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December 2017

Wingman Wednesday

Graeme McComb

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Photo By: Shimon Photography

“Legends of Tomorrow” fans will recognize Graeme McComb as the more youthful version of Martin Stein who the heroes stumble upon through their various time traveling exploits. The Vancouver native most recently starred in the Nickelodeon film “Tiny Christmas,” playing a fish-out-of-water elf who shrinks a pair of children, and naturally, holiday hilarity ensues.

We recently sat down with McComb to discuss the fun of playing Santa’s elf, one of his favorite holiday memories growing up, and how he approaches playing the younger version of a character who is already being portrayed by another actor.

TrunkSpace: There have been many great elf characters to touch down in Christmas projects and leave their mark on pop culture. In Nickelodeon’s “Tiny Christmas” you’re playing an elf named Elfonso. How does Elfonso rate in comparison to other elf characters who have come before him? What makes him fun and memorable?
McComb: Elfonso is memorable because at the start of the film, he has never left the North Pole and is terribly frightened by children. It’s amusing to watch his journey throughout the film and how he adapts to the real world and how he overcomes his fear.

TrunkSpace: When you’re working on a Christmas-themed project, does it feel like it comes with a bit of a built-in audience given that there is always a set of eyeballs who will tune in for some holiday cheer? In a way, it’s a bit like a brand, is it not?
McComb: Absolutely! I always loved watching Christmas movies as a kid and it was always a part of our holiday tradition. I’m very excited of the potential of creating some festive cheer through film.

TrunkSpace: We touched on a bit of what makes Elfonso great in comparison to other elf characters, but what made him interesting for you in comparison to other roles you’ve tackled in the past? Did you get to do anything as Elfonso on screen that you have yet to accomplish with previous projects?
McComb: He was interesting to play because I was able to incorporate my physical theater training to the screen, which was really fun for me as an actor. This was also my first experience with prosthetic ears, which helped me transform into character.

TrunkSpace: “Tiny Christmas” has the potential to become a part of the holiday traditions of future generations. Is there a particular holiday tradition from your family/upbringing as it relates to pop culture that holds a particularly nostalgic place in your heart?
McComb: My family and I would always watch “A Christmas Story.” I would act out scenes from the movie. At a certain age I actually wanted a BB gun. All my friends at school had bb guns which made me want one even more! Luckily, after a few months of begging my mum, she finally allowed me to get one. I had so much fun with it!

TrunkSpace: Cause you’ll shoot your eye out! (Laughter) Moving on, you also recently returned to DC’s “Legends of Tomorrow” to once again portray a younger version of the character Martin Stein, played in the series by Victor Garber. How do you approach the performance of a character who is currently being portrayed by another actor in a different stage of his life? It sounds very meta!
McComb: It was a challenge but also very rewarding. When I got the audition, I was lucky enough to have Professor Stein material to study from “The Flash.” I spent a lot of time studying his speech patterns and movements and when it came to the shoot, I tried to relax, have fun and speak from the heart.

TrunkSpace: You first appeared in “Legends of Tomorrow” way back in the pilot. Did you have any idea at the time that you’d be returning as Martin Stein throughout the course of the series?
McComb: I had no idea! When the first episode came out, I had some really great feedback about the character from fans, which made me think that there was a chance he would be back on the show.

TrunkSpace: Comic book fans are very passionate about their properties and characters. How has appearing on a show set in the DC universe impacted your career? Did it open you up to the fandom at all? Have you felt the impact through social media?
McComb: I for sure have. Last year I did an AMA on r/legendsoftomorrow on Reddit and had amazing feedback and questions about the show and my career. It’s really cool to connect with so many passionate people.

TrunkSpace: What’s fun about “Legends of Tomorrow” is that it all takes place in a world where anything is possible. Does that allow you to approach performance from a different perspective?
McComb: It does in a way because the first episode I appeared in was in the 70s, the second in the 80s and the third in the 90s. Being able to play the same character over three decades has definitely given me a different perspective on acting for sure.

TrunkSpace: We read that you originally wanted to play professional hockey for a living. Are there any similarities between pursuing hockey and pursuing a career as an actor? Do they intersect anywhere?
McComb: To be successful in hockey you have to have strength, skill, precision, resilience and imagination. You also need all of those attributes to be successful as an actor.

TrunkSpace: If someone gave you a blank check tomorrow and told you to go off and develop any kind of project you wanted for yourself, what would you greenlight and why?
McComb: I would love to see a “Band of Brothers” type episodic show about Canadians during WW2. Canadians were involved tremendously during the war and telling their story would be pretty cool.

Feature image by: Shimon Photography

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Deep Focus

Liam O’Donnell

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In our ongoing column Deep Focus, TrunkSpace is going behind the camera to talk with the directors, writers, and producers who infuse our world with that perennial pop culture goodness that we can’t get enough of.

This time out we’re chatting with Liam O’Donnell, writer and director of “Beyond Skyline,” the action-packed sequel to the surprise 2010 science fiction hit “Skyline.” We recently sat down with O’Donnell to discuss why he needed to transition from a writer’s mindset to a director’s mindset, how his love for pop culture began with Rowdy Roddy Piper, and what his directorial future looks like.

TrunkSpace: You took on a new set of duties with “Beyond Skyline” by also serving as director on the sequel. Creatively what were you setting out to accomplish with the film?
O’Donnell: That was something I had to learn as a process, because even in the prep I was such a… I just came from writing so much that I would, at the end of each day, go back to the script and kind of keep working on it and doing notes. There was eventually that time period where I had to just stop and be like, “This is a visual medium now. Get your head out of your laptop and start really thinking about how you’re going to capture it visually.”

The main thing that I thought I could do as the director was with the tone and kind of capture that action movie tone right from the beginning. That was important to me. That was sort of the big change. Before we even got started or cast anyone, it was very much like, “Alright, I want to have a throwback, late ’80s, early ’90s action movie lead. He’s a cop, and he’s got trouble at home, and he’s got demons, but when shit hits the fan he’s exactly the type of person you’d want to be on your subway train.” That was kind of the approach up front. As we set out to make it, and we cast it, it just kind of went more and more in that direction; especially, obviously, with the addition of the martial artists and stuff like that. It became a full on action movie.

TrunkSpace: Did you ever feel like you were taking on too much by throwing all of those technical elements into your first directing feature?
O’Donnell: No, never, because the action stuff is the most fun stuff. That’s kind of all of the things I loved growing up. My dad took me to the Boston Garden to see a battle royal when I was 10-years-old, which, by the way, Rowdy Roddy Piper won in a Ray Bourque jersey while holding a chainsaw. I was a pro wrestling fan from that point on.

All that sort of action, and stunts, and choreography, and giant monsters, and stuff like that… that was actually the stuff I felt most comfortable with. It was the human actor side that was intimidating. Our first day of shooting was in Indonesia and it’s a scene that Frank (Grillo), Iko (Uwais), Bojana (Novakovic), and Pamelyn (Chee) all kind of have a stand off that evolves into a fight; a four-way fight. I was just like, “If I can just get to the fights I’ll be okay.” (Laughter)

The thing I was most nervous on was just working with them to get there. Once the fists started flying I would be much more comfortable. It was all just about overcoming those kind of fears and figuring it out and how to best communicate with people to get what you want.

