In Their Own Words: Actress Vasso Georgiadou of “Anna Unbound”

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Greetings to all and welcome to the next posting in the popular category known as “In Their Own Words” on OneFilmFan.com.  Here I continue to take the opportunity to gather the thoughts of some of the film arena’s most interesting and talented actors, writers, directors, producers, and crew members, especially those established within the independent film world, and this newest entry is no exception.

With the new independent feature “Anna Unbound” making its rounds on the film festival circuit, its lead actress willingly took some time to answer my questions, not just about the new thriller (which I cover later in this interview!), but also about the ever challenging road and ongoing determination it takes to make it in a medium where gaining viewership and recognition of and for your work is decidedly hard, but worth it when perseverance pays off.

Therefore, it is with that thought in mind that OneFilmFan.com brings you this insightful look into the acting world of the beautiful and most certainly determined actress, Vasso Georgiadou!

 

One Film Fan: I just have to say right from the start that I totally love your name!  There’s something– lyrical–about it.  So, let’s start out by letting you tell us about who Vasso Georgiadou is and, in broad strokes for now, how your interest in film came about?

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Vasso Georgiadou: That’s a lovely thing to say. I always thought my name would be a hurdle people would have to work around, so I’m very pleased you’re finding the beauty in it, rather than the inconvenience of pronunciation!

A brief resume would be the following–I was born in Athens, to a Greek father and a Czech mother. Having a mixture of cultures in my life whilst growing up has been my single most influence in whatever I have done, as it gave me the scope, from a very young age, of independence and a broad view and acceptance of things that came my way.

Trying to look back into my early-life influences, I distinctly remember being always fascinated by sound, music and moving images. I would be stuck in front of a TV set for hours, observing whatever was on, soaking up story after story and attempting to mimic whatever show I had just watched. I would become a dancer for a day, a clown, a magician, a doctor -anyone and anything!

I suppose I always had this deep seated longing to experience as many realities as I could and storytelling through film gave me an outlet for that.

O.F.F.: How did you further learn the art (ie: mentors, influences, and schooling)?

V.G.: The first and most important influence in my life has been my mother. I was extremely shy and an introvert as a child, whereas my mother was the complete opposite. She was a joy to be around, always full of life, humor, and a streak of mischief and comedy in her daily interactions. I suppose I subconsciously admired that and was inspired enough to be able to channel her effect on me in my acting roles.

Other great influences have been my acting teachers. I had an exceptional acting teacher in Athens who prepared me for my entry auditions in UK drama schools and I used to refer to her as my personal Stella Adler. She was a true tour de force and I would class her as my strongest teaching influence to date.

Other than that, I was greatly influenced by my acting teachers at Langside College in Glasgow, where I completed my actor’s training. Last but not least, my continuous source of inspiration and drive, has always been all the incredible actors that I have looked up to over the years, sharing their gifts and talents on screen and stage.

O.F.F.: Now, at first, with your stage/theater background, did that all assist you in preparing to make the jump to film, or did you think stage was where you were going to stay?

V.G.: Film was actually where I started from. I used to get together with my friends and shoot films for fun, where we’d all assume as many roles and responsibilities as we could, due to the obvious lack of resources and cash at the time. When I shot my first amateur film and watched the takes afterwards, I thought to myself : “this is it; I could easily spend the rest of my life doing this stuff”! My stage training helped me in terms of learning how to structure my preparation and hone my craft, but most of all, how to do the hard work so that when I eventually perform it looks effortless.

O.F.F.: What was your very first film experience and how did that influence your decision to pursue further film acting opportunities?

V.G.: My first conscious film endeavor was putting a mid length amateur film together, with a group of friends, when I lived in Crete. I had a car, my friend could do some basic CGI and was passionate about directing (with the view of becoming the next Quentin Tarantino..), and we had a handycam and a bunch of folks with abundant enthusiasm! We knew of a deserted village nearby, with a few abandoned houses and some nice locations for different scenes, so we decided to shoot a gory horror film (a traditional “splatter” to be specific), with plenty of action, fake blood and jumping of cliffs into freezing rivers.

