Enemy of Rome.
We recently spoke to French-Canadian, Sylvano Harvey about his recent project, Enemy of Rome.
Enemy of Rome. Now that’s a concept we can get behind. How did it all begin?
I can try to make it short, but it might be hard (laughing), how it started… well as a actor here in Quebec, I can say that we do not have any productions of this type, it is very rare that we can have the chance of playing something like this, even harder when you are not a « known actor » Then, there is the other fact, when we have big American productions, like 300 and Immortal etc. they look always for tall and very built people, 6’ and up. In my case, I am a 5’6 and can’t possible have a chance to hit a role in a Epic movie like that. Therefore when I travel, (because I love travelling) I visit lots of historical sites, museums etc. and every time I find out that people were short, in most of the parts of the world, so we do not have any movie that represent the real thing. So I was kind of bored playing the common small parts, taxi driver, office man, father etc.… and I wanted to create something like Enemy of Rome. I am passionate about Roman history and Greek and so on. So I started writing this saga, when I first started it was 13 episodes, and we would have seen the past of Vitellius (main character of EoR) in flashback, but some close friends told me that it was to nice, it had to be on film in full length, so that is why I wrote 2 more episodes, for a total of 15.
What can you tell us about the plot for Enemy of Rome?
After the end of the Social War in 88 BC, all of Rome’s Italian socii allies were granted full Roman citizenship, ending the dual structure of legions alongside non-citizen alae. The latter were abolished, and the Italian allies were henceforth recruited into the legions. The non-Italian allies that had long fought for Rome like Gallic and Numidian cavalry, continued to serve alongside the legions but remained irregular units under their own leaders. Army deserters were considered Enemies of the State. In 75 BC a Centurion known as Vitellius deserted the army and escaped with a slave. Two years later Vitellius and his wife Tatiana, the slave, will see their lives changed forever by an unfortunate encounter. The fugitives will be declared Enemies of Rome and will have no choice but to accept their fates.
What can you tell us about the plot for Enemy of Rome and the characters?
The Characters; We have Vitellius, (played by me, Sylvano Harvey) a Centurion that desert the army to escape with his lover, (Tatiana, played by Nancy Bouzi) who was the slave of one of his soldiers. A strong and beautiful black woman, for whom Vitellius is ready to take any risk, to set her free and live by her side. Something tragic happens and they have to get on the run for about 1 year until they reach Epirus in Macedonia, where our story takes place. There is Caius (played by Nicholas Simard), a scumbag, rotten to the bones, we will love to hate him! Sertorius (played by Allan Carvalho), another Centurion, one of the worst person to get into Vitellius’ life, to make it a pure nightmare. Makeda, a female Gladiatrix, there were very few mentioned in real life archives, so I wanted to bring one into Enemy of Rome, one very joyful and skilled woman, played by Anne-Rose Cupidon and there is so many more, I do not wish to start mentioning each one, there would be to many!
What sort of research did you do for the historical style?
Oh I went from all types, working with a historian from Italia, I also went to museum, like in Montreal we have Pompeii at the moment, so I went to see, took hundreds of pictures, saw many documentaries, tried to see and read all critics about Hollywood big movies such as Gladiator etc. To avoid as much as possible the critics made about being wrong with history, of course I do not pretend I can do better, not at all, but I want to bring something as accurate as possible, even tough, historians are always disagreeing between them, it would be hard for me to be very accurate, but I try, as much as possible, to show the audience and the fans, a original series that takes place in the lower parts of Rome, with the poor, the low class, the scums, the dirt and the real life style. We saw already to much Magistrates, Caesar and all, that I think it will be refreshing to see something « new » like this.
Is your version of Rome in Enemy of Rome different to the one from the ones we’ve seen before?
yes, in many ways, but at the same time, it is taking place during the 3rd servile war, so it is the « gladiators war » it is a parallel story with the rebellion lead by Spartacus. So we won’t see Spartacus, but we will hear rumours and briefly touch the subject. It’s one of my favourite era.
