Making of The Burning Book Trailer

What would it be like to simply touch something and know everything about it? Its history, its sins, its secrets? Living a lonely life, afraid to touch too much, afraid of what you might see. Ann Van Helsing thinks she may be insane. But it isn't insanity that is Ann's curse, it is a psychic power like no other.
her touch is her curse
(click to enlarge)

That power in itself would make for an incredible story! In the year 1822 having a psychic power such as Ann's would make you appear insane…or cursed. But, Ann's nightmares have just begun. Though she has been denied human contact due to her unique curse, it was a man that she touched that changed her life. Not a man…something…else.

The Burning, a novel by Susan Squires is a classic tale with a twist. Vampires have intrigued and entertained us for many years. But, the vampire Stephan Sincai comes with demons of his own. His world, his life…a curse. The things he knows are abominations, the things he has seen are hell on earth, the things he's done…such sins as to drive a normal man mad. Stephan's torment is all that he knows and now…Ann has touched him.
Stephan in battle
(click to enlarge)

Reading this novel was one of those experiences where you just keep thinking…wow! Where in the world did the author come up with this idea? You sit there (at 3 a.m. in the morning because you can't sleep till you're done with the book) thinking, there is just no way this can work out. How will this end?

You care so much for Ann and for the tormented Stephan that they become as interesting as the powers they possess. Here are two people, believing they are cursed for all their lives, and now they share their curse with each other…like it or not.

Ann is afraid to help
(click to enlarge)
Stephan carries Ann away
(click to enlarge)

When Susan Squires asked Circle of Seven Productions to create a Book Trailer® for The Burning everyone was thrilled. The executive producer, Sheila Clover English, had known Susan and her husband, Harry for years. Both are authors and both are very talented.

the Circle of Seven crew

The story was a period piece which would be a challenge, but it was a vampire novel, which is a specialty genre for COS. The twist was Ann's power. That was what made the story stand out at first. The way she discovers what Stephan is, the way her life has had to be…it was amazing! The real issue was the characters. After reading the novel it was clear that the main characters would have to be people who could portray all the facets of each. Ann had this vulnerability to her and it was important that people see it. Her sad life, her vulnerability made her courage all the more fantastic.

Ann in the nursery
(click to enlarge)
Blair ready for final scene

Finding the right actress to play Ann was important. Joe Gruberman of Bronck's Park Productions, who is a production partner of Circle of Seven Productions, would do the casting and direct and edit the project. Sheila Clover English would write the script with Joe, then fly out to Arizona to oversee this very important project. "Joe has always given us great work and I was thrilled to be able to work along with him," says English.
Joe Gruberman
(click to enlarge)

Ann faints
(click to enlarge)

Joe found the perfect person to play Ann. Blair O'Neil had this soft, caring, vulnerable look to her that the camera just loved. Fairly new to acting, Blair admitted to being just a little nervous, but you'd never know it to watch her work. After reading the script and knowing about the story she was intrigued by the character she would portray. "I just tried to imagine how Ann would of felt having the power that she did," says O'Neil. It was the power of the character that seemed to intrigue her most. "One might think it would be the greatest thing at first... but then you might be finding out things that you really don't want to know! It could be the greatest thing, but it could also end up being a burden as well." Blair recognized the loneliness this character would have felt and that came across in her acting.

When Blair was asked what it was like to work with Vince Reign who played Stephan she said, "Vince was a lot of fun to work with and is a very easy going guy. He gave me a couple of pointers! I was comfortable working with him and think he is a very talented actor." And she is right! Not only is Vince a talented actor, but he is very easy going and brought a great deal of humor to the set. When we asked Vince what he thought of working with Blair he said, "It was a pleasure to work with Blair. Blair is so beautiful. She's got a charisma about her. She charmed all of us and laughed at all my jokes, even when I wasn't telling one.....wait a minute?...Was she laughing at me?!" Vince kept everyone entertained and laughing between shots.

Vince and Blair
(click to enlarge)
Getting into costume
(click to enlarge)
Vince and Blair pose

It was amazing to watch Vince. He has a young look to him and with all of his playfulness I wondered how he would be able to pull off the character of Stephan. Stephan was a tormented soul, so very opposite of our Vince. But, when Joe called "action" it was like this incredible metamorphosis happened. It was a little creepy to see the transformation. He went from smiles and laughs to this brooding, soulful being.
Stephan materializes
(click to enlarge)

Michael and Vince
Vince is an experienced actor with a great deal of training. He took his time to study Stephan and saw a vulnerability in the character that he wanted to portray somehow. It was a great mix of vulnerability and strength, pain and pleasure. Vince was the perfect Stephan!

Joe Gruberman, director, DP and editor on this project has a great deal of experience including work on an HBO project and other television projects. It was interesting to watch Joe. You could see him really watching the acting while also watching the story itself unfold. He has a 6th sense almost that allows him to visualize what all the pieces of the "puzzle" will look like in the end. Joe has worked on trailers with other prestigious authors such as Christine Feehan, Douglas Clegg and Susan Kearney. He was thrilled with the idea of this storyline. Even after the shoot he came up with brilliant ideas during editing that helped to convey the story. There's the initial scenes where Ann touches the bed and we see this brief white flash of light. This wasn't in the original script, but it was a brilliant editing decision!

Blair and Joe using green screen
Joe sets up for first scene

The book was great material to pull from, so the trailer turned out exactly the way we'd hoped it would. Stephan gave us an engaging tormented hero, and Ann gave us just the right…touch.

Blair and Vince in final scene
Ann confesses
(click to enlarge)

Return To "The Burning" Page