Your upcoming movie At the Edge of Time - in a few words,
what is it about, and what can you tell us about your character in it?
The Edge Of Time is a science fiction time travel film set in multiple
involves a man with a Messiah complex, who, upon seeing his world in
decay, travels through time, rewriting history in vain. Dijanne (my
character), a General in an exhaustive twenty-year war, tries to stop what
he is doing.
did you draw upon to bring your character to life, and how much of Tracey
Birdsall can we find in Dijanne? And how badass are you in real life?
people call me badass, but only because I really stop at nothing when it
comes to a challenge, or a workout, or anything I set my mind to. I could
use that in my character development but Dijanne has big guns and
exhaustive intelligence. She also has time travel on her side (which us
mere mortals are currently exempt from) so I could say that certain parts
of her have me in them, and certain parts of her stayed with me.
did you get involved in the project to begin with, and how did you end up
on the production side of things as well?
teamed up with Neil Johnson, the director, over a year ago and we wanted
to produce something together. Since it was our first project together, I
didn’t want to do one of the lead roles – moreover major supporting –
as I was also producing. Since that time we’ve made another film, Robot
Fighter (pka Robot Armageddon), in which I’m the lead. Needless to say,
the teamwork went amazingly.
With At the
Edge of Time being a science fiction movie - is that a genre you can
at all relate to?
I grew up with a father who was (is) really into
science fiction so it was something I always wanted to do as an actress.
Star Wars, Star
Trek, Lost In Space, Planet of the Apes… those were all
part of my childhood so I definitely related and loved it.
What can you tell us about your director Neil Johnson [Neil
Johnson interview - click here], and what was your collaboration like?
Johnson has been making science fiction films now for decades. He’s
quite well respected in the genre. Seeing as I was an actress and a producer and he was a
director and a producer, it was a natural
progression of the relationship and collaboration. We worked well
together, seamlessly even. He’s produced and directed many more films
than I have so he was definitely at the helm; however, every idea and
suggestion I made he considered. I took on as many of the tasks that I
could (while still leaving ample room for my role) to make it all go
about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
shoot was smooth as it was so well-organized. We had some last-minute cast
changes and a couple of weather issues we dealt with, but nothing
unsurmountable. The camaraderie was excellent, and the crew seasoned.
idea when and where the film might be released onto the general public
Science fiction takes a while to get through
postproduction due to all of the special effects. If I had to make a
guesstimate, I would say within a year. Since we have two of them in post,
hopefully they will both be out within that amount of time.
You have recently received a Maverick Award
for your work on Dawn of the Crescent Moon - so apparently, you
have to talk about that movie, your character, and the shoot as such for a
Actually the Maverick Award was for my
contributions to the independent film world in both acting and producing
(and sometimes helping with producing even when I wasn’t even a
producer… to get things finished that are otherwise stuck). That was an
honorary award that was all encompassing.
Dawn of the Crescent Moon received a big
award that night also as we received the “Best Cast Ensemble Award.”
Dawn of the Crescent Moon was produced and directed by some filmmakers
I’ve known many years. They wrote the part in for me, which was quite an
honor in itself. Working with Barry Corbin was really a blast and
enlightening, so it was an overall great project!
I've read one of your upcoming movies is called Who's
Jenna...? - with a title like this, you just have to say a few
words about the movie!
Jenna...? I play a lawyer
who is a virtual doppelganger for a famous porn star. It’s a big
comedy so the jokes are endless and unrelenting! It’s the twists in this
movie that make it really incredible… did I say enough?!
Any other current and future
projects you'd like to talk about?
One of my favorite projects we just wrapped, is
entitled Robot Fighter. It’s a film set in the distant future, which
deals with the overthrow of humanity by AI. I loved making this film as it
wasn’t only multi-dimensional as far as the character I played – but
it was also very action packed and filmed in a multitude of locations. The
physical demands were also more intense – which I loved. I would
consider it to be a science fiction action movie to say the least.
Your initial claim to
fame was as a model - so what can you tell us about that aspect of your
career, and how did your experience with modelling help you as an actress?
really grew up doing both. My father did photography on the side so I was
his “go-to” girl as a kid when he tested out new set-ups. My acting
was limited to theatre and musical theatre growing up, with my first SAG
gig being a commercial for Sunkist Soda at the age of 15. Similarly, at
about 16, I was booking print work pretty consistently – mostly in
swimsuit in those days. It went hand-in-hand through my early twenties.
