I recently got the chance to talk to Dave Beresford about his role in ‘Grassroots’. Here, Dave talks extensively about how he got involved in the project and what it was like working with the cast and crew on-set….
Hey Dave. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your new film, ‘Grassroots’.
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
‘Grassroots’ is a film about two friends. One of them decides to run for City Council and the other decides to run his campaign. It’s based on the true story of Grant Cogswell and Phil Campbell.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
I play the character Snow Wolf. Snow Wolf, one of Phil’s roommates, spends the majority of his time on the couch eating cereal, or raiding the kitchen with his friends. It was cool playing a real person; the real Snow Wolf was actually a dwarf with a super long goatee. I remember when the real Grant Cogswell visited the set one-day; and asked me who I was playing. I told him, “Snow Wolf,” and he freaked out. He was like, “That is fucking awesome!”. It must have been a trip for him because his life was being made into a movie. We were actors playing his real friends and that’s pretty cool.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
I got involved through an audition. My agent, Melissa Bauldauf with TCM, got me an audition for this feature film that was being shot in town. I didn’t know much about it. Seattle’s acting community is pretty small. Only a couple of big films are shot their each year. Just getting an audition for a movie in Seattle is a big deal. Usually, auditions are for Microsoft videos or State Lottery commercials.
So when I got the opportunity to audition for ‘Grassroots’, I was stoked. Originally, I went for the role of Marvin: late 20’s, Death Metal DJ. I went in all decked out in my Metallica shirt and black nail polish. I went into Jodi Rothfield’s casting and it was pretty packed. She taped me for the audition, and I remember doing this weird dance at the end that really made her and Heidi Walker laugh. They kind of hinted that I would get a callback.
Once I got the callback, I was like, whoa. This is real? Okay, cool. So I went in for my callback, which was with the director, Stephen Gyllenhaal. I’d recognized the last name and I’d been a fan of his previous film, ‘Homegrown’. So this was getting to be pretty cool. I did my audition for him and he directed me a bit, and then I did it again. He seemed pretty pleased.
At this point I was like, cool, I auditioned for a real movie and I got a callback too. Life is good. What a great journey this was. Then a week later, I noticed they had set up a website for the movie. I checked it one night in the wee hours and noticed they had uploaded a video to it. It was entitled, “Casting With Dropbox“. I watched it and as soon as it started, my jaw dropped. They had a clip from my audition and it said my name. I freaked out! What did this mean? Did they like it? I mean they wouldn’t have included me if they didn’t like my audition, right?
So I’m thinking, whoa, there could be a chance that I could actually be in this movie. My agent called me about a week later and told me that I had another callback; this time for a different character, Doug: 20’s, Phil’s roommate. So my callback was at 2:00 on a Monday afternoon. I probably got in the vicinity at around 12:00 (there’s no way I was gonna be late for this). This time it was at the production offices located above Neumo’s.
Once I got there, it was like a madhouse. People running around getting things done. I sat on a couch with a few other actors. As we sat there, a woman was on the phone closing deals with the stars of the movie. Once she got the okay, she placed the cast’s headshots on the wall. At this point, I had no idea who was in the movie. I looked at the wall and was really thrown for a loop. Holy Shit! Jason Biggs is in this; I was a huge fan of “Saving Silverman”. Lauren Ambrose, “Six Feet Under” was one of my favourite shows of all time. Joel David Moore, his role in ‘Grandma’s Boy’ was one of the funniest comedic performances I’ve ever seen. Then she added Christopher MacDonald, Cedric The Entertainer and Tom Arnold. The other actors on the couch with me couldn’t believe it — none of us could. This movie was full of stars. People I’d grown up watching on TV and the big screen. A lot of the movies I’d been in were filmed in my backyard and whoever wanted to star in them could. Usually it was somebody’s brother or sister.
I got called in and met with Stephen Gyllenhaal again, (such a nice dude, very down to earth), and I read the scene for him. He directed me and I took the adjustments. He kind of nodded his head and that was it. I left.
When I got to my car, I looked inside and saw my headshot resting on the front seat. I forgot to give them my headshot! I blew it! They’re never gonna remember me! My agent’s gonna kill me! It was over!
I went home and immediately grabbed my guitar and wrote a sad song. For some reason, when you’re sad, songs just pour out of you. The week had gone by quick. I came to terms with the fact that I’d made it that far. I was proud that I almost got in the movie. I got two callbacks, that’s awesome. Jump to Friday evening, I’m cooking some Dinty Moore Beef Stew, heating it up. It’s the kind of beef stew that when you empty it in the pan, it still has the shape of the can. So you have to break it up, I’m looking at it as it cooks. Then all of a sudden, my phone rings.
It’s my agent. “Dave, it’s Melissa, how are you doing?” I’m making sure I mix the beef stew around so it doesn’t burn.
“I’m good.” Then she said those words, the words that every actor wants to hear.
“I’ve got good news.” The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. “Dave, you booked ‘Grassroots’, you got the part. They want you to meet downtown with the L.A. cast for a table read in an hour. Can you make it?”
“Are you serious?”
“Yes, I’m serious.”
“Of course, I’m on my way!” As I hung up, I noticed my beef stew was burning. I turned off the stove and threw it in the sink. I called my parents and they couldn’t believe it. I was gonna be the first person in my family to be in a movie.
How would you say this film is different and unique?
What makes this movie unique is that it’s a movie about Seattle, filmed in Seattle. It captured Seattle as a city like I’ve never seen. A lot of films take place in Seattle but are filmed in Vancouver BC. They’ll just throw in a generic establishing shot of the Space Needle and call it a day. This film is Seattle. Some of the locations they shot at are very important to Seattle’s history. They shot in The Comet Tavern, which is the legendary venue where Nirvana, Soundgarden and The Melvins used to play to handfuls of people.
