When Covid shuts down your theatre performances at the State College of Florida, what do you do?
You turn to the Greek myths, where mask wearing was the norm, and you allow your students to pick their myths, write their scripts and produce their own plays – casting, lights, sets, music, blocking, and all.
Oh, but let's not stop there...enter the SCF Film Department and its talented students and faculty to take these SCF Theatre student plays and turn them into big screen productions!
Join SCF Theatre faculty Amanda Schlachter and Craig Smith, SCF Film faculty Chris Bellanca, and students Makenna Seifke and Tony Gallucci as they tell us all about the process and the product on this week's episode of the Suncoast Culture Club podcast.
Come along and join the club!
• Mythos Project Website
• SCF Theatre Program Website & Facebook Page & Instagram
• State College of Florida Film Club Facebook
• State College of Florida Foundation Website & Facebook & Instagram
Support the show (https://scf-foundation.org/suncoastcultureclub/)
Amanda Schlachter: Hi everyone. And welcome to the Suncoast Culture Club. I am thrilled about our guests because they are people that I know quite well. Actually, they're some of my favorite people. So we're here to talk about our upcoming project mythos, which is a partnership with SCF Theater and SCF Film. And I have invited Craig Smith, assistant professor and program manager of the theater department and Chris Bellanca, instructor of digital cinema and studio manager to sit down and discuss the process with me. And I too have been a part of this project. So it's a joy to spend time talking about it. So welcome Craig and Chris. And so everybody out there knows after we finish this particular section, we're going to take a break and then we're going to talk to two of our students about what their experience has been like. So, Craig, I want to start with you first. Can you tell us a little bit about Mythos and how the seed of the idea came up for you? Because it really started in the fall when we were talking about what are we going to do this spring under the conditions of COVID
Craig Smith: It was probably spring of last year that we kind of thought about, well, first of all, what are we going to do? COVID had a lot to do with, us determining what exactly kind of projects could we do. So the restrictions of trying to function in a limited capacity. So. What we did was decide on okay. For fall. What can we do? We can't do live productions. So how about doing a play reading series? So as you know, you and I, from the spring, through the summer read through scripts, and it was kind of fun because we were choosing plays that may be In the scope or scale or quite large, and maybe something we wouldn't necessarily do on our stage, but also maybe it was the cast size was quite large or diverse to the point that we didn't have enough students that could do that, or the scale of the set or whatever reason Epic pieces of theater. So we looked at all sorts of things and we settled on five plays and hoped that the students would be excited to do that, which. They were we had, I think 19, we came up for the fall. So we chose five plays and we met the second week of the semester. I believe wasn't it. Yes. And had sort of an audition. Really. It was just a gauge to see who we had. Were there any conflicts in scheduling? And from that point, we sort of them in on what we were hoping to do and educated the group on the plays. You and I had done some research on the Synopsys of the plays, the playwrights themselves. Any kind of information we could get to the group to get them excited about theplays. And then we had to set up a schedule. And that was for script dispensation. That was for the actual readings and casting of the plays. And we had settled on Angels in America, by Tony Kushner, Millennium Approaches and Perestroika, both shows, which that took four. Wednesdays. That was, that was a beast though. It was a long one. Metamorphosis by Mary Zimmerman, last days of Judas Iscariot by Stephen, Allie, Gerges and Amadeus Schaffer. Fast forward, past midterm, we found out that we could do one live performance. So we had at least some material and we put it up to a vote. We had already finished the reading and everyone's seemed to go towards Metamorphosis, which was. Perfect. We were able to perform in the Neel Performing Arts Center. We were able to block it and choreograph. We had some royalty-free music. We had costumes with tuxedos and cocktail dresses, and people were barefoot and yeah. We had the, I call them the Jabber walkie white masks,
Amanda Schlachter: the white masks, the neutral. Yeah.
Craig Smith: They came out. Yeah. And those, and then they were able to go back at the end with their masks back on and Timothy Bourn and the Neel staff, Allison Baker and Jan van Wart Dorian Boyd put together our sound and lighting and a set. And it was great. We were actually able to perform something, but long story short, that was the aha moment. It's a Greek myth. It is fully masked. Perfect. We're in COVID let's cover our faces. Let's take myths that are royalty free and have, students re imagine them. And wouldn't it be great. To work with the film department on this. Yeah. There's some logistic challenges that I think film would be perfect to figure those things out with us. So that's how. Chris came into play because I'm like, please, Chris.
Amanda Schlachter: Yeah. Yeah. So it's so true. So then we reached out to Chris and so Chris, we like, , emailed you and through this , project and these ideas, tell me your initial impressions and how you thought this could go. Cause you were super receptive and lovely.
Chris Bellanca: Well, I have a class that's typically held Spring semester DIG 2000. It's more of a client-based class. So instead of creating a narrative scenario and saying, okay, let's shake this down and shoot it. And we set up a client situation. So I typically vet possibilities for this class in advance, or maybe even have a couple in the back pocket. And when I heard through the grapevine I said, well, let's book a meeting with Amanda and Craig. It sounds like they have something going on. And I'm pretty familiar with Amanda and I've known Craig for a while and they're good folks. So I'm already very interested in what they have cooking. So the mythos project won out amongst some of the other opportunities we had. And I felt very good about the variables, I felt that a lot of my stance on this is gonna work. the COVID situation. I liked that that's where this was born, , as soon as yeah. got Craig's Backstory on how this came to be. I knew that his head was in the right place for how we could move forward to facilitate things academically for the students. And then. Came into content and I looked at well, we've got good people here. There's going to be a lot of moving parts. There's going to be variables. I'm really excited about the specific content.
