You come from a family of filmmakers. Does it feel second nature to you?
It does! I grew up on sets and around crew and talent, so I think it’s in my DNA. But I’m always open to learning more and to taking on new roles that I haven’t done before. I always thought I’d just want to act but now I am realizing I prefer being behind the scenes. Sometimes when I’m directing or writing, I’ll have a memory of my dad doing the exact same thing when I was young, and I wonder what my own kids will remember of their mom’s crazy job when they get older.
How long have you been with Sid Roth’s “It’s Supernatural“?
I think I started casting for them in 2010. I had just moved to Charlotte and I still remember the first casting I posted for the show, as well as who I booked. It’s so weird now to think that most of these actors have become my friends when I was new to the SouthEast film community at the time.
You are a writer, producer, actress, casting director & director. Which do you prefer most?
I definitely gave up acting several years ago. I’d rather be behind the camera or writing at home. It’s weird because at one time, that’s all I dreamed of, and now I just feel more authentic when I’m creating a project from the ground up, rather than acting in one. But I feel my prior acting experience helps me as a writer and director, as well. I prefer writing the most, but directing is right up there with it because there’s a kind of fulfillment not only in getting to tell a story you wrote, but in continuing that vision through directing the cast and bringing the entire project to life.
How did “Morning Comes So Soon” come about?
We wrote and produced “Morning Comes So Soon” while we were volunteers in the Marshall Islands. It was the first cinematic film to ever be made in that part of the world. We used all local kids from the high school I taught at, but held auditions and found some real talent. The film is in English, Mandarin, and Marshallese, and is about several issues that affected the youth on the island. We made it with grants from Unesco, and with very little money, but it ended up screening at several festivals and having a write up in Variety.
How gratifying is seeing something you imagined unfold on the big screen…or even on set?
Honestly, I still cry when I’m on set or at a premiere and I’m watching the actors bring the words I wrote to life. It’s surreal. But sometimes it’s also tough because you’re always thinking of things you should’ve done differently but now they’re too late to change.
How did you develop “My Name is Paul“?
I was asked to write My Name is Paul from a short that Vanessa Ore had written and her and her husband, Trey, had produced. That was the first feature-length screenplay I’d ever written. I didn’t know the Ore’s at the time, and received a random call from Vanessa one day asking me if I’d write it. I used some of what they’d had in their short, and also cracked open my Bible for the first time in years to see what I could learn about Paul on my own. That film was kind of the start for me, however, in realizing that I loved to write and was the catalyst that set me on this path.
You have worked with some very talented people including local actors & bigger named talent. Do you ever write with a specific actor in mind for a role?
I really do. Sometimes it’ll be someone I know, a friend maybe. But other times, I’ll see someone’s audition or even a clip of something they’ve done, and there’s just this spark in them I can’t explain, and I’ll suddenly have this whole concept for a film or character based off of them. Most of my projects are written with specific people in mind. Sometimes they’ll be a named actor, and other times, just someone who had something special that caught my attention.
I love that you cast William McNamara in “Divine Appointment”. Such an underrated actor. Love him in “Doing Time on Maple Drive” & of course, “Dream A Little Dream“. I here he is laser focused on set.
I was really surprised when William “Billy” submitted for the film. He’s a really talented actor and focused. He really tries to get into the mind of the character and is open to discussing his ideas, while also being able to take direction.
How cool was it getting Erik Estrada for “Virtuous“?
I wasn’t able to make it to set for the shooting of “Virtuous”, so I never got a chance to meet him in person. I did think it was pretty cool that he’d be reading my script. And one night he hopped on a call and introduced himself to me.
You not only are a filmmaker, but you also write music & draw portraits. Is this a more soothing way to be creative?
Lately, I haven’t had much time to write/play music or draw. Sometimes, when I need a quick break from writing, I’ll sit down at the piano and play something, then return back to the computer. But those things definitely relax me and help many creative blocks. I need to go back to them!
Your films often deal with faith, forgiveness & redemption. I would describe a Tara Lynn Marcelle film as a hip, non-traditional faith based film. Would I be correct?
I think that’s one way to describe me but I sort of fell into the faith based world by accident. Or maybe it was fate? Haha. I think all the films I write and make will deal with redemption of some sort because that’s a really personal topic to me and also universal no matter what you believe in. I think people will be surprised, though, with the latest films I’m working on because they are not typical of the work I’ve done in the past. But I definitely feel for me to write a faith based film, it needs to be authentic. It needs to show flawed characters and maybe not have everything tied up nicely in the end, even if those characters do have an encounter with God. Because that’s real life – at least in my experience.
Any particular genre you’d like to tackle as either a writer, director or actress?
I really want to do a dark comedy, totally irreverent. And I’d also like to tackle a supernatural thriller.
What’s next for you?
I’m writing several films for others as well as doing pre-pro for a feature I wrote and will direct in Va in January, called “Calm Before”. We are currently getting our cast together and I have to say we have some amazing talent involved!
Also, I have a really awesome script with an agency in LA, so hoping to get that rolling. That film is unlike anything I’ve ever written and deals with the undergound hip hop culture.