If I had this great influence, I would start a movement of kindness. Being kind to one another is important, but do not forget to always be kind to yourself. You are your best friend until you die. I would also ask wealthy people of great influence to help end hunger and poverty. There are some things we cannot control, like the weather, time and death. But we can take actions for the eco-system, animal cruelty, human trafficking, poverty, among other things. We can do so much good around us. Unfortunately, selfishness and laziness are too often in the way! I sometimes wonder what would become our planet if there were only animals. One thing is certain, mother earth would be in better health. That’s why I love animals. They are not money and power oriented like humans. I have been a member of the WWF for years and I used to volunteer in an animal shelter in New York. I can honestly say that these experiences have made me a better person. Caring for those animals and pets brings joy into your life! By the way, if you want me to start a movement, I will!
I had the pleasure to interview Rosalie Muller-Boiral. Rosalie is a French-American screenwriter, filmmaker, actress and published author. She was born in San Francisco and grew up in France. She wrote, produced and starred in a web series and three short films. She has also written a TV series pilot (thriller), a feature-length screenplay (thriller/fantasy), and several short films. Her third novel got published a year ago.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I have always been a storyteller and my parents have always encouraged me to follow my passion. My father is an American writer and my mother was a French painter.
When I was a kid, I played with my toys for hours. I had a lot of imagination and plenty of stories to tell. I started to write my first novel when I was 16 years old. My parents had separated, my mother was ill, and we had just moved from Paris to Céret, a small town in the South of France. I was in a bad place and writing a semi-autobiographical novel helped me deal with my emotions. When “La Rose du Temps” (The Rose of Time) got published in 2009, I immediately thought about my next novel. “Sur le Bon Chemin” (On the Right Path) got published in 2011.
Even though writing is my first passion, I fell in love with acting through a student association in Montpellier (South of France). After performing in several plays, I decided to stop my psychology studies and moved back to Paris to enroll in an acting school, le “Cours Florent”. After three years, I graduated and moved back to San Francisco where I wrote, produced and starred in my web series “Guilt”. I wanted to be proactive and challenge myself.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
The most interesting story that happened to me was when I wrote, produced and starred in my first project, a crime web series set in San Francisco, nowadays.
In the Spring of 2015, I met with my friend Emily in a restaurant in San Francisco. We talked about web series and how fun it would be to create and produce one! I had written three novels in French and Emily had no real experience in screenwriting. So, yeah, it would be fun to do a web series with no experience at all! I knew I didn’t want it to be a comedy. Writing a comedy is hard, but besides that I really wanted to write a suspenseful drama. It took me a few days to come up with an original plot story and the title “Guilt”.
On the run for a death she may or may not have caused, an emotionally troubled woman must face conspiracies and betrayals that threaten the lives of her loved-ones and herself.
I wrote ten episodes of approximately ten minutes and Emily, who is a native English speaker, helped me with the dialogues.
Once the screenplay was done, I looked for a director, a director of photography, a line producer, a sound person, and a gaffer. I started a crowdfunding campaign and began talking about the web series around me. I met with Ryan Castañeda, a director and cinematographer I could afford. Right away, I had a good feeling with him. He understood my vision and I knew we could accomplish something great together. The bonus point was that he had his own camera (Red dragon) and equipment! Then, I found the line producer, the assistant director, the sound person and the gaffer easily.
The next step was to cast the actors. I knew from the beginning that I was going to play the lead role. Léa/Elsa is a French-American writer in her mid-twenties who flees a crime scene in Paris and moves to San Francisco, where she was born. She moves in with Matthew, a friendly and charismatic actor and model. Elsa and Matthew’s relationship is an important driving force in the story. An attraction grows between them. For Elsa it’s a kind of escape. Spending time with someone so free and happy, someone who understands her as an aspiring artist, and most of all someone who doesn’t know what she has been through and what she has “done”. Matthew sees in this French woman someone who can understand and appreciate parts of him that his girlfriend (who is not an artist) cannot. He is attracted to his new roommate even though he loves his girlfriend and doesn’t want to be “that guy”. Elsa and Matthew are getting closer, but they are both trying to do the right thing and deny it. As for Emily, Matthew’s increasingly jealous girlfriend, the arrival of this mysterious woman looks very suspicious.
Casting the right people for the three other main characters; Matthew, Emily and Daniel (Léa’s husband), was easy. It was a gut feeling.
I enjoyed being a casting director. For once, I was on the other side of the table. This new perspective on the audition process taught me a few things. Now, I have a lot more respect for the casting directors. Something actors tend to forget is that casting directors want you to get the job! They are not trying to be mean or disrespectful. They are rooting for you!
We started to shoot on June 4th of 2015 and I have never been so nervous and excited! Most of the scenes were in Matthew’s apartment and, luckily, we were able to shoot in my flat in Castro.
