Saturday, May 14, 2011

Jessica Mae Stover: What the hell happened to art?

Through recombined excerpts from various interviews/videos, JSto explains the ethos of Artemis Eternal:
I love movies so much. If we could make a film that was pure, for once. Finding a new way to produce, distribute and exhibit film.
When you’re breaking new ground, you can’t just be like, “Oh, it’s like this other thing”… no one’s ever done it.
What makes me sort of a different presence here is: Man, what the hell happened to art?!
So much press was like, “why don’t we know about this project?”.
Artemis Eternal: The film, to me, is a story that is about the limitations that society puts on the individual, what’s your breaking point and how do you react to that.
Which is kinda meta, given what we’re doing with the project... which is very indie.
I sort of see it as a renaissance, we’re hoping for in filmmaking.
It’s a way of life, it’s a philosophy.
Maybe it’s counter to your philosophy—as it is to mine-- to want to sell people things they don’t need, that will end up in land fills.
Maybe you would actually like to make money off of creating art—which is your job. Maybe you don’t want to be in the advertising business.
When you’re an artist, you don’t want to deal with business.
The business nuances are incredibly difficult.
You need to understand a defunct system to make it work, and that took me a lot of research. If you’re not willing to do that, I say you’re not ready.
The overall project is a cross platform film project. The way we’re funding the film: instead of going to studios-- who don’t make original films anymore, specifically not original sci-fi/fantasy—you just don’t see that very often, if at all-- we went straight to the audience. It is the first ever community funded film.
More people doing less, contributing small amounts of money.
What we’re really talking about is a lifestyle: look at what you do have over what you don’t.
We went straight to our audience—who we dub Wingmen, we call the contributors WINGMEN. Inviting new people to join the community, then we’ll cut it off and push into production. We have this great community of people, and we’re making kick-ass art. We’re essentially creating new content with them.
It really is a community project, and people really are pulling their weight, ‘cause I’m one person. They’re always helping us kind of spread the word, and share the story, and connect with press.
It’s great when the audience has your back, it feels like you can do anything. I have a very romantic point of view. Beyond building the world of the film, I have to build, like, the infrastructure around how we’re making it.
The great thing about good sci-fi/ fantasy is that is it’s philosophy, and it’s basically a metaphor for what really happening. It’s a good way to question.
I just try to create good stories and hope they resonate.

There are a lot of people who would be into what we’re doing, but how do you reach them without a marketing budget?
When you’re working at a professional level, but you don’t have a budget… you’re screwed.
You can make the most brilliant thing in the world. And that “if you build it, they will come” thing isn’t true. That’s because you need a marketing budget. Everything is propaganda.
There is so much noise, it actually costs more to cut through the muddy waters and get your message out there.
Short films, there’s not really a market for them; you don’t really make money off of it.
So it’s like social philanthropy.
I kind of started where everyone is trying to get. Like, this doesn’t work for me. I don’t want to work this way. You can’t make films this way.
I wanted to start a project that didn’t have any studio or advertising involvement, and to see if, like, it was really possible to create something that was kick-ass and beautiful, that could be prestigious, and also be commercial.
Hollywood doesn’t make movies anymore, they make licensing platforms.
Once I found out how that system works, the studio system, I was like, “ok, do I want to work like that or no?”—NO. OK, what do I do now?
And I think it’s possible, but I basically feel like there’s a huge status quo going on, and it’s not going to be changing. I guess my hope would be, as we’re talking about a lot of these topics, to kind of be thinking outside of the box a little more, and not just accept the fact that that we have to be talking about studios and advertising.
Storytelling fills a basic human need.
More people go to the movies than go to church. You’re consuming story, consuming media… it should mean something.
And if it’s something as sacred and important to us as that, then why is it ok to watch ten commercials before a movie when you’ve paid for a ticket?
Why does it have to come from the studios? And why does it have to involve advertising?
I really don’t see why people aren’t focusing more on that [movie-going, cinema] experience.
Improving things you’ll never be able to duplicate, like theater experience.
As professionals, and as audience members, start really thinking about what storytelling and content means, what it means to us socially.
I just think there is a larger philosophy at play here, and I would urge you all not to take all the studio and advertising stuff at surface level.
As an artist, when I go to a site like Massify, when you do that, you’re setting yourself up as another Gatekeeper. Which is not what I wanted to do at all.
I, personally, would not want to be working through a gatekeeper, and I wouldn’t want to be a gatekeeper. I want to be working directly with my fans. I want to do things my way, and I don’t want to be limited.
I want to, with it, create a way that is different, that will allow other people to get their stuff made, if they’re working at a quality level. Giving film makers who have earned it to control the project more, and to get things done.
It’s not going to change the way a major studio makes films, but it will provide another avenue.
A non-zero sum philosophy of film making—which is completely opposite of how anything is done in the film industry. Someone wins, someone loses—usually it’s us (the audience) ‘cause we’re still paying for them (bad movies).
I wanted to create a business model that—and a case study that not only would yield an awesome movie that people would love, and something high minded, and to also confront things like media consolidation, when you have six companies controlling everything you’re seeing. To the artist, what’s important is they do not get tied up in the system. There needs to be an opportunity to not do that.
Let’s get organized and get it done.
All we have to do is hit our fundraising mark, crew up, and we shoot…
You wanna come?
No Wimps.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Rachael Cook: characters in my head

