Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Exclusive Interview With Actress Toby Poser


Actress, Writer, Director & Mom Production

By Belinda Trotter-James

Toby Poser is not just the former actress of the popular soap “Guiding Light” and films such as, “The Incredibly True Adventure”, “Knuckle Jack”, “Steal Me”, “Rumblestrips” and “The Luck Ones”. She also is a mom and wife who brought her family along for the ride.  Her husband John Adams along with their children Lulu and Zelda are the production team of Wonder Wheel Productions.  It’s a small production company, but it allows the family to let their creative juices flow.  The family writes together, acts, produces, edits and the kids even do a little camera work.  With a little help from fellow actors they really are the cast, the crew and they love it that way.

Toby’s 79 minute thriller, “The Shoot” landed in my email box from Wonder Wheel Productions along with lots of other emails. It stars: John DiMaggio, Keith Allan, Doug Spearman and the multitask director, writer and mom… Toby Poser.  I was a fan of The Guiding Light and wanted to see what Toby was up to. Women often take on many roles and multitask as if they had eight arms.  However, Toby says she was ready for the challenge that comes with dual roles of acting and directing...   “Well I co wrote and co directed this film with my husband”, says Toby.  “He and I are creative partners and so we wore just about every hat and that's where it becomes tough. We work our butts off to make films because we don't have massive or bulging wallets; so we have a lot of creativity and a lot of friends. My husband has a cast of very supportive people who understand how we work and so that makes it doable.  I've been an actor longer than I've been a director, writer or producer and sometimes the actor in me wants to come out and figure out how to do that character because I want to do a good job of course, but then the director in me is also thinking.” 

“Actually the hardest part is putting on and off the producer’s hat. I'm thinking, ‘Do I have the permits with me’ because you have to have that with you if you're in the middle of the desert and rangers show up… which did happen and I was prepared. I’m thinking about how fast the light is going down.  Natural light is important because we don't have a budget to have tons of crazy lights that you may have on a Hollywood set. We have cameras and we know how to use them with natural light. I'm thinking about all of those things when I should be getting into character. Also our kids are out on set with us too because they are an integral part of our company.  They are 16 and 11 now and they help with the sound and the use of our three cameras. I'm also thinking about them… Are there rattlesnakes around their feet? Is a scorpion going to sting them?  Are they hungry?  So that's a hard thing to be able to balance the mother, producer and actor in me.”
The film was very interesting because the characters pulled me into their drama to the point where I had to watch what happens next. I thought I would be watching a 2 minute trailer however; I ended up sitting through 79 minutes of sheer suspense.  The main story line is about a fashion shoot that takes place in the desert and goes horribly wrong when two wannabe musicians decide to switch careers and major in robbery.  The plan takes an awful twist as the crew has to make life or death decisions.  “The Shoot” will definitely have you wondering what you would do in the same situation.

Of course I wondered if the story was based on real life events.  Toby explained, “The story is actually based on a real life story.  My husband isn't a criminal, but he was a very successful model in the 1990’s and he would be flown all over the world to these exotic locations.  So he got this idea when he was doing the Armani ad campaign in Morocco and he said to himself, ‘I'm in the middle of the desert with this opulent set, expensive equipment along with all of these colorful characters plus the stylist and the photographer. I wonder what would happen if someone came and robbed them. They didn't look like they would be prepared for something like that to happen.’ So that was the spark,” reveals Toby. 

Wow!  Real life is never boring.  You just cannot make this stuff up.
The characters were quite colorful and in the end you wonder what happens to each character. “In the end I think there was no way out and I think they are just going to die out there,” reveals Toby.  “That was my secret motivation, but we wanted to leave it up to the viewers to wonder what would happen.  Either way whether the police comes or she dies because she hasn't had anything to eat in a few days or they just walk off into the desert together it will be most poignant to know that this is a love story and what they have is going to come to an end. They are together, but it’s going to come to an end. We thought that was the most important thing to do no matter how it ends it would just have to focus on that sad fact.”
Toby loved working with all the actors so much that she's thinking about putting them in her next film.  “I love them so much and they were so generous with their performances on and off set as well", says Toby.

