Film News: Patrick McDonald Hosts Screenplay Reading of ‘The Other One’ on April 15, 2013

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CHICAGO – The pre-production period, right before a film is about to go into principle photography, is one of the most important steps in the overall creation of a new work of cinema. On Monday, April 15th, Patrick McDonald of will moderate a screenplay reading of “The Other One,” a new film written and directed by Joe Steiff, and featuring Grace McPhillips in a lead role. The reading will take place at the Uncommon Ground, 1401 W. Devon, Chicago, beginning at 6:30pm.

This is the final step on the road to production – filming begins for “The Other One” on April 18th in Galena, Ill. This is crucial for the writer/director in hearing last minute changes read out loud, as well as the actors getting final rehearsals before going in front of the lens. Joe Steiff began this project as a short film, and in collaboration with Grace McPhillips and his cast has expanded it into a feature film.

The Other One
Promotional Photo for “The Other One”
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Grace McPhillips is a veteran Chicago actress, writer and producer. After performing in and producing an award-winning short film last year called “Fitting,” she collaborates in “The Other One” as a self-described “Creative Producer,” and in the lead role of Amber. HollywoodChicago talked to Grace regarding the upcoming production, as a preview to the April 15 screenplay reading. The director and writer of ‘The Other One,’ Joe Steiff, has said on the production website that you were the one to portray Amber, a main character in the film. What quality or connection did you bring to that character that created a bond between you and Joe’s material?

Grace McPhillips: I think it was my ability to bring an honest vulnerability and broken quality to the role, while still finding the basic strength to carry on. Amber has a complex history, and there’s a truly fractured relationship with her mother. It’s a ‘can’t live with, can’t live without’ situation, and yet there is an undeniable love between them. The other major emotion that Amber has is the undying love for her husband, who is no longer with her. It’s consuming – and like the relationship I have with my husband – he is her whole world. It’s a benefit I can bring to the character. This film has gone from a short film to a micro-budget feature. How was the script expanded, and what will Joe and the production staff be looking for during the public screenplay reading on April 15th, in further editing or expansion?

McPhillips: Back in January, Joe and the primary cast decided to expand the screenplay in an organic and collaborative way.  I haven’t even seen the final script we’re reading, but I trust that it will be even better than I imagine. I think what Joe will be looking for is to hear the words come from the actors for the first time as a whole script. The strengths can be expanded, the weaknesses ironed out, and not everything in the production will be given away. The audience can also participate in the discussion, part of the natural collaboration and conversation, which I love. The term ‘micro budget’ is the hottest new expression in film today. What does that mean in the context of ‘The Other One,’ and how does a lower budgeted film get away from what that term may imply in a negative sense?

The Other One
‘The Other One,’ featuring Grace McPhillips (foreground)
Photo credit:

McPhillips: It’s a hot term simply because it’s the economic necessity in film making today. Investments are tied up, the economy is down and distribution models are twisting and turning every day. As far as a negative sense, I think the term ‘micro budget’ may make people think the film is not worth investing in, and that no one is getting paid.

That is why ‘The Other One’ takes a completely opposite approach. Our film is fiscally sponsored and we’ve opened it up to the public and allowed them to contribute. We’ve had over 200 donors – ranging in contributions from one dollar to 5000 dollars – to make this film possible. Our funders have also connected to us on a personal level, because we touch upon subjects in the film that have touched their lives, like dementia and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. And yes, we’re doing it on a Screen Actors Guild ultra low budget scale, but we are all being compensated and contributing the most professional conditions we can to the shoot. Since this script morphed from short film to feature during the work shop process with Joe and the actors, which element of that process became most effective in expanding the script?

McPhillips: I think it was the actor/character interviews. Joe met with me, Nancy Sellers and Jesse Bob Harper individually to help build our characters. For example, I invited him over to dinner in character as Amber, and that ‘getting to know you’ conversation led to some moments of truth in the film. We also met as a group and went to the farm house setting for three days with the first draft of the script, to see what felt authentic and what were the most important ways to tell a good story. It’s been a great process and creatively fulfilling. As you keep adding to your resume as a film actor with ‘The Other One,’ how has the evolution in movie-making deepened for you, as you become more involved in the pre-production side with this collaboration and your short film last year?

McPhillips: I am a Creative Producer. I love the storytelling, the building of the team and contributing to the choreography of how the story will be told. Joe and I came to mutual decisions with the casting, and I also loved this part of it. I know this has also deepened my journey with the character because of living and growing with her throughout the process. Had I not embraced it in that way, I’m not sure I would be able to come to the same level of appreciation. Finally, Joe describes on the production website how all the characters in the film are haunted like all of us are – through past indiscretions, and the truth or lies that emerge from them. How is that expressed and communicated through your character and the now feature length screenplay?

McPhillips: I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ll say there is a lot of loss in Amber’s world and one of the ways she – and we – deal with that loss is denial. In ‘The Other One,’ we learn that it’s also a family trait.  

The screenplay reading of “The Other One,” moderated by Patrick McDonald of, will take place on Monday, April 15th, 6:30pm, at the Uncommon Ground, 1401 W. Devon in Chicago. Featuring Grace McPhillips, Nancy Sellers, Jesse Bob Harper and Cait Bidwell. Written and directed by Joe Steiff. Click here for more information. For more information about “The Other One,” click here. senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Senior Staff Writer

© 2013 Patrick McDonald,

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