We were nuts! But we all loved what we were doing so much and relished every second of it, so we didn’t care if we finished a day’s shoot and were covered in bruises, sore bones, muscles and loaded with the cold -we were living the dream! I thought this was just the best career choice in the world and all I had to do was to find a way of making it happen.

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O.F.F.: Do you prefer more physically driven characters or emotionally driven characters and why?

V.G.: I prefer both for separate reasons. I am very passionate about understanding people and the human condition and I study psychology as hobby; therefore deep and emotional characters really appeal to me.

But, I am equally fascinated by physically driven roles. I am a fan of physical activities and I love sports (especially martial arts), so the thought of an action film always puts a smile on my face.

O.F.F.: In looking at your filmography, you’ve mainly been performing in short films. Did you find those satisfying, or has there always been a desire to make that leap into feature-length projects, such as one we are about to discuss!

V.G.: Short films are the first port of call for young filmmakers and relatively easy to make. As an aspiring actor, they provide you with a great platform to explore and experiment, so that when the time comes, the leap into bigger things finds you a bit more informed and aware of the process.

I have enjoyed tremendously all the short films I’ve been involved in but my goal has always been to make the leap into feature films. So I am very pleased and grateful to have been given the opportunity to work on this amazing project.

O.F.F.: So, onto your current project, “Anna Unbound”, currently making its initial Festival rounds. What drew you to this film, or how did the opportunity come about?

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V.G.: “Anna Unbound” is essentially the extension, or rather the development of, a short film called “Cut Free”. This was a short film I shot with the director, Bernd Porr, as practice, in order to get better prepared for the 48 Film Challenge in Glasgow, 2013.

Subsequently, a competition from a local film company came about, where the winning feature length script would win a monetary prize towards further development. We worked on expanding the story and entered the competition with our treatment, but didn’t win. By then however, Bernd Porr had made the decision to go forward anyway and make this film regardless, by finding it himself.

Given the fact that I had acted in the short film before and was partially involved in the story’s development, I was offered the lead part in the feature.

O.F.F.: Tell us a little about Anna, the central character you play in it.

V.G.: Anna is a young woman from Athens, who was greatly affected by her personal circumstances whilst she lived in Greece and tried to find a resolution by fleeing her country and starting afresh in a new place, in different culture.

She is a very sensitive and private person and cares a lot about the people she’s got in her life. She believes in commitment and hard work and does her best to prove her worth at all levels; sometimes at a very high cost.

O.F.F.: Thematically, this film deals with some seriously intense emotions, taking some dark turns along the way. How was that as an actor having to go to that place in your head so as to accurately portray those feelings?

V.G.: It never is an easy process. The deeper you go into your own self and the more intensely you work with certain emotions, the more isolating the experience becomes.

As I mentioned in one of my previous answers, I am very interested in human psychology, so I will study meticulously all the different expressions of someone’s condition or conditioning. And, I suppose, because I’m looking at it from an educational perspective, one of personal curiosity, I am partially able to distance myself whilst being in the role, and observe my actions at the same time as doing them.

O.F.F.: In any way, was Anna the type of character you relate to, or simply a part to research and perform?

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V.G.: There were certain elements in her character that resonated with me and aspects of her story that I could relate to. But, the majority of the part was subject to research.

There is however a quirky fact that followed the shoot. A few months after we shot the final scenes in Greece, due to some peculiar cosmic design, my own life ended up taking a similar turn to my character’s circumstance and I ended up re-living some of the scenes I had acted out -but this time for real! The strangest experience ever.

Maybe this is a point I could come back to and elaborate on in another interview.

OF.F.: What was it like working with your fellow actors like James Robson, Sharon Osdin, Martin Sweeney, Bill Wright, and Kirsty May Hamilton?

V.G.: It was an absolute pleasure working with Sharon, Bill, James, Martin, and Kirsty. They are all very talented actors and I learned a lot by working with them. We had great rapport on and off set and continued our relationship long after the end of the filming process.

We had great fun on set and didn’t miss a chance to be cheeky to one another and secretly sabotage each others’ takes, by leaving notes with silly messages in places the camera wouldn’t pick up etc. But who wouldn’t! I would work with each one of those guys in a heartbeat.

