On The Night Shift with Malcolm Sparrow-Crawford
Updated: Jul 21, 2021
Our Editor-in-Chief Micaela Merryman had the privilege of speaking with actor Malcolm
Sparrow-Crawford about his experience on the cast of Night Shift, a short film dir. by Finn
Wolfhard, which received the silver Audience Award for Best Canadian film at the Fantasia
International Film Festival.
MICAELA: What was the moment where you first heard about Night Shift? What were you doing, what did you immediately think?
MALCOLM: It’s actually pretty funny. So, it was on my birthday two years ago, and Finn was at our place, and they were talking about how they had written a script about, you know, his experience about how people don’t really hang out after high school, and then you run into your random friends here and there throughout high school. And uh, he was actually speaking with myself and my sister and my brother, and we were trying to just figure out how they could get it made because my sister ended up being one of the producers on the project. And then I was just like, as an actor, I was like “Yeah, if you feel like you need anything, you know, I’ll help out. I’ll be there on the day regardless, but if you need anything, just let me know.” Then he was like “Yeah!” and all of a sudden, like six months later he was like “Hey man, do you still want to do this?” And I was like “What are you talking about?” I had completely forgotten about the project. And he’s like “No no no, the short! Do you wanna, like, can you just help me out?” And I was like “Yeah, okay, sure! What do you need me to do?” And he was like “So you’re gonna be a cop,” And I was like “Oh, okay. That makes more sense. That’s pretty on-brand.” So yeah, it was a really random experience, like I had known Finn for years—actually since he was a baby, so it was just more like a help-a-family-friend kind of thing, and then it turned into something completely awesome.
MICAELA: Yeah, it definitely was awesome! I wanna know more about filming it during the
pandemic—I heard it was filmed within the span of twelve hours; I heard there was a little
armed robbery that happened?
MALCOLM: It was really interesting—actually super funny. So I hadn’t gotten to set yet. I was working on something else, I think, at the time, and then I came there afterwards. We shot until like midnight that night, but I guess earlier in the night, during the scene where Artoun, you know, aims a fake gun at Billy, another homeless man—I think he comes in quite regularly to that actual convenience store—came in with a fake gun that was just a bunch of springs that were like, welded together. No one knew what was going on, and this is all still hearsay from me because I didn’t hear anything! But like, I guess the most genuine reaction was from Billy because that’s actually what a robbery feels like! And he was like “Aw man, I screwed up.” Like that’s what the reaction should be! Because they didn’t realize it was a fake gun, and I guess Artoun, like, turned and aimed the fake gun at the other guy, and they both just like, had this weird stand-off with fake guns. But yeah, it was filmed at this really cool, small convenience store in Vancouver that’s just kind of like—I guess it’s a staple for the area because it’s been there forever. The amount of times where we’re like, in the middle of the shot and people are trying to get in to just buy their stuff. Just to buy a bag of chips, and they’re like “No no no, we’re filming something right now,” and they’re like “Oh, well, I come here all the time.” And they’re like, “No, sorry.” Yeah, it was cool.
MICAELA: This is a movie!
MALCOLM: Yeah, this is a movie! I’m not a real cop. I just need to do something really quickly, thanks.
MICAELA: Yeah, I mean really bold of him to do that, I think!
MALCOLM: Super bold. Very bold. It was a bold move.
MICAELA: So, I was wondering: Elijah in the film is a cop, and he’s in there very quickly. I was
wondering if you came up, in your head, with some kind of backstory for him ?
MALCOLM: Well, it’s funny because I’ve had that experience quite a few times, you know, being older. Well, not much older than Artoun, you know, but I think Billy’s in his early 20’s, Artoun’s in his mid- 20’s, and I’m in my late 20’s. So like having the experience of running into random people that you went to high school with after ten years of not seeing somebody, it’s always like that, hey, you look different. What’s going on? You know, like that kind of thing. So I think I just try to tap into that because there’s so many experiences that I’ve had in my life of—obviously not in that situation! You know, during a robbery, but like the shock and awe, you can’t separate yourself from it even if you were a cop, and that’s the one thing that I wanted to bring into it. That oh shit moment, like these were my two best friends-kind of thing. Because you lose that! Immediately, no matter whatever you’re doing, if you run into someone, you haven’t seen them in a long time, you go oh hey, what’s up!? You know?
MICAELA: Yeah, absolutely.
MALCOLM: So it’s just that kind of a feeling. And I tried to, because it was so short and that’s what was fun about it for me because I was just there to hang out more than anything. You know, both of our whole families were there on Finn’s side, and then Billy and Artoun were flown in. It was cool to hang out and be around. Having it be such a short scene—which sometimes can be a little more difficult to try and like, you know, try and ground it into something—and having hung out with Billy and Artoun the whole night, and then kept in touch and become close friends with them now, I think it’s just like, I think we did a good job. I mean, I hope we did.
MICAELA: No, I think so, too! I thought it was good, it was hilarious! I was wondering if at all,
knowing more about your relationship with Finn, did you think he brought anything
unique to set, or any unique perspective that made the film exactly what it was?
MALCOLM: It was just the epitome of like, his sense of humor, and the epitome of Billy and Artoun’s sense of humor. He kind of just let them play with things and do different takes and different cuts and everything, and that was what was super fun to watch from my perspective, having known him—Finn and Nick since they were in elementary school. It was cool to just see him doing that, especially with his mom and dad there and everything, and how he really took command, I guess. It was really interesting to watch him be professional, but also fun at the same time. He let all of us just like dick around at the end with that last scene because it was the last one that we did. And it was just fun! It was just cool. The sense of humor is just so dry, and that’s what made Night Shifts so fun to be a part of, laughing even in the takes that didn’t make it.
MICAELA: I was wondering if you had any advice for any people, actors maybe 20-21, up-and-coming, looking for their first role maybe in something like Night Shifts. Do you have any advice for them?
MALCOLM: I don’t know. Everyone has a different journey, especially if I look at Finn, and I look at Billy, and I look at Artoun, and I look at myself. Everyone has something different to offer, and a different, you know, perspective on a character, and if you just find, like, your grounding and what you wanna bring to something, and just realize that you’re putting yourself forward and that is such a big step in the first place, and just be confident in that piece of yourself. That’s all you can really do because it doesn’t come down to you ninety-nine percent of the time. It’s always someone else, and that’s what makes acting in the film industry a cutthroat, interesting industry to be in because people will automatically tend to take it personally when a hundred percent of the time, it’s never personal. It’s just, you know, that’s who they see, and you just keep trying and keep trying the same way that I’m still just trying and trying and trying, and the same way Billy, and Artoun, and Finn are. So it’s just, you know, do you and, you know, respect your own perspective on a character and just show it.
Keep up with what Malcolm is up to by following him on Instagram.
Watch Night Shifts dir. by Finn Wolfhard here!
Graphic by Darby Wilson.