TrunkSpace: When you sat down to write the script, did you know at the time that you were going to be directing it, and if so, did that sort of alter the writing process for you at all?
O’Donnell: It did. I had already written a treatment and the treatment had been kind of sitting around collecting dust for three years. It became a situation where there were a couple different projects that we’d been working on and I kind of said, “Well look, I’ll go ahead and just write the script for ‘Beyond Skyline,’ but if I put that much heart and love into it, I would love to direct it.” Greg (Strause) and Colin (Strause), they already had a couple different projects and different directions and they said, “Yeah, sure. Go for it.”

TrunkSpace: You touched on your first day on set, but what was it like building up to that day? This being your directorial debut, what kind of emotions were you going through leading up to the first shot?
O’Donnell: Well, we got lost that morning on the way to set. It was about an hour drive and of course, it rained. We’re in a rainforest during the rainy season and there was just a lot of nerves building up. They have a sheet in the production office that says, “Minus XX days to production,” and just seeing it go from 13 to 6 to, “Oh my God!” It’s definitely something that you build up your courage for.

We shot the standoff at the beginning of the day. A big torrential downpour came. We stopped filming because obviously, nothing was going to match continuity from a sunny morning, and so the only way to get through it was that we just said, “All right, we’re just going to skip ahead later into the fight, so let’s turn the camera in the other direction and just start fighting.” Frank and Iko start pounding each other and Frank picks Iko up and just slams him down into this big mud puddle and I just lifted my arms up like, “Okay, it’s going to work.” (Laughter)

O’Donnell with Frank Grillo on the set of “Beyond Skyline”

TrunkSpace: Was part of that emotional build up period to the first day also the fun of seeing the culmination of a childhood dream turn into a reality?
O’Donnell: Of course. I actually texted my dad about that. He took me to this pro wrestling thing when I was 10 and it became a thing where I wrestled in high school and I loved video games and movies and watching that stuff. “All right, when are you going to grow up and do something else for your life?” All that stuff, all that background of what seemed like a time waster all came to use, so it definitely had this fun, “How did I end up here?” feel.

TrunkSpace: Now you have to pay it forward to Roddy Piper’s memory and do a “They Live” remake.
O’Donnell: In a second. In a second. Sign me up!

TrunkSpace: We know you’re not new to film sets, but so much involving directing is a learn-as-you’re-doing situation. What as the biggest lesson you picked up in the job by actually doing the job itself?
O’Donnell: Interesting. I mean, I think it would be more listening. I don’t have to have exactly the right idea right away. I had already been told this, but going through the process is like… it’s how much more prep I would do the second time. I felt like I worked as hard as I possibly could and you need to work even harder. You need to go through everything and have it all in your head and then, then it’s fine to be able to switch it up and try something new because you already know that you have exactly what you need.

TrunkSpace: So it’s a mix of being prepared, but also being willing to change things up on the fly?
O’Donnell: Exactly. It’s those situations where people are going to come to you with different ideas, or that the way you wanted it isn’t going to work out right, and do you have the ability to adjust in game-time situations and make end game adjustments?

TrunkSpace: As you look forward in your career, is this the genre sandbox that you want to stay working in or do you see yourself doing a little bit of everything?
O’Donnell: Well, luckily, the sandbox for this movie is pretty big. (Laughter) There’s enough different genres in here that I feel like I can keep making them until I die. But the next project, I’m doing something much smaller set in Indonesia. It’s completely foreign language and it’s about a safari down the rivers in Borneo, where they come across this missing link. It’s based on an Indonesian novel and I have a whole Indonesian writer’s team, so that’s a little bit of a creature movie. They had never done one before, which is why they came to me to help them make it. That will still have a little bit of martial arts, a little bit of action/adventure – a little bit of everything – so it’s a good place to be as far as I’m concerned.

The other one I’m doing is a post-apocalyptic science fiction martial arts’ film, because of my experience on this. While I was over there, I came up with this idea to just try to do something from the ground up that was a true, tried-and-true martial arts’ epic.

Beyond Skyline” lands in theaters and on digital home entertainment today.

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Wingman Wednesday

Bruno Verdoni

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Photo By: Dennys Ilic

Bruno Verdoni has been working as a professional actor for nearly three decades, first falling in love with the craft after watching westerns and mob movies with his father. Throughout the course of his career he has appeared in a number of iconic television series, including “The X Files,” “Millennium,” and “Covert Affairs.” Starting on Christmas Day Verdoni can be seen in the highly-anticipated film “Molly’s Game,” starring Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, and Kevin Costner.

We recently sat down with Verdoni to discuss improvising for Aaron Sorkin, why he manages expectations, and what it was like working on his first project, “Eddie and the Cruisers II.”

TrunkSpace: “Molly’s Game” opens on Christmas Day. That’s not a bad present to wake up to.
Verdoni: Exactly. I don’t know if I’ll be able to be there on the 25th, but the thing is, it’s either going to be that or Florida for me this year, so I’m not complaining.

TrunkSpace: How did the experience of shooting “Molly’s Game” compare to your experience on previous projects?
Verdoni: Everybody was just very focused. It was really just all about the script and the acting, which is where I feel comfortable because it’s an actor’s environment. You have someone like Aaron Sorkin whose supervising everything so you know you’re in good hands. It was work, but in a good way – not just, “Oh my God, I’m going to work.”

TrunkSpace: When you’re working on a film based on living characters and events, does the production itself take on a more serious tone? Does the fact that you’re portraying actual people sort of force you to focus in a different way?
Verdoni: It would be more of a question to ask Jessica (Chastain). My character and other characters, they’re real people, but the focus is really not on those people as much as Jessica. I’m assuming that she probably had a bunch of meetings with Molly Bloom to talk that over but I just felt like it was more like an actor’s environment on set – people just doing the best job they can to basically honor the script.

TrunkSpace: Aaron Sorkin is someone well-known for writing rich, complex dialogue. Was that reflected in your scenes for “Molly’s Game?”
Verdoni: No, not quite for my scenes because my scenes, funny enough, have way less dialogue than other scenes. At some point Aaron came up to me and he said, “Okay, we’re gonna improv the next one.” And in my mind I went, “What?” (Laughter) I was like, “From what I read, that’s not like you.” I wasn’t given a script because it’s very secretive, so he said, “I’ll set you up,” but I didn’t think it was needed because I read the book. The book and the story ends about three or four years ago and the movie has pretty much been updated to show what happened to Molly between now and between the release of the book and the release of the movie. So I said, “I think I know where I’m going so I’ll just give you something and then we’ll take it from there.” And so I improvised a whole bunch of things with Jessica. At one point Aaron wanted that to be just like a long shot where you don’t really hear people talk and then after I was done with my scene he said, “Okay, we’re gonna come in way closer and we’re gonna mic you.” So I guess he liked what I did, which for me, was a nice compliment coming from someone like Aaron Sorkin.

TrunkSpace: For those who haven’t read the book and have yet to see the movie, can you tell us about your character and where he falls into things?
Verdoni: The character Molly Bloom was on the verge of being an athlete and then at some point that didn’t happen and her dreams got crushed. She ended up in Los Angeles hosting poker games and she basically ended up hosting those super high stake games with rich people, celebrities and all of that. Eventually she was basically doing that herself – running her own show – and so she’s carrying a lot of money. My character is the bodyguard/driver Pat, who basically does that so much for her we become friends. And then, there’s a little sleazy side to Pat. He wants in on some of the money or, not so much the money as much as the reputation. Basically he wants his friends to sort of associate themselves with Molly Bloom and she allows it because we’re friends. And it doesn’t really go down well because these guys are not real poker players, they’re more like criminals.

