Cab Calloway School of the Arts graduate Erin Boyes is living a modern starlet's dream. How is a modern starlet defined? For one thing, her bio doesn't include the story of how some director or producer discovered her sitting alone in a coffee shop or walking along in the local mall. No, in this new millennial age, the modern starlet makes her own path, introducing the world to her talent on her own terms, by pursuing and creating projects she can be excited about.
Currently, Boyes in working on her third short film, "Fruitcake"—as an actress and a producer. As a member of the cast, she is tackling the role of Rosemary, a discontented 1952 housewife, who along with her best friend, is considering drastic measures to cure the loneliness and ambivalence that ails her. As a producer, her role is broader. All the logistics, from settings and casting to financing and promotion, rest on her shoulders.
She is presently in budget mode, trying to come up the necessary $17,000 to complete her project. But, she also has bills to pay of her own so there are even more meetings and auditions that she has to entertain.
However, she took time in between appointments in Los Angeles to explain how a Delaware-raised girl gets from the east coast to the west, her excitement about "Fruitcake" and some the stories and lessons she's learning along the way.
Q So, you graduated from Cab Calloway. Did an arts education give you an edge for your profession?
A I studied at Cab for 6 years. Think about that. My whole middle school and high school life included exploration in drama, dance, singing, instruments, stage managing, Shakespeare studies, painting. I was so fortunate to be in that school. When I graduated, I had been surrounded by art from the age of 11 to 17. I went forward kind of thinking the world was like that. And that art was always an option. I learned other lessons, too, that are coming in handy now. I was given the opportunity to organize a fundraiser. I can't remember what it was for. Maybe I just asked someone if I could and they let me. I'm not sure. But I do know I chose to put on a Haunted House. I used younger students, the hallways of the school; I got friends to have a bake sale. That exploration gave me my first experience with producing. And, started my love for the horror/SyFy genre.
Q But, how did you get to Los Angeles?
A During my senior year I was studying commercial acting in Philly and doing Acting workshops. After graduation I went to stay with a cousin in Vancouver, Canada, where I was born. My cousin was a hair and makeup artist and got me my first agent.
Page 2 of 4 - So,I was auditioning and getting small roles there while studying Psychology at Simon Fraser University. I received a student loan at the same time I went through a breakup. Luckily, I had some film maker friends that wanted to make a project. My friend Scott Belyea was, and is, a great writer and director so he wrote a script using the breakup as subject matter and I begged family and friends for money, put my student loans into the film and produced my first short film, "NOMANSLAND."
At that same time I booked the SyFy film, "Goblin" and was able to travel as a producer and actress to film festivals in Sitges, Spain; Edmonton, Alberta; Philadelphia, Penn; Vail, Colo, and finally Los Angeles. Then, I decided I wanted to study here after visiting and meeting some actors. So, I packed up and made the move to LA. I met a manager in Spain at a film festival so when I went to LA, I contacted him and asked if he'd work with me. And, that is how I got to LA.
Q Let's talk about 'Fruitcake.'
A 'Fruitcake' is set in 1952 and centers around two housewives, Rosemary and Sally, who are unhappy with their lives. The war has been over for a few years, their husbands have returned safely and things have gone back to normal. Haven't they? The problem is, they are no longer content after having a taste of independence while their husbands were away. They consider the newest treatment on the market to help their anxiety and depression and the peculiar feelings they have been having towards each other. The Ice Pick Lobotomy. This is based on true events.
Q You have to raise $17,000 to complete it?
A Yes. We have to raise at least $17,000 through IndieGoGo to make this project. IndieGoGo is a wonderful platform for filmmakers to fund for projects that would never be made by big production companies and studios. A lot of projects will never be made or seen because they are short films, or stories that studios don't find to have "box office appeal" or projects that could mean a lot to some people but are over looked by the studio heads or big producers. It allows people who can only afford to donate $5 or $20 to be included and have a say about what stories are being told.
Q It sounds like a lot to have to do. So, what do you like better: producing or acting? Is one more satisfying than the other?
