DAWN OF THE CRESCENT MOON and DO YOU LIKE YOUR BALLS? had their Los Angeles premieres on August 23, 2014 at the 10th annual Action On Film Festival. DAWN OF THE CRESCENT MOON owned the night with winner of best cast
performance in a feature, and best actress in a feature. DO YOU LIKE YOUR BALLS? in turn won best comedy scene. The award winning and always talented Tracey Birdsall chats with Eclipse Magazine about these films.
Indie movie queen Tracey Birdsall is an accomplished actress, producer, and vocalist. She knew from a young age that she was an actress down deep in her soul. Her acting career started with commercial work followed by extensive film and TV work. TV credits include “Family Ties”, “Loving”, “All my Children”, “Hearts Are Wild”, and “Casino”. Film credits include “The Prophet’s Game” and “I Might Even Love you”. She has hosted numerous TV programs such as “The Million Dollar Showcase Of Homes”, and “Discover America” . She also works on the other side of the camera as a producer through her production company Pacific Coast Entertainment, Inc.
Tracey recently won the prestigious Maverick Award on Aug. 30 for her acting and producing accomplishments at the Action On Film International Film Festival. This award is given to talent with the ability to persevere and thrive in the world of entertainment. Previous winners of the award include ROCKY alum Talia Shire and RESERVOIR DOG’s Michael Madsen.
Congratulations on winning the 2014 Maverick Award at the Action On Film International Film Festival!
It was totally unexpected. I’m really excited about it!
Let’s talk about DAWN OF THE CRESCENT MOON. Tell us about the film and your character Tracey.
I’m opposite Barry Corbin in the film who plays the bartender in this remote town. It’s our job to lead the story of what’s going on in a mystery called The Legend of Blood Lake. It was fabulous working opposite Barry, as he makes everything so easy. He is a consummate professional, and now one of my closest friends. In the film, we are kind of weaving the story through for the viewer. When we begin however, our intentions aren’t so good either. We know about the mystery and there is a fortune of treasure involved, so we’re actually there to get the story from Cyrus (played by Barry Corbin.) In the end, we find out that Cyrus was onto us the whole time, which is kind of a twist.
There is a little twist in the end. It is not cut and dry.
Not at all.
What motivated you to get involved in this film?
I love working with friends and they asked me to do it basically. It was a great story, and they had named my character Tracey in order to coerce me into doing it! I liked the fact they were hiring some good names – which also helped in my decision process. When it comes down to it, I like working with friends I’ve known for a while as long as they are making a quality product. I supported them and it turned out fabulous.
Are there certain people you have worked with the most or do a lot of films with over the years?
Yes, in the way of support people. I’ve done two films with director David Worth. In the production end, I’ve worked with a lot of the same people for 15 years . . . editors and people like that. You develop relationships in this industry and you know that their work is quality work. It’s all about relationships.
Were there any challenges in preparing for the role of Tracey?
The challenge is when you are discussing something in a scene and being the one’s to weave the story. A lot of times these are the things that are less believable. It is kind of distracting when you see people trying to listen during convers
ations. That is a challenge in itself. Delivering emotions and tapping into places inside of you is much easier than being present while you are listening.
You are also working on the film DO YOU LIKE YOUR BALLS? Can you tell us about it?
I play Francesca, Gerry Bednob’s wife (best known for 40 YEAR-OLD VIRGIN). He’s an older gentleman, while I’m his trophy wife with an insatiable appetite. When I first got the script (from Producer Laura Reynolds) I got to page 3 when I started laughing hysterically. This was one of the funniest scripts I had ever read! I read the script super fast and literally had tears streaming from laughing so hard. At this point, I only had 2 days to prepare for the audition and I was the last person at the end of the day. My character was simply outrageous. They broke me out of character in the audition because they were laughing so hard! They called me later that night and said, “You owned it from the moment you were in there.” They just cast me right then and there on the spot.
The entire cast were comedians. I was the only one who auditioned for the film. You have all these people with perfect timing and perfect beats. It was pretty amazing as they were all professionals. It is hilariously outrageous. Even editing it was hilarious 2 weeks later. I still laugh when I think of it!
How did you get involved in acting?
I was five the first time I did a singing and dancing number in front of a lot of people. I used to be with the Gary Dance Studios, and I remember how inspired I was by the whole experience. I knew I wanted to perform – like everyday. My mom did not want me to be an actress as she felt I could be so much more. I was inspired and continued on with my quest to work in the industry by working the ranks up from theater in my youth. The first professional union job I did was for Sunkist Soda. I worked for them for a decade on and off. It was a really nice start in the industry.
Did you have any friends that supported you in this journey upward in acting?
I didn’t know until I was older if I really cared, because I knew at a young age that this was what I was going to do. I wasn’t the type of person that looked around at the people around me asking, “What do you think?” I was on a mission. That said, I still am!
You have been in the business for a very long time. Have you seen a change in the type of roles you are offered from when you first started?
Of course, when you first start out you are getting called in for co-stars. Now I get called in for pilots and leads. Filmmakers have so many more tools now. The world has gotten more complicated and exciting to delve into. The process of casting has changed so much too. It went computer oriented for a while and now you see it through networking and connections again.
