A Filmmaker on the Rise Griffin Loch and Cast
Griffin Loch is a seventeen-year-old (fifteen during filming) Santa Clarita resident that has just released his third feature length film called A Spark at Nothing (ASIN). With this film, Griffin has created a narrative to speak to something people can use more of in their lives. “I struggled with finding one topic that intertwines from beginning to end until I realized something we can all use more of… and that was hope and love,” commented Griffin. Through the struggles of the main characters, William (played by Erik Mickelson), a reluctant guardian angel who neglects his human James (played by Benjamin Snow), has a chance to redeem himself as James is older. The audience sees the message of hope and love as James tries to merge two realties over the span of a year, while being torn between following his passion and finding love. The overall conflict in the movie is if he does not connect the two realities in the time frame, both will be lost forever.
After writing the script, Griffin received a lot of support from local businesses. “During production (which was fully permitted, supported, and encouraged by the SCV Film Office) I had a wonderful experience with the community itself opening its doors to myself and the production. I wanted to speak on behalf of the amazing support I received from Santa Clarita Valley International Schools, from insurance to locations, Eighth and Rail in Newhall, KHTS, and of course Laemmle Theaters, Newhall for premiering our film. These are just among the few that made this production possible,” Griffin added.
With support from several locations in the SCV, Griffin felt it was imperative to give opportunities to other young artist in the various parts of film production in the open-set Learner Program. “We hosted over 150 learners during production…learners worked alongside industry professionals that donated their time to make ASIN possible,” Griffin stated. He continued, “Hosting students was my way of trying to pass along the support and encouragement I received. From this experience, it became more and more important for me to continue to support the arts within the youth community.” Griffin even took up a summer job to pay for the winnings of the poster design contest which he selected two SCV students out of an international pool of contestants. “The outpouring of artwork was astounding so I even took a job landscaping with a pick and shovel digging back a hill to grant two cash prizes. Originally, awards would go to the top three, but in the end, we awarded the top ten,” Griffin stated.
Griffin is currently writing his next script in the redwoods of Humboldt County where his parents built a cabin in the woods. During the Fall, Griffin will return to the SCV film offices to start production on what will be his fourth feature-length film. Although Loch continues to work with his longtime cast members, some will be joining Griffin behind the camera on this next project. “This next film will be a departure for me, in the genre of supernatural thriller. I plan to use the medium to define my personal style of visual film- making…I will continue to tell the stories I was born to tell.” Commented Griffin.
Abby Stevens – “God”
Abby is a longtime friend of Griffin whose role in this movie as God has taken her to the next level in acting. “Preparing for this role took a lot of time and effort. I had to learn about eight different languages with a linguist. I studied each line multiple times and incorporated the languages into my lines as a whole. I also saw an acting coach and he helped so much with connecting to my character.”
Eric Mickelson – “William Barfield”
Eric plays the reluctant guardian angel whose bad boy persona pushes the boundaries of the common beliefs of angels. He met Griffin in a chance encounter and has really honed his skills as an actor by going out his comfort zone. “This was a challenge for me. My character had a specific southern accent. Let me be clear that I am not a trained actor by any means. I studied my lines. And practiced my accent. I recorded myself saying the lines and listened to it over and over on my long commute to my day job. The emotional part of my character came easy to me. I really connected with the character, so that part was more like living the role, opposed to acting the role.”
Sam Grossinger – “Freddy Bedrock”
Sam has worked with Griffin on all three of his films and his role is the goofy, fun-loving friend whose personality changes as the movie progresses. “It took a lot to prepare for this role. One major thing I had to get down was a transition between three personalities which was hard at first, but I had a lot of help from my acting coach and with practice I think I nailed it!”
Benjamin Snow – “James Ballaban”
Benjamin plays the main character James, whose life has not always been ideal, but in a twist of fate he is unknowingly sent into two separate realities that lead might lead to his dreams coming true. In this role, Benjamin had to learn and connect with James’s physical and mental space. “Well, for starters I had to learn how to play the violin… and through online videos, I covered some basics and even learned a song! But the preparation process for the role involved a lot of physical embodiment and the exploration of the character’s mentality. Griffin’s input was very important in the preparation since he had all the answers to my questions about James. I had to know all the unwritten, from childhood traumas and political stances to the relationship with James’s parents that we never see. All the details helped me build a three dimensional version of a character and allowed me to step in his shoes. See, this is my approach to each role I play. First, I build and embody the character, then no matter what the situation or line is thrown at me it will be the natural response of the character.
Blake Borders’ – “Wade Wellman”
Blake plays Wade, the loyal best friend that keeps pushing James to follow his dreams. He acts as a driving force, bringing opportunities to James. Preparing for this role, Blake found that with a better understanding of the character and his similarities, he was able to connect with him. “In preparing for my role, I did a lot of my own mannerisms. Wade Wellman and I have a lot in common already, so the transition was not very hard at all. I graduated at the age of fifteen, similar to how Wade graduated early. The switch in characters became rather natural after I while. He was almost an amplified character of myself.”
William English III – “Rick”
William is a new cast member whose character is the boyfriend of the love interest Lily. When we first meet his character, one might dislike him, but we quickly learn he is so much different than we initially believe. “After finishing reading the script on my own (since the production was well underway by the time I was cast), meeting with Griffin in- person helped a lot to solidly approach the character and what his place in the story served. In a surprising but welcomed “twist” from the standard take on ‘the boyfriend of a lead’s love interest’, Rick doesn’t become an obstacle in James’s journey in the way you might initially think. At the end of the day, Rick is a great guy who loves his partner dearly – which didn’t feel too far-fetched for me to grasp and portray.”
Arielle Gottesman – “Smokey”
Arielle is another long-time friend of Griffin and plays the role of the free-spirited traveler that James and his friends come across in the movie. “It was my first time being cast as a character like Smokey with such a strong flower child personality. It took some time for me to really understand the character; but I feel like I already had similar personality traits to Smokey, so it made playing her character a lot easier. Onset when we were about to film, being in costume and makeup definitely helped me transition into Smokey’s character.”
Brianna Ripkowski – “Lily Abner”
Brianna plays the love interest and one of the alternative realties that James must meet. She used out of the box thinking to really connect with her character. “Getting to know and building a character is quite a process, starting with just an overall familiarity of the story as a whole, and how Lily fit into it. I spent a lot of time daydreaming about the parts of her life that aren’t necessarily in the script, which was pretty fun given how spontaneous and full of life Lily is, and that brought a sense of reality and depth to her to hopefully serve the piece as a whole.”
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