Greetings readers and welcome to the first official installment of “In Their Own Words” for 2016! It has been an amazing last year and some for OneFilmFan.com, with the blessing of making a lot of incredible connections in the independent film realm! From directors, producers, writers, and publicists, to actors and actresses from the films I got to review, the sky is the limit!
So, therefore, why not start off the year with an actress whom I more recently had the privilege of connecting with, thanks to the upcoming Valentine’s Day indie feature release, “Providence”. This artist is one of the main characters in a uniquely crafted, faith-based effort that I truly hope gets some serious notice in its selected theater run. With a career that is only growing bigger by the moment, she has quite a story to tell about life in film, the rigors of the indie world, and the excitement of a full slate coming up! So, I present the wonderful, witty, lovely Juli Tapken!
One Film Fan: Let’s begin with the overview of who Juli Tapken is and what were the initial roads that lead to an interest in film/entertainment.
Juli Tapken: I’m the youngest of four children, born to Bill and Edie( Magner) Adams, who by the way looked just like Lucy and Desi Arnez, and had just as tumultuous a relationship. My earliest memories are of making my siblings laugh. So I’ve always been a goofy hambone. In a tense home, there is never a lack of opportunity to lighten the mood, and I took that on as my job–to bring lightness and laughter plus help myself and others see the good that God could be doing in whatever circumstance we were in. My sisters sang, played instruments, and acted, so naturally I followed suit. They sang in 4H talent shows, and we are all naturally dramatic people.
Anytime someone would come to the house, our mother would beg us to sing or do a little reading or something. The funny thing is, I hated that. I always thought, ‘These people aren’t here to hear me sing’, roll my eyes, give her grief, then proceeded to give the performance of my life. I figured, if they had to endure it, it may as well be good. Then, I didn’t have an interest in making entertaining a career, really. I just wanted to help people forget for a minute that they had sorrow, and share hope that the next minute might not be as bad. I believe that’s what we are made for, to bring joy and hope. However someone may need it, be it a song, a smile or an act of service. It was my survival technique.
O.F.F.: How did you further learn the arts (ie: mentors, influences, and schooling)?
J.T.: When I was in junior high, I was invited to audition for a performing arts talent group called Oklahoma Kids. I got in with them and met Susanne Kem, the first person who looked at me and said, “You could do this professionally”. She and her husband Bill, own Kems Gym and Inciardi School of Dance. She believed in me so much, that she invested her own time to teach me basic dance and movement, trying so hard to make me a “triple threat” .
I learned so much about stage presence, professionalism, and technique, from Oklahoma Kids, and Ponca Playhouse. My high school drama coach, Lisa Barnette, taught me how to go beyond what’s written in the script, and act between the lines. Professionally, I’ve had experiences with people that taught me how I did not want to behave in the business, which truly is just as valuable a lesson. Through every opportunity God brought me to, He provided a wise and caring person to expand my knowledge and enhance my experiences.
O.F.F.: Your bio indicates (as you’ve possibly hinted at or mentioned above) a huge singing background and stage acting experience. How did those elements specifically influence your choosing to make acting a career?
J.T.: Really, my husband is responsible. He saw that when I was on stage, I was happy. I was fulfilling my calling. We talked about where we could go that would give me the opportunity I desired and still fit our sensibilities. God led us to Branson MO. I got in with The Promise Theater in their Christmas production of “Two from Galilee”. I had a speaking role in Act One and I was a flying angel in Act Two. To this day, flying 5 matinee shows a week is still one of the most thrilling stage experiences of my life. Then, I found a show that was just perfect for me, “Smoke on the Mountain”, a gospel musical comedy that has been a part of my life off and on for the last 15 years.
O.F.F.: I also found it amazing that you are only entering into your third year as an actress and yet have logged over 20 total credits to your name via feature films, short films, and TV appearances. That’s impressive in a short amount of time. Kind of a whirlwind for you?
J.T.: I’m actually entering into my 41st year of being an actress; my 17th year of being a professional actress. This is my 3rd year into acting professionally for film. It’s been a long journey to get to this place. I never imagined that I might have so many opportunities. I often equate it to being in an amusement park. You wait in line for what seems like forever, until you finally find yourself next in line. You get strapped in and ready for a wild, wonderful ride. When it’s over, you run to get right back in line. It is a whirlwind, roller-coaster, mineshaft, peaks and valleys kind of ride for sure.
O.F.F.: Has there been a certain character (or characters) to date you’ve enjoyed playing in particular and why, as you certainly cover a pretty wide range of character types!
J.T.: The ladies of “Smoke on the Mountain” will always be a part of me, and truly are the different facets of me. The flamboyant and star struck ‘Denise’, is who I am when I perform. The quietly content ‘June’ is my inner self–shy and awkward–but willing to be that for Him. And the well meaning, albeit controlling and self righteous, mama ‘Vera’, well, I love, and at the same time, battle her everyday.
