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Pryde Pierce, Is Man on A Mission! The Hardest Working Indie Filmmaker Around!

Updated: May 4, 2022

Pryde was cast in my film, "The Star Connection". He was not only pleasant to work with, but also prepared and professional as soon as he stepped on the set. He is extremely focused and charismatic. There is no doubt Pyde will achieve worldwide success. "I interviewed this man on a mission, and here's what he told me."

What do you do currently? I’m an award-winning filmmaker, actor, and videographer. I’ve won awards for screenwriting, cinematography, editing, and acting among others. I freelance and also create my own narrative projects.

Tell me a little about your background? Where you are originally from and how did that journey lead you to where you are located today? I’m originally from Illinois. Believe it or not, I never aspired to be involved with acting and filmmaking. I also never thought about California, much less thought I’d live here one day. My journey began when I was already in my mid 20’s and going back to college after a stint in the Army and after I stopped pursuing a music career in Chicago. At school, I happened to see an audition notice one day and decided that I would audition, even though I’d never auditioned for a play and didn’t even know how to audition for a play. The production assistants walked me through the audition and long story short I was cast in a supporting role in the production. I ended up being “bit by the bug” and falling in love with acting. I decided I would no longer work to go to law school and instead would pursue my newfound love, no matter the cost or the ups and downs I would experience. I’ve stayed true to that to this day. My phrase is “striving while surviving” and that is exactly what I do, continue to work towards my filmmaking and acting goals whether things are going great or whether I am struggling.

After that I was cast in several plays, got cast in a local commercial, had favorable reviews in local newspapers, and began being recruited by local directors for their plays. Eventually, I got involved with the local film scene there (Illinois) and got my initial experience on film productions. I came to Southern California to get married actually, and I initially hated it. I had no connections (like I had before I left), no understanding of how to even get involved out here, and equipment wise I had a laptop with a broken screen, only 2 gigs of ram, and a bootleg version of Adobe Premiere Pro that was in another language. Oh, and I had two old mini dv cameras a friend gave me so that I could practice composition etc. That was it. Since then I’ve climbed up to the point of owning, and operating several cameras (including Red) as well as having my own grip gear, sound gear, lighting gear, editing workstation etc. but back then something like that was a dream. Eventually, I joined some filmmaking groups out here. I began being cast (and starring in) some plays in the area. I started getting cast in some indie film projects as well as doing production work. I eventually increased my skillset to include all phases of production and began producing and directing my own projects. I started winning awards. And I even taught Digital Filmmaking at a non-profit in San Bernardino. I did that while struggling financially, dealing with being a father in a blended family, working day jobs, dealing with relationship issues, vehicle issues etc. etc. I currently freelance full time and am an advisor for the film program at San Bernardino Valley College.

What inspired you to be an actor and filmmaker? The most direct moment was the first time I went on stage and literally felt the energy from the audience as they watched our show. I was almost overcome. It was the first thing I knew I loved since my days making music. I love acting, but I also enjoy technical stuff and being in a leadership position, and I'm creative.

I didn’t like that actors are, for the most part, at the mercy of whatever productions are seeking talent so I rapidly decided I needed to learn how to create my own productions. The funny thing is, the more proficient I became on the production side, the less acting I tended to do…irony lol. That said, I’ve definitely played roles in a number of my projects and I even won a “Best Actor” award when one of my short films (I produced, wrote, and directed) screened at the Directors Guild of America in a competition.

What are some of the things you love about acting and filmmaking? There are a number of things I love. I love that you get to experience a number of different lives and interact with a number of different people, that you otherwise might not get to. In example, I was able to broaden my circle when I played a role in Gina Carey’s film “The Star Connection” and met a number of great actors that are great people. I love the process of creation, of seeing something that no one else does and then bringing that to life. That can be seeing a character in the way you want to portray them, or it can be seeing a full story that you will bring to life with the help of others…either way, I love bringing something to life to share with others. I even love the little things. I love when I’m editing and suddenly something comes together. There are literally times where an edit will finally start “working” for me and I’ll take like a ten minute dance break all alone just because I’m so excited LOL! I especially love when I’m acting in a live performance and I get to experience the audience’s positive reaction to it, in the heat of the moment. I’ll give one example of that, there is a production I’m in where I play Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The writer/director of it was receiving an award from the California State Senate (along with other artists) and he was invited to bring along a performer to perform one scene from his show. He asked me to come and perform part of my Dr. King piece. The audience had no real clue this was going to happen. I loved hearing them go from casually looking at the art in the museum to going quiet and paying attention, to hearing their applause, and to speaking with them afterward about the piece.

What are some of the struggles and hurdles that you find in acting and/or filmmaking? Like almost all of us who pursue a career in the arts, I’ve definitely had (and continue to have) my struggles. The important thing is to be committed enough to push through them. I’ve had times where I’ve been a step away from being homeless, while wondering how I’m going to keep a roof over my kids’ heads. I’ve had times where people have betrayed me and that led to a key project being derailed. One example I’ll give is I had a childhood friend, who was working on pitching a reality show, ask me to head the production (since he had contacts but not direct production experience). I worked on it for free, with the caveat that my expenses would be reimbursed and I would stay on as a producer if the show got picked up. I spent about 4 thousand dollars out of my own pocket (which was no small thing for me) securing the studio, equipment, and personnel to pull off what he wanted. The pitch video/sizzle reel went off great and his business partner (a former top level music exec at Zomba and Verity) was beyond pleased. Yet, days…then weeks….then months went by with my “friend” always making excuses about paying me back the money I’d spent for their project. It caused me to have to adjust my next project big time because I didn’t have the money I planned to use on it. To this day, years later, he has never paid me back. Our friendship fell out over it. Even my marriage fell apart due to filmmaking. Between insecurity issues and my dogged pursuit of a filmmaking career at the expense of, almost, everything else - the woman I moved to California for, and I, are now divorced. I could relate story after story about struggles. I spoke with Clifton Powell (Ray, Black Lightning, etc) once in my early days and he talked about the same things I’m mentioning now. He talked about family relationships that had been lost, friendships that had derailed, financial struggles, betrayals, etc. In the end it comes down to how passionate you are about your calling and being committed to enduring until you see the success you are trying to achieve.