That’s why when I showed up in the makeup trailer the first time, Jessica had a big smile on her face and she said, “Oh, here comes my Judas.” (Laughter)

Verdoni on the set of “Covert Affairs”

TrunkSpace: So given the size of the film and the buzz surrounding it, is it difficult to not view your involvement as a career game changer?
Verdoni: No, because… I’ve been in the industry for a while and there’s a lot of things that you would expect to happen and they don’t. And sometimes you don’t expect things to happen and they do. So at some point you don’t want to live with any expectations. I was really looking forward to working with an actor of this caliber and I realized that… I felt like it was just a natural environment for me. It just felt very comfortable.

My thing is, or most people’s thing is, you want to do the best work you can to give yourself some great visibility and so that you can access other scripts that are of quality. So for me it’s more that I pour my all into it, whether it’s one scene or 20 scenes. I’m going to speak like a hockey player for second… I’m gonna give it my 110 percent.

TrunkSpace: Does that mean that in an industry where so much is out of an actor’s control, it’s important for you to live in the moment and not focus on the future?
Verdoni: Exactly. You never know where things are going to go. You do this, you can enjoy yourself in the process, and then everything else will fall wherever it may.

TrunkSpace: We’re children of the 80s. We were raised by HBO. We got pretty excited when we saw that you were in “Eddie and the Cruisers II.” Was that your first gig?
Verdoni: (Laughter) Yeah, it was. You know, it was supposed to be a much bigger gig and at the last minute they gave my part to one of the Platinum Blonde musicians. I also play music, so for me to play in that, I actually play the piano for real. Not on the recording, but when I play the piano, I learn the part. That’s the kind of an actor I am – I want to get as close as possible to the real thing. But it was great and every time I run into Michael Paré, we always talk about that. I can’t say I’ve met him many times, maybe two or three times since, but I loved the music. I still listen to the music once in a while.

TrunkSpace: We’re out in New England where John Cafferty still plays regularly, performing the classic Cruisers songs.
Verdoni: Lucky you! It’s such great music. It’s so driven. As soon as it starts you want to get up and play music or clap your hands and sing. It’s really, really well-crafted music.

Molly’s Game” premieres in limited release on Christmas Day before opening wide January 5.

Featured image by: Dennys Ilic

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Next Up

Christine Severin

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Photo By: Nori Rasmussen

Name: Christine Severin

Hometown: Laurens, SC

Current Location: Los Angeles, CA

TrunkSpace: When did you know that you wanted to act for a living?
Severin: I’ve always wanted to act, but as far as for a living I decided I would do it for a living a couple of years ago. 2014 to be exact.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular performance or actor/actress from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Severin: Oh loads. I could tell you one of the first movies I remember seeing in theaters was “The Lord of the Rings” and Aragorn was such a bad ass that I wanted to be just like him. I could also tell you that I would listen to the “Moulin Rouge!” soundtrack on replay as a kid and imagine myself singing and dancing with the cast in one epic love story. Or that “Sweet Home Alabama” was one of my favorite comedies growing up because it reminded me so much of the town I lived in. I could give you a list of actresses that shaped how I want my career to look: Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Zoe Saldana, Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, among many, many others. My inspiration as a kid was endless.

TrunkSpace: How did you decide to approach your career as an actor? Did you formulate a plan of how you wanted to attack what is known for being a hard industry to crack?
Severin: I honestly just started seriously pursuing acting a few months ago, so I am still working on the day-to-day. As far as approaching my career, when I first decided to move I made a five year plan on where I should be in how much time. So far everything is on schedule.

TrunkSpace: When did you decide to move away from your home and pursue acting as a career? How old were you at the time?
Severin: My whole life I wanted to move to California to be an actress, but it was always on the back burner for different reasons. I started seriously thinking about moving to California in 2013 when I was 21. I was about to graduate and thought instead of going into law school, I would move to California to seriously pursue acting.

TrunkSpace: Was that move an easy transition for you initially? How long did it take you to feel at home and find a good support group of friends and peers?
Severin: Moving to California was the easiest transition I’ve ever made in my life. I think it was because I wanted it for so long or maybe because I moved here with my best friend from college, but I didn’t feel the isolation and loneliness most people initially feel when they move here. As far as a support group and friends, I moved here with my best friend so we had each other in those first months after moving. A couple of months later I got a job and found more support with the people I met there.

TrunkSpace: What has been been your biggest break in terms of a particular role or project thus far?
Severin: I actually wouldn’t say I’ve had my “big break” yet as far as projects are concerned. If anything my “big break” this year was just being able to own an audition without nerves, and transfer my confidence into landing roles. Like I said, I’ve only been seriously pursuing acting for a couple of months, but I have landed a few shorts from that and I will be in a show premiering on Amazon next year, so that’s all very exciting.

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific type of role you’d like to take on or a specific genre that you feel more at home in?
Severin: For genre, I have always loved drama. When I was younger, I would recite dramatic monologues in the mirror and practice crying on command. For me, my favorite part about those moments in film is that it really moves me and makes me feel human. If a scene can make me cry, then it’s a damn good performance, and that’s what I’d like to be able to portray on screen one day.

As far as roles go, I have always wanted to play a superhero. Even before the hero trend was happening in movies, I just thought Batman was such a cool dude. I’d love to play Hawkgirl in a film, or some kind of other badass chick that young girls could look up to and want to be too.

Photo By: Nori Rasmussen

TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength an actor/actress can have outside of acting ability itself?
Severin: The greatest strength an actor/actress can have outside of acting ability is a good understanding of people. When we as actors get a script, it’s our job to tell a character’s story and make sure it is as authentic as possible for our audience. Being able to understand different people, who have experienced different things and who come from different walks of life is the greatest strength a performer can have, apart from acting ability, to tell a story as truthfully as possible.

TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your acting career? Where would you like your path to lead?
Severin: My ultimate dream as far as my career is to move and inspire people with the projects I take on as an actress. To me that also translates into winning an Oscar, but I also have smaller goals too like just being in attendance at the Oscars, hosting SNL, or playing lip sync with Jimmy Fallon. I also think it’d be great to use a successful career as a platform to bring other important topics to light, but that’s way in the future from now. Needless to say, big goals. Big, BIG goals.

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring actor/actress who are considering moving away from home to pursue their dream?
Severin: Failure is not an option and there is no plan B. It’s a tough mindset, but that’s my best advice. Of course there are always good and bad days in this industry, but instead of focusing on the bad, just look back and see how far you’ve come from day one. Be competitive, work hard, and put yourself in a winner’s mindset. If you look at your journey that way, then you realize that every “no” or rejection is not a failure, it’s actually just a chance to grow and be better than you were when you started.

TrunkSpace: Where can people (and casting directors) learn more about you?
Severin: You can find all my professional contact info on my IMDb page! Or just follow me on Instagram.

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Wingman Wednesday

Elise Gatien

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Photo By: Michael Mazur

When a fun, entertaining show has a difficult time finding an audience, it can be depressing for viewers who are anticipating the continuation of the series for many seasons to come. An underrated episodic gem also limits the widespread appreciation of an actor or actress who left a mark on the series by delivering a memorable performance worthy of a pop culture gold star.

For all of us here at TrunkSpace, “Ghost Wars” is currently that show in need of more eyeballs and Canadian-born Elise Gatien is the actress worthy of more praise. As Maggie Rennie in the dramatic Syfy series, Gatien captures an emotionally-tortured character in such a beautiful and powerful way, adding her own individual layer to the already-multilayered horror fest.

