by Jessica Mazo
SOMEWHERE SLOW, written and directed by Jeremy O’Keefe, made it’s East Coast premiere at the Brooklyn Film Festival on June 7, 2013, where it went on to win for Best Narrative Feature. I was lucky enough to attend the screening, and interview Mr. O’Keefe, as well as both stars: Graham Patrick Martin and Jessalyn Gilsig. I really enjoyed this beautifully shot, directed, and acted film. I recommend checking it out! Here is the synopsis (from the festival website): Intimate, raw and funny, SOMEWHERE SLOW features a searing and complex portrait of Anna Thompson, a 40 year old skin care rep, coasting through an unfulfilled marriage and an estranged relationship with her family…On her travels, she meets Travis, a teenage drifter on his own journey of self-discovery. Sparse and provocative, this film shines light on how sometimes we must learn to break our own rules to find the life we’ve been yearning to live.
Jessalyn Gilsig, who stars in, as well as produces, SOMEWHERE SLOW, is well-known for her roles on such hit TV shows as BOSTON PUBLIC, NIP/TUCK, HEROES, GLEE, and the new series VIKINGS on the History Channel. She regretted not being able to attend the premiere (she had to fly to Ireland to shoot VIKINGS), but she was kind enough to speak with me on the phone and chat about the film, her first time producing, and playing deliciously unlikeable characters. My interview with Jessalyn is below!
Q. Hi Jessalyn – I’m so excited to get to speak to you, and to see SOMEWHERE SLOW! Tell me about your experience working on the film.
A. Thank you! I play Anna, the protagonist. The dialogue in the film is sparse – a lot is revealed in glances, actions, and what is unsaid. For Anna there is a slight but significant change in her, but it is more internal. She is very complex, and her behavior is not always predictable, just like in real life – people do not always fit neatly into molds of behavior. She is very passive at the beginning of the story – she lives her life like she’s asleep. But after a certain change of events she is more connected to her life and more present. I loved playing her. We get to see how she changes the way she sees herself as a result of her interaction with a much younger man, wonderfully played by Graham Patrick Martin.
Q. This is your first time producing as well, right? What were some of your producer duties?
A. When you help produce a film, you are expected to do everything. I was involved in all aspects, from pre-production to post. It was so helpful for me as an actress to get that experience on the other side of the camera, and I am so grateful for it. [Her and I discussed how challenging it is for an independent film to make it through post-production – how I worked on a film four years ago that has still not come out. She agreed:] Post-production is the dirty secret of film-making. This is when everything comes together, and the film stands or falls. For me personally, sound mixing is my pet peeve. It’s something the audience will not notice if it’s good, but if it’s not done well the audience no longer trusts the film. The people who did our sound were amazing – they provided their services at a fraction of their regular price. The music for SOMEWHERE SLOW came out beautiful as well. From pre-production to post, it took just over a year for SOMEWHERE SLOW to be ready to screen to an audience.
Q.Tell me about working with the writer/director/producer Jeremy O’Keefe – did you know him before you got involved with this project?
A. I did a reading of the script – that’s how I met Jeremy. I believed this script to be so special, and I felt like it deserved a much bigger name than mine attached to it. He insisted I do it. I didn’t think it was fair for him to have to do it all himself – that’s how I got involved as a producer. We’ve gotten so close from working on this together- we are like siblings! SOMEWHERE SLOW has become a shared passion of ours.
Q. David Costabile (BREAKING BAD, FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS, THE WIRE) plays your husband in the film. How is it working with him?
A. He did such a beautiful job playing my husband. My character’s husband in the film is a nice guy and he is sincere, but he is not really seeing her, and he loves her but not in the way she needs. She yearns for something more.
Q. You’ve played some characters (on such shows as GLEE and NIP/TUCK) who are vindictive, and some would even call “mentally unstable.” But you play these women with such conviction I actually empathize! How did it come about, you being so frequently cast as this type? I feel like you are the go-to actress to play these types of characters.
A. (laughing) I think once I played a role like that I was hooked! When NIP/TUCK creator Ryan Murphy gave me the script, I just loved the character of Gina [a sex addict who later blackmails the main character]. I felt like I knew her. Playing Gina gave me the confidence to take more risks and make bolder choices. From there it felt easier to take on other complicated roles [such as Terri Schuester on GLEE, the manipulative wife who fakes a pregnancy in order to hold on to her husband]. I’m not concerned with likeability. I want to play truthful, flawed, and full characters. Anna – my character in SOMEWHERE SLOW, is somewhat different than these woman – she’s a lot more passive, but she is definitely flawed. You could even call her passive-aggressive.
Q. According to the very factual Wikipedia, you used to live in NYC. Is that true?
A. Yes! I lived in NY for 5 years after graduate school. I then moved to LA, then moved back to NY for a year, before permanently moving to LA.
Q. How do you like LA compared to NY?
A. I share the same opinion a lot of people do about the differences between NY and LA. I love LA and it’s been really good to me. I have a really great support system here. But nowhere else has the energy of NY. NY is more than just an industry town- it’s a community. In LA you have to look harder to find that community.
Q. You’re known for your extensive TV work, having worked on a lot of popular shows. What is the main difference for you, between acting for TV & film? Are there differences in how you approach a role?
A. TV is typically 22 episodes and you have no idea what will happen to your character. On a film, you have the full script and know everything that will happen to your character. So on a TV series, you get a sense of family and consistency, and while working on a film you can really immerse yourself in the story and world of the film. VIKINGS is the first hybrid for me – it is 9 episodes, and we receive the script and know what’s going to happen, so I can really chart my character’s journey.
Q. Any interesting experiences from the set of SOMEWHERE SLOW? Any days where it just did not go smoothly?
A. There is a really beautifully shot scene during magic hour, where the sun was just coming up. The amount of time to shoot that is limited – when the natural lighting is just perfect, so we couldn’t finish the scene in one day. We had to keep coming back to complete the scene on several different days during magic hour.
Q. Do you plan to do more producing?
A. Absolutely! I love it. I love being involved in the other aspects of a production. When I was speaking with our wonderful costume designer, Tasha Goldthwait, I realized that she sees a film so differently than how I, as an actress, see it. She reads a script and sees it in terms of wardrobe. She has a reason for why each shirt is worn in each scene. Producing helped me realize that how the crew and creative team sees a story is so different than how the actors see it, and that is just so amazing to me. An actor reads a script and sees it in terms of their character and the story, and not necessarily the other production aspects. As a result of my producing experience, I can now be so much more helpful on the set of VIKINGS.
Even though I love the villainous characters she portrays, the real Jessalyn Gilsig is incredibly kind and gracious. Thank you for the interview with Martini Productions NYC!
Film’s website: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1928338/
Here is the trailer for SOMEWHERE SLOW:
Jessica Mazo is on twitter: @JessMazo
Copyright by Martini Productions NYC and the author