Sam Quartin talks addiction in ‘Body Brokers’ and ‘Tyger Tyger’

Photo Credit: Boris Brenman

If you don’t already know who Sam Quartin is, you definitely will after her movies Body Brokers and Tyger Tyger release. Body Brokers premieres this Friday and Tyger Tyger premieres next Friday! In addition to acting, Sam is the front woman of the garage rock band The Bobby Lees. Sam took a break from shooting a music video to speak with me about her films. 

It was just a coincidence that these films are being released so close together. Both were filmed prior to the COVID pandemic but the pandemic did put the releases back. Tyger Tyger we shot in December of 2018 and Body Brokers was the end of the summer of 2019.

Both of these films deal with the very heavy subject of drug addiction. 

“The topic definitely drew me in. I like anything that’s pretty raw and honest. I talked to Kerry [Mondragon], the director of Tyger Tyger, and it’s a really personal story for him and I’ve also been sober for about six years now so anything having to do with addiction I’m interested in and have experience with, so I feel like I can bring something truthful to it…. For Body Brokers, I was playing a young mom which is something I don’t identify with. I don’t have kids, yet. But I do know a couple women who have children and are in recovery. One of them was really kind and sat down with me for a while and I asked her about her experiences, when she was using, what that was like around her kids, and she was really open with me and I had another woman also do the same thing so I just kind of journaled after I had those meetings and I kind of wanted to just pay respect to that experience that they had. After they were really open with me, I was able to kind of take that with me when we shot that stuff. Body Brokers, I only worked on that film a few days, but I did that amount of prep for it.”

Sam in ‘Body Brokers’

Body Brokers follows Utah (Jack Kilmer) and Opal (Alice Englert), two junkies living on the streets of rural Ohio until a seemingly chance encounter with the enigmatic Wood (Michael Kenneth Williams) brings them to Los Angeles for treatment. Utah soon learns that rehab is not about helping people – it’s merely a cover scheme for a multibillion dollar fraud. Sam shines as Tina, a young mom who is finally determined to stay sober for her two young children. Sam also served as an executive producer for this film.

Sam says she has high hopes that Tina will get sober and reunite with her kids.

“I always am hopeful that anyone will be able to get and maintain sobriety but the more time I get sober, you learn you have no control. All you can do is be there for someone and share your experience, but I’ve kind of learned to detach from that because you just see so many things and you see people not get it and like the lead character in Body Brokers, that’s unfortunately what happens most of the time. But I always have hope.” 

Tyger Tyger follows a young woman, Blake (Quartin), who robs a pharmacy for life-saving medication while awaiting her test results during a pandemic. Making a deal with a drug addict named Luke (Dylan Sprouse), they hit the road distributing the stolen meds to those who need it, eventually finding themselves trapped in the fringe lands of a lawless psychedelic city.

“Then with Tyger Tyger, it was more like we were kind of just living in it. It was definitely the coolest experience in my life on a movie because Kerry said his movie was gonna be as if we’re all going to another planet together and who would you want to take with you to another planet. So he was really picky about the personalities he wanted to bring in. When we got there, it was shot in Slab City and I’ve never been there before and I don’t know if you’re familiar with it, but it’s pretty wild. All these people have made a choice to live off the grid either temporarily or permanently and Kerry had spent time with them, so they were pretty open about letting us film in their camps, in their homes, in what they built. I had prepared for this, where I knew I had to fall in love with Dylan [Sprouse]’s character Luke pretty instantly, it was like a love at first sight thing so I made like a weird little book, and put a photo of him and started to like try or fall in love with this person. With acting, I don’t have training but I’ve learned little tricks that I think help trick me into believing what is gonna happen in the story, so I can try to trick myself into it. So I tried that which kind of worked. Then once we got there, we were pretty in it because we were all in the desert for three, three and a half weeks.”

Dylan Sprouse and Sam Quartin in ‘Tyger Tyger’

“Slab City is where we shot but there was a funky little motel right outside of it called the Calipatria Inn and Suites which was an experience. And we were there, and then we would drive into Slab City and shoot there. We also shot on Bombay Beach which was pretty awesome. It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to and you can see it in the film.”

Based on the trailer for Tyger Tyger, the film feels kind of like Robin Hood, but sent during a pandemic.

“I’ve been thinking about that and it’s a tough one to describe. Kerry wanted to keep the disease part of it kind of vague so that there was some mystery to it because the film was less about the virus itself and more about the circumstances caused by it and wanting to escape and this fantasy. This kind of escapist fantasy thing. But the story itself, when Kerry first reached out to me, he sent me a short email that was like, ‘there’s this girl, she’s an honest person, she has a great heart, and there is a pandemic going on.’ It was inspired by the AIDS crisis, it’s not the AIDS crisis but it was inspired by that kind of thing. It’s a sexually transmitted, possibly transmitted by blood or air, kind of a blanket thing and this girl wants to steal medication and distribute it to people that can’t afford it.” 

Photo Credit: Boris Brenman

“I love anything that’s someone trying to seek justice and do the right thing. I was really excited about it. And just getting to play pretend and rob places is fun. And then Kerry’s like ‘and you get to fall in love, and it’s Dylan Sprouse.’ I was like ‘sweet, I’m in, I’m ready.’ But it’s not just about drug addiction, it’s also love addiction, and this concept of not being content with where you’re at in life. It’s about a chance encounter with someone, and that one person just saying, ‘Okay, I’m ready to abandon everything I thought I knew and everything I think my life’s supposed to look like. I want to throw it all away and just try something new.’ Which, during this time, I feel like a lot of people can relate to. The world is so crazy it’s like yeah why not I’ll do something wild.”

Sam says that after seeing Dylan in his more recent projects, she was so excited to work with him and says he was really cool to work with.

But Sam isn’t just the lead in this film, she also has a single featured in it. The band just released the album ‘Skin Suit’ last summer and are already working on a new one. 

“Kerry had called my band and he asked if he could use something and then he liked this one song called ‘Drive.’ There’s a lot of driving in the movie but he wanted something for the radio when we were driving around so he ended up using that one. We’re really excited about that.”

Because both films deal with addiction and because Sam is passionate about using her own sobriety story to help inspire others, she has some advice for those who find themselves in a similar situation.

“Be honest and if there’s anything going on that you feel like you shouldn’t talk about, you should probably talk about it. To anyone and ask for help. I think the opposite of addiction is connection. So, usually if you can just connect to someone, and at least get what’s on your mind, off, that’s the beginning of the healing path. So I guess my advice would be to just stay connected.”

Body Brokers will premiere in select theaters and on digital/demand on February 19 and will Tyger Tyger premiere in select theaters and on demand February 26.