O.F.F.: What have the experiences been like in TV/commercial roles vs. film roles? Similar? Completely different?
J.T.: It’s all pretty similar as far as mechanics and technical professionalism, although, every crew has their own way of communicating and reaching a creative synthesis. Commercial work is different from film in that the lines must be said quickly and exactly as written, because it’s a 30-sec spot, and every word was approved by legal. Film is much more creative, collaborative, and flexible, in that a director will often forgo an exact line read for the exact right emotion. That’s what I love most about the process. Every experience is different enough to keep you on your toes, yet the same enough to know what to expect and how to behave.
O.F.F.: Now, you have experience as an associate producer on an upcoming film “College Bound: Window of Hope” and story editor on the upcoming film “Providence”. Is this an indication of desiring to do more behind the camera, perhaps?
J.T.: You know, I am up for whatever comes my way. I believe every experience is preparation for the next. So you never know. 😉
O.F.F.: So, onto this recently completed project, “Providence”, set for theatrical release Valentine’s Day 2016. What drew you to this film and/or how did the opportunity arrive?
J.T.: My husband saw the audition notice on FB, and sent in my packet to Mainstreet Productions. It was really interesting at the time of submission, as I really, really wanted the role on “Providence”. It felt just “so” right to me. I was, and still am, “over the Moon” about “Providence”. What an honor and huge opportunity for me professionally!
O.F.F.: Tell us a little about the character, Adult Rachel, you play in it.
J.T.: Adult Rachel is an independent, yet lonely woman. She tries to find fulfillment in her work, goes out every once in a while, but never really finds that love that she once felt. She finally decides to settle. I love this character, in that she is the picture of the bride of Christ. How impatient and fickle we are. And yet He so lovingly and patiently pursues us. It allows us to discover what He knew all along–that there is no greater Love.
O.F.F.: The story is so uniquely told in that there is no dialogue, and therefore must rely on your dramatic acting/actions and the music to carry the emotions and narrative along. Was that hard to do in not actually speaking?
J.T.: LOL It’s not like watching a “Mr. Bean” episode, with goofy faces and expressions. It’s more like watching a conversation from across the room. You may not be able to hear the words, but you know exactly what’s being said. We spoke to one another, in character, in the scenes. It didn’t seem much different except, I didn’t have to memorize what I was going to say. I just said what I felt Rachel would say in that moment. It was actually very freeing.
O.F.F.: The excellent, faith-based message presented here—how did that, if at all, influence you during filming, as its portrayal of love is so potent and grounded in trusting God?
J.T.: I am blessed to know the deep love of The Savior and the deep love of a spouse–how one points to and enhances the other. We were never made to be alone. Even before God brought Eve to Adam, He Himself walked with him. The relationship that is developed over time in trials, successes and failures, loss and gain, is one of the most precious elements ever created. That’s why Satan desires to destroy it and counterfeit it. It is the most powerful force in all the universe, because Love never fails. NEVER.
O.F.F.: How was it working with fellow actors Irene Santiago, Stacey Bradshaw, Rich Swingle, and Josh Allen?
J.T.: Rich and Irene are the only two I actually got to work with. I did stop by and meet Stacey on set as we were leaving town and she began her scenes. What a wonderful, precious human being she is. Would love to, and fully expect to, work with her in a movie some day. I met Josh Allen at the premiere–so love him and his awesome family! Now, Rich and Irene–that would be just a straight out “WOW”! Both are truly professional and inspirational to work with. The three of us meshed perfectly for the scenes we were tackling . I couldn’t have asked for a better team to create this with. Am I forever grateful to just meet them, get the chance to perform with them, as well as all of the other wonderful talent in “Providence”? ASTONISHED!
O.F.F.: Additionally, how about working with the Mainstreet Productions team of writer/director Sharon Wilharm and her husband Fred doing the producing and filming?
J.T.: As I have had several more opportunities since the filming of “Providence”, I have learned over and over again how truly great a team those two are. First, as a husband and wife–always honoring each other and God–just an incredible example of what a marriage should be. Second, as a film production team, they are tops! Fred captures incredible footage, just beautiful! Fantastic Director of Photography with a simple, invisible feel on set. Sharon….WOW! She is still a best friend. Her constant drive to follow God is beyond inspiring.
Through this whole process of casting , filming, promoting, and finally presenting “Providence” to the world, she is constantly learning. Sharon, though brilliant, still listens and learns. She is always humble and honest. The whole mission of Mainstreet Productions is to present the gospel to “even one of these”. My biggest joy of all of the recent success of “Providence” is that the Wilharms may find joy in doing a job “well done” as the servants that they are. I pray our paths continue to cross many times. AMEN!
O.F.F.: What other projects are on the horizon for you at this juncture?
