I have been fortunate enough to have been a part of a multitude of excellent productions through the years in pursuit of this acting craft.
A lot of times, these productions reach the end of their editing process and present a small screening for those involved, but never quite make a reach towards the masses.
For the sake that I both feel confident in the storytelling, production value, as well as hold fond memories of my time spent working with the brilliant collaborators involved with the films in this playlist, I've decided to share a select number of short films I feel may not be presented or available to view otherwise.
I'll do my best to provide links to the various talent involved with each of them both in front and behind the camera and perhaps a brief retrospective of my time spent on the set of each film.
While I won't pretend that each of my performances hold next to the other, this is a great opportunity for me to acknowledge my own growth amidst this journey to grow as an actor. It's a delight to have such well captured documentation of said growth.
Films will be posted on a weekly basis, often on a Tuesday.
LIST OF FILMS AS THEY BECOME AVAILABLE
1. LIFT (available 2/26/19)
2. BLOOD TRAIL (available 3/5/19)
3. MNEMONIC (available 3/18/19)
4. NIMROD (available 9/18/19)
5. THE CITY (available 4/28/20)
6. EMILIE (available 5/5/20)
7. HONEYMOON (available 5/12/20)
8. THE JACKET (available 5/19/20
SYNOPSIS: An introverted office worker makes bigger, and bigger changes in attempts at being noticed by her workplace crush, but notices value in the subtle things along the way. TAGLINE : Are love's ups and downs always worth the ride?
WHY LIFT?: The reason I chose to showcase LIFT in this playlist is the same reason I pursued auditioning for it in the first place. I felt then that it was a cute, relatable, and charming script with the potential of being an effective short film with those same descriptors and more. Fortunately, my instincts were spot on.
Ann Marie Allison did a top notch job of surrounding herself with an incredibly talented and efficient cast and crew. While I'll admit to not feeling that my own work is as on-point as I would like (maybe there is a take somewhere on the cutting room floor), I am still so proud of how this film came together and feel it's a great showcase of everyone's hard work, especially it's lead, Sophia Medley.
This was an important film for me too, as it was a nice departure from the heavy nature of Heaven Burns (The first feature film I would be the lead in that had wrapped just prior to LIFT's filming began). I learned a lot on this set despite the brevity of it's production and am grateful to have been a part of it.
2. BLOOD TRAIL
SYNOPSIS: Sam, a lonely bounty hunter who tries to bring back two sinful brothers to a camp. The brothers provoke Sam to question her violent actions and confront her past. In the dichotomy of good and evil, it is initially obvious where the brothers and Sam stands but along the journey there is an unexpected shift
TAGLINE: Who is the killer now?
WHY BLOOD TRAIL?: The reason I chose to showcase BLOOD TRAIL in this playlist is because of it's unique opportunity to collaborate with several of the cast and crew from a prior production. This was especially fun given the contrasting tones between the two films. The first being a raunchy Summertime comedy, and this one being a dark dramatic piece.
The other main reason for my involvement was having been asked to take on the role of Henry by Irina Prokhorenko and to be given the opportunity to play opposite Alexandra Turshen again. Once more, in reference to the first film we worked on together having us in comedic supporting character roles, BLOOD TRAIL put her in a strong dramatic lead role, and I was excited to supporting her work.
SYNOPSIS: It's a pretty short short...so I think you'll be able to figure it out. But even if you don't, I hope you enjoy!
Nominated for Best Sound, Best Editing, Best Writing, Best Pro and Best of the Fest!
Winner for Best Editing and Best Writing! A short film conceived of, written, filmed, and edited in under 72 hours as part of the Annual Frederick, Maryland 72 hr Film Festival.
Starring Clayton Stocker Myers, Blair Mackintosh, Michael Hotovy, DC Cathro, and Jaysen Kralovetz
NIMROD SYNOPSIS: Jason will do anything to get Leisa’s attention. But when he finally gets his chance it becomes apparent that even given how much he cares about her, he might just not know her as well as he thought. As a result they’re childhood friendship is shattered, forcing the two of them to discover for themselves if love can ever be trusted.
TAGLINE: You don't understand. I'd die for you.
WHY NIMROD?: Nimrod holds a special place in my heart. I was immediately taken by the script and felt drawn to play the lead role more than just about any other character I had auditioned for at that point in my acting pursuit. After my initial read for the Director, he took the time to explain that while he could see that I understood the role, the story, the tone, and themes, that was I was capable of a fine performance in said role, I simply was not what he was looking for.
He then asked whether or not I'd be willing to read for one of the supporting roles. Something I had not even considered before. I agreed to read, I was already there after all, and after telling me it was down to myself and the actual person the supporting role was based on, I was eventually booked in the role of Mikey. During production, I would find myself rooming with the actual Mikey, who was there to help out on set, as well as the kid who booked the lead role I had so coveted upon first read.
Ultimately, it was a brilliant and humbling experience. I was still able to contribute to the telling of the story that resonated with me from page one, as well as learn a valuable lesson early on about how if the person casting, directing, producing has a vision that they aren't able or willing to compromise, then you may still miss out on the role, regardless to how capable you may be.
I'm not saying rejection isn't still a bummer sometimes. Merely that I've learned to not take it so personally with the awareness as to how many other things are out of my control. Just so long as I do my best.
I still go back to Nimrod every once in a while. I couldn't tell you what I would have done in the lead role now had I booked it. I won't claim that I could do or would have tried to do what Jonathan ended up doing in the role. I can say that it was indeed Chris' vision and as an audience, not even as an actor involved with making it, I still connect with the material and am thankful to have been a part of it.
