Michal Sinnott [Interview]

 

Photo by Braden Moran

Hello Folks! We have an absolutely brilliant interview for you fine folks today. We have some wonderful words from a person who is not only a gifted actress, but has recently added the credits of writer and producer to her list of talents with an very exciting project in which we shall discuss below. It’s Michal Sinnott, Everyone!

As most of you regular readers already know, we have a deep-rooted love for the world of gaming. And while the Fallout world may be where we occupy most of our time in the realm of video games as an art form, the insane world that is the Grand Theft Auto franchise is another beloved universe we love around here. And Michal Sinnott happened to play a major role in the latest installment of the GTA world, as Tracey De Santa in Grand Theft Auto 5. Michal is actually the third interview subject from this singularly brilliant game that we have had on the site (alongside our old friends Danny Tamberelli and Matthew Maher), but we actually spoke with them long before we learned about the beauty of this game. So, we are very excited that Michal was able to tell us a bit about what it was like to work her magic into this legendary release.

And as it usually tends to, we discovered that Michal has done just a plethora of amazing work in her time that we so excited to share with you all today. So Folks, please enjoy some wonderful words from the incredibly talented Michal Sinnott! Enjoy!

 

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I understand you started acting quite early, and even grew up with a mother who was also an actress. While I understand you may have had an obvious influence around, but what was it that drew you personally into the world of acting?

I was very shy as a small child. When I did my first commercial with my mom when I was seven, I instantly loved it. Honestly, I think it was exciting and safe to be someone else. There was a lot of unrest and chaos in my early childhood. The opportunity to play someone else in a different set of circumstances from my own was exhilarating. I loved everything about it – wearing different clothes, taking on emotions that weren’t my own or else having a safe space for emotions I shared with the character, having this space to take a break from my own life and embody someone else. And I was praised for it. I was good at it. So I’m sure that fed my love for it as well. I loved the safe space in which to play without consequence. Acting has always been the biggest breath of fresh air for me. Even the difficult characters are a joy because it’s just wonderful and peaceful to take a break from being Michal!

I love my life now and I love who I’ve become but it was a long road to get inner peace in my own life and acting provided a sanctuary from anxiety and a lot of complex circumstances that I didn’t entirely understand before doing a lot of self work as an adult. Acting is still an escape for me but now I don’t cling quite as tight. The present is pretty great too these days, so it’s a joy to be someone else because it allows me to think and feel in ways I might not experience otherwise, but life as me is pretty wonderful, too.

We have spoken with quite a few folks who have worked in the world of video game voice over acting. We actually featured both Danny Tamberelli and Matthew Maher on the site, but unfortunately it was prior to being aware of the beauty of Grand Theft Auto V. And now here you are! So I am curious to know what it is like to be a part of such a legendary franchise? Do you get the “your voice sounds familiar’ statement a lot?

Oh I love Danny. I loved working with him. It was incredible to be a part of something so big and iconic. And a lot of people don’t know this, but it’s actually far beyond voice acting. My voice is just one part of it. It’s performance capture, meaning we performed the scenes on a sound stage with 36 cameras that corresponded to our movement. We wore the suits with the balls so the movement of the characters is our movement and then they recorded our faces at the same time with a pin hole camera attached to a helmet we wore so you got our facial gestures and then those gestures were digitized by a team of animators who pixilated our faces for years. They did a body scan of us before we shot and then used that for the acting which became data for the animators. It was kind of like a mix of theatre, soap acting, and green screen work but entirely it’s own.

When I met some of the animators at The Game Awards when we won Game Of the Year, they stared at and chatted with me in the most intense way. Their job had been to animate my face for 3 years! It was surreal for all of us and made me feel both weird and so strangely honored. When I was a kid, I always dreamed about doing a part that resulted in being made into an action figure. In a lot of ways I got my wish. Tracey is like a cartoon version of me – but with a very different sense of style, thank God, and all my body parts blinged out a bit, too! Ha. I’m always tickled when I get sweet fan mail for Tracey. And it’s so fun when people learn that I played Tracey, especially if they’re gamers.

On a super rare occasion with a die hard gamer, they might say my voice sounds familiar, but for the most part I go around with my secret identity. I spoke in a nasal register for her, so I don’t sound quite as annoying as her, thank goodness! But it’s fun to go into her voice with a fan. People get a big kick out of it and I do too.

We have also spoken with a lot of folks who have worked in the world of Soap Operas. And you are no stranger to the breakneck world of acting within the world of Soaps. So I am curious to know what you thought about working in that world? How much did it differ from other types of sets you have worked on?

