Saturday, February 26, 2011
Exclusive Interview With Actor Jason Burkey.
Jason: Thanks so much. Happy to be a part of it!
Clifford: Before we go into anything I think there’s an important question that I needed to ask you: With Super Bowl XLV being broadcast to a estimate 111 million people nationwide recently, I’m assuming you caught the game, so who’d you root for, Steelers or Packers?
Jason: Neither. I’m from Chicago so as a Bears fan I hated to see the Packers win, but to be honest it didn’t really matter either way. I was too busy eating mini hot dogs and chips...
Clifford: I feel you, man. Being a life long Cowboys fan I was not watching the game for the game but rather for the half time show and for the commercials! [Laughs]
Clifford: but back on point. I’ve heard a great many things about you, Jason. All good of course! After taking a look over your resume I must say, you’re quite the ambitious person, I mean between 2009 and now you’ve been involved with 8 different projects according to your IMDB. Is there more that isn’t listed?
Jason: Thank you, I appreciate that. Honestly, since I finally worked up the courage to start pursuing acting as a career a little over two years ago, I have been blown away by the opportunities that I’ve had. Doors have opened that I never thought would and I feel very blessed to have been able to work on some great projects with very talented people. There are a couple projects that aren’t listed on IMDB yet; one was an independent feature film I worked on with Chris Odom (the Director of Photography for “10 Commandments of Chloe”) and the other is a TV pilot I’ll be shooting in North Carolina called “Home”, which I’m excited to start working on.
Clifford: Television and feature films are two very different style of entertainment
mediums, which do you prefer more?
Jason: Yes, they are absolutely different in style but both are unique and fun in their own
way. Honestly, I’m not sure if I have a preference. What I love about doing
features is that most times you get to spend at least a month working on the
project, building a strong “family” with the cast and crew. That being said I’ve
always wanted to be a part of a TV show, especially if the show takes off
because then you’re spending even more time filming than you would a feature,
giving you the opportunity to build an even stronger “family” with everyone
working on an ongoing project that you all enjoy.
Clifford: Aside from being an actor, you’re also a writer?
Jason: Yes I suppose I am, but who isn’t? [Laughs] I write scripts for shorts and features on the side simply for the fun of it. I enjoy creating a story and characters out of nothing; that’s one of the coolest parts about the process. It’s kind of odd, but I find that most scripts I write, if not all, are romantic comedies. Not sure if there is some subconscious thing I’m not dealing with there, but I find those the most fun to write. When I’m finished writing, I usually submit a script to a competition just to see what happens. For instance, one of the shorts I wrote, “Date This”, won an online competition for Best Romantic Comedy and was nominated for Best Screenplay at the 2010 World Music and Independent Film Festival last year. Also, my first feature-length script, “Never Two Late”, was a Semi-Finalist in the 2010 Final Draft, Inc. Big Break Contest and Quarter-Finalist in the 2010 BlueCat Screenplay Competition.
Clifford: So it’s safe to say that writing is more of a hobby while acting is your true
Passion then? [Laughs]
Jason: That is absolutely safe to say, yes. [Laughs] Writing can be a lot of fun, but acting
has without a doubt been a passion of mine for most of my life.
Clifford: like most screenplays adapted into feature films, they eventually go
through re-writes and changes during the development stage. Would you have a
problem with another artist taking your works and changing it into their own?
Jason: That’s kind of a tough question. I think the answer is both yes and no. I realize
that a script might/will need to change in order to fit a director’s vision for a film
and that’s fine. I think a problem arises if the script is changed so much that the
most important goal or theme behind the original story is unrecognizable. There
needs to be a balance between “making the script your own” while maintaining
the integrity of the original.
Clifford: I’ve heard of actors having their own personal exercise routine of sort before stepping into a role, for some it’s physical, for others it a mental exercise. Do you do any sort of routine before going on set?
