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Field Of Vision Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

This is an interview with Faith Ford on June 6, 2011 about the television film Field Of Vision. Faith plays Jody McFarland, a mother and high school guidance counselor who helps a young man find answers to the missing pieces of his life. Field of Vision, the sixth movie in the P&G and Wal-Mart Family Movie Night initiative, airs on Saturday, June 11 on NBC.

Field Of Vision

Question:
You've done a variety of film and television. How was the transition from acting to producing your own film, the Escapee?

Faith Ford:
When I'm hired as an actress, especially in a lead role like Field of Vision, you should take the responsibility almost like a producer does, because you're kind of at the head of the ship. So you take full responsibility from the time you sign on until the end, which is like being a producer. But producing is actually very much a lot to do with behind the scenes and a lot of work entailed that isn't on camera. Acting is simply on camera, doing your job, and then when you're done, sometimes your other responsibility's to do interviews and stuff like this. So it's just a little bit more, as a producer.

Question:
Could you talk about the role and kind of what drew you to this project?

Faith Ford:
I actually was bullied when I was a young girl a bit, and so I found the subject matter very enticing. Also being involved with Wal-Mart and P&G and the fact that they want to do family films is also in my wheelhouse, because most of my work has been stuff that the family could watch. So I was really proud to be involved with them. And the message of bullying is very important, you know. Kids get bullied in many different ways, it's not always just physically. It can sometimes just be emotionally bullied. And I believe that kids should feel like they should speak out. So playing a guidance counselor that could protect kids in school was an interesting way of portraying a giver and a rescuer, as it were.

Question:
With this TV movie being on NBC, do you think it's a sign that the TV movie might be making a comeback on network TV?

Faith Ford:
Do you remember kind of the Wonderful World of Disney movies, those kind of really great stories that everybody gets in on, which visits the day of one big screen TV in each family again, which is the way we all started. Then it broke up to everybody had TVs in their rooms, that's where it all became separate. Now, if Hollywood is listening and watching, they'll see that real people in middle America have theaters now, with big screens in them. They have little theater rooms, like a little mini movie room. So it's gone back to everybody watching again together.

That's why I think it's important to have this again. And hopefully it will be the day of the TV movie again, as long as it's nothing like the dramas where it's like "You stole my daughter" and I've done my share of those. I don't think those are as appealing to the whole family as movies like this.

Question:
What would you say was the most challenging thing about this role for you?

Faith Ford:
I felt guilty. I felt like I was taking money to have fun. I mean really, seriously, I loved the kids in this movie. I loved my husband, I loved all the producers behind the scenes, I loved being in Atlanta, all the people from Wal-Mart. I mean, it really was so fun, it didn't even feel like work.

So it wasn't, to me, that challenging, because I mean, I've worked a lot harder, a lot longer hours, and the fact that I wasn't sort of being chased by something and crying all the time and depressed, that made it more pleasurable too. I don't really like doing heavy-duty dramas like that because those are draining for me. I like comedies, I like things with a message like this, and things with heart. And this sort of fit the bill on the message and the heart. So I hope everybody will watch it for that reason.

Question:
What would you say was the most memorable moment for you that stands out in your mind from this film?

Faith Ford:
Well, obviously, when they won the championship. I loved when the young kid gets back to his father. I mean, Cory, when he gets back to his father and we get him back to his little brother I just wanted to just squeeze him through the television. It was just the best. But obviously when they won the championship at the end, the game - the final game was such a great moment for the Cory character, my son, Tony Oller, in the movie as well it had a happy ending. So to me, that was my favorite moment of the movie.

Question:
How important is it for you to be in a movie like this, which is suitable for the whole family?

Faith Ford:
What's taking so long? That's where I come from. Because, I mean, this is the way I was raised. I mean, I love to watch movies. I think they used to air one something like on Sunday nights or something, and that was one of my favorite things to do, sort of after church or whatever. And I don't know, it's just simple stories like Sounder, Where the Red Fern Grows, and those kind of movies it's a modern-day version of that. So I really do look forward to more of this.

I think it's just important. And it shouldn't be self-righteous, it shouldn't be hitting you over the head, which this does not. It just gives you a little problem and then you have a solution at the end. We're not curing cancer here. Although I think that sometimes good messages can be very healing, I just think we're entertaining and I think that's what I set out to do in my career. If I can make someone laugh, if I can make them feel good, touch their heart in some way, then I've done my job, you know?

