From the Dim Lights of Youngstown to the Bright Lights of California
As the youngest of three kids, Gerry Mogg spent most of his time by himself with his imagination. His interest in acting emerged from both the loneliness and chaos of his childhood and the environments he created to cope.
Mogg attended Youngstown State University from 1974-1979 as a theater major to earn his bachelor’s degree in fine arts. It was where he started his acting career before moving to San Francisco to pursue theater.
“I had an ongoing dialogue with the dean to increase the amount of theater courses available for evening classes. Not much was ever done in that regard. Hence, clawing, biting and scratching to get whatever I could,” Mogg said.
The theater department was a very close-knit group of people. It was headed by William Hulsopple.
“There was always a strong sense of quality and commitment for years in the theater department at Youngstown State University,” he said.
However, internal issues started to make their way into the department.
“It became very clear that Hulsopple was being slowly forced out,” Mogg said. “He was also no longer directing shows at Youngstown State University, and that was not by choice.”
This led to most of the core students doing shows outside of YSU and working with Hulsopple at other theaters.
“It was a very tumultuous time for the theater department at Youngstown State University, and the quality of training and productions began to spiral downward,” Mogg said.
While still in the area, Mogg appeared in an assortment of shows at the Youngstown Playhouse and the North Side Community Theater.
“I subsequently moved to the San Francisco Bay area to pursue theater and to train at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, while taking on a variety of roles in theater productions,” Mogg said.
Mogg then spent the next four plus years in improvisational theater in offspring companies from The Flash Family Improv Group of San Francisco.
“My desire to return to traditional theater landed me in a two-year stint working with Jean Sheldon,” he said. “She was the youngest of the original Method Actors Studio group.”
Mogg became more interested in producing, directing and writing. While still working in theater, he started attending workshops in Los Angeles and San Francisco over the next several years trying to hone his skills in those areas.
“In 1996, I produced my first play while also acting in the show,” he said. “My theater professor and friend William Hulsopple flew out to the San Francisco Bay area to direct “Modigliani,” my first theater production.”
Mogg then produced several one-act plays he had written before transitioning into filmmaking.
During this period, he began to teach acting and directing workshops after realizing through directing shows, that he had the ability to help actors and young directors more easily understand character development and balance with both acting and directing concepts along with script analysis.
“The teaching continued up untill about three years ago with an increased focus on admission auditions,” Mogg said. “My last three students gained admission into Juilliard [School], Carnegie Mellon [University], and Studio 46 of Vancouver.”
Mogg would spend the next two years writing his first full length feature, “Silent Alarm.” Within six months after the script’s completion, filming began.
“My role consisted of producer, co-director, screenwriter and principle lead actor,” he said.
Filming took more than a year and postproduction took more than two years. “Silent Alarm” was submitted to the several major film festivals, including: the Sundance Film Festival, the Caanes Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival. However, it wasn’t selected.
During the distribution phase of “Silent Alarm,” Mogg went back to the theater directing and producing two more plays, “Same Time Next Year” and “Snakebit.”
“I am currently writing my next feature, ‘Right Turn’ — a political farce — and it is to be filmed sometime in 2014-2015,” he said. “I’m also considering directing another theater production as well.”
Mogg still lives and works in the San Francisco Bay area. Since he still has ties with Youngstown, he comes back every summer to visit family and friends.