O.F.F.: How about working with co-writer/director/producer/cinematographer Bernd Porr?  Man of many hats on set, eh?

V.G.: Bernd is an exceptional human being, all round. He is one of the most intelligent people I have ever met and his skill force, as you mentioned, knows no limits. I have known Bernd for a few years now and we initially became friends through a film discussion group in Glasgow. Subsequently, we engaged in many film projects and collaborations together and discovered we have a very similar point of view and work ethic when it comes to filming.

Working with Bernd on set is a great experience. He is very polite, but also firm in his decisions and follows a strict schedule, which is something I respect tremendously. I am a very organized and methodical individual, and I am not a fan of wasting time or not being smart and productive with your resources.

Something I also highly respect in the way Bernd works, is that he is as accommodating and generous with others as possible and he doesn’t let tiredness and fatigue affect the way he communicates with his collaborators, which in turn creates a trusting and comforting environment on set.

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O.F.F: What other projects are on the horizon for you currently?

V.G.: I am currently in collaboration with another Glasgow-based filmmaker, with whom I have two films to work on in the next few months. I will also re-visit the stage with a two-hander play in May and June, through ‘Leylines’, a theatre company I set up with two friends last year.

Other than that, I have recently joined a charity called ‘AVP Scotland’ (Alternatives to Violence Project), where, after I finish my training, I will work as a facilitator in workshops, helping people to understand and deal with violence in a productive and peaceful way. I have also assumed the role of a PR volunteer, helping the charity raise awareness and hopefully some further funding so they can continue doing the incredible work they do and help people across the board, within the community but also in prisons.

Additionally, I am taking part in a ‘live’ exhibition at the Refugee Festival in Scotland, where I will lend certain personal items on display, along with a transcript of some of my story, for visitors to look at and listen to. This is happening through ‘SIGOHA’, an exceptional project/concept a friend has put together, in order to document peoples experiences of resettlement in Glasgow.

After all that….   (as you can tell, I don’t get bored easily!), I intend to take some time off in the summer and visit my family in Greece.

O.F.F.: Independent film, as I mentioned to Bernd in our interview as well, has truly shown to be a bastion of deeper stories, richer characters, and just better emotional connection. How important is it to you, as an indie film actor, that indie film gets a bigger push to the world at large?  Secondly, how challenging is it to BE an actor in the indie arena when the larger studios with seemingly limitless wallets get all the attention with their projects?

V.G.: The one quote that I remember from my Economics class in high school is that “a market is defined by consumer demand”. Not knowing what politics are in place when it comes to big budget productions, and how that affects the subject matter and the way something is produced/shot, I suspect that the reason the current status quo, in terms of commercial films being the way it is, is because the general public wants it this way. The more audiences start requesting more real-life stories and relatable characters, the more the push towards making such films will be. At least I hope so!

On the other hand, styles are re-defined each era anew. We are currently going through rapid technological advancements and this speed of development reflects the way we view our lives and subsequently how much time we allocate to pausing, thinking, contemplating.

In terms of working on indie productions, there are certain pros and cons. The most prominent con for me is the lack of finances, which in turn affects what you earn for doing your job (if you’re ‘lucky’ enough to get paid -that is something that needs to be said, unfortunately). A huge pro on the other hand, is the great freedom of choice that you have, in terms of artistic creativity and collaborations. The fact that you don’t have restrictions imposed upon you by studios or producers, broadens the scope of all the things you can work on.

The most difficult aspect for me personally, currently working in this arena, is the actual practicality of surviving as a ‘non-famous’ actor. People on the outside hear the word ‘actress’ or ‘actor’ and they immediately think of A-listers and Oscars. All the glamour and the allure that goes with the lifestyle. Well, this does exist too, but it’s actually a tiny percentage, statistically speaking. The rest of the aspiring actors have to run a pretty ‘hard-core’ existence in order to make ends meet and actually survive whilst doing what they love. And I include myself in this category.

There was a point last year where I had four jobs on the go at the same time! I was literally running like a headless chicken all over town, struggling to make ends meet, and any spare second I had, I would try to squeeze in the odd audition, or work on a radio play I had been cast in, or try to think of a project of my own that I’d like to get off the ground; anything to keep me going so that I wouldn’t get disheartened and give up hope. It’s tough, really tough.

