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An Interview with Shara Ashley Zeiger, Writer and Star of Joe

by Mike Haberfelner

March 2018

Shara Ashley Zeiger on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie Joe - in a few words, what is it about?


Joe is a romantic comedy pilot about a girl who gets fired from corporate America and gets a job as a barista to tie herself over. She meets the man of her dreams and lies about what she does for a living. Turns out his favorite coffeeshop is also where she works.


Why a romantic comedy, is that a genre especially dear to you?


I wrote this at a time of great frustration that I needed joy in my life, so I wanted to make something that made me happy.


What were your sources of inspiration when writing Joe? And is any of it based on any personal experiences of yours?


I think to some degree, especially as an artist I've struggled in life with people taking me seriously, and seeing that I'm more than what pays the bills at the time. I was also very inspired by NYC as a whole and the romance of that.


What were the challenges of making Joe from a producer's point of view?


Money is always a challenge. I work on tiny budgets so making the best film I can on the money is a huge challenge. With that we were only allowed to use the coffeeshop after it closed, so we had to shoot everything there in an overnight.


What can you tell us about Joe's director Kaye Tuckerman, and what was your collaboration with her like?


Kaye is a dream to work with. She's a bad-ass who has been in this business a long time, and she really understands what I put on the page. We also work really well together and riff off of each other. We both had a hand in post and most of the time we were on the exact same page. She's also no nonsense, which helps get things done.


with Bethany Nicole Taylor in Joe

You also appear in front of the camera in Joe - so do talk about your character for a bit, and have you written her with yourself in mind from the get-go?


It's funny. Often people would say why didn't you play Jillian? My response is always because I am a Monica in this world! I love playing the sassy friend roles and find them really fun. It's being honest with myself and who in this world I would make sense as.


What can you tell us about the rest of your cast, and why exactly these people?


This whole cast came from pulling people I know and love and wanted to work with and I saw as right for their role. It's a dream to get to work with your friends.


A few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?


The set was really fun. It was like kismet. Everyone got along well and was super professional to get everything done in time. When we were at the coffee shop the actual coffee was flowing so we were all very caffeinated throughout the night.


with Kaye Tuckerman

The $64-question of course, where can Joe be seen?


There are two opportunities to see Joe next and many more to come! We will be at The Hang onto Your Shorts Film Festival in Asbury Park, NJ on 4/22/18 and we will be at The Newport Beach Film Festival 4/26/18-5/3/18. 


Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Joe yet?


We premiered at Sedona International Film Festival. Our first screening was sold out and the second was very packed. People seemed to really enjoy it, and that makes my heart sing! 


Any future projects you'd like to share?


I have a few projects in the works that are mine in addition to a lot of other people's projects I'm acting in.

My play Roughly Speaking is back in development with Rhymes Over Beats and looking towards a 2020 run off-Broadway.

Joe is really a pilot, with a whole pitch deck I would love to to turn into a series, and I'm hoping to find a way to make that happen.

My other short film The Red Lotus is heading into the festival circuit soon, and I have a feature script version I've been working on that I would like to find a way to make.


What got you into acting in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?


I've been acting forever. I love creating character and getting into why people think and feel and walk around in their shoes and use that to effect people. I do have formal training. I studied at Ithaca College, The National Theater Institute, Upright Citizens Brigade, Studio 5, and with various independent teachers and workshops through the years.


What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Joe?


As an actor I've been in a ton of film. I've also written the films The Tupperware Party and Faustess.


How would you describe yourself as an actress, and some of your techniques to bring your characters to life?


I'm a character actress. Comedy is my jam, but I love delving into roles with deep vulnerability too. I come from a very physical background so a ton of Stanislavsky's later work really resonates with me. I've studied it all though, so different things help with different roles. It's all a toolbox.


In recent years, you have also branched out into writing and producing - why is that, and do talk about the films you've written and produced prior to Joe for a bit?


As a creator there is something really fulfilling about being creatively responsible for the work I want seen in the world. As an actor I tell other people's stories, and I love that, but there's something special about the characters that dance around in my head and bring them to life. It's like a kid with an art project, the sense of I created that. It also is really empowering to create work for other people while you are creating opportunities for yourself. Too often people sit around and wait for their career to happen, and in my business anymore you just can't do that.


Besides making movies, you also do a lot of stagework, right? So what can you tell us about that aspect of your career?


There's something really magical about the stage. It's immediate. It's visceral, and once it's over it doesn't exist. Today with people snapping away with their iPhones and clung to saving things it's beautiful to make something that lives only now and demands your attention because in the next moment it will be gone. Theatre also has a fun element of danger to it which gets your heart pumping because no matter what you rehearsed, anything can happen. I love doing a great play.


Actresses, writers, filmmakers, whoever else who inspire you?


So many people! Right now I'm really inspired by the people in my industry making their own way. Reese Witherspoon, Margot Robbie, Greta Gerwig, Lena Dunham, Mindy Kaling.


Your favourite movies?


Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory (old school), Fame, Almost Famous.


... and of course, films you really deplore?


Well... I hate saying this, but The Knight Of Cups was really hard for me to watch. It might be someone else's thing, but it really wasn't mine.


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Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?


The Platform Group is my entity where I produce my own work. All of my projects live in the same place. See you at the movies or at the theater! 


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD