28th of June

Film moves to Snapchat?


snapchat your way to a film

Sometimes I get bummed. Mostly when I watch the news, which is why I avoid it (and anything that plays into my fears) completely. I do, however, follow entertainment and marketing world, because… well, I wanna be a functional and productive individual within the film community. So I got really scared and kinda sad when I read that two feature films have been released this spring via Snapchat. For one, I’ve wanted to do the first Snapchat films (lol, probably along with another 10,000 filmmakers) but also, I got concerned for the future of the film as such.

Where is the film going? We have all been witnessing the decline in quality of studio films over the past decade, and the ever growing hesitancy to develop original content – especially mid budget. I’m not talking about TV networks here, although the transition that has happened to online in the last 3,4 years and the transition to mobile that is happening now, will surely influence the creative content that executives are willing to bet on. But I am talking about feature films intended for theater distribution. Are those dead? The only films studios have been financing are franchised superhero films, really dumb action or comedy vehicles for major A-list stars, and occasional horror flicks for genre fans. No wonder box office numbers have also been plummeting. Everyone can see the creative drought in the major studios, but the execs are focused on short term ROI’s and keeping their bonuses. I don’t blame them, it’s human.

film gets attention on snapchat

On the other hand – there’s been a massive production of low budget short form content and web series, in which social media and Youtube stars are cast to attract audience. Also legit. Gary Vaynerchuck, a social media guru always says that the job is to day trade attention. Our attention spans are getting shorter and there is so much content out there, that it’s hard to filter it and it’s hard to value it. So no wonder the film is moving to social media. What is more immediate than that? But come on, Snapchat films?

film on snapchat

Is that really what it has come down to? Call me old fashioned, but I grew up watching movies on a huge screen in a packed theater. I don’t want to necessarily want to watch a film on my iPhone while riding a packed F train after work…. Or am I just a sceptic? I know when film as a medium got invented, sir Laurence Olivier absolutely despised it and claimed it was the devil. He later went on to do some of his most brilliant roles on camera. Perhaps the answer is to go with the flow – pardon me – the trends, and keep trying to plug in as much originality as possible. After all, people respond to authenticity and raw emotion. And if we can package it in enough excitement, adrenaline and fun… we may have a winner πŸ™‚

Categories:  BLOG & NEWS
9th of June

Methods of Acting (Pt.2)


After my confusing encounter with the Method early on, I found myself suspecting that perhaps maybe I just wasn’t not cut out for it. I would try other methods of acting before discovering the beauty of it a few years later.

methods-of-acting

It was around 2011. when I decided to jump on the hipster actor train and I joined UCB to study improvisation. I went all in, opening my mind and immersing myself in the training. I really really enjoyed the philosophy of “Yes and-ing”, which I found invaluable not only for acting but also in life. For those unsure of what I’m talking about, it simply means that whatever your scene partner throws your way – you play along with it and instead of arguing or contradicting their idea, you mentally and physically say yes to it, and then build and expound upon it further. It forces you to let go of your preconceived notions of how the scene will go. It forces you to rely upon your instincts and imagination to carry you through the scene. It really gets your adrenaline going. I remember the anxiety of stepping on the stage not knowing what’s about to happen or what I will say or do, and then being stunned by the speed and sharpness of my instrument in how it was responding to any given. Before that, I hadn’t quite believed that things could go well unless I pre-planned or rehearsed them. LOL. I liked that game so much that I even got a gig touring the schools as the improv comedienne for a while. I was happy with my experimentation – what other methods of acting would I try? Yes and!! At one point, I felt so playful that I even cut my hair asymmetrically.. my hairstylist kept snapping pics of me because she couldn’t believe – see pic below for proof:

