Face to Face Films is on the move!
A reading series exploring the screenplays of famed plays; an initiative that goes far beyond what a theatre company’s responsibility; a new play continuing in workshop; and now a new company partner.
Makes sense. Anthony Laura, as much as he is a force to reckon with these days in indie theatre and film, couldn’t do it alone. Enter stage and film actress, Casey Hartnett. As an actress, Ms. Hartnett is immensely diverse, and as a business partner, she has shown herself to be a leader.
We offered our congratulations to them on great work and being a great team with a conversation on how and when it all began.
How did you both meet?
Anthony Laura: Casey submitted an audition to me about two years ago for a film we were going to shoot called “The Rabbits.” It was an ensemble piece and Casey auditioned for a few different roles. I was struck by how strong and varied each of her auditions were and how much depth she added to each character. I had decided to cast her in a dual role because I felt her range and vulnerability were incredible.
Casey Hartnett: I auditioned for Anthony back in the fall of 2018 for a feature film he was casting. The stars aligned and he ended up casting me and asking me to be an ensemble member with the company and we’ve been working together ever since.
What made your promote Casey?
Anthony Laura: : As we began working closer together, I started to see Casey’s potential for helping to build the company I wanted. At first, I was struck by her compassion and empathy for everyone she crosses paths with. Her ability to always see the best in people and to want to help in whatever way she can comes from a completely genuine place. We had always connected on the types of work we wanted to do, and the more we spoke about that, the more I knew she was someone I wanted to have by my side in creating a company that operates from empathy and inclusion.
Casey, what do you bring to the table?
Casey Hartnett:: Acting and dancing were my first loves, but I was also writing and creating stories from a young age. So, after college I began producing in addition to acting and have spent several years producing independent films. But aside from experience, I’d say I also bring a compassionate and empathetic approach to the work we are doing and the stories we are telling with Face to Face.
On working together:
Casey Hartnett:: As a director, Anthony is very giving and open in trusting the actors to bring their own instincts and choices to the work and then giving adjustments as needed. Anthony is also great as a partner because while he’s on top of everything and has such wonderful ideas, he’s also very giving in that environment as well. He trusts the people he chooses to work with in a way that allows for the respect among the relationship to grow endlessly where everyone can embrace a really wonderful collaborative environment.
Anthony Laura: : As an actor, Casey’s goal is to always find the truth and honor it. I love that about working with her. In exploring whatever character we’re working on, she’s always open to trying an adjustment, even if it’s a little out of left field, in order find deeper levels to the character. I’ve found many moments where Casey has taught me about the humanity of some of my own writing, just by taking a note and running with it. She always surprises me, which is why I think she’s an interesting actor to watch on stage and in film. As a partner, without repeating what I said above, Casey always has her eye on inclusivity and how we can further enhance the work we’re doing with our ensemble and people outside of our company. She also has a great way of making me and others around her feel at ease even in times of conflict and I wanted to work with a partner who was further able to facilitate a sense of compassion when, as they will, times get tough.
What do you think makes you strong partners?
Casey Hartnett: I think Anthony and I have similar values in the work that we each create. For us, the work is more about telling honest, complex stories about women and other less-represented communities and having that be more rewarding than anything else. Knowing that we are telling stories that we believe in and that are genuinely important to us is what keeps us connected on a level that can help our partnership excel.
Anthony Laura: : I think finding a good partner comes from finding good people who respect the direction you’re heading. Casey and I see eye to eye on why these stories are so important and what we want our creative message to be with people we hire and the works we choose. It’s nice to work with someone who you don’t have to explain that to.
What made you create a stage/film company?
Anthony Laura: : My earliest influence was Ingmar Bergman. His work is something that continues to inspire me, but what has always stuck with me was the ensemble he created, both in theater and film, and how that was sustained throughout his career. I like working with the same people and then incorporating new faces into our work as we continue to grow. I wanted to create a company where people could experience all different kinds of art: film, stage, web series, talk shows, etc. and where our audiences would become familiar with the incredible talent in our ensemble, always seeing them in different ways. I wanted to find a place where we can all come together as a family, support one another and create the kind of art we love and appreciate.
Casey what is like being a woman in the arts?
Casey Hartnett:: As a woman, I’ve certainly felt frustrated both as an actor and a producer. I stopped auditioning for awhile because I was tired of auditioning for “the girlfriend” or “hot girl at party” or the girlfriend/wife so concerned about her husband… those types of roles – which I wasn’t booking anyway because I didn’t care about them. When I met Anthony and read his scripts, it felt like such a gift. As a creator and producer of my own work, I’ve been working to get some comedy series about taboo women’s issues produced and some of the issues I’d been writing about just wasn’t drawing in the opportunities to get the work produced as well as I would have liked. It just felt like people didn’t really care about these honest stories about women. And then there are always those issues of being treated a certain way on set as a woman, whether that’s receiving inappropriate sexual comments or undermining what I am capabable of doing for the production as a woman; not being the first to be asked to do a certain task because it’s assumed a man can do it better. I think that’s all slowly changing now, but it’s definitely been hard.
What are your mutual plans for the future?
Casey Hartnett:: We have several projects that we are working on. We’ll be continuing our reading series, Theater: Interrupted, which has been going really well in our current climate of virtual theatre. We are also currently working on our new mental health awareness initiative, The Julia Initiative. Coming up in the future, we have a lot of scripts in the works for stage, film and episodic series. Some are ready to be put into production mode once health code regulations allow, so we’re patiently waiting on that.
Anthony Laura: : We are continuing to develop several projects that we’ve had to take a step back from for various reasons. We are planning to continue to build our ensemble and waiting for signs from the governor as to when we can move forward with The Girl with the Red Hair, either this year or next year. The reading series will continue through the end of this year, both focusing on established works and new works by up and coming writers. Right now, there’s a lot to look forward to.