Question:
You mentioned bullying earlier. What do you think Field of Vision offers young people in a similar situation as Tony's character?

Faith Ford:
It helps you in the sense of Tony's character, I mean he stepped out of the box. He walks away from his group, his clique, I mean he's one of the most popular kids in school and he steps up for this guy and he does the right thing. If more kids would do that when they see it, it would probably stop, you know?

When the popular kids see it I remember when I was running for cheerleader when I was in high school, I got a really nasty note in my locker. It said if you run for da-ta-da-da-da, I'm going to da-ta-da-da-da, and it was just not a nice thing to do. And it scared me, and that to me is my version of bullying when I was in high school. And I was strong enough to sort of do it anyway, because my mom was a schoolteacher and she said, "Don't even let that bother you." But for kids who don't get that and they back down from who they are, and it's sort of great that you can have a mentor that will step up for you like Tony's character does for Joe Adler's character in this movie.

Question:
Do you believe that television today needs to have more movies like this with positive messages and addressing issues such as bullying, which is a serious problem today?

Faith Ford:
I believe issues on a positive issue movies, that give you an issue that's current, that help give you a solution that ends with you having hope with some sort of positive solution, is mandatory in our society right now. We need as much positive hope as we can. We get so much negative, negative stuff from the media, I hate to say. I can see why they do it, but to have something to escape to that gives you hope is crucial. It's absolutely crucial.

Question:
Is there a role that you haven't played yet that you would love to play?

Faith Ford:
I don't dream for roles, I dream for the right thing that comes my way. So I just continue to hope for good characters, good roles that I can be proud of, that once I'm gone, they'll outlive me in a positive way. It's not like I'm looking to play in the next Shakespeare play in Shakespeare in the Park or anything like that, I don't have those kind of goals and aspirations. My life is very important to me, living in Louisiana, being with my Mom, I got to spend time with my Dad before he passed away. Those are my priorities and whatever falls into my lap that goes along with my life and keeping my life quality, that's what I like to go for.

Question:
Is there something you do just health-wise, or exercise, just to stay healthy and positive these days?

Faith Ford:
I don't want to make anyone sick, but I have had so many health issues in the younger years of my life. I had Graves' Disease when I was younger, I was severely anemic when I was young because I was a skinny little thing, not my fault, it's just the way I was made. But once I made a commitment to get myself healthy and strong and I started doing weights and stuff when I was about the first season of Murphy Brown is when I started working out with weights, and I had a trainer.

And then my husband actually used to be a trainer so we work out together every day that we can. Exercise is very important for my brain as well as my long-term body structure. And then I love to eat fresh fruit and vegetables and healthy grains and proteins and things like that. I just love healthy food, and I love tasty food too, it can be healthy and tasty too. Because I'm from Louisiana, we like to throw down on the food situation.

Question:
What do you think about getting just a little bit in your 40s in Hollywood?

Faith Ford:
It doesn't at all affect me, actually. They keep trying to say, "What's the new 40, what's the new 50?" I don't know, I just live my life and I try to look good for my age as much as I can. I try to take care of myself, not that I'm obsessed with the way I look or anything, I just know that if I do this, that and the other, A, B leads to C, and that's what I do. And it's all one day at a time anyway, you know?

Question:
It sounds like you said that you think that the message appeals to teens in terms of telling them to kind of stand against the crowd and combat bullying and things that they think are wrong. Do you think that the film can appeal to other audiences such as adults, or do you think teens are the ones who walk away with the main message?

Faith Ford:
I think that adults probably deal with it too. It doesn't go away. I mean, if you look at it that way, but absolutely, I mean, adults who have teens, adults that have kids that are being bullied, it would appeal to because it may give them some tools that they can use to help their kids and stuff. But look, hey, I think adults deal with this sometimes in the workplace in an emotional level, psychological level. But it is really geared toward teens, to be honest. I think that they deal with it more.

Question:
What is your favorite thing about the character that you play in the movie and do you think that you share any similar features to her?

Faith Ford:
The fact that she cares sometimes too much, yeah I share that with her. It's a yin and yang thing about that for me, because I sometimes don't believe you can care too much. If you care too much at the point that you put yourself aside, yes. But I think you should never stop caring about other people. I think it keeps you selfless. It's better to be selfless than selfish, as long as you don't cross the line. And I think that what I have in common with her is that she knows that it's not about her every day.

It's about helping these kids, and the day that I wake up and I think it's all about me is the day that I need to get up on the other side of the bed and get my head on straight. So in that way, I share a commonality with her. I love talking to people and if I can give them any kind of tips that I might have had experience with, then I love to do that. And I think she does too.