What’s been the biggest challenge you faced for this production?
By Jupiter, almost everything is a huge challenge, the first is the money, I did everything on my own, so it’s really heavy, people are all working for free, I have such amazing people around me, actors are incredibly generous, they are giving 210% into their role, and all that for free, it’s hours and hours or rehearsal, practice, choreography etc. and all from their heart. Same with the crew, amazing people that believe strongly in Enemy of Rome, musician who’s creating a piece of art for me, again for free, Oz Nelson is so talented and so into Enemy of Rome. So yes, the money is the biggest issue, I have to go trough crowd funding to be able to raise money for camera rental and food for everyone. We will need the support of the public in each episode, just to be able to rent everything that is behind the camera. What is upfront, I made most of it myself, got many great great people helping, artist that does my bronze weapons, Chris Levatino, others like Bird Art Studio who are making all my Gladiators helmet, Calimacil that does my rubber stunt weapons. These people gives me huge discount and they became very good friends of mine, they all believe in the project and in my passion for it. The other huge challenge would be the set. We need to build places that look like ancient Rome, of course I wrote the script in a way that we have a great part of it in the wilderness, that is also why I chose Epirus in Macedonia, because they have a very similar type of wilderness, trees, snows etc. But building and accommodating places to look like ancient Rome for a web series and giving the illusion you are in Rome, is a damn huge challenge.
How did you overcome it?
Here I will be short « Passion and Devotion » nothing else to add
So what’s next for yourself and Enemy of Rome?
I am almost done retouching the script of episode 1 and 2, we are planing in shooting the first episode this winter. Evan Boudreau-Souci is the new director and we share the same vision of Enemy of Rome, we will work as one on Enemy of Rome, I trust him as much as I trust all my actors, he is one great great man. So we are planing shooting one episode every 3 months. I have done a pilot with a previous team, it’s was far from what I wanted but it was very beautiful, I had something to show to people, but now we want to start from scratch, with a new vision, new team, new heart. The pilot was actually episode 3, and it will be redone, with all I wanted in it. So it will be a lots of work for me, I keep making costumes with my wife, I have stuff up to the roof!
Do you have any advice for those interested in becoming actors?
very hard to answer that, it’s a lot of work, lots of deception, you need to audition, read plays, assist plays, no one become a actor just by watching movies and imitating people, you need to work on accent (if you character need one) or work on it to avoid it if you have one, there is so much to do and I don’t even pretend being a great actor, I am trying my best, I just hope people will love my work, will love Vitellius who is a great man, with great values, who has to face very very bad situations of life.
What are your future film plans?
I will first finish Enemy of Rome, I already have 2 more project in head and on paper, I wanted to start one at the same time, Enemy of Rome was taking to much time to set up, but I finally pushed the machine, decided to move on and rush into the obstacle like a Celt into a shield wall ha-ha, you have to fight for what you want in life. We hear this, we share pictures with these words on Facebook but very few are really doing it, I believe sharing a picture of a nice quote might be enough for some people, they feel like they are making a step into the right direction, I think actions are more important. I am someone who loves when things are moving, I have been waiting for 2 people for almost 1 year and a half and nothing was happening, so I decided to keep pushing alone once again, I will find people that trust me on the way and help me. This project is beautiful, and I love it, I am not a screen writer from profession, who write a story and write another one the month after, no, I wrote Enemy of Rome and it is my baby, I will put all my efforts into it to give the people the best I can. I do it for myself first, not for the fame, not for the money (obviously, it only cost money and doesn’t bring anything in ha-ha). I do it really because I love it, I have a nice story to tell, I want to play that role I always dreamed of, and I want to give a chance to the audience to meet great actors that are not known, but who has such talent, we always see the same faces on screen, it is time to bring something fresh, and make it available on the net, 15 minutes at the time. *yes 15 episodes of 15 minutes each.