Rachael summarizes her acting ethos in recombined interview excerpts...

I started doing print work here in Minnesota when I was young, like real young. Like 10 or 11 or so. I have no interest whatsoever in being a high-fashion model, nor is it possible. I went on this audition, when I was 15, for a short film that was shooting locally -- local writer, director, star, the whole bit.
And somehow I got the part. It was a lot of fun. It was called 26 Summer Street and it was based on a short story by William Carlos Williams. We shot it over two weekends, and it came out wonderfully. It's a beautiful little film. It was really a good experience! A manager from LA heard that I had done this and saw my picture. She called the print agency I was working for and said, "Bring this girl in, bring her parents, and we'll talk." So I went, and she asked me if I'd like to come out to LA. And I went over my winter break of school and I tried out for The Baby-Sitter's Club. Got that... not sure how. And I've been working ever since. Yes, I've been a very busy girl!
But acting just sort of happened and I found that I loved it. It was such a challenge.
I never thought I'd be here. My dad was a social worker and my mom sells cookware. They are so proud of me it's almost embarrassing! They're really supportive and wonderful. I wish I get to see them more. I especially miss my younger brother, Ben a lot. I miss being in a place where there isn't such an obvious presence of the film industry.
When I came into the business, things changed a lot, and my life was in a real state of flux. I didn't know where I fit. I wasn't sure if I'd make it. Even though I was working quite a bit, I didn't know this is what I was supposed to do [in life].
I never really believed it was permanent. But at the same time, it was all happening and really removed me from the life I had going in Minneapolis.
So I didn't know where I belonged. I was just working a great deal.
My job is getting a job. It's the only industry I can think of where that's the case. Now I'm not considered someone who's a draw, and that works against me. Mostly, I've made independent films that don't see the light of day.
It may not seem much, but as a professional actor, you seek out that one role that relates to your personality and maximizes your chances to expand your career. So, it's never, ever an ego thing - it's a survival thing. You work and you, hopefully, get roles that lead to better films. You're going to need a lot of luck. It's a lot of right place at right time. There's a lot of rejection... gotta expect that. Other than that, I guess the best advice I can give is not to have a lot of expectations, and just prepare yourself the best you can. Take classes in improv and scene study. Also, LA is a very weird place. I don't want to say "Trust No One," but I will say “Be careful." Good luck, and follow your dreams, but beware of putting all your self-worth in what you look like because that's not who you are. Sometimes you've got to stick up for what you believe in.
You know: Be yourself! If people don't like you, then don't hang out with them. Parents always say that, I know-but I swear it's true. I did not grow up getting told about how manipulated the images we see of women and girls out there are, and I think it's an absolute travesty that young women are seeing what the media is feeding them. It breaks my heart to be part of an industry and part of a machine that really pushes out these images and propagates these really terrible standards that are false. Nothing that you see is real, even if you look at what looks like a candid photo of someone, anything can be done. It is false advertising and false advertising is a crime so why isn't this a crime? I'm just up in arms about it.
I used to be overpoweringly shy, and I finally came out of my shell, but I'm still kind of quiet-- and I think it's fine to be shy. I always get keyed up worrying about things that don't need to be worried about. I'm a master of over-analyzing things that are completely insignificant, and I won't realize this till days later. I can be incredibly self-conscious and erratic when I'm not comfortable with somebody or a situation. Sometimes I say things that I can't believe came out of my mouth. Or I won't mean something and it will come out completely nonsensical.
It's kind of scary to think someone's watching me and knows what I'm doing all the time. The more famous I get, the more of that kind of weirdness is there.