Jason: I wouldn’t consider myself a method actor in the least. That type of routine works great for some actors, for others it doesn’t. When approaching a role, I usually try to find something about that character that I can connect with on a personal level; whether that be a certain experience, relationship, conversation...anything that I can try to relate to. The one physical thing I do on set is right before filming a scene, I like to close my eyes and just picture my character; where he’s been and what he’s about to experience in the story. It helps me focus on the moment itself. However, as soon as the director yells “cut” I’m back to joking around and having fun with the rest of the cast and crew.
Clifford: What was it like Co-starring in “The 10 Commandments of Chloe”?
Jason: It was an amazing opportunity. Naama is such a talented actress, she made it easy to play off her and experiment with our scenes. I had already worked with a few of the other actors in the film, so it was good to see some familiar faces on set everyday. It was evident that everyone involved was dedicated to making this a solid film. Each person played their part perfectly, creating a really unique and enjoyable experience.
Clifford: What's the story behind 10 Commandments of Chloe?
Jason: The film follows this 20-something girl, Chloe, who risks everything to pursue her dream of being a musician in Nashville. She’s really a mysterious character who lives life by her own set of rules or “commandments” and follows them no matter what the circumstance or the consequence. She is soon introduced to other colorful characters who either help or hinder her from attaining her goal.
Clifford: What was it like playing the character "Brandon"?
Jason: I had a blast playing Brandon. He’s a bit more of an edgy character and that’s what I liked about him. Princeton gave us the freedom to completely build our characters from the ground up, which is such a cool opportunity for an actor. Honestly, I feel bad for Brandon. He is a fun-loving guy with a secret. He’s troubled and I think that’s part of what draws him to Chloe. She’s this big mystery to him and he’s determined to discover who she really is. There’s also this sense of jealousy there, because the passion he sees in Chloe he knows is missing in his own life.
Clifford: So would you say that Brandon’s attraction to Chloe is partly conflicted
by jealousy and envy?
Jason: Yes. I believe Brandon’s hesitations about Chloe and their entire relationship are
not simply because Chloe is this closed off, mystery girl, but rather he is unfairly
blaming her for inadvertently pointing out these shortcomings in himself. The
conflicts are more so things that he is dealing with inwardly; it does not change
the fact that he still really cares for Chloe and wants to pursue her.
Clifford: What aspect of the character you play that’s based off of your
Jason: That’s a good question. The main parallel I found between Brandon and myself was his absolute frustration with Chloe. I had a similar experience with a girl who I was genuinely trying to get to know, but no matter what I said or did I couldn’t figure her out. She was elusive and it made me mad so I gave up. When we were filming the big argument scene with Chloe, I was thinking to myself, “Where have I heard this before?” [Laughs]
Clifford: How’d you get involved with the project?
Jason: It was a fluke! I was hanging out at a friend’s house one night when my actress friend, Wendy Keeling, called me and said she was working on this film and they were still looking to fill the role of Brandon. She explained the story to me, I told her I was interested and the next night I was sitting down with Princeton and Naama in the back of a local coffee shop.
Clifford: I’ve heard that there’s a interesting story behind the first meeting you had with the project’s Director Princeton Holt and the film’s star Namma Kates. Care to elaborate?
Jason: Well I don’t know how interesting it was, but the meeting went great! We all sat around the table for at least an hour, getting to know each other while hashing out ideas for the characters and the story itself. I guess the interesting part about it was the spontaneity of the whole thing; I was cast a night or two before we started filming. I have a bad memory and am probably missing a crucial part of the story, aren’t I? Shoot...
Clifford: What was it like working on a improvisational project like this?
Jason: It was crazy, insane fun. Before this I had never worked on a project that was completely improvised so it scared me a bit, but more than anything I was excited for the challenge. Personally, I felt that this was some of the most raw, authentic acting I think I’ve done or been a part of. Because the whole thing was improvised, the conversations, the arguments and the situations felt so believable because we weren’t restricted by any lines of dialogue. We had the freedom to naturally discover where a scene could go and the effect it would have on the overall story and its characters. I would love to do another film like this one.
