Saturday, January 13, 2018

Interview with Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter Star Tracey Birdsall

Born in Van Nuys, CA and raised in Burbank, CA the blond, beautiful and voluptuous Tracey Birdsall might in the traditional Hollywood world of typecasting be dismissed as a California girl, but Tracey is not your typical California girl and is shattering barriers of presumption proving there really is no such thing.

Now into her 50s she has not lost one ounce of luster and is pulling off roles once traditionally the domain of male actors while being able to compete with 20 something actresses.

The youngest of three sisters Tracey was studied in dancing and singing, taking part in musical theater in her formative years. It wasn't long until commercial work came her way as a teenager being seen in such product commercials as Sunkist, and in television in the soap opera Loving and the dramatic series Hearts Are Wild. But her shining moment is now as she breaks through age and gender barriers in film as a pioneer for others to follow.

Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter is a perfect example of breaking barriers. A role which would have traditionally been a man's role with a beautiful woman as eye candy hanging on his arm instead now has the beautiful woman for sure, but she happens to be the tough as nails leading character as well.

In this interview Tracey talks acting, her role in Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter and what's on the horizon for her.

Why acting? What is it about this game that fuels you?

People fascinate me. The joy of creating a character and bringing it to life right down to the minute mannerisms excites me. I love the process of creation, development, birth (as in birth of a character), and living that life and experiencing it. It’s not only a skill, but also a passion. It drives me, inspires me to do more and be more, at the same time as it puts me in a position of transparency – but as another human – complete with strengths and vulnerabilities of varying degrees. It’s really quite a fascinating experience, so I choose to go through the hundreds of hours of preparation to do all over again… like a child in an amusement park – enthused with the possibilities and also the unknown.

Is there anyone in particular whose career you've either idolised or even unconsciously tried to mimic?

To mimic? No. That would take the fun out of doing the work. Other actors whose performances involve living the life of the character to the extreme inspire me. Getting a new script delivered to me that seems impossible to my brain at first, also excites and inspires me. I love most performances of Daniel Day Lewis, Meryl Streep, and recently that of Leonardo DiCaprio. I don’t idolize anyone; moreover, I compete with myself to always work harder than anyone I know. I do think it’s possible that those whose performances I appreciate do the same.

Do you consider yourself a 'type' of actor?

I have a branding duality – but much of that has been attained by successfully going off-type. I was always the girl-next-door (now the girl-next-door grown up), with an edge of badass – which comes from both my tomboyish ways and my action roles in sci-fi. My edgy-sassiness in comedy is a far cry from my sci-fi persona, but I revel in the joys of both extremes. My type stretches again as my character goes to a dramatically darker place in the up-coming sci-fi time travel thriller The Time War, which will baffle people in comparison with my more sexy intelligent grown up girl-next-door character in the up-coming comedy Who’s Jenna…? I revel in challenges from type, and get the opportunities to stretch. 

What sorts of roles do you find you're usually brought in for?

I’ve been working for about five years straight so I haven’t had a chance to “go in” for anything actually. I usually get sent scripts to see if I would be interested in doing them. I’ve been brought in for the whole gamut throughout my life, with a pretty fair distribution between comedy and drama in both auditions and bookings. Ironically enough, the one “type” I never got booked for (and rarely brought in for) was that of the “mom.” Although I am a mom in real life, that was never my “type” which was confusing to me for many years. I have been the spunky step-mom and the trophy wife who couldn’t contain herself, but just being a mom was never my type in the eyes of casting.  We have to see ourselves how others might see us, and expand upon that with opportunities… to help them see which ways we can stretch… always one of my favorite things! Let me do something I haven’t done before and I’m very happy.

What's been your favorite role to play so far and why?

Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter was my favorite “released” role to date, as it utilized so many of my strengths and expanded upon them (and I loved the action) – along with my vulnerabilities which also stretched to all new levels in living her life. Unreleased would be the upcoming The Time War, as it was an almost impossible role given time travel and living the lives of various versions of myself throughout time… an absolute monumental task that took 220 days of shooting over three years. Such an amazing experience…

Has that been the movie that's also opened doors for you?

Every film and opportunity opens multitudes of doors and opportunities. It’s always that way. Rogue Warrior definitely expanded upon my branding, which has led to The Time War  which will also expand upon it. When you work with every cell of your being with skill and more time commitment than was ever required of you to bring characters to life, doors do open; it’s just a fact of life.

