Playing the Part
Senior Cassia Harder had invited her manager to the viewing of the film. Afterwards, she made it very clear that who she was, and who her character was, were two different people.
“This was not an extension of my personality,” she said. “I was telling a story.”
Meanwhile, senior Katie Gerarden didn’t watch herself perform during the premiere of the feature film, “Everything and Nothing” this summer.
Rather, she watched others around her react to the film. It was a very different experience from performing on stage, she said.
“When you’re watching a movie with people sitting next to you, you are in the moment, and watching them watch you,” she said. “It is so, such a weird feeling.”
Gerarden and Harder played best friends in the Seventh Level Productions feature film, “Everything and Nothing,” written and directed by UW-Eau Claire alumni. Both Gerarden and Harder would like to pursue acting as careers upon graduation. The film was a new opportunity for each of them, and something Gerarden and Harder value as a learning experience.
Eau Claire alumnus Matt Troge, who co-directed “Everything and Nothing” described the film as a psychological thriller.”
The films plot centers around a girl’s journey after she finds a box and an obsession begins, said writer, co-director and Eau Claire alumnus Benjamin Klema. The girl, who is the character “Ann,” fixates on finding out what’s inside. That obsession unravels her perception of reality.
“It becomes very surreal and bizarre as the movie goes on,” he said.
Playing “Ann” and “Caroline
Gerarden plays Harder’s best friend, “Caroline,” whom the pair fondly refer to as a “Racy’s/Nucleus girl.”
“Out of all the roles I’ve had my entire life, I can most relate to ‘Caroline,’” Gerarden said. “She reminds me
Gerarden described the character as easy, laid back, outgoing, kind of quirky and a very supportive friend.
The duo laughed when describing the contrast between the characters before Harder went on to describe “Ann” as the personification of obsession that exists in everyone.
“What would happen if someone was so intrigued by some simple thing that, you know, they never quite got there, that was always just that bit elusive to them,” she asked. “What does a person give up intentionally?”
Harder likened that to things that society obsesses over, such as people or material objects. She said she used that as a base of research for
“I connected with Ann in this feeling that, you know, as young women trying to start careers … we can get very focused,” she said. “We can be so driven, so driven, and to me, that’s what motivated a lot of Ann’s character, that drive, and what happens when that door is slammed in your face.”
The result of that in the film, Harder said, is surprising.
Auditioning for “Ann”
Harder said she was approached by a producer of the film who was in her acting classabout auditioning.
She said she auditioned for Klema, Troge and the producer in a conference room on campus.
Harder said she was in awe because it seemed very professional. The three wore business jackets and sat behind
The professionalism was something Harder appreciated.
“It wasn’t like … ‘Hey, you wanna be in this movie?,” Harder said.
Klema didn’t know Harder very well when she auditioned for the part.
“Ann’s a very difficult part,” he said. “The part requires her to kind of go, one might say, insane over the course of the movie.”
Klema said he needed an actress that could make viewers believe she was a normal girl, but could go crazy within the length of the film.
Troge said that Harder and Gerarden were two of six females that auditioned for the film.
During her audition, Harder’s body language and the strength of her monologue made Troge believe that she could be “Ann.”
Auditioning for “Caroline”
Gerarden, said the film was a great opportunity to practice her auditioning skills.
She had worked with Troge and Klema in the past in the Seventh Level Productions short film, “Rapt.” The directors invited her to audition for the feature length film.
“I really appreciate the fact that we had auditions for it because we need the practice,” she said. “This is part of our learning experience.”
Klema said they knew Gerarden’s strengths from previous work. He hesitated to describe Gerarden’s character in its entirety as he wanted to avoid ruining the ending. He did say that both characters have two different sides to them, Klema said.
“‘Caroline’s’ a very important part and is ‘Ann’s’ voice of reason,” he said. “We needed somebody that could handle doing that.”
Troge, like Klema, knew that Katie was a good fit.
“Katie has a very natural talent of just belonging on screen,” he said. “She just, very much fits with a lot of the parts that she takes … It was her ability to become the character and not
Klema and Troge are shopping the film around at festivals. Recently, Klema said, “Everything and Nothing” was submitted to the International Student Film Festival in Hollywood.
Klema said he feels confident about it making it into the festival.
“I think it’ll have a really good shot,” he said.
Troge said they’re also trying to get the film screened on campus with University Activities Commission. DVDs of the film are available if people contact Seventh Level Productions.
Gerarden loved her involvement.
“It was so amazing … one of the greatest learning experiences that I’ve ever had.”
“I’d do it again,” she said.
Senior Cassia Harder took a little time to explore other opportunities before declaring a theatre arts major. Previous majors included music, creative writing
“Theatre was the one thing that stuck,” she said. “It finally dawned on me that theatre was the one field that combined all of
Harder was home schooled until she was a junior in high school. Her interest bloomed at age 12 when she saw what she described as a poor rendition of “A Midsummer’s Night Dream.”
She later wrote a play of her own and enlisted siblings to perform.
Harder is working with a theatre group in the Twin Cities. She will also be a member of the cast for “The Seagull” by Anton Chekhov, which is also in the Cities.
Until then, she said she has time to audition around the country orin the Cities.
“The Cities is my view of a good footprint to start out with,” she said. “It’s either that or London.”
Senior Katie Gerarden knows that she can’t do anything else for the rest of her life but act.
“I don’t know what it is,” said Katie Gerarden, a senior comprehensive theatre major. “It’s just the way that I feel, it’s the rush that I get, it’s the enjoyment that I get after every performance, it’s the process, it’s everything about it that goes into that I just adore.”
Gerarden said she falls more in love with her career choice every day. She entered UW-Eau Claire with a declared major in
The rest is history.
“I’ve been a theatre major my entire career here,” Gerarden said.“Just, every year, kept on falling in love with it more and more and more.”
Some of Gerarden’s credits include Cannibal Days, Angels in America and the UWEC Players production House of Yes.
Gerarden plans to move to Chicago after graduation and start her career as an actor.
Watch the trailer for Everything or Nothing below
You can watch other scenes from the film here.