When writer/director JT Mollner first sat down to write “Flowers in December” a few years back, his main inspiration was his friend, legendary actress Dee Wallace.
Having seen flashes of her real character range in films like “The Frighteners”, Mollner wanted to write something equally dark, but much more realistic for Wallace. But what started out as a sort of one woman show quickly evolved into an ensemble piece featuring other interesting characters and a dark, complex love story. A story that Mollner himself says is one of the most interesting and compelling things he’s ever written.
Flowers in December tells the story of Hannah, a hard living “bad girl” in her mid 50’s who gave up on life years ago when she lost her one true love to uncontrollable circumstances. Now, meandering through her days on auto-pilot, she lives a gritty, yet stable life in a West Texas trailer park with her new husband and 22-year-old daughter, Holly. Even though on the surface it seems she’s picked up the pieces, a deep obsession with her lost love still consumes her, and she will stop at nothing to reunite with him. Even if it means the destruction of her new family, madness, or worse.
The film stars Dee Wallace (E.T, Cujo, The Frighteners) along with her real-life daughter Gabrielle Stone (CUT!, Speak No Evil, Zombie Killers), Robert Craighead (Children’s Hospital, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and JB Blanc (The Count of Monte Crisco, Breaking Bad).
Mollner, along with producer Chris Ivan Cevic have recently launched an Indigogo campaign to help turn their vision into a “cinema ready” film. With typical film projects, everything is already panned out. But the cool thing about Indigogo is that everyone who contributes becomes more personally involved in the film’s success. Here’s your chance to help make that happen.
As a “thank you” for contributing to the project, there are numerous rewards available. Everything from Executive Producer Credit to signed DVD’s, autographed posters, a chance to visit the set and even a rare opportunity to be the only featured “extra” in the film.
I spoke with actress Gabrielle Stone about her role in the film and how fans can help.
How did you become involved in “Flowers In December”?
I signed on after JT sent me the script. I’ve done two shorts with him before, both that were winners at The Hollyshorts Festival and received distribution. The script was fantastic and he had an amazing cast assembled that drew me to the project.
What attracted you to the story?
I love the theme of the script. It’s all about the positives and negatives of love and relationships. How love can trap us in unhealthy circumstances as well as set us free. In a short film, it explores numerous different outlooks in various relationships.It’s the story of a woman’s undying love for someone and how it affects her and those around her.
Tell me a little about the Indigogo project and how fans can help!
You can simply go to the website and select how much you’d like to contribute. They’ve set up a bunch of perks you can receive. There are some great photos and videos being released every few days for people to check out as well.
Let’s discuss another one of your upcoming projects. What can you tell me about your role in “Zombie Killers”?
I play Nikki Slater, the main characters girlfriend. She’s a tough chick with a good heart. It was definitely an awesome role to bring to life.
As an actress, do you feel any added pressure having to work with your mom?
Not at all. I love my mom and she’s my best friend, but on set she’s just another co-star I’m working with. We had a great time shooting our one scene together. It was the first time we had gotten the chance to work together. She plays my boyfriend’s mom in the film.
What is your favorite movie that your Mom has made?
“Cujo”. I still think she should have been up for the Oscar for it. After that film I knew I would always be safe…cause my mom could kick ass with a shotgun! [laughs].
What else are your currently working on?
“CUT!” should be out later this year and “Speak No Evil” just got picked up by Lionsgate and will be releasing later this year as well. I’ll be shooting “Stray” starting in May for three weeks in Pennsylvania. I get to work with my Zombie Killers co-star Dan McLaughlin again so I’m looking forward to starting it. Then a week after I wrap on “Stray” I’ll be in NYC shooting ‘Once When I Was Dead’, a festival short with Scott Perry.
How early on in life did you know that acting was going to become a passion?
I always thought I wanted to be an actress because I watched both my parents do it growing up. But it wasn’t until I did my first short film (which was with JT Mollner) that I realized I never wanted to do anything else.
For more info on Flowers In December and how to contribute Click Here!