I loved having a recurrent on One Life to Live. I’m afraid I was a bit of a snob when I graduated from drama school, and I thought I was somehow above being in a soap in the midst of all that Shakespeare and Chekhov training. But you get out there in the real world and start slinging drinks at night as a waitress or bartender while you hit the pavement in the day for acting work and you quickly realize how lucky you are to book anything. And kudos to soap actors for memorizing so much copy every day. When I was on the show, we’d shoot 6 one hour long episodes in 5 days! Think about that. Grand Theft Auto V took 3 years to shoot. One episode of Law and Order takes 2 weeks to shoot and we’re shooting more than one episode of OLTL in less than a day! That’s insane. You have to be so on your A game. You get one take and if you flub a line, they just cut it. There’s no take 2. Soap actors get a bad wrap, but honestly I think they’re incredible. You have to be so good to move that fast. I was in awe of how quickly the machine moved along. I was just a small part of it, but the big soap stars who have all that dialogue and emotion going on, it’s a real feat to watch.

I am very intrigued by your upcoming project Born That Way. It’s such a unique story that I am hoping we will get to see soon? Can you tell us a bit about this project? What inspired you to write this tale?

Thanks for asking about Born That Way! It’s been a passion project of mine for some time now. We’re in late Development with it now, meaning we’ve raised some of the funds and had a successful shoot of aerial and land footage in Tanzania, where the film opens. We are in the process of attaching name actors for the other lead roles and once we do that, we’ll be able to raise the rest of funds to shoot the rest of the film in New York City, where it largely takes place.

The film is about a lot of things but at it’s core, I think it’s about our lost connection to each other, and to the Earth, to something beyond the tangible, be it soul or otherwise. I call it A Magical Realist Present Day Fable for the People.

These are dangerous days. Born That Way is a film that speaks to many of the social justice issues of our time. It is a film that subtly challenges the status quo in all sorts of ways. It’s a small story between 5 people — but with the use of music & cinematography, it should feel epic in form. It touches on everything from the rights of the undocumented, to animals as sentient beings, to the displacement of indigenous people, to police brutality. It challenges our notions of gender & sexuality & what it means to love regardless of the physical form you arrive in to this world. It is in fact a protest of sorts. But it’s choosing love and forgiveness as the ultimate radical act. ‘For the people’ comes from the Constitution & reverberates in the Gettysburg address. It’s a call to our consciousness & our rights to freedom for all. Born That Way is a story about freedom from self & the cages we create for our spirits. It’s about judgment and all the ways that we judge ourselves and each other. It’s about our connectedness. I am you & you are me.

 

Photo by Meera Michelle

And in our selfie obsessed world, it feels like the kind of story I want to tell right now, the kind of story that I want to see. There’s still so much nihilism out there in cinema. And look, I get it. The world is really messed up and we’re in a hell of a pickle. But what are we gonna do about it? Stop naming it and start declaring that it’s not gonna go down like that! What we need is a blackhole. But what we’re capable of, is all the light in the universe. I want to see stories that look at what’s happening and offer solutions to make it better. That’s what I’m interested in.

About a 10th of the film is in animation. It lives in the world of Run Lola Run, or Amelie, or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, with a nod to Moonlight or Beasts of the Southern Wild. It’s about a bunch of adults who never grew up, and now they have to.

You can watch our proof of concept that’s received over half a million views on FB on our website, bornthatwaythemovie.com

We hope to go into full production this year.

If you were given the opportunity to portray any historical figure in American history, who would you want to portray?

I just saw a documentary on Jane Fonda which really made me admire her so much. I didn’t know much about her. She made mistakes in front of the world for which she was vilified, but she also was so courageous and such an outspoken activist. I really identified with that devotion towards both film and political activism. She was a fearless trailblazer towards both the anti-war movement and second wave feminism, in the midst of contending with a very confusing and painful childhood. She was born into privilege but she really worked to make her own way. She had nine lives. It would be incredible to play her.

What else does the future hold for your? Anything else you would like to plug to our readers?

I’m co-directing my first feature in a few months with a wonderful friend, Alexandra Clayton. We’re organizing a very DIY shoot abroad with a group of friends. It’s a female driven ensemble comedy. I’m a co-writer with Alexandra and my husband Joseph Schollaert, and I’ll also be acting in it. So there’s a lot of hats at play! If it fails, we’ll still get a fun vacation out of it, so nothing lost no matter what! But I expect that we’ll create something really special together. It’s exciting to dive in and do something now because Born That Way is such a long term baby.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My nephew just turned one year old the other day. I FaceTime with my little brother Isaac a lot with him. He’s always all smiles. It’s wild to see your brother’s face in his little boy. I love it. I love being an Auntie. I love watching his enthusiasm for the world. And I love watching my brother’s love for his little boy. It’s all a ton of joy to witness.

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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