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The Independent Critic

 Colin Michael Day Interview (Continued) 
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THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

It seems like you're also really attracted to the business side of things. I keep hearing the word "producer."

COLIN MICHAEL DAY

Yeah, I do. When we first started Loneliest Road, Mardana and I did take Producer credits. From the beginning, I resisted because I was like "That's not how I want people to think of me." I'm an actor and that's how I want people to see me. As time goes on, I don't mind that title anymore of being known as a Producer/Actor because people kind of respect you. They know that you're more than just a "dumb actor." I don't want people to think that's how I see it, but there's not a lot of respect for actors out here unless you've made it. People just think of you as "pretty" or something like that. Until you're actually making your way in the acting world, then that's when you get your respect. I could write a whole book about it, because there is no respect for acting. Being able to be a creative force, though, on the business side makes people a little perky. They're like "This guy's one of these people who makes things happen...He can put a project together and act in it." It just shows that you have other facets to you than just that one thing.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

I also see, and you've briefly mentioned, some stage experience. Do you have a preference? Stage? Film? Or is it just about the acting?

COLIN MICHAEL DAY

They are different. There's something to be said for doing theatre in front of a live audience because it changes every night. The one good thing about film is that you can capture that amazing moment. You can do a few takes. You have to prepare for both, which I love. You have to find the character for both. You have to put the time in. They are different. I tend to look at film as a little more scene work. There are some days you may only do 1 or 2 scenes. It can be a really slow process where you're really concentrating on what's happening in those scenes on those specific days. Then, with a play you're doing an entire performance in a couple hours... a story from beginning to end. There's something about being able to do that as an actor and being able to be a character and take that character from beginning to end. In a movie, you'll still be a character the whole time but you may be shooting the end of the movie before you do the beginning. It's just a different mindset for each one.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

I'm going to go back a bit now. You switched during your college days from being an athlete to pursuing the arts. Can you tell me a little bit about how that unfolded? What I read was that you took an acting class while at the University of Denver. Obviously, something in that class triggered something for you...

COLIN MICHAEL DAY

Growing up I was always into sports. Tennis was my main sport. I was nationally ranked and getting offers to go play tennis at Div. 1 Schools, which I did because University of Denver was a Div. 1 school. I was recruited by them for their team. I made the team. I did some plays as a kid. I enjoyed it, but I was never like "Oooh, I want to be an actor." I thought it was fun. It was something to do and I was an active person. At the end of my freshman year, I had to take a one-credit course and one of the options was Acting Improv. I was like "I like acting. I'll do that." So, I did. It was all athletes. For a lot of people, it was a throwaway class. I loved it. I was really enjoying all the improv stuff. I was a Business major at the time, and it was a lot of fun. I could use it even now being a producer with all the business aspects. I don't know...there was something missing. Over the summer, I asked my teacher if there were any other classes that I could take. She gave me a few and that's kind of what I did that summer. I was really just teaching tennis and training for tennis. I wasn't going anywhere that summer, so I started taking a few acting classes. I was really enjoying it. I met someone who would become my mentor. I took one class with him and he was like "Do you want to do anything with this Colin?" I was like "No, not really. It's just a lot of fun." I was still thinking "I'm an athlete. I play sports." I started taking private lessons and started learning Stanislavsky, which is sort of like a deeper method acting. The term "Method Acting" is thrown around like it's some sort of horrible thing. It's not. Stanislavsky was the founder of a technique of acting that has been taught by people like Adler, Meisner and Strasberg.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

I was a theatre minor. So, I am familiar with the terminology. It's okay. You can go there.

COLIN MICHAEL DAY

Oh, good. Sometimes, people are like "What?" So, anyway, it was fun. I started going deep into character study and what a character really was... I started really getting into it. I was like "I'm loving this" and it was like a fire that was just burning up. My sophomore year came around and me and my coach started not getting along. That created an opportunity, and at the end of my sophomore year I quit tennis and became a theater major and a business minor because I already had so many credits.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

The Business major does come in handy. It still helps with your producing I would think.

COLIN MICHAEL DAY

Yes. It definitely helps. So, I'm glad I did it. I don't really ever look back and think "Oh, I wish I'd stayed in tennis." I wasn't going to go pro. I had a drive and I was a good player. I was peaking like crazy. I was playing my best tennis, but I knew deep down I would never attempt to go pro unlike my fellow teammates. I just knew that wasn't what I wanted. I was getting burned out. I'd been playing tennis my whole life. I wanted something new and something else that was challenging. It was definitely a big adjustment. You find out who you're friends really are. A lot of my friends were like "You're going to do what?"

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

It's definitely a different crowd I would think (Laughing). How did your family respond?

