ED: Eerie Digest is interviewing Eileen Grubba, a talented actress, who we first introduced to our readers in our September issue on “Ghost Writer” TV Series Pilot.
Eileen Grubba: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0344190/
ED: Eileen, you’ve shown us that you have worn many hats on “Ghost Writer”. Tell us about them.
EG: Many hats! In a project like this, the creators wear almost every hat. This was a speculative TV project, so the process was different than usual. We started with no funding, just a commitment to make a project happen that could generate work for us and many of the talented people around us. First we started looking for material and a subject we agreed on. Marlene Buffa brought us the idea of a travel writer who sees ghosts in every location she visits, based on her own life experience. Next we started looking at our resources, and creating story around what we had. We went from development, to story ideas, to creating characters for the actors we wanted, and story around the locations we had. The project morphed and grew as we went. It evolved as each of our players stepped in and collaborated. It was really a phenomenal team effort. Everyone contributed. Part of the many hats I wore was finding resources, and talking top industry professionals into joining our team, like Lou Antonio to be our director’s mentor, and Sebastian Milito (www.militophoto.com) to advise and do still photography. We asked some of my longtime industry friends to join our producing team: Joe DeRobbio, a friend I had worked on a WB series with in the past, joined us as an Executive Producer and brought in all of Post production and then some. He brought in editor and special effects expert, Brian Dickett, our cameras, and post production through his company “Creative Motion”. Julian Moss stepped in to do contracts and help produce while shooting. Joe Taranto stepped in to AD and brought in our DP, Daniel Ainsworth and our camera crew. My friend, Scott Eilers, an award-winning TV editor, agreed to help us as well. We just kept reaching out until we had every resource we needed, and a team of about 35 people. Another hat I wore was as Casting Director, since this has been a large part of my career over the years. Casting this speculative project involved talking some very top pros like Barbara Bain and Carmen Argenziano into joining our exceptional cast. What other hats??? I also did location scouting, crew gathering, craft services, etc… and ACTING. Executive producing involves a lot, including coming up with the money to pay for it all, gathering the right team, building the project from start to finish, finding and securing the resources, advising the media teams, and selling the series…I’m involved in all of the processes, in one way or another. My favorite hat was helping to create this beautiful female lead character who portrays the way real, strong woman really are. Playing the lead character, Angela, was my favorite hat of all. 🙂
ED: You also have had a long list of credits to your career as an actress in such shows as “Nip/Tuck”, “Monk”, “The Young and the Restless”, “The Closer”, and many more. What has been your favorite role.
EG: ha ha, I’m going to steal a quote from the fabulous Ms. Barbara Bain: “My favorite role is always the one I am working on now”. 🙂 My character “Angela” in Ghost Writer, has been my favorite TV role to date. The most fun, challenging, layered, romantic, smart, strong, vulnerable, sexy character I have played yet! Many of the TV shows I have worked on have been a pleasure. Wonderful casts and crews, but I have not really had a role on TV that challenges me, YET. On the stage, there have been MANY that challenged and surprised me: Lizzie in “Rainmaker”, Maggie in “After The Fall”, etc…. Thanks to The Actor’s Studio, I have been very creatively challenged. I love my work, and anytime I’m acting, I am having fun. I love creating characters. We spend YEARS building resumes to get the opportunity to FINALLY get a shot at the roles we really want. I don’t think I have done my FAVORITE role yet for film. But it is coming!!!! Very soon! It is one I have been creating for a few years, and am writing in the feature film, “Chi-Town”. The female lead in this one is an excessively challenging character.
ED: We understand that you have been working on some new and exciting material. Please share this with our readers.
EG: Yes!!! There are quite a few new projects on the burners. One that really excites me is a new scripted medical drama that will blow people’s minds! I can’t even say the name at this point!!! It is very high concept, so we have to keep it protected. We are in the process of finding the right network approved show runner who can handle such a huge, complicated medical series. We also have some name actors very interested in taking on lead roles. It has a nice ensemble cast of heroes. What’s most exciting about this one is that when this series takes off, a lot of lives will be positively and profoundly impacted. Not only because of the phenomenal medical team coming on board with their exclusive creations, but also because they all agreed in advance, that a portion of the profits would go into funding treatments for patients, and back into more research. Some of the work our doctors are doing is actually changing the future of medicine, in ways most people, will not believe is possible. The smartest innovators in medicine are inspiring this team led by Dr. E. Brian Butler. So, when it is a big success, like “House” or “E.R”, we’ll be helping a lot of lives and advancing medicine! Even the huge companies coming on board with product placement have agreed to support our causes. A scripted TV show with a good cause! Advertisers are lighting up about this one. 🙂 We need a lot more postive inspiration, backed up with action, and this Industry has a lot of power to weild. We can all make a positive difference in this world if we think about it, get creative, and stand up for what we believe in.