Clifford: I can only imagine what the feeling was like to leap into the unknown as you did doing a complete improv feature like this, but in the end it must have been a great
call seeing that you walked away with a new experience learned.
Jason: I agree. It was a little intimidating at first, but it was well worth it. I learned a lot
from an acting standpoint by working on this film and hope to carry some of that
into future projects.
Clifford: Seeing that a lot of improv was done for the project, did you and your Co-stars
have any time for bonding beforehand?
Jason: Because of the last-minute nature of the project we didn’t have much time for “cast bonding”, but the thing was, somehow we didn’t need it. Every actor knew their character so well that when the camera started rolling, everything fell into place. There was such a relaxed feeling on set that it made it easy for us to joke around and discuss our characters with one another before filming a scene. We had all just met each other, but there was a chemistry between the cast members that I believe is evident in the film.
Clifford: What are your thoughts on director Princeton Holt; cool dude or hard ass? Don’t worry he won’t know unless he’s reading this, then I suggest you deny everything! [Laughs]
Jason: Princeton Holt has that crazy ability to be both cool dude AND hard ass. Safe answer? [Laughs] Really though, the man is gifted. We had some good laughs while filming and I loved working with him. I hope we can collaborate on something again soon!
Clifford: In my experience, that pretty much sums it up for me when describing
Holt as a filmmaker. But to that very same respect, it’s what also makes him such
an interesting and uniquely talent in the indie scene, at least, in my opinion. But don’t
worry about the hard ass comment, we’ll just say I forced you to say it! *gives
sinister smile* [Laughs]
Jason: Sounds good to me!
Clifford: This next question is TCWreviews’ signature question so don’t feel
alarmed, you’re not the only one [Laughter]
Clifford: The term ‘For The Sake of Art’ has always been coined in the
entertainment industry for how far an actor/actress would be willing to go for,
well… the sake of art. So my question to you is; How far are you willing to go for
the sake of art in this industry?
Jason: I think about this a lot, actually. I believe that in their pursuit of this insane career, every actor should know ahead of time what the line is that they are or aren’t willing to cross. For me, there are definitely things that I won’t do because there are a set of morals and beliefs that I think are important to stick by and I don’t want to jeopardize who I am as a person and an actor just because someone said that I should give those things up “For The Sake of Art”. I believe that if an actor is not comfortable with doing a certain thing, then there are creative alternatives that can be explored that would still achieve the ultimate goal for the project without sacrificing anything unnecessary.
Clifford: We at TCWreviews announced to some of our readers recently that our
next interviewee was going to be you, and surprisingly got some feedback.
Would you mind answering a question by one of our anonymous readers?
Jason: Not at all, would be happy to!
Clifford: Alright! An anonymous reader asked “What was working with John Schneider like?”
Jason: It was an absolute privilege to work with John Schneider. The man knows his stuff! He's been in the business for so long, he's just a natural at what he does. The scenes I had with him were a lot of fun; he can be a jokester but also knows when it's time to get down to business. If I had the opportunity, I would love to work with him again.
And that concludes my interview with actor Jason G Burkey. Jason and I talked for a bit more and have continued to stay in touch, it was indeed a pleasure sitting down with such a talented individual such as himself, I can tell you now that judging by how well and professionally he handled himself in the interview, the guy has a bright chip on his shoulder and is no doubt going places. I would even dare to say that he is defiantly one to watch out for. Jason can next be seen in “The 10 Commandments of Chloe” starring Namma Kates and Directed by Princeton Holt and is due out this spring (2011). To learn more about Jason visit his official website at Jasonburkey.net, or look him up on his official IMDB page or friend him on Facebook. To learn more about The 10 Commandments of Chloe check out it’s IMDB page or visit Onewaytv.blogspot.com, or “Like” the official Facebook page. You can also follow Chloe by checking out her blog at whoischloe.com.