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While working on various film and television projects, actress Chuti Tiu was motivated to write a story about the reflecting values of women in Asian-American culture. Together with actor/director (and real-life husband) Oscar Torre they’ve brilliantly captured that vision as well as the essence of crossing from one stage of life to the next with their emotional new film, Pretty Rosebud.
In Pretty Rosebud Tiu plays the role of Cissy Santos, a career driven woman desperately searching for what will truly make her happy and in the process makes questionable decisions and encounters family rebellion. Moving and at times controversial, the film explores the traditional roles of women in immigrant culture and what happens when those expectations are ignored. Pretty Rosebud also stars Kipp Shiotani as Cissy’s out of work husband Phil, himself going through a transitional struggle of his own.
In addition to his supporting role, Oscar Torre shines in his directorial debut. With no formal education in film production but having spent countless hours on set as an actor, Torre delivers a true sense of Tiu’s flawed, believable characters going through transition. A coming of age for adults and a passion project for both Tiu and Torre, Pretty Rosebud takes a personal, intimate look at family rebellion and infidelity. More importantly, it’s a story about about striving to find your own voice.
The film is set to premiere at the Reel World Film Festival in Toronto, Canada in early April to be followed by a theatrical run in select cities across America. More festival and release dates will soon follow to make this must-see film accessible to all.
I spoke with Tiu and Torre about the making of Pretty Rosebud and more.
What inspired you to write the story?
Chuti Tiu (Tiu): In terms of values, I really wanted to explore the conflict between immigrant parents and first generation American born children. As children, we’re taught to follow the sometimes stereotypical pressures from family tradition, religion and culture. It’s only when we become adults that we realize it might not be something we want. Then there’s the idea of infidelity. When a man is unfaithful, society doesn’t seem to be as antagonistic as much as if it were a woman. I wanted to explore that as well.
Oscar, did you always plan to direct the film?
Oscar Torre (Torre): Originally, I hoped to just have a part as an actor, but as we started looking at directors and thinking about what we were looking for I began to think that it might be something I could do. I had never directed anything before and wasn’t sure if I wanted to take on that pressure and responsibility. Finally, I just threw it out there and to Chuti’s credit, we were both on the same page.
Tiu: I remember the first time Oscar read the script. He really loved it and wanted me to make it. Then as our relationship grew, he encouraged me more and more. I have to credit his encouragement and belief in me that it got done.
What was the filming process like?
Torre: It was the most stressful thing I’ve ever done but also one of the most rewarding. I really enjoyed the creative aspect of putting it all together. From story boarding, to determining camera shots and even choosing colors for the walls. Then being able to go out and actually shoot a film that had already been inside my head for months. There were some challenges along the way when things didn’t work out the way I had originally envisioned, but I really enjoyed the process of overcoming them.
What was it like working with Kipp Shiotani?
Tiu: Kipp was wonderful and was really involved in the creative process. For us, it was almost like playing tennis. You’re really able to volley back and forth when you find someone who is just as passionate as you are about the craft and story.
What can you tell me about the film’s upcoming theatrical run?
Tiu: We’ll have our Canadian premiere in Toronto next month and will then be having showings in LA, Salt Lake City, Chicago, Milwaukee and Miami.
Torre: We’ve also been chosen for the Big Island Film Festival in Hawaii at the end of May and have a few more festivals lined up. Then we’ll be looking into a larger theatrical release and VOD.
What other projects are you currently working on?
Tiu: I’m currently writing a project of my own that has to deal with the issue of death and how we wrap our heads around it. I also play Nurse Lailani in a series called Chasing Life which premieres this summer on ABC Family.
Torre: I play a lead role in a film called “Eenie Meenie Miney Moe” that’s coming out April 15th on Red Box. I also have a script for a short film that I’ll direct and also star in with Chuti. It’s the story about two characters from two different worlds who have nothing in common but meet once a week in a motel room. There are a few twists in the story as well. Then there’s Lunarticking, which is a film Chuti and I co-wrote along with a friend. It’s an emotional thriller that we hope to start filming at the end of the year.
How does completing this film compare to some of your other projects?
