Interview with Jeff Rose, Best Actor 2010

Photo: Jeff Rose and Veronica Cartwright star of "Drop Dead Diva"

Jeff Rose is the winner of the Best Actor Award 2010.

He and the award winning cast and crew of "The Party" won the following awards in the 2010 168 Film Festival: Best Film: THE PARTY: Producer Helen Urriola, Best Director: Jim McKinney, Best Actress: Maggie Jones, Best Actor: Jeff Rose, Best Supporting Actress: Carrie Walrond, Best Screenplay–Drama: Scott Ippolito.

Most recently, Jeff Rose guest-starred on "Drop Dead Diva" with Chad Lowe, Veronica Cartwright, and Ricki Lake. "Diva" has asked Rose to return as a "mainstay" on the show, based on the reaction to the rough footage of his original appearance.

Rose will soon be filming episodes of "Drop Dead Diva” (with guest star Cybill Shephard)."Army Wives" producers have informed him of a new potential character arc, which will take his character to Afghanistan.

Here are some thoughts from Mr. Rose and his recent success in the biz.

How did the verse hit you?

Our verse (Jeremiah 1:6-8) is very profound. The innocence of a child’s heart makes him/her much more inclined and prepared to hear God’s voice. I think our story conveys that truth in a powerful way.

What feelings did the story awaken?

I knew Jeremy Reece must have had a serious addiction and experienced some severe trials and suffering to allow ANYTHING to separate himself from his precious daughter and wife. I built a back story based on circumstances acquaintances of mine had endured. I cry out for those in the middle of similar situations. My heart goes out to them and their families.

How was the shoot? Some stories?

Talk about the Lord orchestrating events and making the most out of what could have been a disaster: We had 6 inches of snow (in Atlanta!) the night before we went into production. I live about 50 miles north of Atlanta (where we had 8 inches of snow) and my call time was 8am.

Helen and Jim (Producer & director) were very gracious and understanding. They were able to complete the scene with Carrie and Maggie frosting the cupcakes during the delay. I finally arrived around 1pm after driving 20 miles-an-hour the entire way. They were almost wrapped out of that scene and it was as if we never missed a beat.

The biggest surprise for me was working with the spider! Having grown up in the southeast, I’m used to seeing granddaddy longlegs all over the place. I knew they were completely harmless. So, upon reading the script, I had no concerns about handling one.

Then, we get toward the end of day 2 and the wrangler shows me what appeared to be a box full of real spiders! It turns out they were indeed from the same genus as the granddaddy longlegs, but it took a little bit of faith in Jim and the wrangler…and some quick but sincere prayers…before I was going to let one crawl on me!

I don’t ever want to catch myself “acting”. But, let me tell you something…when I was handling that spider, I was truly ACTING like I wasn’t scared. Isn’t that pathetic?!

How was working with 6-Yr-old Maggie?

The next time anyone tells me to be cautious about working with kids, I’ll tell them that they obviously have never worked with Maggie Jones! It was nothing short of a blessing to be able to share the screen with her.

(Though) Jim McKinney (director) and Jay Hunt (editor) did incredible work on this picture, 99% of what you see in the film is pure Maggie. It didn’t take creative editing in post or line-readings on set for Maggie to win this award.

She was there and in the moment! Of course, we were wisely careful about sharing certain details of the story with Maggie. But, she was able to imagine other less traumatic realities that fit perfectly for the film.

She made it so easy for me to find my character and be real. I owe at least half of my Best Actor award to her! Maggie Jones will be a star for two reasons. She’s got the chops and she has the perfect her mom Angie “gets it.” (This will) take Maggie a long way!

Were you shocked at all the nominations?

Of course, being nominated was incredible. When Jim McKinney sent the list of nominees to us by email, I literally shouted for joy as I discovered each of our noms. And, I’m not ashamed to admit my hand was shaking like a leaf on a tree as I scrolled down the page, nearing the Best Actor category. I was overwhelmed when I saw my name. I turned to my wife, with tears in my eyes, and said, “What do I do if I win?”

Yes, I was shocked at all the nominations for our film. Knowing the bar that was already set with past 168 winners…SHOCKED is an understatement.

How did winning make you feel?

I really hoped that “The Party” would take home at least a couple of awards out of our 8 (168 Film Festival) nominations. We all worked so hard to create a truly cinematic short and I thought that even one or two wins would validate our efforts.

When Carrie won in the first category (Best Supporting Actress), I was THRILLED! Carrie was AWESOME in this film and I thought, “Okay, if that’s as far as it goes for us, we’re golden.”

When our writer, Scott Ippolito won for Best Screenplay-Comedy, I said quietly to myself that we stood a great chance at the bigger awards. If the jury had selected Scott’s screenplay for the genius that it was, there was a great chance that the rest of us stood a much better chance in our respective categories.

As Sarah Drew announced, “And the winner of the Best Actor award is…”, I said a quick prayer and tried to keep my heart rate below 250. I remember hearing a “J” sound, but everything went silent. It was the weirdest thing! It took Wes Llewellyn, (3 time Best Film winner) who was sitting next to me, to wrap his arm around me and say, “You won!” (in seeming slow motion) before the reality of the moment sank in.

As I said in my acceptance speech, I was so blown away by the performances of my fellow nominees that I truly did not expect to win. I will always remember their talent every time I think of my award. They were all equally deserving.

I am normally on my “A” game anytime somebody puts a camera in front of me. I tried to compose myself as best as possible for my acceptance speech, but I know when I got backstage, I had to look like a total goober when the photographer(s) were taking my picture and during the post-win interview. I couldn’t put two words together for the interviewers. And though I felt pretty silly, it was kind of fun to be swept away by the moment.

Since I was seven years old, I knew the Lord was going to call me into this business. I’ve met my fair share of success up until now. But, being recognized for my talent by a Kingdom based, professional film festival is a highlight of my career. I am so grateful for this award and the notice our little film has garnered.

During production, I was impressed by the way we all overcame those odds…but, now that we’ve been recognized for our work and been blessed enough to take home so many awards, I’m even more impressed.

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