Haven’s Cast Talk About Lucas Bryant’s Directorial Debut “Enter Sandman”
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
Lucas Bryant has been the heart and soul of Nathan Wuornos for five seasons, and last year, he was given the opportunity to direct an episode of Haven before they wrapped up. That episode, “Enter Sandman,” which centers around an altverse where Audrey finds herself trapped in the world of the Sandman (Reign‘s Rossif Sutherland), airs Thursday night on Syfy. When I chatted exclusively with Bryant earlier this month, we talked about shooting it, and how special it was to do it with this cast and crew.
“It was incredibly important. It was something I was always working toward. In the course of this show I’d made my intentions known from the beginning and I’ve been shadowing directors and doing prep stuff as much as I could along the way,” he says. “[It] could not have been a cooler and more perfect situation than to have my baby so hugely supported by and doing it with my family, really, of 150 people who totally support me and would not let me fail, drown or otherwise implode.”
“Enter Sandman” was written by Shernold Edwards (who is now producing and writing on Sleepy Hollow ICYMI), and it wasn’t the episode intended for Bryant’s debut, but it was a perfect fit. “The way it worked out, it was the episode I got, but the episode was tailored for me, and that was the hugest gift. They wrote something specifically to try to play to my strengths as a director, they wrote an actor’s piece, a character piece that was smaller, that was more contained, that was about the relationships in it,” he explains. “It had less action and less technical aspects, less supernatural. They kept Nathan out of it largely, and in the part that he was in, he was contained in a single location. Some of the days I was only the director and I didn’t have to be Nathan as well, which was such a gift.”
“Shernold, for my money, wrote one of my favorite episodes of all. It was beautiful and had this really strong character and also a fantastical element to it that gave it a real possibility for something special visually as well. It was just the luckiest thing in the world that I got this episode specifically to direct. It wasn’t luck. They made this happen for me, and I am so grateful. They pulled all the right strings.”
Bryant says fulfilling this goal was enormously impactful to him. “I’ve been telling this story so it’s become a bit of a story now. Besides my marriage and the birth of my children, this was up there as an ultimate life experience,” he shares. “I spent three weeks just trying not to cry from pure joy and sheer terror. I felt like it could not have been a more incredible thing.”
“Eric Cayla, the [Director of Photography], was a great hand holder and mentor to me. Shawn Piller gave me this opportunity and this freedom. Stephanie Gorin and Ginny Jones-Duzak were so hugely supportive. It was the most amazing thing in the world. Even thinking about it now, it was just so overwhelmingly incredible. It had incredible characters in it. I lucked out with great guest cast [like] Rossif Sutherland.”
Bryant also admits that he somehow had a fairy tale experience, particularly with a scene featuring Emily Rose. “[If] I wrote the story of this whole experience, it would be the cheesiest story in the world. It would be so injected with vomitous platitudes, although they’re not. It was so right. It was so perfect,” he says.
“When we were scouting locations, it was starting to get freezing cold, and we had things that had be shot outside and [for plot reasons] Emily Rose couldn’t be in a winter coat, and I remember thinking, “So how are we going to do this shot? She’s going to freeze to death, probably, and then she’s not going to like being dead, and I’m going to get in a lot of trouble.”
“It was like some Disney thing. When I went out there [to shoot], it was chilly, and she was bundled up, I asked if we could we try [the scene] without [all the layers] and she said, ‘Sure, I’ll freeze and die for you,’ because she’s just that kind of friend. And I swear to God, when [we started rolling and unwrapped her] I could hear, in my head anyway, [angels singing as the sun] blasted out from behind these clouds.”
“All of a sudden, the earth’s temperature was raised 15 degrees, the wind died, we got the most stunning shot of her with this perfection behind her. And this was in otherwise freeing ass Nova Scotia. I just needed five minutes to be perfect, and in my mind they were perfect, and in reality, the big guy, everything, showed up for me. It was unreal. I really hope I will direct again. I know I will continue. I don’t know if I can equal that. It was a lot of hugely great stuff.”
When we chatted with Adam Copeland and Emily Rose on a press call last month, both weighed in on Bryant’s episode. “We wanted a grand slam. No doubt this thing was going to be awesome and top to bottom everyone put in, if there was extra effort to put in, everyone did,” says Copeland.
“[Lucas] and I had dinner the week before and he said, ‘OK listen, I’m going to need you to block shoot this,’ which means basically there’s 6 or 8 scenes throughout the episode, but they take place in one room.”
“He said, ‘Can you just flip them all the way through your side, then we’ll turn around and get the other person’s side?’ So what it meant was 22-minute takes. And I said, ‘Yes. Got it. No problem.’ As long as I got the heads up and it’s from [Lucas, I] wanted just to be able to crush it for him. So that was pretty amazing and an amazing memory and something that I will always take with me no matter what I do.”
Rose says having Bryant direct her was one of her favorite creative actor moments on the show. “It was [wonderful] to watch something that your friend has wanted to do for so long and then to watch him succeed epically at it. [It] was really, really, really fun,” she says. “It’s kind of a very heightened surreal episode that isn’t necessarily based so much on reality. So it was really, really cool to watch everything that he had to prep and to be involved in that for him to act in it.”
“And then to be able to take directions from somebody that you have such a great vocabulary with and then be able to work so well with and watch the whole crew come behind him and support him. And then also have some of the most killer shots we had the whole season, done on his episode. [It] was just really a neat experience.”
Copeland also had a hand in choosing the song at the end of the episode. “Adam recommended the Josh Garrels song and then we all got so [excited] about it that we just kept begging for that to get cleared and we were able to contact him,” recalls Rose. [Lucas] was so excited to make that happen to the end of the episode. So it just felt very collaborative and almost like those senior days at school when it’s like the last day of school but you get to go [anyway].”
Copeland had a personal connection to the song. “I was really into [it] because my Father’s Day video had been done with his music as a present. So I really got into him and I listened to this one song, ‘Ulysses,’ constantly,” he says. “I just said, ‘Yes this feels like, if it’s not the end of the series it needs to be the end of this episode,’ and [Lucas] agreed. And then we all started listening to it constantly. Keep an ear out for it in that episode because it’s such a beautiful song.”
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