I’m sure you avid readers have just been dying to read more about the 52 films in 52 weeks project! I’ve been slacking. Fortunately, I’m finally done with my bachelor’s degree so I can write more blog posts. And so it goes!
Head and Shoulders by F. Scott Fitzgerald plays around the theme of odd matches and people not supposed to find love in each other (according to the usual societal standards). As adapted by Mr. Mills, the film opens in a college dorm room on Horace, a studious young man whose focus remains on the more intellectual aspects of college life. Marcia comes into his room to return a book, and ends up staying and making him uncomfortable.
I found something quite interesting on the two characters from the original short story that I’d like to share:
“Horace is from the intellectual elite, born and bred to think. Marcia represents the adventures of life, the passion of art and a steaming sexuality.”
In truth, this is very accurate for Mills’ adaptation. And the actor’s definitely brought these subjects to life. Ross Gosla played Horace, and Jayna Sweet played Marcia. I must say, being on crew for this shoot gave me the opportunity to watch these talented actors work, and it was inspiring.
As I was shooting behind the scenes footage, I noticed that Gosla had the clarity and precision of tone that most stage actors strive for (as an opera singer, this is something I really admire and respect). Turns out, he graduated from ASU with a degree in Theatre. So I asked him how he prepared for this role specifically.
RG: To prepare for the role, I read the short story to see what the whole picture looked like. Horace became a very relatable character for me; he’s completely in his own head, much like I used to be. He has the “smartest man in the room” curse. I like starting with the physical life of the character, so Horace became very upper body – raised shoulders, compressed chest, very immobile and unnatural.
He was asked to audition by Michael Hanelin (one of our frequent actors in Running Wild Films, producer, and also casting director for the 52). When asked how he RWF discovered him, his response: Hanelin was like “Yo, Ross, can you come audition for this role?” and I was like, “You betcha.”
We’re very professional here at RWF.
And interestingly enough, Sweet no longer lives in Arizona. She recently moved to LA to continue her acting career. If that was the case, I wondered, how the heck did Mills find her?
How did this role find you? Since you live in LA, it seems like it may have been difficult.
JS: When I lived in Arizona, I trained with the same acting coach, Marla Finn, as Michael Hanelin. He contacted me saying he was working on a short film that had a role he really wanted to see me for. I did audition! Michael and Travis had to set up a Skype audition appointment through my manager. We’d set up a date and time and all was good. Well, as soon as we get on Skype, we find that my video wasn’t working. We must have hung up and called back at least five times, so they decided to just do a read through – even if they couldn’t see me at all – to get a feel for it and then to have me send them an audition tape. I ended up shooting a tape at five in the morning the next day with the help of a friend.
Was this experience different compared to your experiences in the LA film industry?
JS: It actually wasn’t much different from short films I’ve done in the LA market, to be honest. The way we shot, the equipment, and the skill of the crew definitely is up to par with shorts I’ve done out here. In fact, this went much smoother than a few projects I’ve worked in LA. Really the only difference is that Travis didn’t know how to handle working with my manager!
See I told you we’re professional.
If you haven’t already, watch the web episode for Head and Shoulders on Youtube!