Humor Magazine

Interview With Actress Stacey Shevlin

By Christopher De Voss @chrisdevoss

The flight from Orlando to Los Angeles was long. The Flight Attendants would not give me a second bag of pretzels even though I explained to them that I was just traveling for a quick interview of an up and coming Actress/Director/Producer, and I had only a few hours in LA and had to turn immediately back around and fly home to Orlando, Fl.

They didn’t care.

“One bag per customer. Policy. How much more do you want to pay for your plane ticket?”

I will gladly pay you the extra 30 cents it costs the airlines to pass out pretzels. You know what? I’ll even pay 50 cents! Now you made a 20% profit! I’m cool like that!

Once I landed in LA and got the pat down from the TSA, I hailed a taxi and met Stacey Shelvin at the Mohawk Bend for a quick lunch and interview. The Mohawk was very Californian, but it had, like, a billion beers to choose from.

Stacey sat down across from me. She was cute, tiny, and full of energy.

I got the Mohawk Burger specifically so Stacey could watch the arugula hang from my mouth as I tried to chew it. Arugula and I had been battling for years, and Arugula usually won. Stacey got the Fish and Chips, but seemed to lose her appetite as I tried to control the constant flow of rosemary aioli that dribbled down my chin with each bite. She took a swig of her IPA.

Me: “You ordered an IPA. I don’t like IPAs. I like to drink my beer, not chew it.”

Stacey: “That seems real manly.”

Me: *wipes the last of the aioli from chin* “If you see the waiter, tell them I need more napkins, please. Tell me about your short film: Not Phillip and I. It’s a comedy, right?”

Stacey: “It’s really more of a dramedy, I think. The film is about how everyone has a different way of dealing with grief. Sylvia, is the character I play, who just lost her beloved pet. She feels down on her luck, and over everything, such as failed dreams and bad relationships. So, she returns home to try to heal. But she soon realizes that even her own home is slipping away from her. She finds some old family footage of a time when things were easier, which causes her to handle her current situation in a slightly different way than she had imagined.”

Me: “What way?”

Stacey: “You will have to wait until the film comes out.”

Me: “Fair enough. You are asking for funding through Seed and Spark. It’s the filmmaker’s equivalent to crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe or Kickstarter, right?”

Stacey: “Yes, exactly. But it is a platform that is geared specifically for filmmakers. We are close to funding. The campaign ends on the 24th.”

Me: “Crowd funding seems to be the way to get anything financed anymore.”

Stacey: “It’s hella hard.”

Me: “That’s where I was going…”

Stacey: “Well, I paid for the production out of pocket. 15K.”

Me: *spits out burger* “Sorry.”

Stacey: *brushes arugula off shirt* “Gross. Anyway…yeah.. car…who needs a new one. I drive a 2008 Hyundai Hatchback and I’m fine with that. I’d rather create something to share, so I decided to do the website to raise the 10K I needed for post.”

Me: “You’re close…what happens if you don’t get it?”

Stacey: “We lose the money. But no, we’re getting it! My Mom actually left me a very concerned voice mail this morning. She said, ‘I went to the page and you still have a long way to go, will you make it? Call me!'”

Me: “My Mom leaves me concerned voice mails too, but mostly about my grooming habits, my eating habits, my rabbit habits…”

Stacey: “What?”

Me: “Nothing. Looking at your Seed and Spark, one discovers just how many people are needed to pull this together….sound people, directors, actors, writers, caterers, fireman…it really is amazing…and most of your team was women?”

Stacey: “Yup. I love hiring the ladies when possible.”

Me: “So that’s by design?”

Stacey: “Yes, it was. I write for a blog called Ms. In The Biz and it’s about empowering other women and providing opportunity. Me and Nalini Sharma wrote it. I produced it, with the help of Dana Scott and co-directed it with Kristine Kennedy.”

Me: “We who hover outside the business hear it’s a male-dominated industry…”

Stacey: “It totally is. I was listening to an interview with Jill Soloway. She said it in a way I never thought of before: Back to the maleness. We see the world through the eyes of the person creating the film, and it’s been predominantly male. We are giving women a shot to tell the story through a woman’s eyes…which is just different. She (Jill Soloway) hires a lot of female directors on her show, Transparent. It’s the F’N best! Love that show! It’s on Netflix. It’s amazeballs. (Don’t quote that. It’s a stupid fucking word!)”

Me: “Yeah, I always thought Netflix was a stupid word too.”

Stacey: “We had a female assistant director, female key PA, female art department, even a female grip. The grip is the lighting department in case anyone didn’t know. That’s rare, to have a female grip.”

Me: “So. Many. Female Grip jokes. Happening. In my brain right now. Must. Control.”

Stacey: “This whole thing has been a pretty massive undertaking. Next time, I’ll raise the money first, and then hire a team. I had 15 crew members for the 3 days of shooting, but no help before or after really…all me, because of budget restraints, of my tiny bank account…”

Me: “Hey, we have something in common!”

Stacey: “Not only did I order the grip equipment, I actually picked it up myself, and unloaded it myself…ha ha!”

Me: “You are the She-Hulk. Rawr!”

Stacey: “Don’t make that noise again.”

Me: “Sorry. You could start an all female studio!”

