Co-winner of the Audience Award at the Cinequest Film Festival, The Village Barbershop is one of those little indie films you can't help but root for. Variety's Dennis Harvey wrote: "Feeling as crustily comfortable as its titular environ, Village Barbershop is an old-hat story -- curmudgeon grudgingly takes in brash youth, with eventual life-enhancing benefits for both. But in this case, the old hat is well worn, and debuting writer-director Chris Ford has blown most of the dust off. Result is a cannily low-key charmer."
It stars John Ratzenberg (still most famous for his long-running role as Cliff Claven on Cheers, but who has also made quite a career out of doing fine voice work for many Pixar features) as that curmudgeon, a small-town haircutter whose melancholy, and rigid, life is altered when a woman shows up looking for a job as his other barber. The film was shot in Reno and Northern California and looks quite good given it's small budget.
We chatted by email with filmmaker Ford, lead actress Shelly Cole, and supporting actor Amos Glick (who plays Ratzenberg's Scrooge-ish landlord.) Each were quite candid with us about the trials and rewards of making a "small" film like Village Barbershop.
Actress Shelly Cole, best known for her long running part as Madeline, Rory's (Alexis Biedel) friend on Gilmore Girls, and who has also made a host of guest appearances on other TV shows:
How did you get involved with this film? And what appealed to you about it?
Shelly Cole: I got involved with Village Barbershop the old fashioned way. My agent sent me the script and I read it, loved it, and went in and met Chris. The interesting thing though, is that I had pretty much quit the business. I had lost my father and I just had no desire to act anymore. In fact, I was having panic attacks everytime I went in for a casting. But somehow, my agent thought I might really connect with this script and she sent it to me. Indeed I did. I loved the relationship that these two people develop.
For me, it was about connecting on a level that I could relate to in the same way that I connected with my father. And so met with John, fell in love with the entire project, and in a way, fell in love with acting again because of Chris and his script. A very serendipitous thing to have happen to me at that time in my life.
Did you do research for the role, like going undercover in barbershops, watching Sweeney Todd (just kidding), and so on...?
No research whatsoever. In fact, this is the closest character I have played to myself so I just pretty much showed up everyday, lines memorized, and had fun. And I'm not really cutting hair.
You've had a lot of success on television. Has that allowed you to be pickier about what roles you'll take in films, to do more labors of love?
I guess you could say that the television jobs i've done have allowed me to take indie movies that pay much less. My job on Gilmore Girls lasted more than 3 years, and as you said, I've done alot of other television shows that run and re-run and have allowed me the freedom to take lower paying jobs without having to stress too much about my cash flow. And I've been very lucky. The few movies I have done I have had a blast with.
To follow up on that, presumably it's still hard to find good roles for women in the film world?
Is it hard to find good roles for women...hmm. I think you know the answer to that question. Thankfully though, women like Cate Blanchett and Judy Dench and Tilda Swinton have made older actresses seem much more acceptable. It's a pretty sad state of affairs the way Hollywood/Los Angeles views women. And with all of the plastic surgery and idiots like Paris Hilton becoming role models, I mean, it's depressing. And I try to stay away from that whole part of this world.
But at some point I think I'm either going to get sick of it and move far away, or things will continue to evolve in such a way that "the buyers" see women of all ages as beautiful and sexy. Honestly though, the idea of being a star really doesn't appeal to me. It's a silly game.
Have you learned anything from watching directors like Chris work that have made you interested in directing your own work at some point, or are you happy to remain in front of the camera?
I would love to direct someday. I've had the opportunity to direct through a couple of workshops and I find that it is very satisfying, albeit painfully stressful sometimes. But yeah, I think I might be good at it. I might like to direct a play at first. Really work with actors. It'd be a good way to see how I am at it. But who knows. Whatever I do, I want to enjoy it. And I've been lucky enough to have had some jobs that I enjoy. Who knows what the future will bring...
Next pages: Director Chris Ford and actor Amos Glick.
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