First of all, why don't you introduce yourself to those of us
unfortunate enough to not already know you?
Hey Michael and everyone! I am an actress, writer, director
and producer. I have fulfilled all of those roles in my own projects
to greater/lesser extents, and have acted in and directed other people's
projects. I've got about 6 of my own short films out, with a few
more coming out in the next few weeks.
What got you
into the filmworld to begin with, and what can you tell us about your
education on the subject?
When I was a kid, I wanted to
act. I was in plays and took some classes. My parents
tolerated it as a pastime, but it was HEAVILY discouraged as anything to
be pursued further. So I floundered around for several years, while
I learned a "respectable" profession. Though I had swept
my desire under the carpet, it reemerged a couple years ago, and I decided
to go after it. I started auditioning and acting in a bunch of
projects. After about six months, I realized that if I wanted to get
a demo tape together, it would take about ten years to accumulate enough
material of good technical quality as well as interesting scenes. So,
I decided to write some scenes and make my own tape. Through this, I
discovered a talent for writing, and I started vomiting up a whole bunch
Acting, writing, producing,
directing, editing and whatnot, you seem to have done it all - so what do
you enjoy the most, what could you actually do without?
could do without editing, though I am moving toward it rather than away.
It will just be more efficient if I can take care of it myself.
I think that acting and writing, in that order, are at the top of
the list for me. It would be nice if I didn't direct my own pieces,
because it's hard to be both behind the camera and in front, however, I
have a specific vision that I want to achieve. It would probably
take someone who I have a wonderful pre-existing relationship with to
direct one of my scripts.
talk about a few current films of yours:
Race Card - what is it about, and how did it come into being?
germ of the idea was a guy at a dinner table who is an agitator. For
him to be agitating, there naturally had to be characters for him to rile
up. So, they arose from what I wanted him to accomplish.
Frank O'Donnell as Harold
were your inspirations when writing The
Race Card, and how hard was it to not drift off into political
incorrectness for the joke's sake?
A lot of Harold's jabs
have to do with ethnic food. I thought that might keep it from being
too inflammatory, rather than going after color, speech patterns, customs
-- those things can easily become very unfunny. Though, some people
who have viewed it, thought that Harold was VERY inflammatory. I
hope that that didn't ruin it for anyone. I haven't gotten any
feedback to that effect.
Do talk about your
directorial approach for a bit!
Race Card, I did a lot of coverage. Meaning,
shooting a lot of footage that you know you're not going to use
in the end. We put the camera on one character and filmed
the whole script. Put it on the next character, filmed the
whole script, and so on. This made my job in the editing
room a freakin nightmare. I had to wade through lots of
footage, carefully combing for the best facial
expressions/reactions. So, essentially, a lot of the
direction was done in the edit. It felt like it took forever
(also had some system crashes) and by the time I was done, I had
completely lost all objectivity.
So, I completely changed my approach. Now, I sit down and
visualize my shots, write them, out and shoot strictly from the shot
list. It takes much less time both on shoot day and in the edit
room, and the actors have a much better idea of what is actually going
to show up on film. This method of shooting is more start and stop
in terms of working through a script. Some actors like it, cause
they don't have to say all of their lines at once. Some don't like
it, because they feel it destroys the mood.
What can you tell us
about your cast, and about the shoot as such?
Will Bouvier, Mai Delapa, Mary Hronicek, Audrey
sitting: Frank O'Donnell
At the risk
of being immodest, I think I am really good at casting. The first
person I asked was Frank O'Donnell (Harold), who had played my husband in
a webseries. I knew he would kick it out of the park, and he did.
One major problem I had in the editing room was choosing which shots
of his to use, because he was always doing something interesting. By the
Frank is a stand up comedian, and was recently inducted into the Rhode
Island comedy hall of fame. Next came the character of Marcel.
I needed someone who could do a French accent, so I tickled a guy I
know who lived in France. He said "You should use my friend
Will." My first thought was no thanks, I don't need your little
drinking buddy. Then he told me he was in a movie called Black Rock.
I looked it up, and was really impressed. Then I figured that
he was out of my league! I figured he was at least a union actor,
which I was not in the position to accommodate. It turns out, he was
up for it, wasn't union, and I couldn't be happier with his performance.
For the character of Laura, I didn't know any Asian actors, so I
held video auditions. I was open to the character being either male
or female. Mai did a great read, which is basically what you see in
the film. Harold's wife (Mary Hronicek) very graciously provided the
location and set design, and I asked her to play the part. I'm very
happy with her performance as well.
Look - what is that one about, and what can you tell us about your
character in it?
Look is about a mom who is trying to
help her son overcome his stutter. Her efforts have unintended
consequences, and awkwardness ensues! She is a very involved mother,
maybe a little bit too involved.
What were your inspirations for that
one, and how did the project get off the ground?