Stacey: “I would love to do that, but I don’t want to discriminate. I love dudes too.”

Me: “Who doesn’t love dudes? Did that sound gay?”

Stacey: “A little.”

Me: “So, do you see yourself maybe doing more female-heavy projects?”

Stacey: “Yeah, sure. I have 3 ideas I’d like to start work on as soon as this is over – problem is… making shorts isn’t really a good idea.”

Me: “No? Why aren’t shorts a good idea…besides in the winter time…see what I did there?”

Stacey: “I did. And you should stop. Well, there’s no real distribution for them. No theater plays shorts. Now with the interwebs, they get more play. So that’s good. I love shorts…but maybe no one else does.”

Me: “In Orlando we love shorts…sorry, you told me to stop and I didn’t. Where do you see this when you’re done?”

Stacey: “AH! This leads me to my main point. I need 217 more follows on the Seed and Spark site, (at the time of this writing). If we get to 500, the general public can see it on Hulu or iTunes. Five-hundred gets us talks with distribution. I thought it would be easy to get 500…nope! People can’t seem to hit that damn blue button. You followed, it wasn’t hard, right?”

Me: “A little. My clicker finger had a blister on it, but other than that…not at all.”

Stacey: “We’ve been pushing it on Facebook and Twitter like crazy. Actually, got two nice donations from twitter followers, that was amazing! I love Twitter again. ”

Me: “Don’t you mean amazeballs?”

Stacey: “Be nice!”

Me: “So, if you don’t get to 500…..doing social media and sending links is the only way to get it out there? or YouTube? or Vine….maybe not Vine, that would be frustrating to watch…”

Stacey: “Yeah, that would suck. I’ll Periscope the movie. Ha.”

Me: “I just can’t get on board with Periscope.”

Stacey: “It’s pretty fun, I gotta say….if you can ignore the dudes asking you to take your shirt off or make out with the girl next to you.”

Me: “I see. By the way, can you take your shirt off and make out with that chick at the other table?”

Stacey: “Maybe after dessert.”

Me: “You are the best. So, festivals is a way to get a distribution deal right? A la Blair Witch?”

Stacey: “Yeah. But then again that was a feature. I think with a short you are hoping to get some recognition, and be able to make a feature, or work on someone else’s feature.”

Me: “Can someone see your short at a festival and then offer you work?”

Stacey: “Yeah. That happens. From what I can tell it’s pretty hard to get into these things…they like buzz…and press and stars… who doesn’t?”

Me: “The whole thing is quite the gamble, but the bottom line is that you put your creativity and money out there, and then you see what happens….roll the dice, take the plunge, cliche’ the cliche’…”

Stacey: “Yup. Totally. I learned so freaking much it’s crazy! So many lessons for next time.”

Me: “I bet. You didn’t go to school for it, right? I can’t remember. All I remember from your bio is figure skating.”

Stacey: “Ha. No, I didn’t. I went to school for business. That’s what everyone in my high school was doing, so I did it. I double majored in production for a few years but I dropped it… now I’ve come full circle.”

Me: *holds up sweet potato chip and starts singing Circle of Life*

Stacey: “Don’t do that in public.”

Me: “What made you stop figure skating? And go into acting…after businessing…”

Stacey: “Two things. I had two knee problems. I only skated from like 3rd grade to 8th maybe…and I wanted to be a normal kid. I used to get up every day at 5am, go to the rink, then to school, then back to the rink. Then in the summer, all damn day.”

Me: “No bueno. Thank god you only had two knees then.”

Stacey: “Indeed. If I had more knees, then more disease!”

Me: “I see what you did there. This isn’t your first film, right?”

Stacey: “As an actor, no…but this is the first film that I co- wrote, produced and co-directed.”

Me: “I measure an actor’s worth on how much I have to scroll on their IMDB. On (Stacey Ann ShevlinI have to scroll quite a bit. Very impressive. Like if I had an IMDB page, it would list nothing. And people would throw tomatoes at it.”

Stacey: “You gotta start somewhere.”

Me: “Is this film based on anything, a moment in you or your co-writer‘s life, or something you came up with in the shower, on the bus, while doing laundry?”

Stacey: “I’d say that the character is pretty much me. I lost my pup last year, DAX. He was the best 120lb Rotweiller/Dane mix ever. But I don’t Snap and stalk my own grandmother. That is fiction.”

Me: “Oh I do. I like to watch her teeth fall out when she is shocked.”

Stacey: “That is the best. We wrote the story to the locations. In the film, and on the website, there is some 8mm footage. That’s really my family in the footage. I found it at my grandmothers house.”

Me: *stuffs mouth with the rest of the burger, makes motion for Stacey to keep talking.*

Stacey: “We wanted to write a story that incorporated that. I’d never written a script before, so I sat with my writing partner Nalini Sharma and we kind of talked it out.”

Me: “How did you decide who plays who….and say naked oil wrestling…even if it’s not true…”

Stacey: “Naked oil wrestling. It is true.”

We finished lunch and I paid with Ned Hickson’s credit card, the same one I used to buy the plane tickets. I actually learned a lot about film making and have a little more appreciation for the art. Check out the Seed and Spark site and donate…and if you don’t donate, at least hit that follow button. It helps a lot. (And the follow button is free!)

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