Thursday, 1 January 2015

The year in review... and what got away!

In keeping with the start of the new 2015 year, here's a quick look back at what went on in my acting career in 2014.

The feature film I appeared in, in May 2014, was released and started showing at festivals in the US. FriendsDon'tLetFriendsDateFriends is a rom-com, written and directed by Rhonda Parker, and in it, I play Shirley Regal the mother of the protagonist.

I saw the movie on the big screen at the Screening Room in Buffalo in November. I'm including a copy of the poster - if you're lucky, you can get one signed by the cast and crew, like mine. I think the producers sell them at showings...

One of the write-ups for FriendsDon'tLetFriendsDateFriends (The Public, November 19, 2014, p. 21) stated that "Filmmaker Parker provides tart dialogue for characters played by actors who don't look like they've rolled off a Hollywood assembly line". I thought this was a great compliment to all involved.

I also shot a few commercials and industrial videos over 2014, and was in a TV/web series called Mangoes.

As for "the ones that got away", I was selected for three parts in the last part of the year but, as you will read, didn't actually perform them.

The first was in a music video for the Billy Talent "Kingdom of Zod" release. I went for the audition on a Wednesday evening but, when I didn't get called for the wardrobe session on Friday, assumed I didn't get the part playing a politician's wife. Time passed, as they say, three days to be exact. And then, the day before the shoot, when I got home from meeting a friend for dinner, I found both an email and a voice-mail from the casting director. Turns out, they called the wrong actress, the director really wanted me. But by then (8:30 in the evening), the casting director thought it too late to "crush the other actress" as she put it. (As it happens, had I not been so polite about turning off my phone while having dinner, this story might have had a different ending.)

Haven't seen the video, so no idea who got the part or even if they left the politician and his wife in the final cut...

The second was a part in a TV pilot. I also thought I didn't get the role of a psychiatrist but, lo and behold! One fine Sunday, after I came in from clearing up leaves in the backyard, I found a voice-mail from the producer. Was I available? As it turns out, by the time I called back, they had had to cast another actress in the role. Ironically, this was the day after I watched the feature film in Buffalo and, had I known I'd be needed, I could easily have stayed in town to shoot the pilot.

The third part that got away was playing a ghost. Again, by the time I emailed back  - 2 hours after the invite was sent - they had cast someone else.

I take comfort in thinking that, in all likelihood, Meryl Streep doesn't have to deal with this anymore but, if she does, heaven help the rest of us!

Happy New Year!

Copyright Deborah C. Sawyer

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Friends Don't Let Friends Date Friends (feature film)

Our location for the day
In late May, I had one of my most enjoyable days on a set when I went to Medina, NY to appear in the rom-com "Friends Don't Let Friends Date Friends".

It was also the first time I had worked with a woman director - hello? is this really the 21st century - and, I'm proud to say, Rhonda Parker is one of the most efficient directors I have yet worked with.
The porch, where we shot some key scenes

Perhaps it's because she has herself worked on-camera that Rhonda is very precise at explaining what she wants?

Most of my scenes were shot in or outside a lovely Victorian house.

Rhonda shooting footage of Della, played by Amelia Favata

My character, Shirley Regal, is a single Mom who is raising her daughter Della, and spending her free time going to bars to pick up guys, fueled by alcohol. A lot of alcohol actually...
Rhonda and I at the end of the shoot

The role of Shirley is quite unlike any I have played so far. As well as submitting my head-shot and reel for Rhonda to view, I took a couple of selfies in proposed costumes. These led Rhonda to cast me in the part.
Shirley on a good day...
...and on a not-so-good night!

The film is scheduled to be finished by September - stay tuned for more information on where you might be able to see it!
The hosts media-savvy son...

...and his equally techno-savvy older brother!

To see a current trailer for the film, go to:
Copyright Deborah C. Sawyer

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Acting and real estate

You may be wondering what acting and real estate have in common.... although some actors and actresses do end  up owning some nice real estate!
Rochester, NY: Studio location

What I'm referring to, instead, is the great way acting allows me to scope out real estate in different parts of town, not to mention different parts of the world.
Outdoor sculpture/The art museum is close by

Sometimes I get to go to new areas when I'm auditioning, other times, the opportunity arises when I'm on location for a shoot.
Interior detail

Early March 2014 found me in Rochester, NY, for an audition for a sitcom. The actual location was in a part of town called NOTA - Neighborhood of the Arts.

Later that same month, I was in Vaughan, ON for a shoot - this landed me in a private home, in one of the newer subdivisions built to the north of Toronto. I didn't have a chance to take any photos but, a couple of weeks later, in early April, they called me back to shoot some more footage.

Yonge St., looking north

Yonge St.,looking south
This took me to North York, ON - on a stretch of Yonge Street near where my family used to live. As anyone who once lived in the Willowdale neighborhood knows, the stretch of Yonge Street between the 401 and Steeles Ave looks
nothing like it did all those years ago.
Entrance to Pinewood

Pinewood Studios
In April, I landed a small part in the Guillermo del Toro feature film being shot in Toronto - working title "Crimson Peak" - so it was off to Pinewood Studios for a fitting; the film is set in the early 1900s. It always surprises me that there are any wild, lonesome parts of Toronto left but Pinewood Studios is in a spot as-yet un-captured by the condo developers.

