James Cameron has a thing for water. And almost-impossible-to-film storylines…this time, he’s done it again: he’s the producer of Sanctum, a new movie about a cave-diving team having to face their worst fears when they get stuck inside the least accessible cave in the world.

I had the chance to speak to the lovely Alice Parkinson, who stars in the film in the role of strong and tomboyish Victoria. Alice gave me an interesting insight on gruelling training, learning to dive and filming underwater.


HeyUGuys: Sanctum is a high tension movie and your role is very physical and demanding. What did you think when you first read the script – where you a bit nervous, or just excited?

Alice Parkinson: Excited, most definitely. With that kind of story, I knew it was going to be hard work and gruelling – and it was. But I was excited.

HeyUGuys: What was that attracted you to this role in particular?

A: Well, I think the fact that Victoria is such a strong woman definitely attracted me to the role. There’s not many strong women in cinema, so many times female roles have a “secondary feel” to them. Victoria is not like that  – she’s “one of the blokes”, and that was very interesting to me.

HeyUGuys: What was the most difficult thing you had to do during shooting?

AP: Well, learning how to dive, for sure. I was familiar with water sports- it’s a thing that comes with being Australian I think – but I wasn’t a diver before, so that was a massive learning curve for me, especially when going from scuba diving to using a rebreather [a device that enables you to recycle your own carbon dioxide so you can stay underwater for a long time]. Using the rebreather was definitely a strange thing to do, and difficult as well.

HeyUGuys: Do you think you’d have acted in a similar way to Victoria if you’d found yourself in her situation, or do you think you’d have had a different attitude?

AP: No, I think I would have had a totally different attitude! I wouldn’t have worn a wetsuit, for one thing. That was a thing I really struggled with. Victoria refuses to wear a wetsuit that belonged to a dead person, but not wearing one means you can die of hypothermia. I wouldn’t have worn one anyway!

Really though, I wouldn’t have gone in the cave in the first place. It’s crazy! But I think one of the things that the film does is to show what people do in emergency situations that they wouldn’t do in their normal lives. You can do stupid things when you’re faced with difficult situations. I guess one can look at the story as an attempt to show people making decisions in stressful situations, decisions that they would never make otherwise.

HeyUGuys: You said you had to learn to dive during shooting. How was that?

AP: Well, you have to love the water in the first place, that’s for sure.  Then you need to trust that you have competent people looking after you, and they were all fantastic. I think it is, most of all, a psychological thing: you think “human beings can’t breathe under water” – I kind of had to switch this flip in my head and start thinking that human beings *can* do that, that I could do that, and it was going to be ok. At the end, the constant contact with water becomes kind of pleasurable. It’s a huge thing, but I definitely had to switch this flip and think in a different way.

HeyUGuys: Sanctum is going to be shown in 3D. It seems 3D is being applied to a lot of films nowadays – what do you think of this? Can it really be extended to all genres and plots, or do you think it works best with films like Sanctum?

AP: The technology hasn’t come far enough for me to give a definitive answer – I think if it reaches the “no need for glasses” stage it will be more accessible for sure. But as things stand, I think it lends itself well to certain genres – adventure, high tension movies, etc. I’m not sure how much 3D would benefit a romance, for example- but it is definitely an amazing technology which can do a lot of things.

HeyUGuys: Have you had the chance to talk a lot with James Cameron? What can you tell us about that?

AP: Yes, yes I did. We had many conversations- he is a very laid back and caring individual, and very interesting to speak to. I hope to have the chance to work with him again very soon.

HeyUGuys: What are you working on at the moment?

AP: I’ve got a couple of films coming out – one is called Bait, which is, ironically enough, another water movie! I can’t stay away from it, it seems – I had to jump back into the water…

And the second is called The Cup, which it’s a beautiful Australian film, with Brendan Gleeson and directed by Simon Wincer. It’s based on true events during the 2002 Melbourne Horse Race, events that stopped the nation – a real family tearjerker drama revolving around the story of the winner.


Sanctum is released on DVD and Blu-ray 13th June and you can pre-order your copy here.