Tag Archives: Actor

That Time I Wrote/Directed/Acted In A Short Film

So this story could be a stand alone story or it could be considered a sequel to another story…. I made a short film. It’s the only one I’ve ever done, so I could just tell you about that, but there may be people who would wonder how you just do something like that with no background or experience. While my exposure to this world has been limited, I did act in a movie once, and if you’d like to hear that story first, you can read this link, therefore making this story a sequel.

https://thoughtsandrantsinjoggingpants.com/2015/09/06/that-time-i-was-an-actor-in-a-kick-ass-movie/

For those that didn’t feel like reading all that, I’ll summarize in one sentence. 2 of my close buddies are aspiring filmmakers (Director – Trevor Juras and Cinematographer Othello J. Ubalde), and Trevor thought I’d make an interesting character in his first feature-length film “The Interior”, in which I appear in only one scene, but have considerable dialogue, I feel like I nailed it, the film was well received at festivals, got a distribution deal, and is now available at most online retailers which is not bad for your first Indie Film. (Hey, I didn’t say it would be a short sentence). It was a thrilling experience for me who never thought he’d have an opportunity to be an ‘actor’, but in an amazing turn of events I now have that great story to tell potential grandchildren while I’m on that rickety porch with rocking chair and a shotgun, chewing on toothpicks.

So what’s next? Well this all happened because of who I know. So I started to wonder what else could happen because of who I know. Careers are made from people leveraging who they know. What could I do? Some more acting? I’ve made myself available to the one director I know, yes, but what about writing? I write! I have a blog as proof. What if I wrote a script for a short film? If it was good enough, perhaps I could get Trevor to direct it, and Othello to shoot it. If I wrote myself into the script, then I could act in it. Seemed like the perfect plan. So I wrote a script called “To Do List”. I thought it was hilarious, so I passed it on to my guys one at a time. Othello liked it right away, and wants to work and get as much experience as possible since he didn’t start doing this until a few years ago. I think he was on board to shoot it. When I showed it to Trevor (hoping he would want to direct it), I didn’t get the response I was hoping for. Not to say that he wasn’t totally cool and supportive, but I think I was hoping he would be super blown away and want to direct it. He’s more interested in writing his own stuff though, and suggested that I should direct it. He even offered to help me. He even told me directing isn’t as difficult as I think which to this day I believe to be complete bullshit. Regardless, I was kind of discouraged, and “To Do List” got shelved for a time.

After “The Interior” had made its rounds in the Festival circuit, there didn’t seem to be too many projects on the go. Trevor started writing his next feature, but it was a lengthy process. Othello was trying to shoot as many things as he could while we all waited for Trevor to make another movie, and I just went back to my normal life, fairly content for a while until the creative bug started nibbling again. Othello had asked me a few times to join his crew to help them shoot some stuff they had been hired to do. I finally joined them on a short film set. It was a first time director, but he had invested some money, and taken a lot of time and preparation to get this project together. This was the second film set I had ever been on. Instead of being an actor, I was now working behind the scenes, helping set up cameras and lighting etc. It was only 2 days, but as this project was moving along, it became more obvious to me that this director was really green, and so I made a suggestion about something, and he went with it, and it worked out. So I made another suggestion, and another and another. I felt bad, because it wasn’t my job to be doing that, but he kept getting stuck, and nobody wanted to say anything to him. I would have kept my mouth shut, but he was open to everything I said, and even started looking over at me to see if I agreed with things he was doing. It was weird, as I was the least experienced person in the room in some ways, but the director was willing to be collaborative, and didn’t have an ego about it. I think he may have been in over his head slightly, but I respected the fact that he had gotten off his ass and pursued his dream of directing a film.

It got me thinking about whether or not what Trevor said about directing was bullshit or not. I dusted off “To Do List” and read it over. I still thought it was funny. I sent it to Othello again, and he still thought it was funny. I asked Othello if he would help me make this film and be willing to babysit me through the directing process. I felt like I would be pretty comfortable directing people to help my vision come to life, but on the technical side I knew (and still know) nothing about making a film. This is why Othello gets a Producer credit on this film.

