The Dancing Rabbit; Tyler Peck
Tyler is a versatile, award-winning screenwriter, actor, director, designer, and teacher. Born in New Mexico and raised in New York, Tyler went to Architecture school at Cornell University, where he graduated in 2006. After college, Tyler worked as a designer at a large firm in Boston and taught design at an Architecture College for a number of years. Realizing he needed a big change, Tyler began pursuing acting in 2009.
Tyler received training at the Stella Adler Academy and the Upright Citizens Brigade and quickly began booking many film roles, predominantly leading roles on small indie projects. After getting an agent and manager and joining SAG, Tyler landed roles on ABC’s “Body of Proof,” TBS’s “Men at Work,” CBS’s “Marry Me,” Crackle’s “Chosen,” and 20th Century Fox’s “What’s Your Number?”.
Tyler is a huge fan of the sci-fi, fantasy, psychological thriller, and horror genres, and the first short film he wrote and directed, “Electric Blue,” was produced in 2015, and screened at a number of great festivals including the Williamsburg Independent, Atlanta Independent, LA New Wave, Kansas City, Roswell, and Film Shortage. He works with lawyer Natalie Hottle.
Although he currently resides in Los Angeles, Tyler prefers to work on both coasts. His screenplays and films have been selected and awarded at countless competitions and festivals throughout the U.S. and abroad. He writes, produces, and directs under his company’s moniker, D R K B L U Films.
What are you working on now that you’re excited about?
I’m super excited (and mortified) about a big crowdfunding campaign I recently launched for a dark fantasy thriller feature film epic called AETERNUM. We need all the support we can get, so please hop over to check out the project on IndieGoGo, and if you can contribute, please do! https://igg.me/at/aeternum-film/x#/
Why did you get into the entertainment industry?
By accident. I used to be an architect, but during the big downturn in 2008, I started to reconsider my love for that field. I took a little break from the field to get some perspective and decided to try to do something entirely different than I’d ever done, just to have fun for a few months until I’d inevitably go back to architecture. Enter acting. What I thought would be a few months of goofing around and being far less serious than I was accustomed to, turned into a lifelong love affair, to which I never formally returned to architecture. I started while living in Boston, got quite a bit of work out there, commuted into NYC frequently for auditions and shooting projects, then made the move to LA back in 2011. I now focus on acting, but also screenwriting and directing, in my pursuits of making films.
I was 27.
What was the first project you worked on?
I did a couple of very weird experimental plays in Boston with this small company called The Imaginary Beasts. We did a show inspired by the writings of Gertrude Stein, and it was really out there. I was an understudy at the time, but one of the leads got sick, and I had to suddenly do the final two shows. Apparently, I did alright because they offered me one of the leads in their next production.
How did you find it?
I honestly don’t remember. It’s very possible that it was something like Craigslist.
What were your goals when you started?
To really just do something different with me, stretch, have some fun, loosen my mind from the pressures that had been heaped on me from becoming a professor of architecture (I was teaching at an architecture college in Boston and they wanted me to go towards a 10-year track). I just wanted to try acting out, explore it a bit, and honestly just even see if I could get a single audition, let alone be cast in something. I had set the bar pretty low.
What are your future goals?
To become a full-time, successful filmmaker. Right now filmmaking work isn’t consistent enough, and I need to work a teaching job in order to support myself financially. I would love to just be working on my film projects with freedom and consistent financial stability. If it were entirely a career in acting that would be just fine with me, but I also really love screenwriting and would be happy to entertain the more multi-hyphenate life like so many people seem to find themselves in. A holistic approach to filmmaking, and my roles in there, sounds like a good fit for me.
Did you go to film school?
No, I went to architecture school at Cornell University. I’ve taken some acting classes here and there, but I am almost entirely a self-taught actor/filmmaker.
What did you originally want to do in Hollywood?
Acting was 100% the focus. Now I’d say it’s like 60% the focus, as I took many years away from it to pursue screenwriting in order to develop the skills to write and create my own projects, rather than rely on someone else to do the writing. I did that because when I got out to LA and was auditioning for roles, I was particularly disappointed in the quality of the writing I was being exposed to. So I had to stop complaining and do something about it. My scripts have since won many awards at festivals and competitions, and have had many directors, actors, and producers attached to make them.
What difficulties (if any) did you encounter in Hollywood?
Nepotism is one of the grossest things Hollywood seems to possess in a way other industries don’t. And it is ever-present and distinctly powerful in the film world. There was very little of that on the East Coast scene, but in LA it’s utterly rampant. I wasn’t prepared for that, and that really crushed a lot of my fledgling interest in acting when I first came out to LA.
What did you do for a day job while looking for showbiz work?
