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Mike Manning Interview

Mike Manning with left arm up

Mike Manning is a multi award winning actor.

He has been in series such as This Is Us, Teen Wolf, The Bay, Days Of Our Lives, and Youthful Daze. He starred in the award winning movie Slapface.

How do you use your productions and or profile to advocate for causes?

So I think that as I got into acting, because I love telling stories. I got into producing because I love telling stories. And I think that as an actor, sometimes I'm invited to be a part of stories that other people are trying to tell and worlds that other people are trying to create. I've been in Los Angeles now for 12 years pursuing acting. And I decided when I started producing, I said, look, if I'm going to put my effort into creating my own stories, whether it's writing scripts or finding scripts to produce or packaging films or whatever that might be as a producer, I want to find projects that means something to me and say something to me and projects that affect me.

And that I think if those projects are made and put out into the world, they will help positively affect society and open people up to new ways of thinking, new ways of being, that sort of thing. So that's why I love activism. And I think just by being honest with who we are and telling our stories, I think that there's a lot of good that can come out of that. And that is what film and television is: storytelling. So I always try to infuse the projects I produce with that sort of activism element.

Is it challenging to be a partner in a production company and also manage an acting career? Or are there advantages?

Both. So it is challenging to be a producer and an actor. And there have been times where I've been both at the same time on set, and that is challenging because as an actor, I try to remain in this creative space and I try to remain present and calm and focused on the character and my scene partner and what's happening. And then as a producer, I'm sort of worried about everything that's going on set. If a car has a flat tire, I have to fix it. If an actor shows up late, I have to fix it. If it's anything that goes wrong, it's really the producers that have to find solutions.

And so it's sort of using the left side of your brain versus the right side of your brain. And I try not to do that at the same time. I try to either produce something and very be in the business mindset, or I try to be in the creative mindset, but there have been times where I've done both and it's been challenging, but it's also been really fulfilling when that project comes out and it's successful because I feel like I had a hand in every part of that process.

Can you elaborate more on why it's not preferable to be both an actor and producer simultaneously?

As an actor, if the set is well organized and it's a good set and it's a good project, I like to just show up, be an actor, do my job, hang out with the other actors, be goofy and then worry about my lines and what's happening in the scene and this world that they're creating. And that's it. And I like to worry about that. I don't want to worry about the camera equipment or if lunches arrived late or all of the other things that the producer has to worry about. I don't want to worry about that while I'm acting. So I actually would prefer to not act in things. Only in things that I produce.

Is there a specific type of character that you like to play?

Yes. I think that changes in terms of the characters that I like to play. I think right now, I just started doing romantic comedies. I just finished filming a romantic comedy a couple days ago, and that was a lot of fun. Before that, I had done, I finished season six of This Is Us, the NBC show. And that was sort of a goofy character that takes his shirt off all the time. And then before that, it was Days Of Our Lives, where I was a bad guy. Before that, it was this film called Slapface, where I play an abusive older brother. So I guess to answer your question, I think I look for characters that are different than the last character I played. I always try to find variety and I always try to mix it up and not be the same character.

When I first moved to Los Angeles, I was taking every acting job I could get because that's how you build your resume and that's how you gain experience and everything else. So a lot of times I was offered the jock or the boy next door, or the jock next door. I was expected by casting or by producers or directors or whoever was offering me these roles to stay in my lane. And now, over the last, especially the last five, six years, I've been able to branch out and be other characters. And so that's been really fun.

If you could work with any actor or director, who would it be?

There are so many, I mean, the easy answer would be Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Leonardo DiCaprio. So many other actors that I just love. Amy Adams, Charlize Theron. So many actors that bring so much to their characters and whose careers I respect so much. And then in terms of directors, I would say, Guillermo del Toro, or obviously, Spielberg somebody that everybody would love to work with. What I love about his storytelling and same with James Cameron or Michael Bay is they create worlds that you step in and you live in and their worlds are so large and expansive. And I love that aspect of it. I also love superheroes. I would love to work with Taika Waititi on a Marvel movie, just really, there're so many. I'd love to work with Ava DuVernay. I think she's a very interesting director. Lee Daniels.

Yeah. Tyler Perry is kind of like a goofy director I had wanted to work with for a while. And I worked with him five years ago and that was really fun. I did this Spike Lee movie where Spike Lee was the executive producer. The director was Barry Alexander Brown, and it was a story about civil rights and Spike Lee, I was so excited to be a part of the project. Spike Lee was executive producing. It was a story that took place in the sixties about the evolution of the civil rights movement for Black people in America, in the sixties, in the deep south, particularly. And I was so excited to meet Spike Lee and I never met him through that process. He didn't come to set and I was very, very sad. So I would love to work on a Spike Lee movie also, I feel like that's a box that I haven't ever checked. I don't know. There are so many, but those are just a few.