We recently sat down with Gatien to discuss how she almost didn’t accept the role of Maggie, why she considered walking away from acting altogether, and what advice from the set of her first project helped her to realize her calling in life.

TrunkSpace: The end product of a series or film tends to be what’s memorable for a viewer, but for those who work on them, the experience probably ends up being more profound. What was your experience on “Ghost Wars” like?
Gatien: “Ghost Wars” was really fun. I was at kind of a strange point in my career. I lost my dad a while ago and was just kind of at a crossroads in my life. I almost didn’t take the show, but I ended up taking it. It was the first time in a long time that I had a character that I felt challenged me. I felt like everyone on set challenged me, and it kind of reminded me why I’m an actor, and why I love it so much. It was exactly what I needed at that point in my life. It was an amazing experience. It changed my life for the better, for sure.

TrunkSpace: Was that crossroads one that had you looking at the possibly of walking away from acting as a career?
Gatien: Yeah. I think I was just looking at family, and friends, and just trying to put what was important in my life into perspective. A few of the roles that I had most recently done with acting were on shows that I wasn’t really passionate about, and didn’t feel like they challenged me. I was kind of falling out of love with acting. “Ghost Wars” has been a really nice stepping stone. All of the roles that I’ve had since then are all things that I’m extremely proud of, and shows the kind of characters that I wanted to play. I just feel like it was definitely a crossroads for me. It took me in the direction that I wanted.

TrunkSpace: It sounds like in a lot of ways, “Ghost Wars” was sort of a catalyst for you rediscovering that spark?
Gatien: Yeah, for sure. Every actor, every writer, the creator, Simon Barry, all the directors… everyone was just passionate about what they were doing, and had a vision. It was really a collaborative effort to tell this story. It was refreshing to have a group of people that passionate, and not just throwing something together to make a buck. Everyone was doing it because they were passionate about it, and they wanted to make something cool and interesting. They wanted to tell the story to the best of their ability. That’s why I want to be an actor.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned how Maggie was the first character who you felt has challenged you as an actor for some time. What excited you most about her when you first discovered her on the page?
Gatien: She kind of seems like this tough, sarcastic, nothing-really-bothers-her kind of girl, but she’s also in this heartbreaking, fragile position, where, I don’t know if I’m really supposed to say this but this episode has come on in the States, so I guess I’m allowed to say it, but my character, Maggie, is a ghost. She is trying so desperately to connect. The only person that she can get through to is Roman. That’s her only friend. To be in a relationship as a young, 20-something girl, and you can’t touch this person, and this person has the whole world, but they’re your only contact, it’s such a fragile position to be in. To bring that vulnerability, and that delicateness to her, but also still have this strong, tough side, that Maggie has been through a lot… for me, it was finding that balance. It was a challenge, but it was fun to be able to bring out her strong side, and her vulnerable side.

TrunkSpace: Is there something particularly rewarding about getting the chance to spend an extended period of time with a single character as opposed to something like a film where you know exactly what your character’s beginning, middle, and end is?
Gatien: Yeah, it is, because so often as an actor, you get attached to these characters that you get to play, and there’s so many different places that you want to take them and then it’s just over. It’s a couple of weeks, and then it’s over, and you feel like… I don’t know, that you might have a revelation a couple of weeks later like, “I feel like this should have been brought into my character.” It’s like making soup, you just keep adding more, and more, and more ingredients, and it just gets better, and better.

We shot “Ghost Wars” out of order. There were a couple of later episodes that we shot earlier on. To look at what was happening in those episodes, and then be able to bring that into the previous episodes that we shot afterwards, that was kind of fun because so often, you get a script a week before you’re going to start shooting it. We had a few more scripts so we were able to bring more to those earlier scripts, I think.

Gatien with Avan Jogia in “Ghost Wars”

TrunkSpace: When you’re shooting out of order like that, does it force you to look at early choices that you might make for the character and realize that, continuity-wise, some things have not been set up in the story yet?
Gatien: There’s pros and cons to shooting out of order, I think. I think sometimes it can be a little bit overwhelming, because you’re looking at this bigger picture, where usually, you’re kind of taking it day by day. But the pro is, like I was saying, you know where you’re going to end up. With that knowledge, it’s kind of cool to find different ways to get there. You make choices that you might not have been able to make, if you hadn’t had that information.

TrunkSpace: “Ghost Wars” is a show that we all feel here at TrunkSpace is vastly underrated. Not only is there so much content available for viewers now, but there’s so much great content. Do you feel like there’s a downside to this Golden Age of Television in that, it is more difficult for great shows to be found?
Gatien: Yeah, I think there’s so many great things out there, that a lot of great shows kind of get lost in the mix. It’s heartbreaking to see that happen. But it’s also so exciting that there is all of that great material out there. Sometimes things might not get found in their first, second, or third episodes, but it might by the end of the first season, or the second season, and all of the sudden, people start catching on… people start talking about it and they do get found. But there are some shows that, unfortunately, I feel don’t get the praise that they deserve until afterwards. Like “Freaks and Greeks.” One season? Come on!

Photo By: Alan Chan

Hopefully we’ll get a second season, and by the second season, more and more people will be talking about it. I’m excited for when it hits Netflix. I think that will be really huge. I think there are a lot of people nowadays that don’t have television, and they just watch Netflix. I think Netflix is such a great platform. People are always on there, looking for the next thing, so I think we’ll find our following.

TrunkSpace: We read that you first began performing as a four-year-old. When did you decide to take that passion and make a career out of it?
Gatien: I was a dancer when I was young. I wasn’t an actor. I didn’t get into acting until, I think I was around 16. It kind of happened accidentally. I started out just doing commercials and used to be deathly shy. I couldn’t even look someone in the eye when I was having a conversation. My agent kind of kept pushing me to go to some acting classes, and maybe start going for some TV and film. So I went to an acting class and I did a scene from “Girl, Interrupted.” I’ll never forget it. There was just this addicting feeling that I got, and I haven’t looked back since. I was like, “Send me to more! Send me to more! Send me to more!”

From the second I did that, I didn’t necessarily think that I could make a career out of it, but I knew that that’s what I wanted to make a career out of. I knew that that was going to make me happy. I did a film called “The Obsession.” It was terrible and cheesy, but it was my first role. Daphne Zuniga, she said to me on set, she was like, “Acting is a tough business. If there’s anything that you can think of that will make you happy, do that. But if there isn’t, then be an actor.”

I’ve sat so many times and have been like, “Okay, what logically could I do with my life, because this is kind of crazy?” There’s just nothing that gets me excited like acting. It is something where I’m excited to go to work, and I’m happy when I’m there. Yeah, there are exhausting days, and hard days – every day isn’t puppies and cupcakes – but I love it. It’s really satisfying to me and I feel good at the end of the day.

Ghost Wars” airs Thursdays on Syfy.

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Trunk Gaming

Game Review: Assassin’s Creed Origins

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Initial Release Date: October 27, 2017

Developers: Ubisoft, Ubisoft Montreal, Ubisoft Bucharest, Ubisoft Kiev, Ubisoft Shanghai

Publishers: Ubisoft, Square Enix Holdings

Genre: Action-Adventure

Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows

Now more than ever, there is a viciously competitive gaming market. In the old days you would wait for months for that one big name title to be released, and then everyone would rush out and buy it and live the game for months on end. In the current gaming market, you might have three or four gangbusters games released on the same weekend. This November alone, “Call of Duty,” “Star Wars Battlefront,” “Doom” and about a dozen other titles that used to be the “one” title you waited for all hit the market. This is a blessing and a curse. There are plenty of titles to play and choose from, sure, but at $60 or more a pop, how do you choose what to play without selling all of your organs on the black market to feed your gaming need? Well, TrunkSpace has got your back, and we like to let you know which games are the solid games to play – the type of games you would have waited on pins and needles for months back in the day. We’re not just slapping a number rating on our reviews, we’re looking at this game and telling you our take on it as if we were gaming-besties. This installment we’re talking about “Assassin’s Creed Origins” and spilling the beans on the gameplay with no story spoilers.