Amanda Schlachter: Yeah.
Chris Bellanca: Who's the student body, a little taste of who's on the theater and who's on the film end. Okay. Think about who's capable of what and where our strengths are.
Amanda Schlachter: Right.
Chris Bellanca: And then came back to the academic approach and said, okay, we've got an opportunity for research and some interdepartmentalities, and I'm excited. Let's go.
Amanda Schlachter: Yeah. Yeah. And it's been terrific thus far. For all of our listeners out there, we actually start filming this week. So we're mid-March right now, this may drop a little later once the project is complete, but right now we're right on the brink of, getting in front of the cameras. So it's pretty exciting. And I have to say I'm sort of feeling good that we won out. To other offers being a part of, I mean, I just, I feel kind of cool about that. So I just have to own that, you know? Yeah. And it's terrific, just to touch back Craig talking about the play readings, we kept telling our students, this is something you're going to have to learn how to do. And then one of our students recently just finished a professional job with Urbanite Theater, Easton Laviolette. He was terrific and got that experience of you have four days to put up a reading and he had been doing it all fall. So this time of COVID is weird, but we're discovering all these, , skills. And then these partnerships that we may not have thought of in a usual. Four shows season. So Craig, back to you, I want you to talk a little bit about the process that we've been going through with Mythos thus far, like what did we do? How did we come in and figure out how we were going to tackle this?
Craig Smith: First of all, myth is quite broad. There's all sorts of. It's a myth and focusing on Greek myth for one, but even within Greek myth, there are so many, and then there's so many sub myths that go off of this and, you know, Zeus got around. So
Amanda Schlachter: yeah,
Craig Smith: there's a lot of myth. So , I went through initially and started researching what's some of the more popular or things that we could do. And I think I narrowed it down to about 36, , that's still, that's a big number.
Amanda Schlachter: Yeah.
Craig Smith: So then from there, I started looking at, okay, this one is really too Epic for what we want to do, because we really wanted to narrow it down that each myth performed was between five to seven minutes. And if we had a number of say, 10. Myths that we narrowed it down to. That's still, you're looking at about an hour or over an hour of the program. So and really seeing that many of these are gonna be very visual because of the way we chose to do this. So we scale it down because we had discussions through this whole process almost every day. Luckily our offices are right beside each other. So
Amanda Schlachter: For everyone out there, Craig and I. Every day. So we don't have to really hold meetings. Cause we're always current with, well,
Craig Smith: we're grading. Well, you're talking about Mythos.
Amanda Schlachter: That's true.
Craig Smith: So We narrowed it down and presented the list to the students we chose about 10 or they sort of selected the 10, I would say from suggestions of, okay, we've got these, these ones are a little too big. Even though you can tell a section out, but we'll settle with this. So 10 eventually we ended up with nine. One had to go eventually, but we have nine now, We had the groups, first of all, they had to analyze and research what their myth was, their characters. What's the story. If it's a very complicated myth, how would you simplify that? Every story has a beginning, middle and an end. So that's where you kind of need to head towards write a summary of that myth. Again, that's where you're creating the beginning, middle and the end, and then write character descriptions. Who are your characters? Because if you're going to cast it and you're going to do a myth, do you need 10 characters?
Amanda Schlachter: Yeah.
Craig Smith: Hopefully not. Let's look at two or three for that myth, just to simplify. And then looking at the style, what kind of style do you want to do it in traditional Greek? Or do you want to do something funky with it? Do you want to do a contemporary version of that myth, but come up with the style. Then, of course you cast it. And even though they're working in groups primarily I think groups of two to three per myth You can be in your own, but chances are, you might have more characters that you need to cast. If you don't want to be in yours, you cast outside and plus chances are you're in about two other myths yourself.
Amanda Schlachter: Right?
Craig Smith: So casting began and then the fun part of designing. Last semester, we had a Production Involvement course where design elements were, what we focused on. So they got to use their chops on that. So they had to design any kind of set context or costuming, especially masks. Since we're going full on mask, you have to design, create, build for all of your characters of your myth. If there were puppets, we were looking at puppetry and things like that. You have to design that as well. And then they started working on those blocking, which you worked with a lot. Granted there was enough of us because film came in during this point as well. So we had Tony Gallucci and his team were all walking around. Chris of course was here and we sort of took turns working with the groups, seeing where, they were in the process.
Amanda Schlachter: Yeah.
Craig Smith: Helping them block what's their vision working with Timothy Bourn, our tech director on sound issues or lighting ideas and things like that. And just progressed from there the rehearsal process and the building process building our schedule, how we were going to spend our Wednesday and Friday afternoons from one to five or so. And that's where we are at this point. We just got to the point where we're. Finishing up recording audio and starting to film this week.
Amanda Schlachter: Yeah. And it's been interesting. We've had our little film angels with us, this whole process, because I feel like I've learned so much because , I primarily come from theater and it really is. Although there are similarities, there are strong differences and understanding. So it's been so great to have the students and Chris. To be able to help us through that. , and we also have an addition, which has been fun that I've been a part of is there's a movement piece. So the students choreographed a piece for the opening that's based on Labon movement. So they learn the different elements. Laban's broken up into time and space and weight. And then they've choreographed this magnificent piece that I'm very curious to see how it's going to be filmed. So Chris, what have you guys been doing in preparation to get ready to film? And I know there's like a lot of elements. Like there's a website out there. There were headshots, there were proposals, there's AD's there's people that have titles that I don't even exactly know what they do. So tell us a little bit about that.
