Catch up with local girl Phyllis Spielman, who has traveled all over the world in her acting career, landing roles in a total of 13 movies (4 short films and 9 feature length movies), as well as commercials, and two music videos.Most notably, she is co-starring in a film called STASIS which was picked up by Netflix, and distributed to viewers all over the world. Speilman also recently co-starred in a country music video with Singer/Songwriter Sarah Snead that will be released this August.
She’s played roles that include everything from an FBI Agent to a witch to a high school principal. Speaking of principals, she recently visited her hometown of Devine where she made plans with her former teacher Kandi Darnell to come back and speak to Devine theatre students next Fall.
An interview with Phyllis Spielman….
What’s your favorite thing about being a movie actress?
I love the fact it’s never the same thing twice. I know when my day is over, I can rely on the next day being something new. I enjoy meeting new people and learning more and more with each project as an actress and the process from on set to the final viewing by the public.
What places have you gotten to travel for filming?
This is also a HUGE reason I love acting, I GET TO TRAVEL! I studied international business in college and so I’ve always loved meeting people from different cultures. Now with film I actually get to travel for weeks at a time. Some of the places I’ve been for filming have been Medellin, Colombia (South America): Sofia, Bulgaria and Rotterdam, Netherlands (Europe), Jerusalem, Israel (Asia), Ouarzazate, Morocco, Africa), and all over the U.S. from East to West Coast and many places in between.
What year did you graduate?
I graduated in 1991 which seems like yesterday. I actually went back to Devine and saw a few of my old classmates and teachers. Some of my classmates turned into teachers and some of my teachers turned into principals. It’s AWESOME seeing how the school has grown and to see the theater department now has a dedicated auditorium with a sound room too now! WOW! I did have to jump up on the stage and test it out while I was there and pop in to say “hi” to the middle school principal Kandi Darnell (she used to be my English teacher and tennis/volleyball coach once upon a time). My classmate Paul Gomez led me around with a couple of my other classmates on a school tour. I graduated with him and now he’s a football coach in Devine. Jim Sessions, who graduated a class before me and is now a basketball coach showed me the new gym where there is a basketball machine that will rebound (I was so envious). If I would’ve had that back in my day, I would’ve never left the basketball court!
Kandi Darnell had asked me when I was coming to speak to the theater department so I’m looking forward to coming back this fall to speak to the classes and share some of my experience in acting and some of the tools I’ve learned and continue to use in the industry to be successful.
Tell us about the success of STASIS?
STASIS was picked up Internationally by Netflix. It is directed by Nicole Jones-Dion, and it was released first overseas in 80 countries back in July 2017 and then released in the U.S. this past in August 2017, and then later in December it hit Netflix. I found out it was on Netflix when a couple of people from Devine actually texted me and said they saw me on Netflix. I don’t always know where and when the films I’m in will be shown if they don’t go the film festival circuit route.
We were fortunate to be released on Netflix because it’s a mainstream platform. It’s also on iTunes and Amazon Prime. Between all 3 of these platforms, people in almost every household has access to it. For everyone involved in the movie from the cast and crew, it’s an accomplishment. When I’m out in Hollywood it is nice to be able to say that as an actor you can view one of my films that is distributed. So many actors and film makers want to have their work viewed and they don’t always get picked up for distribution and their work will go straight to DVD or on a shelf somewhere.
Have you won any awards in the film festival circuit for movies you’ve been involved in as a lead actress?
Yes, I have been involved in 2 short films produced by the same production company with different directors. The most recent short film “Come to Me Sister Mary” directed by Tory VanBuskirk.
I was nominated for best actress at the Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema in California this past March. This was a huge success for the team and for me as an actress. I met other directors, producers and distributors that have approached me for future work based on that film. It also went on to win the Best Horror Short in the Colorado Short Circuit as well as winning in Special effects.
In 2015 I received a win and a nomination in the film festival circuit for my role as Sarah in “Sirens” directed by Joey Spillane.
Both short films were intense with a wide range of acting and complex emotions. I encourage people to look up my name on the IMDb website www.IMDb.me/phyllisspielman to see which movies I’m currently in and the ones that are in development. I also post videos on my facebook www.facebook.com/phyllisspielmanactress whenever I’m on set.
What role do you play in STASIS and other movies?
In STASIS, I play a mother that is concerned with her teenage daughter as she’s sneaking out, dating guys, and doing the things she’s not really supposed to be doing.