Torre: It’s much more rewarding. In a way, it’s like having a child. You don’t know what he or she is going to grow up to be like or how they’ll be perceived by the world, but you’re proud with each step that you take. Having people come up and tell us they identify with the characters is the real gift. It was our vision, but it took the help of a lot of people behind the scenes to make it happen. As an actor and director you often get a lot of credit, but if you don’t have a great team bringing their own creativity and input you don’t have a film. Our cast and crew was extremely diverse in background and it was important to have that kind of family to work with. They’re all part of this journey and its been fantastic.
Tiu: As an actor, I always thought of myself as one of the colors being used for an amazing painting. For this project, Oscar and I have been the painter and the canvas as well as some of the colors. It’s been our baby from the blank page on up and it’s great to see that we’ve been able to move and inspire people. It’s why we create art in the first place.
The deserts of Los Ranchos, CA aren’t exactly what you would call your typical spring break destination. But for long-time college friends Rachel (Sharon Hinnendael), Chloe (Nicole Zeoli) and Mila (Christina Corigliano) it’s the perfect place for a week of booze, boys and fun in the sun.
When Rachel’s wealthy father offers her the keys to a friend’s amazing desert house, it’s almost a dream come true. That is until she discovers that access to the beautiful home comes with a catch…
Rachel has to take along her two younger, obnoxious sisters (real-life twins Morissa and Alana O’Mara).
Rachel makes plans for her boyfriend and his pals to meet them at the home later that night, but during the drive up the girls find themselves terrorized by a mysterious black muscle car with tinted windows.
Upon reaching the isolated home things really begin to unravel. The boys never show up and the three friends soon discover that what first appears to be a prank turns out to be something much, much worse.
Although an original story on its own, Machine Head scores bonus points by using mild bits and pieces from several great horror films to help get its message of terror across, including elements of Halloween, Scream and even Friday the 13th. And when you combine that trio of terror with three hot girls and a muscle car, what’s not to love?
I spoke with actress Sharon Hinnendael (Rachel) about her experiences working on Machine Head and what she loves most about making horror films.
What attracted you most to this project?
I really liked the script. It wasn’t a typical horror film. I was excited about it from the first time I read it. It was fun and scary. Then I met Jim [Valdez, Director], Christina and Nicole. Everyone was so cool and we all focused on what our job was and brought it to life. This group of people I got really close to. The whole filming process couldn’t have been better.
How would you describe the story of Machine Head?
It’s a story about girls wanting to go away for a break and have a relaxing time, but then they start getting messed with and can’t figure out why or who. I remember we did a lot of night filming in Palm Springs which was really intense. Sometimes we would be out there late at night and I would think “Wow, this is creepy. If this really happened it would be terrifying!” [laughs].
What makes horror such a great genre?
The thing I really love about these movies is being on set and seeing how they’re made. I remember growing up watching The Shining and just being absolutely terrified by it. I have a very creative mind so in the middle of the night I would sometimes see things that weren’t there, or turn something that was there into something else [laughs]. It really had an effect on me. Making horror movies is a cool process to be a part of. Having something be that strong where it can terrorize you really interests me.
You have an intense crying scene in this film. How do you prepare for that?
For certain scenes, I think of things that are going on in my life and use that emotion to make it happen. For this one, my uncle had passed away a year before we filmed. I was close to him and remember for that scene I really thought about him and it helped me. Part of the job is having to get to that place pretty quickly.
Did you always know you wanted to be an actress?
I was in plays in high school and loved it but originally never thought about making it a career. I was from Green Bay and started modeling when I was 12 and went to New York and Europe and worked a few other places. The original plan was for me to move to Brooklyn, but a manager I was working with at the time convinced me to come to LA for a month to give it a go. While I was there I booked a few jobs and things started happening. I really love the acting part of the process.
Is there any advice you can give to other actors?
Really love what you do every day and don’t think of money or fame. The whole goal or the process is to come out of a project having had fun and made others feel something.
What other projects are you currently working on?
I have a film that’s going to be doing the festivals called “Anatomy Of A Love Seen”. It’s a lesbian love story that’s all improv and really intense. It’s one of my favorite projects because the creativity was all my own. I have a few other things coming up as well. My life is pretty crazy right now.