Chris Bellanca: Well, at the beginning of the semester, , if I occupy the role of. Producer, at least on the film. And I really want to be able to walk the students walk as much as possible. Looking back at last term, we were knee deep in pandemic and we had to lean back on some of the test shots strangely enough, that I had just used a model technique. For the students, we were covering the tennis team, try to promote them and. Get awareness across the board and were left high and dry without the ability to produce basically had to shoot pulled right out from under us. Everything was suspended. So I took the same approach. And as you noticed, I was here as much as possible. Wednesday, Friday, and then I'd go back to the students on Thursday and hold some cards back. But generally just got myself and tell them what I was learning so that they could keep up to speed with process, because I knew that one of the tricks to this project would be where we converge and how we converge. So. If theater's working on figuring out what they're specifically going to be working on the individual students are starting to think peripherally about, , creative and technical isms while on our end, I can't say all right, let's go. I kind of have to make sure that we do our research as well on the content. So one of the first things I had the film students do was look at. Every one of the myths on Craig's source sheet. And I thought, regardless of what myths are actually chosen to be produced, we want a really nice foundation on that, which is a myth. So we Engaged reflectively. And I was very pleased to hear how some of the film students were taking it and running with it, starting to think more about what could happen or a theme, you know, narrative elements, not just around the camera goes here, but who and what are we dealing with? That is the myth. So that really helped us at the table. After that we got right into development and tried to run. parallel to the theaters development. And then we met more often and said, , let's develop in January, let's go pre production in February, production, March and so on. And I just rode that train and rode me into some very successful relationships with my students, because the more I spear head the operation as. Producer, the more I'm going to step away and say, I'm going to provide the paints on the palette. I'm going to make sure you have the resources and the communication you need. But after that, I'm going to step back a bit because frankly, it doesn't mean nothing. If the students don't own their decisions and, Our D Tony Gallucci has been a superstar in terms of not only getting the job done in being really good about it, but other students are looking up to Tony. There's some strong leadership and the more the clock turns, the more I'm seeing other students. Responding to that modeling of how to behave and how to get the job done. And they really look up to Tony. So we've got some other people that have said, I looked at his enthusiasm, but coolness about what needed to be done. And a lot of people have been picking it up. I like to. Approach a lot of these things as like a sports team, you know, who can lead the charge, but the back end of things is just as important. Every individual is, extremely important. And, we started this off strangely with some things that we don't always do. And I went improv with them. I wanted to see how the whole class, how the whole group of film students would unify or resist unification. And I just let them improv. Until they all got on board and I'm not so sure everyone knew what I was looking for, but I did my best to make that clear on the back end.
Amanda Schlachter: Yeah.
Chris Bellanca: Cause once we're together and we trust each other, you know, without having people fall into each other's arms, which I was willing to go for it, we didn't need to do that. But It was really mining the resources and making sure the relationships were, good and clean. It was really important. I think more important than camera or what the editing schedule might be. Just getting people together
Amanda Schlachter: Well, and having that organic process that really happens in any ensemble oriented, whether it's making a film or making a theater piece and you can. As a director or a teacher provide the space for that, but then you can't really force it. It either has to evolve. That's when it becomes a true bond where the students then start taking it care of each other, calling each other out, you know, like, Hey man, we're working over here, which I always love him. Like, come on. Let's all get back. Yeah. But and I love watching too, Chris. Cause one of the things you do as an artist. Which I'm constantly voting for my students to look at this as you immerse yourself in the process, like, I just see you floating and just being in the space and how important that is that by really being a sponge on the front end, you can then have so much more to produce because you've taken it all in.
Chris Bellanca: I thought it was very important to gain the trust of the theater students as well. I took some time to learn. Names and talk to people and look in their eye and say, you're comfortable with Craig and Amanda and Tim and so on and so forth. But. You can be comfortable with us too. It's not just going to happen though. I need to make myself available. And hopefully we were able to meet that across the board with our AD's. Who've really been good.
Amanda Schlachter: Well, and your AD's stepping in the thing I've seen again, back to the sort of peer to peer is that some of the AD's like Tony, like you were talking about Jeffrey that comes to mind and Matt and that then the students are respecting what they say, because , they're the experts in the spaces. So something that has been so heartwarming for me is to watch everybody teach each other. And the theater students be able to be like, well, this is what we do. And this is how we build a set. So it's been just beautiful. So with the beauty, have there been challenges, Craig, what would you say?
Craig Smith: Oh, no, there was never a challenge. No, there've been a few. Because, keep in mind, this is such a new thing for us to do in such a strange time to, do something, pulling ourselves out of not having any, options to, okay. How can we. Produce something because many colleges and universities have done nothing or not been able to do anything high schools. So we just wanted to give, , something educational and an experience and something that's relevant and all of that. So the challenges have been, primarily that, , anytime that you've got multiple groups, cause that's. Kind of what each myth has been divided into a small group and multiple directors and all of that. You're a director, you know, we like to have a little control over what's going on, but , the idea that this was going to be very student driven it's their concept, it's their design, it's their interpretation. And then working with, the film students as well. , it's all student based we were just flies on the wall. Here's what we can suggest. Here's what I think. , I will admit, there are times that I just stepped in because I'm like, okay, , just let me do, let me go. I can't, help myself. I'm a little pushy that way.
