CFDb Interviews Darla Rae ~ Actress/Producer/Director
= > How did you get involved in the film industry?
Well actually it was something I always wanted to do. I grew up in Southern California so I had this great fascination with the industry. My parents really knew nothing about the industry or how to help me. So my mother would drive me several times a month to Hollywood to CBS studios to see tapings of various television shows like Carol Burnett and Sonny and Cher. Then I read in the local paper in Azusa where I grew up that they were shooting a film in Covina which was the next town over.
I was 16 when I went to watch one afternoon following school and an extras casting director came up and asked if I could drive a stick shift and could I dress in 50’s/60’s clothes. It was a FILM CALLED Hometown USA directed by Max Baer who played Jethro in the TV show called the Beverly Hillbillies. Then he cast me as a student in what turned out to be John Carpenter’s “Halloween”. After that I continued to do community and equity theater. But it wasn’t until I worked on a couple of other feature films later and attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles that I began auditioning more, and decided to make my own first feature film in 2005 called The Goal.
= > What has been your favorite acting role so far?
My favorite acting role has always been the role of Quiser in Steel Magnolias. I played the role twice in two different stage productions. However as far as film I would say my latest role which is that of Coach Robyn in my film Spirit of Love. It is probably the closest character which is closest to me as a person.
When I was writing the screenplay I never had it in mind that I would play the role, but I did draw on my experience in coaching sports and acting and working with teens in various Church youth groups. Coach Robyn is tough and no nonsense but she will fight for you like a lioness. Tough exterior, marshmallow the inside.
= > What led to your latest film, “Spirit of Love: The Mike Glenn Story?”
Well one of the coaches who has been a volunteer at the Mike Glenn camps for the deaf and hard of hearing brought me information and articles about mike and the camps. His name is Stu Klugler. He knew me from my previous work on The Goal which is about Wheel Chair athletes who play Quad Rugby as well as dandy Kids which is a medical documentary about children and their families who receive a diagnosis of a rare brain malformation called Dandy Walker Syndrome. At first I said no. I had already made two films with disabilities and special needs associated within the body of the film and storyline. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do that again. But what really clinched it for me was watching my nephew Hunter who wears hearing aids play basketball in a championship game. When they announced his name at the beginning he couldn’t hear his name being announced with the entire crowd cheering. When his teammate tapped him to let him know his name was being announced I realized how close to home this story was. After the game I asked Hunter why playing on the basketball team was so important to him. He said “It’s the first time I’ve felt accepted”. When I finished wiping away my tears I knew I had to do it. I also heard God say “you asked to make more faith/Christian family films” so what is stopping you?
= > What is unique about this film? Please tell us more about this movie.
This film is unique in many ways. First I made a decision to cast retired NBA player Mike Glenn as himself. It was difficult to find a black man who knew basketball and sign language. I could find one or the other but not both. But after speaking with Mike on the phone and watching him on television sports shows I felt he would be great. He is natural and authentic with the kids and they all love him. All of the kids in main or supporting roles in the film have some form of hearing loss with the exception of 3.
I made a decision to cast teens that would not otherwise ever get a chance to be considered for a role in a movie. Some kids use ASL to communicate, others hear through use of hearing aids, while others use various implant technology called cochlear.
Most of these actors had little or no acting experience at all. I felt this added a new layer to the authenticity of our storyline.
I contacted a not for profit Colorado chapter of a national organization called Hands & Voices and they were very supportive and instrumental in helping us to reach into the deaf community. They became one of our main sponsors for the film and many of the parents and kids were in the film. It’s an organization started by mothers who advocate for their children communicating. It was very important to me that we included everyone and not just one form of modality. This is the very essence of what Hands & Voices is all about. They became a great asset and advocate for our film. A Blessing we weren’t expecting.
After our old time cattle casting call which was quite large I had to do some rewrites to the screenplay to reflect the abilities of those being cast. A large portion of the kids who had the best screen presence had little or no real basketball skills. This wasn’t a problem to me since I felt basketball is the backdrop for our universal diverse coming of age story. It’s about a group of teens who all show up at a basketball camp with all the insecurities that everyone brings to any camp the first time out of the gate. It could be a church youth group camp or theater arts camp, it doesn’t make a difference. At the end of the day teens are teens whether they hear or not. That is the beauty of our film.
Spirit of Love is a diverse coming of age story. A group of misfit teens arrive at the 33rd annual basketball camp, which is the first time girls will attend the camp. Some come with hoop dreams, while others are trying to survive tumultuous teenage angst.
Alexi arrives angry and at odds with his Dad Coach Phil, while Ford wants everyone to know he’s more than Deaf, and Maddie thinks everyone sees her as a freak. Not only do they learn life lessons through the game of basketball, they soon learn what it means to soar like Eagles, Win or Lose.
Spirit of Love will Motivate, Encourage, Uplift and Inspire all audiences and leave you cheering.
= > How has God impacted your decisions in film making and acting?
Well I believe God directs me in the projects that I choose. At one time I use to just do any project but not anymore. Even if it’s a darker movie I want to be sure it has a message of hope. Certainly as a Christian filmmaker it is important for me to make projects that are family friendly or faith based. I tend to lean towards inspirational and uplifting themed movies. As an indie filmmaker budget is always an issue so many times when making a film I am in need of something very specific and God seems to open doors for me. But I have to be listening or looking at what sometimes is right before me.
There are so many incidents behind the scenes that I believe were provided in the making of Spirit of Love. Two big ones come to mind. First I needed an old 50’s car but couldn’t find one. So I was driving through the mall parking lot praying for an old car and all of a sudden as I turned the corner I noticed what I thought was a farmers market or street fare. As I got closer there were at least 100 old 50’s and 60’s cars parked in rows. So I stopped and asked if we could use a car for our film. They said yes. The second example I needed an old 50’s bus. Again I’m driving all over running errands and I said God I really need your help. I look over and in this church parking lot sits an old bus. I stopped and asked the church and they said yes.
= > How can people find out more information about you and your work?
Three of my films are listed on CFDB.
People can visit our film website at http://spiritoflovemovie.com
or our production company website at http://film-itproductions.com
you can also find us on imdb at http://pro.imdb.com/name/nm2031440/
A lot of information is available on the movie website, like film festival screenings, and radio interviews, etc. There is a lot of information available.People can also follow us on Face book and become a fan at: