As a Theater POE, I have had countless opportunities to build my theatrical skills through my classes and productions at Juniata. One thing I haven’t had as much experience with however, is film. My freshman year, I did a four-day intensive with an artist named Britt Whittle, who was an actor in L.A., guest starring on different television shows and commercials. The intensive was called “Acting for the Camera”, and we had the opportunity to work on different scenes from television shows, all with a camera pointed at our face, which was hooked up to a monitor so the rest of the students in the class could watch you while you worked. I got to do a scene from Gossip Girl, which was a show I used to binge-watch all of the time. I had so much fun playing a high-class celebrity, and it was definitely something I had never done before.
Since then, I have hosted “This Week at Juniata”, the school web show, and been in a few student short films, but that’s it. Working with a camera is so weird, because I’m used to being on stage, where the focus is entirely different, and you only get one chance to say a line, since we can’t cut and re-do it. Last semester however, I got the chance of a lifetime here at Juniata, and I starred in my first student feature film, which was written and directed by a fellow IMA student, Matt Gaynor.
Matt reached out to me and asked me to audition for a movie he had written, and to be honest, I had no idea what I was doing. I was very unprepared for the audition, and I went in, said my lines, felt super uncomfortable with a camera on me, and then that was that. I remember walking out of the audition room thinking, well that was the worst audition I’ve ever done…, and sure enough, the next morning I woke up to learn that I had been cast as the lead in the film. It was crazy! I wasn’t expecting it at all, but I was so excited to get to work.
We filmed for about three months, on weekends, at night, and any free time we could find. Unlike other films I had worked on, this one was full-length, so there was so much more material to work with. I was very lucky to have been a part of this project, and it has given me new experiences and lessons I am so excited to take with me into the real world. When we finally wrapped, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I had just finished my debut feature film! I didn’t know what was to come with the film, but I was so happy I was able to help.
I’m very excited to announce that my film A Small, Unimportant, and Beautiful Life is premiering this Thursday, at the Clifton 5 (the local movie theater in Huntingdon) at 8:00 PM. I hate watching myself perform, but to see myself on a big screen is something I have always dreamed about, and it’s finally happening! We are having a big premiere, with wine tasting and a Q&A, and my parents are even driving from Boston to see the film with me. I’m so excited (and nervous) for it, but this is definitely a big step in my journey to becoming a professional actor. I’m so grateful to Matt Gaynor, the IMA Department, and to Juniata College for allowing me this opportunity to grow as an artist! See you at the premiere!