Casey Killoran Talks Viral Beauty (Interview) [Update]

CaseyKilloranStill

[Update] Casey has informed us that the film is premiering at the Frozen Film Festival, 1 – 4 February, 2017. Viral Beauty set to be screened on Friday, Feb. 3 @ 9pm- Weyerhaeuser Auditorium.

On December 20, the star of Viral Beauty; Casey Killoran took time out of her busy day to have a chat with Mike’s Film Talk about the film.  We talked about altering your appearance for a role  and the challenges of wearing two hats on a project; executive producer and actor.

Virtual Beauty follows Marsha Day, an average young woman who advertises for a date on the Internet and ends up getting millions of subscribers. We are privy to her ups and downs as fame comes courting and we learn that there is a price to be paid regardless of where fame comes from.

Ms Killoran gave us some background on the film. It was written by her one time flatmate Elizabeth Lam, who is the sister of the film’s director David Tyson Lam.

The Interview:

Mike’s Film Talk: Hello Casey! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. I’ve got to say that I loved the film, its message,and what you brought to the role.

Casey: Thank you.

Mike’s Film Talk:  No problem! Now right off the bat, I’ve got to ask you what, apart from aspect of producing and starring in the film,  drew you to the project?

Casey: I think that the message and the story of the film is something that is so current and so “right now.” We were working on it over two years ago and even then it was something that was just starting.  I hadn’t seen anything like that before. The emersion of the Internet and one person’s journey that was so personal. You get to really follow their journey and learn what happens to someone who stumbles onto fame versus actively searching for it.

We see what happens to them when they become famous and this is happening right now online. People promote themselves and do that sort of thing. Once they “hit” and their stuff goes viral, they are catapulted into this stardom and it is so different from what it used to be.

Mike’s Film Talk: Yes.

Casey: Stardom used to be a secondary thing. People who wanted to act or sing focused on their craft. They worked at being good at what they did. They practised to become proficient at their passion and the fame came later. Right now, fame has become warped.  Which is what drew me to the film.

Mike’s Film Talk: I think the film shows that brilliantly. The film really shows that this is the “era of the Kardashian.” No talent needed, we’ll just make you famous to sell all these products. (Casey laughing.)  So how did you prepare for the role of Marsha?

Casey: The film actually started life as a short. I started working on it three years ago and then the short was put on pause. I went away and started doing my own stuff. The writer then went away and was working on her own thing.

I actually lived with the writer for three months.  She got to see me and how I navigated being an actor and producer in New York City. She picked up a lot because, while she is a writer,  her expertise is in the tech field. She does tech security. She thought it was interesting seeing me navigate the entertainment industry and she (Elizabeth Lam) was inspired to “sort of” make Marsha based off me and my experiences.

I was much heavier then and when she left, I lost a bunch of weight. I lost a significant amount of weight and that was when we stepped away from the short. She then came back and was “I wrote this whole feature length film, do you want to do it?”

I read it and was, this is so good but I can’t play this role, I’m not overweight anymore! What am I going to do? So the director; David, approached me and asked, very kindly, “Would you gain weight?”

(Casey laughing.)

It was a real battle for me. I tried several approaches. “Can we re-write it? Can she have another problem besides the weight? Isn’t there something we can do?” And they were like, no. They did say that they were not asking me to gain all the weight back but, a significant amount had to be put back on.

The reason was they needed me to look overweight enough that people would notice. My character could not be “celebrity thin” she had to be a slightly overweight girl. Heavy enough that people would say, “Why the ‘F’ does she get to be so popular.”

So I said okay and gained so much weight in about two and a half months. I ate oreos and just really messed up my metabolism. My poor body was like, “What are you  doing to me?” I had lost all that weight and then put it back on and now I’ve lost it again…

Physically the transformation was a huge part of it.

Mike’s Film Talk: Yes.

Casey: It was also interesting that as I was physically changing myself…I gained over 30 pounds, I noticed that I was being treated differently when I got so heavy over such as short period of time. I took all the pent up hostility and animosity that I was getting and brought it to the role.

Mike’s Film Talk: I was going to ask about the weight thing and about how hard it was to do it. You seem to have worked out a system…

Casey: It was still a lot of work and a lot of focus. Then everyone steps away from the production when it finished filming. And I was like, “Oh great. I now have about four months to lose all that weight again!” (Laughing.) Now I have to go to the gym everyday…

Casey Killoran as Marsha Day

Mike’s Film Talk: Well you certainly couldn’t relax and take time off.