Question:
Being from the South, have you noticed lately that more films and TV shows are centering and being filmed around the South now?

Faith Ford:
Yes, because we love movies down here. I'm in Louisiana, we love entertainment. It's the thing, it's what we thrive on. They do it in Atlanta, it's the same thing. It's the same spirit as in New Orleans. We nurture the arts, we really do, between our music, our love of food, we're always creating. There's nothing else to do, so you might as well create.

Question:
Could you elaborate a little bit on Escapee and talk about that?

Faith Ford:
I'm just proud of it because I produced it and we produced it in my hometown, in Alexandria, Louisiana. We did our own financing here and everything, it was a great group of people and it's a thriller with no gratuitous violence, nudity or profanity, which is something that we kind of all just get tired of. It's more like a classic sort of Hitchcock-type thriller. I just kind of want to prove that you can do all these different kinds of genres of movies and it doesn't have to just sort of gross you out and make you sick and make you freak. And it can still be very, very scary.

So it's a new way of doing it but it still caters to young people, sort of the same age group as this one. So it's something that I'm proud of and we're going to do other kinds of movies as well. You know, more of in the lines of this type movie that I just did and comedies and things, so we look forward to doing more in the future.

Question:
Do you have a Web site where fans can go online and keep track of your projects and what you're doing?

Faith Ford:
My sister has one for me, I have to post it. I do Twitter, so if you do Faith_Ford, as soon as I get it up and stuff, you can check me on that.

Question:
What led to you writing a cookbook?

Faith Ford:
I started cooking when I moved to New York. When I was 17, 18, I started cooking on a hot plate in my hotel room because I missed my home food so much. I'm sharing that little secret with you. So I've been cooking from the day that I left home. And I started cooking when I was 11, I was in home economics Future Homemakers of America, FHA, and so I just loved to cook. My Mom had me on her hip from the time I was a baby, and she said that's the only way she got me to stop crying was to hold me, so she held me while she cooked.

I can think that that's probably the reason I love food so much. But I was also very picky, which as a result made me very, very skinny. As a little child, I wouldn't eat just anything. And then as I got older, I ate everything. And then I got Graves' Disease when I started on Murphy Brown and then I found out a whole other thing with health stuff and I was, like, I just don't want to be unhealthy ever again in my life, I'm going to get this together. Well I started working out, exercising, doing weights, eating more protein, vegetables, fruits, and I will absolutely never change that, you know.

And the reason Mind Body Balance came along was Kraft approached me about it and I'm just really proud of it because I learn things every episode. And I also spread information to other people about how to grow vegetables. I wish people would grow more stuff because it's fun to do and my Mom's taught me how to do it. The next thing I want to do is start canning and stuff. And I did the cookbook while I was doing Hope & Faith, the first season. And I did it to get my Mom to put down and preserve her mother's recipes, some of my Aunt's recipes, and my own. And so that's what we did that for.

Question:
Do you bring food to the set for people?

Faith Ford:
I've done it in the past, yes I have. I didn't do it on Field of Vision but I meant to do it. We were going to do something on the last day or two but we ran out of time. Alyssa and I were going to have a little quesadilla cooking contest. But it's definitely the way I stay grounded and it's just I prefer eating my own food than sometimes eating at restaurants. I hate to say it because it creates more work for myself but you like it, you like it. I know what goes into it. I pick all my vegetables. I pick my fruit, I pick my meat, I fix everything so therefore I know everything that goes into my food. That's why I like cooking it.

Question:
Have you ever been on a set that had bullying? And don't you think that it's up to the adults to establish the tone, because you had a lot of younger people working on this set?

Faith Ford:
It's up to adults to listen and watch, and you can notice any kind of weird signs, introverted characteristics that your kids might be having. I know I was bullied when I was a little girl and I came right home and told my Mom and she was a teacher. She went right into it and fixed the problem. But a lot of parents don't know what to do and really it's about the parents do have to be courageous on their own right and stand up for their kids if their kids come home and tell them.

But if the kid says don't tell anybody, and that happened to me. Later she came to the rescue once, and then later I said I want to deal with it myself. And she said, "Well this is what you do." And she helped give me the tools. So either counsel your kids, if your kids don't want to talk to you about it, encourage them to talk. I had certain teachers that I could feel safe to talk to, a guidance counselor, something like that. But just don't keep it in, because it's not worth it, you know.

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