Story-wise, this game has you playing as Bayek of Siwa in Ancient Egypt. Bayek is a noble character but with a dark cross to bare. You, along with your trusty camel and eagle, navigate through a twisted world of corrupt leaders, and experience the struggle and tribulations that the lower class must endure… so it’s not that different from current day standards, but let’s not open that door. Instead, lets talk about the seamless and dynamic flow of the gameplay, the real meat of the experience to be had.

Those of you who are already trained Assassins out there from the game’s previous installments will recognize the familiar format and formula, but there are some definite derivatives from the earlier games. Origins will have you busy for hours, and you can really invest as much or as little time as you like leveling up and combining those RPG elements of the game with the action-adventure and harrowing heights that come with the story. It’s the roleplaying elements of this series that really sets it apart from the previous Assassin’s Creed games and provides a new level of addictiveness. We found it to be really engaging. You have free will, and you’re forced to decide what is right or wrong and contemplate how your actions affect the story… or you can just try and kill everything that walks, but be warned, that is a dark, digital road to travel in this gaming realm. You level up as well as your weapons, armor, etc., and that must be used to complete or achieve certain tasks.

Remember “Oregon Trail?” (We’ll pause for the kiddos to Google) Okay, now that we’re all informed, you can fully appreciate this comparison. You know how in “Oregon Trail” you had to hunt and survive off of the land and try not to die of some random disease? Well, Origins asks this task of players but in a much more in-depth way. You have to use your trusty eagle, Senu, to spot animals and navigate the vast terrain in order to hunt and help craft your armor, weapons and more. This is done so in a respectful manner, and it’s an interesting idea to ask of players to create their tools. You don’t just find a key and open a treasure chest. You hunt, loot and build your way into a better Assassin.

To borrow a phrase from Danny Trejo in those Sling TV commercials, if you can be picky why not be picky about your gaming? Well, Origins has you covered. There are XP based upgrades that really cater to the player’s favorite way of approaching the game. If you like to stealthily dispatch your targets, you can pick to unlock/learn those abilities that will help you achieve this. On the flip side, if you want to Conan the Barbarian it up and run into battle head first, you can build up your melee and fighting skills. We found this to be a really nice hook to the game and possibly a window into what gaming will be in the future. It’s not a cookie cutter side scroller. It’s a unique and immersive gaming experience that has you well vested in not only your character but the characters you interact with in the game. This goes back to the freedom of choice we talked about. There could be a dozen ways to take care of a room of guards. You could pick them off one by one, go straight into battle, or… maybe you set a wild animal loose in the crowd of guards to distract them while you sneak past.

The parkour element of the original Assassin games is present, of course, but it’s improved in our opinion. Before, you needed to parkour your way to an elevated spot to assess your objectives. There is no need for that in Origins, but don’t fret. It’s still a huge part of the game, and they somehow managed to make it even smoother and more fluid than ever before. Nathan Drake would be jealous of how elegantly you can scale almost anything in the game including ancient Egyptian statues, pillars, buildings and towers.

That pretty much covers the meat and potatoes of “Assassins Creed Origins.” In a gaming industry being flooded with “must play” titles each month, we can give you the Power Gloved thumbs up on this title and say it really is a “must play” and not just a rental. You’re going to want to buy this, build up your character and delve into the online aspects as well. The storyline element of the game can be completed in about 24 to 32 hours if you are just trying to play through, casually. There are easily hundreds of hours of gameplay to be had here, though, which is quite a bit of gameplay for your bitcoin! While Origins is similar enough to the original Assassins games, it has some truly unique and diverse additions that deepens and enriches the gaming experience and adds hours of addictive fun!

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Wingman Wednesday

John Harlan Kim

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Nobody ever said that saving the world week after week would be easy, but for fans of “The Librarians,” it’s at least guaranteed to be entertaining.

Now entering its fourth season, the fantastical adventure series that spun off from the successful TNT movie franchise of the same name, is returning for more anything-and-everything-can-happen storytelling. Focusing on the high stakes exploits of an ancient organization of librarians tasked with protecting the planet, the new season promises to deliver on the kinds of fun twists and turns that fans of the series have come to expect.

We recently sat down with star John Harlan Kim, who plays Ezekiel Jones, to discuss how the limitless storytelling potential of the series impacts his performance, why a horror-themed episode was one of his favorites, and whether or not he could see himself playing a librarian for another 10 seasons.

TrunkSpace: One of the things that surprised us was just how young you are in real life. From an outside perspective, Ezekiel seems like a really complex, multilayered character, which seems like a gift to get to play at your age.
Kim: That’s the cool thing about Ezekiel, is he is complex. I get to delve into the lens of what essentially makes him up as a character. I think we have such an amazing writers team to essentially put together these characters that all have their special skills, and talents, and what makes them ultimately, at the end of the day, qualified librarians. But also, they all come with their own set of problems and flaws. That’s what really humanizes them. So that’s what I love about the show, is that you find these almost everyday people that are in jobs like the pipelines with Stone. Or working at a hospital with Cassandra. But then there’s more than meets the eye – their vocation barely uncovers who they really are.

Now that we’ve been shooting for three years, it’s sort of like they’re finally understanding what the job entails. They’re getting very good at it. They’re ultimately, I think to an extent, getting comfortable with saving the world. That’s sort of the fun dynamic we get to play off this season. I’ve never been to a fourth season of a show. Obviously, as you mentioned, I’m still quite relatively young. I think I’m just excited to see how it plays out from here. We’ve had the audience stick by us so faithfully, and they’re some of the best fans going around at the moment. I’m just excited to ultimately see what they think of this season, because now we’re playing off established knowledge, and established characters, and those dynamics. They play out a little differently to how you would expect.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned the writers. Is this the kind of show where, as an actor, it’s a bit impossible to guess where the writers are going to take your character because of the limitless potential of the stories themselves?
Kim: That’s a good question. Yeah, I mean there are no boundaries in “The Librarians” world. It’s a magical world, where literally anything can happen. That’s sort of the cool thing about it, is every episode that we deal with almost feels like we delve into a little bit of a different genre. We can have the Minotaur in a bit of an action or thriller episode. We can have a bit of a romantic comedy element playing out. We can have a bit of horror in certain episodes. So that’s what’s cool about being on the show, is it knows no bounds, and we’re essentially, all as actors, just on it for the ride. These writers do such a fantastic job of intellectually, and accurately obtaining information, and translating that into a script that’s both compelling and entertaining, but also quite informative as well.

TrunkSpace: When you look at Ezekiel’s personal journey thus far, what has surprised you the most in terms of where he started to where he’s been?
Kim: Well, the cool thing is, I don’t think they pictured casting somebody like me. I mean that in the way of, as you mentioned, I’m quite young. I think the whole dynamic of Ezekiel being this troubled, trickster younger brother, sort of came, I think ultimately, with my casting. I think they wrote around the fact that I was quite young, and that I would’ve actually received my letter from the library, if I had received it 10 years ago, even younger. That all sort of came out as we got to play with more scenes, and really step into the shoes of these characters.

