How Do You Write A Joe Schermann Song is one of the most delightful films I have seen this year, and the film has just won the Top Prize at the Raindance Film Festival in London where over 6,000 films were submitted. I had the pleasure of chatting with the film's producer and lead actress Christina Rose about performing and filmmaking.
ScreenAnarchy: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Christina Rose: I was born in Naples, Italy; coincidentally the same town Sophia Loren was born. And since I've always admired her for breaking so many boundaries I think that is pretty neat. I have a very supportive family; who have been unconditionally encouraging me since I performed in the Nutcracker Ballet at the Fox theatre when I was just 9 years old. They have always been the type to sit in the front row and shower me with roses at the end of my performances. I always remember looking out and seeing my dad standing proud and attentive with his video camera in one hand and my tearing mother in the other. He begged me to get special permission for him to bring in his camcorder when I was on Broadway performing in Grease.
Sounds like you have truly wonderful parents. How much have they influenced you in your decision to pursue a career in the performing arts?
They influenced me a ton. My dad was a music teacher and my mom taught private piano and voice lessons. In fact my friends used to call us the Partridge family because we had our own traveling family band. My childhood consisted of band rehearsals in the basement and weekend performances at weddings, bars and music festivals. Growing up in a household like that definitely gave me the confidence and passion to become a performer.
I understand you can act, sing and dance. Where did you learn to do all these things? And if you have to choose between the three, which one would you say is your favorite?
The music side came from the constant encouragement and practice with my family. My mom used to sing me to sleep at night [with] 'A Dream is a Wish your Heart Makes'. She has a beautiful voice; so I would always sing with her. Before long I was singing around the house constantly. I guess at some point she decided it was time to train me so I became one of her students. I started dancing and acting very young too. My first dance performance was in kindergarten, some little Italian number. My first play was in 4th grade and I remember how excited I was that they gave me the monologue. I see pictures of myself back then and I always had a huge smile on my face, I guess that's the key, to love what you are doing and I still do to this day.
I can't say which is my favorite because they have all been so much a part of my life and they all play a role in making me the performer I am today. I can say that I am more focused on acting now. It is part of the reason I just made the move from New York to Los Angeles.
In HOW DO YOU WRITE A JOE SCHERMANN SONG, your character Evey is a strong woman and a talented artist. Are there many similarities between you and the character?
Absolutely there are similarities, on one hand we both have the same drive and dedication and on the other we both have the same obstacles and fears. Evey is at the beginning of her career, the point where you don't know where your next paycheck is coming from, where the path always seems uphill, and where all she wants is to get her foot in the door. And against all odds she has to find the strength and courage to keep pushing on. I totally remember being there in that exact position and I think her experience is very relatable to any artist who has moved to New York to chase their dreams.
You are also the producer of the film. How did being the lead actress affect your role as the film's producer?
Being the lead actress really just raised the stakes for me as a producer and in the end made me that much more dedicated to getting this project to fruition. Sure it was a lot to juggle, but I feel like I have learned how much I really love organizing and being part of the creative process.
What do you think are the biggest advantages and disadvantages of making independent films like HOW DO YOU WRITE A JOE SCHERMANN SONG?
I think the main advantage of making independent films in the manner we made How Do You Write A Joe Schermann Song is that we had complete creative control and the ability to truly explore our own unique artistic expression. I think that is the success of this film. It has a cultural relevance because there are so many performers that migrate to New York to make it in this theatrical niche and yet these stories rarely get mainstream attention. I think the obvious disadvantage was that we had limited resources, but we were so smart with our money that we did things well beyond our means. I mean we ended up getting a Live Orchestra to score the film; that will always amaze me.
Tell us something about your new projects since HOW DO YOU WRITE A JOE SCHERMANN SONG.
I have signed on to another Gary King production, what can I say I can't get enough of this guy! Again I will be the lead actress and I will be producing the film. We've already started pre-production and we are slated to shoot in the spring. I would tell you more about the story, but it's a secret.
If you get given the opportunity to work with any director of your choice, who would that be, and why?
Woody Allen, because I love his style. I think quirky, comedic, dialogue-driven films would be a blast to work on!
So which Woody Allen film do you like the most?
Annie Hall because it's that perfect synergy between a New York romance and a neurosis. I love obsessive characters and faulty logic... I would love to play those characters.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
A very good friend of mine once told me to, "Stop looking for external validation. This can be a very catty and unresponsive industry at times and without complete faith in yourself you won't make it far."
Finally, what words of wisdom would you share with people who want to pursue a career in the performing arts?
"Some people dream of success while others wake up and work hard."
Many people wish to become actors but they never put in the work that it takes to become a well-trained actor. Train, audition, believe in yourself, and most importantly get yourself out there! No one will find you or your talent if you lock yourself in your apartment dreaming of your Oscar Speech.
Here are the details of upcoming screenings of How Do You Write A Joe Schermann Song:
FLYWAY FILM FESTIVAL (Pepin, Wisconsin)
FORT LAUDERDALE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
October 20th (Saturday): 3:30pm
October 21st (Sunday): 3:45pm
October 23rd (Tuesday): 7pm
October 27th (Saturday): 3:15pm
FLIFF ON-LOCATION: GRAND BAHAMA ISLAND (Grand Bahama Island, The Bahamas)
October 27th (Saturday) - Screening time TBD
OAKLAND UNIVERSITY (Rochester, Michigan)
November 14th-16th, 2012 (Screening time TBD)
Christina Rose and filmmaker Gary King will be in attendance for a special event screening. They will participate in a roundtable interview event with students and faculty prior to the showing. Christina Rose also has the honor of being the keynote speaker at the awards ceremony of Grizzdance (the university's student film festival).
You can find out more about Christina Rose at: