Channel Zero


Channel Zero: The Dream Door
[All images courtesy SYFY]

Producer, Writer, Director, Actor – Maria Sten makes her mark in every aspect of the creative life; from producing, directing, and writing short films (Wild Things Run Free and When It Burns) to acting on the big (Straight Outta Compton) and small (DC’s upcoming Swamp Thing) screen. Tonight, Sten joins CZ veteran Brandon Scott (CZ: Butcher’s Block), Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator), and Steven Weber (Wings) on the fourth season of Channel Zero’s Creepypasta-inspired trippiness, The Dream Door.

Below are some non-spoilery questions and answers on Maria’s thoughts about her character Jillian Hope Hodgson, working on genre projects, and how Channel Zero approaches filming each season. (Along with my goof in referring to Jillian as Hope!)

How much did you know about your character’s history at the beginning of the process? Did Nick and the writers/showrunners clue you in early on?
I had read the first episode when I auditioned and then I read the rest after I got the job so I was all the way in the know from the beginning. We were blockshooting (shooting all episodes at once and out of sequence) so it was quite necessary to know all of the material before we started shooting.

Hope is very interesting in the way she keeps things to herself, even though she and Tom have known each other most of their lives. How did you approach Hope’s trust issues with her husband? I assume you mean Jillian? Jillian definitely has trust issues that stem from her childhood and she struggles with the feeling that any man she allows herself to love is gonna screw her over somehow. I think anyone who’s ever been cheated on can relate to what it feels like to have that deep trust betrayed by someone you love. Tom is different in that he’s supposed to be her only ally, but there’s this notion of a woman’s intuition that comes to play a lot throughout the show. Jillian’s line to her therapist “Just because you love somebody doesn’t mean you really know them” very much encapsulates this issue of trust/distrust.

Channel Zero: The Dream Door - Season 2.5
On the plus side, Tom and Jillian a LOT more square footage now.

After Channel Zero, is the DC series “Swamp Thing“. How are  the superhero & horror genres different – or the same – as non-genre work? It’s different in the way that it’s a higher form of suspended disbelief. It’s not just every day human problems, it’s the supernatural heightened version of them so you have to really make your imagination do a lot of the work, which can be both challenging and fun. And of course, working with puppets, visual effects and special effects always spices things up a bit as well.

 What did you think about having the same director for the entire series? Did it help shape your character’s journey? Channel Zero – and this season in particular – is really an extended movie, and I think maybe that’s why the producers choose to shoot it accordingly (blockshooting). So I don’t think it would have been logistically possible to do with more than one director, but furthermore, I think it’s also helpful because not only do you develop a shorthand in the collaboration, but that director has been with you from the inception so can very much speak to the arc and growth of the character as much as the actor can.

Channel Zero: The Dream Door begins tonight (Oct. 26) on SYFY as part of their 10th annual “31 Days of Halloween”.

Maria Sten’s official website can be found here.

And has much more on Channel Zero: The Dream Door and the 31 Days of Halloween.