which helped because our characters are best friends. So it was really good for us to have that time to cultivate a friendship. He’s now a very good friend of mine.”

Not only did having the time to bond with Ellis and the rest of their co-stars help in shaping the drama, but so did shooting it on location in Austin. “We shot the movie in July, so it was very hot in Texas! During a lot of my scenes, I was wearing a red sweatshirt, so I was always sweating,” Price shared with a laugh. “That was nice in a way, because it helped get everything out. But it was also tough, because the heat starts to fry you after awhile.

“Other than the heat, Texas was great, and I really liked Austin a lot. It was a really open place, and I wasn’t expecting that, because I’ve never been to Texas before. Austin was also super cool, and everyone was so open-minded. I had a great time there,” the actor admitted. “Almost everyone on the set who was working on the crew was a Texas native, and they were one of the coolest crews I’ve ever worked with,” he added. “Shooting in real locations in a city like Austin really helps me get in my roles a little bit more than if I film in a studio.”

The process of filming ‘Sleep No More’ independently and on location, outside of the bigger studio system, was one that Price cherished, as “There were less creative minds involved. It was up to us to do our thing, and Phillip was giving us guidance. We also had some guidance from the producers, but there weren’t many people involved…That’s one of the perks of doing an independent film. Since you often have a small cast and crew (on indie films), you really get to experience making something together, which is really cool. You can really create friendships that last a lifetime.”

With ‘Sleep No More’ being released on VOD, Digital and DVD today, the actor feels that it’s “great to be streaming, because that’s where I feel that the fans are going to watch it. I feel like a film like this one can grab both a younger and an older audience. It has the screams for the older audience, and a younger cast for the younger audience, which is who’s watching movies on streaming devices.”

Photo ofKeli Price
Keli Price
Job Title
Actor in director Phillip Guzman's horror film, 'Sleep No More'

By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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