J.T.: Oh goodness, we are just amazed at all of the opportunities ahead! Thank you for asking. Jeff keeps me hopping for sure. Let me mention at this point that I am a team, Team Tapken. We do all of this as a family. My husband is really the force behind all of this momentum. Jeff is the best manager/agent in the country! He is also the best husband in the world! Now, let’s see–what does he have me set up with in the near future? We just wrapped on an amazing “thriller” feature film titled “Godsend” that is really exciting and has huge momentum towards a release in late February!
We are also excited about the release of the newest Donald James Parker movie, “Mission Improbable”. It is premiering in late February, as well. I play the female lead opposite the fabulous Collin Brown and Mike Tinker in that one. Don’t miss it! We are really excited about finishing up the incredible film “The Reins Maker” by Michael Arnold and Fire Catcher Productions. They are also releasing soon “The Colors of Emily” where I play a small role, but opposite the amazing Jenn Gotzon.
Have a few Television opportunities in the works, so be watching for those! So lot’s of great stuff coming up. God is so good! AMAZING! Oh, I am sure I have forgotten things. Please check out my Facebook page or IMDb page to get the real up to date facts. https://www.facebook.com/julitapkenperformer and http://www.imdb.me/julitapken.
O.F.F.: Outside of film for a moment, I read that you are actually a very accomplished home interior painter? How about some expansion on that facet of your life.
J.T.: That is how we have eaten all of these years of chasing this performance dream. As my dad stated to me many years ago: “I’m going to teach you this because if you can do this, you won’t go hungry”. So true! My husband and I have had our own home interior painting business since we moved to Branson in 2000. In all humility, we are actually one of the best around! I cut in the lines, Jeff rolls out the rest. We really love working together and the 24/7 life!
O.F.F.: In my growing experiences connecting with more and more directors, producers, publicists, and actors within the independent film arena, it becomes clearer to me the true, heartfelt passion all these individuals have for the industry, as the stories, characters, and humanness of these projects stands out. How important is it to you that indie cinema get a larger push and promotion to a larger movie going public?
J.T.: The indie world is very, very tough. It is something that Jeff and I discuss and pray about all the time. As we have submerged ourselves into this God-following mission with no safety net, we are constantly reminded of how hard it is. Indie projects are immensely needed in the industry as an outlet for so many artists. Really, I don’t believe you could stop them if you wanted to in todays technological age. It really isn’t difficult to just put together a “filming” with the ever ready cameras we all have in our pockets. It can be that simple–filming on a phone happens a lot. You see, filming a movie is a wide spectrum of the art of photography, from a hobby all the way up through to Hollywood. Storytelling itself is as old as man. Now the two shall meet. So, to use the word “independent” is just so broad a term.
In general, indie work is incredibly difficult. It is just plain hard to “make a movie”. Many do not understand this. To get a movie financed, cast, shot, edited and distributed is actually a rarity. We were astonished by this fact. Unfortunately, funding is the problem we see over and over again. There is just not enough money to support all of the projects. I mentioned earlier, we are praying all the time about this–you know, what is the answer? We haven’t found that yet. All we can do personally is prayerfully consider opportunities as they come along, figure out if we can afford to do it, go and give it our “all” and leave the rest in God’s hands.
The industry of Indie Cinema is humongous. Probably could use some combining of efforts financially some how. But, we have not come up with the answer of how to do that. In short, I believe the Indie market has to survive like the rest of us–compete to the best of your ability and let God bring the fruits. How cool, that is the definition of “Providence”. 🙂
O.F.F.: Last question, and always a good one—even if a bit challenging for many! What is YOUR favorite film of all time? Why?
J.T.: It’s a toss up between “Raising Arizona” and “Milo and Otis”. We love the Cohen brothers (to work with them would be a dream come true) and that particular story just resonates with us, being adopted parents. Likewise, “Milo and Otis” is a brilliant, beautifully adorable story of love, friendship, and adventure. My family can recite every line of each. And do, frequently, several times a day.:) These two are definitely woven into the fabric of our lives.
Faith, films, fun, hard work, dedication, and that ongoing attitude I have personally found runs through the indie film community and the people within it–heart. As you have just read, Juli has more than her fair share of opportunity that has come along, been fought for, and earned in the indie film arena with no signs of slowing down anytime soon! Striving to prioritize faith and marriage in the midst of a chaotic schedule, it has only served to strengthen those elements of her life and cause her to push forward, to which this reviewer says, “Bravo!!”. So, want to have some ways to keep up on Juli’s going’s on? Try these ways below:
“Follow” Juli on Twitter: Here
“Like” Juli’s Facebook Page: Here
Check out Juli’s Website: Here
“Like” the “Providence” Facebook Page: Here
“Follow” “Providence” on Twitter: Here
I would like to extend another heartfelt “Thank You!!” to Juli Tapken for allowing me and hence you, readers, a glimpse into her world and for taking the time to do this interview for OneFilmFan.com! Also, would like to give a shout out to on-set photographer, David G. Baker, for the lovely film set shots above! Keep eyes out as more interview with cast members of this wonderful indie effort will be coming! Until next time, thank you for reading!