When I booked a few consistent recurring gigs, my acting became more
prevalent as I didn’t have the time for print. Although I still worked
it in between projects, print work did (and still does) take a back seat
to when I have acting jobs. The nice thing about doing both was always
that I had a way to pay the bills! I enjoyed both, but would always give
preference to a great role.
got you into acting eventually, and did you receive any formal training on
Throughout my life I’ve studied various methods
in depth. I have bits of various methods as part of my fabric from
studying so many techniques. I take parts of each of them that work for me
and integrate it. We are always learning. Years ago, I started studying
with Margie Haber in her Master’s Class, and adopted her take on it all
– just live the life. You simply become the character. It’s my
favorite way of explaining it as it is just the life that you’re living
at the time. All of the other wonderful teachers I’ve worked with had
something to do with how I work today, but I prefer not to pick it apart.
good example is this last movie we were filming, Robot Fighter. We worked
with this really amazing dog in many of the scenes – Moose. Moose just
loved the filming and was really fantastic (he actually has his own
Instagram now which is @mooseinmalibu)… in the beginning. By the middle
of the shoot, the AI was taking over the world and it was so real to me as
I was living it. I had some shots we did where I was running from them
(with Moose) and there was a huge amount of fear (real fear). Moose was
really scared from the adrenaline and his little heart was beating.
That’s how real it all becomes.
From what I know, some of your earliest
acting work was on the daily soap Loving - so what can you tell us
about your work on that one, and how does shooting a daily soap
compare to making movies?
Daily soap is rigorous work, but at that age
(well, any age really) you’re just so appreciative to be working. It’s
more like a fulltime job, although after hours are spent memorizing.
There’s very little break between scenes as it’s shot in sets, and
since you’re working on it almost every day – there isn’t the same
amount of prep time for getting deep within a character and their arcs –
like in film. That said, you are playing the same character day in and day
out so you already know who you are. Finding out who you are and how you
feel and relate to the other characters is a huge job in itself so
there’s an advantage there. I would always prefer to work in film where
I can delve deep into who the character is and find their journey.
Even before At the Edge of
Time, you did serve as producer on a couple of projects - so what made
you pick up behind-the-scenes duties as well?
First of all, I love a great challenge…
Producing is a bit like a puzzle, and I had been around sets for many
years by the time I decided to produce myself. I had written a script that
I wanted to bring to life and knew enough about the process that I decided
to do it myself. I will admit that I went to the Dov Siemen’s weekend
crash course just to be sure I felt confident in my abilities, and then I
made a feature film. I assembled a fantastic team of people I could trust,
brought on an amazing director (David Worth – who I’ve worked with a
couple of times), hired a screenwriter to tighten up the script and
overall fill in the story (Victor Perillo), hired an editor who I truly
respected (Steve Swersky – who also edited Tick Tock which I
produced several years ago) and all the pieces just fell into place. It
was a lot of hard work, but worth it. I gathered a great team and a great
cast – which is key.
you describe yourself as an actress, and some of your techniques to bring
your characters to life?
I am a brave actress. I am a giving actress (to
the other actors on set). I am an actress who lives her roles and
experiences life as that character would experience it. It’s more of an
immersion. I study who they are, I create the environment they grew up in,
the experiences they had prior that led them to where they are today and I
start thinking like them. I ask my characters a lot of questions before
taking them on (Stanislavsky), and I’m dedicated to the integrity of who
they are. I am an uninhibited actor and aware of the body movement
differentiation and habits of the character I am being (Alexander). I
connect to my characters personal and emotional state (Strasberg) and
their thoughts and feelings (Method). Mostly I live their lives (Margie
Haber) and enjoy the journey.
Actresses (and indeed actors)
who inspire you?
actors whose work most consistently inspires
me would include Meryl Streep, Daniel
Day Lewis, and Benedict Cumberbatch.
Your favourite movies?
This year my favorite was The Imitation Game.
Last year my favorite was a tie between August Osage County and The
Wolf of Wall Street. Overall
it would be Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope and A Clockwork
guessing over the next year it will be the new Star Wars (fingers crossed)
and the new Mad Max.
and of course, films you really deplore?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
I hate to call any movie “bad” as it’s
someone’s art that they made to entertain the world – someone’s
dream. That said, I would have to say that Birdemic was the worst film
I’ve ever seen that was distributed! It was actually so terrible though
that I watched it and laughed and oftentimes winced! I do believe that
they knew it was terrible and made it that way on purpose however. That
just can’t be an accident! They had a huge viewership just because it
was so terrible, which in a way – makes it a success.
Facebook, whatever else?