1. Are you an Arkansas Native? If so where are you from? If not, How did you get here?
I was born and raised in Kansas, though I have fond memories of visiting relatives in Arkansas as a kid. My cousin gave me a little ceramic Razorback that I held onto for years.
I came to Little Rock in December, 2001. I got a job writing and directing creative elements for a church. That’s where I first got my hands on Final Cut. I worked there about 9 years. Now I’m acting and working freelance in media production.
2. How do you develop the character you are playing beyond the words on the page?
First, it’s vital to know what the writer intended. Who is this character? What does he want? What does he feel? Why?
Knowing this, I begin to understand what the character thinks about the words he is speaking, his subtext. Our thought process shows on the face more than we know. My characters in Pillow and The Jester were all subtext. They had no lines. In Ballerina my character had page-length monologues. What is the meat behind those words? What leads him to take these actions?
The script work done, I try to relax, focus and let the character flow.
3. You are in several films accepted to this year’s Arkansas Films Program. Any advice to other actors on how to get involved in local productions?
Build relationships in the local film community and work with others to create opportunities. Seek and pursue audition experiences and come to the audition prepared (I went cold in one recently and felt crushed). When you get the part, take the role seriously without taking yourself too seriously. Be someone people want back on their set. The films I am in this year – Pillow, Ballerina, and The Jester – are examples of opportunities built from good working relationships.
4. What were the biggest challenges and successes you faced on set?
Funny how the challenges and successes often go hand in hand.
With Pillow it was the heat. We shot in August with temperatures over 100. It was tough, but also created a foxhole mentality, bonding the cast and crew in a unique way. And we saved a ton on fake sweat.
Ballerina’s challenge was the volume of lines, but the rehearsal process Bryan Stafford put together allowed us to get into those lines and enjoy the acting.
My role in The Jester was very physical. I injured myself the day before shooting. We were prepping our first location that day. Imagine how Scott Edge felt when I showed up walking with a cane. Oh, and then there were the visits from the LRPD, but that’s another story.
The success answer for all three goes again to relationships. There are great people in the Little Rock film community, and I got to work with so many of them. That is my big take away.
5. What do you feel your role is in promoting a film you’ve acted in at the festival?
You’ll notice how many times I mentioned the films in my other answers.
Here’s what I think. As the actor, I am one piece of a large puzzle made up of very talented people. You mentioned that I’m in several films this year. Yes, but how many did Mitchell Crisp art direct? How many did Gabe Mayhan shoot? How many did Dwight Chalmers audio direct? How many did Brook Duszota do make-up for or Kristen Mann produce? What about Dave Calhoun, Brent Baily, Miranda Sink, Les Galusha, Moe Langford, J. C. Cocker, Keith Hamilton? My co-stars John Isner (Pillow) and Dean Denton (Ballerina)? I can go on and on. If I, as the guy on the screen, can bring attention to the film and thus to the great work of all these people – awesome!
6. Out of the many films you have been involved with this year, do you have a favorite role? If so, Why?
That’s a tough one. I honestly hadn’t thought in those terms. Each role was unique and enjoyable in its way. My wife’s observation was that I came home excited and happy from every shoot.
7. What changes have you seen in the local film community in the five years since the LRFF was launched?
I was privileged to be in the LRFF “Best Film from Arkansas” winner year one – Where’s my close-up, Mr. Thornton? There was an excitement around that shoot. People were pumped that someone was doing a film like it in the Little Rock area.
Fast forward to this year. The Arkansas Films Program is stacked with quality productions. Some (like Pillow) are already making a name for Little Rock at major festivals around the country. There is an energy and excitement fueled by a swirl of talented people who want to create good stuff and work together to do it. I’m blessed to be a part.
If you have a project, film news, or any rumors on film you would like to mention email me at David@littlerockfilmfestival.org