Talent on Tap – Broken – A Tale of Murder and Mayhem

Have you ever done something so bad that you went to extreme lengths to cover it up to avoid getting caught? Neither have I (coughing), but there are others that have committed despicable crimes and have taken their cover-up… to another level. They’re paranoid and they’re desperate to avoid getting caught – so anything goes – take no prisoners. These stories never end well and crime doesn’t pay, so don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time. 


BROKEN is a film about an unavoidable incident that spirals out of control, like a train wreck that’s run out of track. There’s collateral damage and no one is safe, as long as there are witnesses still alive. 


This is an Opine Entertainment original story, created by director Patrick Phillips (Good People, Bad Things), but the screenplay was co-written by actor/producer/writer Laura Buckles and writer Keith Johnson. The lead is played by Griffin Cork (When Calls the Heart, Heartland) and supporting actors S-Raj Kumar – best friend (Abducted, John, 316), Karina Cox – the girlfriend (actor, singer, dancer and arts educator), Tina-Marie Springham – waitress Janice (Into the Night, Blue Hour), Laura Buckles – Police Chief Anna (Isolation Inn, Dead in the Head) and Neil Chase – Agent Thomas (Fish Food, Boneyard Racers).


I had the very unique and incredible opportunity to speak with Phillip, Tina-Marie and Laura in Zoom. Griffin Cork wanted to join us but was boarding a plane at the same time, so we corresponded with a Q & A and I’ve threaded his great answers into the mix. Roll the tape!



HNMAG “Thank you everyone for joining me. I enjoyed the film, it’s an interesting set of circumstances that takes place. Where am I reaching everyone today?”

PATRICK “Los Angeles.”

LAURA “North Hollywood.”

TINA-MARIE “Vancouver.”

GRIFFIN “Calgary.”


HNMAG “This is a great story. I know Patrick created the story before Laura Buckles and Keith Johnson co-wrote the screenplay. How did this story originally start, Patrick?”

PATRICK “It happened about 20 years ago when I saw this young handsome guy in a club by himself. It was unusual to see at that time and I was curious why a man, so well put together, would look so lonely. I started to add bits and pieces to his background story. The drug store scene came from a newspaper article I had read and I pieced the rest together to help fill in his backstory.”


HNMAG “At what form would the story have been in, before Laura Buckles and Keith Johnson began co-writing it together?”

PATRICK “It was a little rough and the first draft. Once it started flowing, the story was written in a week’s time before Laura and Keith came in and took over and developed the characters.”  


HNMAG “How did you and Laura connect on the project?”

PATRICK “I had run into Laura only a couple of years before making the film but I had known her before that. When I was in film school in Toronto, Laura was cast in my student film, that’s how we met.”

LAURA “I had moved to Toronto to study as a special effects make-up artist and as an actor. Once I graduated, I kept getting offered jobs in the make-up industry. I was also still acting when Patrick cast me in his thesis film. Shortly after, Patrick had lost one of his actors and I helped him with that. From there, a producer/producer relationship blossomed. When he had his vision on paper laid out enough, we then took it and ran with it. Keith Johnson is someone I knew from LA, who is a talented screenwriter and actor. You have to remember that this was a long process and it’s a completely different script now. We were looking to cast, so I approached Keith and the timing didn’t work out, but he really loved the script and felt that it spoke to him, so he offered to co-write it. This story, although specific, does seem to speak to a large swath of people.”


HNMAG “How did you get involved in this film Griffin?” 

GRIFFIN “I got involved in kind of an unconventional way! Patrick was originally planning to shoot a different film in Edmonton, I think it was a horror – that I had submitted for. They ended up having to move locations, but Patrick and Laura kept my portfolio. So, a few months later I received an email from him inquiring about the possibility of working together! He sent me the script, we met up for a coffee to chat and see if we liked each other, he asked if I would be willing to shave my head, and the rest is history.”


HNMAG “Now Tina-Marie, you play a waitress in Broken. I’m curious if you were writing anything down in your notepad in the restaurant scene?”

