From classrooms & mail room to the set of ‘Naked Angel’
LAURA HART COURTESY PHOTO
Wearing an all-white outfit and angel wings while filming in downtown Ann Arbor led to some fun experiences, Linda Chapman said. When cars would stop near her, Chapman would raise her hand “in a gesture of blessing.” Response to the act was generally positive, she said.
“I think that it is a sign of our times that we are looking for angels wherever we find them, and an angel giving a blessing on a movie set as you drive by is just fine,” Chapman said.
“I just found that to be a delightful experience.”
Local film “Naked Angel” wrapped up filming in Ann Arbor last month. The low budget flick won’t premier until next September, but when it does there will be two Washtenaw Community College employees on the big screen.
ROBERT CONRADI WASHTENAW VOICE
David Malcolm, 37, who’s been delivering mail around campus since 2008, delivers what he hopes will be a memorable performance as the surly boss of a soup kitchen.
“He’s a nasty manager,” Malcolm said. “He has his associate’s degree and he’s not very educated, but he has a little degree and he thinks everybody’s beneath him and he talks to people really mean.”
LAURA HART COURTESY PHOTO
Part-time English instructor Chapman, 61, plays the part of Camille, an older and wiser angel who guides the main character of the movie, Estelle (played by Cameron Watkins), while she’s trying to earn her wings.
“I think that there might have been a little bit of typecasting, partly because I am older, and partly because I am a teacher, and of course, because I am an angel,” Chapman said. “Anyone in my classes will tell you that.”
Chapman has taught classes at WCC for three years.
While the film, directed by Christina Morales Hemenway, featured many local actors, Malcolm said that there was some well-known talent, too, including MADtv’s Debra Wilson Skelton and James Duval, who’s been in many films, including “Independence Day.”
Malcolm learned about auditions for the movie the day they were happening, while he was watching television. He and his wife both auditioned, and he landed a role.
DAVID MALCOLM COURTESY PHOTO
Although Malcolm would like to do more acting, and said that he made some connections on the “Naked Angel” set, he’s not sure this movie is his big break.
“Is this gonna be some big blockbuster film? I don’t know,” Malcolm said. “But I worked with two very accomplished actors [Skelton and Duval] and I learned a lot from them.”
Playing the part of a mean boss wasn’t necessarily easy for Malcolm.
“I think if you ask people around the college that know me, and I know a lot of people around here, they’d say that I’m a really nice guy,” he said. “It was hard for me because I would laugh all the time.”
Malcolm said that although his job at WCC is fun and he likes what he does, he won’t stick around if he gets a good movie opportunity.
“I would leave this job in a heartbeat if I could get some acting parts and some money,” said Malcolm, who lives in Ann Arbor. “I love WCC; it’s done a lot for me. But if the right thing comes along, I’m gone.”
Malcolm and Chapman didn’t know each other before “Naked Angel.” They started chatting during a filming break and realized they both work at WCC.
Chapman was more experienced than Malcolm in the movie business because she’s a documentary filmmaker who received an Academy Award nomination for her film about sign language, “See What I Say,” in 1981. She’d never been on the other side of the camera, however.
“It was delicious to be on set and to know that I had one little sliver of a responsibility. Of course I felt very committed to doing the very best job at that as I possibly could, but then it was really appropriate for me to step back and to watch this amazing menagerie of activity unfold,” Chapman said. “I’ve never been able to have that perspective before, and I think it really informed my work as a filmmaker. I think at this sort of late date in my career it was really, really good for me to be able to have that vision.”
Chapman, who lives in South Lyon, went to the “Naked Angel” auditions to help Morales Hemenway, whose mother was a college classmate of Chapman’s. After reading a scene with an actor who was auditioning, Chapman was asked to audition herself.
Although Chapman enjoyed her role in the film and said that Morales Hemenway was “generous” in giving her the part, she only sees herself acting once more.
“When the premier occurs, I will of course want to go in support of the project,” Chapman said. “But seeing this 61-year-old face on a screen that big, I have a feeling that there’s a good deal of acting that I’m going to have to do in order to get through that evening.”