Sean Gregory Tanesy- “You must be a real sick individual to invite that sort of punishment upon yourself…”


Exclusive Interview with Sean Gregory Tanesy – Actor, Director, Producer

Sean Gregory Tansey is an actor, director, and producer of theatre and film. He is most
notably recognised for his independent productions, “The Stones Of Rome,” and “The Pathos Of
Hamlet.” He has gained international attention and earned a multitude of awards and accolades
for his work. His portrayal of Marc Antony in “The Stones Of Rome,” has received spirited and
gracious reviews which can be found in recent editions of Movie Maker and American
Cinematographer magazines. This performance also earned him a place as a top three finalist in
the Shakespeare Shorts Film Festival, organised by The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in the
United Kingdom. His production company is Samizdat X Productions, and he is based in Los
Angeles and Chania, Crete.

NY Glam:  Tell us a little about yourself, growing up and your passions.

Sean:  I grew up in Chicago.  At a certain point, I grew restless.  I wanted to move far away, and so I did.  I have travelled to many places, all over the world.  Many adventures.  I would definitely describe myself as bohemian.  As far as passions, it could be anything.  A song, a film, a conversation on the street.  It hits me, and I get inspired.

NY Glam:  Did you have any specific influences growing up that lead you to the film industry?

Sean:  I am definitely influenced by Punk Rock.  I always regarded that form of music as my third parent.  It provided me a whole different level of values and discernment  To outsiders it’s loud and aggressive, which it is, but for me, it gave me this sharp focus.  I question everything.  I defy the odds.  I strive and fight for a “better way.”  It’s cathartic.  You get out all that angst and frustration, and then you move on.  It’s a source of purity.  Not to mention the DIY attitude.  If I didn’t have that, I wouldn’t be anywhere today.

NY Glam:  What are you currently working on?

Sean:  Currently, I working on a full length feature film.  I can’t name the title at this very moment.  I have not attained the rights to the script just yet.  But I can tell you that the setting is contemporary, in New York City.  I would describe it as a combination of black, dark comedy, tragedy, and theatre of the absurd.  It is an extraordinary piece of writing, and I believe it speaks to the times we are living in.

NY Glam:  What are your main responsibilities on this film?

Sean:  I am responsible for everything.  Actor, director, producer, cinematographer, costume designer, music composer, editor, etcetera, etcetera.  I am a one man show. 

NY Glam:  Can you tell us about your experience with working with your team in this film?

Sean:  Working with my team, for now, seems to be going well.  As long as I don’t have a heart attack or nervous breakdown, I am very happy with the team.

NY Glam:  What was the most important thing for this movie to achieve from a narrative and character standpoint?

Sean:  Well, the current film I am working on is still developing, so it’s hard to say.  But what I can do is speak about my last film, “The Stones Of Rome.”  It is an adaptation of Marc Antony’s funeral oration,  taken from William Shakespeare’s play, “Julius Caesar.”  From a narrative standpoint, I wanted to demonstrate the power of oration.  I wanted to present it simply.  I wanted to illustrate how words can move, conjure, invoke.  From a character standpoint, I didn’t want to simply portray Marc Antony as a military general.  I see him more as a priest.  Which he actually was.  He was an augur.  He studied the flight of birds in order to prophesy.  He was also an initiate of the Eleusinian Mysteries, which was a very exclusive secret society.  I saw Antony as part of a spiritual movement, with Julius Caesar as its head.  So I worked for that.

NY Glam:  What makes a film interesting for you?  What three qualities do you look for in a movie?

Sean:  It’s hard to say what triggers my interest.  I remember when I was seven or eight years old, I was at my grandparents house.  I was visiting them with my parents and we were just about to leave.  For some reason I turned on the TV,  just before we walked out the door.  I caught a glimpse of this movie.  It was in black and white.  It was all these kids running around on this island like savages.  One of the boys dropped his glasses,  He couldn’t find them.  He was overweight, and now he was blind.  He was completely vulnerable.  The kids were separated into two tribes.  One of the tribes appeared to be hunters or warriors.  They stalked this boy until he fell off a cliff and fell to his death.  They murdered him.  They were unmoved by what they had done.  The scene haunted me.

