“Isn’t it ironic” the mantra song from “Jagged Little Pill” (Alanis Morissette) probably best describes my last two phone conversations with legendary actor Steve Railsback. The first being about the film “The Stunt Man, starring Peter O’Toole and Steve Railsback, directed by Richard Rush, being selected by the Turner Classic Movie channel as one of the top 50 films of all time. A film that award winning New Brunswick actress Elizabeth Goodyear insists is “must viewing” for all with aspirations to become an actor.
Now, the second conversation, with the same degree of enthusiasm by Railsback, was to discuss his lead acting role in a recently completed short film shot in Los Angeles. The film is called “Man Who Sold The World” (MWSTW) written and directed by New Brunswick filmmaker Jillian Acreman and produced by Lalesha Railsback (his daughter). Now if that is not truly ironic, then what is?
To list all of his accomplishments on stage, screen, television, writing, directing, and producing would consume this page and more, so please Google it or verse yourself in this brilliant man’s career. He has worked with the best of the best, the who’s who breadth of mediums. One iconic role for Railsback was his chilling portrayal of psychotic killer Charles Manson in “Helter Skelter”. The famous courtroom scene where the demented persona of Manson is fully exposed for all to bear witness is magnificent. This was a lengthy and emotional scene for Railsback and I will surprise you by saying this was captured in one take! That is correct, “One Take” and with the degree of difficulty of doing this scene, staying in the moment off the chart, he hits it out of the park!
Railsback has worked with the greats, been part of and witnessed the evolution of film and television. They tell me on a daily basis some 40,000 persons are entering or leaving the film industry in Los Angeles! A friend of mine, being well versed in the industry, states the formula is simple but complex at once. You need stars, a good script and plenty of cash! There are and have been exceptions but mostly reality trumps With this in mind, as background and knowing this latest short is an “Indie” we begin………
Jim: what comes to mind when I ask you about Jillian Acreman the person, the writer and the director? Is there such a thing as a natural?
Steve: She is only 24! I guess that debunks age as a quantifier but seriously she has a sense of maturity beyond her years. Her respect for the history of film and lessons learned in developing her writing and directing style is evident, her route taken via self instruction is unorthodox but not unheard of. There is such a thing as a “Natural” but comes with riders attached. You can not teach instinct, feel or vision but all are greatly enhanced by continuous upgrading of your knowledge of all things related to what you wish to excel in. The talented do not really graduate from anything, formal or otherwise, but are just moving on to a new plateau better armed. The credits on your life are only complete when you have left this earth.
Jim: I know you have future plans to direct a feature which will have Lalesha as part of the cast but for now staying with the short film “Man Who Sold The World”, in which she was the producer your thoughts are?
Steve: It was great to work with her, I love her and am proud of her and she did a very professional job on this production. I know you have an upcoming feature blog on her in which I elaborate on my feelings about her, her career, etc…” (Note: Jim will be releasing a feature blog on Lalesha Railsback in May, exclusive to Bulldog Publicity)
Jim: Your preparation for your role was based on you working out your character as defined in the script, for Jillian Acremans’ production of “MWSTW”. Can you expand on that and give us some more insight into your process?
Steve: The actor(s) must give back and own the character as if in homage to the script’s intent. You must give your character depth and personality that will engage many layers of individuals or group audiences. It is a mix of emotion, physical presence or state, voice cadence or nuance you bring to the director and writer’s vision.
Jim: In “MWSTW” you were reunited with good friends Jean Rasey and Barry Livingston, what was that like?
Steve: Both are very talented and creative people whose careers I have been lucky to interact with over the years. I did a stage play, in New York City 35 years ago, with Barry, who by the way is getting set to release a book “The Importance of Being Ernie” based on his 50 years in show business. I think it can be pre–ordered on Amazon. I think all three of us connected well with Jillian’s cast and crew and enjoyed the production immensely.
Jim: Steve, it has been a pleasure and privilege to talk to you, what is one piece of advice you could share with us?
Steve: Thank you Jim, in a word “Read!” The missing art of, taking the time to simply read a book. Think about it, you are opening your mind, imagination, exercising creativity.
Actor Barry Livingston talks about “Man Who Sold the World”
Barry Livingston is getting ready to release a biography which highlights his 50 years in show business. Entitled “The Importance of Being Ernie”, the title of course refers to his role as Ernie Douglas on the legendary television show “My Three Sons” He currently stars in the hit television series “Mad Men”.