There are also several feature films in the works. The next to go is “Chi-Town” which is set in 1940’s Chicago. Carmen Argenziano will be a part of this cast as well as many of the top actors from “The Actor’s Studio”. I have been watching the best actors in the industry for YEARS at the studio, and have been inspired to write roles for many of them, including Charlie Dierkop, Allan Miller, Martin Landau, Hildy Brooks, Jim and Lou Antonio, Brian Foyster, Jimmy DiStefano, and so many more. When someone is a skilled actor and a kind person, I am inspired to write for them. One thing is for certain, all of my projects will have phenomenal ensemble casts! One Studio executive said that “the cast of ‘Ghost Writer’ is the strongest ensemble cast she has ever seen on a TV show”. It inspires me to create for people who deserve the work, cause when they get the chance, they ALWAYS shine!
Another feature film that really excites me is a children’s adventure called, “The Adventures of Mad Martha and Crazy Maizy”. Big ensemble cast of elaborate, colorful characters, and a story filled with adventure, mystery, fun, wisdom, compassion and values for kids. Things I think kids need to see more of. This one was pitched to a Disney Development Executive who said, “Eileen, if you don’t make this movie, I’m going to.” So, I think it has some promise!
ED: Eileen, as an actress, writer, casting director, and producer you have filled many roles. Where do you see yourself in the future?
EG: I know that in the very near future my biggest job will be Executive Producing. I like creating and bringing teams together. The acting is what I love the most, but will probably lessen as time goes by. I will continue to choose projects that have SOME role for me, not necessarily the lead, but something to sink my teeth into. I will also always create projects, characters and stories, although I do not really want to be the one who writes them. I can’t sit still that long!!! Soon I’ll guide teams who will do all this writing for me! I have lots of ideas and many, many projects that I feel will make a positive impact on humanity, and that is my biggest dream. I plan to make a difference before my time is up on this planet. I want to create projects that help people, so for that reason, I will always be creating.
ED: Our fans love mysteries, and tales of things that “go bump in the night”. Many are also aspiring writers and actors. What encouraging words can you give to them.
EG: Find a way. Work with GOOD people and just find a way to make it happen. There is always a way. The best thing, I have found, is to just start something, and then keep going. No matter what hits, no matter who gets in the way, smile and keep going. Don’t ever let anyone discourage you, or stop you, or get in your way. As you get closer, the resistance usually gets greater, but you have to take a deep breath, take the risks, make the uncomfortable decisions, and just keep going. As long as you stay in integrity, no one can stop you, but believe me they will try. Have faith in knowing it is always the weakest links who cause the most trouble. You have to have endurance. The good people will come along to help you and encourage you, but YOU are the only one who can make it happen. Get Started. Keep Going. Keep Creating!!!! And KNOW that anything is possible. I sold my first script from a pitch, and then wrote it, with a writing partner, while going through cancer treatments, so believe me, nothing can stop you. Just find a way and keep going.
I also strongly believe in mentors. Find someone who has excelled in what you want to do, and listen to them intently. They often love sharing what they have learned. Find out what it is that they want in life, and then find something to offer them in exchange for their guidance and wisdom. Please always give something back to the people who help you! I have found that some of the older folks who have retired, but had exceptional careers, have so much wisdom and advice and STRENGTH to share, and in exchange, they can usually use a little help getting caught up with technology and things that the younger generations are bringing in. One of my favorite mentors is Gloria Goldsmith, an accomplished TV and film writer, and playwright. She was one of the first women staff writers in television, the president of Women In Film for two terms, among many other accomplishments. Now she is almost blind, but still writes, so I help her type her projects into the computer, and help her with everyday tasks that have become difficult for her, and she advises me on writing and on dealing with people in our industry. It’s a very good trade and Gloria became a dear friend in the process. Now I am going to produce one of her plays for her. Some of my other favorite acting mentors are Allan Miller, Charlie Dierkop, Carmen Argenziano, Barbara Bain, and Lou Antonio. And, as you can see from what was written above, I am so grateful for their contributions, that I create roles for them. 🙂 That’s a good trade too.
ED: You have shared a lot about your career with us, Eileen. With the many roles and positions that you held on, and off, screen, our readers have a better view of what it takes to make a successful film presentation. We thank you for your time in sharing your experiences with us, and wish you much luck and success in the future.
EG: Thank you!!!! It has been my pleasure!