Olga Kalashnikova brings hope in ‘Angel by Thursday’

Provided by Olga Kalashnikova
Provided by Olga Kalashnikova

Olga Kalashnikova (“Hawaii Five-O”) shines in Angel By Thursday, a family drama filmed in Hawaii, now released across multiple online platforms including Amazon. Olga won “Best Actress in a Feature” award at the Northeast Film Festival 2021 in New Jersey for her leading role. 

Olga plays Julia Denis, a successful but unhappy attorney living in Berlin, who receives a mysterious postcard from Hawaii prompting her to leave everything and go on a search for her long-lost biological mother.

From writer/director Jeff Wallace, Angel By Thursday is a story of two families, struggling with scars of tragedy, are drawn together by mysterious events. A common link is uncovered that will expose previous choices and force confrontation with lurking demons of the past. Propelled on a spiritual journey seeking forgiveness, healing, and hope, is it a cruel twist of fate that brought them together or something greater? Maybe the Universe does work by design.

Check out my interview with Olga!

How did you become a part of this movie?

Olga: Okay, so I, myself, and my co-star Ken Matepi, who plays Clint Tobias, we were both enrolled in an acting studio here in Honolulu, Scott Rogers Acting Studio, and we both found out about the casting call for this movie. And initially we auditioned for much smaller roles. The casting was at a different part of the island. It was about an hour and a half and a half drive in so we decided that we’ll meet at a coffee shop to run lines and go over our characters and grab some coffee before the audition. We didn’t really know each other that much before this audition. So, we went in together, we read for our parts and we left, and after that we got a call from casting director Barbara Logan letting us know that she, together with Jeff and Claudia Wallace, wanted to bring us back to read for the leads. And initially the leading roles were written for people who are much older than we were. They were in their 50s and 60s. So we read for the parts and that was history. It was great news for both of us. And Jeff decided to rewrite the characters for us. Just like in the movie, destiny is a big part of it. We kind of felt there was something visceral or, I don’t know, magical about this whole audition and the way things unfolded afterwards. 

Provided by Olga Kalashnikova
And Jeff is a first time writer director, what was it like working with him? 

Olga: Jeff, his personality is very much, you know, he grew up in Hawaii and he’s very much full of aloha. He’s kind and warm and has a great sense of humor and both him and his wife, they’re very, very positive and lighthearted people. So, they were able to create an atmosphere on set among the cast and crew that was absolutely drama free. That was amazing because everybody kind of worked like a well oiled machine and you could open up to and really trust your scene partners. The environment that he created was very nurturing and very much helpful for me personally, as an artist, to open up and to deliver my best performance in the role of Julia. However, having said that, because he was a first time filmmaker, there were some things on the technical side which took longer to set up sometimes… We still joke that the first scene that we were filming in the movie was probably one of the heaviest scenes in the entire movie. It was the day after Julia’s Mother died and it was a lot of responsibility to film that scene on the first day. But he was like, ‘No, we’re doing this.’ Later on he admitted to me, he was like, ‘I don’t think it was a good idea because we have to refilm it.’ We had to redo that scene again. I was like, ‘okay, see? I told you,’ but then, because it was his first time, he was learning as he went. He tried to practice as much as he could, but sometimes the things you don’t know, you don’t know.

To someone who is not from Hawaii, what does ‘full of aloha’ mean? 

Olga: It’s someone who’s very kind and genuine and warm and hospitable and tries to create the most welcoming and friendly environment for other people. Aloha is a greeting in the Hawaiian language, but at the same time, it means love.

And this movie was filmed in Hawaii. What was it like filming there?

Olga: It’s an independent film, so, because it’s an independent film, the way this film was shot, we had to shoot on the weekends. So the filming process lasted probably throughout a year, to be honest, which was challenging in many ways. Yes, because I had to be very, very cautious about the continuity. I had to remember a lot of things or write down a lot of things, you know, how the hair and my makeup is in every scene, what hand I wore my bracelet on because of the budget and because everybody had daytime jobs. So we had to film this movie on the weekends for a span of about a year. And so on the one hand, I had to keep my character in the back of my mind all the time, because I worked through my character’s arc and because the scenes are filmed out of sequence, I wanted to make sure that every scene shows my character’s transformation. And it was a lot of extra work, so to say. When you’re filming for a month straight, you kind of dive into it, and even though the scenes are filmed out of sequence, you can kind of be laser focused in that sense, but on the other hand, I felt that we were filming at home because we became friends, you know,  with Ken and Russell and our other scene partners. We could get together and we could really, really rehearse the scenes. We did improv and we did character backstories and we committed ourselves to this project for such a long time. Sometimes when I think about it, it’s hard to believe. And in that sense, I felt that we could really really deliver when it actually came to our on screen performances.It was almost like enrolling in an acting academy for a year or something. At least that’s how it felt to me.

Provided by Olga Kalashnikova
I noticed that this was Jimmy Borges’ last performance. When did you film this?

Olga: It was filmed from 2013 to 2014 and it took a while with post production, pretty much because of financial issues. So it was pretty much set on a shelf until we could find the right editor and it was a lot of post production research that was there initially, but then things changed. The person who was supposed to do the post production initially, they moved, they left the island, and there were a lot of things going on behind the scenes at that time. I stepped in as a producer only in the post production process and I’d like to believe that after that, things started rolling and we were able to find the right people and things started falling in place and we were able to finish the movie and find distribution. And now we have this film online. It was a process, let me tell you… When I think about it, I’m like, ‘Oh, wow, it was such a wild time back when we actually did it.’ I have a lot of friends who are filmmakers and I know what commitment is to your project, what dedication is to your project. And I know that a lot of talented filmmakers have a lot of amazing projects that die on their shelf. They never see the light of day because they never get finished.

What do you hope that people take away from watching this movie?

Olga: Well, as an artist, the most important thing when I create art or when I’m part of any film project is I would love people to receive the message of hope. And this film is about that. It’s about forgiveness, healing and hope. Iit definitely has a lot of difficult and dark moments, but the film itself is not dark. The film itself, I believe it wants you as an audience to actually experience those difficult and heartbreaking moments, but as the film unfolds, it wants you to find healing. It wants you to find hope. And so that’s why it ends on a very hopeful and positive note. And so, I hope that when people watch this, and if they have had some challenging, difficult, tragic traumatic moments in their life, I hope they will be able to find healing after watching this.

Is there anything else that you would like to add about Angel by Thursday?

Olga: I really hope that people will get to see it. The cast and crew were all fantastic. We put a lot of time and heart and soul into this film and I really hope that people who are lovers of independent films and who are seeking for such films to watch, I really hope they will watch and enjoy it. We are available now on Amazon, and YouTube and Google Play. There are many platforms where people are able to find us.

Provided by Olga Kalashnikova
Angel by Thursday is now available On Demand.