Jim: You and Director Jillian Acreman obviously have a lot of shared qualities concerning your work in film, in terms of being passionate and driven to succeed. Is this what drew you to work with each other?
Lalesha: Yes. For Jill and I it is all about being creative, original in our vision and the bringing of it all together as a team. We both take what we do seriously and work hard at making top-notch short productions. Having said all that, we also have fun, like my time as a Producer with “Man Who Sold The World”. I had a blast. Jillian and I share a great dynamic whether working or relaxing. We are friends but we make it work by operating in a mutually respectful environment. Egos will always be checked at the door by everyone involved in any production we undertake.
Jim: Can we expect future collaborations between you and Jillian?
Lalesha: Let me put it this way. Plans abounding, yes, future projects yes. Want me to tell you the specifics now Jim? Not a chance in hell! (grinning)
Jim: You are the Producer of “MWSTW” and the lead actor is film great Steve Railsback, your father, what went through your mind with this being your first official shoot with him?
Lalesha: To me he is and always will be ‘Dad’ and although I obviously am well aware of his amazing career it is only when prompted that I think and speak about it. I love and respect my Dad for all his accomplishments but he is still ‘Dad’ to me.
I also know my Dad loves me and respects what I am trying to do to establish myself in the film industry. He is encouraging and supportive of my efforts, whatever they may have been or will be. Steve was the ultimate professional in every way, attentive and responsive to direction and when he offered advice, he was tactful and respectful.
Her father announced recently that Lalesha will be acting in his film “Barstow” based on a screenplay written by his late brother Phillip Railsback, which he feels is a brilliant character driven script. Lalesha will be working alongside a group of great actors (TBA).
Jim: What about working with Barry Livingstone and Jean Rasey on “MWSTW”?
Lalesha: It is weird and wonderful how I grew up with Barry and his family always being nearby. They were close family friends. Flash forward and recently there I was, all those years later, producing a film he was acting in. I know everyone agrees with me, that besides being a great actor, (Mad Men, Ernie on My Three Sons) he was great to work with. He was very approachable, likeable and just an all around nice guy. The one word of wisdom he bestowed upon our eager ears was ‘Network’ as often as you can.
Jean Rasey was wonderful to work with. She is cool, fun, kind and chock full of talent and beauty. (Jean has had many appearances in television and film. From “George” On the TV series Nancy Drew Mysteries to working along side George C. Scott in the film Hindenburg). She was so easy to work with as she handled her role in a totally professional manner. She has been and is a true friend to me and this meant the world to me to be able to work with her. In the past, she had been the script supervisor for a short film for me called “The Mondavi Gang” but this was different as she was now an actress on a film I was producing.
Jim: You had some friends come to LA to help you and Jillian with “MWSTW”, care to mention who they were?
Lalesha: You can have a great script, great talent, but the engine that makes it go is the crew and my crew were great but I have to single out a few people. First, Jessica Holt who was cast and crew and did so much extra stuff it was unreal. To Jesse Anthony who is my favorite Director of Photography, Matthew Carr for excellent assistant cameraman work (and joined me as an extra in the film) and Conor Doyle for his great sound work. I have worked with these peeps before and it was great to have then all around me working as a team again.
SPOTLIGHT ON LALESHA RAILSBACK
It is ten below zero, near white out conditions; a driving snowstorm is pelting the set location for “Plaster Rock: Terror on the Tobique.” Typical winter weather up in Riley Brook at an outfitters lodge, the main camp deep in the wilds of New Brunswick, Canada. Weather notwithstanding, it is still shoot day for all involved in the production of the above feature thriller produced by Global Universal Pictures Inc.
For lead actress Lalesha Railsback, making her film debut in a feature, it is also the polar opposite of December weather left behind in her home state of California. Far removed from the beaches and sunny weather she has made the necessary adjustments and is pitching in with all the enthusiasm and dedication needed to own her role. “It was great working with the cast and crew for this film and an amazing experience in teambuilding and bonding” said Railsback, “what a blast I had.”