I have had a lot of teaching experience, so teaching has always been a way to financially support myself while doing creative things that mean more to me.
When did you decide to stop working for free?
I got a good bit of studio and network TV work very quickly while living out in Boston, so joined SAG and got an agent out there after about a year of pursuing acting. From there on out I don’t really think I was allowed to work for free anymore. I would have, I didn’t always mind that if it was a cool enough character/project, but rules are rules.
Do you ever work for free or on spec now? And if so, how do you choose when to work on those terms?
I’ll work for free for a friend in an acting capacity. In terms of writing, I have to constantly write on spec or create decks on spec to pitch projects, etc. That side of filmmaking is more spec than not, for most people, I’m pretty sure.
What are you currently working on, and how did you arrive here?
I always have a few projects moving around in different stages of development, but the one I’m really focused on and passionate about right now is AETERNUM:
“A grieving hypnotherapist must help a mysterious man with special abilities regain his memory in order to find her missing son.”
The film is going to be visually stunning; and takes inspiration from other tonal fantasy epics like Pan’s Labyrinth, The Fountain, Midnight Special, The Fall, and the Tree of Life. With Aeternum I wanted to make a film that was truly original, that would be visually gorgeous, be infused with everything I want to say to the world, and be able to retain as much creative control over as possible. Thus, the crowdfunding effort. Which has been nothing short of nerve-wracking.
What’s the biggest thing you depend on, on set?
A really comfortable feeling amongst everyone on set. When things are tense or chaotic or people are disagreeing or being petty or unprofessional, it makes it very hard to make a movie, whether in front or behind the camera. When I’m the actor, I’m always trying to be friendly and connect with everyone. When I’m the director, I’m always asking everyone how they’re doing and if they have what they need, and reminding everyone to have a good time. We take as many breaks as we need but also push for high quality and time efficiency.
Did someone ever try to take advantage of your inexperience in Hollywood?
Yes. They still do. I don’t want to name any names (I mean I do want to but I’ll restrain myself), but there have been writers and producers in particular that have stolen script ideas and stolen large parts of actual scripts themselves. I cannot underscore how deeply painful and infuriating those experiences have been, and how much they’ve made me question both the value of the film industry and the integrity of the people in it.
Did you ever pay for a program that promised big results to help further your career, but it never delivered?
Not really no. I haven’t taken too many classes or anything like that, and none of the ones I’ve taken made big promises, as far as I can recall.
Did you ever come across a project or a person that looked promising, and then the whole thing blew up in your face?
I was offered a unique opportunity through a director that was attached to one of my projects to work with this new seemingly cutting-edge technology that would get us all kinds of access to various things. Without giving too many specifics, the person offering the “opportunity” turned out to be pretty shady, and wasn’t going to honor certain things he said he would, so the director and I jumped ship.
Were you ever put in a position where you were asked to compromise your artistic integrity? What did you do?
All the time. The tricky thing about writing scripts for projects meant for me to act in basically fundamentally invites this kind of problem. Often times producers will read a script of mine, love it, and want to make it, but refuse to have me play the role I’ve scripted for myself. Most of the time I say, nope, this is non-negotiable. Lately, there’ve been a couple of times where I’ve caved, but I hate it, it feels awful.
Did anyone ever approach you and say they would offer you a job if you slept with them?
Nah, I think people know better than me. You can take one look at me and know I’m not gonna put up with that.
Be honest, what’s the worst part of your job? Or the part of the job you enjoy the least?
All the hustle and the bullshit. I’m creative; I’m not a businessman or agent or marketing specialist; and I don’t want to be those things in order to make my art. I think it’s sad that we need to do those things, to try to sell ourselves to others, in order to be granted permission to do something we love. The math of it doesn’t work out.
If you had it to do over again, what would you do differently?
In an alternate universe, I would get involved with acting at a younger age to give myself more time to build a resume and experience. But there are of course a slew of negative side effects that come with acting at a younger age, which I would not have been keen on. I also probably should’ve just stayed in Boston/NYC, frankly. LA is for people who have daddies in the industry pulling strings for them, not for people just trying to break in based on a meritocracy system. Because there really isn’t one here in LA, unfortunately.
What motto do you try to live your life by?
I don’t have a motto for my life, but I try to always consult my heart, consult my head, consult my spirituality, stay as present as I can, and stay as true to myself as I can–difficult as all of those are to maintain. I like to maintain a careful balance between freedom and routine, and adventurousness and groundedness.
Where’s your favorite place in Los Angeles?
The Museum of Jurassic Technology. The coolest place in LA.
You can check out Tyler’s work on the internet at the below links:
IndieGoGo Campaign – https://igg.me/at/aeternum-film/x#/
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