Zachary Ray Sherman [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! We have another wonderful interview for you all on this beautiful Wednesday! Well, it’s looking pretty good around these parts, and I hope it is well for you all. Today we have some wonderful words from a brilliant actor, writer, producer, and director. It’s Zachary Ray Sherman, Everyone!

Sherman may be most recognizable for his work on the brilliant Netflix Original Series, Everything Sucks! And while we may not be seeing more of this incredible series, I was a huge fan of what we got to see. And our lovely guest was absolutely amazing on the program. Zachary has had an incredibly entertaining career beyond this one series, and has some pretty amazing projects in the works that will be coming to you in the near future, which we will discuss below.

Zachary Ray Sherman is a brilliant person who couldn’t have given us any more nicer of responses to our queries, and we are so excited to have him on the site today. So Folks, please enjoy some wonderful words from the truly brilliant human being, the great Zachary Ray Sherman. Enjoy!

You happen to hail from a region that we here at TWS consider to be the best in the land, which is the Great Pacific Northwest. Specifically the wonderful city of Portland, Oregon. Did you begin your career in the city of Roses? And did the city have any sort of influence on you?

I’m with you, I love Portland and the PCNW too. All my family is up there, I’m lucky to visit many times a year. And yup, I began my career in Portland. I discovered acting pretty young through a class. A neighbor girl asked my sister to go with her to this acting class downtown, my sister asked me to come along. I ended up going along and really fell in love. Portland actress Sharonlee Mclean taught that class and opened my eyes to what acting was and could be. I recently asked Sharonlee act in my most recent feature which was shot in Portland, she’s the best.

I’m sure the city had an influence on me. When I first moved away, I noticed the people being different. I moved south to LA when I was twenty-one but was always in Portland til then, it’s all I knew. I acted in plenty of short films and art projects for aspiring Portland filmmakers, I TA’d and attended a really great acting class which primed me for upcoming work in LA. But yeah, I’m sure the people, weather, and region had a large influence on who I am. 

What was your very first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this first experience that you still keep in your acting arsenal to this day?

After the acting class with Sharonlee, this was the mid 90’s, I continued exploring acting in some classes around town and finding an agent. Soon after I was cast in a cable MOW (movie of the week) on the Lifetime channel playing Kirsten Dunst’s little brother. The role was written for an older teen, but for whatever reason they went with me. From day one, I was in awe of production. Trucks lining the block, crew everywhere, houses being taken over for the set, it was amazing. I knew this is what I wanted to do. The director and I hit it off, he’d made one of the Free Willy movies prior and was the sweetest guy from New Zealand. He had an ease while helming the show that was (and still is) impressive. I focused on playing my part in this family. I was surrounded by great actors and it sort of felt like being thrown in a pool to learn to swim. You just do it and I was sidelines enough where it easy enough to figure it out. It was a story about teen pregnancy (Fifteen and Pregnant) and how it affects the girls and her life. Production was this amazing process, I think I must have been like, ‘holy crap, this is was what making movies is…’ Everything about that job appealed to my fourteen year old self, still does. I was lucky that it showed me what I wanted to do, I’ve never really looked back.

 

 

Last year you had a reoccurring role on the hit Netflix Original series, Everything Sucks!, which I have found to be a whole lot of fun, especially as a former child in the 90’s. So, I am curious to know how your experience has been working on this project? Is it as enjoyable to work on as it is for us to watch?

Glad to hear you liked it. I did too. I’ve been friends with Ben Jones, one of the creators of the show for over a decade. We were enrolled in the same film school before I dropped out. He asked if I wanted to read for the part, I loved the material and they liked what I was doing. It was great to be able to come home to work on the show. Ben and Mike (Mohan, co-creator and director of ES!) did such a tremendous job with the series. As did Ry Russo, a great director who helmed a handful of the episodes. It’s a shame the series wasn’t renewed but I’m grateful to have been a part of it. 

Every role is different … whether ‘it’s as much fun to watch as it is to work on’ … and it’s probably more fun to watch then to work on. That said, I’m still in the love with sets and acting on them and making movies as I was on day one… It can just be grueling. And acting is never easy. With ES! I was in a unique position as the character I played is the absent-dad, who’s been gone for years. As the show goes on, Luke (my character’s son) learns more and more about his father though these VHS tapes left behind in the garage, which were essentially video diaries, years before the selfie or vlogging. 