Amanda Schlachter: You just make pretty things. Like sometimes I
Craig Smith: like to make things pretty. But I would say the challenge was the fact that there were so many groups simultaneously on Wednesday and Fridays working.
Amanda Schlachter: Right.
Craig Smith: And trying to, really just be there. For their needs as, it came across, it seemed like when it came time for set needs, it was all at once. Instead of I'll take this now and let's take this one now. But I think that that was a big part of it. Another thing was the scripts were all so good. They were fantastically written scripts. I was so impressed with these scripts and knowing down the road, especially if they were incredibly. Dialogue driven that keep in mind, you're wearing full face covering masks.
Amanda Schlachter: Yeah.
Craig Smith: And there's a lot that could be lost in the interpretation without expression, which is a whole new thing that our students hadn't really had the opportunity to learn until this project was working without your face.
Amanda Schlachter: Right.
Craig Smith: But you're just using your body. You're using intention through your body. So there's another thing. How does this dialogue translate to this scene where you're fully masked?
Amanda Schlachter: Right.
Craig Smith: So that was one of the challenges and, working with, maybe you have to edit your script down a little bit. Maybe we need to make this a narration or a voiceover or something like that. I would think that, those were really the, biggest challenge and the crunch for time. I think if we were to do it again or something like this, maybe it's a whole semester of prep and building and writing and then a whole semester of filming and recording and something like that. I think.
Amanda Schlachter: Yeah.
Craig Smith: Take a lot of the pressure off,
Amanda Schlachter: Right.
Craig Smith: In a sense. Cause it was, it's been really quick. It's been really, really fast. I can't believe we're already almost done with March.
Amanda Schlachter: Right, right, right. Yeah. And I echo, I agree that the, scripts have been phenomenal, but this is, a version of. Physical theater or physical film. And as we start filming, I think there's going to be a lot of hands-on learning with the camera and how you use your body with the full mask. So as we told them, hold on to those scripts for the future, because they were just witty, charming. Interesting. And so Chris, for you, have there been any challenges on your side that you have faced or overcome
Chris Bellanca: Yeah. That's the name of the game? Murphy and Murphy's law are typically just waiting and sneering from, COVID to weather, to timeliness. So yeah. I think some of the challenges of early been initially the buy-in factor really wanted to make sure that we could keep morale up. And in my experience, there's some students that are great out of the gate and then they dive and others that just, yeah. They inclined steadily. And I knew that I'd have a mixed bag of all these individuals. So making sure that everyone's on the same page, but that lends itself to the interdepartmental communication from our marketing department to our camera department, from our DP, looking over all these people. And then how we manage the actors. I was very concerned about our AD's, not jumping all over the vision. Serving the song, not thinking they need to reinvent the wheel or drop a water slide in the middle of the stage because they think it's cool. And that comes back to communication and understanding the vision of the client. And I think that that's, something our students get a little less of. They tend to drive a little more, you know, if they're shooting a documentary, they dictate the content. If they're writing a narrative, in some way, they're the creative force where on this end, we're taking something that's been formed and recognizing where the cinematic elements are or need to be. And in terms of. What the takeaway might be for film students is one interdepartmental. Communication is just such a bonus at this scope, but the confidence gained by being able to function and knowing how to do your job and letting someone else do their job. And that's difficult for students. The more ambitious they are, the more they do want to control. As much as possible because this is my baby. I don't want to give it away for you to name differently, you know? So I feel that the client experience pulls the student out of. There ego. And really. Helps the student foster creativity as a problem solving based creativity and not just throwing darts on a wall. And I think that's huge. And I've heard feedback from students saying, wow, this is really something. I feel like I'm working with a company here. It's not just me and my crew.
Amanda Schlachter: Right.
Chris Bellanca: And that's massive. Moving into the industry.
Amanda Schlachter: Right? Well, and I think too, for a film student leaving here, of course, ideally it would be great if they were financed and could make all their own original films. But the truth of working in the industry is they may have to play many roles and serve many people with different visions in their own. That's part of the game, right. So I think just getting that experience and being able to do both is so important.
Chris Bellanca: That's true. In being kind about it.
Amanda Schlachter: Yeah.
Chris Bellanca: There's a, means of there's a bomb going off in the background that not everyone knows about and not everyone needs to know about. It's just noise. What are we doing today? Let's focus. Let's smile and enjoy ourselves as much as we can when it's a breeze, you know? Okay. When it's not that's normal. This is good failures, there's little failures, all over the place. We stepped back up and we get back on the horse and we ride. So I feel like there's so many lessons here in the moves that we make, what our expectations were versus how they've evolved strangely.
Amanda Schlachter: Yeah. And Craig, what do you think from the theater side? What do you see the students learning, taking away? What's your hope for them or successes that you've really witnessed?
Craig Smith: Well, it's been pretty rewarding in the sense that, there's ownership of, creating an original piece, we've got the store, we've got the myth, but the myth is quite. Broad they really had to narrow it down and create a small play. That's going to translate as a small film. And the creativity that I've seen in that, and, already mentioning how good the scripts were, but also seeing the work ethic that came out through this whole process, because, we meet on Wednesday and Friday afternoons, but that's not enough time to get some of these things done. So to walk through. The scene shop or walk through the costume shop and see that there's pieces being pulled there's masks, being painted. There are giant spider legs being built and, this, that, and the other, that's really awesome to see and to see the excitement about that.
