Published on February 26th, 2016 | by Biz Books
The Biz Interview: Crazy8s 2016 Actors
BizBooks.net is pleased to support Crazy8s 2016! Join us at the gala screening and party on Saturday, February 27th.
Earlier this week, we spoke with the filmmakers of this year’s Crazy8s films. Now it’s time to highlight a few of the actors involved. Joining us for a discussion about their on-set experiences are Danny Mac (Evan in Patrick Currie’s film, Meet Cute), Kacey Rohl (Abigail in Shannon Kohli’s film, A Family of Ghosts), Chris Wilson (Alex in Matthew Campbell’s film Grocery Store Action Movie), Alex Duncan (Vivian in Joel Ashton McCarthy’s film, I Love You So Much It’s Killing Them), Christina Sicoli (Ellie in Shauna Johannesen’s film, Trying) and Katharine Isabelle (Anna in Jesse Lupini’s film, Iteration 1).
Can you start by telling us a little bit about you and the Crazy8s film you are acting in?
Danny Mac: I’m an actor and writer originally from Edmonton. I moved to Vancouver in 2011 where I’ve been working on a variety of projects from writing for TV and video games to producing my own feature film. The first gig I ever booked here was for a Crazy8s production, a quirky film called Stewing, written by Patrick Currie. Now, four years later, I’m starring in his second Crazy8s production, Meet Cute, playing the romantically-conflicted lead, Evan. The film keeps a light, comedic tone throughout while questioning the need for labels in the LGBT community. It’s a wonderful script that attracted a really talented group of filmmakers.
Kacey Rohl: I’m a local film & TV actor. This year I’m a part of a film called A Family of Ghosts. I’ve worked with Shannon Kohli a couple of times in the past and when she asked me to be a part of her Crazy8s film, I jumped at the chance. I’m a big fan of hers.
Christina Sicoli: I’m an award winning actress, writer, character-driven comedienne and co-owner of Rare Little Bird Pictures Inc. I’m acting in Trying, a rom-com about a couple in their mid-thirties who’ve been trying to get pregnant for over a year with no luck. While they endure fertility clinics and injections, they are surrounded by friends who seem to be popping out babies like no tomorrow. Sex isn’t just sex any more – it’s scheduling their encounters while losing a sense of their fun-loving relationship. They need to come to terms with what they really want and accept the circumstances given. In turn, be open to the possibilities that lie ahead.
Chris Wilson: The film is about a man in the check-out line at a grocery store who realizes he’s forgotten an item and has to rush back to get it. The stakes are high, because he and his girlfriend are throwing a dinner party in a half hour.
Alex Duncan: I was born and raised in Vancouver, B.C. I studied theatre at Bishop’s University and Circle in the Square. I love walking my dogs in the forest and am particularly passionate about yam burritos. The Crazy8s film I am acting in is about the drastic things we do for love.
Katharine Isabelle: I’m Katharine Isabelle, born and raised BC filmy.
What kinds of preparation did you do to get into the role?
Danny Mac: Early on, I did my usual prep work – finding personal similarities between myself and my character, trying to bring truth to any of Evan’s experiences that were foreign to my own, etc. I was also able to get a hold of the full script before my audition, which was a great help in finding how to justify Evan’s internal struggle. He changed as I studied him, his voice eventually becoming equal parts neurotic and sweet. Leading up to production, our co-writer/director, Patrick Currie and I had dozens of conversations about the character that I found very useful, right up until we shot the last scene. It was refreshing as an actor to have the inspiration for the character so readily available for backstory or motivational clarity, while simultaneously being given the freedom to make him my own. The result is a character with a degree of depth that one might hope to meet in a feature-length film, but in an 15-minute short.
Kacey Rohl: I always try to approach anything I do from as truthful a place as I can. It’s a period film, so I spent some time thinking about how young women fit in to society at that time and what was expected of them. How if I, at that time, was part of a slightly more liberal generation, I would feel some frustrations… And I think love and heartbreak are pretty timeless themes, so those came free of too many historical trappings for me.
Christina Sicoli: Some of my closest friends in their 30s have shared their experiences with me. The successes, the heartbreaks, whether it be miscarriage, stillbirth, or the fertility route. I examined my own life, being in a place where having a baby is the next step but naively thinking I have all the time in the world (often forgetting that no matter how healthy, energetic and youthful I feel…my eggs may not feel the same). A lot of factors and thoughts come into play, so taking any fear or hesitation and accessing those emotions with other’s experiences helped me.