Machine Head comes to DVD on March 25th
Congratulations go out to Psycho Rock Productions and the feature film CUT!, which just won FOUR major awards at the prestigious Indie Fest Film Festival.
CUT! won THREE prestigious Awards of Excellence and ONE Award of Merit from the Indie Fest, including awards for Best Feature Film, Best Director (David Rountree) and Best Leading Actor (David Banks). CUT! also won the Award for Merit for Best Overall Sound Impact.
Director/Producer David Rountree was all smiles saying that “we were thrilled just to be accepted into Indie Fest. To win in four major categories was a tremendous accomplishment for our film. Winning has really been a reward for all of the hard work that so many people have put forth into making this film what it has become.”
The Indie Fest recognizes film professionals who demonstrate exceptional achievement in craft and creativity, and those who produce standout entertainment or contribute to profound social change. Entries are judged by highly qualified professionals in the film industry. Information about the Indie Fest and a list of recent winners can be found at www.theindiefest.com.
Best Feature Film
Best Director: David Rountree
Best Leading Actor: David Banks
Merit Award: Overall Sound Impact
In winning an Indie, Psycho Rock Productions joins the ranks of other high profile winners of this internationally respected award. Thomas Baker, Ph. D., who chairs the Indie Fest, had this to say about the latest winners, “The Indie is a very difficult award to win. Entries are received from all around the world. The Indie helps set the standard for craft and creativity. The judges were pleased with the exceptionally high quality of entries. The goal of the Indie is the help winners achieve the recognition they deserve.”
You can check out my interviews with the cast of CUT! below.
The film is expected to be released theatrically this summer:
Director Carrie Carnevale’s debut short film, “Beside Her” is a love story and fictional portrayal of the true human condition. An amazing piece of film work that’s been screened to audiences world wide. Now, here’s your chance to see the film for yourself.
Join Carnevale and members of the cast and crew of Beside Her for a screening at this year’s Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival on Saturday, March 15th .
Along with the amazing talents of actors Ashley Watkins, Erika Flores and Owen Conway, Carnevale delivers a film containing all the elements that make for a great story: love, tension, drama, suspense and even a twist in the end for good measure!
While watching “Beside Her” you quickly become oblivious to the fact that the lovers you see on-screen are female, and become more enthralled with the deep sense of love and connection they both share with each other. But Beside Her is much more than just a love story. It’s a beautiful film about the human condition and the connection we all share.
The Alliance of Women Filmmakers Inc. is a non-profit 501c(3) organization established to empower women filmmakers to create diverse roles for women as well as increase exposure for women made movies. Each March, they produce the Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival which showcases narratives, documentaries, animation and student short films made by women of diverse backgrounds from around the world.
Beside Her will be screening as part of the LA Women’s Fest Shorts Program Four. For more information and to purchase tickets Click Here
Be sure to type in the code “AWF” to get a discounted ticket price of $6.00.
For more information on “Beside Her” and 17 Films Click Here
Actress Amber Bollinger is no stranger to the world of horror, having already accumulated a number of them on her film resume. But it was her role in the 2010 scream filled “Pelt” that caught the attention of director Paul Morrell, who asked her to audition for a role in “Big Bad Wolf” (releasing on DVD March 4th). Working together alongside other talented cast and crew, this twisted version soon came to life; exceeding expectation and delivering a thrill ride of scares, screams and sexiness.
A dark, allegorical adaptation of the story of “The Three Little Pigs”, Big Bad Wolf stars former “Bachelor” Charlie O’Connell as Huff, an abusive stepfather living in poverty in California along with his battered wife, Lorelei (Elina Madison) and three teenage girls. On the verge of making a lucrative drug deal that will finally give him the money he needs to escape his misery and retire to Mexico with his mistress, Huff’s plans begin to unravel when his wife secretly gives the drug money to her daughters and encourages them to run away to seek better lives. This series of events triggers a chain of rage-induced asthma attacks, complete with ‘huffs and puffs’ as Huff attempts to locate the three runaways and recover his money. “Big Bad Wolf” also stars Clint Howard, Natasha Alam, Jenna Stone and Elly Stefanko.