The majority of my material was those moments on the VHS tapes. The way it worked was that I filmed all those ‘VHS tape segments’ in one sitting. I started work on day 00 as they call it. The day before everyone comes to work and officially begins. For day 00 they had a skeleton crew for this garage shoot along with knocking off a few other moments with the some of kids at the same location. So I shot the majority of six or seven episodes in one day.  It was a little uphill as the material we shot was longer than what made the show. Lots to memorize. Leroy rants and rants in his garage, the writers did a beautiful job exploring this guy and what he thinks about and says to his camera alone in his garage, it was great stuff. It was a good amount of dialogue. Luckily I was prepping for a play in LA, Keith Huff’s A Steady Rain which essentially is two actors who never leave the stage for 90 minutes and just talk. 8 page monologues talk. So my retaining-dialogue-muscle had been working out and I was able to come at the Leroy work with some momentum. 

Mike, Ben and team made a fantastic show. People should check it out if they haven’t yet.

I am very intrigued by a project you wrote, directed, and produced, as well as starred in, entitled Barbie’s Kenny. Can you tell us a bit about this project? How did you come up with this incredibly unique sounding story?

First off, I didn’t star in it, I’m listed online as an actor but it’s really just an off camera voice. That was a clear decision I made at from the beginning. I decided that my first time directing, I’d better not complicate it and I’m very glad we did it this way. Just directing was a great choice. I may try out doing both someday, we’ll see. 

My lead actors, all the actors were terrific. I wrote it with many of them in mind. I’m a very acting-forward director, it’s hard not to be with my experience and that’s how we begin… with rehearsing. 

This project came out of me wanting to quit thinking about directing and making a movie and actually do it. So I self financed it (savings, loans and credit) and shot it very quickly as people were working for free or next to nothing. I was elevated by my talented peers who came on and donated their time, skill and energy to the project. My director of photography (Martim Vian) is brilliant and he was an amazing catch. I didn’t think he’d be available to do it, but he read the script and he liked it and generously came on board. It was a lot of work, but I thrive on the prep, the planning, deciding what’s going to be the best for the making of the movie. I wrote, produced and directed and we shot it in ten days. The story is loosely based off of my girlfriend and her dad. A couple years ago he came to live with us and I got to know him. I dramatized the seed of the inspiration (you can equate it to Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet in that he took this story that took place over months, in some times years in previous versions and he ratcheted up the tension by placing the drama within days) and came up with the script by taking a microbudget online film course led by a great guy Shawn Whitney. The script came together really quickly and after shooting Everything Sucks! I began planning how to go and make my first feature and was shooting a few months later. 

If you were given the opportunity write, direct, and or/star in a biopic about any well known individual in American history, who would you choose?

There’s two. Houdini and Bukowski. 

Houdini was the first celebrity here, I’ve always thought there’s something there. He’s this great symbol of the American reinventing itself. I’ve been interested in telling a story with him and his wife Bessie at the middle. And Bukowski is someone I’ve always joked to my sister and girlfriend about but would seriously love to do later in life if the opportunity came to be. I love his fervor and think there are endless paths to explore. 

 

 

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to share with our readers?

My sister (Sarah Sherman) and I work together and are in the edit on our first feature together. We shot it in Portland in fall of 2018. It’s a love story of sorts, exploring the first love experience. Quinn Liebling, Tyler from Everything Sucks!, plays a sophomore in high school and Anjini Taneja Azhar plays a freshman who lives across the street from each other in Portland. We’re really lucky and the film is being executive produced by the Duplass Brothers. We’re excited to share it. Anjini and Quinn are terrific and I think people will really connect with them. 

Another project to note is a film I acted in last year. We actually began shooting one year to the day … or maybe give or take three, but it was literally a year ago. It’s a very memorable and heavy project, in many ways. 

The film is called Cuck a character study observing an isolated young man who doesn’t feel heard or seen. And has a pretty traumatic past. It’s a look into a problem our nation is plagued with (unlike the rest of the world) these mass shootings that occur daily and which we’re numb to. I’m getting soapbox and bubbled and that should be separate from this explanation because the movie we made is simply about this guy (and the state of America) and I think it could really pack of punch, we’ll see. We put everything into the work and I’m eager to see what Rob (director Rob Lambert) did with the film. I’ll be seeing it in a week or so for the first time. It was a first for me in that I approached the character in a new way: gained nearly 45lbs for the part. The script was very heavy and dark and I found that as a way in to exploring this character which isn’t unlike the young racist white men we saw in Charlottesville. This racist bigot flare up the country is witnessing that’s been stoked by the Trump’s bullshit is front and center in this movie. 

There’s a teaser trailer online if you search in Vimeo or Youtube for Cuck, film, Zachary Ray Sherman, or Rob Lambert. Hope people will check out the movie when it’s released. They can stay tuned by following on Twitter or Instagram.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Getting to the end of this interview 🙂  Thanks for your time and interest Ron. Have a good one.

 

Check out the previously mentioned teaser for the film Cuck featuring Zachary himself:

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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