Now ultimately, I take up the role of annoying little brother with pride, but it was sort of fun to see why he is that way. What is his arrogance? Is it real arrogance, or is it fake arrogance? Is he acting cool because he’s hurt? Is he acting cool because he truly believes he’s cool? That’s sort of what I had fun with. I had my book, where I’d essentially write notes on what I felt about the scene – what he was potentially hiding, and what he wasn’t. That’s what I had so much fun with, seeing some of that come across on the screen.

Photo by Allyson Ward Riggs

TrunkSpace: As you stated, you’re getting to play in all of these various subgenres week to week. Does that allow you to approach performance differently from episode to episode, depending on the tone of a given script?
Kim: Yeah. One of my favorite scripts was the horror house episode in the first season. It was funny, just to have Ezekiel present, almost like the audience’s voice. He essentially would contradict the actions of the characters, saying out loud what the audience at home would probably be thinking. “You don’t do this in a horror movie. You don’t do that.” That was sort of a fun little dynamic to play with.

I think that’s what’s cool about the show – it gives us a chance to jump into either an emotional scene, or a funny scene, and sort of allows us the freedom to see what the characters would do in those particular situations. That’s what I think ultimately makes them real people. The writers do such a good job of providing, almost, the audience commentary within our dialogue. That’s what I think makes it clever and fun.

TrunkSpace: It sounds rewarding to be getting to play in this sandbox as an actor, but on the inside, 10-year-old you must also be doing cartwheels getting to go up against things like, as you previously mentioned, a Minotaur.
Kim: (Laughter) Yeah. I remember at some point, at the end of Season 2, “And the Point of Salvation,” where I’m getting to play opposite Christian Kane and Lindy Booth, and then Rebecca drops an amazing monologue. And then the next thing you know, we’re running from zombies. (Laughter) So that’s sort of the fun aspect of this show, is like you said, that absolutely anything is possible… and don’t we know it!

TrunkSpace: You’re about to kick off your fourth season of “The Librarians.” What has been the most enjoyable part about getting to play the same character for such an extended period of time?
Kim: I’ve gotten to try and experiment with different things, and see what the audience responds to, and what they don’t respond to. Now we’ve definitely, all of us, worked out almost all the kinks. Now we’re at a point where we’ve been in the skin of these characters for so long, we understand them almost as well, if not better than anybody else. So as far as our ideas that we bring to the table, they’re definitely a lot more in line with what everybody else is thinking at the time. So that’s sort of the cool thing, is coming into Season 4, knowing what we do, and knowing that we do it well – ultimately seeing how far we can take these amazing characters.

TrunkSpace: So if you were in a position where you could be playing Ezekiel for 10 more seasons, is that something you’d be excited about… getting to play a character for that long?
Kim: To get to work with these people for that long would be a blessing. I think as far as being on a show for that long, it’s essentially up to the efforts of the creative team and the actors themselves, to keep it fresh, and interesting. I would absolutely be up for that challenge. What’s so great about it is we have such short seasons that I’d also love to squeeze in little projects in between, both of my own, and others. But yeah, ultimately, at the end of the day, Ezekiel is such a fun character to play. For as long as they’ll have me around, I’d be happy to step into his shoes.

Season 4 of “The Librarians” kicks off Wednesday on TNT with a two-episode premiere beginning at 8 PM ET/PT!

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Musical Mondaze

Vodi

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Some artists grow on you, building on the repetitive play of their songs until you can’t help but fall in love with their music. Other artists hook you instantly, capturing you with their sound so that upon first listen, you say to yourself, “Where has this music been all of my life?”

Texas-based Vodi falls into the latter category.

Spearheaded by the beautifully calming vocals of Tom Lynch, the indie rock band’s debut album “Talk” is both a nostalgic throwback and a modern revelation. What you’re hearing streaming from your speakers isn’t just a collection of songs, but a gourmet dinner prepared with only the finest ingredients. “Talk” takes you on a 1970s-style singer/songwriter journey – a time in the history of music when song placement was just as important as the songs themselves and each track was considered for its transition into the next.

We recently sat down with Lynch to discuss Vodi’s evolution, how he worked to make his vocals a part of the instrumentation, and where he gets the most enjoyment out of being in the band.

TrunkSpace: In terms of the Vodi sound, what has that evolution looked like? The band is so unique, a sort of musical mix of both the past and present, and we’re curious how that marriage came to be?
Lynch: I’m not really sure. We basically try to write music that we like, obviously, like everybody does. We all love the old 80s, 70s sounds and I think it just comes through. I don’t know if it’s the songwriting that lends itself to the sound or the sound that lends itself to the songwriting. I think when we get in the room, it just naturally comes through.

TrunkSpace: Had we been in the room with you guys when you first started down the Vodi path, would what we hear then match what we hear now on “Talk?”
Lynch: No, man. When we first started, it was actually just the drummer and I… a then his brother was playing bass. We would go into a studio and write a song on the spot. I had done projects before and hadn’t done one in a while and I was bored. I wanted to start something new that was less Americana or rootsy, and more something I would enjoy playing live and loud and have a lot of fun doing it. We got into a room and started writing the songs and they looked completely different. As we developed a sound, the songwriting changed with it. Of course, my wife, Haley, who’s in the band too, came in.

We had some really crappy demos. (Laughter) We didn’t really know each other at the time, so I was like, “I really want to have this girl come sing on my stuff.” I thought, “Well, it’s pretty crappy but it’s worth a shot.” She came in and she ended up loving it. Honestly, that’s when the band really started, when we got me, the drummer, and Haley together and then moved on from there.

TrunkSpace: Was it one of those things where it just clicked and it all made sense?
Lynch: Totally. We had different players coming in and out of the band. When we first started, we were just kind of a hodgepodge of stuff going on. The songs sounded like I was still writing for an Americana group. It was very out of order. But then, the more we played, the better the writing got, the better the vibe got. And then people fell into place. It wasn’t like a super, well-orchestrated plan. It was more like, this is what worked best and it just kind of clicked.

TrunkSpace: As you were working to steer yourself away from an Americana sound, did you find that you had to rediscover your own singing voice?
Lynch: Yeah. Totally. Man, that was actually one of the harder transitions for me. The stuff I wrote before, I sang soft and light. I wanted to sing heavier, or at least sing in a different way than I had before. It took a little while to get used to singing in a band where I played an electric and did the lead lines, as opposed to playing an acoustic and just signing along, or signing background harmonies.

TrunkSpace: How do you view yourself as a vocalist now?
Lynch: I don’t really know how to explain it. With Americana, I always felt like I was singing a story. With this, I feel like I’m singing a feeling. Does that make sense?

TrunkSpace: Absolutely. When we first heard the album, it felt like your voice was one of the instruments.
Lynch: Man, I’m glad you said that, because one of the first things I talked about with our engineer, our producer Steve Christensen, was that I wanted to make the vocals part of the instrumentation.

TrunkSpace: Then your mission was a success. Everything is very tight and flows together.
Lynch: That has a lot to do with how good the guys around me are. Those guys are really, really good. There are a lot of times where I feel like, instrumentally, I’m the weak link in the band.

I don’t know if you’ve listened to Hayley’s stuff, but she’s got an amazing voice. She’s got her own band, Dollie Barnes. They put a record out earlier this year. They finished it up just as we were meeting. I was blown away with how good she is.