Jim: Thank you for taking the time to talk with me, congratulations on your upcoming book. I wanted to ask you about a short film you recently worked on, “The Man Who Sold The World” written and directed by Jillian Acreman. You have worked with some of the greats in television and film (directors, writers and actors). For the first time in a very long time, you are working with a group of unknowns. What did you like about Jillian’s writing style, directing style? Overall impression of Jillian?
Barry: Jillian was a great collaborator and very willing to accept ideas from her actors. She did not seem threatened by her actors having opinions, which some directors are. She heard what we, the actors, were saying and incorporated the ideas into the script, while still staying true to her vision.
Jim: I know you are friends with Steve Railsback but have you worked together before? If so on what projects?
Barry: Steve Railsback and I worked together on a Thornton Wilder play, “The Skin of Our Teeth”, which played on Broadway in the mid-seventies. He is been a great friend and mentor for decades now. I respect him, and love him, like a brother.
Jim: Working with a mostly young and upcoming crew, was it a throw back in many ways to when you first started out? Were you able to point out things or provide advice to them?
Barry: I had only one bit of advice for the young crew. Make a lot of friends, in other words, NETWORK, that’s one of the keys to a long and productive career in film.
Jim: With “Mad Men” starting up again next year, do you have other projects on the go or will you have your hands full dealing with the release of your book? Can your book be ordered now and if so how?
Barry: I have a film, Hostel 3, coming out in 2011, either late summer or early fall. My book, “The Importance of Being Ernie”, will be released on Oct. 25, 2011. You can pre-order now on Amazon.com.
Before I speak to actress Jean Rasey, my next guest, I would like to announce that I am now the official publicist of this extremely talented lady. I look forward to working for and with Jean. She brings so much to the table and I expect to announce great projects for her in the very near future. For those of you new to Bulldog Publicity and my Blog please check out the feature I did on Jean earlier this month (April 10th, 2011 “Never Gonna Break Her Stride”).
Actress Jean Rasey talks about “Man Who Sold the World”
Jim: Who is your character in this film?
Jean: I play Jack Carmichael’s wife, Lauren. We have a pretty good life, with 2 great kids. I don’t want to give too much away, suffice to say that Jack is faced with a monumental moral decision that will affect his professorial and personal life in a way that is inexplicable.
Jim: Working with Steve Railsback and Barry Livingston-have you before and in what and if not what was it like?
Jean: I have known Steve for many years, and we have always talked about working together. He is a solid actor, a true professional and it was great working with him. I think we have good on screen chemistry. Unfortunately I did not have the opportunity to work with Barry as we did not have any scenes together. I look forward to the possibility of working with Barry in the future.
Jim: Your thoughts on Jillian Acreman?
Jean: Jillian is an actor’s director. She supports ideas and thoughts regarding the scene and approaches the shot in a very natural way. A joy to work with. I hope to work with her again.
Jim: Your thoughts on the cast and crew?
Jean: They are an awesome group of people. I love working on Indies because there is such a “family” feel to creating a Film. Everybody supports each other in any way they can. I would love to work with all of them again.
Jim’s Closing Thoughts
I think Jillian Acreman is a very talented film peep, her potential is unlimited and her “pictures” will only grow in scope and magnitude. I also would like to point out she is one of the most considerate people I have ever met. She loves film and loves people.
Maybe this might put things in perspective, I am heavily involved with my good friend and author Julie Comeau in her book being released soon. It’s entitled “Never Give Up-The Inspirational Journey of a Real life Survivor”. I came up with the idea of having an inspirational video (which became 4) on the author’s story of survival. The idea being to let people, via youtube, get to know Julie, see, hear and feel her passion which awaits them in her book.
I knew I could create and produce this because what I wanted would be unscripted and raw. I picked up the phone and called Jillian Acreman and Matthew Carr, an awesome and talented couple. I told them what I wanted and needed and without hesitation they were in. They became my director and director of photography, also on board came actress and director Bunthivy Nou as the interviewer. Into the unknown we plunged. When all was done our editor Jennifer Chiasson took over in post.
The end result of these very talented people is that nearly 3,000 people (since March 18) have viewed the four videos
which is incredible because these are informative but not your 2 min variety videos. It may not be a Genie (Canadian Oscars) winner or a feature film but Jillian Acreman’s work is reaching out and touching people because of the care she puts into everything.