Actor and voice talent Jeff Briggs is originally from Homer in upstate NY and currently reside in the countryside of Selma, NC. A familiar face in Triangle independant films, Jeff has worked on many local projects and has a diverse resume. Jeff took some time to answer our questions for local filmmakers and share some insights gathered from his time on-set.
How long have you been a filmmaker?
I began my acting career at the age of 11 as ‘Winthrop Paroo’ in ‘The Music Man’. It would be quite some time before I resumed acting again, as football, ice hockey, and lacrosse athletics took up a majority of my time. It wasn’t until 2005 when I became interested and actively involved with the acting business again. I started out seeking voice over work, but my agent (Beverly Brock with The Brock Agency) gave me some great advice. She told me not to limit myself, but to be open to all kinds of work in the entertainment industry. It turned out to be very good advice indeed. After I appeared in my first film, it was in my blood.
Which artists have most influenced your work?
I would have to say that Johnny Depp has been one of the most influential artist to me. That guy never ceases to amaze me at the huge range of characters he can play. From Edward Scissorhands to Black Mass he nails every character he takes on.
How do you start a project?
When I sign on to a project I spend countless hours working with the script. I figure out my character’s motivation and personality, from the way he talks, moves, and interacts with the other characters.
What’s one thing you wish you would have known before starting your filmmaking journey?
Patience. There is a lot of down time in this business. You can be booked solid for months and then have no prospects for months. Therefore, as an actor, you can never stop looking and networking for that next gig.
Filmmaking, independent filmmaking in particular, can be tough. What keeps you motivated?
My motivation is simply for the love and excitement of the craft. Obviously I would love to see one of my films make a huge run and take my career to the next level, but I thoroughly enjoy every time that I am invited to set and get a rush from the interaction among cast and crew working as a team to tell the most intriguing story possible.
What is the one mistake most filmmakers make, regardless of experience?
I think that one of the most overlooked aspects of filmmaking, especially in independent film, is sound. In my opinion, I don’t care how good the story is, how great the actors are, or how beautiful the set design is, if your sound is bad, the film will be bad.
When inspiration is waning, when you feel creatively drained, what do you do? How do you stay fresh?
When needed, I try to draw inspiration from the directors and other actors that I am working with at the time. There certainly are those very long days on set where you feel tired, drained, and uninspired. However, by tapping into others energy you can get a new view, a new understanding of the script, and a rejuvenated outlook for the character.
When you think of the word “successful,” who is the first person that comes to mind and why?
I think the term ‘successful’ is very objective. However, I feel that anyone that figures out what truly makes them happy, constructs a plan of attack, and achieves their goals are successful people. I know many actors and filmmakers that have received industry awards and recognition. That said, I don’t want to pick just one person that I think is successful, as I think they all are.
Is there a time or place that you feel most creative/have the best ideas?
I feel most creative in the comfort of my own home. That’s where I feel the most comfortable and relaxed.
How do you balance your filmmaking life with your personal and professional lives?
I think it is very important to be able to distinguish between business and personal. Sometimes it makes for very long days or weeks. However, I am fortunate enough to have a very understanding and supportive wife who understands the nature of the business.
You’re stuck on a deserted island with a Cineplex that only shows three movies. What would you want those movies to be and why?
Pulp Fiction because I enjoy the interaction between John Travolta and Samuel L Jackson; The Breakfast Club because I enjoy the interaction between all the characters in detention; and Clash of the Titans (the original) because it is a true classic that stands the test of time.
What’s your favorite app/tool/web app filmmaking tool?
The internet. There are many casting websites out there, such as The Southern Casting Call, Stage 32, 800Casting, Actors Access, AgencyPro, Casting Networks, Etc. A working actor in this region really has to scour all casting sites online regularly to find opportunities. Although I have a great agent, just sitting by the phone waiting for your agent to call just doesn’t cut it. You have to create your own opportunities, not rely on anyone else to keep your career moving ahead in the right direction.
What book do you gift most often?
Actually, I don’t usually gift books. I am more of a music giver. I have a huge music library and enjoy sharing and turning other people on to different types of music. I believe there is music for every mood and that music plays a key part in enhancing a viewers experience and emotion in film.
What advice do you have for aspiring filmmakers?
Surround yourself with experienced people in key positions. The best production companies use the same core group of people with every project. The more comfortable you are with everyone on set, the more that translates on the screen.
Jeff recently appeared the short film ‘The Session’, written by Alexander Julian and produced by Feedback Films and Deano Pictures which recently screened at TFC’s Best of filmSPARK 2015. Jeff tells us The Session is now in the process of being expanded into a longer teleplay version. He also appears in ‘Fever Dreams’, a feature film containing a compilation of short tales in the general vein of Tales from the Crypt, Twilight Zone, and Creepshow by the talented Alexander Julian and produced by Feedback Films, WakeDrama, and Zoning Media.
He also has a few new projects on the horizon that are in talks, but too early to plug just yet. He look forward to the opportunity to work with all of the outstanding filmmakers in the near future. You can find Jeff’s profile and contact information online at the following sites: