Transplant is a short film touring the film festival circuit; it stars Actress Selsela, a formidable Switzerland performer/actress, and Matt Hudson. Transplant serves as a vehicle for Selsela to move into the North American Film Market both as an actress and/or performer and writer. While the film will be doing its rounds in film festivals, its focus will be the American Market where it plans to wow audiences with the European Actress performance and catch the attention of producers and directors alike.
“I remember the very first time I fell in love with performing for strangers”, says Actress Selsela. Performing, singing, posing, and acting at home was already happening at that time on a daily basis but performing for an audience outside of the comforts of my home was introduced to me in kindergarten when I was 5 years old. We had a play we performed and I was a supporting role and loving it. I loved rehearsals and I loved playing different characters. The day we had our first performance in front of the audience I was so excited and I remember going on stage and performing and delivering my lines. The audience for some reason loved my delivery and they clapped, I got even more excited and performed my lines again. My parents to this day tell me that went on for about 7 repeats until my kindergarten teacher came and had to stop me because apparently I was nowhere near done, the opposite I loved it more and more with every repeat. I guess that was the monumental day for me that I knew entertaining people with acting is something I love to do.
indieactivity: What acting technique do you use?
Actress Selsela: I love hearing about techniques and being in class. I just sometimes experience that too much theory can really block your creative flow. What I prefer over acting schools, techniques and classes is personal growth and real experience on set. This is why: knowing yourself so well that you know how you can access easily any emotion that you have within you gives you the confidence on set to know that you can do your job at any time. You don’t worry about can I relate to the character when I am nervous because you know where it lies within you what you need. Real experience on set gives you the advantage of also knowing that with acting comes a lot of other skills you need to have. Take directions, trying different takes, patience, and knowing that you try to bring someone else’s imagination to life. Learn to be kind and patient, I am saying learn because you can always become nicer and more patient, those traits won’t hurt you only bless you.
How did you get connected to the project? Did you have to audition? If you didn’t, would still get the part?
Actress Selsela: I did a project a while back called “Perron” a beautiful movie and I wanted to use parts of it on my Website and for my Reel. I contacted an editor that cuts reels together for actors. A friend of mine recommended him. He was blown away by my performance and wanted to stay in touch. A couple of months go by and he texts me that he has this amazing script and if I want to be the lead in it. So I didn’t really need to audition for the role but I got it because he watched another project of mine and saw my skills. He also got to know me as a person and I know that helped too, he knowing my work ethic, that I love my job, and that I am very hands-on and helping if help is needed and asked for was for sure a big part that helped me get the job. I like to think that I would have still gotten the part because I do put my heart and soul into every audition and I know I’d have given it my best.
How did you prepare for the role, physicality, the terrain, the climate, weather, and the demands of the project?
Actress Selsela: I have different methods of how I approach a role. For this project I had a couple of zoom meetings with the producer and scriptwriter, we had table reads which helped me give them my take of the character, and them giving me feedback on how they want me to adjust my version. I did not meet the cast in person because I got cast by a US production company and I am located in Switzerland. One of the challenges I faced was filming my part in Switzerland and being able to match it up with the locations of the other cast member. For one while I was filming it was freezing cold and snowing, my coworker was in a sunny state in the United States, so I had to film my scenes without a jacket in a place where there was no snow. I feel like I was very efficient in filming because I prepared very well for the role and was off-book.
How do you create the character from a script into a person?
Actress Selsela: Something very important to remember is that you are the character. If they hired you then they saw something in you that is in the character. Even if you think you are far from being similar to this character you will still find emotions in you that the character is going through, you will find similar experiences that trigger the same emotions in you that the character is experiencing. You just have to bring your version to the table. If you play the bully in school but you are actually not a bully, you still know how a bully looks like, so what I do is trust that I can bring my version of being a bully to the table and enhance that version of me. My version of a nurse, my version of a student, my version of any emotions that they want to see. The character is already alive the moment you think the character’s thoughts and say the lines.
What part of the story challenged you when you read it?
Actress Selsela: In the script, my role gets bullied and is not accepted because she is from another country. Personally, I did not experience a lot of racism in my life and even when I did I did not take it personally. In my experience majority of people are nice and have good intentions. The ones that don’t are not in my circle. I found it challenging to identify with that part, I asked myself how I can prepare for this role to be worthy of the character. When I prepared I looked for similar feelings and situations in my life and I could identify with the bullying. I had a very unfriendly teacher when I was a kid. I challenged those feelings into the character to bring emotions to it.
You’re not new to indie films. What do you enjoy about the work that keeps you working?
Actress Selsela: I love all the new challenges. My job has a pattern and some routine to it but on every set, you go to it is a new experience. I love that new experience. Is it uncomfortable? Yes, so much and also exciting. I am shy in the beginning when I get to know a lot of people, so I have to break out of my comfort zone on every set I go all over again. I love the growth that is happening inside of me every time I do that. What I love about it is that you just see all over again that a lot of people are nice people. Besides the challenge of growing, I love watching the movie afterward. I love to see how the artistic version comes together at the end. It is fun to watch yourself on screen. The best moment is actually when you forget it is you up there and you watch it like every other audience member.
