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Cleveland Artist Spotlights
Actress, producer and director Giorgiana Lascu is breaking onto the scene with some exciting new DIY film projects, along with an infectious zeal and enthusiasm for creating. “I’m good at making something out of nothing,” she says, as she prepares to launch her new production company, Old Coal Pictures. A first generation immigrant from Romania, Giorgiana knows the value of hard work, charging ahead towards her artistic vision with new projects like, The Coroner’s Assistant. With one completed pilot, she and director, Angeline Walsh launched their Indiegogo campaign for the quirky five-episode series just yesterday. The dark comedy series following the misadventures of medical student, James Rigby in Victorian London, will entice "fans of Tim Burton and people who love steampunk and kind of weird, gothic Edward Gorey-esqe sort of things.” Check her out on Instagram, IMDB and Vimeo.
Q. Briefly describe your work.
A. I act in and produce independent video content and so far it's been a pretty eclectic mix. The work I feel most connected to is warm, challenging, and often off the beaten path. A few years ago, I produced a documentary called How Beautiful, an experimental documentary about synagogues around Cleveland that have transformed into other sacred spaces, though the documentary has no words. I also produced and acted in a web series about alien boobs, so that gives you an idea of the range.
Q. How were you introduced to your craft?
A. I've wanted to be an actress since I was five. I first verbalized it when my family immigrated here. As we were getting on the plane, I pulled on my mom's hand and told her “I'm not coming home until I'm an actress in America.” And I didn't.
Becoming a producer happened at the end of my freshman year of high school. My friend Mike left his final project until the last minute, and he was going to fail if it wasn't done. I kidnapped his contact book, bullied everyone I could into showing up and it was the beginning of our partnership and a great friendship. The next few years were valuable lessons in turning nothing into something. I learned recipes for fake blood, how to lug lights while wearing heels (don't) and how to be the only girl in the room.
Q. Do you have any long-standing influences?
A. I love Miranda July, Felicia Day and Amanda Palmer for their fierce independence and the integrity they exhibit producing their work. Nobody pushes those women around creatively, because they're not just artists, they’re community builders. Miranda July signed a copy of her book Nobody Belongs Here More Than You with the inscription “Good Luck with your boobs.” (because of that web series). It's one of my most prized possessions.
As a performer I love Bette Davis, Eartha Kitt and Dame Maggie Smith. Maybe it's the eyes, but I find them so captivating to watch. A certain Maggie Smith quote gives me comfort: "I longed to be bright and most certainly never was. I was rather hopeless, I suspect."
Q. Describe your idea of artistic success.
A. Making something new always feels like magic. To me, artistic success is just being able to make your stuff whatever that may be. Getting paid for it is nice, but doing it with people you love and respect is imperative. If you’re able to touch 5% to 10% of your audience, you're golden. If you deeply impact one person, that's priceless.
Q. What is your process for generating new ideas?
I don't know if this is just me, but ideas and roles always seem to come knocking at the right moment. I’ve had some sort of project every year since I was 14. When you're always working, you meet people with interesting ideas and, if you're open, things happen. For example, The Coroner's Assistant, which is my current project, flew in out of nowhere. I had just graduated from Cleveland State University where I majored in theatre, and I had this strong feeling to move to England to be in a comedic period piece set in Victorian London. I couldn't shake that feeling. A few months later, I met Angeline Walsh the writer and director of The Coroner's Assistant on set for a different project. At the end of the day, she asked me to audition for a period piece set in Victorian London (which saved me the hassle of a move). We've completed the pilot and are currently crowd funding the next four episodes.
There's a great book about this process called “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert.
Q. How do you feel your work affects your audience? (and/or) How do you want your work to affect your audience?
A. I once made a three minute short film about a megalomaniac, little girl directing a film. It screened at Tri-C's Private Screenings, and during one off-color joke the audience gasped in horror. I felt delighted. It reminded me of learning to speak English and saying, “Oh my god!” which made the other kindergartners gasp in in the same way. I said it all the time after that, because I loved the connection that particular brand of gasp represents. We live in such a disconnected world that I wonder if anyone really speaks the same language at all. When I hear an audience react collectively (especially in laughter) it feels like for one moment we can all speak the same language.
At the end of the day I still just want to connect.
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