For more details about the film, shoot me a message or check out the IMDb page to learn about it's amazing cast and crew. *Linked below the video.
I hope you like it,
5. THE CITY
THE CITY SYNOPSIS: The city is hungry. Detective James Arctor is approached by his former partner, Robert Larsen. Molly, Larsen's wife, has gone missing. Both men have a secret. Who will The City choose to devour, and who will it set free?
WHY THE CITY?: The reason I chose to showcase THE CITY has to do with the same reason I pursued the role of James Arctor in the first place. I love Noir. The voiceover, the fashion, the lighting, the set designs, the tone, even the music! No matter how far you stretch the interpretation, be it a neo-futuristic tale like Blade Runner, a dark murder mystery like Seven, or even a fantastical extension like Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, "noir" rings true, and effectively so.
I thought it was a ambitious genre to tackle for the VCU Film Students. One that given their time restrictions to write, produce, film, edit, and present, I personally couldn't be more impressed and humbled to have been able to contribute to the collaborative process.
I hope you like it,
EMILIE SYNOPSIS: A man obsessed with his ex-girlfriend has a catch-up dinner with an engaged couple, but the night ends with him doing something he may regret.
WHY EMILIE?: This film is a special one to me because even though I had worked on several productions in NYC prior to this one, EMILE was the first film I was cast in after having moved to NY. Beyond my own personal involvement with the film, I am simply a fan. A fan of Mat Kim's direction, of Jordan T Parrott's crisp cinematography, to the beautifully haunting score by Brooke and William Blair, for which I still have in my i-tunes account. The tone Mat struck for this film rings solid the whole way through and resonates with me even now.
Since the film’s completion, it has has screened privately for investors, at the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival, and the 35th Annual Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival. All screenings so far have been met with warm reception and positive review.
HONEYMOON SYNOPSIS: Sometimes relationships move fast. Jane has only known Steve for just shy of two months. So, is she crazy-in-love? Or has she just gone crazy by getting tangled up with this trickster? TAGLINE - We go together, like partners in crime.
WHY HONEYMOON?: The timing for getting to work on this film couldn't have been more perfect. After living in NYC for two years, I had taken a few months to travel for acting work, to volunteer at a charity event, and to visit friends and family along the way. Once all that traveling slowed down I found myself back in my hometown of Frederick, MD over the holidays.
While I was thankfully not in the red from all the traveling, I was also not flush enough in the cash department to feel confident about diving back into the high cost of living NYC demands. Fearful that this move would be a step backwards, I did my best to stay positive and continue to pursue roles not strictly local to me.
As a result, I was thankfully cast in Alex Holm's final thesis production in Savannah, Georgia. We would schedule 20 minute conversations over the phone that would spiral into 2 hour longs ones more often than not. Both of us feeding off of each other's energies regarding how to best tell this story and flesh out these characters in the limited amount of time available.
I still get excited thinking back on those conversations and how fulfilling their laying the groundwork of a smooth and memorable shooting experience, even before we ever met in person. I also couldn't be more grateful to have been cast alongside Julia and Casey. While my time on camera was limited with Casey, our conversations on set were exciting in their own right regarding her work in the Atlanta market, as well as her excellent headshot photography work.
In that same sense, Julia and I bonded over the experience working together. She would continually impress me with each detail she would share about herself, from the work she was doing on her own thesis project, to her traveling to visit her longtime boyfriend (soon to be husband), to years after this film was completed, becoming a professional model featured in the likes of Vogue, all the while building custom motorcycles and the sort. All from our time working in the chop shop set. I'll always be a little jealous about that last part.
It would be a disservice not to mention the hardworking crew on this film as well. Between set design, costume, sound, makeup, and all the little details that make this film pop, the collaborative teamwork to achieve the director's vision was solid across the board. I'll always admire the grips pushing that car up to the curb over and over again on the first day of shooting.
All in all, HONEYMOON was the film that gave me assurances that I had not taken a step backwards in the least. The experience gave me the assurance that I could aim for more than local work and I would test the value of that lesson not long after we wrapped, when I would then work on THE JACKET (#ClaytonInShorts FILM #8). The simple truth that sometimes it's just about putting one foot in front of the other while keeping your eye on the goal.
I hope you like it too,
8. THE JACKET
THE JACKET SYNOPSIS: Vincent, a bashful introvert, forms an uncanny relationship with a jacket he found under a cafe bench as he struggles to return it to its rightful owner; a person he believes is the woman of his dreams.
WHY THE JACKET?: After completing work on HONEYMOON (#ClaytonInShorts FILM #7) in Savannah, Georgia I would then be flown out to Los Angeles, California to star in Sergio M Vaccaro's film THE JACKET. I have vivid memories of unfortunately having missed the deadline to submit my video audition to Sergio in the time allotted between my travels and shifting into the obligations of the Holidays tend to thrust upon most of us. As a result, I would end up calling Sergio directly to apologize for my not meeting the deadline and simply expressing how much I still enjoyed the script, his previous work I had seen online, and to wish him and whomever he would ultimately cast the absolute best on this production, as I would be very interested in seeing the film regardless to my involvement.
Sergio would then be gracious enough to extend the deadline for me to submit something to him and ultimately offer me the role of Vincent, despite originally planning to use local LA talent for all of the roles. So, I arrived in LA several days early and was able to truly rehearse with Sergio prior to filming, which is not often the case in independent film. The following weekend of filming was the best kind of on-set experience and I feel like the film shows just how much attention to detail was put into it with every frame.
I'm thankful to have been a part of this production and for the faith that the rest of the cast and crew put in me to deliver. THE JACKET has gone on to screen at several festivals with positive response and I'm pleased to now be able to share it with you.