A I have worked as a wardrobe assistant, production assistant, producer's assistant, casting intern, casting assistant, seconnd assistant director, first assistant director, producer and actress. I have enjoyed all of the jobs and I know from experience that they are all equally important. I will keep working in any job that helps pull projects together.
Page 3 of 4 - My first love has always been acting and will be until I die. I will keep producing and doing whatever I can to be able to do the job I love the most. As an actor today, in 2013, we don't get to wear one hat. The medium has changed. Everything is so accessible and there are so many people working in the industry and so many types of projects. There are a million talented, hardworking, educated, motivated people working in theatre, film and television, web series and comedy sketches. It's a gift and a curse! You sink very quickly if you are lazy or not on top of your game but there are also so many ways to jump in there and practice.
Q The idea living and working within the film industry probably seems intimidating to a lot of people who feel removed from it. Do you have any advice for young people in Delaware who dream of a life in Hollywood?
A I cannot give advice because I only know what I have done, coming from where I came from. But, oh my gosh, this question breaks my heart. I have been thinking a lot about how much freedom we have in North America to create art. There are a lot of actors that waste that freedom. They take advantage of it. For every Lindsay or Britney or Paris there is a young women in India or Africa that would die for the opportunity to be seen and heard like those women are. How accessible is a career in film and TV? I don't know. For me, I am grateful that I have a dream, a passion. It is an absolute gift. Regardless of what career or job I get in the film/TV industry, the joy I get from creating art and the freedom to be a female allowed to speak my mind, tell stories maybe for people who don't have a voice or platform and express myself through art is enough.
Q Speaking of working, you have a film in post-production right now, right?
A I was cast as Jennifer in a film called "Last Curtain Call," shot in Los Angeles. It will hopefully have a festival run this coming year. I play a groupie whose heart is broken by the lead singer, Mason, of the band Malecki Theory. Jennifer ends up being much more important to Mason than she ever expected. David Proval plays Mason's dad. That was pretty cool. Working with someone from "The Sopranos" and "Mean Streets." That's something great about Los Angeles. You never know who you will be working with next. On any size project. There are always surprises.
Q What other cool experiences have you had?
Page 4 of 4 - A When I went back for a callback for "Shattered," a television series shot in Vancouver, I was thrown off, for sure. I walked in and the director was Helen Shaver. I knew who she was right away: the trailer park mom in [the movie] "The Craft." Hello! Love her! I have watched that movie back home in Delaware with my best friend Alex at least twenty times. That movie defined the 90's for me.
Q That's great! Anything else?
A When I found out I was auditioning for "Twilight," I had no idea what it was, but I knew I had heard my little sister talk about it. I called her and said I was auditioning for Jane in the "Twilight" movies. Dakota Fanning ended up playing her. And, of course, was so great. It was so funny though. I said 'Anna, I have this audition. Will you give me the Spark Notes of Twilight?' And she did. For two hours I filled a notebook with little sisters "school of Twilight". And, I did end up booking a small role, thanks to Anna. When I called to tell her I booked something in "Twilight," I heard the phone drop and she started screaming. Possibly running in circles in the kitchen. Man, she is going to hate me for telling you that. Her excitement was so fun, though. It made me want to keep booking things, just to make her that happy.
Q Speaking of your sister, do you get back to Delaware much?
A My parents and siblings and best friends are all in Delaware. I get back every year if I can, sometimes twice a year if I'm lucky. I love the hot, humid summer nights in Delaware, the fire flies and crickets—there is nothing like it. A dream project of mine is to shoot in Delaware, using those sights and sounds. And the beautiful, lush, green valley roads. Before I could get away on drives from Hockessin into Pennsylvania, I spent a lot of time at the Hockessin Library, reading plays and fiction novels. It's a great place to disappear to.
Q Any future projects on the horizon?
A Fruitcake has to be funded! We will shoot in November if we can raise the money. After Fruitcake, I would love to make my next project in Delaware. That really is a goal of mine. There are so many stories I would love to see told. We will see!