It turns out a global pandemic that has, among so many other things, shut down most of the entertainment industry isn’t enough to slow down actress Brooke Butler.
In addition to teaching herself to play the guitar and piano, writing screenplays, modeling, and working with her acting coach, the Woodinville-born performer just recently wrapped production on the horror thriller "Lantern’s Lane."
It’s one of few productions that have been completed since the outbreak hit the U.S. in March, which fostered a unique filming experience, Butler said, but not necessarily in a bad way.
“It actually brought our cast together because we knew we had to protect each other,” she said. “… getting our brains tickled every other day, it really bonded us.”
Butler said the trust gained through that bonding helped bring to life the on-screen relationships between the cast members, who played a group of longtime friends returning to their small hometown.
As first on the call sheet, she additionally felt a particular responsibility to set a good example when it came to creating a safe environment during filming, Butler said.
She succeeded in doing so, according to the film’s producer Lydia Cedrone, in addition to being a positive role model as a professional.
“She brought a great energy and focus to her role and on set,” Cedrone said. “She was an amazing collaborator … it’s what you hope for with the actors you cast.”
Butler’s audition, along with other cast members’, and crew hire interviews were all completed via self-tape or video chat, Cedrone said. The crew was also kept smaller than normal to minimize exposure, she said.
Shooting for the film had originally been planned to take place in May in Los Angeles, according to Cedrone. When the outbreak hit, the production was shifted to take place in Northern California during July and August.
“We had to do so much differently,” she said. “We put together a really comprehensive and strict safety protocol.”
Crew members had to wear masks on set while maintaining social distancing, and temperature checks were preformed twice a day, she said. COVID-19 testing was done three times a week.
Butler's experience growing up in a small town also helped inform her performance, she said.
“Woodinville gave me such a foundation when preparing for the role,” she said.
However, the town featured in the film is pointedly different from Woodinville, as it is the site of an “evil urban legend,” according to the movie’s IMDb description, and the characters must “fight to survive the night.”
Butler was the first choice to play the main character, Cedrone said, in part because of her outstanding self-taped audition and her long list of previous credits.
Most notably, the actress played a young Darlene in season two of the critically acclaimed Netflix series "Ozark." Despite the show’s success and popularity, as well as its star-studded cast, Butler said she never felt intimidated on set.
“For me, I know that’s where I belong,” she said. “It’s just finally an opportunity to get to show that.”
She started acting at the age of 5 and eventually went on the study it at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. She’s appeared on shows such as FOX’s "The Resident," TNT’s "Animal Kingdom" and BET’s "Mary Jane." Butler also appeared in the Netflix horror comedy movie "All Cheerleaders Die."
“There was never anything else for me,” Butler said of acting. “It was my number one interest. At a very young age, I just knew it was what I wanted to do.”