You started your television career on the Real World DC, how enjoyable was doing that compared to working as an actor?

So I think that for me doing Real World and starting, I don't want to say starting because I did theater, I started doing theater when I was 13 and I had always loved theater and I loved acting at an early age, but I think at the time I auditioned for Real World to help my best friend get on the show. I had never watched the show before. I didn't really know about it and I was going to school for business. And I really think that Real World for me was the universe just picking me up and putting me back on track to what I was meant to be doing because I followed him to the audition. I tried to help him get on the show. I ended up getting on the show.

And after that I started receiving calls from agents and managers in California. I was living in Colorado at the time and they said, "Hey, kid, I saw you on Real World. We think you should move out to LA and give it six months and you'll be a star." And of course it took longer than six months and I'm not where I would like to be, but I'm very grateful for how far I've come. But yeah, it was definitely Real World setting me on that, back on that trajectory, the trajectory that I was on.

What was the reason that you decided to do acting instead of doing more reality TV shows?

That's a good question. So I had an agent at the time and I think I had been living in Los Angeles for a year, maybe, maybe two years. And I had an agent. I had a manager, I was doing acting jobs and they weren't huge, but I was getting TV guest star roles. And I was building my resume and MTV reached out and they asked me if I wanted to do a challenge because after you do Real World or road rules, that's what everybody did. They would do the MTV challenges. And I asked him and he said, "Mike, if you do a challenge, you will forever be put into the category of reality TV person. And you will not be taken seriously as an actor, which is what you want to do. Do you really want to take that risk?" And I said, "No, I do not." So I didn't do a challenge.

Would you return to Days Of Our Lives for future guests stints, if you were asked? Charlie could have a long lost twin or they could make another character for you.

Yeah. So first of all, I loved playing Charlie on Days Of Our Lives. I loved being a part of Salem. I loved being a part of that show and the family and working with all those people. It was such a positive experience for me. So if they did ask me to come back, I would probably say yes, of course it would depend on what that looked like. You said a twin or a long lost brother or somebody else. I know sometimes they bring it back. It's completely different characters and it's the same actor, which is fun. Maybe a little confusing but fun. So yeah, I don't know. I think it would depend, but I would really consider it because I had such a great time on the show already.

Do you think that it's worthwhile for producers to get some ideas from actors, as I know that you were able to insert some of your ideas in the movie Slapface?

Yes. I think that good producers, good writers, good directors. They will listen to the actors when it comes to questions or thoughts or points or changes about their character. And I'm not saying that every actor should go in with a million opinions and try to change everything. An actor is very much a puzzle piece in someone's larger vision in the story, in the vision of the director, in that puzzle, the actor is one piece of that. And there are a lot of people that it takes a village to make a movie or a TV show. It takes a lot of people, but I have noticed that good directors, good writers will have conversations with actors about certain changes to their roles or whatever because the actor then after they accept the role and they do their research, the actor knows that role and that character better than anybody else if they've done their job correctly, because the actor, that's our jobs is to learn a character, to become a character and to embody that character.

And so if something on set doesn't feel right in the dialogue or in action or something else, the actor's responsibility is to stand up for themselves, stand up for the character they created and say, "Look, this doesn't feel right. This doesn't feel real to me, let's have a conversation and figure it out." So I think that's on every project. Specifically with Slapface, I was a producer on Slapface and I was the lead producer on Slapface. So I found the script through a friend. I worked with writer, director, Jeremiah Kipp on changes to the script. We then raised the money. I cast the actors. I helped find the locations. I helped find the crew. I went to New York and this is what I was talking about earlier. And I was acting and producing at the same time.

So I was trying very hard to embody the character of Tom and to be true to Tom and to be authentic and real and believable as a character. But also, everything that went wrong was my fault. So there was one day where one of our vans got caught in the mud. Our 15 passenger van got stuck in the mud and I'm sitting there on my hands and knees digging this van out of their mud because we had to, and we had to shoot the movie and we had to stay on schedule. So that was very difficult. And that was like I said earlier, it's going to be awhile before I produce like that again, while I have a lead role in the film. But yeah, I think that was a special circumstance.

And because of that, now that Slapface has come out and has been successful. And I think we have 85% or 90% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critics are responding well to it. Audiences are responding well to it, it did a handful of film festivals. It won Cinequest, it won something I think at FrightFest in the UK, which was really cool, Grimm Fest. And now, it was on shutter for I think, six months. And now, it just posted to Amazon and to DVD in stores. And because of my involvement, because I was so hands on, I am really grateful and it means so much more that the film is doing well and is getting the response that it's getting.

