Every actor who comes to Los Angeles believes themselves as having well-rounded expertise in various artforms and the natural ability to shapeshift into any character. There are few who actually possess such versatility, and even fewer who successfully manage to showcase their range. Actor, stuntwoman, and prolific producer Amy Rose Schumacher is one such actor, who in a sea of blondes, humbly punches through the crowd demanding to be seen. Her comedic work has been featured on such prestigious platforms as WHOHAHA, her action reel could command reverence from the most seasoned athlete, and her productions have collectively garnered acceptance and accolades from top niche festivals from around the world.
Schumacher brings her pragmatic sensibility to We Make Movies as our premier Covid Compliance Officer, and most recently Production Coordinator for the Creative Services division of the company. She applies the same grace under pressure and skilled proficiency on the set of branded content filming as she does in her sci-fi fantasy scenes with a blade in one hand. But don't take our word for it. Let her tell you all about herself!
WMM: Was there a definitive moment when you knew you had to be an artist / an actor?
ARS: I started dancing and performing around the age of three and loved being on stage. I also watched a lot of TV as a young person; It was sort of an escape for me. I would fantasize about being one of the powerful women in my favorite shows, usually cops and detectives. However, it wasn’t until I was a bit older that I really knew I wanted to actively pursue acting. I can vividly remember sitting in a movie theatre in 1996, watching Romeo and Juliet, starring Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio, and knowing 100% that I wanted to be an actor. I wanted to do what Claire was doing. And when I say vividly, I mean, to this day if I smell the cologne of the guy sitting in front of us, I am transported back to the moment. At the time I was far too shy and intimidated to ever utter that to anyone, though. It wasn’t until I went to college that I had the confidence to tell anyone that I wanted to perform.
WMM: What made you decide to pursue the rigorous classical training you did in Russia? What has been your favorite approach to acting?
ARS: I was in undergrad at the University of Washington, getting a degree in drama, while competing with the Division I Rowing Team. When I suffered a shoulder injury that all but ended my rowing career it allowed me the time to perform in shows and participate more on the acting side of the program. Though it did not feel that way at first, it was a defining life moment and an absolute blessing in disguise. The UW School of Drama had partnered with the prestigious Ilkhom Theatre, a repertory company from Tashkent Uzbekistan. Tashkent is a sister city to Seattle. Ilkhom brought one of their shows to our school and it was spectacular! They offered an exchange program for three months and myself and a handful of my best friends went. It was life changing! The students coming out of their program were simply on a different level in their performing and character development. I ended up staying and earning my master’s degree in acting, in addition to learning to speak Russian.
A Russian theatre program has a much different approach to developing character, working with script and finding nuance in your body than we had at university. The physicality of our program is where I would thrive. Having been an athlete my whole life, I loved the Lecoq School, working with masks, sword fighting, acrobatics, etc. “Me in the given circumstances” is how all the students in the studio begin their training. We did not play characters until we could find our true selves in a given situation. We then moved on to inanimate objects, animals and so forth, on our way to developing character. My favorite part of this was finding the nuance in how a character moves. Physicality and physical acting are where I find my energy.
WMM: Is there an actor / actress whose career trajectory you wish to emulate or feel particularly drawn to?
ARS: My short list obviously includes Claire Danes. Her portrayal of Carrie in Homeland is so nuanced and brilliant. These types of characters very much feel like my casting. I also love the range of Sandra Bullock, Elizabeth Moss, and Hilary Swank. However, I can’t leave out Linda Hamilton and Sigourney Weaver!
WMM: You have always been an athlete. Did this make the segue into being a stunt actor natural for you? What is that training like?
ARS: I’ve been an athlete my whole life from dancing, to basketball, rowing, and epic obstacle courses in my backyard. I was crazy good on our big trampoline. ;-) My nickname growing up was Flames. I would watch American Gladiators and fantasize about being on the show. Not as a contestant, but as my alter ego, Flames the American Gladiator. Hahaha! This was the topic of my undergraduate solo show.
When I moved back to America after grad school it was a natural transition to become a personal trainer. This gave me an athletic outlet, but also allowed me to make my own schedule so I could audition and perform in theatre shows. For years, in the playbill of every theatre show I did, I would write that my dream was to move to LA and be a stunt double. At the time I didn’t realize what I actually wanted to do was play action characters and perform my own stunts. When I landed a producing job with The Dinner Detective, Murder Mystery I was not only able to perform improv regularly, it allowed me to move to LA, where I promptly picked sword fighting back up. I’ve been training hand to hand, weapons work, and swords ever since.
WMM: Were you a producer before joining WMM? How has WMM facilitated your filmmaking process and helped you develop as a producer?
ARS: I was an Executive Producer for a company called The Dinner Detective, Murder Mystery for many years. I’ve produced hundreds of improv shows all over the US. I transitioned into producing films by starting an all-digital sketch comedy group with four of my good friends. Our troupe, 4Play Comedy LA, successfully produced short films and sketches, where I often utilized physical comedy. I went on to start my own production company, AmyRose Productions, focusing on female driven entertainment that makes an impact. I’ve produced many award-winning short films, fan films, and series, some of which have been the product of relationships developed at We Make Movies.