Creative people will often have a vision in their minds eye that must be translated on to a screen for others to view and comprehend.  Sometimes the creator’s point gets across and other times it leaves people just scratching their heads.  I asked Toby how she deals with critics who feel they have to sharpen their poison pens instead of facing the fact that some films may just go over their heads. These people feel they can take the creative energy that was put into a film and dissect it into little pieces of negative energy. In this world you'll have people who love it, people who like it and people who just wouldn’t like anything put in front of their eyeballs. How do you mentally keep moving forward or do you start second-guessing yourself and believe what the critics say... good… bad… or indifferent? A critic’s job is to be critical however, are they capable of creating an idea, directing and producing it for the enjoyment of an audience?

"I can be pretty sensitive as an actor, but when it comes to my films, I have a pretty thick skin because I think it's so arbitrary,” says Toby.   “I think that opinions can be so different in a way that I would almost rather invite extreme opinions. In that way I would know I haven't been complacent with my creativity. Just the other night we went to see a preview of a film which got a lot of good reviews.  We decided to be really honest with each other on the drive home about how we really didn't like this film and how it seemed like they sold their souls to the Hollywood devil. Then we got home and saw our first bad review.  It was the perfect karmic boomerang. Here it is someone else put a lot of time and money into this film and we were not very nice about it. I prefer to support people so I just take it in stride that everyone has different opinions. I think when George Gershwin wrote Porgy and Bess they hated it and it's a masterpiece. There are so many things that people think differently about.  You can write an unfavorable review, but to lambaste every ounce of it… it's just disrespectful to people who have taken the time to make something. So the process is important; you don't have to like the product when you don’t even respect the process. So I don't pay too much attention to the negative reviews and I respect that I respect people’s opinions. I kind of let it roll off me. When you act you deal with a lot of rejection so I can take it a little bit better than John can.”
Toby was really excited to talk to me about her next project. "I’m working on what I guess you would call a western. I'm really excited about it,” reveals Toby.  “It's an idea I've had for a long time. It probably will take place in the 1950’s during the Western expansion of the United States. It will be very artistic and we are already working on the music and thinking about how to shoot it and it's something I’m really looking forward to. John is also working on a script like our first and second films with a small cast.  It will be something we can do very easily.  It will not be as big as “The Shoot.” We are returning to our roots which are very humble in terms of the production value with very honest material, very organic material and he is also working on a horror story.”

There is a lot of work that goes behind the scenes in getting the wardrobe ready, scene changes and all types of miscellaneous stuff that pops up. However, Toby is quite confident that they don't need a lot of hands on deck because they can do a lot of things on their own and their daughters have no problem pitching in. "I happen to have a 16-year-old daughter who loves designing clothing,” says Toby.  “I'll enlist her help and they will also be acting in the films. They are phenomenal actors. We will do a lot of things on our own and its okay because we work hard, but we always have fun; that's our motto.”

Fans miss seeing Toby on television and I think she misses her fans a little as well... "I would like that, but really my bread-and-butter comes from voiceovers,” reveals Toby.  “I have a voiceover career that funds our films and I will never want to stop doing that. I kind of have been focused on our films the last couple of years. I haven't been doing the usual grind of auditions for other projects and I think I've become discouraged since I've hit 40. The roles that I was being offered before are waning and that was one reason why we got into films. My husband said, ‘Why don't you write your own stuff?’ and I thought that was a good challenge so I took him up on it.  I can always cast myself and write other great roles for women. I would like to do more TV, but I have to just put myself back out there". 

Back out there for what???  She is doing a great job in the next chapter of her journey and we don’t want to miss out on the creative goodies Wonder Wheel Productions has in store for their fans.  You can see the trailer of “The Shoot” at  and follow them on their social media networks. 
 Wonder Wheel Prod on Twitter:

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