Were there any scenes that were challenging to film in Slapface?

Yes, there were. I think that one scene in particular ended up being challenging, but it was also one of my favorite scenes of the movie. So after I'm done on my hands and knees digging this giant van out of the mud and I finally get back to set, I had mud on my shirt. I had mud on my hands on my face and they said, "Mike, you have to shoot your scene in 15 minutes or else we're going to fall behind schedule." And I said, "Okay." So I go into the bathroom, I start washing my hands and washing my face. I'm getting ready to shoot. And I thought about it and I was so overwhelmed and frazzled from digging this van out and thinking that this van was going to be stuck there and we were going to be behind schedule and everything, all these producer thoughts were in my head.

And then I just remember washing my hands and trying to calm down. And I thought about it. And I was like, "You know what, Mike?" I'm looking in the mirror. And I said, "You know what, Mike? Just go out there and do the best you can. You're exhausted. You're doing the best on this movie. Just go out there and try to remember your lines and just do the best you can and see what happens." And I did. And I went there and it was the scene in the movie where Lucas played by August Maturo who's an maazing child actor.

I discover a bullet hole in the wall that I assume he fired with our dad's gun in the movie. So I confront him about it. And in the scene, I'm so tired and I'm so exhausted and it's scripted in the movie that I push him and I throw him on the couch and I'm yelling at him and he stands up and in the scene, I just grabbed him. While we were filming, I grabbed him and I just gave him a hug. And I think it was because that's what I was feeling in the scene.

But also, I think because Mike, the person just needed a hug. And so I just grabbed him and I held him and then I pulled him back and we continued the scene and it ended up being one of my favorite parts of the movie because my character is very abrasive and very cold. And that was one of the few moments in the movie that you see his warmth and how much he cares for his little brother. And it was because I just surrendered the scene and surrendered to what was happening and just gave myself permission to just do whatever came out of my body. And it ended up being one of my favorite parts of the film.

How easy do you find getting funding for productions? And can you share any tips for aspiring producers?

That is a great question. I think that you just have to connect with people that care about the story you're trying to tell. I got my start producing documentaries and I would find people they were social cause documentaries. So I did a documentary about reform camps that were abusing kids. I did a documentary about homeless youth in America. And for that one, I reached out to investors that I knew would care about homeless kids living on the streets. So I would always constantly go out and meet people and learn what they cared about. And then I would try to connect projects with what somebody already cared about. There's a movie right now that I'm trying to get off the ground and it has horses in it. And so I'm reaching out to investors that care about horses.

You've been an executive producer for multiple projects. Is there any part of being an executive producer that can be challenging?

Yeah. So with movies, it's a little bit different with TV, but specifically with movies, usually the producer is hands on packaging the film, overseeing contracts, adding assets, talking to talent packaging. And then executive producers are typically anybody that brings in financing or helps bring in an asset or a resource that the film uses, but typically, it's financing or a sale or something like that. So yeah, I mean, it is challenging. Sometimes in filmmaking, you already have financing when you start a project, which is amazing, but oftentimes, you sort of have to finance it as you go. And as you add actors and as the package gets bigger and bigger. So yeah, there are definite challenges with fundraising and with executive producing.

What is the proudest moment of your career?

I would say, I mean, winning an Emmy last year was pretty incredible. And being on that stage, holding the golden statue, holding that Emmy and being able to thank my mom and my dad and my grandparents and everybody else that has helped me so far in my career was a pretty incredible moment. So I would say, that's definitely up there.

What is the best way for people to follow your work?

So the best way for people to follow my work is my website is I'm also on social media. If you just search Mike Manning, on Instagram. Twitter but if you just search Mike Manning. I have a Facebook public page. I don't really use Facebook a ton, but if people are on Facebook, they can follow me there. And yeah, I mean, I'm constantly trying to create projects and put them out in the world. So I love keeping people updated. So I post on there, especially Instagram. I post on Instagram pretty regularly.

We have shortened the above answer and included links to his profiles.

Posted at 29/08/2022 09:09:10 UTC 0 comments

Chrystee Pharris Interview

Chrystee Pharris

We've interviewed Chrystee Pharris. Her TV credits include Scrubs and Passions.

You were on the TV show, Passions, for a few years. What did you like about working on that show?

Passions for me was such a blessing because it was my first series regular, and they had so many different types of characters that were on the show that I just had a blast. I went to work every day with a smile on my face and people were just like, you're too happy. I need you to not be so happy. But I was happy all the time because I was working.

Soaps do about 240 episodes a year. Would you say acting in such a show is helpful for actors?