Casey: (Laughing) No I couldn’t.

Mike’s Film Talk: I was reading in the film’s notes that you ate real cat food…

Casey: Yes.

Mike’s Film Talk: Was that a last minute request by David or did he give you some time to work up to it.

Casey: It was always a kind of joke that was thrown around. And I was like David… The thing is, it was only in one scene. We never really sat down and discussed it but I was invested so I thought, “If I going to do it, I’m doing it.”

It really did help the scene though.

Mike’s Film Talk: I agree!

Casey: It’s become a talking point. People ask, “What was it like?” I always answer, “what do you think?” So it was funny.

Mike’s Film Talk: I found myself wondering what brand of catfood it was under the “fake” label. I decided it was “Fancy Feast.”

Casey: (Laughing) I’ve actually forgotten what brand it was. We picked it up from our corner bodega so I can’t tell you. I don’t really want to know. Going into the store and seeing the stuff and thinking “I ate that.” (Laughing)

Mike’s Film Talk: So…How was it? Was it really horrific or was it not that bad?

Casey: It was like, it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good. It wasn’t like I would eat it again. (Laughing) It wasn’t completley gross, it was more the thought of eating catfood that actually made me gag. It just tasted like a really bad pâté or something which I don’t like anyway. So it was so gross. I’ve always had a cat so…

Mike’s Film Talk: Yes I’m a cat person as well. Fun facts aside, how much of the film was actually scripted? Was there a certain amount of improvisation going on?

Casey: Well, we had a pretty full script when we started. I came to set, off-book, everything memorized and was ready to go verbatim, word-for-word, but as we went on, we noticed somethings just cropped up. For me though, I pretty much delivered everything that the writer had down for my character.

There were things that were added on as time went on. On the days when I was not working in front of the camera, I was producing and, I have to say, I never tried to blend the two functions. I was never both.

What happened was the writer wrote everything for the other characters but on the day, David was like, “Okay not do it this way, or that way.”  Which was good as you got to know the person almost automatically. They had a two second intro but you knew who they were immediately.

Mike’s Film Talk: I was also going to ask, I cannot find the original source, about filming the movie. I read somewhere that a variety of devices were used, like smartphones and laptops, to record the film.

Casey: It’s funny you should ask. We did do some practise runs where we recorded things with a laptop camera.  But in the real takes, everything we used was film with our very nice cameras. Each shot was “downgraded” so it looked like an iPhone or a webcam.

Mike’s Film Talk: Oh brilliant!

Casey: Yes our DP Edna Luise Biesold who did an amazing job. She would come in before the script was done and say, “Okay we need to study the lens of the phone and the laptop, what are the dimensions and dynamics, lighting (is it more green) and all that.

I have to thank her for getting everything so right. Everything was downgraded to make it look just right. She gave each shot a little bit less quality, after shooting  so well, to give us what we needed. She did a brilliant job making it all look so real.

Mike’s Film Talk: I agree. It all looked spot on. I remember the first scene where Perez Hilton shows up, his nose is red and he seemingly has no makeup on. It certainly felt like iPhone footage. The way the film ends…it seems to be hinting that there could be a part two?

Casey:  Yes, it kind of has, but we’re not sure if we want to venture down that road just yet. The open ended place where we leave the characters i open for discussion. I mean the director is still coming up with ideas! David will say we can have them do this…He has about a thousand more ideas, he still says, “Oh we can have them do this.”

The writer is already working on other projects. One of which is another feature length film. We are looking at our next feature, which has nothing to do with “Viral” but there is always the possibility of going back.

It would be a different scenario. In this film we did not have a “blockbuster” budget and if we came back, the world would be that bigger so maybe we could increase our budget to match that. Of course that would all depend on how well Viral Beauty is recieved, and it actually is being received very well…

We have discussed it but there is no script as yet.

Mike’s Film Talk: If people want to see the film where can they find news about where it may be premiering?

Casey: They can follow our Facebook page, we have an instagram account, a twitter account and we update the big news all the time.

Mike’s Film Talk:  I just wanted to ask you, looking at your credits, this looks like the first time you’ve been in the role of executive producer. How did you like it?

Casey: Well, I’ve executive produced before, for shorts, but this was my first feature length film and I loved it. It is a lot of hard work but it is such a different quantity of work. A short is roughly over a couple of months, here and there, while a feature is over two years. It is a big chunk of your time and it is constant until someone buys it.

