Harmonic Duo: An Interview with Maggie Baird and Finneas O'Connor

March 25, 2014   |   posted in Filmmakers


Maggie Baird and Finneas O’Connor star together in “Life Inside Out,” a story of the shared musical awakening of a mother and her disaffected teenage son. The film just finished its run at the CIFF, but filmgoers on Monday got two wonderful surprises. First, Baird and O’Connor performed on the Grand Staircase by the Fountain after their screening, in a delightful last-minute addition to the scheduled musical acts. As for the second surprise…

CIFF: So you are actual mother and son?
Maggie Baird: Yeah, we are. Finneas is sixteen now. He had just turned fifteen when we shot the film.

CIFF: What was the inspiration for the film?
MB: The film started because, like in the movie, I had a struggling teenage son – it’s not autobiographical, but I also had put away music for many years, and I took songwriting back up again and started doing open-mic nights with friends, including my co-writer, and along the way Finneas started singing as well. He would go with us to the open-mic nights, and very quickly was writing amazing songs, and finding that music was the most important thing to him, so that inspired the story.

CIFF: You got to perform today out in the Fountain area. How was that?
Finneas O’Connor: That was really cool. As a performer, I just kind of love any chance I get to be onstage. It’s always great to perform to people who have never heard you. And I’m in Cleveland, so yeah, no one had ever heard me before, which is great.
MB: Finneas has a band in L.A. called “the Slightlys,” so today he was doing more of his solo stuff, which is kind of fun because usually he’s up with a whole band doing rock’n’roll.

CIFF: So, would you say that you’re an actor first, or a musician first?
FO: Musician first, but I love anything that I get to perform. I dance, and I act. But yeah, musician first.
MB: I suppose I’m probably a mom first, at this point in my life, and have been for sixteen years, and I’m an actor, and a screenwriter, and a songwriter, and I’m an aerialist—I do wear a lot of hats!

CIFF: Is it your first time in Cleveland, or have you been through here before?
FO: It’s my first time, yeah.
MB: It’s my first time, too, which is shocking, because I started in regional theater, so I worked in a lot of cities—Cincinnati—and I toured a lot. I don’t think I was ever in Cleveland, so this has been really fun. We took in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Christmas Story Museum. Sadly, we have to leave tomorrow, so we got to be here for our two screenings and see a bunch of other movies, and have very little sleep, but we feel like we really got a taste of Cleveland, and it’s pretty cool.

CIFF: What is your advice to someone who is just starting out in the business?
FO: (laughing) I am just starting out in the business.
MB: I think the main thing you should have, as a filmmaker, is a story you want to tell. I think if you really have a story that you believe in . . . then that will inform everything you do. If you’re in it for different reasons, then you’re going to have different complications that arise, but if you are really focused on story, it’ll keep your path much clearer. As an actor… learn your craft, try to stay real, and get brave, and do improv, and be aware, and take chances, and say yes. That would be my big advice for everything: filmmaking, songwriting, acting… just say yes. Say yes, and go do it. Get up on stage, sing, somebody asks you to go onstage in Cleveland, do it. Somebody asks you to get up and improvise a scene… whatever crazy thing it is, just do it, say yes.

Interview by Lara Klaber

PDF  Download Related PDF [1.1 MB]

Related Screenings:
03/23/14 @ 4:50 PM – Life Inside Out
03/24/14 @ 12:15 PM – Life Inside Out

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