I do believe that having that type of discipline really is helpful because you're constantly working every single day. So you're using that muscle. I have found when there's so much downtime, now that I've left the soap opera world, when I have downtime too much, sometimes it's hard to memorize the lines as often. So, I do believe being on a soap and you're working every single day is very helpful. But the downside about being on a soap and working every day like that is you have to be so quick on your toes and make a decision really fast when you're an actor on a soap. And that is good for the soap world, but if you're doing comedy, it doesn't work that well because what would happen is a lot of people back in the day, they wouldn't hire soap opera actors if soap opera actors had been on soaps forever. They wouldn't hire them on comedy because the first day that we would rehearse for comedy on a Monday, things would be funny, but soap opera actors, by the time they got ready to tape, it would be stale. And so they weren't really good at being able to think on their toes and do things differently. So that is one of the downsides that I think people used to have. I don't know if that really pertains now, but I remember somebody telling me that years ago.

You also played JD's girlfriend on the show Scrubs. Do the cast members joke around a bit more on a sitcom as opposed to a drama?

No, it's the same. It's the same all the time. Everybody's always having a good time. Not every show is like that. Even on some of the sitcoms that I worked on, people were miserable, but for the most part, when I worked on Scrubs and on Passions, I think we always had a good time and always smiled and had fun. And I think Passions was a little bit different because it had a comedy twist to it. So I think that's the reason why there was a lot of laughter in between things.

I see you've also filmed at docuseries, Queens of Drama. Did you enjoy that experience?

Well I enjoyed being back with Lindsay Hartley again, who was on Passions with me, and getting the opportunity to meet Donna Mills and spend time with her. She has truly been a blessing in my life, even outside of the show, even though the show didn't last but one season, it's been a true blessing. So I enjoyed it in the degree that it was fun to work with these incredible talented women. But I wish that we could've really showed what our potential was if the show would've continued on.

Do you feel that Hollywood has gotten more inclusive since the start of your career?

I think it's always been inclusive just because the people who are at the higher level agencies, they tend to get things a little bit easier because they're with a higher agency. So if you're with Tom Cruise's agency, you're probably going to get a job a lot quicker than somebody who's at a smaller agency. So I think it is inclusive in that sense, but I feel like after the pandemic and Black Lives Matter and all of these different diverse movies that have been doing really well, I think things are starting to change a little bit, which is amazing. It's a good time for things to start changing. And I'm starting to see more diversity with all kinds of things. The film that I just did, Amy Victoria were two deaf women and it happened to come out at the same time as Coda. So I'm finding that there's more films and TV shows that are being inclusive as far as including everyone, not just of a race, but of all different backgrounds.

How did you get into acting?

Well, I knew what I wanted to do when I was four years old. So my mother made sure that I was at a school that had acting in their program. Not that it was a professional school, but they still had acting. And then I went to college, I auditioned for musical theater and acting and got into a couple of schools. I chose Emerson College. And then I moved to Los Angeles and booked seven shows in six months, which is kind of unheard of. And then I booked Passions. So I have a really great story, as I'm sure some people don't have quite the same stories I have. I was very blessed to be able to jump in and book things right away.

Do you have a favorite show that you've acted on?

Oh man. There's so many. When I first started, Sister Sister was probably my favorite show that I did. Ooh, wait. Or was it Keenan and Kel? It's probably a twist between those two shows. And then of course, when I booked Passions was a whole nother ball game. And then Scrubs was another amazing opportunity because it was different. And I got to have my comedic side show up again. And then the newest show is Monogamy, Craig Ross, Jr's Monogamy. And that character is so different that it's probably my most challenging character that I've ever played. So right now it's probably my favorite.

If you could play any role, who would you play?

If I could play any role, I would take and combine Sandra Bullock and Halle Berry together. And they would create this child right here. So all of their characters and movies and Speed and all those, that's what I do. I feel like is my best is romantic comedy, is probably my favorite type of role that I would love to play.

Do you have any projects that you want to plug?

The short film that I directed. It's won two awards. It's won Best Directing and Best COVID Film. It's a labor of love because again, it was two women that were deaf and we filmed that over Zoom because we couldn't be in person because it was COVID at the time. And it turned out really well. And here I thought I was doing something and that I was blessing other people, but I was blessed having the opportunity to work with these women and to realize that I get... Sometimes I get so caught up in, oh, I'm fighting for roles for Black people and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I forget that there's a whole other world out there that is not being seen like the deaf world. And so I've been traveling and meeting all these different people at film festivals that like the disability, I think it's called Reel Abilities.

But I had the opportunity to meet all of these people who were in wheelchairs and who were autistic, who were amazing actors and creators and directors and writers. And hearing their stories has made me a little more aware of people out there that I probably wouldn't have put on my list, but now I want to put them on my list to be a part of my projects. And so that it really is inclusive that we do get to include everybody who's out there. So I'm honored today to be interviewed by you. (Editor's note: The interviewer uses a wheelchair) I think my whole goal in life is to make people feel included and to make people feel loved and appreciated. And if I get to the opportunity to do that my whole life, the acting world is secondary. It's not as important as making sure people feel special.


Posted at 18/08/2022 09:15:34 UTC 0 comments

Bret Lada Interview

Bret Lada from The Andy Baker Tape

Bret Lada is an actor, writer and move producer. He has guest stared in "Law And Order: SVU" and "Alpha House". He talks about his new award winning film "The Andy Baker Tape"

Did you always have a passion for horror movies?

I just like stories that I am affected by. And I think horror is such a visceral genre, that when you're watching a good horror film, you can't help but sit on the edge of your seats. And I didn't grow up being a huge fanatic for the classic horrors, Friday the 13th, or Halloween, or those films. I really like dark psychological stories. And that's where I got the inspiration for The Andy Baker Tape. We wanted this to be more of a dark, psychological story than we did an actual true horror. Are there dark horror elements to this? Absolutely. We didn't set off to make this a horror, but I'm so glad that we're getting considered in that category. And it's affecting people in a visceral way, like horror does.

Can you tell me why you chose The Blair Witch style of filming?

Yes, it was the pandemic. And we chose that for a few reasons. One was to make everything self-contained. So when you're doing found footage style, you just have one camera and it's a few people on set. And you're passing the camera back and forth. And you don't have to have a huge crew with you. You don't have to have a cinematographer, a sound team, people lighting it. You can do it very self-contained, which number one, kept us safe, but it was also very budget friendly.

And being both out of work actors during the pandemic, we didn't have a couple $100,000 to throw into this project. We did everything for close to $2,500 and we could do so by keeping it self-contained, by me doing all the editing, by me doing the post-production work, which I shared with my other producer, Arthur Giamalidis. And shooting in that style was also the best way to tell this story. And ultimately, it's not about if you're shooting found footage or if you're shooting classic narrative, it's what can you do to service the story that you're trying to deliver? And this serviced our story.

Apart from The Blair Witch project, were you inspired by any other films?

I was. We watched so many found footage films and learning the genre and trying to be effective with it. I wanted to study things that would work. I wanted to see what didn't work. And I think I watched about 30 or 40 films over the course of the creation of this. Some of the films I really liked, and also non found footage films. We watched true relationship stories. Planes, Trains and Automobiles plays a huge part in this film. We originally build our film as an emulsion of Plane, Trains and Automobiles and The Blair Witch Project.

But after watching a bunch of different ones, I was definitely inspired by ... There's a film by Bobcat Goldthwait called Willow Creek. I really like that. The Duplass brothers put out a film ... Or Mark Duplass is in a film called Creep, which I didn't know even existed when we started writing this script. And halfway through, I put on Creep and I was like, "There's so many elements here that are in some ways similar, in some ways totally different." But that film is an inspiration in its own right. And I was definitely inspired by what the director Patrick Brice and what Mark Duplass did in that film.

There was another really, really dark one that I watched, Megan Is Missing. The film is the film is really extreme and I didn't take too many elements from that, but you could see what worked in that and you could see what didn't. And I tried to borrow the things that I felt really worked. But we're shooting a film about a YouTube influencer. And as opposed to just watching films, I watched tons of YouTube influencers. I watched tons of YouTube channels. The ones that I really liked were Mark Wiens, who's a food blogger. And I watched a lot of his stuff and I saw the way that he handled his food blogging. I saw the way that he would talk to the camera and how he would bring an audience in. Definitely learned from him. I learned a lot from Casey Neistat, who's a popular YouTube influencer. And there's also a photographer on YouTube, the videographer, Peter McKinnon. And watching all those guys was inspiration for how I could play Jeff and how he could create this film in a realistic way.

Is it enjoyable to write a horror movie?

It is. It really is because you can take things further and you're always trying to figure out how you can make this element a little bit darker. It gives you also freedom to explore different aspects of just writing in general. And you can get creepy and you can let all your perversions out in a way that is artistic and shaped. And horror certainly allows a freedom as a creator to just get out what's inside. And then you can also dial that back in and you can shave it down to what's actually appropriate for the story. But I think horror is such a great genre for writers, actors and filmmakers to explore deep neurosis and deep seated fears and traumas and paranoia, and get that onto a page. And you also explore yourself that way.

Was there a specific reason why you made Jeff a food blogger?