Chris Wilson: I wrote it (with comedy partner Peter Carlone), so there wasn’t much needed in the way of acting preparation, because I knew the tone and what the character wanted and needed. But what we did have to do was practice and choreograph all the fight scenes that are in the film. We practiced for several hours the day before shooting, coming up with a routine and moves that would look good with the stunt coordinator. Lots of fun, and work I hadn’t really done before.
Alex Duncan: I watched American Psycho (because I instantly thought of Christian Bale’s character after reading the script) and watched some interviews online. I tried to put myself in Vivian’s shoes as much as possible, thinking of times in my life where love has driven me to madness. Working on Vivian felt like an opportunity to really sink into any intense or dark thought that I have ever had surrounding love, lust or relationships and just go to the most extreme depths.
Katharine Isabelle: The film Iteration 1 is an exercise in the existential. It’s a short film exploring the futility of existence and the human experience while displaying the roller coaster of life and emotions that make this futile human existence worth it after all. I think… ?
Preparations for the film on my end were brief and limited to a quick chat and a stunt rehearsal. I like it that way. The experience this character goes through is not something you need to overthink. It just needs to happen to you.
What was the most memorable moment for you in this production?
Danny Mac: There were a few. Watching the extras get wrapped on the first day of production stands out. To me, it cemented how special the script was, to see 50 or so people give up their weekend for the project, especially seeing as how the Crazy8s’ process is a true labour of love beyond what conventional filmmaking already is.
That same day, our Meet Cute mentor, Amanda Tapping, showed up on set, and the energy she brought with her touched the entire cast and crew. I had worked with Amanda last summer and was delighted to hear she would be overseeing this film. She’s a born leader who offered seasoned advice, while never overshadowing a single aspect of the shoot.
My third memory, and perhaps the one I’ll remember most vividly, was when I got a back rub from Patrick for 5 minutes.
Kacey Rohl: Galloping through the rain — shout out to Jerry the most wonderful horse — while wearing a floor length cape was one for the books… Also, when my skirt dropped to the ground out of nowhere and was absolutely caught on camera! We’ll see if that sweet clip rolls out after the credits…
Christina Sicoli: Walking away and thinking “Damn! Look what accomplished in 3 days!” Being surrounded by such a talented group of people (cast and crew) made it easy to work and play. Everyone brought their A-game and watching Shauna Johannesen in her element and see her project come to life put a smile on my face. Everyone comes together to make the best possible product in a short amount of time because they believe in it and that’s what’s amazing. This is what excites me! And the “car scene.” It’s surprising how stiff one’s entire body can be from a “sex scene” in a car!
Chris Wilson: Probably watching my stunt double push a shopping cart down the aisle, jump into it, crash into a shopping cart that was blocking the aisle, and jumping over it. All on purpose.
Alex Duncan: The bathtub scene. I’ve never done anything like that before! There were so many moving parts.
Katharine Isabelle: What I found memorable was the crew – all young, fresh film students, incredibly enthusiastic. Really worked together as best they could toward a common goal we can all be proud of. Hopefully they all stay that way. Hahaha.
What would your advice be for actors who become part of a Crazy8s film in the future?
Danny Mac: The same advice I would give to any actor on any set: don’t forget that it’s an honour to be there in any capacity. And what’s especially unique to Crazy8s is that everyone is there because they want to be. Nobody’s paying rent off their Crazy8s shoot. That means that everyone around you will be passionate. Find a way to absorb some of that passion and emit as much as you can too. Be flexible, be helpful, be happy you’re exhausted.
Kacey Rohl: I’d say do your best to be of service to the director. Know that this is a fast process, but there aren’t a ton of people to move all the pieces of the machine around, so be patient. Show up ready to do your best. Bring a book. Bring a warm jacket. Be kind.
Christina Sicoli: There’s not a lot of time, so do the work, come prepared, let it go and PLAY!
Chris Wilson: Do as much personal preparation beforehand, whatever that means to you – to deliver when the cameras are rolling. There’s just not a lot of time to do lots of takes and take your time with shooting it. Which is great.
Alex Duncan: When my agent initially sent me this script, I felt like it was a stretch and questioned whether I was right for the part. My instinct was that if I was going to be believable for the part, I had to be pretty still, grounded and stark – somewhere between Wednesday Adams and Jeffrey Dahmer with a quirky twist. I made a choice that felt appropriate for me and stuck to it and it ended up being what Joel was looking for! So, my advice: make a strong choice and stick to it; don’t do what you think they want, do what feels right for you.
Katharine Isabelle: Advice to future Crazy 8s actors would be do it. It’s a great adventure. And bring sandwiches. Also don’t show up to the screening an entire week early like I did.
What’s the valuable lesson you’ve learned in your career thus far?
Danny Mac: Collaborate and play nice with other people. They’ll make up 100% of who you work with.
