My first interview - and it's about Skipper Smith!
Q: Tell us a little about your acting background. What are some of the other films you have been in?
I started acting about 7 or 8 years ago: My daughter and I auditioned for the local community theatre's annual Christmas pantomime. It was a great way to spend time together but I wasn't expecting to get hooked the way I did. I did another play, part of their regular season, and wanted more. But you marry a play, it becomes your life for weeks and months. Tough when you've got a job, a spouse, kids, etc.
My first movie was an action film shot locally. I started with a small part at the end, but got "promoted" when someone didn't show (I just don't get that - you say you're going to be there, you be there, you do what you said you would). I ended up with the first line and the first death. Kinda cool, really. Since then I've been eaten by a shark, stabbed to death by a spirit from beyond the grave, shot then hung by a treacherous deputy, puked on by a zombie, left for dead by the man who stole my life and my wife, been a comic goon, and, on smaller screens, I've sold cheese! Sometimes the lead, sometimes in the background, more often in between.
Q: How is being in a comedy like Skipper different from other genres?
When I first started, I didn't know how things worked behind the scenes, how much waiting there is, how to manage and maintain my energy all day - to not burn it all off during the wait, to keep the right amount of stoke so that I could be "on" when my turn came - and how, uhm, I'm not sure what the right word is, not forgiving, maybe "flexible"? Yeah, how flexible movies are: You shoot a master, usually wide or half wide, then maybe come closer, maybe do a different angle, then do closeups, turn the camera around to get the other person, usually do several takes. That gives the director and the editor a lot to work with: The actor said his line perfectly, but his eye twitched? Show the other guy listening.
Comedy ain't like that. You cannot fix comedy in post the way you often can fix action or even drama. Sometimes the comedy depends upon the audience being able to see the whole scene in one shot, one take. On My Fair Zombie the male lead and I had a pretty important interaction toward the end of the movie, it was only going to work if we could do it in a single shot, and there was one bit of dialog I just could not spit out. We tried several takes and finally the director changed a couple of words. It worked, but it was frustrating for me - especially when I figured out how to accent the line about 5 minutes after we'd moved on.
You just don't know sometimes, until you are there under the lights with the camera rolling.
Q: What is your favorite Indiana Jones movie and why?
I think my favourite Indiana Jones is the first one. It flows nicely, the comedy is good, the bits that are supposed to be threatening are threatening, the music complements rather than overwhelms, the emotions are real. The second, well, it's a prequel, and prequels lack threat somehow. I really liked the third, but sometimes they forced the emotion between Ford and Connery, though sometimes it worked really, really well. The fourth? I'd have to see it again....
Q: What are you most looking forward to about the shoot?
What am I looking forward to the most? Oh, that's easy. The script. I've only seen about half so far, and there are so many L-O-L moments, so many really good jokes, some subtle, some in your face, some groaners, some witty urbane, some sophomoric. And it all works.
I have to admit, though, that I am also sometimes totally freaked out. I mean, it's Indiana-frikkin-Jones! An iconic character of our age, iconically Harrison Ford. When Brett offered me the part, I was just too enthralled to think of that, but as it sunk in I would get really, really nervous from time to time.
But Brett starting sending me script updates as they became available, he and Trevor working from the beginning, so it gave me chunks to play with, to imagine. I got used to it one scene, sometimes one joke, at a time. Skipper is almost the vehicle for the comedy, it happens to him and around him in a lot of ways. In some ways, I just have to play it cool, play the adventurous archaeologist, and let the comedy happen. I've got some good comic lines, but it's almost like the straighter I play it, the funnier it will be.
Q: Anything you want to tell fans and potential Skipper supporters?
Absolutely! The cast of this movie is awesome! I've worked with a lot of the folks involved before, but never all at once! It's just, like, wow, I get to be on set with Candice and Christine and Ian and Lawrence and Ray and so many others, people whom I admire for the acting chops, their comic abilities (you gotta see Spyfall, Ray and Trev just steal their bits!). Brett has made two great comedies in a row, Zombie and Spyfall, both of which have won awards at various festivals, and Skipper Smith should be as good. I laughed when I read both of those scripts, but not as much as Skipper. If we pull it off, it will be a romp, a hoot (I think I just dated myself, eh?).
We need help to pull it off, though, to pay for sets, and costumes, and locations, and cast and crew. Brett almost seems like a magician, making such good movies with small budgets, but he isn't pulling things from the air. It's hard work, and figuring out how to deliver high quality on low dollars is a real slog. The more money we have to take care of things that money is best at, the more time and energy we have for what the people are best at, which is the comedy, the creativity.
We want to put our time and creative energy into the comedy, into the movie, not into the logistics behind the movie. That's what we need your help for: Help us make the movie you want to see.