Meet the Cast – Sam Schweikert as Shawn

Sam Schweikert is a fantastic actor, but he wasn’t always. He started out in Hollywood at the very bottom.

You took a rather round-about path into acting. Tell us about that.

I was originally interested in being a part of any aspect of the film industry. After graduating school, I took an internship on-set as a production assistant, and from there began PAing full time.

IMG_0763I rose quickly in the ‘PA Ranks’ and was soon working as the Key-Set PA on some very large TV shows and features. This gave me tremendous insight to the crazy industry I had fallen in love with, and allowed to work closely with and learn from some of my favorite actors and directors. This unique position of being so closely involved on set allowed me to make a relatively smooth (its never perfect) transition from working in production to working as an actor.

The contacts I made, and skills I had learned as a PA, gave me an extremely unique perspective and outlook as an actor that I feel most people don’t receive. I had already spent hundreds of days on set knowing what every single person is responsible for before I ever worked as an actor. This gives me a very particular mindset and work ethic to how I approach acting. Too often I had worked or been forced to deal with ‘the difficult actor’, that I strive to never be the one causing problems on set. I am too aware of how nearly everything is done or put in place for the actors’ comfort, and that a team of hundreds is doing everything in their power to make the actors/actresses look good/their best.

Filmmaking is such a collaborative process, I feel an actors job is to do everything in their power to service the story, and hit the emotional beats, while realizing that everyone else is doing an equally important job in their own field to service the same story (albeit in a different way, lighting, camera movements, sound, etc.).

Do you have any sort of training as an actor?

My acting training is fairly atypical when compared to most LA actors. I went to the University of Southern California but studied business and film. I took some acting courses there and had friends in theater but never focused on that in school. Most of my training has come from working with other actors either on scenes for various classes, or small shorts/web series.

Everyone has a different approach to acting and some people respond extremely well to formal training. While I’m not saying that I don’t have an infinite amount more to learn about acting, I prefer to learn by working with others and making small projects of my own. The occasional scene study class is extremely helpful for me and like to grow by working with friends and a wide variety of projects.

What was your first role in front of the camera?

Rachel Bilson, Sam SchweikertMy first role was as ‘Wade Look-a-Like’ on the show Hart of Dixie. I was working as a set-PA on the entire second season, and randomly one day the lead of the show, Rachel Bilson, told the first AD that she thought I should play that part. It was an extremely small role (no more than 10 seconds of screen time) but it was my first professional acting gig. As silly as it sounds, that experience of being on a real set, with a real crew is what truly motivated me to pursue acting full time.

What other projects are you particularly proud of?

There are so many different ways to take pride in a project that I try and find something unique about each one. The most recent project I was a part was one I also co-wrote and co-directed and was made in just 12 hours. That was an extremely fun experience where everyone involved just got to have fun and make something silly.

But a project I was on early this year gave me the opportunity to play a character whose best friend commits suicide. At times, this required some understandably intense drama and emotion regarding a very real and serious issue. It was such an honor and challenge to get to portray that kind of intensity over an extremely difficult subject.

How do you think those roles prepared you to play Shawn in Other Halves?

As an actor, hopefully you can take something new from ever character you get to play. All of those different roles allow you to explore different emotions and states of mind. When portraying Shawn, it will be more about taking the base of what that character is, and applying it to the given circumstances and situations in which he finds himself. That way, all of the other emotions experienced when playing other character will be able to lend themselves to the emotional state of mind Shawn goes through in various circumstances.

What do you like about playing Shawn?

I was drawn to the character of Shawn for many reasons. Firstly, he is a very progressive and modern day gentleman. To me, he is most definitely a feminist man, that is completely unfazed by, and in fact excited about working with a team that defies the traditional gender roles of programmers. While I did not grow up with older sisters, I have grown up around some extremely strong females in my life and their influence on me seems very akin to what Sean would have experienced with older sisters. To Shawn, he isn’t the only male in a team of female co-workers, he is just the 4th person of a team of 4 programmers.

What’s your approach to portraying a character?

Samuel Morse Still3

Sam Schweikert as Samuel Morse, someone with whom the actor has much in common.

I enjoy finding what I have in common with the character and exploring those similarities and what they mean. And then what is sometimes most fun is finding the differences and learning about how those differences would effect the character. Every actors brings their own unique and individual experiences to a character, and its is extremely exciting to find what unique things about your own life, can apply to making that character stand out.

Do you have other creative projects that you like working on?

I love photography and have done a number of photo shoots for family and friends. I really enjoy camera work of all kinds and framing/composition/lighting are all things I am very interested in. So whether it is taking head shots or modeling shots for a friend, or doing videography work of some kind I love shooting all kinds of subjects and then tinkering with the images in Photoshop or Premiere.

Now that you’ve had a table read with the rest of the cast,How are you feeling about Other Halves?

I am even more excited than I already was! feel that it is a project where everyone will be able to bring something unique and exciting to the table, where everyone involved is passionate and excited about putting in the hard work and long hours that it takes to make a feature. I can’t wait for shooting to get underway!