|“There are so many ways of creating a story,” says actor and playwright Andrew Lynch, “and I don’t believe one way is better than another. I think it is important to know what works for you. For me, I love watching a film or piece of theatre that makes me think, ask questions and analyze characters long after I viewed it. In my opinion I believe that a strong underlying theme plays a big role in achieving that.”|
Andrew Lynch co-wrote Death Row Cowboy with Mark McCabe and is coming off several runs acting in the lead role in the play in Dublin, Ireland. In the story, a young inmate, imprisoned for murder in Oklahoma, awaits his execution.
|ORion Productions founder Sinéad O’Riordan: “The lack of strong female roles and the hugely competitive nature of the industry inspired me to establish my own production company.” O’Riordan, a Dublin-based actor and producer, works in both theater and film. She recently produced and acted in the Irish tour of playwright William Mastrosimone’s The Woolgatherer and starred in the 2013 indie film The Bible Basher. |
O’Riordan comments on acting for stage and for film. “Really I would approach both the exact same,” she says, “and apply the same techniques for both. Once I am given a script, be it a theatre or film piece, then I will read it once and let it settle. I will read it a second time and let it settle, and on the third read I start to have an image of the character forming in my head. Sometimes I will look at a blank wall just to envisage what that character would look like and indeed what traits they may have.
|“The whole female subject matter, female sexuality in an Irish film is untried territory… but that’s exciting to me to do something new,” says actor and playwright Laoisa Sexton of her debut play For Love. The play was staged off-Broadway by the Irish Repertory Theater in 2013. |
Laoisa (pronounced Lee-sha) Sexton has written the screenplay for her stage play, and is now working to shoot it in Ireland. “I am working with the producer Paul Heller. He was the producer of Withnail and I, Harold and Maude, amongst others, and some of my favorite films. It is a big dream to get this achieved, and it’s been tough. A dark blue comedy, an unflinching look at three Irish working class women looking for love and sex in modern day Dublin is apparently a hard sell.”
Sexton’s play followed its New York run by touring six theaters in Ireland. “We hope to get another mount of the play in the next few months,” Sexton says, “as it was a huge hit. People come up to me still quoting lines from the play!”
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|In UK-based filmmaker Jon Rosling’s 2013 debut feature film Five Pillars, ex-soldier Darren returns from the war in Afghanistan to find himself disenfranchised by a society struggling to find its identity. Several critics commented that the societal topic is nothing new. I asked what impact he hoped to make with his film.|
Examining Themes About Life in England
“Social realism films are not new in the UK, or any film market, to be honest,” says Rosling. “Some UK ones have made quite a few waves, Shane Meadows' This Is England being probably the most recent notable one. What I think is unique about Five Pillars - aside from the way we actually made the film - is that in examining a wide range of themes about life in England it also illustrates how each of those themes - liberty, tolerance, community, identity and class - are interlinked and how they shape and, in many respects, underpin the values we have as a people and a country.”
|“Audiences will always connect with universal themes explored through the eyes of real people,” says writer and filmmaker Tina Mabry. “That’s why it’s important that I make sure I remain honest to the humanity of the characters I create.” |
Tina Mabry heads up the Los Angeles-based production company Morgan’s Mark. Mabry and creative/business partners Morgan Stiff and Lee V. Stiff have structured Morgan’s Mark as an independent production company and editing facility that “focuses on producing films that emphasize character, and an editing facility that focuses on quality over quantity.”
The company’s recent films include Brooklyn’s Bridge to Jordan, Mississippi Damned, and Ant.
Stories of the Marginalized
“I set out,” says Mabry, “to tell stories that reflect the world that I know, a world that lives in the gray. Along with my business partners and creative producers, I have dedicated myself to telling stories of the marginalized. As a kid, even though I enjoyed all the films I watched, I rarely saw people like me on screen. This left a void that I have been determined to help fill ever since.
|Marcelo Lewin’s website, IndieComicsTracker.com, covers the world of indie comics. Why indie? “Because Marvel & DC already have enough help from their parent companies,” Lewin says. “Besides, in my mind, the really exciting stuff is coming out of the indie scene.”|
I asked Lewin how the core elements of story develop in the comic book genre. “I think the most important thing that writers should keep in mind when writing a comic,” says Lewin, “is that they can tell their story via not only words (the bubbles), but also working in conjunction with the illustrator visually.”
|“I’m looking for complicated characters dealing with complicated issues.” So says director/writer David L. Johnson when asked what he looks for in a script.|
Recognize a Story That Moves
“Personally,” Johnson says, “I have no preference. I think a lot of directors get hung up on fitting into a genre, but the greatest directors have stepped out of their box on occasion. Although these experiments don't always equate to box office success, I think it's important to learn how to recognize a story that moves and to see the potential of what you as a director can bring to that narrative.”
Johnson, a graduate of Howard University and the American Film Institute, has been named one of ten black directors to watch in 2014 by Paste magazine.
Directing is a Process of Discovery
I wanted to know how Johnson directs actors through their character arcs. “I love directing,” he says, “because I love the process of discovery. There are some directors who literally tell the actor what to do and how to do it. When that's the case, that actor was likely mis-cast.”
|“Every (action) shoot brings elements of uncertainty. For me, there are things I can do to increase certainty. And in the case of a rappel shoot, it was scouting. Going to the location a couple of times and looking at it with different light afforded me a strategy to approach the cliff.”|
Los Angeles-based action DP/camera operator Lawrence Ribeiro talks about shooting action, and about changes in the film industry. In a particularly challenging shoot, Ribeiro rappelled down a cliff to shoot a rock climber.
|“The heart of an engaging story resides in the heart and mind of the person writing the story. It is passion and where that passion takes you as a writer.” |
So says Don Vasicek, the founder and owner of Olympus Films+, LLC, a global writing and filmmaking company. “This passion is reflected through the writer’s characters and the story. Each character, each location in the story, and each occurrence that takes place in, with and between the characters and in the story, should reflect that passion.
|“I warm up on the subway en route to a gig,” says voiceover artist Debbie Irwin, “and engage with people in the elevator on my way up to the studio – to put a smile on other people’s faces, which makes me feel good, and is a great vibe to bring into the recording session.”|