Pre-Production Compendium film shoot “Alice In Wasteland”

“The Queen of Hearts”

The short film project “The Queen of Hearts” is part of  the Compendium series “Alice In Wasteland” produced at Vancouver Film School under the EBM department (Entertainment Business Management). Also within the “Alice in Wasteland” theme,  four other short films are being shot with different production teams: TweedleDee and TweedleDum, The Twins; The T-Party; The Chesire Cat;  and, The Flowers. I have been cast as the Queen of Hearts, and am excited to part of this high quality creation.

Producers of “Team Queen”: Lewis Chieng, Sheryl Vedamani, Daniel Gogolin, Alexandra Castillo, and Max Tennessen.

Director: Dave Roncin  Writer: Casey Splinter Actors: Trilby Jeeves, Ava Vanderstarren, Jason Mireau

Follow Team Queen’s blog for more information.

In the meantime, I have decided to post my journey into the dark “Alice in Wasteland”.

January 9th, 2012

I was contacted by director and teacher David Roncin from Vancouver Film School regarding the next Compendium film shoot. He wanted to know if I might be interested in auditioning for the role of Queen in their short “Queen”. I read the script, fell in love with the style and the story, and promptly said yes!

January 10th, 2012

I’m having a very busy January and finally, late evening, got to studying my lines and doing some character preparation for the audition.  The role is bold, troubled, and sensual in an ugly way. I went over the lines many times without imposing too many decisions. Just played. Eventually got the script to a place where I felt I could sleep the night!

January 11th, 2012

In the afternoon, after working on my business all morning, I dug into the script again. Using some tools I teach, I “buffooned” the scene (taking it to an extreme with some mockery), and danced to the words. It seemed to help find the Queen. Jumped in my car, put a cork in my mouth to practice the lines on my way (this helps with diction and clarity, and warms up the mouth muscles!). Once there, I continued to listen to the music I chose to suit the Queen’s personality, until I was invited into thee room. There I met a beautiful young woman who was playing my Alice. It was easy to be inspired by her beauty, and dig up the objective of the Queen. (you’ll have to see the film to find out what that is.. ) Your hint is that the Queen ISN’T pretty. We connected and I had fun in the audition. I think if one is having fun during an audition, things are looking good. If nothing else, you walk away feeling good. And, I did. And, I had no expectations. Onwards.

January 12th, 2012

I’m always up very early on Thursday mornings for a business networking breakfast I attend. Decided to check my email on my iPhone, as I do most Thursdays. Today there was a message from one of the producers, Daniel, that they were thrilled with my performance and wanted me for the role. Yahoooo!! I had to share with my biz group and they were excited for me. I’m very happy to do this project as I know how great the production values are, and the people involved are super nice. Plus the role is “juicy”! I’m grateful for the opportunity. Two of my friends were in previous Compendium films and they had a super experience. In fact, I got to coach on one of them – “Hook” from the Forever Series. Now it is my turn to be in the hot seat!

January 18th, 2012

This evening was scheduled for me, “Queen”, to have a make-up test. I wasn’t sure what that was going to be until earlier today. I figured it would be involved as the Queen’s face is to be scarred, and less than pretty. Well, tonight was about making a mask of my face so the make up artists could create prosthetics that would be glued to my face. I had been through the process before, which was good as it can be challenging. Your face is completely covered in goop with only the nostrils being left so you can breathe. There is a lot of trust in the people who are doing it so you want to make friends with them very quickly!

Pre-goo.. Sexy ball cap! (not)

No fear, Louise Lockhart and Steph Segaric were awesome and constantly checking in with me to see if I was okay. They first applied some purple gooey stuff (official name is alginate, a seaweed by product) to my face. It felt strange as it dripped around. This first step was to take a detailed impression of my face. (I wonder if it’s the same stuff they use at the dentist…) The cheesecloth they then attached was to help create some traction for the subsequent casting to grip.  The gypsona, a light plaster, becomes the spine of the shape so they have something solid to work with when they make a “positive”.

Me in my purple gooey Zen state!

Okay… that’s the technical details. What was I going through as these steps took place? Surprisingly, once I got used to being covered, and trusting my little air holes, I felt quite Zen. It was a refreshing break in my crazy schedule. I couldn’t talk, couldn’t read, couldn’t do anything but sit. It was a “mask retreat”. Maybe there is a new business here! Our society needs it! Forced stillness. I was almost disappointed when it was time to pull the mask off (which went quite smoothly).

Louise laying down plaster strips

But… there was some fun happening around me during my masked meditation!

Louise and the Queen... hmmm

Steph having fun.. me innocent!

I didn’t see my “positive” made from a cement like substance, but this is Jack’s, the Queen’s cohort. Louise and Steph use the rock hard face molds to create the prosthetics that will eventually find themselves on our faces as scars.

Jack's face for prosthetic making

January 25, 2012

Time for a second session with Louise for a more in-depth testing of the prosthetics and some make up for the Queen.

Colour Testing the prosthetic

Louise showed me the scars, and then began her artistry to feel out how everything might look. I became her canvas. I tried not to interfere too much with photo taking, but, it’s not every day a gal gets to have this kind of character building, in a literal way! We tested the skin grafts, because they’re important during a pivotal moment for the Queen. But… I won’t give that away, either! As an actor, I always enjoy playing a role that is physically steps away from me. There is a freedom of expression that is hard to explain. This make-up will be like doing mask work, in a miniature way, which always leads you to a mysterious place.

Good beginning tests for "skin graphs" ... blec!

January 26, 2012

Today I am going over the most recent script and hoping the lines don’t change too much. I know they have to keep the script under a certain amount of time as we have only 12 hours to shoot everything. And, that will include the 3 to 4 hours they will have me in make-up. I plan to use that time to review my lines, my intentions, my objectives, and listen to some music (this really helps me get in the zone of my character). I’m sure I’ll spend the first part of the session just waking up, and chatting to Louise as our call time is sure to be very early.

January 27, 2012

This evening we had a rehearsal with the three cast members and our director, Dave Roncin. The role of “Jack” has been re-cast for personal reasons. I never did meet the original “Jack” so I didn’t have a chance to get attached. Our new Jack, Jason, is a nice guy and contributed some good insight about the script. Both Ava and Jason have worked together before, which can be a helpful bonus (they graduated from VFS at the same time). I think we will have fun and give each other good support.

Tonight’s rehearsal focused mainly on discussing our individual stories, our relationships to each other, and the subtext of what is really going on. I enjoy this sleuthing.  Then at some point you have to decide what are the stronger choices, and what is going to make the story “sing”. It’s like building a puzzle and knowing when you’ve found the right piece because it slips in easily. The Queen’s character, on the surface, could appear to be hateful and ugly, but underneath she is a suffering figure, like so many in real life. My job as an actor will be to inspire some sympathy in the audience despite her apparent cruelty. No pressure!! I do like her, though, and that should read somewhere in me when the cameras are turned on. At least, this is what I hope for. I will look to our fearless leader, Dave, for guidance.

We also examined certain sentences that didn’t ring quite right. A lot of times you might not know exactly why, but something leads you to question whether your character would say that word, or that line. The writer has done a great job and now we’re just doing some tweaking. Our job is to serve the writing. I didn’t see the original script but apparently it has gone through some major changes to its current state (as they do).  I am also looking forward to the silences in the story.

After a couple of reads and our discussion we walked down to the studio to see the set. It was a busy place with the walls being painted a dusty rose (not purple, Max!). And, I saw the beginnings of my little stage where the Queen dances. I’m excited about that. Having some physical action will help my overall interpretation. When I perform I always use music to inspire me into my character. Dave walked us through the broad strokes of how we will be moving through the space. Then we were released to go home and do our homework!

The gang "early days"...

2 replies
  1. Marilyn Dicks
    Marilyn Dicks says:

    Interesting techniques to turn a beautiful woman I know into a cruel, damaged queen. I hope there will be a way for me to see what I’m sure will be a spectacular performance! Break a leg and most of all have fun!!


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