I could see myself hanging out in college, taking some classes. I'd like that, I really would. But I keep finding scripts that I really want to do, and I think, if I don't do this, I know they're going to get this other person to do it, and I'll be so upset when I see it and they're good.
You'll be surprised how much work acting can be. Memorizing your lines, hitting your mark, dealing with stage fright, having people look at you - you have to decide if you want to be made a public spectacle.
I like acting now--I like it a lot. At times I wish my life were quieter, but I wouldn't trade it at the moment.
To unwind... I don't know. I'm not a very tense person. I'm not one of those actors who gets nuts when you put me in my trailer for half an hour with nothing to do.
I like to read. Don't get me wrong, I can party with the best of them, but for the most part, I'm a pretty laid-back person, I think. Yeah, I've been busy.
Actors have like a hundred different ways of choosing which projects they want to do. But ... the ones I want are the ones where I can just read it, I can so clearly just see myself saying these lines. I read them on the page and I can hear my voice in my head and how I would say them. At that point, it's like, 'I have to do this. You might think that there is someone else you might want for this role, but you don't understand, because I'm going to do this.' I can just hear these characters in my head. The best thing about being able to do different parts is that it brings out different parts of you. To say that a character comes completely out of nowhere, to me, is false. Every character is a little piece, just blown up. That's what's great about taking on all kinds of roles.
I'm easy to work with, I'll be honest.
The film has to be strong in one of three categories. Either the character has to be someone I'm just dying to play, or else, if it's not that, the people involved.
I love working with great actors or directors or production people, even.
And the third would be the genre of the film.
I'm really open about what I do. You won't catch me taking my clothes off; I get cold easily. I have no problem with actors getting naked in movies, but taking my clothes off makes me uncomfortable. I'm very shy. I won't do nudity, and no body-doubling to make it look like it's me. My rule for movies and pictures is, if I can't sit at the premiere with my father next to me, I won't do it.
No, and I think I'll sort of see what comes up. I am not the sort of a person to say never, because you'll inevitably find yourself in a prison, where your mindset changes or the opportunity is too good to pass up. I want to try everything.
I think I'm a million different faces. I'm not ready to be put in a box. Variety is the key. That's all.
I think the most rewarding part is being able to create something... create a person. You know, we have to take these characters-- who, granted, have their separate personalities but, on a lot of levels, are pretty two-dimensional-- and make them into people with flaws, with insecurities. It sounds kinda weird, and I'm not going to get method on you or anything, but when you've been someone else and felt these things and gone through situations and scenes as this person -- who's in a lot of ways you and in some ways someone else -- you get to miss it when you don't get to be that person anymore. It's kinda like losing a friend.
Having it (being an actress) perceived as so much of what you are.
Before [people] even meet me, they know what I do.
I feel that I'm not what I do. I'm Rachael, and I just really, really like to act.
But I don't think it's who I am.
It's what I do and it makes me feel good. But sometimes you're going to have to go through a little embarrassment to get what you want. I'm doing it! It's a good thing! It's nice to live completely on your own terms.
I love what I do; I just want to diversify it. I want to put together a very diverse body of work, while still playing interesting characters. It's not going to be easy.
People who talk during movies drive me insane!
I don't know if the glass is half full or empty. It depends what kind of day you ask me on. But right now, it's very much half full. As far as my entire take on life, I'll have to get back to you on that one.
Seriously, I'd like to have someone ask me, "Are you happy?" Everyone assumes that I'm on top of the world right now... which is true, but sometimes I like to be asked.
By the way, the answer is yes.
Hope you guys like the movie.