As the year ends and a new year begins, what do you hope for for 2018?

I just want to work and live the lives of characters that I create. That said, I would love to parlay what I do back into the realm of television, as it seems to be the way of the future.

Tracey's film Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter is available in select stores and online! You can always find it at: 

Find out more about Tracey by checking out her:

Website - IMDb - Facebook - Twitter - Instagram

Thank you, Tracey!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

How the Twitter Indie Film Podcast & Review Campaign Will Work

Naturally when I started the Twitter campaign to connect indie filmmakers, actors, and their films with reviewers and podcasters... ahs had a plan!

That was a dang lie! I've pretty much been improvising the whole way.

But from chaos comes order. Unfortunately also a definition of my usual daily routine; I have a tendency to jump in head first, then put together any pieces that survived the fracas and call it a plan.

So how does this campaign work?

I have gathered together filmmakers, actors and their films (Twitter accounts) into one list, and reviewers and podcasters interested in doing interviews and reviews into another list. Of course if I want more bloody chaos on my hands I would just combine both lists all at once and sit back and watch the show. But as entertaining, and admittedly demented, as that sounds, it's not very nice and in the end won't accomplish much. I know what it's like to have a backlog and be constantly adding to it, so I'm trying to avoid overwhelming either group with too much at once.

Obviously I didn't have this plan at first as I had no idea what the response would be. With the response as it is I had to develop some kind of plan and here it is:

Starting in a few days I will be posting tweets for each individual film, actor, or filmmaker on the list. I will be tagging reviewers/podcasters from the other list, four at a time for each individual tweet. Each tweet will be like a mini-presskit with some info, IMDb link, obviously a link to their Twitter account, and a poster, pics, etc. (The etc. is a way of saying "whatever else I think of at the moment")


I will be using the hashtag #IndieFilmPolka for each tweet. This way if someone wants to check out other tweets they just need to click on the hashtag. This hashtag has not been used on Twitter, so unless somebody else suddenly starts using it only tweets in the campaign should be linked to it. I had thought of using PoCa, for podcast campaign, but it sounded like Polka and let's face it, that just more entertaining anyway.

I don't know how many tweets I'll do in a day. It requires some work putting them together, and I do want to spread them out. Each film, filmmaker, or actor will be tweeted to 4 reviewers/podcasters at a time, cycling through the list and tweeting a different film, filmmaker or actor to the next four reviewers/interviewers on the list, until either list has been extinguished, then I start over beginning with the next film, filmmaker or actor on the list to the next block of four reviewers/podcaster on their list. By the time I have finished every film, filmmaker and actor on the list will have been tweeted individually to everybody on the other list.

Gawd help me...what have I done? O.O

Hopefully nobody but me will be confused by this. ;)


Saturday, December 30, 2017

Movie Review: The Blood Harvest (2016)

The Blood Harvest (2016) - UK (Ireland) - Horror - Not Rated (Gore)
Written and Directed by George Clarke
Starring Robert Render, Jean Paul Van der Velde, Griffin Madill, Alan M. Crawford, Rachael Stewart, Matt McCreary, Liam Rowan, Rachael Galloway, Lisa Marks, Kenny Martin, Benjamin Reid, Courtney Lee, Peter Meehan

Reminiscent of 70s and 80s b-movie horror with a spin on the killer family that is unfortunately also reminiscent of those same movies in the poster art is better than the movie.

Someone is killing people and leaving their bodies scattered over the Northern Ireland landscape. The injuries to every body are identical as well they have been drained of blood. Is a vampire responsible, or maybe aliens? A police detective has his wild theories which don't sit well with his superiors resulting in getting him fired from the force, but that doesn't stop him from his mission to find the killer, whatever it may be.

With a look somewhere between old school AGFA "Eurocolor" film and contrasty video this succeeds in feeling like a 70s or 80s horror film, the likes from which much of its inspiration came. Springboarding from an obvious Texas Chainsaw Massacre influence and running with an unlikely leading man at the helm it proceeds to fall flat on its face. Thank goodness nobody was carrying a chainsaw at the time.

The problem with this film, I mean aside from its lack of originality, is it's filled with many too obvious plot holes. Apparently over 30 murder victims is no reason to be alarmed in Ireland, I presume by the way the movie handles it, as a pair of local cops is more than adequate to handle it. If the killer in this movie is so advanced in intelligence then why leave bodies all over the countryside instead of burying them in mass graves like any normal serial killer?