But if you love what you’re doing and it’s your passion, then in some miraculous way, you’ll keep finding small islands of support and encouragement along the way and keep at it. Keep going, doing the best you can and hope for the best in equal measure.

My personal wish would be that there was a stronger network of official support from arts councils or any other public or private sources, in terms of funding and networking-forging connections. That way, the journey of an aspiring actor would not be so treacherous and one could continue pursuing his or her passion with a clearer view of achievable goals.

O.F.F.: Looking at some of your other skills, I find it very interesting that you cover such a wide range from dancing to presenter, reader, witer/director, drama teacher, workshop leader, and acting coach!  Can you expand a little on how these aspects of your life come into play while also acting in film?

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V.G.: I believe that everything we do as people can help us advance, both personally but also professionally. If we are aware enough and interested in weaving the connections of experience together, then we notice that there is a lesson hidden in every situation we find ourselves in.

Equally, when I’m working on a role, I look deep into all that I’ve lived through, which has shaped me as an individual and as an artist, and attempt to draw inspiration and knowledge from it, so that I do as good a job as I can as an actor.

O.F.F.: Of course, I always insist on ending interviews with a classic final question….what is YOUR favorite film of all time?  Why?

V.G.: Ah! The million dollar question! I can never decide on the one film or the one director -I have so many favorites.

I tend to mention “Dirty Dancing”, as I am dance-obsessed and this is the one film that I have watched the most ever since I was little, secretly hoping that I could be ‘Baby’ for a day and have that classic final dance!

But if I may give a different answer to your question, I would like to say that the film I would choose on this occasion would be “Forrest Gump”.

Apart from the incredible acting from all the cast, the wonderful locations and the utterly beautiful soundtrack, this story has such strong messages of love, hope, the workings of life, survival, priorities, friendship, family values, and the impermanence of things, that it has stayed with me ever since I first saw it in the cinema. Also, I find myself unconsciously referring to this film over and over again. There will be certain circumstances where I’ll ask myself – “What would this character from “Forrest Gump” do in your shoes?” Or, “Remember when that character made that choice and then they lost their way? Keep that in mind and act wisely”.

It is also the only film I recall seeing in the cinema with my mum and dad together, so it has a certain sentimental family value for me.

 

So there you have it, readers!  Here we have an actress who’s not only extremely passionate about her art form, how she executes her performances within it, and the viewpoint of how it shapes her day to day life, but we also see the deep human connection Ms. Georgiadou values in how it can touch others’ lives as well.  Being able to impart that knowledge and also strive to help other up and coming actors to see the potential they have and stay the course when the road is fraught with potential discouragement.

Also desiring to see other entertainment-based organizations stand up and assist, financially or otherwise, in supporting independent cinema echoes this reviewers thoughts as well, as the medium brings such amazing stories and characters to the table that so many will miss unless voices are heard talking about it. So, keep an eye out for “Anna Unbound” and when the chance arises, see it and tell others about it.  In doing so, it can truly help these amazing efforts get more chances to shine and make others take notice of it and other beyond mainstream productions.

Want to keep up with Vasso and her goings on?  Check out these ways to do just that:

“Follow” Vasso on Twitter: Here

“Follow” Vasso on Facebook: Here

Check out Vasso’s website: Here

“Follow” the film’s Twitter: Here

“Like” the film’s Facebook Page: Here

Check out the film’s website: Here

 

Plenty to keep up on, but oh so worth the time to support these truly gifted actors and filmmakers within the indie world. A heartfelt “Thank You!!” to Vasso Georgiadou for the honor of her time and thoughts shared so generously with me and, by extension, you, readers!  Stay tuned, folks, as this is one of two primary interviews from key people associated with this film! Who’s the other?  Wait and read!  Let’s do what we all can to help support indie film!

I also want to say a quick “Thank You!!” to “Anna Unbound” composer Matthew Whiteside who was more than, forgive me peeps, instrumental in arranging this interview for me and OneFilmFan.com!

Until next time, thank you for reading!

 

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