The success of the crowdfunding allowed me to shoot two episodes of great quality. Ryan Castañeda edited the first one and I hired someone else to edit the second one.
The first episode was very successful, and people asked for the second one. I released the next one shortly after. Same reaction. My team and I were very proud!
Unfortunately, I realized I couldn’t afford shooting other episodes and I didn’t want to start another crowdfunding. Also, I was planning on moving to New York and the other actors were busy with other projects. That’s how I decided to stop the web series and turn it into a TV series.
Once I moved to New York in December 2015, I wrote a mini-series pilot (60 pages) and a new bible. “Illusions” was born!
“Illusions” is written along the lines of shows like “Big Little Lies” and “Guilt.” The series is about Selena, an aspiring Chicana writer in her mid-twenties, who flees a murder scene in Mexico to go to Los Angeles. A new identity and no one able to contact her, Selena thinks she is safe from the police, but for how long? Will she remember if she killed Cynthia, her husband’s ex-girlfriend, or not? The overall arc of the series tells the story of a woman trying to save her life while desperately seeking the truth about who the people close to her really are.
The series won the second prize in the New York Screenplay Concept Contest.
The next step is to find a production company who would be interested in producing the series.
The web series “Guilt” taught me several things. One of them is to not wear too many hats when you’re working on your first project! Being the writer, producer, location scout, casting director, costume designer, make-up artist, co-director, and co-editor was very challenging. At the end, I was too tired to appreciate the work we had done. Don’t get me wrong, if I had to redo it, I wouldn’t change a thing, except maybe I would take more naps.
On the good side, when I wrote, produced and starred in my short films in New York, I knew how to be more organized and the whole production was easier. I still made mistakes, but less.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The funniest mistake I made was when I shot my web series “Guilt”. The co-director advised me to put on some make-up under my eyes to make me look more tired and mysterious. I agreed. Well, I should have been more careful with the make-up. I looked like a tired and mysterious panda!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
The most interesting and exciting project I am working on now is a French-American web series I’m co-writing and co-producing. “So French” is a drama set in Paris, nowadays.
Emily, a 24-year-old American archeology student, and Sophie, a 48-year-old French nurse, become roommates. One is in a relationship and spends (too much) time in bars. The other one is in the process of a divorce and her priority is the wellbeing of her daughter. How these two women, that are total opposites, are going to manage their family tensions, love problems and professional ups and downs, while overcoming their generational and cultural differences?
My co-writer, Magali Deroïan-Banoun, had written the first episode and contacted me to help her with the English dialogues. I immediately loved the story and we became co-writers. The protagonists, Sophie and Emily, are in two very different places in their lives and that’s what makes their friendship unique. I enjoyed developing Emily’s character so much that I decided to play her role. We have a lot in common. Stepping into her shoes wasn’t difficult. Another important part of the story is Paris. Writing about this beautiful city where I grew up and that I am rediscovering makes me happy.
The first season of “So French” has ten episodes of approximately ten minutes. We are currently writing the second season. The crew and cast are ready to go. The next step is to have funding. Then, we can start shooting!
Another exciting project is my third novel. “Représailles” (Reprisals) is a supernatural thriller set in New York. I recently had a book signing to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the release. Now, I’m working on my fourth novel. “Amours” (Love) is a family drama set in San Francisco and New York, nowadays.
Seeking professional success, a middle-class American journalist in her mid-twenties makes choices that put at risk her relationship with her family and her career.
The story is about sisterhood, parenthood, marriage, loyalty, betrayal, traveling, homosexuality, illness, death, and hope, among other current themes. Writing about two cities I love and lived in was a very enjoyable experience.
A third project I’m excited about is an American mini-series I was recently cast in. “Paris Mon Amour” is a thriller written and directed by Kajal Choudhury.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
In the film industry, the most interesting people I have interacted with are Steve and Laurie Cozart. They are one of the nicest married couples I have ever met. Steve is a photographer and Laurie is a coach. When I was living in San Francisco in 2013, I used to go to The SLC Talent Factory in Hayward, where Steve gave acting classes. One day, they organized a casting with a talent scout to participate in a huge competition. I auditioned and got accepted. A few months later, I went with Laurie, Steve and a group of fellow actors to the I.M.T.A. (International Modeling and Talent Association) in New York. It’s an event where major market agents, managers, and casting directors come to find new faces. The experience was surreal! I was emotional because of the competition. Thankfully, Laurie and Steve were there for us the whole time. I came back home with amazing memories and three medals!
I feel very lucky to be surrounded by a lot of interesting people. Thanks to them, I learn interesting things every day. Hopefully, sometimes they also learn something interesting from me!
