By Bryanna Reynolds
Misha Calvert is an actor and show creator with projects spanning theater, film, TV and digital. Two-time Sundance Lab Finalist, her short films Pee Sitting Down and Tinder is the Night are currently screening at festivals around the world (Winner: Emerging Voices Award 2017 Brooklyn Web Fest, Best of Fest 2017 Chicago Intl Shorts Fest). As an actor, she has appeared regularly on the Emmy Award-winning show A Crime to Remember. Off-Broadway writer/director credits include three Chekhovian satires set in a 1980’s high school, and the original comedy A Seagull is Born. Off- Broadway acting credits include The Crucible, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Psycho Beach Party. Misha first achieved notoriety in New York as an experimental performance artist, where she made front-page news with her media manipulation and public satires.
Webvee Guide journalist Bryanna Reynolds first met Misha Calvert at Brooklyn Web Festival and recently got the low down on her current success after picking up ‘Best Comedy Actress’ at Dublin Web Festival.
B: Tell me a little bit about yourself. Favourite movie, song and who inspires you?
M: I love action movies. I think I might be an adrenaline junky. Huge fan of anything that makes me feel like I’m going on an adventure in that particular moment, whether it’s a movie, a song, or a friend. Which is funny because I write mostly comedy. I honestly would be really intimidated to try to write an action movie. I can tackle an action scene no problem, but not a straight-up Hollywood action blockbuster. One day…
B: Can you tell me about how you first got involved in the world of web series?
M: I was first inspired to write a television show (Season 1 of Tinder is the Night), but I had no idea how to even begin. I decided instead to write something that had a similar episodic format but on a smaller scale…something I might ideally be able to produce one day. Then I took a web series writing class with the playwright Adam Szymkowicz and that was really the beginning of it all.
B: What inspired you to write Tinder is the Night?
M: In New York, dating feels a bit like Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. It’s fast, cruel, and makes you feel like everyone is deranged. I’ve spent years swapping (and accruing) weird date stories with my friends, who mostly agree with me that it’s a hell-pit online. At the same time, I was annoyed that there weren’t many roles for smart women in film and television, so I just decided to write my own smart women and put them in dating situations where they get to call the shots and be the heroes.
B: How did it feel when you won your first award for Tinder is the Night?
M: I was blown away. It was also one of the bigger festivals we’ve been to yet (Brooklyn Web Fest), so it was a huge honor. The category wasn’t on the list of nominations, so I had no way of knowing I could even win that particular award. I took it as an opportunity to start to expand my outreach into the industry, and ever since then I’ve been on a role with Tinder is the Night and all my other shows. It’s thrilling.
B: Would you say this is a dream come true for you. Did you always dream that you would be doing this at this stage of your life?
M: Yes. I have always, always wanted to be in show business since I was five. It’s a bit tricky, because I love doing so many things: acting, writing, directing, design, promotion, music…from the time I was a kid I enjoyed supervising every aspect of a production. As a woman, it’s not unheard of, though rare to be wielding that kind of power in Hollywood. So while it was a dream for most of my life, I didn’t have the confidence to make it a goal until recently, if that makes sense. I would say it’s been about seven years now of working almost every single day (including two years in an acting conservatory) to build my career to the place it’s t now.
B: What was it like winning ‘Best Comedy Actress’ at the Dublin Web Festival?
M: What a great group of people. I love the Dublin Web Fest! I’m so glad I went over there. I was already having the time of my life connecting with filmmakers and going out on the town in Dublin every single night. The last day, I had to leave a bit early for a meeting in London, and they pulled me aside to tell me I had won. I flipped out! It was just an incredible moment, winning my first acting award.
B: How does it feel being able to travel the world and experience the festival circuit and meet so many other people also working on producing creative content?
M: It’s the best feeling in the world. You can follow all my adventures right alongside me on my instagram: @mishacalvert. I try to document the amazing countries I visit and the incredible people I meet along the way. There is literally nothing else I’d like to be doing, except more of this on a bigger scale and with bigger budgets. It’s taken me quite a while to get to this place, working every day for years now, so I have no reservations about enjoying it now.
B: What are your hopes for the future? Is there a goal you are striving to achieve?
M: In ten years I hope to have my own production company that makes incredible, society-changing, indie content on mainstream budgets. I want to direct a feature a year, star in my own TV series for a few seasons, and be able to finance exciting digital series and short films whenever I want. I will also always, always love theater acting. It’s so utterly thrilling and immediate. It would be nice not to have to give that up, even if it’s community theater.
B: What advice would you have for anyone out there wanting to get involved in the world of web series?
M: If you’re writing, write it for you first. The most important reason to write a script is that it is personally meaningful to the writer (or personally meaningful to the director if you’re directing; producer if you’re producing, etc). Then, if you’re doing narrative, make sure you go to a professional writer, teacher, or script consultant to hone the script until it’s truly great. Don’t shoot something that is sub-par. There’s too much time and money that goes into a production to shoot a bad or unrefined script. If you’re doing some sort of documentary, improv, or other weird genre-defying show, get feedback on the script or premise from a few very smart people whom you trust before you shoot. Also: pre-production, pre-production, pre-production. Don’t hire assholes no matter how talented or connected they are. Make sure everyone at the very top is kind, mature, and pleasant to be around: whatever is at the top always trickles down. Get as much sleep as you can the week before (and especially the night before). Don’t hit on your fellow cast or crew members until the wrap party. And even then, maybe let the girls make the first move 😉
Make sure to connect with Misha Calvert across social media to follow her hilarious stories, snaps and tweets!