Now that we’ve talked about struggles let’s talk about the opposite of that. What are some of the high points you’ve had in your journey so far?

Oh there are tons of those as well! I’ll just mention any that come to mind. One of the earliest was being in a grocery store with my college roommates and them seeing a review about my acting in a newspaper. One of them came to me and was like “Hey, do you know this guy?” I was wondering what he was talking about and then saw a glowing review of my performance in a play I was in. My friend was wondering if the reporter had wrote that because I was a friend his or something lol. I got to drive a racecar that belonged to a guy who did engineering work for a company in Japan and also raced cars. We had to pick up one of his cars from a dealership and he asked me to come along and drive it back. It was crazy seeing how the dealership rolled out the red carpet for us – “We’ve got a race car driver AND an actor here today!” I kept thinking, “They are excited to see….ME?” Lol. Life is funny. However, one of the most important things to me is showing my kids that you can do anything you put your mind to. So I’d say that my favorite moment was when they were at the Directors Guild of America with me when I won the Best Acting award there. Just them seeing all the people dressed up, watching me on the red carpet, seeing me and the other potential winners on the big screen televisions in the room……and then hearing their dad won and seeing me get an award handed to me by a German prince and then giving my speech…it’s hard to put into words. They see a little of how hard I work but (like with all kids) I’m just dad. They’ve seen other moments but that was the biggest….I’ll die with a smile on my face remembering that. And one of them has recently started asking if I’d start training her in filmmaking.

Do you see yourself acting and being in filmmaking for the rest of your life?

Oh definitely! Once I made the decision to pursue this no matter the ups and downs that was it. I didn’t make that decision lightly and I meant it when I made it. That doesn’t mean I’ll never do other things, but this is my passion and what I will always do. I tell people “I’ll either reach my goals or I’ll die while working towards them” and I’m completely fine with that. I’d love to be like Clint Eastwood and still making films at an advanced age.

My father is a pastor and community leader back in Illinois. I remember, as a child, I once asked him about retirement. He smiled, then laughed, and said “Being a pastor is a calling, son, many of us don’t retire.” I feel the same way about my passion. Doing it until the day I finally fall over dead is exactly what I want for my life.

Do you have other family members who are also active in the arts? My mother is an amazing singer, musician, and actor (on the rare occasions she’s taken time out to act). She was the main choir director my whole life growing up and regularly brought people to tears when she sang on Sundays. The majority of my female cousins are also tremendous singers, I don’t say that lightly either. They could give any major star a run for their money but my cousins, and my mother, usually only sing gospel at churches.

That is contrasted with my father being very analytical, very well read, and always in leadership in some capacity. I think that I eventually found my passion when I found the blend of both of their abilities that was the perfect mix for me.

Also, my uncle was a member of the “Ohio Players” funk/soul group though I, honestly, never knew that until I was out of high school and in the Army. As a kid, I just knew him as Uncle Marvin from the times I saw him growing up.

What are your future plans regarding your acting career? My goal is to continue to climb up the ladder to where I can be a well-known and respected writer/director that also acts. I admire the career paths of people like Spike Lee, Jon Favreau, M. Night Shyamalan, Quentin Tarantino, Tyler Perry etc. I don’t think my career will be the same as theirs by any means but I’m more than fine with my career having similarities when it is all said and done.

What’s next for you? I’m currently making my first independent feature film as a director. I’ve made others in a variety of roles from doing sound to assistant directing, and even co-writing them but this is my first as the sole writer/director. Add to that the fact that I’m also the cinematographer and editor (among other hats) on it, and it is definitely taking the majority of my attention. We project to have it all in the can by May. It is a horror comedy film that involves Egyptian mythology and geeks/gamers verses the undead after an ancient magical book arrives at a small video game company. The title of it is “Lichlord Dan and the Fall of Man.”

If you could give advice to someone just starting off in the movie industry, what would it be? My first piece of advice would be what I was told initially when I asked the head of a theater program to give me advice after I was in my first play. “If you can do anything else, and still be happy, then do that. This is not an easy road. That said, if you love this so much that you KNOW nothing else would make you as happy as this then yes, pursue this. Just make sure you pursue it with as much as you can give.” One thing I say is that this is fun but it isn’t a game. This is your life you are playing with and there will be ups and downs that affect your life. If you love it then accept that and go for it! Beyond that I would say always, always, always, work to improve yourself every day. Try to learn or do something that advances you towards your goals every single day. It can be something as small, and simple, as practicing an enunciation exercise by saying tongue twisters for a couple minutes during a commercial break as you watch a show. Just be dedicated, and if you love it then work hard for it. You’ll be rewarded for that trust me. There is nothing like the confidence you get when you know how hard you’ve worked for something. ­­­­­­­­­­­­­

Photo Credits: Headshot photo: Courtesy of Pryde Pierce

Additional photo credits, Pat Trimmer, David James Heiss, Record Gazette, Gina Sedman, 48Film Festival, Dean Werner, 48 Hour Film Project Inland Empire, and Marc Schryer.

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