Well, the truth is I love food. I really do. I love food and we wanted to tap into some elements that have never been seen before. I have yet to see any kind of found footage film that encounters a food blogger. It's always like a paranormal expert, or they're doing some kind of, like we're going to film the series of events. A food blogger ... The guys I watched, they have cameras on all the time. So number one, making Jeff a food blogger gave us the excuse to keep the camera rolling consistently, and I could have the camera out there and it just made sense. But it was a fun vehicle. And it was a different way to tell this story, to have Jeff going to food. And I think food is one of the more primal aspects of anyone's life.

Anyone can watch a movie and be like, "Oh." When you watch a Tarantino film, he always drops in a delicious food. In Inglourious Basterds, there's the scene with the apple pie. In Pulp Fiction, there's the Big Kahuna burger. Every time you watch good food on screen, you just have a different kind of sensorial experience. You're like, "I want the burger, I want the pie, I want to have this." And the food we had in this film looks beautiful. And everyone that sees that's like, "Oh, I just want to eat that." And I think it actually involves the viewer more in the story than if we would've made Jeff just a normal YouTube run-of-the-mill influencer.

Are you pleased on how promotion of the film is going?

Yes, I'm so grateful for any response that we've had. And our distributor Terror Films has just been great. And we're working with October Coast as our PR team, and they've been so supportive. And it's just nice to get this film out there and see what everyone is getting out of it. Some people really pick up on the comedy of the film. Some people really pick up on the food element. Others really love the horror aspect of it. For us as the creative team. We're just delighted when anyone sees this film and walks away and they felt that they had a good time. And I can't ask for more than that.

At this point, I've been with this project going on almost two years, right now. We release this Friday and it's finally a chance where I can let things go. I can let the project go out on its own and hopefully word of mouth and our PR team and our distributors will ... That's going to grow and people will see the film from word of mouth, from excitement, from reviews. And all I can hope for is that the general population has as much fun watching this film as we did making it.

Were there any particularly challenging scenes to film, of course, without giving too much away?

Very much, very much. We had a lot of issues. There are a lot of single take shots in this. And there's one in particular where we shoot at a hotel. And there's a confrontation between the two brothers. One of them leaves, gets into a car and drives away. And honestly, we did this in ... It was about a five and a half minute single take shot, very difficult. So if one thing goes wrong, the shots ruined. You have no way to cut. You can't break it out. We kept having an issue when the camera would go on the dashboard of the car and the one character would drive away, it would just fall off. It's 3:00 in the morning, we have nothing open around us. We're trying to figure out how we can actually get this shot done. Dustin in his own right is kind of a MacGyver.

So we're in the hotel room. They have a coffee station where they have coffee and two butter knives. So we made this little Jerry-rigged camera case with two butter knives. And then when we took the camera and we jammed it into the dashboard, the butter knives actually got wedged and it held the camera in place. If we didn't figure that out, we would've never got this shot. And it was the only thing. I mean, gaffe tape wasn't holding anything. We couldn't get anything done. That was certainly a difficult shot. We also had a lot of problems with 5G towers. 5G towers are all over New Jersey. And the frequency they emit just cuts through any kind of audio. A lot of the scenes we had we're shooting, and we're hearing this noise going through the audio. And it was actually the 5G towers.

We had another scene where we had about $150 worth of food. The sun's going down, we're trying to shoot the food blogger scenes. How do we get this? How do we get this story out there? So real quick, we found a dumpster behind the restaurant. We flipped it on its side. We tucked the camera in there. We wrapped copper metal or copper coils around everything and put water bottles all over the place. This made a makeshift Faraday cage, which buffered the radio frequency from the 5G towers. And we were able to capture that audio without any of that noise going through.

You deal with problems on any film shoot, but on this one in particular, because it was just the two of us and we were self-contained, we really had to work in an adaptive way. And we had to meet these challenges with the same kind of inventiveness that we wrote the script with.

Did your previous experience in the film industry help with creating the film and how?

Yes, very much so. I have never and found footage before, but I've been around some great directors. And I've been around productions for a long time and I've seen what works and I've learned from watching people that are more successful than I have. I did this television series years ago called I Love You, But I Lied, which was a Lifetime show. It was their first scripted show and it was shot in a mockumentary documentary way. And when I was shooting that, I remember thinking, "Wow, this is such a great way to shoot a ton of material in a short time." You don't have to light it like a traditional ... It's not like we're shooting The Good Wife, or the movie Dune, where you have to have all this amazing lighting. You can really rely on practical lighting that makes things look real.

And I worked two episodes on that series. And working on that was probably where the idea of doing a found footage film really resonated with me because I realized you can do this in a budget friendly way. You can make things visceral and real, and you don't need to have the technical wherewithal of doing a multimillion dollar narrative film. You can really get with doing a lot. Being on that certainly helped influence.