We planned for a 2-day shoot. I had an editor lined up for afterwards, who was an old high school friend with some experience. Othello’s crew that had worked on all of the projects that I’ve mentioned here agreed to help out, and I needed 2 more actors. Jennifer O’Callaghan who is a friend of Othello’s plays the female lead, and Patrick McFadden who stars in “The Interior” agreed to a fun cameo in my film as well. We scouted locations, and settled on pretty much the only ones available. We rented whatever equipment Othello didn’t already own, went to San Remo’s bakery to get their incomparable Apple Fritters, and we were ready to shoot. Trevor even showed up for the first day to keep an eye on things. My character was on camera for most of that shoot, so it was nice to have someone to direct me, since directing and acting in the same project is REALLY difficult, particularly when you have no sweet clue what you’re doing.

I have great memories from shooting this. I also have some hilarious outtakes which made watching it after the fact just as much fun as shooting it. The interesting part about making a film and watching the footage a few times, is that there’s a possibility you’ll start to hate it. This definitely happened to me. It’s a comedy, so once you see the funny parts about 25 times, you start to forget that they’re funny. This is where editing comes in. I said I had a guy, right? The guy I went to high school with? I forgot to mention that he lives in Montreal. I also forgot to mention that this is a ‘Passion Project’ which is another way of saying I didn’t have money to pay anybody for this. Now I need an editor to clean up whatever directorial mistakes I’ve made, and make this a good film. This is where we got held up a bit. Crazy things were happening in my editor’s personal life at the time, and he does this kind of thing for a living, so in order to pay his bills, he had to prioritize paid work over passion projects which is absolutely reasonable. This started to drag out a bit. Just the logistics of getting him the hard drive involved me waiting for him to visit his family in Toronto so I could pass it off in person. It was starting to look like this would never get done. Then Trevor stepped up and offered to have a look at it for me. I was so relieved that we would get the ball rolling again. Sad that I didn’t get to work with my original guy, because we’ve been talking about working together ever since high school when we would be in writing and drama classes together, but I believe there will be other opportunities for us in the future. It took Trevor a little while to get around to it as well. Passion projects man….. You get what you pay for sometimes. If you can’t pay, you gotta be patient.

Trevor came through for me though. Just in time to submit my film to the Toronto International Film Festival which would have been my ultimate goal for this film. We didn’t get it in, so I had to re-adjust the goals. I started submitting to festivals that were either road trip distance, or had a theme that I thought this film might fit in with. I’ve been talking with Trevor and Othello about this, and I really would love just one festival to screen this film. It’s my first time. I have no directorial experience. I know there are thousands of films being submitted to these festivals right now, but I just feel like if I got shut out, that it would be really disappointing. JUST ONE FESTIVAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

After many kindly worded rejection emails, I finally received word that “To Do List” will make its World Premiere at the Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival on December 1st, 2017. I’m super excited. Tampa Bay is a little far for a road trip right now, but I’d been considering that heavily as the festival approaches. I hope it gets in to more, but if it doesn’t, I can honestly say the experience of doing this has exceeded my expectations, and I don’t know if I’ll do it again or not, but the story keeps getting better.

http://tbuff.org/selections2017/to-do-list.html


That Time I Was An Actor In a Kick-Ass Movie

Recently I got the opportunity of a lifetime. Have you ever dreamed about being an actor? Then done sweet shit all to make that dream come true? Then still dreamed because that’s what you do, thinking maybe some crazy movie director will just ‘discover’ you, and put you in their film? Yeah, that kind of happened to me, and this is that story…….

OK, I did embellish a bit. The movie director probably wouldn’t appreciate being called ‘crazy’, although he probably wouldn’t mind either. He didn’t really discover me, as we’ve been friends for years, and it’s probably playing it up a bit to suggest I’ve always dreamed of being an actor, but who hasn’t just a bit? It would be cool, right?

