Award-winning actress Tracey Birdsall, fresh from the spooky indie gem Dawn of the Crescent Moon, tells Movie Pilot about her excursion into science fiction with At The Edge of Time. The 2015 release, which Birdsall (Family Ties, Do You Like Your Balls?) also produced, is a time-travel feature that looks like it'll make a snug companion to the likes of Trancers and TimeCop.
We hear you’re working on something quite different. Can you tell us anything?
Sure! I’m working on a Science Fiction time travel movie right now entitled AT THE EDGE OF TIME, which I’m also co-producing. Since Science Fiction has always been one of my favorite genres to watch, it’s really a blast to be a part of this production in such an intimate way…
So, are you producing? How do you enjoy producing?
I absolutely adore producing as long as everything is going smoothly! There’s always a few little things to deal with, but for the most part I really enjoy it. It’s nice to be part of the creative part of structuring the details. Since I had my choice between a couple of roles, I chose the one on fewer pages but she really has a huge impact in the film. That way, it left me more open to deal with the producing end of things.
Are you producing so that you can fashion your own acting projects?
When I originally got into producing in the late 90’s, it was to do the projects and roles I wanted to do. I also enjoyed the process as it was kind of like doing a puzzle but with high energy and high stakes. When I decided to produce this time, it was more so the lure of the Science Fiction genre - on top of the fact that I had been itching to produce something again. I would say that the reasoning is always different, but the draw to the project has to be real… kind of like choosing acting roles. It’s always about choosing your next step in life.
What was your first taste of producing and how did it come about?
I had this idea of a film that I truly wanted to make in the late 90’s… a romantic comedy of sorts. Since I had been in the industry for so long and had great connections, I made the decision to do it. Luckily, I put together a fantastic team, had a decent budget, and successfully made it to the Cannes Film Festival with I MIGHT EVEN LOVE YOU. It was a huge undertaking to produce, be the female lead, sing the vocals on the soundtrack (which was quite successful), and manage everything. I owe a lot of gratitude to my Director for the feature David Worth (Bloodsport, American Kickboxer, etc.) as he did help guide me along the way quite a bit. He was quite a mentor, and also a good friend to this day.
How much say, as an actress, do you usually get at the table on your films?
To put it simply… people usually listen to me. I don’t make suggestions or present ideas unless I’ve really thought it through. That said, some ideas are presented as thoughts or suggestions and sometimes it’s not negotiable. I’ve had really good luck with the people I’ve worked with and have no problem in that regards. That’s when I’m producing. As an actor on other peoples projects, they usually want to see what I do with it. Sometimes we have a different idea than the Director on a project, in which case we have to defer - but not often! I’ve done many projects with little to no direction from the Director - which I guess is having a lot of say!
What about Dawn of the Crescent Moon? Is that something you had dual roles on?
In DAWN OF THE CRESCENT MOON, I only worked as an actor. Since the Director and the Producer were friends of mine, they did ask for my advice and feedback on many things - including casting.
The film is a supernatural film… set in a bar, is that right? How much alcohol was consumed during the making of the movie?
There should have been a run-line in the credits of that movie “way too much alcohol was consumed in the making of this movie…” Since the film was partially sponsored by Alamo Beer, they used real beer in the scenes - for days straight. You’ll notice when you watch the film that I drank very little beer during the bar scenes. With multiple days straight of that and multiple takes, it was still a bit more than I was used to. I can’t remember the last beer I had prior to shooting that, so I probably should have prepared for that aspect! I think that taking sips from the beginning was an extremely intelligent move on my part :)
What do they use for fake alcohol on movies these days?
They use anything really - as long as it looks like what they’re supposed to be drinking. I’ve seen Ginger Ale, apple juice, grape juice, and even just tonic water. They really should use fake alcohol in everything because with all the takes and angles, that’s a real risk to a production and the budget… depending on the actor.
What can we look forward to seeing you in in 2015?
2015 has started out with a bang already! DAWN OF THE CRESCENT MOON just signed their distribution deal, we just wrapped AT THE EDGE OF TIME, I’m the lead female in PLANET CRASH (which starts shooting within a month), and I’m the lead female in WHO’S JENNA JAMESON (a comedy) which starts shooting in the Spring. I’m additionally currently considering 3 other films right now - depending on scheduling. It’s fair to say that you’ll be seeing a lot of me in 2015!