SKSM: Could you start with telling me a little bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Rebecca Callender: My name is Rebecca Callender and I am an actor and filmmaker from Toronto, Ontario.
SKSM: When did you know you wanted to become an actress?
Rebecca Callender: When I was younger I would love to watch the blooper reels at the end of movies like Liar, Liar or There’s Something About Mary. I would find it hilarious seeing these actors break character and laugh, then struggle to keep a straight face, especially if you could also hear crew members off camera laugh as well. It just seemed like so much fun and I remember thinking when I was little: if that’s a job then I want to do that!
SKSM: How did you become involved in Mute Dollar Baby film?
Rebecca Callender: Kyle Dunbar approached me about doing a Dollar Baby, something I knew he had an interest in doing for a while. I remember when we sat down to look at all the Dollar Babies that were available, Mute was the first one we started with. We looked through all the selections to find a story that was both sinister and practical to shoot due to pandemic restrictions. Finally after looking through all the stories, we came back to our very first selection, Mute!
SKSM: You have many titles in the film. Could you talk about your work as a producer and editor?
Rebecca Callender: Producing and editing the film was such a rewarding experience because I got to absorb the story and the characters through multiple scopes. I have a lot of fun finding as many pieces as I can to make the sets or characters look and feel as real possible. I know as an actor how much it helps when you feel the set is almost performing with you. Editing was really cool because once we would film a scene, the next one wouldn’t be for another month, in that time we would be editing the scene we just shot. So each time we would finish shooting, it was like we found all these missing puzzle pieces and it would be so exciting and satisfying to finally place them.
SKSM: What do you think it is about the story that attracts people so much?
Rebecca Callender: I think there is something about the word “hitchhiker” that sparks a lot of curiosity. The act of picking up a hitchhiker creates such a specific and rare opportunity for anything to happen: good company, friendship, silence, love, death. And that’s what I like about this story- whether you are reading Mute or watching it, you are constantly wondering what exactly happens with this hitchhiker for this man to end up in a Priest’s home trying to confess.
SKSM: Did you have to audition for the part or was it written directly for you?
Rebecca Callender: I did not have to audition for the role of Kelsie Ann because we knew that her appearance in the film was going to be through the form of a photograph. Once we casted the role of Barbara, we felt there was enough of a visual resemblance for me to pass as her daughter.
SKSM: You worked with Kyle Dunbar on this film, how was that?
Rebecca Callender: Always a pleasure working with Kyle Dunbar. What I love most about working with him is his openness to collaborate, which I feel is so important when making a film. You can really tell that Kyle is doing this because he truly loves telling stories, and I think he has the most fun when telling it with other people. You can really sense the passion and respect that Kyle has for Stephen King and his stories. He would read other King stories and constantly come back and have ideas for Easter eggs to put in Mute (which we did). Making a film with Kyle is the experience it should be: fun.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when they made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Rebecca Callender: There were many great moments throughout the making of this film. One of my favourite days in particular was actually the very first thing we did which was the Barbara and Cowboy Bob polaroids. The couple we casted were so great to work with. They already had that wild and playful chemistry that Barb and Cowboy Bob have so we had a really fun time with their scenes.
SKSM: Do you still have any contact with the crew/cast from that time? If so with who?
Rebecca Callender: I do keep in contact with many of them, some I’m going forward with shooting something very soon. Many of the cast and crew I had worked with in the past, like the actor who plays the Mute, Alexandre Stoupenkov, he and I were in a short film together in 2019. But it was also great to work with people for the first time, like our sound recordist, Dave Murray- he is one of the people I will be working with again very soon!
SKSM: What are you working on nowadays?
Rebecca Callender: I am currently working on some feature screenplays as well as writing more shorts of my own. Kyle Dunbar and I have a few future projects we are wanting to make. I continue to work as an actor but the editing experience I had from this film makes me want to grab as many opportunities as I can as an editor going forward. It is definitely a helpful perspective to have an as actor as well.
SKSM: Are you a fan of Stephen King’s work?
Rebecca Callender: Yes I am! He really knows how to get the reader to understand the thought process behind his characters and why they do what they do! In fact it is one of the hardest things about adapting a Stephen King story, there are some things that are best understood through thought and a thought can sometimes be very hard to turn into a visual. Pet Sematary is one of my favourites, along with It, Cujo, and Christine and if given the opportunity to do another Dollar Baby I would love to try L.T.’s Theory of Pets.
SKSM: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Rebecca Callender: I am really good at Minesweeper!
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to the fans that read this interview?
Rebecca Callender: Thanks, fellow fans! I appreciate your time and I hope it is well spent watching Mute.
SKSM: Do you like to add anything else?
Rebecca Callender: Thank you Óscar for your time and questions. It is a pleasure to be a part of the archives!