Gaila Barkol might very well represent the image that we all have of a “renaissance person.” What would lead one to draw that conclusion? Take a look at the list of diverse interests covered in the interview questions below. There’s classical music, the French language, acting, and (finally) film production; all skills that Galia has at her disposal. She spent some time talking about both her past and upcoming projects with us recently.
Dusty: Your first passion appears to be acting. Can you tell us your history with the craft? What first hooked your interest? What kind of training have you had?
Galia: It is indeed my first passion, but it took me about a decade to admit it. I used to be the shy girl, with a rigid classical piano training and undeniable urge to move in space. Film and acting came later, when I began to realize the immense potential in those art forms. Briefly, I went to Paris to study Film at the Paris-Diderot University. My French education was beyond what I could have hoped for. So rich, profound and insightful. I am very grateful for that gift. But life in Paris was challenging for me as a very young foreigner alone, and when I got just enough of the existential suffering to feed my romantic fantasies, I was ready to move on. I applied for a Franco-American student exchange program (despite being neither), and got in. I was sent to New York and graduated there. Needless to say, the American education system is as different as can be to the French. The great thing was that I was allowed to take acting courses, which I did, and got to do more hands on work, both behind and in front of the camera. When we had the end of year screenings at school, my Production teacher took me aside and said there was something intriguing and unique about my relationship with the camera and that I should think about going deeper into acting. After a year or so of exploration of various approaches and teachers, I finally went to HB Studio for a 2-year conservatory program. I studied with amazing teachers and actors, and discovered that acting is both more spiritual and intellectual a craft than I’d imagined. In the process of relearning yourself as a human being (and the attempt to unlearn much of the rest), you become a more compassionate and mindful person.
Dusty: As many creative professionals have done, you have seized control of your career as a performer by stepping into the producer role. I am assuming that this was a move which allowed you some creative control over the projects you chose to work on. Could you tell us a little more about wearing the "producer" hat? What was the impetus for that decision?
Galia: Two things. First, I’ve had some good experience in the production world, working for two major Israeli companies, so it didn’t scare me as much. But from an actor’s perspective, it was a way for me to take control over my work. Starting out as an actor is tricky, and it can be very discouraging. What often happens is that you find yourself auditioning for anything you are called in for, even when you don’t really want to do it. Something in your thinking changes, and you are left with wanting to be liked. You depend on others completely - the type of role you’ll play, the quality of the footage and post, the story that is being told… and you’re often not getting paid. That’s a lot of effort and frustration for very very little. I don’t rule that out, but I carefully select what I apply for today. So, since I don’t like the feeling of being passive and reactive in my work, and since I have a background in writing and film, my natural inclination is to create my own content.
Dusty: Would you give us an elevator pitch for your 4 Variations on a Theme?
Galia: With this project, a group of collaborators was invited to isolate and reexamine the cinematographic components that reveal and portray characters and their universe. The focus was on exploring the range to which one sequence can be stretched, to see how elastic it can become when adjusted to viewers' interpretations. The footage consisted of a 4-minute silent sequence, following our protagonist as her day unfolds. It was then sent to 4 writers of different backgrounds, nationalities and styles, who each came up with a script. With no defined boundaries and directions, the writers followed where the footage took them. Each version was then matched to a different composer who wrote a score for it. We ended up with 4 completely different short films, made with identical footage.
Dusty: Tell us about the 4 writers. How were the scripts selected? I’m assuming that the footage was shown to the writers in advance?
Galia: Yes, the writers saw the footage and had to write a script to go with it. I left it completely open, as long as the content was triggered by what they viewed. The writers were selected in advance and I trusted that their scripts would be interesting, so there was no selection afterwards. I contacted very different people who I’d known on very different levels. Roy Ben Shai is a good friend who is not in the film business at all, but a brilliant philosopher and fascinating person with a very independent thinking. Yael Nussbaum I'd known very little and only heard about her work, and I was blown away by her sharp writing and interpretation of the piece. Justin McElwee is a dear guy who made me laugh like no one else at a random party in Brooklyn. Thanks to Facebook, I was able to hunt him down and make him write something for me. Chris Bentley had sent me an interesting script before, for another project, and I was glad for the opportunity to finally work with him.
Dusty: Tell us about working with Director Jeremiah Kipp (we’re fans around here).
Galia: Well, I don’t know how he does it but he does it all and at the same time. I’m certainly a fan too, although following his work is getting really challenging! He was really the best. He brought extraordinary people to the set - Andrea Urbinati the DP, who made the footage look absolutely beautiful, Brian de la Cruz and Alex Gavin, who held it all together and made it work, and super charming actor Lucas Rainey. Working with Jeremiah on the production aspects was a wonderful experience because he was responsive, helpful and thorough and, of course, very experienced. As an actress, I appreciated his style, taste and direction very much, and his openness to wherever the moment took us. He’s also the sweetest guy, as you know. I’d be thrilled to work with him anytime.
Dusty: Is there any other projects you have in the works? What’s next for you, Galia?
Galia: I’m currently co-writing a narrative feature with Jay (Yair) Vilnai, to be produced in late 2014. Preproduction is planned for early June. Jay wrote the score for the first film of “4 Themes on a Variation” (“Justin & Jay”), performed the VO for the second (“Yael & Izzy) and recorded the sound for all the voice overs. Since everything he touches turns gold, I forced him to collaborate on this one, and it’s a very interesting journey we’re on. A woman's life as she's known it ends abruptly, which pushes her to remove herself from her immediate environment. In her last attempts to see if she could reinvent herself or her take on life, she moves to Paris. An encounter with a frequent visitor to the city turns into an unusual kind of relationship which allows her to look at things from a slightly different angle.
Galia’s Official Site: http://galiabarkol.com/
Her Production Company: http://ringthebellsproductions.com/