We Make Movies has been an invaluable resource in my production career. I’ve collaborated with writers, actors, and production services to create the movies and characters that inspire me. The spirit of WMM is aligned with my goal of proactively making movies, rather than waiting for someone to tell me it’s okay. The sense of camaraderie, support and overall willingness to help is incredibly valuable in this industry and something that I don’t take for granted.
WMM: You have a lot of comedy, action, sci-fi, and drama under your belt. What genre has helped you showcase your talent the most? What genre has been the easiest to produce?
ARS: This is a tough question for me! I love comedy, I think I do comedy well. However, I am driven to play self-assured, resilient women who can kick some ass. I think drama and action showcase my talents the most. I want to play characters with emotional depth and nuance, but also get a chance to throw my whole body into it. My sword fighting and stunt skills land me in the sci-fi world most often, but I can’t honestly say that it is my favorite genre. That’s not to say that running around in the woods with laser guns, aliens and storm troopers isn’t an absolute blast! Surrounded by an incredibly talented team, which includes a lot of WMM members, creating Star Wars fan films, sci-fi action, and huge fight scenes are a pretty great experience. I don’t think I can say that one genre is easier to produce than the other, it’s just really different. I think I love them all!
WMM: As the production coordinator for the Creative Services division of WMM, what similarities and differences do you see in producing commercial, branded content versus independent film content?
ARS: Producing branded content in a lot of ways is the same as the films I’ve produced. Attention to detail and strategic pre-pro has been the key to success. More importantly, the indy spirit we have in our filmmaking shines through in the art we create for the branded content. We are making inspired content, which is what I think sets the WMM Creative Services apart from other marketing content.
WMM: What has been the most rewarding aspect of working on the Creative Services team?
ARS: Being a part of the Creative Services division has allowed me to meet fabulously talented people. We’ve collaborated with musicians, actors, tech companies on a mission to change the world, and the list goes on. It’s incredibly inspiring. Travelling to La Paz, Mexico with the Orphaned Starfish Foundation was perhaps one of the most rewarding career opportunities I’ve had. To see the life changing impact that the collaboration between WMM and Orphaned Starfish has had on these children is so uplifting. The joy and love these kids radiated as they shared their creativity and made movies for the first time is a great reminder of how important it is to tell stories, create relatable characters and give creative access to everyone.
WMM: As WMM’s leading Covid Compliance Officer you have worked on several sets in varying capacities. How has Covid impacted the budgets for each type of project you have worked on? What are the things filmmakers should not compromise on when it comes to Covid safety on set?
ARS: It’s unfortunate how much money is taken off the screen and put into Covid testing and protocol. But without it we couldn’t continue to work on set. It is incredibly important and something that must be done. In the long run, being lackadaisical about Covid compliance can get your set shut down, cost you more money, and most importantly, put peoples’ lives at risk. I think the biggest mistake I’ve seen some productions make, when it comes to Covid compliance, is thinking of the CCO like a box you need to simply check on your union paperwork. The CCO is not there to fill the quota. They are there to make sure the protocols are being adhered to, that testing is happening in the required timing and to be the “bad guy” when it comes to reminding folks on set to pull their masks back up. Hiring a Covid Officer who took one free training course to be your CCO, so that you can get approved by SAGAFTRA has landed a lot of productions in trouble. Trust me, I’ve swooped in to assist more than anyone would like to admit. Your Covid officer needs to be doing continuing education, staying up on new protocols as they are ever changing, and have solid on-set experience, so they can work with the production holistically. It’s not a throwaway gig.
WMM: What project of yours are you most excited about right now? Do you have anything currently in development?
ARS: I’m lucky enough to have three exciting projects buzzing out in the world!
My Star Wars fan film, Balance of the Force, is really making a splash on the film festival circuit. We’re winning awards left and right. It’s very exciting because a lot of specialized talent collaborated on this film and I’m really proud of it! We’re showcasing the film at Gen Con, which is a great honor. I’ve been invited to be a panelist for the Female Filmmakers, Acting for Film and Producing Independent Film panels. Season 1 of my sci-fi, action series, Nightwatch is now streaming on the IFTV Network. It was their premier summer blockbuster series and is doing great! Season 2 is in the works.
And finally, Memory Lane is just beginning its festival run. We are already in the running for best acting duo awards in two different film festivals. The film is beautiful and gives the audience an opportunity to laugh, cry and connect with characters that are incredibly relatable. This piece was created with an almost entirely We Make Movies member team; including the producer, Donald Watson who is also my co-star, and directed by Steven LaMorte, Creative Director of WMM Creative Services. I’m inspired and excited about a few projects that are coming up, but nothing I can speak of just yet. This upcoming year is going to be filled with production and creativity!
Written / Compiled by Sapna Gandhi
Sapna Gandhi is an actor, singer-songwriter, and content creator. In addition to TV credits such as BOSCH, SHAMELESS and SCANDAL, she has appeared in numerous shorts, features, and series, including festival darlings IN ABSENTIA (Raindance) and THUMPER (Tribeca). Gandhi has produced several series and films under the umbrella of her production company Elegant Grotesque (most recently SCRAP, starring Anthony Rapp and Vivian Kerr, and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds’ STRANDED ON THE EARTH, directed by Mike Bruce). She is also 1/2 of the musical duo, VATAVARAN, was born in England, raised all over the states, studied English and Women’s Studies, and trained at the American Conservatory Theatre in SF.