Wild, lonesome places

 And late May found me working on a feature film in Medina, NY... but I'll write about that in a separate post!

Copyright Deborah C. Sawyer

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Well worth waiting for... (Spiderman video)

UPDATE, January 22, 2014: Just got word from the producers that this video has hit 2.5 million views at the following site. Check it out!

Several weeks ago, I posted some behind-the-scenes footage from a skit I took part in.

The video has now been released and can be viewed via the following link:

Details from the earlier post can be found under posts for 27/09/2013

Titled "Spiderman's Ultimate Foe", the video traces an incident in Spiderman's life when he finds his "strength, stamina and emotion" tested.

Director Patrick Maloney thanked me for my work and said 'you did a fantastic job".

Copyright Deborah C. Sawyer

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

No such thing as a free lunch? You bet there is- we got paid to eat!

Sunday a.m. & even the 401 is bearable!
In late August, I wrapped a shoot for a trade-show video, to promote a hearing aid product made by Unitron.

The shoot took place in Kitchener-Waterloo, in a rather lovely part of town, known as Belmont Village.

Setting up inside...
...and outside

The shoot was managed by Memory Tree Productions.

I'm showing a few stills taken, day of the shoot.

Yours truly, in the outfit that made the cut.

Not all talent had to provide their own wardrobe!

As with most non-union shoots, we had to provide our own wardrobe, meaning we were asked to bring 3 outfits appropriate for a fine dining scene. I'm wearing the dress and shoes the Art Director chose from my offerings.

Actors are just as good at waiting outside as inside

Actors perfecting the honorable art of waiting...

As well as the lovely weather, we all got to enjoy the scrumptious food prepared by the restaurant where the shoot took place, Janet Lynn's Bistro.

I also got to spend a great day chatting with my co-star, Andrew Bee. It helped that we had a number of interests in common, notably natural approaches to health!

Copyright Deborah C. Sawyer

Friday, 27 September 2013

Does your Spidey-sense tingle?

I've fallen behind, a bit, on posting to my acting blog.
The always-messy business of setting-up!

But back on April 28, 2013, I portrayed Aunt May to someone's Peter Parker in a video entitled "Uncle Ben's".

I'm still waiting to see footage of this shoot - although the director promises it will be fantastic -so, in the meantime, here are some pix from the shoot.

It took place, as many shoots do, in a donated house; this one is on Adelaide Street West, in Toronto. (All this means is that the homeowner has to disappear for a few hours and the cat - if there is one - has to be sequestered.)

Not only actors wait around, here's the sound guy - waiting!
After make-up, we got down to work, which involved continually taking peppers out of the fridge and chopping incessantly at a carrot. (But hey, that's what they teach you to do in film school!)

What I liked best about the shoot was that it was super-efficient, no real wasted time. Kudos to the crew from the production company, Random At Best.

Oh, and the apron I'm wearing - we had to supply our own costumes - is my own design, one of my "Team Family" aprons from Harobed Designs! (It was suggested to me, as appropriate, by two comic book aficionados I met the week before at a craft show!)

...and again, close-up!
Aunt May...

Copyright Deborah C. Sawyer

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Give and Take - especially in cold weather!

The scenes were shot in an office above the landmark Spot Coffee on Delaware Ave.
Back in January 2013, I had the opportunity to take part in a couple of scenes for the feature "Give and Take", being shot in Buffalo, NY. (Gail Golden is the Producer).

Although my role in this film was SOC - Silent on Camera - and not a speaking part, I jumped at the chance because there was an IMdB credit lurking in the wings, plus it was being shot in Buffalo, NY, where I used to live. (And, for all you heritage buffs, there are some incredibly beautiful old buildings in the "Queen City".)

The "change room" was actually the hallway

Note the features: skylights and old-style light fixtures

The reference to the weather in the title of my post reflects the fact we were asked to wear summer clothes - in the depths of winter. Try shivering in a toga in a stairwell, even if the lights are adding some heat!

That meant hauling out the lighter stuff, seeing if it still fit, and packing a bag to take to the set.

My costume for the cattle call audition scene

My toga look
There were actually two scenes - one was set at an "American Idol" style cattle call audition, the other was set at an audition for a Caesar salad commercial.

We were asked to vary our look, if possible, between the two scenes. I put my hair up, some actors brought wigs or donned spectacles.

(As you can probably guess, acting as an "Actress at an Audition" was a real stretch in the skills department!)
The toga scene was shot in the stairwell

Director and production manager in action, at the top of the stairs

I've taken some behind-the-scenes photos for my blog, as I always do. The film is now in post-production and seems to be moving along at a fast clip. The premiere is set for September 2013.

Thanks to my fellow actors for snapping the pix of me.

Copyright Deborah C. Sawyer