Sunday, July 8, 2012

My 'Love/Hate' Relationship with the Industry and How I Reached a Balance with Everything Part 2

When I was starting out a few years ago, I was one of those girls setting up my first website, beginning to network on some modeling/photography sites, yahoo groups, and the like.  I already had done lots of theater through my life and (I think) two film projects, so I wasn't completely "green" to everything.  Some of my direction was a little off, but I overall had a pretty good idea of who and what I wanted to be and do.  I knew I wanted to incorporate music, acting, writing, and producing into the career, it was just a question of how to go about it and meeting the necessary people that would help point me in the right direction to make it happen.  I wanted to have my own production company and make and produce my own projects while still working with other people.  But of course, probably like most new actresses/models/etc putting themselves out there in the industry, there are leeches, "gwc's" (Guys With Camera), people with adult 'pay sites', webcame sites, self proclaimed filmmakers looking for a bunch of girls to get naked in their films, and the like who immediately are able to smell "fresh meat" on the market.  They tend to prey on the 'new girls' and take advantage of the fact that many girls are, in fact, so desperate to get their foot in the door that they will do anything, things that had they been more established they very likely would not have done.  Many jump right in without a concise goal in mind and if you don't have a goal or basic plan, you will likely fall on your face.

Now, is there anything wrong with adult pay sites, webcam sites, softcore films and the like?  No, there isn't.  But is there something wrong with hounding and trying to pressure and manipulate someone who obviously isn't comfortable with it into doing it despite what that girl's longterm goals are?  Yes, there is something wrong with that.  If you have girls who approach you will to do those types of things?  Ok, fine.  But I do see something wrong with trying to pressure and manipulate someone who wouldn't really be interested.  And yes, I came across quite a few of those and it was definitely an uphill battle.  It was frustrating because I knew what I could do and I wanted to do it.  It was just a question of people giving me a chance to be something other than "the sexy girl."  I even vented my frustrations on the issue and actually had some telling me things like 'you're crazy to turn things down.  Work is work' and 'just take any opportunity that comes to you.'  I will say that I while love some of these people, I wanted to smack them upside the head.  REALLY PEOPLE????  I still shake my head in disbelief when I think about that.  If I had taken their advice?  Sure, I may have been getting more work alot sooner and may still be working today.  But would I be happy?  Would I be able to face family and friends doing the things I was initially offered?  Would I be able to handle getting fanmail where the comments consisted of nothing more than being a piece of meat?  The answers to all those questions was no.

Now, I'm not saying that every choice I made was perfect.  In fact, there were some choices I made that were downright stupid.  Some people I hooked up with were all talk, well-meaning but clueless as to what they were doing, would say one thing but then go do another, etc.  It was tough trying to keep a balance and trying to have people see me for the things I wanted them to see me for.  I remember my first convention/film festival appearances with Troma Entertainment (after being one of their Tromettes on their website...I will say that I do love Troma and what they are about), telling some prospective fans/customers what I was going to be doing and planning to do, that I was setting up my production company, etc and having those same people give me a look that was basically "yeah, ok whatever...you're just a ditzy tromette and nothing more.  Are you naked in anything?"  And then when the answer to that question would be no, they would immediately lose interest.  I remember when I started branching out and doing more films, people STILL wanted to just talk about me as a Tromette in interviews for film websites and such.  And then when I finally began recording and releasing my music?  It was like almost no one wanted to talk about it in their film blogs and websites (or any other film I may have been on for that matter) and seemed to only, once again, want to talk about "Tiffany Apan, the Tromette."  In fact, I remember when I was about to release my album, I had someone get in touch with me for an interview.  I told them that I was getting ready to release my album and if we could maybe talk a little about that.  Well, he pretty much said in a roundabout way that he didn't really want you.  I think that was the last straw for me for a while.  There was that, a couple bad experiences I had on films, the fact that people were attempting to always cast me as the ditzy "sexpot", and the fact that a talk with someone else from the industry telling me that I was pretty much hurting myself career-wise being on the path I was.  Those things together made me step back, reassess things, and had me come to the conclusion that I did need to take a hiatus from the horror scene...at least until I could really get control over things and the direction I was going in.  So I focused on my music, promoting it, and touring for a while.  I did the occasional horror convention, but wasn't sure if I ever really wanted to be involved with it anymore which made me sad because I love horror.  I also refused to take photos that would be deemed "scream queenish".  I didn't want to allow a few bad experiences to taint an entire area of a potential career for me, but it's amazing how people immediately want stereotype and basically just keep you in a box as a piece of meat and the affect it can have on you.

