Back to My Roots to Get My Wings
Since moving to The South, I've been experiencing a little stroke of what I believe to be beginner's luck. I've been having the time of my life getting to shoot commercials with awesome crews, talented actors, on beautiful sets all over this new home of mine! As an actor, you never know when your next job may be, so any glimmer of a possibility of working is something worth chasing. A month or so ago, I saw my old friend and fellow SDSU student, Devon Kane, post a casting online regarding her upcoming production of her senior thesis film. Flashback to nearly three years ago when I was graduating film school and writing Devon her letter of rec for the program! Everything was coming full circle and I was so excited for her. I love young women taking the reigns and writing their own stories and watching them come to life.
In my final year at San Diego State, it was that time in the semester where everyone in your advanced film class had to pitch an idea for production. Only a few would get selected, and I hadn't even planned on putting much thought into my own pitch. I remember being on a long car ride with my Dad, and he asked me why I wasn't going to be directing something this semester. ME? Why? I was completely comfortable playing the producer roll, keeping things organized and keeping people fed. To humor my dad, I came up with my own idea, pitched it to the class, and it was actually picked! You can watch my senior thesis film entitled "Lipstick" below:
See that cutie who played the babysitter at the end? Enter: Devon Kane!
Devon had messaged me about her pitching her own idea to class and I tried to give my best possible advice. I told her that if the project was chosen, I wanted the honor of submitting an audition for the lead role! She was kind enough to let me submit! Check out my audition below:
I loved the concept of film: "Sparkling" creates a world where, as an adult, you are exactly what you wanted to be when you were a little kid - except you still have to go to work! Pilots, mermaids and fairy princesses alike work side-by-side in cubicles at Sparkle Inc. Designs. It felt so unique and I was dying to be a part of it, so you could imagine my excitement when Devon emailed me to tell me I had been cast! I booked my flight, requested off work, packed my bags and headed to beautiful San Diego to shoot!
Luckily for me, my best friend Kristina still lives in San Diego - one of the many incentives of heading out there to film! She let me take over her room for 5 days and played chauffeur for many of them. KRISTA YOU THE REAL MVP. I LOVE YOU.
If I told you all of the details of creating "Sparkling", we'd be here all week. So, I just wanted to get a few things across that really stood out to me while shooting this project.
Simply, there's just nothing like shooting with film students. There's something about the energy on set that is so contagiously full-of-life. All of the students have their dreams literally in their hands, and they believe they can accomplish anything in this life. None of them have yet been jaded by the film industry in Hollywood (not saying that everyone in Hollywood is jaded), but their passion is evident in every stitch and fiber of their set. Devon and her team worked endlessly to get the perfect costumes for every character. Every location had so much love and effort put into it - the mermaid had a full-blown tub to sit in behind her desk. The Astronaut had a massive authentic space suit and helmet, and yours truly, the Fairy Princess, had not one but TWO ball gowns with fairy wings and tiara in tow. Devon's team transformed her classic college apartment into a Fairy Princess's dream bedroom:
Everyday on set, there must have been 20-something students working to create a well-oiled machine. And each of these students were obviously working for free. As one of the producers explained it "you basically get paid in favors when you're in film school." I remember it like it was yesterday. Someone agreed to be the AD on your film, and you promised to take the helm with production design on theirs. It's just what you did. In film school, it's all about your reputation. The more you put in for others, the better your own projects will look in the editing bay.
For Devon and her crew, this is one of the last times in their lives where they will be able to come up with a unique concept, fully produce it with state-of-the-art film equipment with a full crew, all for a nominal fee. Never again will they have all of their friends and colleagues working on a project with them... unless you're Tina Fey, Adam Sandler or Amy Schumer. Never again will they be working for favors. It's such a special time in their lives and I remember it well. I remember thinking to myself, appreciate this time, because it's fleeting.
One final thought: a week ago I was talking to someone and they asked me question that kind of caught me off guard. They asked,
"Have you ever done a project just because you needed the money even though you didn't really need to do the project?"
I sat there for a moment really reflecting, and couldn't think of a single time in my life where I had. I responded, "No, not ever."
They then said, "really? You didn't do a project where you had to wear a fairy princess dress..."
Were they calling me out? A grown 24-year-old woman donning a sparkly tiara in a puffy pink gown. Ok, when you put it that way it does sound a little silly. But here's the thing: I just simply want to act. Whatever that means. I wanted to be able to work on something that I loved with a girl that I adored and give back to a program that shaped me. I just wanted to work. No I didn't have a fancy trailer, and no you won't see this film on big screens next summer - (in time who knows!?) But I do know that during that week in San Diego I got to do exactly what I love to do. And isn't this blog "The Happy Slice" after all? I did what made me happy, which is what I will always be striving to do. It made me SO happy to see the look on Devon's face when we were wrapped. I was so proud of her, and we both promised to always work together. You never know where these students will go. As for me, you know what they say... if the tiara fits...!