A few days ago, I posted a review of a new film, Against the Wild 2: Survive the Serengeti. I really enjoyed the film and, so will you. I also had the pleasure of interviewing the producer/director Richard Boddington which you can read here. I wanted to ask the two young stars of the film what they loved best about doing this film. Join me after the jump with my interview of John Paul Ruttan.
Gilbert: Hello John. I have to say that you are a very talented young man and you also have an impressive IMDb. I saw that you were on the “Murdock Mysteries.” Are you still working on that series?
John Paul Ruttan: Yes, I still work there on some episodes.
Gilbert: You were also in the 2014 Robocop remake and played the part of a young David Murphy. So do you consider yourself an old pro when it comes to acting?
John Paul Ruttan: We are both laughing… I don’t know. I’ll leave it up to you.
Gilbert: Before your part in Against the Wild 2, you did a film called Shelby. It was about a dog?
John Paul Ruttan: I was working with a dog and it was a lot of fun.
Gilbert: Were you excited to work with Richard Boddington in Africa for the Against the Wild 2 film?
John Paul Ruttan: Definitely. I know he did one before, Against the Wild and now that I heard he was doing a second one and that I was going to work with him, it was pretty amazing. I saw the first film and got pretty excited about all the animals that they got to work with in that film.
Gilbert: How long did you spend in Africa?
John Paul Ruttan: I spent about a month and a half.
Gilbert: What was it like working with African elephants?
John Paul Ruttan: It was the first time I had worked with elephants and it was a great experience. They were really cool and I actually got to work with several different elephants.
Gilbert: Were you afraid working with the lions and hyenas? Were those animals actually in the scene with you?
John Paul Ruttan: While I was on the set with Richard, he taught me a lot of techniques. He shoots a shot of the hyena, then does a shot of someone swinging the torch, but with us out of the shot. Richard then edited the film with us fighting the hyena, but I was swinging my torch at the lens.
Gilbert: What was the best part for you about filming in Africa?
John Paul Ruttan: I want to say the whole thing, but for a specific moment, I would have to say when we went to a place where all the elephants were. It’s called Elephant Adventures and we really got to interact with them. We had so much fun. It was one of the best days of shooting for me. You don’t get to do that in Toronto and I was excited to get that close to them after only seeing them inside a cage at a zoo.
Gilbert: Did you meet any of the people living in Africa? Did people from nearby villages or towns come to watch you film?
John Paul Ruttan: Our crew was all from South Africa and they were pretty open to talking about everything. They were very nice. One day we did go to Mandela‘s house. We did meet some kids there. The whole place was very nice.
Gilbert: Would you want to go back to Africa again?
John Paul Ruttan: Definitely, in a heartbeat.
Gilbert: Would you like to do another film with Richard?
John Paul Ruttan: Oh my God! That’s not even a question. I loved working for Richard.
Gilbert: Did you have fun working with your co-star, Ella Ballentine?
John Paul Ruttan: It was a lot of fun because I was working with someone my age and we’re doing the same stuff in school, so we connected over that. It was fun to have someone your age to talk to with all the adults on the set
Gilbert: What do you have going on now with films or television?
John Paul Ruttan: I have a few things coming up right now. I’ve done some auditions for something that I don’t know if I can talk about right now. I’ve gone into more depth with some roles.
Gilbert: Will we still see you on “Murdock Mysteries”?
John Paul Ruttan: I’ve been offered an episode or two on “Murdock Mysteries” and I have recurring episodes for “Saving Hope.” Basically, if they ever need me, they call me up.
Gilbert: I read somewhere that you learned martial arts and karate.
John Paul Ruttan: Yes, I did martial arts and mostly karate until the age of eight or nine and, I made it up from white belt to blue advance belt. I took some of those skills and used it in a movie called This Means War. I played the part of Joe and they didn’t need the stunt double and used me.
Gilbert: Thank you, John for the interview. I really enjoyed talking with you and I loved your performance in the film. And now… my interview with Ella Ballentine!
Gilbert: Hi Ella. I loved your performance in the Against the Wild 2: Serengeti film. You are young, but just like John, you have an impressive IMDb. But was this the first time that you were in Africa?
Ella Ballentine: Yes, it was definitely the first time, but it was fun. It was crazy
Gilbert: Did your parents travel with you?
Ella Ballentine: My mom came with me, but I wished that my whole family could have come with me.
Gilbert: Maybe the next time, they can. What did you do about school?
Ella Ballentine: We started filming the end of April and beginning of May so I still had school, but we had a tutor on set. I am pretty good at keeping up with my school work. I’m a straight “A” student. We also went to a bunch of museums. I had explained to my teachers that I was going to do my work, but also, being in Africa was such a big learning experience
Gilbert: You are absolutely correct. Your experience should be counted as school work. Did your teachers want a book report?
Ella Ballentine: A little bit.
Gilbert: Was this the first time that you worked with large animals?
Ella Ballentine: Yes, and it was fun and cool. When we got to Africa, we drove to where we would be staying, which was also the set. After we dropped off our bags, we went to see the elephants. That was the first thing that happened in Africa. That was absolutely mesmerizing and I really love animals and so this whole experience was heaven for me. As soon as we saw the elephants and the giraffes, I wanted to hug them.
Gilbert: I know you had close contact with the elephants, but what about the giraffes? Could you touch them?
Ella Ballentine: Yes, and because we were feeding them, we got a lot of giraffe drool on us. They were pretty close to us.
Gilbert: I was told there were always people watching over you, so I know you were safe.
Ella Ballentine: Yes, there was.
Gilbert: What was the hardest part of filming in Africa?
Ella Ballentine: I don’t think there was a hard part. I live in Canada and I’ve only been to America and Europe. But in Africa, I felt like I was on a different planet with all this different agriculture and, where we were filming was the African wilderness. You don’t get anything like that in Canada. It was weird and I had to adapt to that, but it was fun.
Gilbert: Did you enjoy interacting with the African people?
Ella Ballentine: Oh, yeah and everybody on the set was lovely. I would always ask them about Africa and what it was like to live there. We had African food on the set and there was this buttered chicken that was pretty tasty. The wardrobe ladies were very nice and let me hang out with them because there were so many men on the set.
Gilbert: Would you like to work for Richard Boddington again?
Ella Ballentine: Yes, I definitely would.
Gilbert: What are you working on now? Are you still on “Saving Hope”?
Ella Ballentine: No, I was on for that one episode, but I have some movies coming up like Milton’s Secret and There Are Monsters with Zoe Kazan and Scott Speedman. That film was really fun. I’m in Anne of Green Gables, a television movie which came out earlier this year and, is coming back on air.
Gilbert: I read that you like to sing and dance and were on the stage.
Ella Ballentine: I did. I was in “Les Miserables” as little Cosette at the Princess of Wales Theatre and I was in Numbers at the Fringe Festival and, I am majoring in Music Theatre in high school right now.
Gilbert: Thank you, Ella. It was a pleasure chatting with you. And I will certainly follow both you and your co-star, John Paul Ruttan. You are both amazingly talented young people.