Academy of Art Univeristy
Directors Program

Students are given scenes or allowed to write their own scenes and direct them with the purpose of honing their skills of dealing with actors. Here's a brief rundown of my different roles in the course of working with these promising directors of the future.


Missing You
Written and Directed by Jasmine Ko

This is a little story about a wayward teen, Nallely, who lives with her step-mother, her father having passed away. She skips school, she lies and her step-mother doesn't know what else, but is concerned. They have yet another argument, and in the aftermath, the girl finds refuge in a large closet where she finds a note. It's from her father to her birth mother. She accuses step-mom of hiding the letter, but step-mom says Dad thought better of it and never mailed it. In a huff, the teen goes to her real mother in hopes of a family reunion. There is one, but not the kind she had originally hoped for. Again, my apartment was the set. How I love the convenience. And my Dad's (Milton Steiger) photo, taken before I was born, stood in for Nallely's dead father.

This was Elise Tracy's first time acting, pressed into service by Jasmine because the actress who was cast for the part cancelled the morning of the shoot. Elise is strictly a behind-the-camera person, bit did a great job and should consider acting as a second career.

Gigi, Me and Nallely finding peace, with Nalle's father's photo, right.

Expiration Date
Written and directed by Hyunsook Oh

Hyunsook wrote this short film about a little girl who never got a chance to say goodbye to her family who all died in a car crash. Her therapist believes this re-enactment in a day in each of their lives will help the child to get past the loss and find closure. Actors playing each family member in turn says they're going way: grandma to live with Uncle George, next day her brother says he's going to college, next day dad says he's going on business to another city, and the following day mom just gives Kayla a reassuring hug.

Grandma (me) in this shot, plays a little music,
then says goodbye to litle Kayla.

Six Feet Under
Directed by Maha AlAli

Maha choose two small scenes from the acclaimed television series, Six Feet Under, and ran with it. It was challenging to play Ruth, who, recently widowed, starts a new life of independence, decision making, career choices and new relationships.

Here's one of the two scenes with Ruth; one with her son, David, who complains she doesn't really accept him to which she emotionally argues; the other scene is with a flower shop employee whom she insults while innocently trying to understand gay men.

Maha, me (Bonnie Steiger), DP and actor who played both Ruth's son David and flower shop co-worker Robbie.

Me as Ruth in a flower shop sceen.

Free Radicals
Written and Directed by Ryan Osborn

Ryan wrote this script based on a short story by Alice Monro. An older woman, recently widowed and suffering from cancer, lives alone in a small house in the woods. One day a stranger, played by Francisco Hulse, enters her home as a utility repairman, and then terrorizes her as a murderer fleeing the scene of the crime. Nita, already facing death by cancer, is not so easily frightened and the two face off.

Still hoping to see my copy of this project some day. Already twice reminded Ryan by email that I do look forward to his fulfilling his obligation.

Years have passed and he never came through. Keep that in mind when agreeing to work with him

The interloper, me and director/writer Ryan Osborn

The comfort of a nightgown and a camera nearby.

Fuck You, Mother
Written and directed by Kwame Boahene

Kwame Boehene has a friend who talks to his mother with the foulest mouth Kwame has ever heard. He was so shocked by the young man's behavior, he wrote a short script demonstrating the appalling oratory. When Kwame offered me the part of Helen, the mother and object of her son's awful conduct, just the title was enough to make me jump at the opportunity.

This was fun! And I give the final dig in the dialogue. How very satisfying.

No, didn't get a copy, but Kwame tells me he has matured since then and would (1) keep copies of all his works in the future, and (2) make sure his actors received what was agreed upon.

Director Kwame Boahene and DP Sean Moller check equipment

Left: I turn away from my ill-bred son who rudely
to punctuate his feelings towards me.
Cameraman Sean Moller and Soundman Griffin Lamfors
hover professionally. My son is played by Nick Mavrakis.

by Gianny Mendez

Look at me -- a bible thumping, gray-haired, lunatic. I literally scared people away as we shot this section of Gianny Mendez's short on Bush Street, near Taylor.

The movie is about a young woman, played by Rosheika Soto, who has repeated disturbing dreams about being murdered. As these dreams become more distressing to her, people around her echo themes from her dreams. I, Mrs. Cunningham, the neighbor who constantly harrasses her each time she enters or leaves the building, admonish, "He said 'you old men shall dream dreams, you young men shall see visions.' That's what He said." I just want you all to know that costume was supplied to me for the shoot. That is not my jacket. Please. Okay, it is my wig and those are my glasses.

Gianny shooting. I NEVER got my copy. After repeated emails and phone requests by me, Gianny changed her phone number and email address rather than fulfill her obligation.

I say, "You young people are all hooligans!" with conviction.

The Edge Chronicles
Directed by Steve Zienka

Steven Zienka chose to adapt a scene from The Edge Chronicles, a series of children's books written and illustrated by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell.

I play Spelda Snatchwood, a wood troll, and I have to tell my son, Twig, played by Spencer Neustadt, a number of very painful things. First, he has to leave home; he's 13, an adult, and must find his own way. He's not built for felling trees like his father, Tuntum. The cabin is too small for him; he's already too tall, though slim, not like wood trolls who are small and stocky. And the sky pirates, having seen him on a wood selling trip with his father, will come looking for him to take him away. Sky pirates are like that -- always abducting woodtrolls who never come back to tell the tale. 'By the way, you were actually found in the woods and are not our natural son!

I NEVER got my copy of the shoot from Zienka! and all contact information was changed. He better watch out for Sky Pirates himself.

Steven Zienka, changed phone number
and email address after shoot.

I used an Irish accent for the role, which showed even more differences between me and my son, played in American English. My face was swollen from dental infection -- I used it to enhance my character.

What the Butler Saw
Adapted and directed by Liseli Thiele
from the play by Joe Orton

The story goes -- a wife comes home to find her husband, a psychiatrist with a home office, getting a little too intimate with one of his patients. There's witty repartee between husband and wife leading to the end of their marriage. I was the Wife, and Bruce Goodchild, my very close friend, played my Husband. Bruce experimented with a German accent, which was hysterical, and I played the sophisticated brunette in my new wig. I channeled Phyllis Kirk as directed by Noel Coward for all I was worth. The patient-other woman was played by Robin Rowan (not pictured).

This project by Liseli Thiele was shot in my apartment, with her husband helping as crew, and small son playing in the bedroom. Liseli gets my award for fastest delivery of a copy of the film. It took just a couple of days for her to get it to us. Thanks, Liseli. I wish you the best in your career in Los Angeles.

Liseli at the helm, as it were.
This was a fun little project.

Bruce Goodchild and I, Bonnie Steiger,
verbally spar over his betrayals.

Top of page