Filmmaker Feature: Cat Dyer
Name: Cat Dyer
Film: “The Audition”
Festival: Georgia Shorts Film Festival (Winner- Best Director) and Women’s Comedy Film Festival Chicago (Winner- Best Director)
City you’re based in: Atlanta, GA
Short Bio (100 words or fewer)
Catherine is best known as the no-nonsense Agent Connie Frazier on the Netflix megahit, Stranger Things and will soon be seen as Rachel Campbell in The Terminal List opposite Chris Pratt, as well as playing Teresa Bonner on season 2 of The Morning Show. Catherine also recently wrapped Guest Star roles on season 2 of Sweet Magnolias for Netflix and Just Beyond for Disney+.
How did you get started in the film industry and what are your upcoming and active projects?
I graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in NY specifically for theatre. In the ensuing years I lived in NYC & LA and worked as an actor in Indie films, Television, Theatre, commercials and print work. I took a hiatus from acting from 1997-2004 and worked for A&E Television first as an assistant and then eventually became Manager of Documentary Programming (receiving a PrimeTime Emmy nomination in 2003) . It was after moving to Atlanta (in 2006) that I started working steadily in TV & film. I have been extremely fortunate to be working a lot in 2021 and I was just in LA where I did a recurring guest Star role on ‘The Terminal List’ opposite Chris Pratt as well as two episodes of season 2 of ‘The Morning Show’. In Atlanta I shot ‘Just Beyond’ for Disney+, ‘A Unicorn for Christmas’ for Hallmark and am currently filming season 2 of ‘Sweet Magnolias’ for Netflix.
What type of stories interest you and why?
I’m drawn to smart comedies that feature kick ass female protagonists. Both of my shorts ‘PhotoBomb’ and ‘The Audition’ are female driven stories told with touches of sly humor.
What is your genre of choice?
I love comedy but as an actor I do a lot of drama and often end up on both sides of a gun! (Stranger Things, Cell, The Devil to Pay, Sabotage etc…)
How are you creating a path for yourself in this industry?
I am very, very fortunate to have hit Atlanta before it became such a hotbed of film/tv production. I got in on the ground floor, so to speak. When I booked ‘The Blind Side’ in 2009 there were probably 8 talent agencies and 5 casting directors in this market. Now there are over 70 agencies and it seems like a new casting director every week! But I am lucky that I established myself early on and I am a “known entity”. I just continue to always bring my “A game” to every audition and booking and show up to set with an acute awareness of how fortunate I am to be doing what I love.
What inspires you as a storyteller?
I like underdog stories. The stories of people who faced adversity and triumphed. I think there are so many, many stories we have not yet heard from previously under-represented groups and I look forward to people (especially women and women of color) having a chance to share their experiences on film.
How do you prep for a film from writing to being on set?
I’m a visual person. I like to create a “look book” in advance so when I’m sharing my vision with the team I have very clear examples of what I want. For ‘The Audition’ it was all about the bright “perky” colors. The lightness of Zoe and the “good” casting room versus the darkness of the unwelcoming casting room. I also like to rehearse if possible, even if it is only a few hours. I also do a detailed shot list with my DP and I have a hand in guiding the Art Department, Costumes, Hair and MU etc. I’m not a control freak but I want everyone to understand the overall vision in advance.
What is the first thing you do when you get a script?
Is this a trick question? I read it! Ha. I actually read a script three times before I take any notes or make any decisions. Then I sit with it for a day or two and let it marinate. Then I start writing notes about the look, style and “feel”. Then I think about who I know that could play the roles.
What are a few lessons you’ve learned from your recent film(s)?
That I’m only interested in working with people who have the same goal: to make a fabulous film and work as a team. It is all about collaboration: from the grips to the lead actor, we all work together. The fact that people will work for free to support an indie project is humbling, and heart warming to the core!
What practical tips do you have for indie filmmakers (budgeting, marketing, directing)?
Surround yourself with great people. Expand your network, socialize, go to events and you will meet people who are passionate about the same things you are. And you will find people who are amazing at their jobs, i.e. DP, script supervisor, AD, wardrobe, etc. Making films is a truly collaborative undertaking. You have to be open to other people’s ideas and suggestions, too many people let ego get in the way. You have to be collaborative & listen and be willing to admit you were wrong. But you also have to be the one that makes the hard decisions and has the final say.