“In “Plaster Rock Terror on the Tobique,” my character’s name is Sandra. She is a banker, kind of earthy, with a no nonsense attitude. She is feminine but pretty much the toughest of the girls on the trip. There are no fears until she gets to Plaster Rock.”
Four young men and four young women are boated into a hunting lodge in the wilds of northern New Brunswick to participant in a cross country ski race in which the winner will reap a cash prize of $250,000. Each contestant is a former athlete or high-profile celebrity. They have all already received $20,000 for their time just to travel and enter the race in the desolate area. The only problem is, once left at the lodge by boat, there is no way out, and each contestant begins to realize they have more at stake than the cash prize.
Plaster Rock is a fast-paced thriller-horror film which takes place in remote wilderness where you need more than luck to survive! Please see http://www.plasterrockmovie.com/ for additional information and trailers.
The making of this film in Canada was not just measured by the miles traveled here but by her personal and emotional growth to answer a genetic pull that she had tried vainly to avoid. “I was born and raised in Los Angeles California, my parents are Steve Railsback and Jackie Giroux. Both are prominent in the film industry. I grew up in Burbank, a suburb of Los Angeles with my mother (my parents divorced when I was young). My father subsequently remarried and I have two siblings from that marriage, my brother Beau and my sister Eden. So far they have not shown any interest in acting,” says Railsback.
“Growing up with my parents in the industry, it just seemed normal to have famous actors and entertainment figures around me. The biggest impact on me was the amount of time they spent traveling which was hard on me but I had lots of Aunts and Uncles as my mom always said,” laughs Railsback. “I think I always dreamed of doing something in film, my life was surrounded by it, how could I not ponder it?”
“I considered myself very fortunate to have my parents in the entertainment industry and even more so to have exposure to all aspects of the fascinating film world. My father (actor Steve Railsback – “The Stunt Man”, “Line of Fire”, “X-files” and “Charles Manson”) showed me the work it took to be in front of a camera and portray a character in any given situation. My mother Jackie Giroux, President of Global Universal Pictures Inc (Canadian Division) showed me the production side of the film industry. How and what work it took to take a production from start to finish. I gained a valuable insight into both the creative and business side of the film world and what better teachers than my own parents.”
But despite all this valuable parental input Railsback was not, like most young people sure if she really wanted to follow in her parents footsteps.
Jim asked Jackie Giroux about some of the influences Lalesha might have been impacted by at a young age. “As most people in the industry do, we tried to shelter her from becoming enamored with the industry because it is not easy to make a decent living. She certainly had her share of industry contacts because she was constantly on set with her father or myself from the age of three on. If I can assure you of anything, Lalesha thought the craft service table was the dinner table,” laughs Giroux.
Her father, Steve Railsback, remembers thinking early on that Lalesha was special, and “it was not just the fact that she was the first girl born on my side of the family in 149 years.”
Railsback laughingly states: “how relaxed and inquisitive Lalesha was on the set. Here was this 3-year-old calling action! She displayed an inordinate interest in details while there but you wonder, or at least I did, how she was internalizing all this and how it would manifest itself later in life, if at all. The one thing I knew for certain then and now is how proud I am of my daughter Lalesha and my love and support of her is unconditional.”
“I also think having met many celebrities from a young age, helped ground her in some aspects and kept things in perspective. I mean she helped Charlie Sheen’s daughter in figure skating and Paula Abdul was her idol at a young age and she was able to meet her but we were just her parents to her,” says Giroux. “Normal is the environment you grow up in and hers was a family in the entertainment business.”