COLIN MICHAEL DAY

My family was 100% behind it. My mom was like "Oh, I always thought you'd be an actor." I was like "What? Couldn't you have shared that a little earlier maybe?" My parents have always been very supportive of me and my sister. I mean, they're hydro-geologists. They're environmental engineers. My sister's a writer. She went to DePaul for graduate school for that. She's a news analyst in Chicago. She writes a lot about travel. She has a couple blogs. She writes for travel magazines. Me and my sister pretty much picked a different path than my parents picked, but they've never tried to force us to go down their path. They'd always let us do what we wanted to do.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

So they never had any fears or concerns about a wasted college degree?

COLIN MICHAEL DAY

No, not at all. (long pause). I had to think about it. I'm like "Yeah, I've got a theatre degree."
THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

What got you to this point of saying "Okay, now I've got my theatre degree. I'm really going to do this out on the west coast?"

COLIN MICHAEL DAY

I think I always knew I was going to come out to L.A. Most people pick either New York or L.A... L.A. was closer. It's tough here, but the majority of the stuff is here. That also makes it tougher, because everybody comes here. I just got done with a trip to New York where I was visiting a few managers out there and getting a feeling for the city and maybe trying to do some bi-coastal stuff. There is an industry there, don't get me wrong. Theatre's way bigger in New York. L.A. does have the majority of T.V. and film work.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

Not to get overly personal here, but are you still at that point in your career where you're having to work those "survival jobs?" Are you supporting yourself as an actor, or say creatively, full-time?

COLIN MICHAEL DAY

A majority of my jobs are creative. I'm not at the consistency that I would like. That's one of my goals is to be a consistent working actor. That's really all I'm doing, as well as creating my own projects. I'm hoping to create my own production company. There are writers that I'm helping with scripts. Their doing the writing. I'm not going to say that I'm a writer. I don't know if I'll ever write a script. I give a lot of respect to writers for everything that they do. These things help to create avenues for work. I'm more like an idea guy. I've got a lot of great ideas and can help to create an outline. Most writers are like "Oh yeah, give me an outline and we can fill it out and go from there." I've got a few scripts that are going through that process. So, I'm dealing them without the script done ... selling the ideas with a treatment, a few of my favorite paragraphs. It gets people excited. They still want to see the script, but it puts the energy out there.

The worst part is time. You have to be patient, because things move really slow out here until it hits. When it hits, it moves really fast.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

I've noticed that kind of thing. I cover a lot of independent film, and I'm constantly amazed how some indie flick that I reviewed three years earlier will suddenly show up in limited nationwide release or something like that. Filmmakers just have to be patient, because you never know when it's going to hit. When it hits, it really hits. Did you spend any time actually out on the festival circuit with your film?

COLIN MICHAEL DAY

Yeah, I went to a few festivals. I went to Method Fest, which is where we did our world premiere. There's one in Utah where we got a Bronze Medal, Park City Music Film Festival. We've had a few premieres. Back in Denver, Starz, the Denver Film Society, put on our film. That was awesome. We didn't have to do anything. It was their idea. They wanted to do it. It was really nice. We sold out. I went to, like, three festivals. It's hard to go to every one.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

I love the festival circuit ... the feeling, the networking. It gets stuff out there. In reviewing your background, I also noticed that you do a lot of traveling. The things I read about include going to the World Cup, backpacking in the Australian Outback. You really just like to go for it, don't you?

COLIN MICHAEL DAY

In a way, yeah (laughing). I went to the World Cup in South Africa last summer with Mardana. I also have a very large, international family. My dad is British and he's one of eight kids. So, all my dad's family is England and Europe. My dad's mother's brother lived in Sydney. He had seven kids. It helps. Me and my sister can head out by ourselves, but we have a place to stay. It makes it a little bit easier when you have family overseas to be able to do those types of trips. I'm the oldest cousin, so they all know who I am. I know maybe half of the kids.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

Is there anything professionally that you've wanted to try but haven't had the chance to do yet?

COLIN MICHAEL DAY

I'm really focusing on the acting right now. Some people are like "I'd really like to direct." I think at some point I might like to, but I'm not going to throw that out there right away. It's not really the initial thing in my mind. I like concentrating on certain things. Once you start getting to do what you really want that frees you up and gives you a little leeway to maybe say "I'd really like to direct this." I've got friends who really just want to be directors. It's hard enough for them. Adding one more title might not be the best thing right now, but I do have an interest in doing it. I have directed before, a play. It was a blast. It'll be down the line.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

You're still pretty early in your career. Let me know if I offend you...