I’m really glad I liked the story so much. I did learn very quickly never to try doing the producer’s job while I was acting and vice versa.  That was my number one rule and the other producers all agreed with it.

When we had business meeting it was the business side of things that were discussed and not the acting. I was part of a team and I really enjoyed the aspects of producing. I really like details and have no problem talking to people I don’t know.

David has other things that he does better than I do so I left those things to him.

Mike’s Film Talk: Looking at your other credits, you’ve got Gross People, a short, that is in post production. Have you got anything else coming up in the near future?

Casey: Hmm. In the near future. We have that, Gross People we are working on another project, minus Liz as an executive producer but we are adding on the DP on Viral Beauty and we are working on a new piece right now. We have been writing for close to three months now but it is still in “baby form” now.

Edna is taking a short sabbatical right now but the topics we’re turning to now are more about taboo subjects and bit more serious and darker.  But, we will still have comedy in there because the three of us will naturally err on the side of levity. Although we’re also very intense (Laughing) so we don’t mind taking really dark subjects and shining a light on them.

The Wrap Up:

The interview ended with a look at that “lighter note” and we asked Casey which comic scene was her favorite in the film.

She responded that it was not the cat food scene  and while she did like acting with her cat, her favorite bit was getting egg smashed in her face. Casey also like the “racist rant” which is, she says, so far from her. She also liked dancing with her cat.

We both agreed that not only was the Internet moving ahead at frantic speeds but that gaming and technology are also advancing at amazing rates. Virtual Reality was discussed and the idea that not only would robots become a daily thing but that the Star Trek Holo Deck was only one step away.

For those who have not seen the trailer, have a look now and see what we have been talking about.

Burger King Application: Have it Your Way…Not Poor Customer Service

Burger King Application for smartphones

There are very few customer service issues that cannot be handled with a phone call or maybe two. In the case where the service is so poor, then obviously leaving that particular company is the answer. Sometimes, things are not so cut and dried. Take smartphone apps for example.  In the case of the Burger King smartphone application? Well, it is just as well that the company ditched their old slogan of “have it your way.”

Most applications work fine, but some, for whatever reason, go off into the digital wasteland that I like to think of as the Twilight Zone. Yesterday, my BK application stopped taking my password/email combination. A little frustrated, I retyped my email and asked to reset my password.  Hitting submit, I was assured that an email reset was sent.

It was.

I reset my password and…

Nope.

The message that my “login failed” because of an “incorrect email/password” combination pops up on my iPhone screen once again.  Nothing breeds annoyance so quickly as a password problem on a smartphone.  Since losing my glasses, I sometimes have to re-enter my password, and occasionally my email, because my fingers are quite a bit bigger than my iPhone onscreen keypad. (And before some smart arse comes back with “make the screen bigger” I’ll relate that the BK app stays frozen in that one size no matter what I do with the screen size controls, you also cannot “roll” the screen on its side, which also makes the keyboard bigger.)

After a frustrating morning, I go onto the Internet to the BK app support site. Filling in a form, which frustratingly asks for my last 4 digits of my electronic application BK card (Note: Hey BK, if I cannot access my application and since there is nothing that tells me what the digits are apart from the application when I am on it, making this a “required” fill in is a bit…well to be blunt, f**king stupid.) and then requires a number of answers and then you can submit.

To the right of this frustrating form is a number to call, “If you have an immediate issue.” Which, this is. It is that time of month where I have no ready cash while waiting for my tiny prison service pension. Ergo, if I want to eat, and continue to use the free WiFi trouble free, I use my PayPal to fill my BK app and eat. The application has about  $15 loaded on it  that I cannot touch.

I call the “immediate” number and I am told that the application people will be in touch…in a day…or to wait a day for the change to correct itself. I explain, a bit testily, that I would like to eat over the next 24 hours and get apologies and the assurance that I will be receiving an email from the service team referencing my call.

I do, indeed get an email, which infuriatingly tells me how to recover my password. Something I already know how to do and have done so repeatedly with no success, hence the call.

I wait 24 hours, as suggested, and ring back today, 3 September 2015. I am told that due to the upcoming holiday weekend that I need to wait till Tuesday and if I have heard nothing by then to call back. I repeat that I have no other real way to access my money on the card and that their “advice” means that I will be starving until at least Tuesday.

More apologies are forthcoming.  The bottom line is this, I will, most likely, not get any response. Not till after the long “holiday” weekend.

It should probably be mentioned that PayPal also has issues in the area of customer service. Earlier in the year they “let the side down” on a Walmart purchase which was delivered to an old address (How on EARTH that came about is still beyond me.) I wound up paying for an item I never received.

