If making films is the closest thing we can experience in this life to wielding real magic, then Castille Landon is a powerful wizard. The young writer/director/actress may only be in her mid twenties, but she’s already worked with some of the most iconic talent in the business.
Her second film, “Apple of My Eye,” which, coincidentally, was released before her first film, is a poignant story about a young girl who loses her sight through an accident, but finds hope in a remarkable relationship with a miniature horse. The cast of this critically acclaimed feature includes herself, Lindsay Lamb [Read Lindsay’s interview HERE.], Amy Smart (“The Butterfly Effect”), AJ Michalka (“The Lovely Bones”), and Burt Reynolds (“Smokey and the Bandit”).
Today, Tuesday, April 4, Castille’s first film, “Albion: The Enchanted Stallion,” will be released on VOD and Pay-Per-View. The story follows a twelve-year-old girl who is transported by a magical black stallion to the mystical world of Albion where she finds that she alone is the key to saving an entire race of people. The cast of this film includes Castille, Daniel Sharman (“Teen Wolf”), John Cleese (“Monty Python”), Jennifer Morrison (“Once Upon a Time”), and Debra Messing (“Will & Grace”).
“In terms of approaching talent, my producers are amazing. They’re pretty fearless,” Castille told Entertaining Options. “That is incredible to me because I’m pretty introverted. I guess that’s why directors have producers because producers are generally extroverted, they are the kind of people who can just pick up the phone and make a call. That’s really what it comes down to. But it also comes down to the individual project itself. The thing that I’m learning is the worst that can happen is they’ll say, ‘No.’ So, if you want someone, why not try? If you don’t try, you’ll definitely get a ‘No.'”
However, the secret of making a great movie, to creating that magic, resides in what you do after you assemble your team. How do you get people to feel comfortable so the chemistry can reveal itself in wondrous ways? How do you get a group of individuals to feel like a family on set?
“It doesn’t just happen, you have to cultivate that,” Castille revealed. “Choosing the people you want to work with is a huge part of that. The people you surround yourself with should be the people who are the best at their job. But more than that, they should be the best at doing their job in a friendly and non-stressful way.”
“As a producer or a director, you do the best you can and you kind of cross your fingers because it’s hard when all these different personalities come together,” actress Lindsay Lamb pointed out. “You can have chemistry reads and table reads and a million different auditions, but at the end of the day, you’re never really sure how everybody is going to mesh once you’re all on set.”
“You need to set the tone from the beginning,” Castille asserted. “‘We are going to start the day with a smile and I am going to get you out of here an hour early.'”
“Also, you need to be humble and stress that from the beginning instead of making it some egotistical thing,” Landon added. “I think there’s a tendency with people who aren’t necessarily experienced in a certain field to overcompensate because they are intimidated by other people’s experiences. My mother was a young female business person and she raised me to see that you should hire people who are more experienced than you are because they will raise you up. When you are in a leadership position, they aren’t going to take over the reins, they are just going to make you look better. That’s not a fear I’ve ever had. I can understand why it might be intimidating for some people, but it’s just not how I was raised.”
When asked about what it was like working with a film icon like Burt Reynolds on Castille’s “Apple of My Eye,” Lindsay Lamb replied. “I was on the producing team for that film as well as acting, so I got to work with him in a couple different realms. I also had the chance to chat with him a bunch because I was always on set. He’s just amazing, obviously. He’s so wonderful and he’s 80 years old! It’s crazy to think that because he took pictures with absolutely everybody, signed every autograph and he was so sweet and humble and so ridiculously talented and so charming. I was watching a few scenes from the film the other day and I was thinking, he is just so perfect.”
“They’re just great,” Burt expressed with regard to his experience of working with Lindsay and Castille. “They assembled a team that ran well and they had worked together before. It’s often been said that the film crew on set is like a family and that was truly evident on this project. I have worked with horses before but there was always some sort of a ‘shoot ’em up’ thing going on and this was definitely a change of pace. It was well written and directed by Cas. She is a sweet upcoming star and has a very bright future wherever she wants to go: writing, directing or acting. I hope to work with both again.”
“I think a lot of people get it in their heads that you can’t show weakness,”Castille noted. “You have to be the rock — and you do to some extent. But part of that is being authentic and asking for help and saying, ‘Look guys, you’re far more experienced here and I need your help.’ I think people appreciate that instead of this twenty-five-year-old girl coming in and saying, ‘I know you’ve done this for 20 years, but I don’t need your help, I want you to do it this way.’ That wouldn’t go over very well.”
Castille is a young woman in a male-dominated industry. Despite the recent accolades Hollywood has been receiving for actively seeking to obtain diversity in all aspects of filmmaking, not much has actually changed yet.
“I am so glad to hear you acknowledging that. It’s still very much a male-dominated profession,” Castille responded. “We’re being told that ‘Wonder Woman’ is being directed by a woman and there’s all this diversity and we kind of believe that that is the case. But the reality is, in terms of the people behind the camera, women are underrepresented. And it’s getting worse. Geena Davis is doing a lot with her Institute on Gender in the Media. She has taken a look at the top 250 films and the numbers are actually going down. It’s a real issue when the public is under the impression that things are getting better when they’re not.”
“Men and women have their strengths and there’s definitely room for both — I am in no way asking or even suggesting that it be one way or the other. But we do need a balance. This is not to say that women aren’t, but I think that men are great at doing films that are big, explosive events. Women are better at getting into the intricacies of humanity. We need both of those stories, without either side something is missing. As women, we make up over half the population of the planet, so it would be pretty great to have stories about women’s experiences that are actually told from woman’s point of view as opposed to what a man thinks it is.”
Castille Landon has a remarkable way about her that allows you to feel comfortable. There is a safety in opening up and exploring a variety of topics that are mere tangents to her incredible work. In closing, Entertaining Options wanted to bring the focus back to the movie being released today, “Albion: The Enchanted Stallion.”
“That film was a huge learning process,” she recalled. “As we went along, it became this bigger thing than it was initially intended to be. It started out as this sort of road picture with a girl who gets lost in a foreign world and an older warrior princess who takes her along on this journey with a horse. And it just turned into this big thing. Originally, the cast was only supposed to be five people, but it exploded and I think it’s much better for that. I was jumping into the deep end of the pool, which was awesome. I had an entire graduate course, or even a PhD course, in that experience alone.”
“We didn’t shoot on green screens, we shot in Bulgaria. The beautiful scenery is not CGI, it’s something that we actually got to go out and see. We were dressed up in costumes and it felt like we were these people in this foreign world. At least that’s how it felt for me. I’ve seen fantasies, especially on TV, where you can tell that the actor is aware that they are acting as opposed to really being in that world. Unless it’s a satire like ‘Monty Python,’ then it’s too self-conscious for me and I can’t get into it. I want to see something where the actors are perhaps a little delusional and they are really believing that they are in this other world. That’s what makes great acting and that’s what makes a fantasy world believable.”
On a side note, Castille commented, “I think that’s why there is so much show-mance that goes on in acting. How often do costars fall for each other? I think that’s probably because you have to get into this character and you have to be in love with this other person, so you convince yourself that you really are in love. Then, when the camera is shut off, you’re still kind of in love.”
Final question: What is the secret to Castille’s success?
“You should always be grateful and show your gratitude.”