Mary Madaline Roe, nicknamed “M&M” by fellow cast and crew members, is a 12-year-old local who recently found her passion for acting.
“I feel like it’s a part of me and by now I can’t really imagine a life without being able to act,” Mary Madaline said. “The turning point was really after I did my second job, I just realized that I love to do it and it’s something that I want to pursue.”
Mary Madaline plays Jessica Daniels, the film’s main character, alongside Seattle resident Eden Campbell, playing Cheddar and Morgan Chandler of Kingston, Washington as Sam. The trio are the film’s main characters who must combat a demonic entity that haunts their 1979 small town after Jessica unwittingly releases it from a possessed tape player.
“The footage looks amazing, I can’t wait to see it all put together,” Eden said.
Morgan added, “Most of the time I’m in front of the camera, but every time I get to sneak a peek, it just looks so incredible.”
The trio said they’ve had some difficulty getting in their roles as children living nearly four decades in the past, particularly with the vintage bikes they ride throughout the film, which have coaster brakes and exceedingly wide handlebars. But they’ve all adjusted well and Mary Madaline said she enjoys immersing herself in her character.
“It’s pretty exciting because I just get to transform into somebody who’s different, but in other ways I just feel like Jessica is me,” Mary Madaline said. “I’m traveling so many decades back so I have to adjust to the time era and what was popular back then, but I feel pretty comfortable adjusting to Jessica.”
The trio have grown close during production and have managed to balance school and their growing acting careers.
Aside from Eden, who has previously acted in a feature-length film and in an episode of “Z Nation,” this is the young stars’ biggest project. The same goes for director Sylas Dall, who has only worked on short films in the past.
Dall originally came up with the story for “They Reach” and worked with co-writer Bry Troyer to polish the project’s screenplay. Dall also directed and starred in a short film of the same title, which served as a concept short and won 3rd Scariest Film at the Bleedingham Horror Film Festival in October 2016.
The short originally starred adults, but Dall said he had wanted to focus the story on kids to create an atmosphere similar to “The Goonies,” “Poltergeist” and “E.T.”
“I wrote a really rough, rough, rough, rough script for ‘They Reach,’” Dall said with a laugh. “When I made the short I didn’t have talented (child) actors and I had to do it by myself with my friends.”
While “They Reach” is a horror film and features occasional blood and violence, Dall said he wants the film to be a more substantial story as opposed to the slasher films that use gore for shock value.
“My mom was a big horror fan, (but) not slashers,” he said. “Older movies that have more story behind it than blood and guts. She always said (those) are the better ones because it actually scares you. It’s a story. It’s not just pointless violence and mayhem.”
Dall added that the film will be sprinkled with scares and some blood but it’ll focus much more on the trio’s adventure and how they solve the mystery.
“They Reach” was partially funded by a crowd-sourcing campaign on Indiegogo.com, a website that allows independent artists and entrepreneurs to fund their projects through online donations. Dall’s campaign raised $14,680, or 147 percent of his original goal, as of Nov. 19, 2017.
The crew originally planned to release the film in October, but because of scheduling issues, they now plan to have the first film screening in early 2019 before sending it off to various film festivals. The film will also be available digitally, but Dall and Troyer have hopes to connect with a distributor for a wider release.
“There are all kinds of routes that we could take,” Troyer said. “(Hopefully) some huge distributor comes along who isn’t a misogynist jerk and shows it to the world in theaters.”
As for Mary Madaline , she expects this project to be her first step toward many more projects to come.
“I don’t really have a vision of what I would want to work on next, but I’m not aiming to become famous or anything. I just want to do what I love and it’s acting,” Mary Madaline said.