Mayank Saxena is a young actor on the rise. Currently he’s promoting his new horror/zombie flick Scott Goldberg’s ‘The Day They Came Back’ in which he makes a solid impression as teen rebel Jack Cardille. This bloody fright flick costars Chiko Mendez, Paul Kratka, Jessica Lynn Johnson, Caley Oakes-Bisson, and Marlene Villafane. The cast and crew are familiar company for Mayank -- he also appeared with 90% of those folks in Goldberg’s previous opus of the undead ‘The Night They Came Back’.

Recently I had a chance to chat with this young actor about his new movie and the no-budget horror experience.

  Hey, how are you doing Mayank?

Owen, I'm doing super.

Tell me a bit about your role of Jack Cardille in 'The Day They Came Back'.

Jack is a fast-mouthed, short-tempered teen who's actually frightened inside. Jack is the younger brother of Phil, played by Caley Oakes-Bisson, and tries to help out the group when they come under attack by the living dead. Like most teens, Jack hates to be ordered around, and is rebellious. But don't let Jack's "don't give a crap" about anyone attitude fool you, he's really a hero in training, as he makes one of his biggest sacrifices by letting his bro climb down a rope during one of the crucial scenes of the film. Jack really loves his brother a lot, and I'm sure that people won't judge him too harshly from his temperament.

How long was the shoot?

The film was shot from March into May of 2005, and was mostly done on weekends. I also came back for a reshoot of the beginning scenes in August 2005. In the beginning of the year, it would be absolutely freezing, and I would be in my hoodie from 7am call time to later than 10 at night. However, it was the girls who I felt bad for - running around in PJs and a skirt in March!

The stills from the movie look great. Awesome atmosphere. Tell me about shooting this in Glen Cove, Long Island at Welwyn Preserve.

Ah yes, the Preserve. Let me tell you something - as an actor I am supposed to completely believe in the imaginary, as if I was really in a haunted location. Welwyn Preserve really made my job a lot easier - it was scary! Upon entering this old Holocaust Memorial, we see a vine-infested meadow with an old greenhouse down a hill. Now when I say 'vine-infested,' I literally mean it's crawling with vines - I'll be honest, I tripped a couple of times over those things! It was hilly, and very unaccommodating, and I really sympathized with the other cast, and crew, for lugging equipment up and down these places - especially at night. Scott was able to find a place as spooky as Wewlyn without incurring studio reproduction costs. It was intimidating working in a harsh environment, knowing that these thorny vines weren't set by the prop department, and could really do some damage if people weren't careful.

That sounds really cool. Do you have a favorite or outstanding memory of working on 'The Day They Came Back'?

One of my favorite incidents of working on the set was when we prepared ourselves for the running scenes. In these scenes Jack, Phil, Danielle, and Jamie are escaping from a gruesome death by jetting into an abandoned, pre-World War greenhouse. So to look like we were winded from running, all of us would jump up and down, sprint-jump, and literally howl like monkeys and chimps while the crew was seriously preparing to roll when "ACTION" was called. Another funny, but disgusting moment was when Danielle Stevenson, played by Jessica Lynn Johnson, had to vomit over the bridge due to her brother being eaten alive by zombies in the previous scene. We had to use fruit loops cereal crunched with orange juice to make it look like real vomit. I gotta tell you, although it was just meshed up cereal - that image makes my stomach go uneasy. Imagine Jessica who had to do that a couple of takes!

Based on your experience with this movie -- what’s the toughest part about no-budget independent filmmaking?

Although it is an independent film, the experience was not as glamorous as I thought it would be. Sometimes the shoots would be put on hold if we had a lens problem with the ONLY camera we were shooting with. The food wasn't too appetizing -- mostly chips, drinks and sandwiches - I love those three, but after 3 months of shooting, a little diversity would have been nice. We understood though because of the no-budget aspect of the film. Also, one time because we had no PA's on one of the day's, I myself had to drive from Glen Cove, Long Island to Queens, to pick up the other actors - cutting into shooting time. So there were definitely problems. Financial strains affected everyone related to the movie.

What was it like working with director Scott Goldberg?

Scott was a very nice director to work with. When I first saw Scott at the auditioning process, I saw this "Jesusesque," thin, punk-looking young man. I thought this was a prank or something because he totally shattered my notions on how directors should look. However when he began to express his passion and enthusiasm in "The Day They Came Back," by casting talented actors, I knew he was just as serious as those other middle-aged directors. On the set he was very relaxed. I look forward to working with him again.

What was the most important thing you learned about film acting from working on the ‘The Day They Came Back’?

I learned how important patience is. Like anything in life, if you are passionate about something, and pursue it adequately, I believe (and hope) that its fruits will eventually manifest itself along the road. If you can't handle the long hours of waiting, the days of malnourishing food, the long working days - then this probably isn't for you - especially when you're not getting paid! But I'm not placing myself on a pedestal. I'm only mentioning it to reinforce my belief that if you truly love to do something with all your heart, then it's worth the struggle.

Thanks so much Mayank. All the best to you in both life and career.