“Proof of not acting or thinking herself special is how I felt first meeting Railsback on the set of “American Sunset.” She was doing continuity and script supervision and you have to have a sharp eye and pinpoint memory. She worked as hard if not harder than everyone on set and off set was a funny and warm person. I found out from someone else whose daughter she was later. Little did I know that it was around this time that Railsback was deciding to go “all in” and take the leap she knew she was meant to take. It was an internal struggle for Railsback as she explains, “When I was very young, I really was not interested. My mother would have all kinds of contacts/roles for me but I turned them down. Finally in my teens, I gave it a try and saw I did have a passion, albeit flickering, for acting. I did quite a few commercials, modeling, and short films.”
One thing according to her mother that Railsback did not enjoy at all was the audition process, the cattle call, or being told she didn’t meet the requirements sought by casting directors. Railsback loved her drama courses in school when she was younger but dabbled in behind the scenes stuff like lighting, make up and wardrobe and thoroughly enjoyed that as well.
For a myriad of reasons Railsback pulled the plug on acting at 16. “To be honest, I really thought I wanted to do something different, experience something outside of film and my parent’s shadow,” reflects Railsback. “The problem, and it was a big problem indeed, was all my experience was in film! From graduating High School and moving on to college, I tried to distance myself from film by taking on other work. I studied psychology and accounting to expand my horizons/interests but always present was the urge to return to my roots in film. It was a time of uncertainty but it was a life experience outside of my comfort zone and a point of reference that I would be able to utilize if needed in whatever lay ahead,” said Railsback.
At the age of 23, and 7 years removed from the film industry, Railsback confronted her inner feelings towards acting and saw clearly for the first time that her destiny lay in acting and the film world. She initially got back in the game by taking on the heavy responsibility of continuity/script supervisor on various productions (“American Sunset”, “Blue Seduction”). At the same time she was feeding and sharpening her script-writing skills.
A perfect world for Railsback would have her acting in her own screenplays. With that in mind she and a close friend decided to make their own short film. Railsback was a
co-star, co-producer, and co-director on the short film “The Mondovi Gang.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOr61tVLvcE (Mondovi Gang Trailer).
The tagline for the film is What the Media Missed and really hit home for many who remembered the historic presidential race in 2008. Along with the televised debates and sound bites, many people where talking at an unprecedented rate, discussing issues of change, race and gender (A group of ordinary people were captured in candid conversations). It was a revelation of how 2008 was the year the American people woke up and started talking to each other. In October 2009 the film was accepted into La Femme Film Festival in Los Angeles. It was during the filming of “The Mondavi Gang” while watching Lalesha doing a particular scene and looking from an actor or director’s perspective her father states: “I saw her get in the moment and stay in the moment while handling an off script situation that would take most actors off their game.” This from the actor whose portrayal of Charles Manson in “Helter Skelter” taught many what ‘being in the moment’ means.
Her hard work and efforts to finish/promote “The Mondavi Gang” drew praise from her mother, “for first having the guts and conviction to do it and secondly for doing it absolutely on her own merit with no help from me whatsoever.” Lalesha’s excellent acting performance in “the Mondavi Gang” really set the wheels in motion for Giroux to audition and subsequently sign her daughter to be one of the leads in “Plaster Rock: Terror on the Tobique.”
To those who would see this as nepotism or a possible conflict of interest heed her words “I have been in this industry for a long time and when I make a movie I lead with the best talent available to me that works well with the constraints all productions face. I embrace all involved in my productions/projects as family and Lalesha must meet all her obligations and has in a professional and proficient manner.” Perhaps the only difference with Railsback and other cast/crew members is as Giroux smiling puts it, “at the end of a social evening with the cast/crew she reminds me she is my daughter by sending me over her bar tab!”
There is an essence about Railsback, a certain touch in delivery that makes her stand out. Maybe the genetic linage is at play. The one thing for certain is she may well be one of the hardest working people you will find on any set. “My parents installed a value system in me from an early age that taught me to be polite and considerate to others,” says Railsback. “Another very important lesson I culled from them was work ethic. It’s based on 3 factors: environment, education, and persona. It is also the accepting and acknowledging that all cast/crew members are of equal value in any production. Measuring success is what it means to you at the end of the day in terms of personal and collective results!”