I spoke with Bollinger about “Big Bad Wolf” as well as her upcoming film, “Listening” which deals with the power of telepathy.
How did you become involved in Big Bad Wolf?
I actually landed the role based upon a movie I had done called “Pelt”. A mutual friend had introduced me to Paul Morrell, who had seen it and liked my performance. He contacted me through Facebook and asked me to come in and audition.
What attracted you to the story?
I liked the fact that it was a different kind of horror film. It literally is a dark twisted ‘Three Little Pigs’ story.
Tell me a little about your character, Brixi.
Brixi is the oldest of the children and becomes the real mother figure her little sisters never had. She’s the God-fearing, tough one who understands that she may have to take on the role of martyr in order to protect her sisters and get out alive.
What was the chemistry like on the set?
It was great and we all got along really well. Charlie [O'Connell] is such a funny guy and not anything at all like his character on-screen. When “action” was called, he became someone completely different. He can turn it on and off at will. Elina [Madison] was great too. She works a lot to get into her character and I really trust her as an actress. You knew that everyday she was going to come in fully prepared and ready to give her all.
What do you think makes for a great horror movie?
I love all kinds of horror films but I think the best are the ones that aren’t apologetic. They’re just brutal, bloody and go for the jugular. That’s what this film does.
Tell me a little about your other upcoming film “Listening”.
It’s a Sci-Fi drama about grad students who are trying to invent mind-reading technology. My character, Jordan helps them along by giving them elements they haven’t seen before. There’s also a government organization involved that’s trying to get the discovery in order to use it on a much larger scale. In a lot of ways, the story is not that far-fetched. There’s a lot of reality to it.
Big Bad Wolf is available on DVD March 4th
“A divided young man must fight for life and love in his estranged, nightmare-like reality.”
Writer Ian Brightman has put much of his own life experience into “Shattered”, a short film/passion project with a script that’s taken him nearly three years to complete. Starring Hunter Garner and Jenna Stone, “Shattered” is a film that will make you rethink your entire life and realize that sometimes no one can help you, except you.
Brightman has recently started a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the project and bring the film to the big screen. Backers of the film will have the option of several “rewards” to choose from as a way of saying thanks for their generous support. From a private link to screen the film to producer credit and even the opportunity to appear in the film itself, everyone that takes part in the project will be recognized for their contribution.
In typical film projects, everything is panned out and you go in and do your job, but the cool thing about Kickstarter is that everyone becomes more personally involved in the film’s success by actually making it happen and getting the word out.
Shattered tells the story of Asher (Garner), a young man who finds out that no matter how hard he pushes, he can’t seem to help himself. He finds this out every time he sleeps when his dreams emotionally scar him with images of his ex, Aria (Stone). His nightmares also mentally torture him with the vision of dying at the hands of Gabriel, a physically identical young man. In reality, Asher attempts to solve his issues with Aria along with what may be causing his nightmares.
Actress Jenna Stone is no stranger to the suspense thriller, having played the lead role of Ali in the horror film “A Haunting In Salem” as well as a strong supporting role alongside Charlie O’Connell and Marie Bollinger in “Huff”. For Stone, it’s not only about creating an experience for the audience, but also about releasing emotion and that moment of truth.
I spoke with Stone about her role in Shattered and more in this exclusive interview.
How did you get involved in this project?
It was a passion project that was written by a friend of a friend. When they started talking about it, they asked me if I’d be interested in one of the roles and after I read the script was immediately on board. It’s a short film about two guys battling inner demons and given the choice of love or fighting for yourself. It’s going to be very visually appealing. You really get to see the extreme sides of the characters on many different levels.
How would describe the story of Shattered?
It’s about twins and takes place in dreams, which is another one of the reasons I really liked it. I’ve always been interested in how people dream and how the subconscious works. The story itself takes place in the mind and becomes an inner battle between life and death. There’s a blurred reality and at times you’re not really sure what’s real and what’s not. That’s what makes it scary. It fits into the psychological suspense thriller category in that it makes you think a lot.