I still use PayPal, I have to, and when I tried initially to get my money sorted via the company that I used to load $15 to my BK app, I was told to follow “protocol” and use the forms. The forms, however, do not include an option to get monies back paid on a “gift” card. It is always in reference to an item either not delivered or broken or not as promised.

Loading a gift card is not an item PayPal. Okay? Still that is another battle for another day.

In essence, despite the lovely people at my local BK, who tried like hell to help me out yesterday, my issue is still unresolved. I am still very annoyed, despite having gone down to the local Dollar Store and purchased a BK Crown card worth a tenner.

Why, you may ask, am I still annoyed? Well, I cannot reload this card. The Crown Card system does not take PayPal, which is the only “money” I have at the moment. So, it looks like I’ll be having to go back down to the store and buy another card…or two…if I want to eat, at least till my pension comes in.

Apart from that things are just peachy. (If one does not count the snotty response received from CBS EXPRESS who informed me that while I had access to SHOWTIME photos of shows, my little site was not important enough to get professional access from CBS, this after already being given access. Apparently my asking twice for access to videos of shows that I — USED TO  recap and review was annoying enough to warrant that response.

So, how’s your week been? Anyone else planning on starving over the Labor Day weekend?

Skeleton image via Google Images
Disclaimer. While this whole thing  is annoying, I won’t really “starve” over the long weekend…I will, however, lose weight.

 

Let Us Fix Your Problem: Latest Internet Scam

Apple logoWaking this morning to a splendid 3G signal in the desert from my iPhone’s Hotspot, I finished up my previous night’s review and uploaded it. As I went to publicize the piece I got an “alert” from applemac.us saying that a porn site “pornjizz” was attempting to hack my system. It warned that stopping my browser or restarting my computer would cause valuable information to become more accessible and to stop what I was doing immediately and ring the support number – 1-844-608-4612.

Alarm bells ringing in my mind, I did indeed cease and desist my publicity efforts and rang the number. The first clue that told me something was wrong here was the lack of Apple-ness by the chap who answered the phone. Indian, as in from India or Pakistan, he was polite enough but answered as technical department and not with his name.

I read off the message on the screen and he immediately informed me that they could take care of my problem with little fuss and I did not need to do a thing. Okay, I responded slowly, what happens next, the technician then read me off a url which I needed to type into my search engine, it was: www dot fast support dot com.

The second alarm went off because there was an obvious lack of Apple anywhere in the address provided. The third and final alarm, which by this time sounded like a fire alarm on steroids, was the next thing out of the technician’s mouth.

“We will take control of your computer and fix the problem in minutes.”

*Freeze Frame.*

I thanked the chap for his help and told him that my phone signal was fading and needed to ring him back. He offered to ring me back within the next 10 minutes. I thanked him and when he rang back, explained that I could not use my laptop and my phone at the same time and would ring them later.

Ringing the real Apple support number which is a 1-800 number…always…I got the familiar Apple answer where I was informed how long my wait would be, asked certain questions, sent to the right department and when the technician came on the line she gave me her name. The lovely lady informed me that yes this was a scam where they could charge you for the amount of time they took to “fix” your problem.

I pointed out that they also wanted to take control of my laptop which would have given them access to all my information. She congratulated me on recognizing that it was a scam and for calling them to double check.

Speaking earlier to the fake technician at no time did he ask for my serial number or what Apple product I had. He also zoomed in on the “let us take control of your computer” bit. With nothing but an on-screen alert, which claimed to be from Apple, and a 1-844 number he expected me to let him access my computer.

Not happening mate.

Looking at the site later the thing looks genuine enough but it is not, just as the real Apple folks.

So be advised there is a new scam in town. I assumed it was a Chrome issue but Stephanie at Apple assured me that the message was showing up on Safari as well. So consider yourself warned, if you see a message from applemac.us with the following number attached 1-844-607-4612 disregard the information and do not bother to call the number. Completely ignore the fast support dot com instructions, if you do ring, and do not let anyone you do not know or trust take control of your computer or laptop.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the above urls have been spelled out since I could not get WordPress to stop putting a link to the fraudulent site in my article.

10 June 2015

Michael Knox-Smith

An Open Letter of Gratitude to Apple

Marketing shot of MacBookPro
Dear Apple,

Firstly I have to say that I was a reluctant convert to the MacBookPro. My daughter got one for her studies at University, and the run-up to Uni, College. Her, now aging, MacBookPro stood her in good stead during her time learning about the video game industry and still does quite well considering it is now several years old. She talked me into purchasing a Mac when my old PC bit the big one.

