Please introduce yourself and tell us when and how you became interested in cinema.
My name is Alison Stover and I am an actress, director, writer, and producer. I have always been interested in human nature and our shared collective human experience. I came to be interested in cinema and storytelling through this medium because it is not only an exploration of our stories but it is a documentation of the way we as a human race, at the moment, are perceiving our existence. Film is tangible and the beautiful thing about it is that it we can always go back and reference it and it can continue to impact future generations.
How did you learn about cinema? You both directed and starred in "The Four Walls of Charlotte Moreland".
As an actor, I have worked in many films but I am new to directing. It’s very different being on the other side of the camera. When I started my acting journey I thought I was just dipping my toe in the water. However, as soon as I understood the power of art and how expressed actors can be I knew I had to make it my life’s vocation. I’ve had quite a bit of training over the years and my work has grown in many different ways. Now as an actor/filmmaker I understand the power that film has to help other people and create positive change in society.
I learned filmmaking through the many directors I have worked with and through the experience of being on set. I am lucky because the filmmaking community is very generous. People are usually willing to lend a hand to another filmmaker and so many filmmakers I know have been very generous with knowledge and advice. Additionally, I’m also part of a women’s filmmaking group and have been guided by a mentor there named Emily Grace. She was a huge support in terms of some tough decisions I had to make. After all of my experience in acting I have a good sense of story as well which helps a lot as a Director.
Please explain to us how you learned filmmaking and acting? And please describe what influenced you to pursue a career as an actress?
I think those of us that go into the arts feel a calling towards it. I decided to pursue acting because I knew when I first started doing the work that I had a sense of purpose that I had never felt before. I was influenced by many great performances I had seen, how revealed these actors were in the work and how meaningful their work was to so many people. There is also a certain joy in the work that has never left me. In addition to this joy I had and still have a huge curiosity about the human condition. I wanted to have the opportunity to explore, understand and express all of the many things that we human beings live, experience, and perceive. As I’ve come further along in my career I have also realized the power that art has to help people and to help the world at large. We as human beings need art. And we need film.
What do you think is more important for an actress, talent or training?
I think you need both talent and training. I don’t think you can have one without the other. Training on its own is useless without your instincts guiding you. However the notion that talent is enough, in my opinion is incorrect. I think you need people to show you how to use your talent. I don’t think an artist’s talent can grow without feedback. What I have discovered is that training can help your talent grow beyond what you had originally conceived. You can push through perceived limitations or even something you have seen before. Meaning, training can help you grow beyond your imagination so I think training is essential for all actors.
Which types of acting do you feel you are best suited for?
I feel I have a fairly wide range and love doing both comedy and drama.
Tell us about your experience of playing in "The Four Walls of Charlotte Moreland". How did you get close to the character and how long did it take you to feel ready to play the role?
Preparing for The Four Walls of Charlotte Moreland was a bit tricky. It’s based on real life events and it is something that I lived through. It was five years of my life condensed into 20 minutes. However I knew in the playing of Charlotte that it wasn’t going to be literal to my own experience. I really wanted to send a message with this film so that people can understand what survivors go through and that was my main focus. So it wasn’t an exact reliving of the experience but rather a message I was trying to convey. My codirector Joe had suggested using the energy of Gena Rowlands in “A Woman Under the Influence” and that was spot on. That frenetic energy was actually an embodiment of everything Charlotte is feeling. There’s the feeling of coming apart at the seams which is true to life, but I wanted to make sure the audience knew Charlotte was completely sane. We did many takes going all the way in that direction and when we went to edit, it was too much. I didn’t want the audience to think that Charlotte was crazy so we ended up using takes that embodied some of that frenzied energy but were more subtle.
What challenges did you face when recording "The Four Walls of Charlotte Moreland" as an actress?
The biggest challenge that we had was Covid. The shoot dates were pushed back numerous times because our tests didn’t come back in time and SAG was still figuring out its protocols in regards to which labs to use.
As an actress the biggest challenge was producing, directing, and acting. There were so many moving parts and I was hoping to take off my Producer hat as much as possible when we were filming. I had rehearsed on my own with many of the other actors so by the time we went to shoot, other than a few small Producer details, I was able to fully jump in as an actor. As a Director the biggest challenge was separating myself from the material and serving the story almost as if I wasn’t even a part of it. Somehow I found that part easy. I was able to look at my work, and the story as a whole objectively and do what was best for the film.
If the other actors whom you need to interact with in a scene are not available, how do you rehearse it?
I usually do a lot of the homework needed for a scene on my own so I don’t necessarily need to rehearse with the other Actor who I might be working with on set. The good thing about the way I work is that I do all the preparation beforehand but once I am on set I am completely in the moment and flexible as to what’s happening right in front of me.
How do you react when you receive a negative review about a performance?
I don’t remember the last time I got a negative review where it was all bad. I will say though that when I first started acting and I would receive criticism I believed everything everyone said. As time has gone on I am just selective about what I take in. I stop and look at the source and evaluate whether that person is credible or not. If they’re not credible I ignore it, and if they are credible I do consider it.
What steps do you take to fully understand the importance of your character for the story?
When looking at my character within a story I always ask what function my character is serving within the greater story as a whole. There are usually many clues in the script as to who this person is. From those clues I can create the character’s world. When I’ve done as much as I can to understand the character, her point of view, her history, her behavior, even her mannerisms, I then start to ask questions that I try to answer. As I read and reread the script I develop a curiosity about my character and things will occur to me and I will dive into these questions and then answer them.
I have so much in the works right now. Here are some of the projects I’m attached to.
The feature “Climbing Life” with Rachel Nichols, Tahmoh Penikett and Chase Masterson and “HollywoodLand of Hope and Lies” with Martin Kove, Courtney Gains, and Patricia Charbonneau
I’ll be playing the lead the as hard and tenacious Sam McRae in feature “Identity Crisis” based on the NY Times bestselling novel by Debbi Mack. “ I’m also taking on a Megyn Kelly type character as a talk show host in “The Wicked Path.”
Right now I’m attached to a feature along with a Director I’ve worked with before to play Isabel Wilson, Roy Lichtenstein‘s wife in
“Inside the World of Roy Lichtenstein”
In the end, tell us about the role or roles you have played and have not yet released or are about to play. Thank you.
I am also possibly coming on board “Escape from Plauen.” Which is based off of my late aunt’s book and life story about escaping East Germany after World War II. She has an incredible story and it would bring me such joy to see it come to fruition and to see her live on. There are eight episodes written (it’s absolutely beautiful) so far and I am hoping it gets picked up!
I’m also developing two more projects that I’m keeping under wraps for the moment!