As she gets set to release her second movie, A Sacrifice, in theaters this weekend, Jordan Scott (IFC’s Cracks) recalls the best advice she received from her father, Sir Ridley Scott, from one director to another.

“I’m very lucky that I can pick up the phone and ask his advice on anything and I’m going to get the best answer. And his advice on everything is just: Preparation. Preparation. Preparation,’” Scott tells The Hollywood Reporter.

Inspired by Nicholas Hogg’s 2015 novel TokyoA Sacrifice from Scott Free Productions follows American social psychologist Ben Monroe (Eric Bana) as he investigates a local cult connected to a disturbing event in the German capital. While he immerses himself into his work, his rebellious teenage daughter, Mazzy (Sadie Sinke), gets involved with a mysterious local boy who introduces her to the city’s underground party scene. As these two worlds head towards an intersection, Mazzy finds herself in great danger, with Ben needing to race against the clock to save her.

Of course, Scott’s best laid plans for her mystery thriller came unstuck after her original script had the film set in Tokyo and planning to shoot in 2020. The pandemic breaking out in early 2020 and COVID fears quickly closed off any potential production in Japan.

“The world shut down and then it became impossible,” Scott recalls. So the decision was made to shift production on A Sacrifice to Germany and have her complex American father-daughter story and neo-noir thriller play out against the backdrop of a local Berlin cult and that city’s underground party scene.  

“I always toyed with the idea that it could work quite well in Berlin. Hopefully, I’m not insulting anyone by saying East Germany was a collective society for decades under Communist rule. There’s a lingering psychology to that for certain generations, older generations,” Scott explained.

The script underwent major surgery to portray cults and their members’ obligations for loyalty and self-sacrifice naturally grow up around the cultures from which they take root. The roles of the American father and daughter in A Sacrifice would see their two worlds eventually collide in Berlin.

Stranger Things actor Sink came on board to play 18-year old Mazzy Monroe after she had roles Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale and more recently in Searchlight Pictures’ rock opera O’Dessa. “She’s an amazing actress. I barely had to do or say anything. We had a really fun rehearsal process. We talked endlessly about the characters and their psychology. That’s all she needed and she just became Mazzy,” Scott said of Sinke’s performance.

And the cult in the script for A Sacrifice got a radical German makeover, including casting Austrian actress Sophie Rois as its leader, Hilda, and the reasons for its fanatic members to feel a need to belong, with potentially life-threatening consequences. “Cults play on the fears of the society that they inhabit. To me, right now, one of the biggest dangers we all face is environmental collapse. And so she’s (Hilda) is playing on those fears within the people in her group,” the director pointed out.

A Sacrifice, now in theaters, is written and directed by Jordan Scott and produced by Ridley Scott, Michael Pruss, Jonas Katzenstein, Maximilian Leo and Georgina Pope. The ensemble cast includes Sylvia Hoeks, Jonas Dassler, Stephan Kampwirth and Lara Feith.

The film is the second to come from a strategic sales partnership between U.K. sales agent Protagonist Pictures and German outfit augenschein Sales after The Dive.

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