Amanda Schlachter: Yeah.
Craig Smith: If you can get students excited about a project, that's most of our job right there, because it's a breeze after that really. So I think that's part of the takeaway and then just the problem solving skills that they learned through this process, because it is, there is they're taking ownership. They've pretty much directed their piece as well as creating it. So there's a lot of things and that's very rewarding for me to see that they've stepped up to the plate, which they have a hundred percent. And of course, just being able to collaborate with the film department has been wonderful because I love collaboration and I've wanted to for a long time. And this was the perfect opportunity to do so. So now we want all the film students to come over to our side as well and, come play with us.
Amanda Schlachter: I know, look,
Craig Smith: Don't leave.
Amanda Schlachter: We either want more collaborations or we just want to steal your films. Do not. There's a few we're like, do you want to come be on stage? Cause you seem like you'd be a good actor.
Craig Smith: It's just been great. Yeah.
Amanda Schlachter: To add to that from my own experience is the fact that this idea of taking ownership is, when you can see that you can do it here, then the students leave and you're at your next college, or you're out in the world and up, I don't have work well, you create it. And even when you do have work, you are still the autonomous person that's creating whatever your piece of the pie is. And I think sometimes as a young artist, you don't realize that. How much work, how much it really takes that kind of autonomy. So that's what I get excited about of this is an example for you guys, what I get to do every day, when they say, Hey, Amanda, do you want to direct this play? I'm like, yeah, but I've got to do all that background work. So I witnessed them doing it.
Craig Smith: Yeah.
Amanda Schlachter: So it's super exciting. So we're actually going to take a break and then we're going to get some of our students back to talk a little bit about their experience from their point of view. But Craig Smith and Chris Bellanca, I hope that we will be able to partner with you more film department. It's been such a joy truly. And like I said, you're just two of my favorites, so it's great to get, to spend time with you on the Suncoast Culture Clubs. So we'll be back in a minute.
Welcome back to the Suncoast Culture Club. This is Amanda Schlechter and I am here with two of our SCF students, Makenna, Seifke, and Tony Gallucci. Both of these students have truly stepped up to the plate. They've been leaders and taken full ownership in our Mythos project. So I wanted to invite them to the Suncoast Culture Club today to talk a little bit about their perspective, being a part of this project. So welcome to Tony and Makenna.
Makenna Seifke: Hi. Thank you. Hi,
Amanda Schlachter: And you all, if I'm correct, are getting ready to graduate. From State College of Florida? Yes.
Makenna Seifke: Yeah.
Amanda Schlachter: Okay. So Makenna, what are your thoughts for your future before we dive into the Mythos project?
Makenna Seifke: So hopefully I want to transfer to either the University of Florida or. University of Central Florida and ABA degree, or hopefully eventually a BFA degree in acting or general theatre studies.
Amanda Schlachter: Perfect. Is performance your main focus?
Makenna Seifke: Yeah, I would love to perform after getting a degree. I want to go for an MFA in acting Whether I end up teaching, directing or acting great. Honestly, I want to teach eventually when I get to the point where I felt like I've learned enough in my career to educate the next generation or new actors coming up, but working on different projects would be. Very enlightening and beautiful.
Amanda Schlachter: That's terrific. And I can see you doing all those things. So I'm excited to see your future as it unfolds. And Tony, what about you? Tony is a film student and so I've been getting to know Tony through this process. I've known Makenna a little bit longer. So what's your future look like?
Tony Gallucci: So I'll be graduating SCF on May 7th. And then I got accepted into Ringlings BFA program for narrative film. So that's my goal for the next three years is trying to finish that out. Then I don't really have a game plan after it's just wherever Ringling pretty much takes me is where I would like to go, which I want to go more than narrative film, route. So working on movie sets or even narrative commercials or anything like that,
Amanda Schlachter: Right. Would that be more like LA or Atlanta
Tony Gallucci: Nowadays , there's lots of different places. I know Georgia, Atlanta, Georgia is a big one. Like you said, you can also go up to Canada. Ontario is a big one. And then it just really depends on what kind of environment you would like to be around because now with all our streaming services and everything else, it's more open than it ever was.
Amanda Schlachter: Wow. That's true. That's one of the positives of this digital virtual world is that now you can be in many different places. So Tony, I'd like you to talk a little bit about the last year before we start to talk specifically about the project. Like, what is this school year been like for you with the COVID pandemic and the alterations in your education, how we've adapted or tried to adapt? What's it been like for you?
