Featured PA Filmmaker - Victoria Stevens

Friday, May 01, 2020 1:52 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

 Article by: Maria Shamkalian
PAFIA  Vice-Chair

What is your most recent success and how did you accomplish it? My most recent success is landing one of the lead roles in a feature film called Benita. I became friends with the director, Prinze Wayee, on a previous project and stayed in touch with him throughout the years. We started collaborating and I am currently the production manager as well on the project. It is going to be a great film when it gets shot which will be after this Corona Virus epidemic is over. 

How did you get started in the film industry?
Believe it or not, growing up I was a shy child who hated being in the spotlight. I went to a Christian School that believed that the students should all participate in a concert each year either through singing, or playing an instrument. It was in 6th grade when my nerves got the best of me and during one of those concerts, I threw up all over myself in the middle row of the choir. This in turn set off a ripple effect and three other people threw up as well.  It was on that day that I swore that I would never be on a stage again. However, God had other plans and decided to lead me onto a much bigger stage with over 400 people watching. I was chosen by my music teacher to be one of the students who got to sing with a Christian Singer, Steve Green, in that same year of school. Many people objected over this decision, but I knew that I had to prove them wrong and face my fears. It was one of the hardest things I had to do but when it was over, I knew I would never leave the stage again. I later went off to college and started my acting career which included theatre and film.

Why do you choose to work in PA and what do you love the most about working in Pennsylvania?
I chose to work in PA because it is a smaller market for local actors to break into the Hollywood scene. With many award-winning directors like M. Night Shyamalan shooting their upcoming productions in PA, it gives local actors bigger opportunities to book the supporting roles. What I love most about working in Pennsylvania is the fact that here everyone knows your name and that is mostly because it is a smaller market and everyone knows everyone else.

What are some of your favorite shooting locations in Pennsylvania? Some of my favorite shooting locations in PA are the steps of the Art Museum, 30th street station, and of course Fairmount Park.

What do you love the most about your job? 
What I love most about acting is having the ability to be as vulnerable as you possibly can in order to create a believable character. I am always challenging myself to reach deeper inside so that the audience can feel for each character I become.

What is your most memorable, most awkward, or funniest on set story?
One of my most memorable/funny set stories was when I was a principal on a “Coach” commercial. I got to be the mascot which was a huge blow up dinosaur. When the crew fitted me into the outfit and blew it up, they realized really fast how hard it was going to be to get me down two flights of stairs. Needless to say, I was very experienced with mascot uniforms and navigated the stairs without knocking over any expensive furniture. I had one crew member walking me down while another crew member holding my tail. It was such an interesting experience.  

What are some of the challenges of being a female filmmaker?
I am an actress who has become a filmmaker over the years. I believe that the challenges that female filmmakers face are having the ability to get their films financed, having their views heard and understand as well as figuring out the best way to work alongside male cinematographers and producers. However, I believe that this gap in the industry has changed dramatically and female filmmakers are getting noticed a lot more in today’s society then ever before.

What is your advice for other women in film?
My advice to other women in this film industry is keep pursing your dreams and never compromise your beliefs while doing so. It is a hard career to be in, but very rewarding as well.

Do you have any upcoming Pennsylvania-based projects?
While being quarantined, I have been offered four different roles in upcoming feature films. I am excited to say that I have accepted them all and I am working on the scripts during this down time. I have two suspenseful dramas along side two really emotional dramatic features that will lead the audience on an emotional rollercoaster. I am eager to start shooting them after the quarantined is lifted.

PAFIA has been working hard on increasing the film tax credit in Pennsylvania and bringing more film work to our local crew and talent, but we must all unite to really make a difference. What can you tell our elected officials about the importance of PA film industry and the difference it has made in your life?
I can tell our elected officials that without the PA film industry I wouldn’t be a working actor today. Many of my projects that I have been cast in are from Philadelphia. Without the abundance of opportunities that are starting to trickle into the PA area, I would have to start thinking about moving my brand elsewhere in order to stay a working actor. 

What is your advice for the aspiring actors and filmmakers? Some steps to take? Some mistakes to avoid? 
My advice for aspiring actors/filmmakers is to keep your relationships and connections healthy. Acting is all about who you know and who knows you. If you have a bad reputation in this business then it can ultimately end your career before it even starts. Also, I truly believe that you have to stay genuine and true to what you believe in and not waiver from your beliefs. This business will try to manipulate you into doing things you aren’t comfortable with and you have to make sure you are able to say “No” when those situations occur.

What are some good strategies to find more gigs?
There are many ways to find gigs. The sites that I use are Actors Access, Casting Networks, Backstage, IMDB Postings, Facebook, and many times I get offered roles through directors whom I have already worked with. Sometimes I will look on CastingAbout.com for TV shows that are currently being cast and I will reach out to the casting directors directly. Many times, you have to think outside the box in order to get yourself into the audition room.

What are some of the most valuable lessons that you have learned about this industry and wish you knew earlier?
There are many valuable lessons that I have learned over the years in this industry. One lesson I learned is don’t believe everything you read on social media. Many times, actors/directors exaggerate on how big their projects are and when you get caught up in that project you find out that it really isn’t anything at all. Another lesson I learned is don’t compromise your beliefs when offered a role. You really need to figure out what you will do and what you wouldn’t before you get into a situation that forces you to choose. Lastly, I learned that it is ok not to have a relationship with everyone you meet in the industry. You will meet a lot of people on all different levels in this business and you have to be content with knowing who is going to be in your contact group and who wouldn’t.

What is your favorite film shot in Pennsylvania?
My favorite film shot in Pennsylvania has to be Six Sense.

What is your favorite project that you worked on?
This question is very hard for me because I have over 75 films that I have worked on throughout my career so far. I am going to say that one of my favorite projects that I worked on was The Impact Factor by Ken McArthur. It’s about a diverse group of people within a 5-mile radius of Philadelphia City Hall who discovered they made a difference whether they wanted to or not. I was privileged to play Tracy Hartman who was a young enthusiastic TV Reporter who just wanted to get that next great story. The sets were amazing, the crew was so talented, and I enjoyed the chemistry between the actors.

What is your biggest aspiration in this industry?
My biggest aspiration in this industry is to book a series regular role in a sitcom. I enjoy creating memorable characters that people can enjoy and laugh with. To be on a sitcom like The Big Bang Theory would be one of my biggest dreams.

What would be the best way for our local PA cast and crew to submit to your upcoming projects?
Currently, I am not creating any film projects but I am always looking for more challenging roles to be casted in. My IMDB page is imdb.me/victoriastevens

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/victoria.stevens.735

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vickiestevens1/

Website: victoriastevens.org

Pennsylvania Film Industry Association (PAFIA)
461 Cochran Road, Box 246
Pittsburgh, PA 15228
(717) 833-4561  info@pafia.org

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