petra-method-acting

So as I started discovering the silly, spontaneous, uninhibited actress Petra, I signed myself up for the Clown School at the New York Studio, where my teacher was incredible Lucas Rooney. Now, THAT was a challenge. I think that class released me from the inside more than any other class up until that point. We were encouraged to go all out. All out, then heighten it and make lighthearted fun of it. Let your vulnerability be on total display. For someone who was so obsessed with self image and how others perceived me back then, this was a mental struggle. I had to make a resolution. Either you’re in or you’re out, no half-ass-ing it. And I knew that. Intellectually. I still thought I could be 90% free and 10% controlled… Nope. So I let go. Something profound started shifting within me… Once I offered myself to the audience like that and didn’t try to pre-defend myself from ridicule and rejection, the amount of mental liberation I began to discover was so intoxicating that I have been unable to go back to being such a fearful perfectionist. Fuck perfection. I just wanted to learn more! The better I got, the more curious about other methods of acting I became. The goal was to shorten the span between immediate impulses I’d receive during acting and the time my instrument would just freely go with them.
I enrolled in scene study class with Anthony Abeson, with whom I would stay for the next two years. Super useful. I was encouraged to bring ANYTHING my heart desired to the stage – so I played around with playing Carrie’s mother (hahaha – yes, that crazy woman), and a lot of Bergman and Polanski. I was getting more and more confident, especially as I kept getting amazing feedback from colleagues and industry professionals.

methods-of-acting

Then I tried a BUNCH of short term classes with famous and not so famous casting directors, commercial and feature. I don’t know if you could classify those as methods of acting, but they included character breakdowns, dressing for the part, reading with a wall instead of a live partner to prepare for the flat readers in auditions, etc. I ended up confused instead of enlightened though. I realized that everyone has a very subjective outlook on what good acting is, and what they were searching for. I had one (big name) casting director literally feed me line by line in the audition, and she wasn’t happy until I had completely mimicked her performance and tone. Then she decided it was perfect. πŸ™‚
Fast forward to last year… I met a legendary teacher who changed my life and eventually led me to the teacher (genius) I work with now… That deserves a separate post. I wouldn’t wanna shortchange what happened to me as a result, personally and professionally, by squeezing it into two sentences.
So for now… much love until next Thursday

xo
Petra

Categories:  BLOG & NEWS
2nd of June

Acting Methods (Pt. 1)


While updating my resume recently, I realized that one of my best assets as an actress, is that I have truly versatile training. I have started it when I was 16, and I’ve never stopped training. I guess you could say that I am an acting method gourmand. So I decided to write up on all the acting methods I’ve tried and how it helped shape my personal method.
(And make no mistake, I never intend to stop training and improving – this is simply an account of where I am today πŸ™‚ )

nerding

I started off my official acting training as a teenager at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. Aside from the fact that I was ecstatic to be in London without parental supervision, the training itself was a somewhat shocking experience. It was my first real encounter with the world of classical theater training, which included voice, speech, movement, dance and sonnet classes, as well as of course, scene work. And all in Shakespearean language. There’s no way of elegantly putting this… I sort of sucked. I had assumed that my natural inclination towards being on the stage and my musical training and concert experience would immediately translate into a performance worthy of Derek Jacobi. Yeah. That didn’t happen. But what being at RADA did teach me is absolute respect for the craft. The professors there taught with such zest and there was a special, sacred atmosphere on the campus. Like we were honoring all the predecessors who had left their mark on that institution. It was then that I realized two things: 1. being an actor is like being an athlete – it requires constant training, focus and dedication 2. above all, it requires that you love acting more than you love your ego, your free time and what people think of you. In other words, if it’s not a true calling, it’s probably not worth it.