Amazingly enough, the big reason I decided upon the MacBookPro was the iMovie editing capability which, having watched my youngster edit her video reviews on game, looked infinitely easier than anything Microsoft had on offer.

I bought my Pro in 2013. I edited quite a number of videos in the UK, before you went and changed the way iMovie works. Still, I do not do videos that much anymore so that is not a real big issue, plus I’ve gotten used to the changes now so I forgive you for making it that bit more difficult.

So far my MacBookPro has survived being taken to South Africa on a whirlwind fact-finding tour where I had to interview several sources who claimed that Nelson Mandela died in June 2013 and not December as official sources insisted. It made a trip across the ocean to Las Vegas unscathed in 2014 and even managed to escape damage at the many conventions attended at Vegas. From The Amazing Comic Con to the Star Trek Convention, my MacBook resisted all my clumsy handling to stay scratch and dent free.

Later on at the start of 2015, while in the Southwest desert of Arizona, my MacBookPro has managed to keep working after being transported via backpack all over the hardpan floor and the local “one-horse” town. It still performs admirably despite it’s carrier falling down a wash while walking across the desert.

MacBookPro 11.4"
My trusty MacBookPro

It has also survived its owner being knocked off his bicycle by a hit and run driver in Love’s Truck Stop car park. An incident that resulted in my going airborne and landing on my back. The backpack with my trusty MacBookPro clunked heavily on the hard ground and 5 weeks later, when I could finally ride my bike again, I fell off the same bike outside the local Burger King and once again my poor MacBook hit the ground hard.

Despite all these tumbles and falls, the only real damage seems to have been on the case itself. A few scratches and dings that are superficial at best. This “cosmetic” damage has not interfered with the workings of my “laptop” and it still labour effortlessly as my only blogging and vlogging device. On top of being the instrument I used to write nearly 2,000 articles for the newspaper I worked for, it still functions as my main source of news from the outside world via the Internet.

MacBookPro
My Survivor, you have to look close to see those scars…

I mention all this because I’ve never felt the need to write any sort of letter to any company, open or otherwise, about any of their products. My MacBookPro has proven to be the best purchase ever made by this consumer. Sadly, my iPhone 5 has not had quite the same track record, for some odd reason the display screens in my phone go off and I’ve had replacements twice now, but I am not complaining, as your customer service is head and shoulders above the competition.

In closing, let me just say thank you Apple for continuing to make such a workhorse of a laptop. I am writing this open letter of gratitude, admiration and praise about my MacBookPro, the one that I call survivor, and the dependable tool that I plan to use for a long, long time.

A most impressed customer,

Michael Knox-Smith

6 May 2015

Getting My Mojo Back…Sort Of

Trailer for my new channel

Well, it’s been a long time coming, but I’m getting my Mojo back…sort of. For a good while I had a fair presence on the Internet. My blog and two channels on YouTube where I talked about film, one of which was a co-channel with my daughter, who now has a new channel – Critique Quest. On a side note, if you’ve not seen her channel, head on over and subscribe…tell her I sent ya.

My time spent working for the Internet publication that “shall not be named” (Thanks for that little quote Marilyn!) suddenly pared down my contributions for anything other than that particular site. Learning later that the publisher utilized black hat techniques frowned upon by Auntie Google, I was very glad to leave.

Now I’m back on track with having my dulcet tones and balding head back on YouTube. My good friend Jacob Tiranno on Chasing Cinema allowed me the wonderful privilege of being a guest on a number of his podcasts and while one could not feast their eyes on my old-ness, they could hear me. These “appearances” made me yearn for the days when I reviewed favorite films and talked World Cinema.

It has been a while since I left the Vegas area and the publication, but I’ve now sorted out a new channel and will be loading a new video tomorrow and will be attempting to keep this new venue moving. For those who have not seen my announcements via the old channel, here is the link.

If you are not too tired of hearing my opinions and stories on here, please stop by. Kick off your shoes, relax and enjoy yourself. For those who may wonder what I used to sound like in my reviews, check out my old channels, here and here.

Here is the “trailer” to my new channel:

Plus, my “notice” on my old channel (Which explains the different accents):

If you are not “bovvered” by this news, disregard the post and wait. I’ll be doing another one very, very soon.

24 April 2015

Michael Knox-Smith