COLIN MICHAEL DAY

No, not at all. It's good to hear. I've only been out here for about five years. Most people who are out here who are even close to being working actors have been out here maybe ten. You're building your support system. You're building your network. You've got to stay and you've got to do it. You've got to go through a lot of down times when nothing is hitting and you just know that something will happen. One of my good friends, Matt, he's like 36. He's a really good actor. He's been out here for 12 years. I'm not saying we're at the same level of our careers, but he's still fighting and grinding for what he wants. That's what you have to do. He met an agent this last December. She didn't sign him, but was like I'll hold on to your stuff and submit you if I see something. You hear that a lot, then you never hear from them again. Then, he gets a call up from that agent who says "You've got this audition for this pilot." He goes to the audition and the casting director loves him and is like "Where have you been? Why have I never seen you before?" Matt's like "I've been here for 12 years." It's stuff like that. You just never know where it could come from.

You create your own work, which can create your own buzz and sometimes you get lucky or somebody just sees you. A lot of people think they can come out here for a year and they'll be seen and I'll be a star. Not true. 90% of the people who come out here to be actors leave after the first year. It's not really what you expect. There are so many actors out here. They may not look like you, but they have looks like you. It's like "tall, white brunette." How many of those are there?

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

What do you do to keep yourself energized?

COLIN MICHAEL DAY

The main thing is doing my own projects. It excites me. I know that I have a certain control. I'm not waiting too much on other people, which can get annoying at times. I always feel like people should have their own projects, because it keeps the fire going. It keeps the inspiration and excitement going instead of just sitting around. You have to submit yourself for stuff and keep submitting yourself for stuff even if you're not hearing anything. It wears on you. There's a ton of people submitting for the same thing. Agents and managers get 10% for a reason ... they're working 10%. You have to work the 90%. It's great to have them. If you don't have one you should. You should get one who actually believes in you, because they'll work harder for you. You have to get one who actually thinks you're talented and actually wants you to succeed. I'm not saying that's easy to do either, because for the majority of these people it's a business. They're here to make money, as well. I've had a few managers and a few agents. I've dropped most of them. I'm in the process now of looking, and I'm doing way more due diligence about the process. I'm asking questions more questions rather than just them asking questions. They need you as much as you need them. When you're asking your questions back be like "What are you going to do for me?" It switches it on a little bit. They start thinking "Oh, there's something with this guy."

Trust me, I used to sit back and be nervous and be like "Oh my god, they're judging me. I'm not good looking enough." You just have to get over it and have confidence. You have to go in there and be like "I may not have as many credits as this person, but I'm talented and I work hard." You ask them their stuff. If they want you they want you. If they don't, then they don't. You move on to the next person.

Doing my own projects really excites me. I'm proud of what I've done. I'm confident in my work that it's as good a quality as what anybody else puts out there.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

That's a lot of what I know about you. I don't want to drag this out anymore than I need to...

COLIN MICHAEL DAY

Where are you based?

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

I'm based out of Indianapolis.

COLIN MICHAEL DAY

That actually might be one of my spots. Chicago is the main thing for this play I'm working on, but one of the people I'm working with suggested Indianapolis and Minneapolis.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

We're a pretty good arts community, a growing film community. We finally got that tax credit approved and that's working out for us. There's a growing indie film scene. We're getting there.

COLIN MICHAEL DAY

Denver's the same way. We've got the Denver Performing Arts, but there's still a long way to go. We don't even have the state help in Colorado, which helps a lot. It helps to have an actual arts budget.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

So, really, you're not completely attached to the idea of "I have to act in L.A." The acting the thing's for you, whether that's in L.A. or Chicago or wherever?

COLIN MICHAEL DAY

I'm going to England in October. I produced a play this past winter, and this actress that I worked with she doesn't live in the states. She wants to work more in Hollywood, but she works in Paris and in London. She has an agent there and works on the BBC. We were just talking and catching up, and I mentioned that I might go out there. She said "If you're going to come out, then you should make it a business trip. I'll introduce you to my agents in London and everybody that I know." I'm like "Hell yeah." You never know what will happen, but that's a dream. I've traveled the world. I love working outside the states. There's plenty of avenues that you can go other places. I would easily go to London for three months. I already have a meeting set up with this agent. I contacted her, and she liked me so we're going to go and have a chat while I'm there. If she actually wants to sign me, then I'd actually have to take certain periods of time and go over there. I'll do that, if they're real about it. I'll go work for the BBC. They actually pay better than most T.V. over here. Yeah, they have way better deals unless you're at a certain status here. The average actor doesn't get paid as much here as over in England and Paris. It's just different over there. Do you know Game of Thrones?

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

Yeah, sure.

COLIN MICHAEL DAY

They cast that in London. They have other opportunities over there. That's one of my dreams. Game of Thrones is my favorite fantasy book. If I could get on Game of Thrones that'd be a dream. You have to keep searching. The majority of the time you'll be searching even if you're really talented. People have to know how to sell you. I've heard so many times "You're really talented, but I don't know how to sell you." They have to believe that they can sell you or they're wasting your time. Hopefully, they'll be honest with you. They've been honest with me. You know it's there. You just have to find the right thing.



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