There are so many talented folks working in the Atlanta film industry, we should learn more about them! In this regular feature, CinemATL asks "5 Questions" -- hence the title (clever!) -- of one of Atlanta's talented film professionals...
Candace Mabry has been part of the Atlanta film scene since 2003, when she moved to the city after attending Western Kentucky University. Originally from Nashville, Candace graduated with a BFA in theater and minor in dance, and continues to train as an actor even today. She also teaches Acting 101 at the Robert Mello Studio.
Some of Candace's major roles include the recently released Manhunt: Unabomber series on Discovery Channel, Too Close to Home and the infamous Too Many Cooks on Adult Swim. She's been involved in the indie scene, starring in the web series The Lumber Baron of Jasper County and the upcoming indie film Beauty and the Beholder. More than just an actress, Candace has moved into producing films and other content, including Sway ATL, an online docu-series about Atlanta's creative culture.
But let's hear from Candace herself. Her 5 QUESTIONS begin now!
1. You started out as an actor, but now you're doing much more than just acting. Why did you decide to make this transition?
Because I’m good at more than one thing!
I think the best actors understand filmmaking/storytelling as a whole. When you know and respect what an editor, casting director, producer, etc. go through, it makes you more professional and a lot more fun to work with. On the flip side, I get the opportunity to represent the actors perspective. Generally speaking, I don’t think actors are valued enough.
Even the phrase "just an actor" is reflective of that. You don’t hear people say "just a director" or "just a DP." I’m getting on a soapbox here and we should probably revisit this topic at another time...
Back to the original question. Why did I make this transition? Because I know I have great ideas that should be heard and I’m unapologetic about it. I want to be involved in telling more of the whole story. And there are far more interesting stories to tell than just the ones that have a part for me to play. And the thing I absolutely love the most about what I do is the collaboration. When you can get all those different talents & ideas & experiences together -- then you have something truly unique that can never, ever be duplicated and to me, that’s magic. That’s my connection to the other human beings of this world.
2. What advice would you give to actors that want to expand into other roles as filmmakers?
I think experience (especially mistakes!) can be the best teacher, so just start making stuff. If you think of this as an art, and I really hope that you do if you’re doing it -- then you realize you really can’t fail. It sounds woo-woo, yes, but truly, the only failure is not trying. Some of this has been forced upon us as actors anyway with the amount of self-taped audition requests we get. That means we have to have at least a basic understanding of lighting, sound, editing, casting, directing & writing. When the only other person in the room is the reader you chose (or paid), then you are the only making all of those decisions.
There are so many apps to play around on, even iMovie, it’s a start. We’re having a huge "create your own content" moment, so go do that! Start studying your favorite film and TV shows from a different perspectives. Notice how the sound, costumes, lighting, camera movement help tell the story. Barter with your acting skills (people think it’s easy until they try) and trade acting for experience directing or an editing/lighting/camera-op lesson.
3. So, what are you working on now?
Hmmm, good question. Things happen so suddenly. Let’s see…
Well, I’ve just been cast as the lead in the world premiere production of Empty Rooms, produced by Found Stages, running in September & October. That means I’m doing a lot of research on coding at the moment. I’ve also been cast in a pilot shooting in September called Mismanaged.
I’ve been using my boyfriend & his company, Full Lock Media, to build up my skills as an AP and trying to learn what I can in the camera department in my spare time. We’ve really enjoyed putting our time into what you could call a passion project, Sway ATL, a chronicle of consciousness. I’m hoping to be the lead producer on one of these pieces soon.
In the post-production world, I’ve been trying to stay on top of what films are screening where and when -- that can be a handful to juggle. But I love seeing audience reactions to something I directed, especially; and meeting & being inspired by other filmmakers. I teach a fun intro to acting & the biz class called Acting 101 at The Robert Mello Studio. And to maintain a nice work/life balance, I’m becoming a super fan of our own Atlanta United [Atlanta's new soccer team] and planning my next travel adventures.
Basically taking advantage of every single opportunity I get to learn… anything.
4. Can you tell us a bit more about Sway ATL?
It’s something that came from a combination of many things: desire to create something, can obsession with documentaries, a pull towards activism, and an incredible love for this amazing city we’re in. What really makes Atlanta feel like home to me are the people who live and create here, and what really makes them… is Atlanta.
Atlanta’s pretty woke (unsolicited plug: but the show Atlanta is brilliant and spot on and, ahem, I’d LOVE to be a part of it one day). Anyway, there’s a lot of history here and we can't deny or change that. We want to keep it... (wait, keep it IN THE PAST, but keep the memories of it -- to be clear) because it’s that understanding and knowing, that gives us the ability to write our own. Atlanta has that energy about it right now and Sway wants to re-introduce ATL to itself. It’s an opportunity for us to slow down and really see each other.
5. Now the hardest, most important, question... one that has plagued mankind for years... Best Brendan Fraser movie?
OK, I gotta go with Encino Man. I had to put a lot of thought into that...
You can follow Candace everywhere on social media @candacemabry. If you want to learn more about Sway ATL and watch the videos head to http://swayatl.com/... and if you want to learn more about Candace's Acting 101 class, check out The Robert Mello Studio.