check out the shakespearean phone

Regardless of my beginning naivete, I had immersed myself fully in the training, and I walked out of RADA with a new awareness of my body and voice on stage, with skills to dissect and interpret a scene, and with determination to continue acting.
The following year I got accepted into the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Zagreb, Croatia, which was a real honor, since they only admit 12 students per year. I really honed my craft while in there, and developed my own acting method (which would later change, of course). The schedule was crazy at times – very often 7 days a week, 10 hour days, with rehearsals sometimes ending at 3 in the morning. And in the free time (what free time??!) the entire class would go out of school to work on professional plays.I loved it! We had movement training every morning (modern dance, Alexander technique, yoga and relaxation exercises, body part isolations, spatial awareness etc), followed by voice and speech (voice impostation, Michael Chekhov based exercises, different literary form readings etc.) and afternoons and evenings were reserved for rehearsals of whatever plays we were putting on at the time. It was mostly classical authors – Shakespeare, Chekhov, Ibsen, the Greeks, etc. The method was based on Stanislavski.

petra backstage

When your only job and focus for 3 years is to work on your instrument, you really come face to face with your blocks and fears and there’s no way around them. You gotta show up and search for answers through the mask of your character. I remember my Academy days as some of the most joyous in my life (although there would be days when I’d totally end up crying in the dressing room after a rehearsal πŸ™‚ )
Then, when I was 21, I moved to New York to attend Lee Strasberg Institute.

just moved to new york

I’d always been a film person, and I really wanted to develop camera skills. Which I did, by working with some really great professors who had real life experience (Milcho Manchevski was my favorite). Also, the Institute is the first place that introduced me to Method Acting. I emphasize introduced, because at the time I didn’t understand it at all and I absolutely hated it. I saw no point in performing private moment exercises and personal object exercises and asking myself about overall sensations. What I didn’t realize at the time is that I just wasn’t ready to actually bring in a real private moment in front of the class. I was doing really well, but still holding back. I knew how to go to a comfortable place of instant emotional response, I knew my triggers and I knew what the audience resonated with (to an extent). But I wasn’t ready to really risk it all and go full frontal (no pun intended) before the audience. Life is really ironic, because years later (as in now), Method Acting has become my primary acting method. But, I had to go through hard core life schooling to get to that point.

(to be continued ….)
xoxo pETRA

Categories:  BLOG & NEWS
26th of May

A Gripping Performance


A gripping performance has the power to heal. When we, as audience members, are unable or unwilling to tap into our mental pain or unresolved issues, seeing a fictional character go through a similar journey induces an emotional response… and consequently, a change.

I knew I wanted to be an actress since I was probably four years old. Cliche, anyone? Regardless, as a kid, I totally preferred the company of the TV over other kids. I felt more connected and understood in that imaginary world of film characters than in real world. (Strangely enough, today I love nothing more than being around people – humans are crazy awesome). I wanted to be “there” – where the adventure, excitement and fun was. So I would watch movies all day long, learn all the characters’ lines and make my little sister reenact scenes with me. Ha πŸ™‚ (love you Bruna)

In hindsight, for me, I don’t think that appeal was about engaging storylines or special effects. It was about seeing an actor deliver an incredibly gripping performance. Actually, not seeing – EXPERIENCING such performance.

When an actor is willing to be honestly vulnerable, and wholeheartedly give of themselves, it elevates the performance and we as audience can SENSE it. It adds a new dimension to what we are seeing, and we are moved from watching a familiar hero’s path to becoming a witness to another person’s bearing of the soul. We move from general to specific. And specific is unpredictable, intoxicating and engaging. It’s because the responses and reactions aren’t all decided upon in advance. Instead, an actor lets themselves experience and manifest them in real time. And let me tell you something, from personal experience – that shit is really scary. Letting yourself be seen, even behind the “mask” of character’s words and actions is an act of courage. It’s also what distinguishes the good from the great. A decent performance from a gripping one. One that sticks with you for weeks on after… And perhaps encourages you to make a change, to persevere, to stand up for yourself, to ask for more out of life.
Marlon Brando, my spirit animal, probably explained it the best by saying: “Never let the audience know how it’s gonna come out”. And an actor can only do that by fearlessly going with their impulses.