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I would recommend my colleagues to take one step at a time, keep on working every day on their craft (even if it’s only for ten minutes), stay proactive and surround themselves with positive people who inspire them and whom they can trust.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
If I had this great influence, I would start a movement of kindness. Being kind to one another is important, but do not forget to always be kind to yourself. You are your best friend until you die.
I would also ask wealthy people of great influence to help end hunger and poverty.
There are some things we cannot control, like the weather, time and death. But we can take actions for the eco-system, animal cruelty, human trafficking, poverty, among other things. We can do so much good around us. Unfortunately, selfishness and laziness are too often in the way!
I sometimes wonder what would become our planet if there were only animals. One thing is certain, mother earth would be in better health. That’s why I love animals. They are not money and power oriented like humans.
I have been a member of the WWF for years and I used to volunteer in an animal shelter in New York. I can honestly say that these experiences have made me a better person. Caring for those animals and pets brings joy into your life!
By the way, if you want me to start a movement, I will!
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
If you don’t get the job, don’t take it too personally. There are plenty of reasons why it didn’t go your way. When you audition for a role or have an interview to be part of a team or meet with a filmmaker for a collaboration, be professional and do your best. If you don’t get cast or hired, move on to the next opportunity.
Don’t worry, it gets better. It really does! It’s no secret, being successful in this business is hard. Having a long-lasting career is harder! The more you work, the more you gain experience, the more people trust your work, the more you gain recognition, the more you make connections. As one says: It’s all about who you know. Also, don’t ever stop believing in yourself. You are capable of much more than you think. Some days, you will be wondering why you chose this career. In those moments, think about what drives you. Why are you passionate about filmmaking, acting, writing? Remind yourself all that you have accomplished. Think about all the meaningful stories you want to tell. Hopefully, these good feelings will help you go through tough times.
Don’t ever stop working on your craft. Work brings work. Nowadays, it’s very easy and affordable to write and shoot a short film. Gather some friends and get to work. Always be proactive!
Protect your work. This one is a no-brainer. You never know what can happen.
Have a backup of your work. Again, you never know what can happen.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I have several favorite quotes. It’s hard to choose.
One has a special meaning to me:
“Learn to trust the journey, even when you do not understand it”.
Mila Bron’s quote helped me go through a really difficult time in my life this year. I was 5 months pregnant and due to a rare medical condition, I decided to have an abortion. Learning to trust the journey helped me heal. A lot happened since my abortion in April and now I understand why I didn’t have a healthy baby. Timing wasn’t right.
We must deal with very difficult problems all the time, and there is not always a reason why painful things happen. Or so it seems.
When my older brother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, when my mother passed away from cancer, when I had my abortion, as anyone else would be, I was devasted. But then, I began transforming my sadness into something creative. I wrote a few novels and several screenplays. I used my emotions to play dramatic roles.
My point is bad things happen but it’s up to you to turn them around. You can always create something beautiful and meaningful from a crappy situation.
I like to think that everything happens for a reason, and, sometimes, we understand it long after it happened. Whatever happens to you, trust the journey. It will get better.
Other quotes I love:
“If you are faithful to your personal ideals and your deepest desires, then your life is a huge success”.
“Have the serenity to accept what you cannot change, the courage to change what you can and, most importantly, the wisdom to know the difference”.
“What’s meant to be will always find a way”.
“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away”.
“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself”.
George Bernard Shaw
“It’s not what the world holds for you. It’s what you bring to it”.
L.M. Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables)
“Embrace who you are, know what you want and go for it”.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There are several people who have helped me along the way. My parents, my godmother, some very close friends, and some boyfriends.
My father has always supported my career choices. He happily gives me tips and feedback when I ask him. My mother has also been a great support and I am grateful that she could read my first novel before she passed away. I wanted to surprise her by using one of her paintings for the background picture of the cover of my novel. It worked! I will never forget how happy she was.
My godmother, who was my mother’s best friend, offered me two hand blown glass balls for Christmas. One for creativity and one for encouragement.
Sometimes you meet someone, and, for a moment, this person teaches you something that will help you grow. Be aware of those special encounters.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)
I would love to meet Sarah Michelle Gellar, my all-time favorite actress. I have been her fan since “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”. My mother and I just moved to the South of France after my parents’ separation and this TV series became my addiction. Watching a female lead who has a great personality, knows how to fight and doesn’t take no for an answer was amazing. At some point, I began to dress, and talk like her. I literally became Buffy! This character helped me — and many other teenagers — to become more confident.
Other actresses I would love to meet are Troian Bellisario, Emma Stone, Margot Robbie, Amy Schumer, Jennifer Lawrence… I admire their work so much.
As for male actors, my all-time crushes are Josh Hartnett and Rob Heaps. If there is any chance I could meet one of them, or both, let me know. Thanks!
How can our readers follow you on social media?
My website: https://rosaliemullerboiral.me/
My web series « So French »:
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!