SXSW Interview: Anna Camp & Ashley Williams Talk Their New Short, ‘Sequin Raze’, Auditions and Having a Back-up Plan

SEQUIN-RAZE_Anna-Camp-Ashley_WIlliams

I love shorts. As actors, they are the greatest way to get people to notice your work and see what you are capable of doing. They’re short, sweet and if they are good, they make a lasting impression on the audience.

Sequin Raze absolutely falls into this category. The short, directed expertly by Sarah Gertrude Shapiro, takes you behind the scenes of a Bachelor-type reality show where the runner-up (Anna Camp) has to make her final statements to the camera. A producer (Ashley Williams) is there to coax out something that the show can use. They need something good and juicy and Williams character won’t stop till she get’s it.

The film seems like the final 10 minutes of a really interesting movie; one where you wish you’d seen the whole film so you could spend more time with the characters. I saw it at SXSW and I know it’s playing around other festivals, so if you get a chance to see it, definitely try and make it. 

I talked with the stars, Anna Camp (Pitch Perfect, True Blood) and Ashley Williams (How I Met Your Mother), while they were at SXSW about how they got involved in the project, their fascination with the actual Bachelor, auditions and their sobering advice to actors.

For the full interview, click the audio link above or download it from iTunes 

How did you guys get involved in this?

Anna Camp: Ashley was part of the reason that I got involved, so maybe she should go first.

Ashley Williams: I jumped on it because Sarah offered me a part, which rarely happens to someone like me. And I read the script and fell in love with it and, I was saying earlier, I called… Sarah and I have a mutual friend, although I’d never met Sarah before. So I called this friend and I said, you know, “I think I might do this girl’s short film. Is she crazy?” And my friend said, “I think she is crazy, but I don’t think she’s mean crazy. I think she’s brilliant crazy.” And I was like, “Then I wanna do her movie.” So that was really all I needed. And, you know, the script is really fun, it was a darker character, something much more deep and cool and multilayered, really, than I’ve ever gotten the opportunity to play, so that was exciting.

Anna Camp: Yeah, I saw that Ashley was attached and Frances Conroy was attached and I read the script and talked to Sarah on the phone and I just… I liked that on the surface this could’ve been a spoof, it could’ve been something making fun of a Bachelor type show or something, but it actually went really dark and got into the psychological war that these two women have together and I thought that the Jessica character was a fully realized human being and I wanted to tackle that and wanted to work with these lovely ladies.

SEQUIN-RAZE-Ashley-WilliamsWatching it, you guys play characters that I don’t really see you guys playing a lot. Is that one of the reasons why you kinda jumped at it?

Ashley Williams: For me it was one of the main reasons, yes. You know, I work… I’ve worked… I’ve been so blessed to have worked continually in the TV industry for the last 10 years, but that means that a lot of the time I have to do these projects that I really don’t believe in, to be honest, and I don’t think the writing is strong and I’m playing pretty vanilla characters. And that’s how I make my money and I’m grateful for that, but when an opportunity came around for me to do something that, you know, sort of in many ways got me back to my theatrical roots, because those are the characters I was always cast as, these sort of dark, scary, weird people in the theatre world in New York and in Boston and stuff, and then I had to go sort of into the TV business to, like, be able to pay back my debt.

Eat.

Ashley Williams: Yeah. And so this is really the characters that I was playing 10 years ago and that was such an appeal to me.

Anna Camp: I actually feel like I do kind of play characters a lot like this character.

Yeah?

Anna Camp: I do, yeah. I mean, sort of the buttoned up, prim, proper kind of perfect seeming woman that under the surface…

Ashley Williams: Is, like, dying.

Anna Camp: …is dying inside and incredibly broken and sad and tortured. You know? I feel like that’s the type of person that I end up playing and I felt like Sarah had a genuine, fresh, new, truthful take on it. And I was excited that she, you know, had such personal experience with the type of story that we were doing. But, yeah, I liked that it was, you know, she was so sad and so heartbroken and also so pissed by the end of it. You know? She had… my character has a… we both have great arcs, you know, from the beginning of the short to the end.

Ashley Williams: Your arc is so defined and clear though. It’s this very exciting crumble moment that’s really fun to watch.

Anna Camp: The tearing down, the raze, the sequin raze.

Ashley Williams: Yeah. Yes.

Do you guys watch these type of shows?

Anna Camp: We do.

Do you? Really? Yeah.

Ashley Williams: We totally do. We totally do. There’s something… I don’t  understand that part of me that is so drawn to it. There’s some sort of wish fulfillment of being an American woman. There’s this fantasy, would he pick me if I was there? What would I say if I was there? I wanna go to Bora Bora. I wanna have someone look at me and choose me over other girls and, you know, it’s… I don’t know what it… I haven’t figured it out yet, obviously because I’m running amuck with my language. But I… I haven’t figure it out yet, but every week I’m like, “Oh! New episode! I gotta sit down and watch it right away.” And it’s part of what… it’s part of why I wanted to get involved in this because it’s not just the story and it’s not just the guy and the girls, it’s the fascinating structure of a reality show.