Tell me a little about your character, Aria.
Aria has good intentions. She’s a sweet girl who’s going through life confused and not knowing what she wants in a relationship. She knows that it would be logical to not be together, but it’s too hard emotionally.
Are there any other projects your working on?
I’m working on another film called “Jack & Cocaine”. I play “Cocaine”, a LA prostitute who meets a guy named Jack in the same field of business. Her mother died when she was a teenager and was also a prostitute and drug addict. She didn’t set a very good example and that’s why Cocaine got involved in the work that she did. She ends up seeing a psychic who helps her talk to he mom and the journey ends up being about trying to find her father. It’s a self growth, love conquers all type of film and I’m very excited about that one too!
For more information on “Shattered” and the Kickstarter Campaign, Click Here!
Versatile actor Armando Riesco, whose already achieved critical acclaim for his work in both film and television recently took on one of his most challenging roles yet in the Scott Coffey directed film “Adult World.”
Adult World stars Emma Roberts as a recent college graduate who believes she’s destined for greatness but instead winds up working in an adult book store. While there, she meets one of her favorite poets and becomes his assistant at Syracuse University. Riesco plays the role of Rubia, a transgender who takes Robert’s character under his wing and helps her transition to life in the real world. Originally premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival in April of 2013, Adult World also stars John Cusack and Cloris Leachman.
Riesco’s acting prowess is not limited to just film, but also to the theater world as well. He’ll soon be reprising his role as troubled Iraq war veteran Elliot Ortiz in “The Happiest Songs Play Last”, the final installment in a trilogy by Pulitzer Prize winner Quiara Alegría Hudes at Second Stage in New York City. Riesco has previously portrayed the real life veteran twice before in “A Soldier’s Fugue” and “Water by the Spoonful.”
I had the pleasure of speaking with Riesco about Adult World and his other upcoming project.
Tell me how your role in Adult World came about?
It was a bit strange because I generally don’t get auditions for transgender characters [laughs]. In fact, when I first got the call about it, I passed on it immediately. At the time, I figured “This is crazy! There’s no way I’m right for this!” I remember I went home that night and told my wife about it and then later to my very conservative, Cuban, republican father and they both told me that I should should go for it! It was a huge challenge and something that I wanted to get right. I didn’t want it to come off as a caricature. It had to be real.
Did you have to do a lot of research prior to filming?
Absolutely. That’s my favorite part about acting. Immersing myself in whatever world the character is in. It takes me outside of my cocoon and lets me switch into overdrive. It was fun to think about what it would be like being a transgender living alone in an apartment in Syracuse and making a living through “nefarious” means [laughs]. It was a fun character to work with.
What’s the story of Adult World and how does your character fits into it?
Emma Roberts’ character (Amy) is a recent graduate who can’t find work and takes a job at a porn shop. She then ends up moving in with my character Rubia, who also works in the porn shop as well. I function as sort of a fairy godmother to Amy and lead her into becoming an adult.
What was the filming process like?
I’ve never had so much fun. Scott Coffey (Director) trusted me with the character and it was a responsibility that I gladly took on. It was so playful and there was a lot of improvisation involved. It really gave me the opportunity to take chances and see what would happen. As a result, we got a lot of great stuff that made it into the movie.
What was it like working with a cast that included Emma Roberts and Cloris Leachman?
Emma is lovely and was super-fun to be around. I think the relationship we got to develop together both on and off-screen really shows up in the film. And I loved working with a veteran actress like Cloris Leachman. You can tell that she really understands that life is bigger than just a movie. Her performance is so uninhibited and loose. It’s exactly what you want to see on camera.
What made you decide to be an actor?
There were several things, but one of them was seeing the movie “Shadowlands”, a story about the life of C.S Lewis. I saw that movie and then I saw it again, and again, and again. I thought the entire project was connected to a higher power in a way that made me want to be a part of. It was almost like a religious experience. It really inspired me to pursue the feeling of making people connect with life in a way that’s a little bit deeper than what they’re normally accustomed to.