Working as an actor for years, you also pick up a lot of different ways to tell stories. And I've had the fortune to have auditioned for truly thousands of jobs over the time. And you read a lot of scripts and you see in the scripts when things are too long, when things are too short. You know what works, what doesn't work, if you're giving away too much exposition, if you're not. And in a way it's mud on the wall, because you go through all these projects and all these auditions, and you put yourself out there. And sometimes you don't book the job and that's okay. It's the lessons you get from even just working on the audition, or working on the scripts and seeing what other people are doing.

And you can always learn by watching and experiencing. And at the end of the day, I had this acting teacher at Montclair State University, Suzanne Trauth. Everything to her, she said was mud on the wall. And when you start off, you throw mud on the wall, it drops down. The wall's not covered. After years of throw and mud at that wall, you have a covered wall. So I've been influenced by every single thing I've I've ever worked on.

Are you going to continue to create more films? And what kind of themes would you want to do?

Yes, I am. And I have a script that I'm workshopping now. It's a really dark thriller about relationships and marriage. I do enjoy the dark. I really enjoy this kind of pseudo horror world where it's not a direct horror, but there's, "I can't believe those moments happened in it." I want people to take a psychological trip with me and that's what I'm writing right now. It's also my response to...

A lot of my friends are getting married. A lot of my friends are having kids. I'm seeing the trajectory of the programmed life that you can get pushed into. And I think it's my rebellion towards that. And I've been working on the script for quite some time and I think I have something really fun and interesting that I am ready to share with the world.

If you could play any character in TV or movies, who would you like to play?

That's a great question. I want to say the part for me hasn't been written yet, because I haven't been cast yet. And when something comes along that's right for me, that fits my sensibilities, I'll be there. If I was going to look back at some older parts that I really liked, I would've loved to have taken a stab at Christian Bale's character in American Psycho. I would've had such a fun time doing that.

I love early Jack Nicholson. And like I said, I'm such a different persona than he is, but there's a film that he did called Five Easy Pieces. And I think any young man can relate to that and relate to the themes in that. And I would love to attack that part in my own way. I wouldn't do anything that Jack did. And Jack is just incredible in that film.

I find myself drawn towards also the writing of Tennessee Williams. I loved him in drama school and Tennessee Williams took beautiful male archetypes and totally dismantled that. And he brings in a lot of shame and a lot of pain and a lot of vulnerability. And as a stage actor, I've always wanted to play Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire. I did a version when I was 20. I don't think I was old enough yet. I want to revisit it now that I've matured a little bit.


Posted at 14/08/2022 04:04:47 UTC 0 comments

Jeremy Elwood Interview

Jeremy Elwood

Jeremy Elwood is a comedian and actor. He has appeared in "7 Days", "The Project" and "The Letter for the King"

Has stand up comedy helped your acting career, or vice versa?

Yes and no. Once you're known as a standup, it can be a hurdle for people to take you seriously as an actor, particularly in film and TV. Theatre is a little different, I've gotten some great theatre roles because of my standup background – the timing and stage presence that comedians need is a real bonus.

Is the New Zealand acting landscape competitive when it comes to getting roles?

Yes, definitely, but having said that so is the acting landscape anywhere, I think. There aren't ever all that many roles going, and there are more good actors than you might think.

Are there any additional things that you need to think about when doing a televised set as opposed to doing a set without a camera?

There are some technical things – where you should aim your eyeline, trying not to move around too much, things like that. But the biggest trick is to try and forget the cameras are there. That's not easy. Oh, and rehearsing stand up in front of cameras before the audience arrive is a nightmare!

How difficult is being a head writer on topical comedy shows?

It totally depends on what's been in the news that week. Some days are easier than others, and some stories lend themselves more easily towards jokes. It gets particularly hard when a story runs for a long time – after nearly three years of COVID, for example, coming up with a new angle on it can get tiring.

Do people heckle you when you do political comedy when you do stand up comedy?

For some reason, I've hardly ever been heckled, regardless of what I've been talking about. You do get people who disagree with you, which is fine by me, and every now and again you get an audience who just don't want to hear anything topical, but I can't control that so I just tend to do my thing and move on.

Why do you do political comedy as opposed to less controversial content?

I'd call what I do topical comedy, rather than political, although of course everything can be politicised. And I certainly don't try to be controversial just for the sake of it. But to answer your question, I do comedy about things that interest, amuse or anger me. Comedy about stuff I don't feel strongly about bores me senseless.

Some comedians think that cancel culture and political correctness have ruined comedy, what's your thoughts on this?

I think people are over-thinking comedy most of the time, on both sides of the debate. It's not nearly as important as most people seem to think it is. And the simple truth is there is, and always has been, a lot of really shit comedy out there, so if you don't like something, find someone else to watch. Trying to "cancel" someone is a waste of energy, and hardly ever achieves anything.