Tony Gallucci: So when the pandemic first hit, I was an intern at the Sarasota Film Festival, and that was one of the first things I've ever done film wise. Cause I only started that pass. So fall of 2018 is when I first picked up a camera and it was like, this is, is what I want to do. And it was stressful because I didn't know what to do because now that the Sarasota Film Festival was canceled, I didn't really have anything going on. I still had five classes, but now that they were online, everything got cut. I had a documentary class that got cut and pretty much everything. Got. Window down to very easy. And I didn't really like that cause I wasn't learning, I wasn't furthering my education. So I went and did a lot of freelance. I got a few gigs from the Sarasota Film Festival where it's a photographer and he was taking me out, showing me different clients in Sarasota. And he got me a business who wanted to do virtual tours in April, where they were shut down. So I went there and I shot a few of those and started to build up, I guess, a little business. And then I started to make like an online portfolio. And I started to get a few more, the Sarasota Chalk Festival hired me to do the same thing when there weren't people there film it and put it on like Facebook or YouTube. And then the fall semester started and I went back more into narrative. So I started this film called misophonia and it deals with diagetic and non-diagetic sounds which diagetic would be, what you are seeing is what you're hearing. And nin-diagetic is you're seeing something, but that's not the sound it really makes. I like psychological thriller. So I dove into that. I went black and white. I was wanting to feel what the world is feeling in my film, which was isolation and confused. And misophonia deals with you react to a specific sound, very violently. , it was shot with just me and one other person. And we wanted to try to get this feel of this person is going through something. You don't know what he's going through. You're not attached to the character. You're more attached to what he's feeling. And it starts with the diagetics. So everything's around him is going normal. And then slowly, this wind chime comes and it starts making him go insane. And all these sounds are starting to go from the outside, into what's in his head. And then the film ends with whatever's in his head. It was wacky. And then in December, like right after I finished filming that. Somebody wanted me to film a wedding proposal and that was a total loss. So I was like, okay, I'll, test it because I like to reach out and touch different areas in the medium. And it was a whole different experience. It let me do different color graded. Let me really not be locked into what I was because misophonia, I got to choose everything. I had complete control with an engagement. They tell you one thing. And another thing happens and it was really fun and I enjoyed it and I ended up getting a few more of those. And then the spring semester started and Chris brought this project up to us and I was like, that's another cool thing. I've never worked with theater. I've only been to about a handful of plays my whole life. And I've never got to experience that medium. So I thought that was another opportunity. And. Everything keeps growing and I keep jumping between different things. One week I'll be shooting something, business, something, a wedding, and then this, and it really just opens my horizons of stuff. I never knew existed.
Amanda Schlachter: Wow. I really appreciate how open you are to adapting and learning. And, I think there's a wisdom in your ability to be like, sure, I'll try that. , it will serve your career and your path. Plus just. Your experience as a human. For our listeners out there, Tony really has organized our schedule, organized our theater students to connect with their AD's. You've been a true leader on this project. And so with your film, you just described, I'm seeing you black mirror maybe. Do you like black mirror? Do you watch that show
Tony Gallucci: Where I took my. Inspiration from was more experimental film. And that goes in the lines of David Lynch. So like eraser head and stuff like that, because it's, more abstract. I don't like to tell my viewer what they should be seeing, but I like to direct them and they interpret what they would like to.
Amanda Schlachter: Okay. Wonderful. And Makenna, how about you the last year? It's been crazy town. So, what's it been like for you
Makenna Seifke: So this year has been quite challenging in itself. Last spring, when everything hit and school was closing down, I was a full-time student just got starting in the theater department here which was such a shift because that medium of theater being such a high priority to me and just starting into a program was very like, Oh, upsetting. But when we came back and fall, it was very uplifting to do something new and something different because I've never done a play reading before as a series or as a performance. And it was very interesting to establish that skill because it brought up different things of how to pronounce words or how to even properly read the words on the page rather than just memorizing them as they are. Moving into spring. It was all different after taking Craig's Production Involvement class. I had such a hand in the skill. Building set pieces and knowing what I wanted to do with all the dimensions, all the lights that I wanted to do. And I felt like going into this project, I was fully prepared to build a giant box or build spider legs with Craig. And it's really helped me and also using the different parts of Mythos and directing and building it's been. Eye-opening because I haven't thought about directing before, but when I started directing and blocking people, I really enjoyed it. So this past year has brought up different challenges that I've now enjoyed and appreciated from this, program.
Amanda Schlachter: Hmm. Yeah. And I've watched you, especially this spring, I think after the fall, really be very empowered and you just do the work. One of Makenna's pieces is Pandora's box and you have created some of the most gorgeous masks. I mean, you're a visual artist too, which I think is terrific. I don't have that skill. So I'm always jealous of actors who can also take a paint brush and, make gorgeous sets and mask work. So I've really seen that. And that's why I can see down the line directly. Sitting and teaching and performing and all of those pieces. So Makenna would you like to talk a little bit about the process you've had with the myths that you've been working on and maybe some of the concepts, that's all part of what the team had to come up with and decide on. So do you want to talk about that?
Makenna Seifke: So starting off, I was given two myths or I chose to be a part of two myths. One is Pandora's Box where I'm working alone. And the second is Arachne where I'm working with Easton and Ireland Laviolette to create all these pieces and starting off with the process. It was a little challenging for me because I am not a writer. I've never been a writer. It was very challenging to figure out my thoughts onto a page. I finally did it. I finally came up with the process of doing that and then getting to the part casting. I had so many different ideas for . 10 plus characters that were all written in Pandora's Box, but I can't cast all those gods that are written in the script. So I had to adapt and overcome with casting three people. With the Arachne, we only have three people as well, which is just the collaborators working on that project. But more with Pandora's Box. I've really been. Very independently driven to get everything done and kind of a little bit scatterbrained on it. Like I've had to push myself doing it. So I've stayed here nine to five every single day. Whenever my classes aren't in session, whenever I have two hours down I was hand painting the masks. I was building the box. I was building the table. I was looking at all the set pieces of how this would lay out how the script was. Trying to make sure that everything was in place before we got into these places of. It's time. We don't have any more time. Let's go. Which at some times it felt like it was always that.