In 2009, was going along with music and contemplating doing theater again (which I hadn't done in years mainly due to touring for the music and such) when I got an email from Travis Bowen of Eerie Frequency Entertainment offering me a role in his film, "The Girl."  I had worked with Travis before on the short "Doll Nazis Must Die" plus doing his Dark Xmas convention and my experiences with him had always been good.  I liked the character he had in mind for me and the concept of the film, so I agreed to do it.  I can honestly say that being on the set of the film and having so much fun reignited the flame and passion I had for the horror genre.  He also offered to use a song or two of mine on the soundtrack which also helped a great deal with me stepping back into the genre without much hesitation.  Say what you will about "The Girl" (love it or hate it), but I credit that film with helping me to get back to something I love but avoided for a year or two due to bad experiences.  After that, I had more filmmakers inquire about including my songs in their films and I've had several different types of films released that I feel shows different ranges as an actress.  I've done a little theater again, I'm getting into producing, directing, writing, and running my award-winning production company.  In 2010, the music video I produced for my adaptation of "Scarborough Fair" off of my debut full length album POET won First Place in the Open Music Video Category at the 2010 International Indie Gathering.  The script for the film "Driving Nowhere" that I wrote (and am also currently producing, directing, and acting in) won Best Short Horror Script at the 2012 Indie Gathering.  My production company works on everything from film, music (my second album and Jason's debut album), the Music's Underworld Webzine, a forthcoming podcast, radio dramas, and I'm currently writing a time travel fantasy/romance novel.

I will say that I've come to a place where I feel comfortable with every aspect of my career both past and present.  I actually don't have a problem anymore with taking "scream queen-themed" photos as those photos are also balanced with other photo themes.  There was also a time when I would cringe at being called a Scream Queen, but it no longer bothers me.  When I interviewed Michelle Shields for my webzine, she said something I agree with: "I'm not a Scream Queen..I'm just an actress who plays one."  I think even people from other areas of the industry are giving me more credibility in recent years.  I remember years ago when I friend tried to get me to be seen to audition for a dark comedy and the director immediately dismissed me saying "well, this isn't a horror movie."  Meaning that he had labeled and stereotyped me as that was all I could do:  run around and scream on camera (which wasn't even what I really did in the horror films I'm in anyway).  Now, if that happens, I can say "um, why don't you visit my website and production company's website before you pass judgement...cause otherwise, I don't need you."  And yes, I'm proud of my time with Troma as I learned alot from them and from that time (both good and bad) and I will talk freely about it.  I always love their dedication to independent film.  Some even tried to excuse the past with "well, you have a darker look."  Once again...REALLY PEOPLE??  Sorry but that's weak as I've seem plenty of girls with the wholesome, apple pie look doing some pretty crazy stuff online...just saying.

Now, some people may still ask me why I didn't just 'go with things' and 'take whatever I was offered' and try to tell me how I could have 'so much more on my IMDb page,' my reply was that it simply didn't match my goals.  I was getting tired of being seen as someone who should just be seen and not heard and you know what?  If you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself.  I wasn't happy where things were going, so it was up to me to change it.  Some things I did right, some things ended up being a mere learning experience.  But I think every experience, good and bad, came with a valuable lesson.  I'm ok with everything and where I'm at now and I'm looking forward to new opportunities on the horizon. :)  And yes, I still maintain my "dark look."  :)

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