MERE PLAYERS tells the story of an actor who prepares for his roles, one date at a time. Coming off a successful crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo, Dan Levy Dagerman was hired to direct the short film. Together with Savannah Kopp and the producer team, we managed to stretch its modest budget to the limit utilizing the Two Hands GH4 package and a small G&E package that was generously donated.
The film went on to screen at the 2017 Hollywood Comedy Shorts Film Festival, 2017 California Women's Film Festival, 2017 Sacramento International Film Festival, 2017 DRAFT Film Festival, 2016 Somewhat North of Boston (SNOB) Film Festival, 2016 International Family Film Festival.
Below hear from Savannah Kopp (Writer/Producer) and Dan Levy Dagerman (Director) on their experience making the film.
DAN LEVY DAGERMAN (Director):
One of the most interesting challenges as a director on MERE PLAYERS was to figure out how to use the camera and locations to create different looks for each of the dates that take place in the film that would help augment the story. We shot all of the dates in the same tiny restaurant and wanted them to look different in a way that corresponded with the types of characters Jerome was using the dates to prepare for.
For the homeless character we thought it would be interesting to experience the date gone wrong from the POV of Maya (actress, Candice Ramirez), for the high flying business man we chose a more neutral POV to observe Jerome (actor, Lionel Sam) taking on a completely different character for the first time, and lastly for the obsessive compulsive character we thought it would be interesting to play with symmetry.
It was certainly a challenge but turned out to be a quite effective style that informed how we shot the final party scene as well. Shot over two weekends, MERE PLAYERS was a joy to work on and I had such a great time working with the entire team!
SAVANNAH KOPP (Writer/Producer):
A few years ago, after a lackluster interview for an internship, I thought about how much more interesting it would have been if I’d interviewed not as the most professional, charming version of myself, but as a wholly different character. For an actor preparing for an audition or a performance, an interview could be a creative endeavor, a test of one’s acting skills and mastery of a role, with personal stakes outside of being hired or not.
There is a performative nature to life, in that we present ourselves differently, whether consciously or not, depending on our environment. Interviews and first dates are interactions when this self-presentation is especially purposeful: I am the job candidate of your dreams, the person you want to date, the coolest kid in L.A. The idea of an actor taking advantage of first impressions to master his characters took hold in my mind, and it became a way to give people the benefit of the doubt. I’d meet someone, get a strange first impression, and tell myself: the most logical explanation is that this weirdo is just engaged in an acting exercise for the role of “weirdo.” This idea eventually found its comedic outlet when I wrote MERE PLAYERS. The short film follows Jerome, an actor who prepares for auditions by practicing his characters on blind dates.
Filming MERE PLAYERS was a rush and a thrill. It was an ideal situation where the cast and crew were at once incredibly talented and passionate about bringing this L.A.-centric story to life. As a writer, working with Dan and Two Hands was an absolute gift. Dan’s ideas were always inspired and collaborative, and he’d run things past me to make sure our visions were aligned. As we filmed one scene, he said I looked a little nervous and asked if I had any concerns about how we were shooting it. “Oh, no, no,” I said. The scene was coming out perfectly. I was just fully immersed in the role of “writer nervously watching a dream come true.”