LA is a wonderful melting pot of creatives. Every day actors, producers, writers and film makers unite to bring their work and dreams to life. As artists, we are not only blessed with the beauty of imagination, if we are really lucky, we meet people along the way who not only inspire us, but also believe in us.
Steve Whelan is this exact person. The Amercan actor and producer approaches every minute of his work with an energetic enthusiasm that’s not only a joy to be around but beautifully contagious. When working with Steve, it is impossible to feel anything but positive. He makes the work seem effortless and above all, Steve reminds us just how important the craft of great story telling is in this ever changing world.
Steve Whelan grew up in Northeast Ohio and Connecticut, later earning a BA in Theatre at Indiana University. Steve has worked in an array of cinematic formats including film and television, commercials, web-series’, and industrial films. He is an accomplished production sound mixer, and a veteran voice-over artist, working in several loop groups. Steve is also a graduate of the Impro Theatre foundation program. In 2008 Steve co-founded Relentless Filmworks, a boutique production company, with director/dp Troy Price. Relentless is dedicated to creating exciting original content, specializing in creating dynamic demo reels for actors.
Alixandra: Tell us a bit about how and why you formed Relentless Filmworks.
Steve: They say it’s all about timing. As an actor, I had reached the point where I was itching to be on set more, and to have more control in what I was working on. I just didn’t know quite how to do that yet. I met my future business partner Troy Price, who was transitioning from acting to directing and cinematography in 2007, and the digital revolution was in full swing. The idea of creating your own content suddenly became entirely feasible. At first, it was him and I trying to shoot sketches, but soon the word leaked out in my acting class (Doug Warhit) that I had access to a camera, the idea of creating original content for actors seemed like the next logical step. Next thing you know we were shooting in Troy’s house, using makeshift skateboard/dolly’s and jumping fences to shoot exteriors in the aqueducts of Arleta. Those were the days!
Alixandra: You also produce and write films. What are some of your career highlights in this arena?
Steve: Two years into our existence we shot a feature film called Cartel War, which for me was the first time that I had been involved in a film from point A to Z as a producer. It was the epitome of the indie film experience, and it was quite a ride, and it was made with blood, sweat and tears. I also love the comedy projects we’ve produced over the years, particularly The Casting Office, a web-series about a dysfunctional casting team. As an actor, it was really exciting to play an original character created by a sharp creative team.
Alixandra: What are your top tips for a great professional demo reel for an actor who is just starting out or rebranding their reel?
Steve: My number one tip is to find a way to be relaxed on set. We trust you’ve done the work, the shoot is the fun stuff, and the more relaxed the actor is with the process, the better the shoot. Knowing what your brand is and exploiting that is also essential. The most empowering aspect of the process is that you are in control of your content, and with that comes the challenge of knowing exactly what the best roles are for you.
Alixandra: What’s next for Relentless Filmworks?
Steve: We are in pre-production for a short film about a juvenile sentenced to life for a questionable crime he committed. It is exciting because part of the film takes place in the late 80’s era, and I’ve never produced anything period before. It presents exciting challenges. We are really excited about this project.
Alixandra: If you could work with one actor who would that be and why?
Steve: Great question. So many times we are in the position of directing actors, and we are not shy about referencing great films and performances. One of those films is Silence of the Lambs, and I always point to Jodie Foster’s work in it as a high water mark for acting. The stillness, the power and anguish behind those eyes, the vulnerability. I love Jodie Foster.