Intuitively Inventive: Sarah Durham

Name: Sarah Durham

Year: 3rd Year  

Major: Acting

Campus Involvement: Acting + Performing

Fun Fact: I am a huge superhero and comic book nerd!

Her Campus University of Cincinnati: Hi Sarah! Thanks for taking time to talk to me today. I am really excited to learn more about how you began acting and your experience with the film industry! First things first, what inspired you to start acting?

Sarah Durham: My mom actually dragged me to my first audition at seven, even after I told her, “Acting was stupid.” My seven years of life experience clearly gave me that insightful wisdom. Eventually though, she got me there, and when I got to the old theatre where auditions for Christmas Carol were, walked up on stage, and started acting out the sides the director gave me, something just clicked. I ended up being the Ghost of Christmas Past, in that theatre’s Christmas production, and played various roles in Christmas Carol, It’s a Wonderful Life, and other Christmas shows for the next 10 years. I don’t really remember exactly when I decided “I want to be an actor,” but at some point in high school that’s what I started saying to people, and now I’m in my third year at conservatory and will pursue it after college, so I guess I’m really doing it!

HCUC: What has been your favorite role to play on stage and/or behind the camera?

SD: My favorite role on stage so far has definitely been in the Shakespeare comedic showcase this past October. It was a collection of scenes from Shakespeare’s greatest comedies, and I played Juliet, Hermia, Viola, Rosalind, and Peter Quince. Hermia was probably my favorite, but they were all a blast. Favorite film role was in a Pajama Island Productions shot this past month, where I played Margaret, this succulent obsessed weirdo with a lisp. That was also a comedy.

HCUC: How long does it typically take to memorize lines?

SD: Memorizing…I stressed over it when I first got here, over the sheer amount of text we have to memorize on a weekly basis, but it only increases every year, so it’s definitely a skill that gets better with time. It comes more easily now.

HCUC: Can you tell me about Pajama Island Productions? What is it? How did it start?

SD: Pajama Island! So it’s a film production company my best friend/classmate/roommate, Graham Rogers, and I started together the summer after our freshman year. I had written and directed a short film, he’d helped dramaturg it, and then we worked together to release it via social media. We had so much fun throughout the process and found it so rewarding and exciting. The moment after we hit share on Facebook, and the likes started coming in, we looked at each other and were like, we love this. Why don’t we keep doing this? Why don’t we put a name on it? We wanted the name to equally represent both of us, so Graham proposed “pajama” in honor of an alias he uses for poetry he writes, and I proposed “island” in honor of the island I grew up on off the coast of Georgia. We pretend to be serious, but as evidence from the title, we’re a goofy pair!HCUC: What’s in store for the future of Pajama Island?

SD: We’ve submitted three films to festivals and are awaiting results, are about to wrap production on a comedic short I wrote, and have three short films planned for next semester: one a Batman fanfic, one about an underground society of women’s resistance, and one about loss and saying goodbye.

HCUC: How long does it take to write, film, and produce a short film for Pajama Island Productions?

SD: It really depends on the film and how crazy school is. Some of our projects, like the Roommate Diaries series, are relatively quick turnarounds. Roommate Diaries #1 and #2 took about 3 days total to churn out the script, shooting, and all. That said, those are incredibly improv, spur of the moment pieces that are usually just Graham and me messing around and trying fun ideas as a distraction from the craziness and stress of school. Films like Bad Dates, Anymore, Gorgona, Quiet Room, College Boys were all films that took at least a month of two of planning, a few days to shoot, and a few months of post-production.

HCUC: I heard you recently participated in CCM's 48 Hour Film Festival, could you tell me more about how that works and what your role was?

SD: So 48 Hour can be really great, really bad, or somewhere in-between, and while it’s stressful and exhausting, you always learn something from it, even if it’s not fun to learn. You get randomly put on a team with 10 other people and come up with a concept, write a script, plan it, find locations, shoot, edit, and upload it in 48 hours. This year I wrote and co-produced our film, and it was definitely my favorite year so far. We had a great team, and we all worked really well together. The biggest difference this year I think was that we all respected each other and each other’s ideas a lot. Collaboration was key, and it was fun!HCUC: Would you say it is harder or easier to write, film, edit, and produce a short film in only 48 hours?

SD: I’d say it’s all hard! It can also be seamless if you get the right group of people together. This year, time was really our only obstacle. If you want to see Where We Left Off in its most updated version, check it out on Pajama Island Productions Youtube Channel!

HCUC: Where do you see yourself after graduation? Do you see a career in acting or filmmaking?

SD: The million dollar question. I definitely want to act and be a filmmaker. Directing, acting, writing, even producing are all different skill sets that require a lot of years, experience, training, and patience. I’d like to do them all in my lifetime, and I’d also like to travel, have a show of artwork at an art gallery, run an animal shelter, publish a graphic novel with a good friend of mine, run a marathon, live in the woods in a small cabin for a while, buy my parents their retirement home, establish a non-profit, and the list goes on and on. Basically, I definitely see myself acting and making films in different capacities throughout my life; I’m just beginning to realize I have so many interests that I may not get to them all right after I leave school.HCUC: If you could go back and give your freshman-self one piece of advice, what would it be?

SD: HA! So many things. I’m sure “graduated me” would give “junior me” an ear full as well. But to freshman me, I’d say find your people, your family away from home, and chug through the good, bad, and in-between together. No one has it figured out, so just remember to laugh and make room for your friends and yourself as much as you can!

If you want to check out more of Sarah’s short films, her social media is listed below!

Where We Left Off

Pajama Island Production’s Youtube

Pajama Island Production’s Facebook