Home | IMDB entry | Bio | Photos | Demo Reel | On-set Reports | Videos | Event Calendar | Contact | Links | Store | Blog | Site Map

Share |

Back to Student Films Reports Index | Back to Reports Index

Geoffrey Gould
Reports from the set/s...

The Tell-Tale Heart
Katherine Berk's USC student film

Saturday, October 04, 2008
After having submitted for one of the detective roles, I was contacted by director Katherine Berk to audition for her USC student film version of Edgar Allen Poe's classic story The Tell-Tale Heart. I ended up arriving for the 11:50am audition at 10:40, and she saw me right away. Apart from the project posting, she had previously indicated it will be an animated short: those cast will have "stylized photos" taken, from which she would do the animation. At the audition she clarified it would be hand-drawn, almost a chalk-like style as she described it.
I know there are a lot of unpros who won't do a student film if there are no lines: I do student films as they're good acting exercise, the footage could be good for one's reel, one never knows what director will be the next Spielberg, plus often I'll do one when the project sounds utterly fascinating. I wonder how many passed it by when they noticed it'd be silent and/or realized they could be "unrecognizable"...?
I know the Poe story quite well, plus only the other night at a film festival I saw the feature quasi-bio pic Poe: Last Days of the Raven, in which the The Tell-Tale Heart was re-enacted.
I acted out reactions to the narrator character's descent into madness, after which Katherine and I discussed availability. I indicated being more available the next day/Sunday that Monday.
A few hours later whilst I was attending a networking event, Katherine called to offer me the role, to be shot the next day. I had no way to write down the address and she had no problem that she could email me the information (she did indicate it was right in the USC area, on Adams).

Sunday, October 04, 2008
Fastest student film work ever...
I managed not to have Internet access until early Sunday. Katherine only provided the the Adams Boulevard location. Usually student film confirmation emails contain every scrap of information, such as reiterating time and such. I knew Katherine say 11am, but I wasn't sure if it was 11am or 11:20am. As I like to be early, I timed to get there by 10:55am.
It took a moment to find the place, as its house numbers had been painted the same colour as the house. I called Katherine to find her around the corner at her place, just finishing some photos. As they'd be there in about ten minutes it was decided it'd be easier for me to wait than to try and find them.
Having found a perfect parking spot in front of the right address, Arman arrived, also to play a detective. He was wearing a very dapper, full suit. Katherine and I had not really discussed attire. I had figured being hand drawn and needing our expressions and poses for reference shots, that a suit might not be necessary.
I was right; Katherine arrived with the lead being played by the expressive Maria Olsen. Katherine assured me my non-suit attire would be find as she'd be drawing that anyway. A few moments later Jennifer Hanley arrived, to play a third detective.
Maria was photographed preparing to pry up floorboards, her elaborate poses reminiscent of expensively high-end model figure characters at comic-book stores.
We moved into the formal dining room for the climax, Katherine taking a few two-shots as well as mostly close-up reaction shots.
After a few shots with Maria by the front door, her character now hopelessly insane, the detectives' work was done. (Maria played it almost more of a Lovecraftian madness than a Poe madness: later I would learn the compelling Maria is no stranger to horror films.)
Katherine told us the project should be done in about two weeks; possibly though not definiately being screened at Norris in a few months, but either way we would get our DVD copies once it was done. We would email her our respective mailing locations.
As I couldn't quite place it, Maria clarified her accent as being South African. Katherine took a photo of Maria and me for me, but I'd completely forgotten/neglected to acquire one of the four cast members together, and/or at least a photo of Maria and Katherine together.
Once at the bus stop a couple of blocks away, I noticed the time was almost touching twelve noon. The detectives' work had taken less than an hour. It had been nearly twenty-five hours from audition to my work's completion on the project.

Sunday, January 11, 2008
Slightly over three months later...
Maria Olsen and I remained in touch, keeping each other (as well as our respective friends), up to date on our own career progress.
Now and then a student film maker has to be "chased down" to acquire the contractually obligated copy of the film on which a SAG member has worked. It may have taken nearly twenty-five hours from audition to my work-completion (at which time Katherine told us it'd take her about a week to complete the short), there has been from her no status report regarding any progress (or lack thereof) of the project.

Monday October 19, 2009
Contact re-established
Maria got ahold of Katherine regarding DVD copies for Telltale Heart, and Katherine responded, a bit chagrined at having not gotten out the copies by now. Maria CC'd me so I was able to reply with my mailing location for my DVD copy to be sent out as well...

Wednesday September 14, 2011
Broken words and broken contracts
Maria and I remained friends and in touch, even working together again on various projects such as the Abigail and Rumor Mill music videos. I've watched her perform on stage, and as Mrs. Dodds being the one redeeming factor in the otherwise unforgiveable off-book "adaptation" of the Percy Jackson movie even the books' author felt she was Perfectly Cast.... Neither Maria nor I ever heard from Katherine Berk again, nor did we ever received the contractually owed DVD copies of our work thereon.

Geoffrey Gould with lead Maria Olsen of the USC short ''The Tell-Tale Heart''
With lead Maria Olsen in the USC short The Tell-Tale Heart

Back to Student Films Reports Index | Back to Reports Index site created February 29, 2008

All Rights Reserved Without Prejudice UCC 1-308
All Rights Reserved Without Prejudice CCC § 1207

Copyright © 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011