It was time to leave and out the door with my parents I went.  But the scene followed and haunted me.  What was that?  I must find out what film that was!   I searched for years.  Finally I discovered the name of the film.  It was called, “Lord Of The Flies,” produced in 1963.  So I guess that sort of invocative  experience interests me. As far as three qualities I look for in a movie?  I look for irreverence, unpredictability, and irony.

NY Glam:  What project helped you launch your career?

Sean:  My last two projects, “The Stones Of Rome,” and “The Pathos Of Hamlet.”  That and my training which is the foundation of everything I do creatively.

NY Glam:  What criteria do your team?

Sean:  As I mentioned before, I am pretty much “The Team.”  But in the future, I would search out creative individuals that see their work as a vocation.  Not some sort of hobby or curiosity.  Their work must be vital to them.  I look for people who shock you, surprise you.  Someone who can present you with something that, if utilised, will take the project in a new direction.  Give the project new dimension, more depth.  I also seek out people who are just cool.  You know?  Just chill, get along, be grateful, not cause problems.  I avoid disruptive people.

NY Glam:  What are you most proud of?  Describe your biggest accomplishment to date?

Sean:  I am most proud of my last two projects.  I am also proud of how I have developed as an artist.  It has been a lot of hard work.  And it has been a lonely path, based on faith. 

My biggest accomplishment is having made a decision to start a project, to visualise it, see it through, and complete it.  It is the ultimate cathartic experience to make a movie.  That in and of itself is all I need to feel good about myself.  That being said, the reception and recognition I have received from my last two films has far surpassed all of my expectations.  “The Stones Of Rome,” and “The Pathos Of Hamlet,” have won dozens of awards, from very prestigious film festivals, all around the world.  I received a flattering and very gracious review for my portrayal of Marc Antony, which can be found in recent editions of MovieMaker and American Cinematographer Magazines.  The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust at Stratford Upon Avon, picked “The Stones Of Rome,” as a top three finalist in their official film festival.  It’s been great.  It feels good to be recognised and finally see that all my hard work wasn’t for naught.

NY Glam:  As a screenwriter, what is the most important aspect of building a character?

Sean:  Well I haven’t actually written a script as of yet.  But I intend to after I complete my current project.  That being said, I do write a lot when creating a character for a role.  First off, I create the character’s environment, the place.  The sights, sounds, smells, tastes, touches.  This sets a foundation and gets me out of my left brain.  Then I find out what the character wants.  I find his actions, and the direct opposite of his actions, which creates an active inner conflict for the character.  Next I discover the character’s point of view.  His hopes and dreams, his fears, and his secrets.  Then I find parallels and substitutions from my own life which gives the role truth.  At this point, the invitation has been delivered to invite real, spontaneous emotion.  That, and the thoughts, the way the character thinks.

NY Glam:  What are your ambitions for your writing career?

Sean:  I would like to write stories and characters that touch upon the real inner workings of human interaction.  What is actually going on between two parties, not the polite, socially acceptable explanation of things.  You know, to illuminate the dark space.  Someone is saying this, but they mean that.  They say they want this, but they really want that.  Little white lies are sometimes necessary to sustain the equilibrium, but for me, brutal truth is the best medicine.

NY Glam:  Do you have any upcoming projects that you are super excited about?

Sean:  Just what I’m working on now.  And for me, the dream would be to work with some of the great actors of directors that have inspired me in my life.  Why not?  They say, impossible dreams  come true.

NY Glam:  What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to enter the film industry, especially as a film director?

Sean:  In order to pursue this kind of work, it should be something you must do, like a obsession.  This work must be absolutely essential to you.  You have to feel it in your molecules.  Otherwise, it’s not worth it.  If a mysterious voice from beyond were to tell me what it would entail when I first started out, I would still do it, but I would also be scratching my chin, saying to myself, “You must be a real sick individual to invite that sort of punishment upon yourself.”  That being said, it’s the most fantastic work.  You become aware of things you never would have otherwise.  Life has a fuller sense of meaning.  And you will attain empathy, which is really what it’s all about, isn’t it?

NY Glam:  Can you discuss any future projects or direction you are taking in regards to filmmaking?

Sean:  Just to continue with what I have been doing, to just keep moving, moving forward, taking ground.  To do the best I possibly can with what I have.  To leave something behind that is eternal.


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