Interview with “Yes, We’re Open” Actor, Tasi Alabastro

21 Jul, 2012

Actor and Filmmaker Tasi Alabastro

Tasi Alabastro is an actor and filmmaker whose latest film, “Yes, We’re Open,” (2012) world premiered at the 30th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival. We caught up with this very dapper and witty San Francisco Bay Area actor and filmmaker during SFIAAFF30 to find out how he got into film and acting, what he thought of working with his “Yes We’re Open” cast-mates and why he wanted to get involved with the film project: “After reading through the script I was immediately enamored with the subject matter, the quick wit of the characters and the situations they were finding themselves in.” Read more about “Yes, We’re Open’s” Tasi Alabastro! [Interviewed on March 16, 2012]

Dig In Magazine: How long have you been acting and when did your interest in film begin?

Tasi Alabastro: I’ve been acting (or what I thought was acting) since I was cast as Jesus Christ in a community event, the date and age escapes me because I was barely a teen –and spent most of it in a white burial shroud. As far as when my interest in film began, I’d have to say the inception began between Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Adventures of Huck Finn (with Elijah Wood).

DIM: Where did you receive your training in acting and film?

TA: I received some formal training in a theatre lab on Hawai’i at the Leeward Community College under the mentorship of Betty Burdick and Paul Cravath –both of whom continue to be a constant source of inspiration. It’s not all coconuts and spam there, ya know. Recently I found more focus in the craft with The Bay Area Acting Studio, studying the Meisner technique. The funny thing with acting is (and all forms of art), it’s an on-going process of honing. I take a lot of public transportation and find it one of the most crucial forms of training for me –people watching, observation, you know discovering for myself what motivates human beings on a daily basis.

World Premiere of 'Yes, We're Open' at SFIAAFF30 | Photo by Andy Kao

DIM: How did you get involved with the film “Yes We’re Open?”

TA: Funny thing, that one. It was through a friend’s friend who lived in Southern California. It amuses me to no end that so big a project was being produced in my Bay Area backyard and I still had to hear about it from someone many hundreds of miles away. Thank goodness for thoughtful friends! It wasn’t long after that that I was rushing through the audition doors (some minutes late due to public transportation malfunctions) blood pumping, ready to play. And play I did.

DIM: What was it about the film that made you want to be a part of it?

TA: Hah, the answers are plentiful! They can, however, be summed into three words: HUNGRY TO PLAY. After reading through the script I was immediately enamored with the subject matter, the quick wit of the characters and the situations they were finding themselves in. In my head, “sign me up”. On a more practical and career oriented level, I was ready to leap into a feature film. After being offered the part of Scott and learning that I’d be working with long time inspiration, Parry Shen, there was no reason for me not to want to be a part of it!

DIM: How was your experience working with director, Richard Wong and the rest of the cast and crew of “Yes, We’re Open?”

TA: Who? Haha, I kid! Let’s put it this way, if Rich were the Captain of a Pirate ship, and everyone else were ranked officers (or pirate equivalent) on said ship, I’d happy go down with them in the event of a Kraken attack. Okay, maybe that was a little off base. I had a magical time with them all. If it weren’t for local actor friends, Nishea Andalong and Lowell Abellon also being cast, I would not have known anyone initially. It was an efficient set, professional, but also warm and welcoming. I’d work with any of them again in a heartbeat! If they’d have me.

Tasi Alabastro in 'Raymond'

DIM: What other film projects have you been involved in addition to “Yes, We’re Open?”

TA: Coincidentally I’m in a short film called RAYMOND (dir. by Mark V. Reyes) that screened across town at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas. And from some accounts, will continue to screen at similar festivals as Yes, We’re Open. I feel absolutely blessed by the opportunity, but as much I’m having fun sitting back and enjoying the ride, I’m more than happy to be hustling to the next project. And the next…

DIM: What types of films and roles are you generally drawn to?

TA: As far as films go, I really enjoy watching movies with Sci-Fi, Adventure, Fantasy elements to it; None of which I’ve had the pleasure of working on as an Actor. I recently storyboarded a Sci-Fi horror movie called DARK HARVEST (currently still in production) and I thought it’d be great to be torn into shreds by some sinister evil from the abyss. Just saying. I rank Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Firefly, Leon: The Professional, The Fifth Element as my top films and would LOVE to be involved in something like them, hint hint.

Filmmaker Tasi Alabastro | Square Marden

DIM: What does it take to prepare for your roles?

TA: Usually a really good breakfast. Bacon, eggs, cornbeef hash, orange juice, coffee, bananas…all essential role-preparing grubbage.

DIM: What is your dream role?

TA: Luke Skywalker. But Mark Hamill beat me to it (a couple decades too late, drats!). No, but really, I can’t say I have a dream role right out the box. Instead, I’d like to have a career full of exploration. Actors like Gary Oldman (my fave) inspire me. I’d even say Steve Buscemi and Hugh Jackman have careers that tickle me. So, it’s not so much dream role as dream career; A life full of work, creating, and dreaming and doing. And working on a Star Wars related project would be nice too.

DIM: Do you have any other film projects planned or in the works? If so, what are they?

TA: I’ve nothing booked on-screen in the immediate future, but I’m currently writing a handful of short films with my partners from SQUARE MARDEN* and I suspect it’ll take up some of my time. I’ll still be out auditioning though, and if I happen to be cast on stage or screen and you happen to be following me on Twitter or Facebook, you’ll be the first to know!

About the author

Cindy Maram

Cindy Maram is Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Dig In Magazine. She is an accredited film journalist for Sundance Film Festival, Mill Valley Film Festival and CAAMFest, as well as writer, vlogger, designer, digital, online & social media marketer. She possess a B.A from UC Davis in Cultural Studies and an M.A. in Mass Communications [Film and Marketing] and Popular Culture Studies from Cal State Fullerton.

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