TINA-MARIE “… No (laughing). At least not in this one. Once I’m in character though, I stay in character – even if they’re filming a separate scene. It’s so important to maintain continuity every time, to help your directors and your editors, so that they can cut where they need to, otherwise it makes it really challenging. So yes, I always stay in character playing a waitress but I’m not always writing down green eggs n ham (laughing).”


HNMAG “Griffin, have you played a desperate killer before?”

GRIFFIN “This is definitely my first time playing a character with this much to lose. We just wrapped production on a feature film here in Calgary called Father of Nations, where I play one of the leaders in an uprising against a tyrannical ruling class. I think there is a certain desperation in that.”


HNMAG “This story says it takes place in Hope, BC, but I’ve been through there a few times.  Where was the location of the film shoot, Patrick?”

PATRICK “When I wrote it, I liked the idea of Hope for a name, as well as hope for the character, Brian. It was actually shot in Banff and the town of Canmore. The other location was shot in Edmonton.”

LAURA “It was quite interesting for me because I came in early and went through quite a lot of iterations as we were writing. What’s interesting is that the story could really take place anywhere. At one point, it was New York to the mid US, but originally it was going to start in a port city then go to Wyoming or from LA to middle America. We had all these pieces falling into place and the final iteration of it was telling us that we were shooting it in Canada. That’s when Patrick said he had a city in mind, we were going to call Hope. That’s when everything fell into place.”


HNMAG “When shooting on location, what would be the first step, going into production?”

LAURA “Normally, the way it would work is – once you know the area you want to shoot, you then hire a location manager or the director, producer and art department would travel there to scout out specific places that fit that universe the script has created. Luckily, Patrick knew the area quite intimately, which made the process faster and easier. The first step though, would be to have either a location manager or art director scout locations and send photos back, so you can piece together what that universe will look like.”


HNMAG “Apart from playing a waitress in BROKEN, have you played a waitress in other films?”

TINA-MARIE “Yes, I have played a truck stop waitress before in the Mojave Desert.  If the truth be told, I do have some experience waitressing (laughing), but mine wasn’t serving food, it was slinging beers. I have so much respect for anyone doing that, because it’s a tough job, there’s a lot of customer service and you have to put up with a lot. In terms of helping the acting though, when you have so many experiences with different people, these are all tools in your toolbelt, for future characters. In customer service, sometimes you have to act (laughing) in order to get through a situation.”


HNMAG “How did you prepare to play Brian, Griffin?” 

GRIFFIN “The first thing I always do when taking on a new character, is find some aspect of their life that we share. I know that sounds like kind of a cop-out answer, but it’s extremely necessary for the way I work. I’ve seen too many actors just full-on pretend, but I can’t operate like that. I find having common ground leads to a common ideal or value, and that really helps you ground your performance. It can be something bigger (like an important family relationship or a physical tick) or smaller (like a favourite color or a favourite food) – but there’s gotta be something. For Brian, it’s a little bit more grandiose. I think we’ve all been in a position where we have to make a decision that ends badly no matter which choice you make. You’re going to get hurt, or somebody you love is going to get hurt no matter how the cookie crumbles. I also think it’s easy to relate with the frustration of realizing it’s partly your own fault for putting yourself in that position. There are things you can control and things you can’t. Hopefully, the stakes aren’t as high as they were for Brian in Broken – but proportionally, that was my way in.”


HNMAG “Patrick, was it challenging to shoot this in the winter?”

PATRICK “No, not really. It was written for the winter and we had a lot of snow the week before we started shooting but then it all melted. The temperature was perfect but then it dropped to -30 to -35 in some of those shots. The crew was amazing and I was the weakest one, I was so frail (laughing) but they’re tough. Some of it was hard, we had 2 really challenging days.”


HNMAG “When you were shooting at the motel, would you have to rent out the entire hotel to capture your shots without interference?”

PATRICK “We rented out 2 rooms and they put us in a wing, where it was quieter. We had a neighbour that wasn’t initially cool with it but once we told him what we were doing, he was quite fine with it.”


HNMAG “Laura, when you were writing the screenplay, did you have any idea that you might be playing the police chief?”

