The Multiple Hats of the Rising Filmmaker

Seri DeYoung - Pyragraph

The rising filmmaker. Photo by Gordon Grey.

I’ve been acting since I was a kid. In theater, then films and TV starting when I was 18. I’ve always loved it. When I see a good movie, I get this itch to just jump into the screen and play along with them. This is why when I started directing a few years ago, I ended up casting myself, even if I probably wasn’t the best choice.

To my credit, I didn’t act in my first short film, Daisy. I knew I wouldn’t be able to give my all to the job of directing if I was going to be in front of the camera as well. And for my first short (First ever! No film school here!), I wanted to be 100% focused behind the camera. It was such a huge learning experience, and I wouldn’t have gotten as much out of it had I not made that choice.

If I want to wear lots of hats, I need to have lots of time to wear them.

For my second short film, In Touch, I cast myself out of convenience. I didn’t want to pay an actress, or risk her flaking/rescheduling. In Touch is such a simple piece, it really wasn’t a problem. I did have one difficult moment while filming; it’s a private moment that happens right as I leave a party and close the door behind me. See, when I was filming the parts where I had my costar, it was really easy to just look him in the eye and be grounded in the moment with him. But when it was just me, I struggled. But who knows, maybe any actress I hired would have struggled. Either way, it wasn’t a make-or- break issue. The film still turned out great, went to festivals, won an award. TA DA!

Now, I’m in post-production for my third short film, Still Life. This time my dear friend and cowriter, Hope Jaymes, plays the lead. I’m a supporting character. I thought I was playing it safe by spending the majority of the shoot behind the camera. The big lesson I learned on this one was if I want to wear lots of hats, I need to have lots of time to wear them.

One of the scenes I’m in takes place in the afternoon. When we went to shoot we waited for some pretty magic-hour light. That’s fine, except it only gave us about 30 minutes to shoot all our coverage. The big mistake was that I didn’t scout this particular location ahead of time. We knew the general area we needed to be in, and on the day we just picked a spot. Bad idea. And because of the time constraints, I never once took a moment to watch playback. Very bad idea.

Flash forward to the following week when I’m going through the footage. I get to this scene, and it just looks terrible. We picked a crappy spot, and because I was trying to do too much at once, I didn’t even know it was a problem until it was too late. Thankfully, we were able to put together a pick up day pretty quickly. And boy was it necessary! Check out the side by sides! The top ones haven’t even gone through final color correcting yet!

In Touch - Pyragraph

I think simultaneously acting and directing is tough. I don’t think I’m really good at it yet, and I don’t really recommend it. But I’ll probably keep doing it anyway, because of that itch I have. I’d also really love to talk to other actor/directors about their experiences wearing all the hats. Find me on social medias, let’s chat!

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About Seri DeYoung

Seri DeYoung grew up in Corrales, NM. She began her acting career in local theater as a teenager before transitioning into film and TV. Some of her credits include Medium, Breaking Bad and NCIS as well as leading roles in various feature films. Most recently, Seri appeared alongside Danny Trejo in the feature film Bullet, playing the daughter to the governor, played by John Savage. For fun in LA, Seri has performed stand-up at The Comedy Store and Laugh Factory as part of MTV’s Comedy Showcase. In addition to being a performer, Seri also wrote and directed the short films Daisy and In Touch which have screened domestically and abroad. In Touch earned Seri the “Best Screenplay Writer” award at the Hollywood Short Film Festival, 2015. Seri also starred in, associate produced, and cowrote the feature thriller Burning Kentucky which is slated to release in 2016. She currently resides in Los Angeles with her boyfriend and her cat.

More of what Seri is officially up to can be seen here.

Actor life (and the occasional cat photo) here.

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