Even though now it is more computer oriented, would you say it is still all the same?
It goes back to good old boys network and the relationships that you build. The smaller roles are always what you see listed in the casting sites.
So building strong relationships with the people you work with through the years are important?
When you are reading for a casting director you’ve never met before, it is the start of the relationship. When you get an audition, are you going to go in as a finished product? When you get there is it at performance level? That’s how you develop a relationship. It’s not by sending postcards. It is by showing them what they are going to get if they put you on the set. That is when the relationship begins.
One of the shows we know you for is “Family Ties”. Do you keep in touch with them?
I’ve spoken with Michael J. Fox, but I haven’t seen him in years. There are some great old stories about back then. It’s just such a small world and one day you turn around and you will find you’re working with them again. It’s like with Barry. He had worked with friends of mine years ago, which I later got him back in touch with. It’s kind of fun. You are still in contact even if you aren’t in contact. You’re always one actor or one job away from an actor you’ve worked with before.
You’ve done both short and feature length films and television. Is there a difference in the approach to each ?
I don’t think so as far as preparation. I think your job as an actress is to prepare and be the very best and become that role. I don’t think that changes whether it is for a short film or feature film or television. What changes is the style of the show or how many cameras you are working with. As an actor, you have to prepare yourself completely. I would never discount something because it is a short film. You have to give it your all.
You are a vocalist. Are you still singing?
Just in the kitchen after a glass of wine (laughing). Last thing I did was a soundtrack in the late 90’s. I don’t have the time. When things come up, you have to see what you make time for. I’m sure it will pop up again in my future as I absolutely love it!
In addition to acting, you are also a producer. At what point did you decide to go into producing?
It kind of went backwards when I started leaning toward digital production. I decided to start up a digital production company because it was new technology. I had somebody that worked for me find out where the largest green screen was. It was 100 ft, so we built a 110 ft screen. It was when a lot of filmmakers were fleeing to Canada. We gave them an alternative where they could be outside the studio zone.
For my first film, I still didn’t have much faith in the digital standard (even though the studio was digital), so I shot in 35 mm. The director I hired (David Worth – Director of AMERICAN KICKBOXER and BLOODSPORT) didn’t want to shoot digital either. But everyone that was coming in to use the service was using digital.
When did you produce your first film?
It was in the late 1990’s.
Do you have any other upcoming films you are producing?
Right now I have been in the works with Neil Johnson who does award winning science fiction films. I love his model of filmmaking and the way he does things. The man is a genius in his time and I see an opportunity to work with him and learn from him at the same ti
me. I’ve been wanting to get back in production again recently so the timing is perfect. We’re prepping to shoot a film starting in November entitled DESCENT. All I can say about it at this point is that it’s going to be of huge proportions and stay tuned!
Having your experience as an actress has that helped you as a producer and vice versa?
Not everybody can do either and doing both requires a lot of dedication and balls. If you are producing and acting in a project, you have to take care of all the details and as soon as you get there, you have to take the producer hat off and be about living the life of the character. You can’t be the producer that’s also acting. You have to pass that hat over to the people you’ve hired to fulfill that role and vice versa. You can produce up until that point. Then you can stop producing until you have the finished product.
That said, I think that as an actress who also produces, you are more sympathetic to the other cast and crew on the production, the level of preparation required, the continuity, etc. As a producer who also acts, you are less understanding of the lack of professionalism and lack of preparation that sometimes happens. Everyone should always be doing their best.
One of my favorite things is post production, so you put that producer’s hat back on and sit in the editing bay. I love that process.
What were DAWN OF CRESCENT MOON and DO YOU LIKE BALLS? nominated for at the Action on Film Festival last August 22?
DO YOU LIKE YOUR BALLS? was nominated for best comedy scene. DAWN OF THE CRESCENT MOON was nominated for best horror film, outstanding cast performance for a feature, best supporting actor in a feature was Barry Corbin, best actress in a feature was Shiree Nelson, and best special effects in a feature.
Action on Film International Film Festival is my very favorite festival of the year, followed by Dances with Film.
Now that these have wrapped, do you have any other projects?
I do. I have a film that started a few days here. We go to Greece for a short period of time there. I have a have a project called DEADLINE 2 is set to shoot this year. I have a tv show “Guess Who’s Coming For Dinner”. I have a lot of stuff going on and it’s fantastic.
Do you have a philosophy that keeps you going as far as all your pursuits?
A lot of people call themselves actors but they don’t work on it all the time and they think it is enough to go to a class. You have to do something everyday. It has to be a part of your life. Even your auditions are work. Everything is work. Prepare for everything like it is work. If you prepare your auditions like you are working, then you are never disappointed if you don’t get cast in a role because you actually got to experience being that person. It should feel like an end product. I think that is something that is really important.
DAWN OF THE CRESCENT MOON and DO YOU LIKE YOUR BALLS? are out in select theatres now.
Official web site: http://www.dawnofthecrescentmoon.com/
You can keep updated on the latest with Tracey Birdsall!
Official web site: http://www.traceybirdsall.com/