Expired June 19, 2022 3:59 AM
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TESSA WREN struggles with intimacy in her Method acting class and reveals she has a lot on her mind with her day jobs. Her teacher, MIMI BOND, points out that all of Tessa’s classmates have complicated lives, and leads the class through a “sense memory” exercise. Tessa stops short of a memory about her mother when her phone pings with a text from her AGENT with an appointment in ten minutes.

Tessa races across town, but upon entering an off-off Broadway theater holding auditions for Chekhov’s THE SEAGULL, she is knocked unconscious. When she awakes finds herself interrogated by a Ukrainian BADDIE who needs to know who Tessa works for at the CIA. Tessa insists that she is not a spy, and that she is just an actress who has mostly done regional theater.

Tensions mount when the Baddie steps up his tactics, until he reveals that he secretly always wanted to be an actor himself, but he never had the chance to learn because he had to pay the bills. Tessa walks the Baddie through the sense memory exercise from her acting class. The Baddie then confesses that Tessa reminds him of his wife, Nina. Tessa is struck by the coincidence of the name as being that of the character in THE SEAGULL who also wants to be an actress. Enraged at the memory of his wife having been murdered by the CIA, the Baddie points his gun at Tessa.

Tessa delivers a monologue from THE SEAGULL about what it really means to be an actress and the necessity of resilience in the face of despair. The Baddie is entranced until Tessa wrestles away his gun and turns the tables, revealing she is, in fact, a CIA agent. The Baddie tells her she doesn’t know the whole truth of who she really works for.

In the end we see Tessa, disguised, walking through Times Square and talking on the phone with her mother/agent, telling her that she “took out” the Baddie before she was able to extract the necessary information. But the Baddie is left alive, tied to a chair on stage, with the script to THE SEAGULL at his feet, and Tessa has the thumb-drive she was sent to find.

Having placed her newfound trust in The Baddie, Tessa is now a double agent… or is she?

Director Biography - Monica McCarthy

Monica McCarthy was born and raised in Southern California and moved to NYC by way of singing with a big band in Japan. Monica is an actor and playwright, who has had over 50 “survival jobs”...and counting. SURVIVAL JOB marks her narrative short directorial debut. Acting credits include Broadway (Time Stands Still) and television (The Blacklist, The Noel Diary (Netflix), and Mildred Pierce). As a playwright her work has been featured at the New Plays Lab at the Inge Festival in Kansas and the National Winter Playwrights summit in Colorado. She is also the creator and host of the philosophy podcast, THE HAPPIER HOUR and is completing her thesis for her Masters in Creative Writing & Literature at Harvard University. She loves creating and directing projects that explore complex philosophical questions by way of deeply flawed and wonderfully human characters.

Director Statement

I initially got the idea for a story about an actress who may or may not work as an undercover CIA agent after my parents questioned if I was a spy, due to my unconventional life of constantly-changing gigs, changing zip codes, and training in skills ranging from dialects to stage combat.

Espionage aside, I also felt passionately that I wanted to disrupt the actor trope most often depicted on screen (actors as being vapid and narcissistic) and shine the spotlight on the hardworking and multifaceted actors I knew. Filmed in March of 2021, exactly one year after COVID shut down our industry, I wanted to create opportunities for my peers and film in an off-off Broadway theater that had been forced to remain empty for so long.

I chose to focus specifically on an acting technique I've studied the past few years known as “The Method." Though often misrepresented, it is rooted in psychological acting, and became popular around the same time as the rise of American espionage in WWII. The inspiration to tell the story as a dark comedy stemmed from the style of playwright Anton Chekhov, whose plays were among first to be performed in “the Method” tradition.

SURVIVAL JOB was a community-driven effort made possible by crowdfunding and an incredible team of filmmakers who worked tirelessly to make this film safely with a limited budget and on a tight schedule. The experience of making the short will forever remind me how resilient and supportive the artistic community is and always will be.

  • Year
  • Runtime
  • Language
  • Country
    United States
  • Director
    Monica McCarthy
  • Screenwriter
    Monica McCarthy
  • Producer
    Erin Glass, Nathalie Frederick
  • Cast
    Monica McCarthy, Sergey Nagorny, Lindy Rogers
  • Cinematographer
    John Fitzpatrick
  • Editor
    Louis Leuci