Give an example of a direction you received from the director during the production?
Actress Selsela: The first round I filmed that I sent in the producer wanted me to retake it. The character was initially set to be very nice and sweet at all times; once some of the scenes were filmed it did not make sense to keep her just one level. The redirection was that the character has to be meaner and a little more sarcastic. I loved the change and I was really excited to explore the new depths of this character. I love mean girl characters in movies. They are always so much more fun to explore and create on-screen. Every time I watch a movie or a TV show I see myself cast as the mean girl character in the movie. For example Riverdale the character Cheryl Blossom or Mean girls the character Regina George are some of my favorites. I do also have a soft side for nice characters like The Vampire Diaries the character Caroline and Elena and The Gifted the character Lauren Strucker.
How did you collaborate with your cast members from scene to scene?
Actress Selsela: This was challenging in this particular production because we are in different countries. When I was filming I had no scene partner to play off of. All the reactions and emotions had to come and be triggered by my imagination. I sent the tape in and when the production company had redirections I had to go out and film it again. The next challenge was to redo the same makeup and the same hairstyle. Sit at the same spot so we can keep the continuity and make it seem like one take. So I barely had any interactions with the people in the film. It is wonderful how technology gives us so many opportunities to fulfill our dreams. Filming with an American production company would not have been possible like I am doing years ago. I am blessed to have been picked and cast in a project like this.
As the main cast on the film, describe the feeling of responsibility that you shouldered. Where you scared? Or did it fire you up? What scenes were difficult to shoot?
Actress Selsela: Responsibilities and big adventures fire me up for sure. I am a go-getter. As I mentioned I was in Switzerland during production and filming so I was the one responsible for filming my part. In our meetings, they gave me different options to film, to hire someone, to do it myself or with friends the only thing they wanted was that whatever way I choose it has to look professional at the end and be a really good quality tape. I am very good at doing my own self-tapes so I decided to give it a try by myself. I already had the camera and some equipment and a program on my computer to help me out with it. I did a first round of filming for some of the scenes and they loved it. So when I went out the next couple of times to film the rest I also did it by myself. The pros to work by myself were that I was able to retake it as many times as necessary, take the time I needed and I was able to film at my time. This was such a learning experience and I saw that I was capable to do so much more than I initially thought and by researching, I learned so many new valuable things that I can use from now on.
What did you take away and learn from this film production?
Actress Selsela: A lot of new knowledge about the filming process. I was so hands-on and the production involved me so much in every step that I had the chance to see so many creative steps and so many things that I didn’t think of. For example, since our locations were so far away I had to record my environment sound so the production can match the sounds of all locations to make it all match. That was new information to me but very smart to know. It makes sense to match it so it won’t distract the viewer but as a viewer, you never think that this is something the production has to work on. There is so much that goes into filmmaking and I always learn something new that blows my mind.
What do you like most about the director and his/her collaboration with his/her team?
Actress Selsela: The director is very passionate and loves the art of acting. What I loved during this project that he was genuinely interested in my opinion. I was able to give feedback about the script and he gave me the liberty to improvise if I wanted to. At the table read he asked me if we could see the character any other way than he imagined my character to be. I was able to be involved in the creation of the poster. I loved that it was a team effort and that my opinion and my voice were heard in this project. My job is to be an actor and there I have a lot of artistic liberty and doing only that is everything I want. Having the blessing that the production is interested in your opinion and your view and actually takes it and applies it is so rare and feels very beautiful.
What is next for you?
Selsela: Next for me is hopefully a film that I just had my chemistry read. I have a really good feeling and the film would be really exciting. It is about women empowering themselves after experiencing some sort of trauma. They start talking self-defense very seriously and start building a community around them and start to learn to fight, be physically but also mentally strong. Even though I am excited for every role that I am auditioning for, this is for sure one of the most exciting I had in a while. They would film it in Zurich and some beautiful parts outside of Zurich are the locations.
What advice do you give actors regarding what you learned on the project?
Selsela: Know yourself and your feelings so well that even if you are by yourself acting alone you can portray them. Your goal is to make the audience feel like you are having those interactions in real life, so train your imagination to feel like these imaginary circumstances are real. I was sitting at a place where now and then someone would walk by, some would see me and stand and watch what I was doing. I am okay with staying in character and do my thing until they decide to go on about their day. So my biggest advice is to know your feelings and explore them and my second advice is that if you feel shame and feel like it is an obstacle for you to do unconventional things in public do exercises to train yourself to get used to it. If you are scared to talk to strangers, start a conversation with strangers. If you are too shy to speak in school or at work, start getting yourself to talk little by little, it will boost your confidence and you’ll get used to doing things you are uncomfortable doing.
Tell us what you think of the interview with Selsela for Transplant. What do you think of it? What ideas did you get? Do you have any suggestions? Or did it help you? Let’s have your comments below and/or on Facebook or Instagram! Or join me on Twitter.