There’s a lot of back story stuff in a previous blog which outlines my desire to be a paid entourage member of this particular movie director and his cinematographer (although I don’t think they get as rich). Here is the link to that blog…. https://thoughtsandrantsinjoggingpants.com/2013/09/30/ridin-coattails/

Assuming you’re all caught up, the story begins like this…. I’m having drinks with my buddy (Director Trevor Juras who is going to be famous soon, I’m sure of it), and we’re talking about some of his short films (because that’s all he’d done up to that point). I had noticed that he’d used a couple of mutual friends for small roles in one of his shorts, and even though they weren’t actors, they had done a good job with their roles. I was probably beating around the bush a bit, and hinting that I would make myself available for such a gig if after all, he would use the odd amateur actor going forward. He got a bit of a grin on his face like he’d been expecting me to say something like that for a while, and said ‘You wanna do some acting?’ Of course man… who wouldn’t? ‘I’ll definitely keep you in mind’ he said. The way it’s written that kind of sounds like a blow-off, but I believed him, and never brought it up again.

Some time passed, and we were hanging out again. Trevor was getting ready to do his first full length feature film called “The Interior”. He said he had something for me. It was one scene, but had a good chunk of dialogue. The movie was described to me as a Horror Film, but my scene would be in the mix with the early character development stuff, which is actually pretty funny if you ask me. The scene is a lot of fun which contrasts the rest of the film which is significantly darker. The dialogue was written with me in mind, and when I got a chance to read it, I knew none of it was going to be too much of a stretch for me. I knew this character pretty well. So I was very excited.

They went to British Columbia to shoot most of the movie in a forested area of a beautiful (or scary) island. I don’t want to give too much away, but the main character is in self-imposed isolation out in the woods when freakiness ensues. The first 20 minutes of the film, including my part were shot in and around Toronto. My scene was the last to be filmed, so everybody involved was pretty jacked, but also really tired. My character ‘Roland’ basically gives the main character an interview for his ‘rock-bottom’ job. It was a really fun scene to shoot, mainly because everyone thought it was hilarious. I don’t know what it’s like shooting non-comedy scenes, but the mood has to be a little different. Don’t get me wrong, everyone was very focused and professional, but considering what their schedule had been like that weekend which included multiple shoots in several locations around the city, I thought they were in great spirits when we were working.

I was a little nervous at first. It was my first and only time acting in front of a camera. I’d met a few of the people before. The cinematographer Othello Ubalde is a great friend of mine, and I’ve met his team members before. The director is obviously my buddy, and one of the other actors they used in that scene is another one of Trevor’s friends who I’ve met several times. It was just the star of the film Patrick McFadden, and producer Peter Kuplowsky who I was meeting for the first time. I knew my lines pretty well, but they were far from totally memorized. Things had been hectic at work leading up to the shoot, and on my day off that I was going to devote to rehearsing, I ended up in the hospital with my mom who was having some health issues at the time. I wasn’t as prepared as I wanted to be, but because my character was giving a job interview, it made sense that there would be a sheet to read questions off of. That sheet saved me. I had way more on that sheet than those questions. Patrick and I rehearsed a few times while they were setting up the shot, and to be honest, it made me feel a lot more confident to do those dress rehearsals a few times, and by the first take I felt like I was giving them good stuff right away. The most notable thing about acting in a movie scene that you wouldn’t otherwise know, is just how many people are in the room with you. My scene seems to be in an office with 3 people. There were 5 other people in that room, with lights and cameras and giant microphones. I didn’t consider how difficult it would be to pretend they weren’t there, even though they were set up about 2 feet away from Patrick who I was supposed to be making eye contact with. It takes a lot of focus. That was the #1 thing I learned that day. Can you imagine what a big budget Hollywood set must be like?