Kacey Rohl: Cultivate gratitude. Avoid comparison. Being early is being on time. Self-care is your best friend. Don’t be afraid to call yourself an artist. Ask questions if you don’t know something.
Christina Sicoli: Creating original material. It keeps me sane and allows me to have control over my career. Having many projects on the back burner so there’s always something “cooking” is valuable to me. Being an “individual,” really embracing my own unique gifts and talents. I can’t trade myself in for anyone else so focusing on my strengths and weaknesses makes me more in tune to what I need in a certain moment or time. Play. Saying “Yes” will open doors. Saying “No” will often save your sanity. Focus on the work, and do it because you’re passionate about it. Buy some shoes along the way, for your “character’s” sake, of course!
Chris Wilson: As a writer, the final part of the writing process is in the editing room. So be there for it. You’re rewriting constantly, and making endless tweaks.
Alex Duncan: Work hard and stay humble.
Katharine Isabelle: Always make friends with the teamsters. And stealing socks and underwear from set is perfectly acceptable.
What books have been important for you as an actor so far in your career?
Danny Mac: I enjoyed How to Stop Acting by Harold Guskin, but I really found The Audition Bible: Secrets Every Actor Needs To Know by Holly Powell to be the most informative thing I’ve read. It’s just packed with invaluable tips for being more comfortable with your choices in the room (especially if you live in your own head too much like me).
Christina Sicoli: An Improvised Life by Alan Arkin, biographies of actors, musicians, designers, Where Did I Go Right? by Bernie Brillstein, The Power of the Actor by Ivana Chubbuck, Respect for the Actor / A Challenge for the Actor by Uta Hagan, Bunny Bunny by Gilda Radner, plays (from Shakespeare to Neil Simon), Impro for Storytellers by Keith Johnstone … just to name a few.
Chris Wilson: Save the Cat by Blake Snyder is a great book on scriptwriting. I’m sure everyone says that. I also love Steve Martin’s biography, Born Standing Up. It’s very inspirational and I think about it and quote it in my comedy career often.
Alex Duncan: Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger and Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke.
Katharine Isabelle: Books that have been important to me are the thick old Russian novels that I haul around to every set to beat AD’s with. And they’re also good stories. Love me some Dostoevsky. I’d like to play Raskolnikov one day.
What other projects are you working on and where can we find out more about you?
Danny Mac: I’m currently writing two video games with my long-time writing partner, Cooper Bibaud, as well as polishing off two feature scripts I’ve recently finished. But what you should really watch out for is my feature comedy, HEEL KICK!, which will premiere some time this year. I wrote, produced, directed and star as a backyard wrestler who tries to go pro. It’ll be the most fun you have watching a movie where people get hit in the head with folding chairs this year. Follow me everywhere at @mactwelve for HEEL KICK! updates and photographs of things I eat.
Kacey Rohl: I’m about to pop over to Wayward Pines as new regular for this coming season. Don’t know what’s in store yet, but I’m very excited. You can find out more about me by following me on Twitter @kaceykadoodles!
Christina Sicoli: I’m currently in the last few stages of developing “small cop,” a comedy feature film that I wrote. Aside from a few other projects I’m creating, you can find me in a few digital series and a film release in spring 2016. In the meantime check out ChristinaSicoli.ca.
Chris Wilson: Peter N Chris, my three-time Canadian Comedy Award-winning sketch duo with Peter Carlone, are always performing live. We will be performing a Christmas Show we are working on this summer (I know), and filming a documentary style webseries in March. We will be in Toronto for the Fringe in the summer as well as at the Winnipeg Fringe in July.
Alex Duncan: I have a reoccurring role on a new show called DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, playing the wife of Rip Hunter. I have popped up a little but am awaiting episode 7, which features me quite a bit – eeeek! You can find me on IMDB.com.
I am in the process of self-publishing a children’s book, called An Army of Hearts, which will be coming out this spring. It has been a huge focus for me over the past two year and I am so excited to share it with the world. Other than that, I am auditioning for new things all the time, so anything is possible! Vancouver is so busy right now, which is amazing.
Katharine Isabelle: Currently awaiting the release of How To Plan An Orgy In A Small Town and The Girl In The Photographs, and shooting Origami in Ireland soon. Working on staying working. And training my dog not to bite me whenever he sees The Dog from the 16th Floor.
You can learn more about me by following me on Twitter @katie_isabelle. Putting me in your movie or TV show. Or going through my garbage.
Thanks to the actors for speaking with us!
You can see all of these actors at the Crazy8s 2016 Gala on Saturday, February 27th. For ticket information please visit Crazy8s.film!