What other projects are you working on?
I’m working on the last part of a trilogy of plays in New York. It’s been an amazing ride. The second play won the Pulitzer prize; the first one was nominated for one and now we’re on to the last one. I play an marine veteran who comes back from Iraq and has to deal with PTSD and getting back into the civilian world.
What advice can you pass along to other aspiring actors?
Acting is an endless process. There are always new things to learn and the moment you stop learning is the moment you should quit. In a way, it’s almost like the way muscle confusion is when you work out. You constantly have to be on your toes and try new things. Remain excited about acting and life in general. You have to be curious and if you are, you’ll have that spark that hopefully you can pass on.
Adult World comes to theaters and VOD February 14th.
For more on Armando Riesco, Check out his Facebook page by Clicking Here!
I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with many different actors, authors and artists about their current and upcoming projects, but perhaps none of them has been cooler or more unique than actress Michal Sinnott. Let’s face it; it’s not every day you get the opportunity to talk to someone who’s played a role in what’s poised to become the best-selling video game of all time.
It was recently revealed that Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto 5 broke seven Guinness world records, including the highest revenue generated by an entertainment product in 24 hours.
Michal’s role of Tracey De Santa in GTA 5 is truly one of a kind. It’s acting, but not something you’d see in a typical film or theatrical role. Michal actually describes the experience as a hybrid combination of the two. Working exactly like the actors in Avatar, each was rigged up to get their performances captured in 3-D and then have those recorded images digitally transferred into the game world.
In my interview with Michal, we discuss her role in GTA 5 as well as how she got her start and the projects she’s currently working on.
What attracted you to such a unique project?
It was Rockstar so I knew that it would be a quality project. It was a cool opportunity that turned out to be an amazing experience. Way more that I had anticipated.
Were you presented with an actual storyline or script – like one you’d get for a film?
Not exactly. They really tried to tell you as little about it as possible [laughs]. I knew it was a character, but I was only getting my material and not the whole picture. They really wanted to have everyone focus on their own part. There are thousands of pages of dialogue in this game and it takes hundreds of hours to complete, not to mention that there were so many people involved in working on the project. If you watch the credits, it takes about twenty minutes to go through them. It’s a massive amount of information. But once you know the character and know the world, you can focus on doing the best job possible. Then it all magically comes together.
How do you prepare for a project like this?
The research I had done on Grand Theft Auto couldn’t really prepare me for it. The cool thing about the series is that it’s always different with new characters and new worlds. My character, Tracey may not be the most complicated person in the world, but there’s a larger than life quality to her. She wants to be a celebrity but doesn’t have any talent. She’s one of those people who’s really focused on having everyone look at her. She’s got really big needs and thinks everything is so tragic. Tragic in a sense that she can’t find the right color nail polish [laughs]. The fun of it was being able to take it on fully and have those extreme emotions over something so petty and small. In reality, that kind of behavior could lead to an awful life, or at least alienate you from your friends. It was cool to go and explore and then still be able to walk away unscathed.
What was the filming process like?
We would usually shoot for a three-week period and then take a few months off. Then we’d start up again. The entire process took somewhere in the realm of three years to complete. Along the way, I would always be given clues about who Tracey is. I remember that every time I would come back for another shoot I’d get the script of new material and say “Oh cool! This is who this person is!”
How would you describe performance capture as it relates to typical acting mediums?
I think it lies somewhere in between the realms of film and theater. You wear the balls [the same technology that was used in Avatar] and you have a camera recording your facial gestures. The balls help process the movement so that they can be transformed into a 3D image of you. Your movements also have to be larger than life, so there has to be a sense of theatricality to it. When you’re angry, you really have to stomp! It’s almost like you’re a cartoon character. You also film on a sound stage and don’t really have a backdrop when you’re shooting. It’s acting without any stimulus. So you have to learn to fill that void with your imagination. To see that world and realize what all the technical people did to fill that world is amazing.
When did you realize you really wanted to pursue acting?
