Renegade Interview: Tracey Birdsall

Tracey Birdsall
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Your IMDB lists a new project called Death Machine. It sounds like a Van Damme movie, but it’s listed as Science Fiction. Tell us more!

Tracey Birdsall: It is a Science Fiction Time Travel film, shot in the UK.  I have been providing the computer voice for the film, which is a long-standing dream of mine! If you grow up in Science Fiction, you would understand the need to be the computer.   It came about in a most interesting way with Neil Johnson (the Director) basically putting a microphone in my face and telling me he wanted me to do the voice, but it was all very entertaining and positive. Star Trek junkies growing up would totally understand! Post-production is being done in the US, with a release later this year.

Do you find it more difficult creating a character when only your voice can be used?

Tracey Birdsall: I didn’t go through the casting process on Death Machine, I was just asked to do it. Since the movie was already completed, there wasn’t a character development process for this particular movie. What’s funny is that my image (silhouette) is being used on the poster even though I was just the computer voice! Movie-making is such an interesting business as once the film is done, it’s all about the marketing :)

Do you find it more difficult creating a character when only your voice can be used?

Tracey Birdsall: There’s not a lot of character association as a computer! It’s more of an honor to be used as a computer voice! Although you need to have fantastic diction, there’s not a lot of personality to it. It’s more of a “yeah, I got to be a spaceship computer voice” quality to the credit. A “been there, done that” amazing kind of thing.

An Australian, Neil Johnson directed the movie. How different do you find Australians work from Americans? At all?

Tracey Birdsall: Although Neil lived and worked in Australia, he’s actually British. Besides the super sexy accent, there’s not a lot of difference. I worked for an Australian Director before, Alan Clay, on Courting Chaos just last year. As a culture they are exactly the same. That said, Neil Johnson as an individual is definitely more driven and capable than any director I’ve worked with. He’s absolutely amazing and he’s just so multi-faceted. I don’t think anyone out there could replicate exactly what he does…

These big award ceremonies, like The Oscars, usually overlook popcorn movies. Do you think that’s fair? Do you think there’s a bias among the major award festivals regarding anything that’s not a drama?

Tracey Birdsall: That kind of comes back to the old saying about fair. “Fair is a word that losers made up.” If a fantastic indie is made and distributed, it’s going to get the recognition it deserves. More so, the problem I see in Indies is the expectations that it’s going to be a blockbuster breakthrough movie. Some of that goes into skill, some of it into experience, some of it into luck, and some of it into fate. Don’t ever forget the fate aspect, as it’s a huge driving force that can’t be controlled.

I don’t see a bias.

Is there any particular genre that you prefer doing over the other?

Tracey Birdsall: This Science Fiction thing could be my new favorite genre! From the weapons to the blood to the gore to the usage of fighting skills… it has a lot to offer. Prior to this, it was always comedy because I love the dance. I love the beats of comedy and how the words just flow… It’s just a blast!

How do you like balls? Sounds like a lot of fun. How would you pitch it?

Tracey Birdsall: Seinfeld meets Hangover in the hood… Seriously, it’s one of the funniest projects ever.

You’ve done quite well in the independent shorts world. Tick Tock has won lots of praise. Have you found the shorts opened a lot of doors for you?

Tracey Birdsall: That particular short was meant to open doors and did exactly what I wanted it to do. I had taken many years off and was having a hard time getting my grasp back into the industry. I made Tick Tock for the sole purpose of reminding Hollywood that I was a force to be reckoned with… and also that I could bounce back with a vengeance. That film was my calling card back into the industry and it was worth every penny… let’s just say that. Every comeback needs a strategy.

Why did you become an actress?

Tracey Birdsall: Why do you eat? Why do you gaze up at the stars on a clear night? Why do you grab a blanket when it’s cold? Instinct? Familiarity?

Being an actor is not something we decide to do. It is something that we are. It is a driving force behind that which makes us have purpose and be whole. Nobody should be an actor unless it’s in his or her blood and they absolutely can’t help it. It’s too difficult and too much work and requires really thick skin… My best advice, if you can, is to do something else. If you can’t help it, then you make total sense to me.

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About the Author

Shawn S. Lealos
Shawn is a film critic with over 25 years of experience in print and online media. He is a member of the Oklahoma Film Critics Circle and loves everything from critically acclaimed movies to B-level action flicks.
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