The film stars Cobie Smulders, Jason Biggs, Joel David Moore, Lauren Ambrose, Christopher McDonald, Cedric The Entertainer and Tom Arnold – with Stephen Gyllenhaal onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set? Any good anecdotes?
The first day of shooting was an amazing day. I had learned I got the part like three days prior. Stephen Gyllenhaal gave a speech before we started filming. He has a tradition of taking a plate and breaking it at the beginning of a production. So he threw this big plate in the air and it shattered on the ground. Every member of the cast and crew grabbed a piece as a souvenir.
When I first met Jason Biggs, he was super nice. He’s always cracking jokes and making the cast and crew laugh. So prepared too. Always making sure his lines were perfect when the cameras weren’t rolling. The first scene I shot with him was us, just sitting on the couch eating cereal and watching infomercials. Personally, that wasn’t a big stretch for me. The house was set to look like a messy version of the frat house from ‘Animal House’. The house I lived in was worse. Some of the walls in my house were still stained with chocolate from an infamous cake fight in 2002. Another scene we shot was where Joel David Moore’s character breaks down as he, Jason Biggs, the other roommates and I, watch from a TV as the World Trade Centre collapses. Joel gave an amazing performance. Real tears. It really helped all of us get through the scene.
My favourite scene that we shot was when Lauren Ambrose and Jason Biggs are having a serious conversation in the kitchen. My character stumbles in with his buddies and raid the kitchen of snacks. We strategize about our snack options and then I look back at Jason and Lauren and they’re both looking at me with this look like, “We’re in the middle of something, get the fuck out of the kitchen.” I shoot them with the most awkward look I could. Each time we cut, the cast and crew cracked up into hysterics. I couldn’t believe I was making everybody laugh so hard. I didn’t know if that was okay. I’d grown up being scolded for being a class clown and now the tables had turned. I was using my comedic powers for some good. Each take seemed to get funnier and funnier. The set was roaring with laughter. After one take, Lauren smiled and said, “That’s great!” It’s like I was a dreaming. Claire from ‘Six Feet Under’ said I was great. When we finished wrapping the scene, Jason patted me on the back. “Hilarious,” he said.
Let’s talk a bit about you Dave. What made you want to get into the industry in the first place?
Well, I’ve been making films with my friends for most of my life. I created a public access show with my friends after college called, ‘The Billionaires Club’. It was a sketch comedy show that we all wrote, produced, and performed in. That’s how I learned to film, edit, and write. When you do a show like that, everybody has to act too. So this helped me get comfortable in front of the camera. I would also enter in a lot of 48-hour film competitions with my friends. If you can make a decent film that makes sense in 48 hours, you can do anything. Once I got ‘Grassroots’, I had such an amazing experience on set that I thought to myself, “I want to be where more stuff like this is being made.” So I moved to LA. I’ve lived here for two years now. Since moving here I’ve become a stand-up comedian. I’ve performed in the Main Room at The Comedy Store a bunch of times. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of making an entire room of people laugh – it’s addicting. I’ve bombed too though. In a way, that’s also kind of fun. For a while, I had a gig where I was a paid karaoke performer at one of the most exclusive clubs in Hollywood. May have been the best job ever. For the last 9 months I’ve been writing a screenplay with my writing partner Zach Stockdale, we met at The Groundlings. I feel it’s the funniest stuff I’ve written. I’ve done a couple of commercials, and acted in some short films. What keeps me going is creating my own content. It doesn’t matter if it’s a script, a song, a video, or a joke. I enjoy the satisfaction of the creative process.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue an acting career in the industry?
My advice for somebody pursuing a career in this industry is to just do it. If you love it, you’re passionate about it, and it’s all you can think about…you need to do it. My other advice would be to keep creating. You got an idea for something, write it and shoot it. Find a group of people who share the same interests and start making stuff. No sense in trying to do it all by yourself, you need a team.
What is currently on your I-Pod right now?
On my I-Pod right now is pretty random, Alice In Chains, Screaming Trees, Guns N’ Roses, Billy Idol, Slayer, Three Six Mafia, The Melvins, Queens of the Stone Age, Andre Nickatina, Ice Cube, MGMT, The Strokes, Slipknot, Hall and Oates, Neil Diamond, Journey, KISS, TOOL, and Taylor Swift.
If you could have dinner with three guests, (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
If I could have dinner with three guests, living or dead, I have a couple of different answers.
- If it was Mexican food, I would choose John Belushi, Chris Farley and John Candy. Because they are the actors that made me want to act.
- If it was Chinese food, I would bring Bill Hicks, Sam Kinison and Rodney Dangerfield because they’re the reason I wanted to be a comedian.
- If it was burgers, I would choose Layne Staley, Kurt Cobain and Maynard James Keenan because they’re the reason I listen to music.
If you could choose a literary character to will into existence, who would you choose and why?
If I could choose a literary character to will into existence, I would choose The Great Gatsby because he sounds like a great guy.
What’s coming up for you in 2013?
Coming up for me in 2013 is more of the same. I’m gonna keep acting; hopefully land another role in a cool movie or TV show. Or possibly do another commercial. I’ve been studying at The Lesly Kahn Acting Studio, here in Los Angeles, and I’ve really grown as an actor. I feel like I’m at the top of my game. I’m really happy with my representation now, I’m with Melanie Sharp at Sharp Talent and she’s totally cool. I’m gonna keep producing my own shorts and web series. Get back on stage and tell jokes. And keep writing. But one thing I can guarantee is that I’m gonna do a lot more karaoke. I have a full karaoke set-up in my apartment, complete with 10,000 songs. My goal is to sing every single one of them. I apologize in advance to my neighbours.
Thanks for the interview!