I went to a performing arts high school and had written a play that ended up winning a festival and I got to go to a playwright conference. Just being on the other side and having my work not be so personal really opened me up to how magical it is to really live out your dreams and pursue what you want. I remember being out in the audience watching this play and realized in that moment that I couldn’t deny myself this life. After that, I never looked back. I majored in theater in college, moved to New York and went full throttle. I’ve been at it ever since.
What other projects are you working on?
I’m an associate producer on a biopic about Rick James that I’ll also have a role in as well. Right now, we’re in talks with a production company and it’s coming along really well. It’s been exciting to get the opportunity to wear a lot of different hats and work the other side. It feeds your understanding of the business.
I also like to blog. It’s something that I started doing as a way to share with my friends, family and other actors the inner workings of what it’s like to be an actor growing on her path. It’s funny, quirky and a little bit spiritual.
For more info on Michal Sinnott be sure to check out her website by Clicking Here!
Laneya Wiles is a true triple-threat. No only does she possess amazing acting prowess, but she’s also a model and stand-up comic as well; performing her act in such places as the famous Gotham, New York and Greenwich Village Comedy Clubs.
Wiles’ breakout performance will no doubt be in the upcoming Ron Krauss directed film “Gimme Shelter.” Based on a true story, “Gimme Shelter” stars Vanessa Hudgens as Agnes “Apple” Bailey, a pregnant 16-year-old struggling for survival and redemption through the harsh realities of life on the streets. Apple’s journey plummets her into a perilous struggle, until she finds salvation at a suburban shelter for homeless teens. Wiles plays the role of Jasmine Colon, one of Apple’s friends and constant supporter in the shelter. Sadly, Jasmine’s own story is one that’s all too similar, with a background of rape and teen pregnancy.
Gimme Shelter also stars James Earl Jones, Rosario Dawson, and Brendan Fraiser.
I spoke with Wiles about her work on the film as well as her stand-up comedy and how she got her start.
What attracted you most to “Gimme Shelter”?
It was a little bit of a mystery at first, but I did a little more research once I got the script and really loved the message and what it was about.
How would you describe the story?
It’s based on a true story, actually a collection of two young girl’s stories. One had a mother who was on drugs and wound up pregnant from her boyfriend. She goes on a journey to find her father, but since it wasn’t acceptable for her to be pregnant in that household, she’s forced to be out on the street. Eventually, she finds all of the girls in the shelter and they become just like her family.
Tell me a little about your character.
I play Jasmine Colon, a teenage runaway who was raped and is pregnant. It’s a pretty heavy role.
How did you prepare to take on such a role?
The call back for the role took place at the actual shelter in New Jersey, so I got to meet members of the cast as well as a few of the people who actually lived in the shelter. A lot of the “prep” work happened naturally while we were there. We got to see first hand what it was really like. It was a reality we faced by being there with them and it helped to give it a more well-rounded view.
What was it like working with such a great ensemble?
It was amazing and humbling. Everyone was just so genuine and down to Earth. Vanessa and I would sometimes just sit down in our dressing room and talk about how production was going. I definitely enjoyed it.
What would you say was the hardest part of the filming process?
I think the most intense scene for everyone was when we were all in the office and were reading the files about what happened in our lives and the things our characters had gone through on paper. We all shared this moment together and it was very tense.
In addition to your film work, you’ve also done stand-up comedy. What are some of the differences between the two?
In stand-up comedy, you’re able to get automatic response and feedback because it’s highly interactive. You also feel the vibe of the room and get to work off of that. I like the fact that there’s a spontaneous element to it. Doing comedy also allows me to increase my focus, which complements my acting.
When did you get started in acting?
I started when I was four, making Playbills and putting on shows for my family. I loved performing right from the start and knew early on that it was something that I wanted to do with my life. One of my teachers in kindergarten realized this as well. She knew a manager and told my Mom that she should look into it. That was how I started.
Any advice you could give to up and coming actors?
You have to have undying determination and perseverance to survive in this business and not expect things to just happen overnight. Everything is a process, but if you believe in yourself and love what you do, then you’ll be willing to hang in there and not give up the good fight!