For me personally, my favorite gripping performance of all time is Al Pacino in “Carlito’s Way”. Holy moly. It breaks my heart every time I watch it (which is about once a year). I remember F. Murray Abraham as Salieri in “Amadeus” … I often tend to relate in such artistic pursuit for perfection and frustrations that always accompany it. When I was going through the hardest time in my life due to a certain family tragedy, watching Jennifer Connelly in “House of Sand and Fog” taught me to find my voice and how to forgive… I could obviously continue ad infinitum.

But let me leave you with something to think about … I heard that no matter how good your blog post, nothing can engage the audience better than a gratuitous sexy shot. I learned it from Anna Farris in “The House Bunny” hahahah. True or false? Here goes the test:

gripping performance

Categories:  BLOG & NEWS
19th of May

WHY A GREAT FILM TEAM IS THE BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD


OK, I admit it, the title generator came up with this ingenious (*sarcasm alert) film team title! I can’t take credit for it haha. But it well encompasses the idea I wanna focus on: Finding the right people to work with.

35 mm

On Tuesday I got invited to the “My First Time” session with Jeremy Saulnier, one of my favorite directors (Blue Ruin, Green Room).
*Sidenote #1: props to IFP for organizing this!! http://www.ifp.org/
Sidenote #2: Jeremy I wanna work with you – putting it out there in the Universe! πŸ™‚

He talked to us young filmmakers about his trials, challenges and victories in his career. He was super real. He spoke a lot about “keeping it in the house” and how he prefers to work with people he already knows well. Listening to him inspired me to do this post.

Making films is 100% a team sport. It takes a really long time for a project to evolve from the first draft to actually seeing it in on the big screen, or wherever you distribute your content. In that process you collaborate with a number of people who take your original idea and elevate it and enrich it with their own talent, expertise and energy. You really can’t make a (decent) movie all by yourself. So it is super duper incredibly crucial to surround yourself with people who get what you’re trying to say as an artist, who are great at what they do, who you trust, and most importantly, who are enthusiastic and positive. Negative energy can really bring down a whole project.

Now how do you find those people? Well, for one, it doesn’t happen overnight. Relationships and trust require time and effort. Furthermore, you need to be honest with yourself. It’s actually a lot like dating. Sometimes we get caught up in what we want to hear, rather than what is actually being conveyed through actions. I think it was Maya Angelou (??) who said: When people tell you who they are, trust them. And then once in a while, you come across someone who gets you. And it makes the work so much easier, it makes it fun.

So go out there and find your dream film team. Don’t hunt for relationships, grow them.

And because most people are visual, I’m gonna convey my idea with some photos πŸ™‚

This is how awesome collaborations feel:

easy filming

—> breezing through a project!!!

Because you don’t wanna be waking up and going to work like this :

surround yourself with positive people

—> DREAD. lol

And end up screening your movie here:

where you don't wanna screen your movie

xoxo, pETRA

Categories:  BLOG & NEWS
12th of May

Behind the Scenes by Petra


Welcome to behind the scenes!!

happy film crew

Boom! Let’s start off with the image above. I’m gonna share some of the details about making my (still untitled) film.
The original title was “Miso Soup”, then as the script got developed, it changed into “Roused” and that was the working title. As we’re about to wrap up the editing process, there are some other titles that encapsulate the idea of the film even better. That’s what art is supposed to be, no? Constantly developing and elevating.

Let’s get back to the actual filming part. We shot a big portion in the West Village, over a weekend in December. The prospect of filming outdoors in New York City in the winter is scary, because the weather can be unpredictable, and often brutal. And you plan your shooting schedule weeks in advance. However, when December rolled around, we were blessed with the warmest winter NY had seen in a long long time. Evidence below πŸ™‚

lead actors

filming minetta lane

Aside from West Village, other locations included a coffee shop and a hotel penthouse. I gladly took over the locations scouting part on this project. Guys. Do you have any, and I mean any idea how difficult it is to secure those kinds of locations in Manhattan on a low budget?! Let me start off by saying that there are no coffee shops that close doors any day of the week in NYC. They are open all the time. We didn’t have it in our budget to buy out the entire coffee shop for a day, but I made it my personal mission to visit every single coffee shop in the city and try to negotiate what we need. And I did it!! After a long (almost disheartening) search we found Coffee Foundry, a super cool and hip spot in the Village. They were super gracious and accommodating and allowed us to film there for the entire day.

petra coffee shop set

petra camera test

And the penthouse was a whole new story. I literally visited cca 100 hotels to find the right decor, style and atmosphere that suited the project. We filmed in Night Hotel on Times Square. That place is so gorgeous and sexy, it looks like a Bat Cave, or at least Bruce Wayne’s city duplex. We were incredibly lucky to be able to get that hotel for our film. It really translated beautifully on the screen.

behind the scenes

I am super excited to see the final product!!

Yayyy!
pETRA

Categories:  BLOG & NEWS
5th of May

New Film Project!


After a long silence hahaha (I retrieved and worked – so pardon my absence), I am stoked to announce a new film project!

It’s something that I’ve been working on for the entire past year. The breakdown – after a particularly…hmm… interesting (read: BAD) date, I got inspired and wrote a short film screenplay. I sent it around to some trusting friends and writers for feedback and they convinced me to get it made.
So we got it made – the shoot took place in mid December in New York City, with the most amazing team of people I could wish for. The film is currently in the editing process and I expect it to be ready for showing sometime in June.

The details, photos, as well as the IMDB page are to come, stay tuned!

But for right now, here’s a sneak preview of what’s about to come!

Petra new short film

I just have to add, I have learned so so so much, working on this project. I have definitely developed a whole new level of respect for filmmakers who actually go out there and make their movie magic happen. It’s no small feat… at all. Learning about production, and location scouting and equipment and cinematography has been like a mini film school for me. I totally fell in love.

Petra πŸ™‚

Categories:  BLOG & NEWS
4th of March

The gift of screenwriting! *and a completed feature script!!


This update requires a post of its own, so bare with me;)

Last summer, I was moved to explore new things besides Β acting and modeling. To be frank, I didn’t enjoy being in the position of just auditioning, networking and waiting for work (all great and necessary BTW). Something compelled me to be more proactive AND productive with my energy, time and inspiration.

I began to study screenwriting. Voraciously. Taking classes, reading other people’s work and all the books on the subject I could find, networking with writers, creating a community…. and realizing that I am completely in love with it. A perfect combination of art and craft. An outlet for exploration, healing, connection.

Today I am so proud to say, that after 3 drafts and numerous rewrites, my first feature screenplay titled “Catch the Flying Feather” is making rounds and placing really well in contests!!! I’ve been lucky to study with Jacob Krueger, an award winning screenwriter and teacher, whose experience and wisdom have been precious in the process.

I can’t wait to see what the future holds for it.

Love to all. P

 

Categories:  BLOG & NEWS
4th of March

Long overdue:)


A lot of amazing things happened since I’ve last updated! Without further ado:

— Ebay choosing to feature me on their main page!!!

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 2.16.58 PM

 

— bUZZfeed article: “23 Skills only New Yorkers have” !!!

http://www.buzzfeed.com/nytough/skills-only-new-yorkers-have?b=1#.uiZj84jg4Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 10.29.04 AM

 

Categories:  BLOG & NEWS
6th of March

Gratitude!!!!, etc…


I am very grateful that the Croatian media has given me the space this week in all the major newspapers and TV news, and reported about this website and what I have been up to. It is amazing to have such platform to have your work and your vision showcased to a larger audience and for that thank you!!! These are some of the press clippings:

P.S. The website crashed twice due to the number of visitors LOL

photo 2photo 3photo 4photo 1photo 2photo 2photo 3photo 4photo 5photo 1

Categories:  BLOG & NEWS
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