LAURA “Not at all. When we were writing it, the chief was an older male. As we drew closer to shooting, in pre-production – Patrick casually says to me, that I’m going to be playing the police chief. I was caught off guard, but in this particular case, it worked out very well. I’ve since played more law enforcement but at that time, it was quite new to me. If I knew I was going to play the role as I was writing it, I think I would’ve been second guessing but because it was already on paper, I had to approach it as an actor and immerse myself into the character instead.”


HNMAG “Tina-Marie, how did you get involved in this film?”

TINA-MARIE “I was living in LA at the time and was familiar with the previous script. I’ve known Patrick for a very long time and that’s how I met Laura. I believe I may have helped out with some PA work and locations. Flash forward a number of years and Patrick informs me that he wanted to revise and resuscitate Broken. He said there was a part in it for me, if I wanted to audition. I read the script and loved it, so I jumped at the opportunity. Laura and Patrick liked what I did and the rest is history.”       


Tina-Marie told me an incredible story about living in LA for 10 years to break her way into the industry and then the recession hit. As hard and difficult as it was to leave LA, she returned to Vancouver, only to find work calling her back to LA, for work in 2 feature films within the first year or two of returning to Vancouver. She says that they were big roles and pivotal projects that have helped leapfrog her to other pivotal projects and says, “I’ve really been blessed.” The cream always rises to the top and Tina-Marie is a marvelous example of that.

HNMAG “In light of Halyna Hutchins horrible tragedy (RUST – prop gun fatality), does it change your approach to using a gun prop in a film?” 

GRIFFIN “Oh man, what a heartbreaking event. I can’t even imagine the heartbreak of Halyna Hutchins’ family and loved ones. No production is worth a loss of life. I’ve been very fortunate to work with some outstanding firearm experts on the sets where prop guns were present. It’s on you as the actor to take the weapon seriously, it’s on the firearm expert to ensure the weapon is properly empty or cold before handing it off to the actor, and it’s on the producers to do the work and confirm the experience level of both of those people. The producers and firearm personnel I’ve worked with have been consummate professionals, but clearly not everybody is. I really hope that a new standard is set by everybody for guns and other film props, so that we never have this happen again.” 


HNMAG “Is this the first feature film you’ve directed Patrick?”

PATRICK “It’s my second feature. My first one was Good People, Bad Things. To be honest, I really prefer producing. I also write and compose music but producing is my strength and what I want to continue doing. I’m only directing because it’s cost effective right now.”


HNMAG “What was the best part about being in this film Griffin?” 

GRIFFIN “I think the best thing about films like this is how close the cast gets. When you have a main cast of less than 6 people, you’re spending all your time together and it’s only natural for a little family unit to form. Laura and Patrick were very gracious in giving Karina, S-Raj and myself the opportunity to rehearse scenes before we went into principal photography. That’s not a luxury, film actors get very often! I also believe that in a film like this, a close relationship with your other cast mates delivers the best performance. When your character loses another character that another actor is playing, it hits a lot harder when you’ve grown to love and understand that actor as well. We were also very lucky that we got to shoot mostly chronologically, so when we lost a character, they were pretty much out for the rest of filming. You feel that!”


HNMAG “I know many directors have their own methods and style of directing. Can you tell me what your approach might look like?”

PATRICK “It starts with the characters. Whatever is on the page is going to happen anyways and I’m not concerned about that… but it’s about the characters journey. As the director, I always make sure the characters know who they are and why they’re doing what they’re doing. It’s always been my approach. I also like to take long shots. With shorter shots you can lose the rhythm.”


HNMAG “Where can audiences see this film?”

LAURA “This is now on most VOD’s. That would include iTunes, Apple TV, Amazon, VUDU, Google Play, Dish and a couple of others. These are the first VOD’s at the moment but we will be exploring other networks and streaming providers at a later time.”   



BROKEN is a must watch film and is available on multiple platforms. What a wonderful team of actors, writers, director and producer. I couldn’t be more thrilled to have spoken to them all and I know it won’t be the last!

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