Derek Strassburg, a senior at Fryeburg Academy, is involved in both film and theater. He won an award for his performance in "Coming Through the Rye" in the one-act competition at the Maine Drama Festival. He's also recently written a script that he's now trying to film.
When did you get into theater?
I suppose the very beginning would be in middle school. In eighth grade I decided to sign up for the school play, or audition for it I should say. I did it, I guess, because my friends wanted me to do it and then as time went on I became a freshman in high school and I signed up for theater again. I suppose my real passion for it began my junior year when I found I really enjoyed acting, and that's how things are now.
You were in the one-act competition and won an award?
I won, I forget exactly what the award was called, special commendation for my acting.
What was the role?
I was Mr. Steven Carroll in "Coming Through the Rye."
Did you enjoy the character?
I think I did. In the play he's an optimist and then he clashes with this other character called Steve who is a pessimist. I pictured the arc, as he's positive and then he becomes more, at least internally, negative about the world, but my director said just be positive throughout. I enjoyed playing more positive.
Do you have any favorite performances of yours.
Probably that Mr. Carroll character because I worked on it so hard and I think that's the character I've worked on the hardest.
When did you become interested in film?
In a way, I've always had an interest in film. I really enjoyed science fiction movies, when I was a kid, and I started researching them and then learning more and more about movies and then that started opening me up to other genres to me. Now I'm open to any movie genre.
You have written a script?
Yes, the script is called "White Dynamite." It is a story about a white guy who has all the qualities of a blaxploitation character who gets paired up with a black detective who is serious minded and doesn't really like White Dynamite very much and they get paired up on a bank robbery case.
And you are directing this?
Yes. I am rehearsing a lot so we don't have to do a lot of takes and to see problems that I might not have noticed in the script — things that don't work visually. It is more of a straightforward thing. It is not going to be a homage or parody or anything like that.
Do you think because of the premise that people are automatically going to go in thinking it is a comedy.
Well, it certainly has comedic elements. The comedy is going to be sort of fish-out-of-water because it is just this guy acting so apart from everyone else and the comedy will come from that.
Is it going to play off of buddy cop movies?
Yes, it is very much derivative of buddy cop movies.
Would you say the tone is something like "Lethal Weapon" or "48 Hours?"
It gets a bit more personal in the end. I don't know if I'd really be able to say that it is totally like this movie or totally like that movie in the style. For the first half of the movie, I'd probably say, it is something like "Lethal Weapon," but then maybe the last half is something a bit more personal?
Is this a short film or feature length film?
It is going to be 30 minutes.
Are you going to record a blaxploitation score for this in the style of "Shaft" or "Superfly?"
Yes, we're going to be recording a funk-rock track with a band.
What's the name of the band?
We have a rock band at our school called Punkapalooza and I was thinking of hiring them.
When are you hoping to have this done and do you think you'll bring it to any festivals?
I do have one specific festival I am shooting for. The Kah Bang Film Festival [in Bangor, Maine]. The deadline is June 1, so I'm going to have it done by then. I guess I should bring it to more festivals. I was also thinking of selling copies of it.
Would you put it up on YouTube?
There is some foul language in the film and we're going to have two different audio tracks. We are going to have a censored audio track. We are going to change around some of the words so they are more appropriate. It is kind of like a TV broadcast version like when they say, I don't know, melon farmer. That would be the free version and then the uncensored version you'd have to pay for.
What are you hoping to do in the future?
I have an idea for a documentary. Basically it would be bringing an interviewer and a camera to a movie theater and before people walk into the movie just ask them why they are there, why they wanted to see this movie, so on and so forth. It would be a documentary about movies and why we see them.
What are you doing as far as school after high school?
I am going to Southern Maine Community College and I'm going to major in communications and new media.
Do you have any final thoughts about acting and film?
I enjoy acting. It is something I'm not sure I'll be doing for the rest of my life. I love film. I have a passion for film and it is something I think I'll be doing for the rest of my life.