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In the late 1980s, when Stephanie Little was enrolled in Frank Early’s drama classes at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, she was so in love with theater that she once spent a Friday night amongst the props after rehearsals were over for the day. (She and a friend had each told their mom that they would be spending the night with the other.) Her friends were in theater classes — all budding storytellers, she remembers. She says she still uses Early’s voice patterns to warm up for performances. When she graduated in 1989 at 17, she almost immediately headed to Los Angeles to launch her career. She enrolled at the Groundlings Theatre and School.
She has since attended numerous L.A classes, had private coaching and a summer intensive in London at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
In 2008, she moved to New York City, although she says she is back and forth almost every six weeks.
That career now includes acting in a digital series called “The Other F Word,” now in a second series and available free on Amazon. It is about a group of 40-something moms whose kids are grown to the point that the mothers feel a need to reinvent their own lives. Many women can relate to this storyline.
“It has a great female element,” Little says. (Although the industry views women of 45 as a “tough demographic,” according to online discussion of the series.) Shot in suburban Ridgewood, New Jersey, and in New York City’s Central Park, it has attracted more than 80,000 viewers, although Little would like to see it land network exposure. One approach is for women across the country to host a viewing party of one or more segments.
Producer Caytha Jentis, an indie film director, hired a cast including Little, who plays Amy; Holly Cate (Orly); Reiko Aylesworth (Trish); Lee Ann Hutchison (Diane); Steve Guttenberg; Judy Gold; Michael Boatman; and many more. Gold, she says, is 6-foot-3 tall and a well-known NYC comedian, who is especially fun to work with. She especially recalls shooting a scene with Gold driving in Harlem. Little doesn’t know, at this point, whether a third series will be in the works — depends on Jentis.
In California, Little worked, enrolled in acting classes and made lifetime friends, then returned to Colorado, at her mom’s invitation, to live at home for a while and try to get caught up financially.
When we met for coffee at Solid Grounds in Littleton, she often mentioned how very supportive her mother, Judy Kendall of Highlands Ranch, has been — even sending her groceries in Los Angeles! While back in Denver, she married and moved to Arizona. (Drove three hours to L.A. for acting classes.) Divorce and a return to L.A. found her in a co-op film group, where members paid $50 a month and took turns writing, directing, acting and sending resulting films to festivals nationwide. “I learned a ton … Most are still friends and are still in Los Angeles,” she says.
Now that she writes, directs, produces and films her own stories, she always includes a part for Kendall in each one. She has two pieces out, making the festival rounds, and has written a full-length feature film she hope to shoot in New York next summer.
Central Park, always filled with characters to inspire stories, is just beyond Little’s front door (she lives in a 238-square-foot apartment in West Manhattan) and a great place to shoot films, she says. One of Little’s pieces is the comedic “Killing the Apologetic Girl,” the 22-minute first part of a proposed series, which she hopes to see as a network show. It has landed a spot on a digital network called “Funny or Die.”
As an illustration of how technology has opened up her world, she says Domnik Johnson, the composer for “Killing the Apologetic Girl,” lives in London. He saw her post-production project hosted on “Funny or Die” and contacted her. The film, she said, “is an examination of my heighted self-in-process — I became less apologetic — trying to take more command.”
A composer in Rome found her film, “The Small,” on an IMDB site for post-production films and contacted her. Shot in Central Park, “The Small” is a “quirky, dark comedy about a young woman who can access the departed for five minutes.” The idea came from people who say “if only I had five more minutes with her/him” about someone who has recently passed away. This character meets people in Central Park who become clients.
Little has shot a supporting part in “Furlough,” a movie with Melissa Leo, and will play a wife to Christopher Stanley (“Mad Men”) in a Scott Adsit digital series, “Kick.”
She has an agent in New York to connect her with commercial jobs and a manager in Los Angeles who is in touch about possible film parts. One can produce an audition bit almost anywhere, she says — and send it off. A friend shot one on her phone and her mother read lines with her and shot one in Colorado.
“It’s an exciting time for female filmmakers now — an opportunity to step up!” said Little.
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