Even with the weak premise and plot holes this could have been a little better if they had a different core plot. The two lead actors do a pretty good job in carrying this and at the very least keeping an interest going. Instead the film focuses on gore and then devolves into a ridiculous explanation of everything, and even the lead actors seem to have lost interest at this point by just matter-of-factly delivering their lines or hamming it up.

To their credit the ending does have a part with some heart to it and there are post credits bloopers that show the cast in a more fun light, and some of the bumps and bruises they went through, so at least they gave it an effort. The end result of the film though is unfortunately not a reflection of their effort. For horror geeks there may be some saving grace to the references to horror movies bantered about in the film.

My Rating: 2 Fingers. That's 4 out of 10 for IMDbers.

You can buy or rent The Blood Harvest on Amazon Video

Friday, December 29, 2017

Movie Review: Beyond Repair (2017)

Beyond Repair (2017) - USA - Horror - Not Rated
Independent Short Subject - Robbie Barnes - 8 Mins
Written and Directed by Robbie Barnes
Starring Kinsley Funari, Jesse Dillon Sorrells, Ember Burns, Christopher Kyriakides, George Tutie, Robbie Barnes

Connects at the most modest level of the everyday to magnificently bring to the screen a story with the power to become an indelible fable in our collective media consciousness.

It happens billions of times a day; somebody has to go to the bathroom. When it hits and you are traveling the choices are random, and tonight's random stop for Jorah won't exactly have her flushed with excitement.

The movie starts off with a premise most any of us are familiar with, and that is traveling and having to pull over somewhere to use the bathroom. Certainly Kinsley Funari's anxious dance as she holds it in will hit home with all of us. As well what hits home is how that overwhelming feeling to go can prioritize itself over any rudimentary sense of caution.

Driving down the road, a graduation tassel hangs on the rear-view mirror as the car radio plays. This could be any one of us and a strength with Beyond Repair is that oh so common connection it sets up from the start. The viewer can certainly sympathize with the situation Jorah is in, and without knowing anything about her, her occupation, what she likes, what she doesn't like, we don't need to know any of that because the situation transcends the unfamiliar and instantly acquiesces us into a "what would I do" frame of mind.

One thing that popped into my head watching this was a segment from the film Body Bags that takes place at a service station; of course you know the protagonist is in trouble when Wes Craven himself makes an appearance. One of the problems with that film and a problem with many anthology films and TV series of the 80s, 90s, and hence who took their inspiration from The Twilight Zone was in getting the look down, but not the spirit of The Twilight Zone.

Beyond Repair has certainly captured that spirit, not in copying The Twilight Zone mind you but in knowing that it is what is at the heart of the story that is important, not the trappings of the story. In a similar way to The Twilight Zone episode The Hitch-Hiker the mechanics of how and why things happen in relation to the mundane are unimportant; it's the story and that's where Beyond Repair shines is in telling its story. Beyond Repair has the heart and soul of Twilight Zone and the new car smell of modern filmmaking.

Robbie Barnes' story and direction is intuitive with its subject and drawing the viewer into the protagonist's world to bring the viewer into sympathizing with the main character. Rather than focusing on a rationalization of the elements of the story instead those very elements become the palette from which she paints onto a cinematic canvas a picture of ghoulish deluge.

At the heart of any story is the protagonist who either draws us into the story, or puts us off of it. That responsibility ultimately rests on the shoulders of Kinsley Funari. Physically, with an adorable sweetness to her face and girl next door looks, she is an ideal choice. Ultimately though appearance is just the tip of the iceberg and the rest of that iceberg brings a real person to the screen who gives you good reason to feel for her character.

Supporting performances from Jesse Dillon Sorrells and Ember Burns add to the overall fright with Sorrells pumping a thick eeriness into the already haunting atmosphere and Burns lavishes ever so lovingly in the gruesomeness of her role. 

Do not try to rationalize the story. Rationalization is its own defense mechanism; we try to talk away the things that scare us. If you do find yourself trying to rationalize it, then it scared you more than you thought it did... or are willing to admit.

My Rating: 5 Fingers; I give it a high five!

You can find Robbie Barnes on Twitter and Facebook