TrunkSpace: Your songwriting stretches back beyond your time with Vodi. Did you try to capture anything you wrote before the band came together and turn it into material for this album?
Lynch: We tried that, because I’ve got 15 to 20 songs sitting, that I’ve never used. I was going to do another solo record and once I started this I abandoned it. Then we went back and tried to figure out if any of them worked. Again, it was more storytelling songs as opposed to the feeling we were going for with Vodi. It just didn’t work.

We’re already writing for the next record. Some of those songs, I’m still going back to rehash. Some of them are great, but it’s really difficult to turn what I was into then into what we are now.

TrunkSpace: So from a lyrical standpoint, you must have had to take a different perspective as well to distance yourself from that storyteller’s point of view. Did that force you to change up your songwriting process at all?
Lynch: A little bit, but it was more fun. I had been songwriting for so long, it was something that I’d grown accustomed to. I think the hardest part was breaking out of the cycle of that type of songwriting, because I would usually approach it from an acoustic guitar. When I first started writing for this, I told myself I could never touch an acoustic guitar to write. I’d either use a piano, or a bass, or even sit down at the drums, or whatever. It lent itself better to me coming up with melodies, and feelings, and beats that would fit what we were doing. Sometimes, when you strum the acoustic guitar, for me at least, I can’t imagine too much else going on.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned that the band is already writing material for the next album. As you look towards the future, creatively, what are your goals with Vodi?
Lynch: We want to put out music for people to hear, but for me, personally, my favorite thing to do is to get into a studio. I absolutely love getting in, getting the bones of a song down and building a song out, sifting through all of the sprinkles that you put on top of stuff. It’s probably my favorite process in the entire music thing.

Talk” is available now here.

Check out Vodi’s new Christmas single, “This Is The Best Christmas,” below.

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Opening Act

Kimié Miner

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Photo By: Brooke Dombroski

Artist/Band: Kimié Miner

Website: www.KimieMiner.com

Hometown: Kona, Hawai’i

Latest Album/Release: “Proud as the Sun”

Influences: I grew listening to Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder, and Israel Kamakawiwo’ole.

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your music?
Miner: Acoustic soul & pop with a twist of island reggae.

TrunkSpace: Where did your musical journey begin? Did it start with a love for listening to music and then turn into a love for writing/performing?
Miner: I’ve always loved music! I didn’t realize how much I loved writing and performing my own music until college, although I started writing music on my ‘ukulele in middle school.

TrunkSpace: How long did it take you to find your voice as a singer/songwriter? Was it a long journey to discover what your musical POV was?
Miner: Singing always felt very natural for me growing up. I loved journaling, so they went together perfectly. But I’m still on a journey of discovery. Hopefully I can continue to grow until I leave this earth. My albums are like little souvenirs of a time in my life. Each one represents a different point of view for me and a different element I related to at the time. My first EP, “To the Sea,” was themed around water and my stories as a traveler. My second self-titled album was themed around land and my return home to my roots. “Proud as the Sun” is themed around air, seeing things from a new perspective, a bird’s eye view and becoming a mother.

TrunkSpace: How important was your upbringing and your surroundings during those formative years in becoming the songwriter you are today?
Miner: Oh man, it’s so important! I’m an emotional person and I feed off of my environment – it’s like I can feel every vibration coming at me. So I think growing up in paradise, as opposed to a big city, raised me to be a grateful, mellow, pretty down-to-earth person. My music reflects that sultry exotic happy island environment I felt around me.

TrunkSpace: When it comes to songwriting, what is your lyrical approach? Are you writing from experience or are you writing more as a storyteller?
Miner: I like to approach each new song as it comes. I’ve written songs while tears still dripped from my cheeks and stained the paper. But I’ve also written songs inspired by other people’s stories. I have a friend who told me her crazy life’s story of addiction, homelessness, and prostitution. I went home and wrote my song “New Day” about recovery and what that means to a broken girl. I think as long as I can relate to the song, it is therapeutic for me, whether it’s my story or not.

TrunkSpace: Your music as a whole has an uncanny ability to make us feel! You just can’t help but participate in the individual journeys when you’re within earshot of it. Do you set out to elicit an emotional response when you’re writing new material?
Miner: I really try to create my songs for myself first. The fact that others can relate is such a bonus for me! I didn’t even realize how important music could be until I saw the impact it can have on people, myself included. We all just want to be able to relate to each other.

TrunkSpace: Your new album “Proud as the Sun” was released in October. Looking at the various songs on that album, how far back do they go in terms of when they were written to when they were ultimately recorded? Did any of the tracks have a particularly long journey to get where they are in their current form?
Miner: I would say they spanned over the last three years of being written. It was amazing to see which songs fit on this album and how quickly it all came together once I realized I was hapai, pregnant. This was the quickest album I’ve put together in terms of song choice and artwork, visuals, etc., because I knew exactly what I wanted to say on it.

TrunkSpace: What do you think the album says about you in terms of who you are today? Does the collection of songs give any insight into the Kimié Miner of 2017?
Miner: I’ve grown into my own as a woman, especially on this new journey of motherhood. I feel empowered, beautiful, and full of a greater purpose. I want to share the joy I feel with others and bring their own light that they possess out of them!

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an artist/songwriter?
Miner: I can be a real perfectionist when it comes to my music. I can sit in the studio and record the same verse 100 times if you let me. I want the whole performance to be just right. But I realized with this last album that perfectionism is really just a fancy form of fear. Discovering the news of my pregnancy just made me realize that our time is precious and I can’t keep putting off projects because I want it to be “perfect.” I want to encourage my daughter to be her authentic self always and not let perfectionism hold her back. Being flawed is beautiful.

TrunkSpace: In your opinion, what is the best way to break through all of the noise of the times and connect with new listeners? How do you share your music with people and build fans?
Miner: You know, I’m still figuring this all out. But I notice that when I open up to my fans and let them in on some of the things I normally wouldn’t share, that’s when they really connect and engage with me, whether it be at a show or on social media. I’m still learning to open up more and just be my true, authentic self no matter what. We are all beautiful unique beings created for a purpose. We just need to get out of our own ways and let our light shine.

TrunkSpace: What can fans expect from Kimié Miner heading into 2018?
Miner: I’ve already started working on a few projects in different genres than my last album. I’ve been feeling so creative during this time and just allowing myself to experiment. I’m continuing to build my company Haku Hawai’i (Hakuhawaii.com) and even working on a Christmas album. But if you follow me on social media you’ll most likely see my new journey as a mama bird in 2018. I’m looking forward to it.

“Proud as the Sun” is available now.

Featured image by: Brooke Dombroski

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Wingman Wednesday

Sarah Minnich

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Photo By: Lesley Bryce

It appears to be more about creative fate than coincidence that Sarah Minnich can be seen starring in a string of period pieces. As a child, the California-born actress who first drew attention for her run as Brenda on “Better Call Saul,” always found herself playfully portraying characters living in the past.

I used to literally play dress up all day long in period costume type stuff because it’s just what I wanted to do,” she said in a recent phone interview.

Years later, that imaginative playtime is paying off for Minnich. She can currently be seen in the buzzy western series “Godless” for Netflix and in the ripped-from-the-headlines six part mini-series “Waco,” set to premiere January 24 on Paramount Network.

 

We recently sat down with Minnich to discuss the pull of history on her career, how she approaches playing non-fictional characters in a semi-fictionalized story, and why the future of filmmaking is looking so bright.

