Best-Friendship: New Clea DeCrane Project, 'Can't/Won't' Demystifies the BFF Relationship

Us girls/ladies are a wonderful and complicated bunch (to say the very least) and the friendships between us can be some of the most rewarding, emotionally safe, and cherished connections we ever experience.

Throughout my life, I know that my (close) friendships with women have been far more intense and subject to periodic tension than have my friendships with men. Yet, for a few exceptions (my husband being one of them), most of my closest friends have been female.

American films, whether they are comedies or dramas, regularly depict the masculine “buddy” relationship. Far less often are we offered movies that honestly explore and celebrate the female “best-friendship” (my word?). Their potential for unbridled glee, profound pain, and utter confusion is, in comparison, fairly untapped in a world of Butches and Sundances. However…

My longtime student Clea DeCrane is doing her part to fill the void!

She and her best friend and collaborator, Molly-Margaret Johnson, have co-written the short film, Can’t/Won’t, which explores the trials and tribulations of a pair of best girlfriends who, without intention, have developed an unhealthy dependence on one another. The movie is about how they try to save their friendship, without sacrificing their personal sanity. (Ahem, girls – you know we have all been there!) Johnson will direct and Clea will co-star with Actress Annapurna Sriram (Showtime’s Billions). I can’t wait to see this film, and support Clea!

To bring their project to the screen, