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My Acting Debut

Bill as Frank
Bill as Frank
Bill listens to direction from Samantha Holmes.
Bill listens to direction from Samantha Holmes.

One of the recent events in my life I’ve been dying to share with you is my acting debut in a short film entitled Lucky Day. The film was written, directed and produced by my talented friend Samantha Holmes.

Sam did an amazing job on all three counts. She was as organized as any producer or director I’ve ever worked with in my thirty-plus years in the film biz. She was unbelievably efficient as both a producer and director. She kept things moving without making it feel like we were being rushed. She not only anticipated the cast and crew’s needs, but our comforts as well. And through all of that, directing and producing a low budget film all at the same time, she remained consistently cheerful and upbeat.

In the film I play Frank, a mean (yet sometimes charming), bad-ass mofo who has just killed Tony, the boyfriend of Darla (played by the wonderful actress Melina Bielefelt), a gal that Frank picked up at a bar. They’ve absconded with Tony’s recent inheritance. And that’s where the film begins…

We shot the movie in the heat of the Yucca Valley desert. Fortunately, it was not the triple digits that were expected. It was “only” in the 90s. The cast and crew were real troupers! I did all of my own driving; Sam promised me a “Stunt Driver” credit in addition to my acting credit!

One unexpected difficulty I hadn’t considered: acting while actually driving. I have a hard enough time remembering my lines as it is! Usually for driving scenes in movies the actor’s car is stationary on the back of a flat bed truck. The truck then travels, giving the illusion that the actor is driving. The actor just pretends to drive.

I hooked Sam up with Roger Lay, Jr., who functioned as Sam’s DP (director of photography). Roger was amazing and infectiously enthusiastic. He brought his friend Steve Mcatee to do our sound recording. Steve’s a tough ol’ guy who gave me my greatest compliment during the shoot: “You’re so damn good, I hate you.”

My dear friend, the irrepressible costume designer extraordinaire (Reba, The Nanny) Terry Gordon, provided us with absolutely perfect costuming choices. She raided the Warner Brothers costume department to get me snakeskin boots, faded black jeans, a gray wifebeater, and a sleeveless plaid shirt, as well as Darla’s perfect cherry dress and red shoes. She also provided me with skull tattoos for my knuckles, cool rings, a tooth necklace, black leather wrist and watch bands, a blue pocket kerchief, and a wallet with a clip and chain. Weeks ago I began growing out my sideburns and moustache. Four days before the shoot I stopped shaving, so I had a really nice, scruffy look (see photos). I didn’t wash my hair two days prior to the shoot, then greased it up a bit more with some styling mousse.

It was an incredible learning experience for me. I respect the difficulty of what actors have to do even more than I did before.

I found that I had a natural affinity for taking direction. After delivering some lines, Sam would sometimes come to me with careful, precise advice as to how she wanted me to alter the lines for the next take (she was smart enough not to do a line reading for me). To my own amazement (and to the relief, I’m sure, and delight of Sam), I found myself speaking the lines completely differently, in exactly the way Sam wanted.

The film is being edited now. Roger (who is quite the consummate filmmaker himself) was extremely pleased with the results. He suggested that Sam enter her film into several film festivals. Our little movie should be finished by mid-September. If there’s a YouTube posting, I’ll let you all know.

What an experience! Way fun! I can’t wait to do it again! Sam promised she was going to cast me in all her movies. She said my next role should be as an elegant, debonair sophisticate, to show my range. You got it, Sam!

4 thoughts on “My Acting Debut

  1. Well the tough guy look is convincing. I would certainly have second thoughts about asking for a free sketch of a cute cartoon dinosaur if you were dressed like this.

    By the way, your costume is great and doesn’t look like anything I’ve seen on “Reba” or “The Nanny”.

    Will you have a Clint Eastwood “squint” close-up? I bring him up because I have noticed, that in person, you have a large hat size. Someone in the entertainment industry once said that it was for this reason that Clint stood out in crowd scenes. It was said that this added to his screen presence.

    I’ll leave any acting comments to the day I see the film but do you even have room on your mantel for an Oscar statuette? : )

  2. Wow, that is so cool Bill! The only problem I see is that, while your wardrobe certainly was “perfect”,….it would have been ever PERFECTER if you wore your West Coast Horror Junkie T-shirt. Lets face it, NOTHING says “I’m a total B@D@SS” like a WCHJ shirt!

    Congrats William!


  3. Every time you seem to have done enough in one lifetime you go and raise the bar again. Iy must be delightful form of creative madness to never be satisfied enough to rest on your already substantial orchard of laurels. I’m looking for ward to seeing the film. Is it intended for a wide release, the art house circuit or direct to DVD?
    Keep us posted (like I had to make that request).


  4. Tom:
    If I had that Eastwood squint you’d never know, as I forgot to take off my damn sunglasses during the filming! I should have been channeling my inner David Caruso…

    With just Melina and me in the film, there was no crowd to stand out against…

    I considered the WCHJ shirt; it just seemed way too hip and classy for Frank.

    Short attention span, Rick, combined with an insatiable curiosity!

    “Lucky Day” (a short film) is going to be submitted to several film festivals. It will also probably end up on YouTube.

    Of course I’ll keep you posted (unless I suck in it!)!

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