I am a speech
pathologist, and I have seen situations where a child/adolescent
doesn't recognize the actual moments of stuttering. So before we can
address the disfluency, we need to do a little work to recognize the
disfluency. I put the mom in the position of trying to help her son
with this, and because she is so focused on what's going on with him, she
doesn't realize the signals she she is putting out to others.
do talk about the shoot as such, and what can you tell us about your
director Yvonne LaBarge, and your collaboration with her?
My first film was in a festival last year, and Yvonne also had a film
there. Her film won the big prize there (it's called The Womanhood). If you look up that film, you'll see that she is
gifted with comedy. The organizers of this festival are also a
production team -- an excellent team at that. I submitted some
scripts to them, The
Look being one. They agreed to do it, and
asked Yvonne to direct. It was such a pleasure showing up to set
to act, knowing the quality of their work, and that they were taking
care of all of the details. Usually on shoot day (on my projects),
I am transporting equipment and setting up food, coordinating people,
directing, acting, breaking down equipment and such. That day was
a piece of cake. Yvonne was very prepared, and she brought more to
my script than I ever could have.
That production team is called Stories By The River
and they just shot another one of my scripts called A
Regular Haunt, which is a comedic ghost story.
Knives - a few words about that one and your character?
is a first class psycho. She was terrifically fun to play. We
shot that on a very cold January day.
did you get hooked up with that project, and how did you end on the
producing side as well?
John K. Fiore, the writer,
approached me on Facebook about producing it. I didn't know him, and I
don't know why he picked me. I knew it would feel like too much work
to do everything myself, and John suggested asking Chris Esper [Chris
Esper interview - click here] to direct. So
I did, and together we put together a small team (DP and gaffer). Through
this whole effort, John and Chris have become good buddies of mine. Both
good guys, and lots of fun to joke around with.
A few words about Steak
Knives' director Chris Esper [Chris
Esper interview - click here] as well as the shoot as such?
Chris, at the moment, is fulfilling an internship in LA. We
communicate a lot through Facebook, with all of the Steak
pre and post production. He is a wonderfully kind person, with a
great sense of humor. He has a real passion for directing, and this
enthusiasm permeates all of his encounters. I have used him as a
sounding board for various scripts, and he always gives me great feedback.
I value his opinion and our friendship.
recently also worked on two episodes of the webseries
In the Bedroom
- now what can you tell us about these, and how did
you get involved with the project to begin with?
auditioned for Seth Chitwood a couple years ago, and he cast me as his
mother in The World's Worst Director, which is where I was married to
Frank O'Donnell. Seth also cast me in another webseries of his.
When he assembled the In the Bedroom-series,
he asked me to write a
script, the parameters being two people in a bedroom, 5-7 minutes. Within
a couple hours of him asking, I vomited up the script they used called Out
The Window, a comedy. He asked me to direct Pat and
by Mike Messier [Mike Messier
interview - click here]. Mike just told me yesterday that he requested me to
direct it. I was surprised when I read the script, because it is
really heavy/dark, and my main orientation is comedy. But, I figured
it would be a good challenge for me, and it was.
other filmwork of yours you'd like to touch? And any future
projects you'd like to talk about?
I have a three minute sci fi comedy coming out soon called A
Warming Trend. And I have a 10 minute comedy coming out in
two weeks called No Headache Tonight. I can't wait for you
to see that one. It was the first one that I didn't intend
to appear in, but my legs ended up making a cameo. It
stars two terrific actors - Frankie Capobianco and Topher
Hanson. They delivered wonderfully comedic performances,
and I really want the world to see them!
If I can find a 9 foot deep pool I can shoot in, I will produce a short
How would you
describe yourself as an actress, a writer and a director?
pretty much already described my directing approach above. Prepared
and time-efficient, with shots that serve the story. I do love
comedy, both writing and acting. I think I'll make some shorts that
aren't strictly comedy - a dramedy and a sweet drama are kicking around
in my brain, but definitely more comedies are in the pipeline.
actress, I like to bring nuance and story arc and, since I have fulfilled
many different roles on set, I understand the importance of team play, and
serving the director's vision. I have acted in dramatic pieces, and
I enjoy that as well.
As a writer, I have done mostly stream of
conscious blips, letting the pen do the work rather than my mind. I
realize that as I write longer pieces, it will require more thinking,
rather than blurting, as I'll actually have to pay attention to structure,
and fleshing out characters.
writers, actresses, whoever else who inspire you?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Actors: Sidney Poitier, Alan Arkin, Frances McDormand,
Clive Owen, Tom Hardy, and many more.
Writer/directors: Robert Rodriguez, Shane Carruth.
The Painted Veil, Lost In
Translation, This Is
Spinal Tap, A Hard Day's Night.
... and of course, films you really deplore?
they don't really stick with me.
website, Facebook, whatever else?
Anything else you are
dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
really appreciate the work you are doing to support independent film
Michael! Thank you so much!
for the interview!