After the shooting comes the editing, and a thousand other processes that I was fortunate to not be a part of. Poor Trevor probably got a text from me at least twice a week asking when it will be done, and when can I see it, and all that impatient childish nonsense. I can’t lie to you people. I’ve been excited about this all year. This is a feature-length film, and I acted in it. This is a definitive stroke off the bucket list. Everything else is gravy. I’m very excited for my friends who poured their blood, sweat and tears into this project. That alone would make me excited, but I can’t overstate enough, how stoked I am that I’m acting in it. That is fun shit people! FUN SHIT!! So where do we go from here?

Festival Time! So with Trevor’s first short film garnering some attention, and getting into a few Film Festivals, we’re obviously hoping for the same thing for ‘The Interior’, and we are in luck! ‘The Interior’ premiered at The Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal on July 27th of this year. At that point, I hadn’t even seen the movie. Montreal is too close to Toronto to pass that up, so my wife and son took a little trip with me out to Montreal, which ironically we were thinking of doing anyways for my wife’s birthday. Her birthday was the week before, so we slid the trip over to make sure we were there for the premiere. This trip no longer was happening on my wife’s birthday, and I just want to officially nominate her for wife-of-the-year award in front of the blogging world, for allowing me to make her birthday about me somehow.

Going to the premiere was so much fun. Trevor, Peter, Othello, and Patrick were there, as well as Jake who acted in some of the B.C. stuff. We showed up at the movie theatre, and there was reserved seating for the cast and crew. Like the amateur that I am, I secretly was getting a kick out of that while trying to look like I wasn’t getting a kick out of that. I didn’t even have to pay for my seat. It was getting better all the time. On an interesting side-note, Kevin Bacon was to be at this festival the following night for his movie ‘Cop Car’ which they were taking around. So if I’m ever playing the game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”, I’m going with this story.

Watching the movie was the best part of all. I’d intentionally not watched it up to that point. Not that I had access to it, but I’d seen a few clips at Trevor’s place at an early editing phase, and probably could have begged to see more. I thought it would be fun to watch it on the big screen with fresh eyes, and while I knew the story a bit, I had no idea how it ended. My part came up pretty early, and by the time I saw myself onscreen, I had almost forgotten that I was in the movie. I think that’s a great testament to how much I enjoyed the film. I was really into it, and then boom, there I was on the screen. My part was over not long after it had started, and I was able to focus and enjoy the rest of the film.

After the film we all went up on stage for a short Q&A session, and then headed off to a pub that was sponsoring the event, so even though it was a Monday night in Montreal, this place was busy until 3 am. It was fun to see the guys from the film get their props from the various people that had attended. I was even approached by a couple of strangers to be congratulated, the most notable of which happened out on the street when I was alone, and stumbling back to my hotel room. Wow, I got recognized on the street as an actor for probably the only time in my life. Even though that person had obviously been at the screening…… don’t ruin it for me, it happened. Never can I recall 6 hours of work translating into so much for me. It was too much fun.

Man, the film’s good. I’m so proud of my guys. The movie is visually stunning. Particularly the stuff they did in the forest. It’s both the most beautiful place you’ve seen, and somehow the most terrifying all at the same time. There’s nothing conventional about the story or how it plays out, which is refreshing to me. It’s pretty dark, but doesn’t have the cheesy horror clich├ęs, and keeps just enough of its sense of humour along the way. It treats the viewer as an intelligent being, and doesn’t tell you what to think or feel. There’s no Hollywood gift wrapping at the end either.

I hope you’ll seek out ‘The Interior’, and try to watch it at some point. It will be difficult to do that in the short-term, unless it comes to a movie festival in your town. It’s set to play the Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival on October 3rd, and there are whispers of potentially additional festivals coming up as well, although that’s all that’s official at the time I’m writing this. That said, at some point it will become available to the general public, and when it does, please check it out.

For more info and social media handles, visit http://www.theinteriorfilm.com

Oh, and here’s a link to the trailer. I made it in somehow. I’m the guy that looks like he’s saying something very emphatically.