Amanda Schlachter: Right.
Makenna Seifke: But also with the Arachne, I let the other collaborators I was working with, so I let Ireland and Easton have their own Independent creativity that they had because I've been almost alone all the time on my projects that I've built. And I wanted them to express their creativity through what they were doing on Arachne because they were working with someone else and they're kind of like almost the same person creatively and they can get things done. So the spider legs, that was all Easton and Craig. They both came up with the idea of building this, three foot tall spider legs that come out of the back end of me. And it's been very interesting to see all of it built fully and put onstage because sometimes you just think, Oh, it's just going to be there. You don't know what it's going to look like. And seeing all the components, once you're done has been very eye opening as well.
Amanda Schlachter: Are there specific styles you would say with the two that you're working on?
Makenna Seifke: So for Pandora's Box, I would say more Greek and modern, very interpretive. I'm glad it was a lot of dance and movement. For a Arachne, I would say. Greek comedy almost. It's a little modern comedy, Greek style costume wise
Amanda Schlachter: With the little, like, film noir like, she was in a small cafe. Meeting someone, you know, that sort of feel is there, I don't know if that's your exact style, but I get the sense of that. And it's very different from Pandora, which is fun.
Makenna Seifke: Yeah.
Amanda Schlachter: So Tony, what's your role then in this whole, large, huge project.
Tony Gallucci: So the first role I was put in charge of was unit production manager. So I assembled where our team would pretty much boil it down to. So. I know most of the kids that were on this project already had experience with them in previous classes and everything. So my job was to work with Chris and figure out everyone's strengths. So we're pretty much a chain and even the weakest link could destroy us. So we had to put everyone where they're going to succeed the most, even if some of them weren't comfortable in that position, we were confident that they would Excel in it. So most of our AD's were very nervous. They didn't know if they could do it. They were a little scared. So I just took up Unit Production Manager and put that on my shoulders to show them that you can do this as well. And honestly, they all stepped up and they've really, really shown what they can do. And after that we needed a director of photography, somebody to plan all the shots and that's what I want to. Do as a career. So I also took up that position and what I will do with that is lay out all the shots. And as a unit production manager, I was just organizing everyone.
Amanda Schlachter: Our entire schedule, what everyone's done, what have you learned thus far through this project?
Tony Gallucci: This project was. Different than anything I've ever done. So I've been a one man band, I've always done everything myself and I've never really got to work with others. Like maybe one actor here, somebody there, but it was always just mainly just me and with this project managing others has been a very. Different challenge for me and also mixing different mediums. So we have Theater Department, we have Photography and we have Film. So trying to juggle all of that at one time has been, I wouldn't say stressful, but definitely an experience. And it's pressured me to get out of my comfort zone.
Amanda Schlachter: Have you enjoyed it?
Tony Gallucci: I've definitely enjoyed it. I really enjoy putting myself in very difficult situations and figuring everything out.
Amanda Schlachter: And do you see. In the future, that that might be something you want to do in terms of overseeing a whole, group of people working on a film or, is it you want to have that skill, but you'd like to go back to specifically the Director of Photography
Tony Gallucci: I'm very visual, so I take a lot from Stanley Kubrick and how he visualizes his movies and he puts honestly dialogue second in his visuals are always first and I've really enjoyed that in movies. Like when I watch a movie, I can watch a whole movie and not remember one word they say, but I can recite every single image that I've loved in that movie. But I can not tell you one quote from it. And that's how I view film I'm more on the visual side I'd rather have somebody write it for me and then I could visualize it. But now that I got put in like a. Producer position. It's really opened my eyes to, okay. I can do this as well and help other people. succeed where they want to succeed, but also manage them and help them push forward as they push me forward.
Amanda Schlachter: Yeah. And with this idea of the, visual picture and the style moving into our project, cause we start filming this week. What are you thinking about the overall style? We have nine myths plus a movement piece. So really 10 pieces that somehow have to become full film. What can we expect
Tony Gallucci: As for a style it's mixing the two mediums, the theater in the film, the biggest takeaway is we let the theater directors do what they want to do, block it, how they'd like to block it, and envision how they would view it onstage. And then our assistant directors from the Film Department came in and brought that to the film medium and took their exact ideas and put it in a more filmable way for a camera and frames. And that has really, helped stylize a film to be cinematic, but also have that feel that it's on stage. Once we actually get our first production down is when we'll get the real feel of it. But for right now, The whole gist of all the shot list and everything is taking the film medium and putting it into a more cinematic fill, but not being like a Hollywood movie or anything like
Amanda Schlachter: I can't wait to see it once. It's all complete Makenna. What about you? Has there been anything that's been specifically challenging about this project for you?
Makenna Seifke: Plenty. So directing, obviously I've always been the actor on the stage. I've never had a hand at power tools or hanging a light or setting down the acrylic floor. And I've always been an actor dancer singer. So to be more of a technical aspect in my own piece has been very challenging. I've had to ask for help as much as I can ask if this is okay, if it can be done, how do I do it? How do I approach it? And it's also been very hard for me to articulate my creative process or my ideas behind. What I see. And thankfully Timothy Bourn helped me build a lot of the things that I couldn't articulate the box. He just automatically was like, here you go. The table, , we skirted together. And he was like, it's done. And the drapery and everything . It's been great to have artistic directors who understand my vision and helped me along the way. I would say that's the biggest challenge that I've personally had. very, to the point where I want everything organized. So. I've had to swallow my own tongue sometimes and respect to that. Okay. Other people have their own artistic process and they will get it done. It will be organized eventually.
