Haruka Abe is an actor, she’s been in a bunch of TV shows like Wire in the Blood and Ideal, as well as feature films including 47 Ronin and About Time. In this interview we ask her about short films, because that’s kind of our thing.
Tell us about how you got into acting.
I always wanted be an actor since I was little, but playing Bilbo Baggins in a school play of The Hobbit when I was 9 sealed the deal. I started going to children’s drama school then and never looked back since.
How do you successfully pass an audition?
I wish I knew how to successfully pass an audition! That decision really is completely beyond your control and you just have to prepare for it as much as you possibly can and hope for the best. I do enjoy choosing what to wear for the audition, because it’s a way of shaping and visualizing the character the way you imagine them to be.
You have taken on a number of roles that were within a tight budget and shot within a short time, how difficult is it to do this?
It’s difficult in the sense that you have to be flexible in order to achieve certain things with limited time and budget, which can also be frustrating at times. I do love the buzz of low budget productions though because they tend to be more collaborative and creative.
Several of your short films, such as Choose and Precision, were shot in under 50 hours – how do you prepare yourself for roles like this? How do you put yourself into the shoes of the character you are portraying?
I like to dive into the character and her world with both feet, so as long as I have a clear image of their essence then time restriction isn’t normally an obstacle. Of course it tends to mean less time to rehearse which is a challenge, but it also can help you to jump into the moment.
How much pressure do you have on you to get each scene done correctly when you know there is only a limited amount of time?
Time is always limited whether if it’s a one-day shoot or a 6 month shoot, so there is always a certain amount of pressure to get the scenes done right and quickly. This isn’t just for the actors but for every crew member, from camera team to sound, and teamwork and communication is key on a film set.
With budget and time constraints does the finished movie often differ to the original concept or idea?
Sometimes, yes. You just have to be open-minded, realistic and creative, and adapt accordingly.
The short movie Pulling Away was made with a very small budget, were you surprised at what can be achieved with a limited budget?
Yes, but I have had worked with the team before and knew how talented and dedicated they are, so I knew that they are capable of creating lovely films with limited resources.
Stanley Pickle was also made on a small budget and went on to win over 30 international awards…
I was very proud, because Stanley Pickle is one of those projects that are really dear to me. I loved working with everyone, especially the amazing director Victoria Mather and lead actor Drew Caiden whom I’m still very good friends with, and I knew how much hard work and time they put in to create the film, so it’s great that people liked the final product as much as we liked the project.
Both Pulling Away and Stanley Pickle demanded a lot from you, one film was focused entirely on you while the other utilised stop motion shooting, would you say this is just part of the challenge of being an actor?
Yes, and I think to have something that challenges you is a fantastic thing because it pushes your boundaries and gives you a chance to create something special.
What is the future for the character Merica Adams? Will there be a series of short movies or TV episodes?
We are currently filming a second Precision short titled Merica Adams. We have a much bigger team and more time in our hands (The original short was conceived, shot and post production completed in 48 hours by a team of 5) and it’s something I’m really, really excited about. The short will be released sometime later on this year on the internet, and we are releasing updates, sneak peaks etc on social network platforms (You can follow the progress on twitter and instagram using the hashtag #mericaadams). It’s very much a collaborative project (core team being the writer Mike Sizemore, illustrator Dave Kennedy and musician Steve Kilpatrick) and we’re hoping to keep developing her world. At some point we want to make a feature length film, and there may be a comic book series as well.
Please tell us about a typical day on set for the current Merica Adams filming.
I normally go on set between 8am and 10am and change into my costume and get my hair and makeup done. The Merica Adams set has a really friendly and chilled atmosphere, which is lovely.
I probably do the least, just hanging around while the crew are working hard to set up the shots etc.゠ We notched up the action quite a bit in this film, so we go through quite a lot of fake blood each day!
What do you find to be the most interesting aspect of filmmaking?
Teamwork. They are so many people involved in the process of turning something written on paper into a finalised audio-visual medium, and it’s an incredibly collaborative process that requires a huge amount of team work. I love seeing how it all comes together.
What have you found most difficult so far?
I find the process of auditioning and getting/not getting the role is the hardest part of my job. When you’re given a script to audition for, you almost fall in love with the characters. And it’s heart breaking when they chose someone else. This falling-in-love-only-to-have-your-heart-broken process occurs on a weekly basis so it can really get to you.゠ But when they do pick you, you know you’re going to have the time of your life.
What future projects do you have scheduled?
A couple of short films and indie features are in the pipeline, but in my line of work everything is always so last minute that it’s hard to tell how my week is going to be. I do have high hopes for 2014!
Find out more about Haruka and her work here.