What has been your favorite scripted project to act in?

An Irish play called "The Slapdash Assassin" by Mark Power. I did the world premiere at The Court Theatre in Christchurch, and later did an Auckland season of it. It's such a brilliant piece of writing, and would make a great film (that I'm sure I wouldn't get cast in!).

You did lots of work for free at the start of your career, would you recommend this approach to others, or have times changed?

When I first moved to Auckland, I deliberately did every gig I could (including a ton of free ones) for one year. After that, I stopped working for free unless it was for charity or something I cared about supporting. I have no idea what it would be like starting out in comedy now, but I suspect there are even more free gigs around, and seeing as the most important thing you can do when you're starting is get as much stage time as possible, then that's where you need to start.

What other things have helped your career the most?

I think treating it as my job, was the biggest thing. Bad gigs are just a bad day at the office, and good gigs don't mean you're suddenly some kind of superstar. Knowing that helps take a little bit of the anxiety out of what is, frankly, a pretty strange career path.

Posted at 31/05/2022 05:48:50 UTC 1 comment

Camille Solari Interview

Camille Solari

We have an interview with Camille Solari, she's the creator and cast member of "Charlie" on ROKU TV and Amazon Prime.

What made you want to do a sitcom from a baby's/kid's perspective?

When I was pregnant with Charlie (my first) I watched a lot of children's television to see what Charlie will be eventually watching and I felt there was room for a show that was live-action more in the POV (point of view) of a baby/toddler, but also funny, and had some grown up humour mixed in, to make it fun in a co-viewership way - meaning both the child and the parent can enjoy watching the television. Also, I really wanted to be around my baby/child, but yet I wanted to continue to work as a comedian + writer + director - and making a show where I got to be around my daughter all day was perfect and our dog Rocky who also is on the show. Then of course I had another baby Blade, and she joined the cast as well. Blade is 5 and Charlie is 7.

Most sitcoms don't make it past 3 seasons, you've at least double that. Are you proud?

It's been tricky. I mean I am the showrunner, so I am writing the episodes, directing them and it's a lot. Especially working with young children and animals, and it's hard to believe we have been doing the show for 7 years. Also, this show is low budget for television and so you have to get creative on many aspects of the filmmaking process! We use a lot of young filmmakers on the production, and they seem to enjoy getting hands on experience with TV production.

I am proud of getting to do a television show in New Zealand when Covid had shut-down most of the world. I created the show, hosted it, and directed it, and got to travel across New Zealand getting meet and interview, and be very silly with a number of "Celebrity" Kiwis. The show aired on TV Three and it was a lot of fun.

As far as my series Charlie, I've always wanted to have a TV series and about 8 years ago I decided once I had Charlie (my first daughter) I would have to devote all my energy into doing just that. It's an ideal creatively for me to get to play a comedian mother + direct and write. The producing side of making TV and Films has always come quite easy for me, I've written and sold and produced a handful of features as well as television networks in USA, Canada and most recently New Zealand.

What were the challenges of establishing a sitcom?

It's nearly impossible to get a show off the ground. Especially to do it in an independant style as I have.

Did covid affect filming? How?

Not really, when Covid was rampant we moved the show from Los Angeles to New Zealand, and when Covid hit New Zealand we went back to Los Angeles and filmed there.

How has staring in a sitcom affected your stand up comedy career?

I got into stand-up with the hope that I could land a TV series. Stand up sharpened my comedy chops and helped me be a better writer and performer.

What was your favourite Charlie moment of Charlie so far?

Getting to travel all over the world, especially in the early episodes. We went to Jordan, Duba, and we shot a really fun episode in Mainland China.

How does Charlie feel about being the star of a TV show? Can they see Lately she has been binge watching herself on Amazon Prime video. I think that's good? I think she's her biggest fan. Ha ha.

What are some of the challenges of working with animals?

My dog Rocky is the best. He is calm on set and mostly willing, and in real life won't listen to anything I say.

Where do you get your ideas for story lines and characters?

When we have to deliver an episode, I literally am writing days before we film, it's crazy, I wish I had more time. It usually stems from real life events with Charlie and her sister Blade who is also becoming a big part of the show.

How do you juggle raising a child, doing a sitcom and a stand up comedy career?

It's getting harder. I feel like my kids go to school and it feels like 1 hour and then I have to pick them up. The most important skill is dropping everything I'm working to to make sure they have my undivided attention. That's hard, but I want to be there for them. and I think I am. I guess the upside of being a mother in television who LOVES creating the best costumes and production designer - is I throw the most killer parties for my kids.

Posted at 28/05/2022 02:58:02 UTC 0 comments

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