Amanda Schlachter: Yes. Makenna has taken the role of making sure our costumes and our wigs and our set pieces are in an organized fashion . Backstage. So we are very appreciative of that, but now you're putting on the hat of stage manager. It can be very stressful and costume mistress, which was something you took on independently, which is terrific, but it adds a certain stress to it. That kind of responsibility. Makenna, what's your takeaway from all this? Like if you look back, you know, five years, you look at this year in this specific project, what's your takeaway ?
Makenna Seifke: I have learned so much from this project, building masks, painting them. How will they read to the stage? How do you cover eyes? How do you make them fit to a camera being in the sound booth and what works on the microphone and what doesn't work and how do you adjust your voice to a character and how do you go up on different vowels and using the voice work we learned in class, on, the microphone and also. Trying to understand film. There are all these other aspects that I've worked with Jeffrey recently for the shot list. And I don't understand the camera angles, but once we get in front of the camera angles, I'm a hundred percent sure I'll learn as most as I can. And during this process, I've been trying to take away as much as I can. I've learned how to manage different aspects of my own personal things and other things. And how to manage time. Time management has been a big thing for me personally, because I could spend eight hours a day doing one thing, but I wouldn't be able to get anything done. So time management came into a big play.
Amanda Schlachter: I echo the same thing I said to Tony. You too. You're like, sure. I'll try it. Yes. Such a great attitude to have. And I know right now you're probably like, okay, Amanda sure. . But really people as they age, tend to stop having that kind of attitude. And it makes all the difference. , I heard over the weekend, do you want a fixed mind or a growing mind? And I just thought, I'm going to start every day with a growing mind changes your whole perspective of how you see things. And I think as artists that's really what we're required to do. So Tony, when Do you think we can see this film because I know we're just starting the filming this week. So then there's a whole post production process. That again is completely new to me.
Tony Gallucci: So to handle a lot of this Caleb and I made the decision to pre-record all the audio. So when Makenna was talking about the sound booth and everything, I had Caleb, build us a little studio that he would go in and have. Craig and Amanda hit a spot for you to listen in and coach them and then had a spot for me to slate. And then he would be the tech guy. And that has really helped us buckle down on that. So we wouldn't have to worry about that in post-production that was already set. And then we could choreograph to the already stated lines and the actors would just have to focus on their choreography and their blocking rather than also having to recite their lines and getting audio on the spot because we were shooting is on a stage. So it was in a very wide environment. So the sound would be bouncing all around and then we'd have another. Two months, even try to figure that out. So we didn't have that time. So as we start filming, he'll also be editing. So the editing process will be more unconventional. It will be while we're filming, he'll be editing each piece as we go. And the audio will already be in there. So I would say the first week of May is when our deadline is looking to be.
Amanda Schlachter: That's terrific. And not to mention the fact that most of the actors are in full masks, which again is part of abiding by the rules. So we can all remain safe. Plus you've all made beautiful masks, but that too, we kept thinking, how can they do sound? So I think it was really smart. To do it early on to move forward. So early May is our date to see this fabulous project. Is there anything else you'd want to share about this project or your experience, or even your time at SCF with us? Cause you're both getting ready to be our alumni. Has it been a good experience for you here?
Makenna Seifke: Personally for me, it's helped me grow so much learn so many different things, so many different aspects of theater. It's been a wonderful time and I think I'll dearly miss it. I think I will dearly look back on the State College of Florida's Howard Studio Theater, fondly because I've learned so many rooting. Important pieces of theater, acting, voice work, technical name it. I've probably learned it here.
Amanda Schlachter: We appreciate that. One of the things I think is such a benefit is our students really do. Get to wear all the different hats. You can have really nice foundation, and then wherever you choose to go from here, is where you can then pick your focus where you'd like to grow further. Tony.
Tony Gallucci: SCF has done a substantial amount for me. So I actually came to SCF for a physical therapist assistant and I met Del Jacobs and one of the film classes, and he really pushed me to say, you enjoy this film medium. Why don't you check it out? We have Chris Bellanca who will be directing it all. And I met Chris in the fall that was fall of 2018. And that's just, when I fell, I was just like, this is it. This is what I want to do. And Chris has really been an inspiration. He steps up and I've never had a teacher that. and that willing to do whatever they need to do for their students. And that's from all the faculty meeting you and Craig has been a pleasure as well. And everyone in the Theater Department and even the Film Department, it's a lot of different minds that I never had the benefit of enjoying it. I've always been around a bunch of doctors and accountants and everything else, and their minds are a little different and I never felt like I fitted in and now I just feel like I'd definitely found my spot. Thanks to SCF.
Amanda Schlachter: I would agree I would 110% support that. So we wish you all the best as you both graduate in May and we'll look forward to seeing where your path and your journey takes you. And for everyone else out there keep a lookout on our social media. We will be sharing this film after it is finished in May, and you'll be able to see Mythos. A partnership with SCF Theater and Film. My name is Amanda Schlachter. It's been a pleasure for now. Stay well and stay safe. Thank you.