TrunkSpace: In addition to you working on a string of period pieces, we have also noticed that a number of your recent projects, from “At the End of the Santa Fe Trail” to “Waco,” are based on true events.
Minnich: And you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’ll tell you something interesting… when I was in high school and middle school, I was terrible at history. I always screwed my GPA up because of history classes, but now, in the past five years or so, I’ve started listening to audiobooks, and specifically historical fiction audiobooks. For some reason, I’ve become much more attracted to and interested in learning about history and historical events. It sort of fits right in like a puzzle with my love for doing period piece type of work and trying to explore the character and mindset of folks that used to live in the past.

TrunkSpace: Does playing someone who actually existed or portraying a fictional person who existed within an actual moment of history force you to approach finding a character differently?
Minnich: Typically, my homework before I go for an audition is pretty extensive in terms of researching. Obviously the homework is fairly extensive for any piece that you go in for, but for period pieces, you want to look at the era. You want to look at personal accounts from people that lived in that era. For roles that are based on actual people, that becomes even more difficult because it sort of becomes a process of trying to actually capture that person’s essence, which is friggin’ hard! Then, you run into issues of, “Well, what if you don’t capture it right, and they don’t like that?” It’s kind of this game of guess and you do your best to base it on what you’ve learned and what you can find.

That’s another thing… you can’t always find information on the people that you’re attempting to portray, so you sort of just got to put your best foot forward and go with what the director asks from you, and rely on your instincts, but at the same time, rely on the direction you’re being given.

TrunkSpace: When you’re working on a project that is based on real events, does the vibe on set take on a different feel?
Minnich: When you’re portraying actual folks, it becomes more of a legal concern because they want to do their best to portray the facts, but at the same time, there’s a certain amount of liberty taken when writing about historical events because you weren’t there. I wasn’t there. I can’t say exactly what happened. So on the production that I recently worked on with “Waco,” we had to be really sort of careful in how we portrayed things because you don’t want to step on people’s toes and you don’t want to portray it incorrectly.

TrunkSpace: “Godless” is really turning heads and seems to be quickly becoming the latest water cooler Netflix series that everyone is talking about. For a lot of people, westerns are more of a brand than a genre. If they dig westerns, they are willing to give a new one a try, much in the same way that science fiction fans are. When you were doing something like “Godless,” did it feel like you were working on a series that was automatically going to have a built-in audience?
Minnich: Well, because I was working with Jeff Daniels, and because the show was a Netflix show… right there is your built-in audience. Yes, it’s a western, genre-wise, so yes there’s a mass group of people, just like you said with sci-fi, or just like maybe with romance or heavy drama or dramedy, of a built-in audience, people who are attracted to those kind of shows. What was so great about “Godless” was that it kind of flipped it. Westerns are typically male-driven. Yeah, you have Jeff Daniels as one of the main leads, so there’s a strong male figure in that production, but then you have quite a few females who are playing strong, independent, stubborn-minded type folks, and that’s sort of flipping it on its head. So some people who are normally attracted to westerns are like, “Whoa, what is this?” Some people who aren’t normally attracted to westerns are like, “Whoa, what is this?” It’s nice to walk into something that is both a norm, a norm for a genre, and at the same time flipping a genre on its head.

TrunkSpace: And you touched on this a bit, but when you’re going into a project with that caliber of talent both on screen and behind the camera, while also being a Netflix show, you’re going to get eyeballs on it right out of the gates.
Minnich: Netflix isn’t playing around. If you’ve seen some of their new projects, some of their newer stuff, they are bringing it to the table. Netflix used to be more of this sort of thing where you’d go, “Oh, you know, I’m bored, I’ll stick this on. There’s gotta be something on it.” Now, they’re competing. They’re putting out projects that are literally competing on a bigger scale that are gaining an audience. Like “Ozark?” Holy moly, that was an epic show, and who expected that to come out of Netflix?

Photo By: Lesley Bryce

TrunkSpace: People keep calling this the Golden Age of Television. For someone working within this time period, is it exciting to see television taking this dramatic, character-driven turn?
Minnich: It really is. It’s interesting and sort of surreal for me to sit back from it and be like, “Whoa, this is an era. I’m living in an era because looking back on this time period in 20 years, in 30 years, we’re gonna be like, ‘Oh, that’s when TV sort of was turned and we started to see diverse-driven projects. We started to see female-driven projects.’” And then we have the whole legal stuff that’s going on right now in the industry. This is an interesting time. Although our country is going through some major changes in terms of administration, it’s going through a different sort of renaissance in the film and television industry.

I’m really glad to see shows bringing on leads who are of different, sort of the non-heteronormative, non-stereotypical skinny, white female or strong, tough white male. You’re not just seeing those as the leads. You’re not just seeing these typical type of stories. You’re starting to see the perspectives of other types of folks, of the non-represented, people who haven’t been represented in the past 50 years in filmmaking. So in that sense, that’s beautiful, and it’s great in the film industry because it opens up so many doors and now we can represent those experiences and start to explore those and talk about educating the masses. What I did my master’s thesis on had to do with entertainment based education. I looked at how we could educate people using entertainment, using film and television. Look at what we’re doing now. We’re starting to pull out non-normative experiences… well, what they consider normative… non-normative or considered normative experiences and bringing them out into the light. That’s how we educate the masses in this day and age, so I think it’s great.

TrunkSpace: And while it’s exciting to see it happening now, the real impact will probably be felt in the work of the filmmakers of the future who gr0w up in this particular media age.
Minnich: Oh yeah, I can’t even fathom it. Sometimes I just have to not even imagine things because I don’t even know where that can go. We look at the generations who are younger than us, and we’re like, “Wow, dude, you’re gonna be tapping into stuff that I don’t even conceptualize at this stage.” Just like my parents or your parents who can’t really understand how to set up their Apple TV and they have to call us and have us do it for them – imagine what our kids are going to be doing?

TrunkSpace: It seems the mediums have flipped as well. Earlier generations looked towards film as the true art form, but now it seems like television is becoming that, while film becomes a mostly popcorn-driven media.
Minnich: The demand for content is so insane. The whole concept of binge watching was not around 10 years ago. That was not around 20 years ago. And so now all of a sudden there’s a demand for content, but not only that, there’s a demand for good content. So like I was saying, Netflix is rising to the occasion. That’s just going to continue to move forward. I think the whole TV concept, the episodic concept, people like that because then they have something to look forward to. They’re like, “Oh okay, I watched this episode, and now I can sort of mull this over in my mind for the next week until the next one comes out.” I think for some reason, that’s really attractive to people. They like to have stuff to sort of chew on during their work week.

TrunkSpace: When you look back at your career thus far, what was the turning point for you in terms of more doors opening and more opportunities presenting themselves?
Minnich: I think it might have been “Better Call Saul.” I don’t have a massive role on “Better Call Saul,” I have a recurring small role, but there is something to be said about having a show like that on your resume. So that got doors opened for me that would not have been opened. It’s like this trickle effect – one big thing, which really isn’t that big in terms of what you’re doing, but it’s a big name, and one big name opens a door for you, and then all of a sudden, you get to do this other thing. You do this other thing, and that opens a door. You do this other thing, and that opens a door. So, even doing these teeny little things on big movies or big television sets have opened doors so that finally I’m doing supporting roles, and finally I’m reading for lead roles. In the past 12 months, I’m finally auditioning for lead roles, which is like, “Hallelujah!” So, I can’t pinpoint an exact turning point for you, but I can say that one thing has led to another in a very step-by-step kind of way.

Season 1 of “Godless” is available now on Netflix.

Waco” premieres January 24 on Paramount Network.

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