Anna Camp: Yeah.

Ashley Williams: There’s a formula that’s followed every week and there’s something about it that’s really satisfying to watch.

Anna Camp: I’m always fascinated by the types of people that go on and think that they can find love. I’m just fascinated by the types of women who will get interviewed and be like they think they genuinely have a shot at finding, like, their soul mate on a reality television show.

Ashley Williams: And then it’s such a big deal when they would go, “Oh, she’s not here for love. She’s just here for TV.” Well…

Anna Camp: Yeah, but it’s on TV. What do you think?

Ashley Williams: …of course she’s here for TV.

Anna Camp: Right. It’s fascinating.

Ashley Williams: There’s something about it that I haven’t figure out yet.

Anna Camp: There’s a little crazy in everyone on that show, I think, there’s a little bit of crazy.

What I kind of really loved about it also is the behind the scenes people are even more ruthless then the people on screen.

Anna Camp: The producers that could possibly be… I mean, not could possibly, that are definitely manipulating the contestants into feeling and…

Ashley Williams: And it must be a competition between the producers as well. Yeah.

It could be a reality show about a reality show.

Ashley Williams: And then you could do a reality show about the reality show that’s being done about the reality show.

Anna Camp: My mind just exploded.

Ashley Williams: Super meta upon meta upon meta. All of it.

So I just want to ask you a couple of acting sort of questions.

Ashley Williams: We don’t really know very much about that. [laughs]

What’s your worst nightmare audition experience?

Anna Camp: The short that we saw today, actually, called The Audition was pretty awful. This girl was literally jumping through hoops, like, hula hoops.

Yeah, we posted that on the site.

Anna Camp: Yeah.  Yeah, yeah, yeah. But…

It was just her? One shot of her, right?

SEQUIN-RAZE__Anna-CampAnna Camp: One shot of her and she’s going in for this character that has, like, one line where she’s telling someone to, like, she’s a hostess, like, a clipboard girl. And she slowly gets broken down and she’s, like, half naked by the end of it. She’s, like, vomiting. I mean, it was, you know, of course, extreme, you know, audition, but it’s, like, you have to sell your soul in these rooms and you have to dance for these people. And usually in this business, the most talented person does not get the job. You know? And that’s the heartbreaking thing about this is that it’s about persistence and about believing in yourself and believing in your talent and about getting back up again, you know, because it’s… we’re asked to do, especially as a woman in this business, some things that could make you wanna leave and go home and leave LA and just drop it all. You know? But there’s something within me that doesn’t wanna stop yet and keep going. That audition movie was pretty intense. That would be a nightmare in real life.

Yeah, that was crazy. What’s your advice to actors?

Ashley Williams: Do something else if you can. Honestly, jokes aside, if you can do something else, I would say do that. If there’s any chance that you have something else that you can make money doing, throw yourself into that. You know, I do have a couple of regrets in my life, and one is I kind of wish I had gotten a liberal arts education and I, you know, had some real actual real skill besides…

Anna Camp: You’re a doula!

Ashley Williams: Yeah, that is something that I had to go and do because I… out of panic. You know? This business is… it’s no joke when they say that it’s hard. You know? It’s seriously hard. It’s not funny hard, it’s… it can kill your soul if you’re not really careful. And I would say if you have to be an actress, then you will be. You know? Then that’s what you’re gonna have to do. But if there is any… if you have any other interests, I would say go pursue those until you no longer can. Because it is, it’s very dangerous and it’s very hard to do healthily. It’s very rare to find someone who’s able to still be a good wife and mother and friend and be an actress. It’s rare. And I wish that that wasn’t the case.

So, as depressing as it is…

Anna Camp: Jesus.

Ashley Williams: I’m so sorry, but, like, I got… I’m so sorry! Yeah, I’m just being honest.

Anna Camp: So I, I mean, I guess expounding off of that, surrounding yourself with good friends and good people who can support you and also not making this a life or death thing if you do get a job or don’t get a job. Life is long and there’s so many other things that are important besides that thing.

Ashley Williams: So if life is long, get a liberal arts education. Later you can be an actress but then, at least, you would have an English degree.

Anna Camp: And if you’re talented, no one can take your talent away. You know what I mean? And of course we all assume that, like, if you get a job it means that you’re proven and you’re proven talented. But, like, honestly, like, if you’re talented you’re talented and you’ll always have that even if you don’t get, like, that great freakin’ Oscar one day. You’ll still have your talent. You know? That’s good.

Ashley Williams: That’s a way more kind, optimistic, loving, view of the world. I’m gonna crawl under the table with my doula certification.

Anna Camp: Stop it!

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