Actor Q&A Sean Carmichael
by Phillip Wilcox "Our Movie Demon"
Can you tell us a little origin story of how you became interested in acting and filmmaking?
It's funny, I've probably always been interested in it and never really realized it until I went back to college. I was always creating characters and scenarios and driving my family crazy as a kid, but I don't think acting or making films seemed like a tangible option. It was something I never considered.
Getting my degrees in Digital Media production and finding myself often in front of the camera made it feel more possible. After I graduated I just figured, why not?
To date, which film (or films) have been the most challenging, whether by acting or directing, and what made them challenging?
Acting wise, I would have to say Trinity was the most challenging to date. It was daunting knowing that you're playing the director of the film, to him, in his story. But the film covers such heavy and important subject matter, and the fact that it's based in truth, I felt a responsibility to convey everything properly and to do it justice. I'm really thankful that Skip had the confidence in me, and that inspired confidence in myself.
From the filmmaking side, I think your most challenging film is always your next one.
Let's talk about the films Trinity by Skip Shea and Izzy Lee's "For A Good Time, Call..." - Can you tell us about the roles you play in these films and how you became involved with them?
In Trinity, I play Michael, an artist who is a survivor of clergy abuse. It is inspired by the director, Skip Shea's real life story. The film explores the effects of post traumatic stress and dissociative behavior after a chance run-in with the priest who abused him as a child.
I had worked with Skip behind the camera previously on a couple of short films, that's how I got to know him. Through that he learned that I was also an actor and saw some of my work. When the time came he approached me with the script and told me he wanted me for the role. Having seen and been involved with his prior works, being asked to play Michael in Trinity, Skip's first feature, it was a no brainer for me.
I actually met Izzy through Skip. It was another situation where I knew of Izzy and had seen some of her films previously. We also worked together in Trinity as she has a role in the film.
In For a Good Time, Call... I play Alex, who is in many ways the opposite of Michael in Trinity. He's a pretty vile person. He's selfish and doesn't seem to understand why Alice, who is played by Diana Porter, is upset when he puts their sex tape online, that he secretly recorded. You really want him to get some sort of karmic justice, he's just that irritating and self-involved.
Do you have a process when acting, do you just kind of go with the flow, or does it vary from role to role?
I think each role has to be approached differently, because they are different. There's a moment with each character that you really find it. And that can come at any time I've found. But once you find that spark, whatever it is that makes that person unique and real, it's an eye-opener. Everything clicks. Sometimes it's just exploring different mannerisms or other traits, but I think each character should be treated differently.
What are some of your favorite actors/actresses and/or filmmakers that have influenced you as a filmmaker and actor yourself?
For actors it's probably easy to say Daniel Day-Lewis just because he's on such a different level. His commitment to his roles is really inspiring, he really embodies the person. I'm actually a huge fan of the versatility of actors like Garret Dillahunt and Alan Tudyk. I feel like those are guys that you can forget are acting and really just see the character, which is the goal in my mind. However, I think you can find inspiration in individual performances without having a favorite actor per se.
There are a lot of filmmakers I could probably list but the two that figure most prominently are probably Paul Thomas Anderson and Stanley Kubrick. I also love Danny Boyle, he seemingly can direct anything. I've been really loving what Martin McDonagh does as a writer/director, he's just got such a great storytelling aesthetic.
What inspires you as not just an artist but as a human being?
Questions. I don't think a person should ever stop trying to learn or stop being curious. It's typically how I'll start writing a screenplay. Most things I write are born out of a personal curiosity. There is just so much in the world for one person to possibly know, I don't understand why anyone would give up that pursuit.
Can you tell us about any other upcoming projects you may be working on in the near future?
There are a couple of films, in addition to Trinity and For a Good Time, Call..., that are making festival runs now, White Drift from Bonfire Films and Devil's Work from director John Rodas. Two others are in post production, One Mississippi from Nolan Yee and The Wrong Todd from Rob Schulbaum. That's all on the acting side.
As far as my own things, I've been focusing a lot on writing lately. I have a few projects that haven't left the starting blocks yet but are well into pre-production. I'm hoping to shoot at least one of my next short films this year.