In Day of the Dead Bloodline, I play a reporter that has discovered a city being taken over by zombies in the opening scene. This one was filmed in the NuBoyana Studios in Sofia, Bulgaria where they filmed many of the Expendables action films. I was impressed with the facility and the fact I was in the same place Sylvester Stallone filmed. I felt like, wow, this is cool and this had a brief run in theaters around the country and I once again was informed by friends that said they saw me in the opening scene excerpt via instagram.
In Finding Grace – I play a principal which was awesome! I never thought of myself as a principal, but that’s one thing I’ve gotten used to. People or casting directors will see me different than I see myself at times. I auditioned for a weaker character and was cast as this strong Principal of a high school. This role was great because it allowed me to work with some of the talent I grew up watching on TV and in movies as well as new younger talent that wowed me. I’ve also been brought on as a co-producer to work with Warren Fast (Director) and Stacie Fast in their feature movie debut.
I play a Witch in a movie we are currently filming called “The Initiation” directed by Brian McCulley and written by Jimmy Drain & Ty M.C. When I was asked to play the role of Mary and read the script I thought wow, I am impressed with the intensity of the character and the subject matter of Christianity and Witch Craft. I always read the script and if it’s something I can speak to after then I accept the role.
I also played a Witch in a The White Witch; mother turned Ghost in Ghosthunters 2016; a Nun with psychological issues in Come to Me Sister Mary; a reporter in the soon to be released thriller Sever; an FBI Special Agent in a Mexican/US co production The Harvester; a Psychiatrist/therapist in “A Girl Like Me”, and a Vampire in “The Dark Field”.
What is your favorite thing about the Movie STASIS?
My favorite thing is that it got picked up on NETFLIX and can be viewed around the world. So many people never get a chance to have their movies marketed and seen, and it’s difficult to break into the industry if you don’t have the right platform of distribution. I also think this was a HUGE learning experience for me as an actor because I got to see how fast I must act on the spot because we had a very short filming schedule for the entire feature as well as learning the lines from the time we get the script to filming. It was quick. I hear people when they say they had the script for months and think WOW that’s awesome. I also liked that almost anyone can watch this. It has a little bit of everything for the entire family.
What’s something about the movie most people don’t know? How many hours were spent filming Stasis and where was it filmed?
It was filmed in 15 days give or take a day and the opening scene where the couple is walking across the desert was filmed in Arizona outside of Phoenix and the domes may no longer be there. The scenes with the Chief Minister was filmed in L.A., 90% was filmed in Arizona while the remaining scenes were filmed in the California area with a few pick up shots there as well. As far as hours, I would say many countless hours as we worked with just enough to have a required turn-around time for the crew. There was a time I was on set at 9 a.m. and a couple of scenes didn’t film until the early a.m.
We had to do ADR (Automated Dialog Replacement) for almost the entire movie that was filmed in the house in Arizona because we were really close to the airport and although the location inside was awesome, the outside was very unpredictable.
Most people don’t know it, but it can take up to a year to finish a movie. The filming can be completed but the picture lock can take months to a year or more before the public can see it. I’m blonde in most of my projects and by the time people see me now I’m brunette or may be blonde again! Actors have to change at times to play a certain role.
Have you done commercials, or music videos?
I’ve been involved in a couple of commercials and helped film makers with competition videos as an actor but limit myself to these.
I am really excited about a country music video I co-starred in with the Singer/Songwriter Sarah Snead, in the music video called “All I’ve Got” that comes out August 3rd this year. Her Album, “Wake Tomorrow” was released in February 2018. My character is a woman who tells her story of the beginning and the end of an abusive relationship. The video shows how when two women come together, there is a healing, growth and laughter through the tears and pain. Being there for someone can save a life, even if you have nothing to give but your presence.
I had met Sarah 3 years prior to this, and when she saw my movie work she approached me a couple years later about her idea. Then in June she called and asked me to be her co-star in her video debut. I was thrilled and had to come back from out in LA to Denver to shoot it and was more than happy to support her and the video. This is in align with how I want to reach out to people about strong subject matters through film.
I’ll also be collaborating with Excited Minds Media a subsidiary of Live Eco Style Inc. Links & Libations Magazine for Golf, Craft Beverages, Travel Destinations and TV projects. I’m traveling for the first time to Lake Geneva in a week, and looking forward to the opportunity to browse around Wisconsin.
I hope to continue to act and tell stories that impact people’s lives. I have many stories myself I’d like to tell. Who knows, maybe I’ll be acting in movies I write down the road. I really appreciate you taking the time to interview me and I can’t wait to come back to Devine for the Meet and Greet in the Fall. Join my social media platforms and follow me if you can.
STASIS is available for purchase on Amazon.com or you can also get it through Netflix or Itunes.