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Vanessa McMahon

Vanessa is a novel writer, screenwriter, rep and a film producer. She shares her discoveries and film surprises. :-)



Coming Up Roses and Jayce Bartok


Today I have the smart, skilled, stylish and sometimes sleazy (only in films of course! ;-)) actor/writer/director/producer Jayce Bartok with us to share his film adventures, past, present and future.



ME: Jayce, how are you? Thanks for the interview. As you know, I'm super excited to hear about your latest film Coming Up Roses (2010) But first, can you speak to us about how you got into acting? Was it something you always knew you wanted to do?



JAYCE: I started acting as a teenager in New York City, acting in commercials and doing plays.  I remember doing a commercial for Apple computers...that's how I got into the Screen Actors Guild.  I guess I always knew I wanted to be an actor.  I remember loving Bugs Bunny and Hogan's Heroes and always getting dressed up to play games.



ME: That's why I love asking because every actor always has different things they can remember that got them into it, whether it was Star Wars, Superman or Bugs Bunny! lol! So, can you speak about Coming Up Roses? Can you brief us on what it is about and also explain a bit about your character Jimmy?



JAYCE: Coming Up Roses is a really sweet drama about an actress, Diane,  played by the amazing Bernadette Peters who keeps moving her teenage daughter, Alice, (Rachel Brosnahan) from one town to another avoiding the bill collectors. They land in Nashua, New Hampshire in the 1980's, where Alice befriends a misfit girl named Cat (Reyna de Courcy). Jimmy, the character I play, is a white trash drug dealer who tries to recruit the girls into running drugs for me. The film is filled with some wild surreal sequences where Bernadette Peters acts out some Broadway routines. 



ME: So cool! I love Bernadette. And you the white trash drug dealer! Oh no! But really, I can't wait to see this! What was it like working with director Lisa Albright?



JAYCE: Lisa Albright, the film's writer/director, is awesome. I believe this is her second feature, but she is so wonderful and open and encouraging, you'd think she's been making movies for years. Also, it's rare that a director is so protective and nurturing of her actors, especially on a modest budget.



ME: And how do you hope the American and international audience will receive it?



JAYCE: I think Coming Up Roses is the kind of film that will resonate with international audiences because it's a very human film that anyone can relate to. It feels like an Italian neo-realist film, you know?  It could play anywhere like the family dramas of Ozu.



ME: Yes, I know the Italian neo-realism films influenced world cinema in a huge way. Love them. Can you speak about your different roles of late? Which were your favorite roles and which ones should we look out for and when?



JAYCE: I had a great time working on Cop Out (2010) directed by Kevin Smith.  I have a small, but fun part as Eddie, the sleazy night manager of a motel. I just did an episode of the American TV show, White Collar, where, yes, I play another nefarious character named Devlin, who makes fake ID's. I am very excited about Coming Up Roses.



ME: What's with all these white trash sleazy characters? lol! Do you have any funny or frustrating stories from filming? I mean, there must be with all that acting in so many films!



JAYCE: I remember being very cold while we were filming Coming Up Roses. Like very cold.  Which isn't really that funny. They did want me to cut my hair like a mullet, you know business in the front, party in the back....which at the last minute I talked them out of.  Whew!



ME: Good call, Jayce. Mullet hairdos have to be one of the scariest things in life. Good thing you talked them out of it, although they would definitely add to the sleaze. So, where do you want to take your acting? Do you have a specific dream as an actor, like to make a certain type of film? I noticed you are also directing, writing and producing. Can you speak also about that?



JAYCE: I wrote my first screenplay, The Cake Eaters (2007), which was produced as a film starring Kristen Stewart and Bruce Dern. The film was released last year. I acted in The Cake Eaters as well and would love to continue to write films and direct.



ME: Congrats on The Cake Eaters. Very cool film! That's the beauty of film industry. We can try it all! What are your next film projects?



JAYCE: I worked on a very modest film called Turbine (2011) that I think could be interesting.  It was shot with that new Canon still camera and really made me aware of how today films can be made with a little money and new technology. Right now, my wife and I have a film company, Vinyl Foote Productions;,
and we are working on getting two new films made - Red River, a true crime thriller meets Midwestern family drama that I wrote and am directing; and Tiny Dancer, a drama about a ballerina that decides she has to dance again after the birth of her child.  Red River is scheduled to shoot this winter and we are presently out to an amazing actor who I hopes says ‘yes'.  Tiny Dancer, we are attempting to make through a fairly new method - crowd funding.  We have a fiscal sponsorship pending with NYFA; to raise our budget through tax deductible donations.  We have some wonderful actors interested - Elizabeth Berkley, Daphne Rubin Vega, and Josh Hamilton - and hope to have raised our budget by next fall. We have formed an organization - The Independent Collective www.theindependentcollective - dedicated to getting projects (Tiny Dancer being the 1st) financed through a membership model of donations. We are really trying to get grants, corporate sponsorship, and raise money from friends and family to get this one going. It's hard out there right now to get small movies made! 



ME: Awesome, Jayce. That's so great. Your projects sound really intriguing. Already I can't wait to see Tiny Dancer especially. I know what you mean about the funding. I live in Europe and many of the films here are funded through tax deductibles and subsidiaries. And most films in Europe are shot on shoestring budgets compared to US films. Anyway, best of luck to you on making your films. Keep us up to date on when we can see them out! Thanks a million, Jayce.



Interview by Vanessa McMahon on August 19, 2010

actors Jayce Bartok and Kristen Stewart from The Cake Eaters (2007)


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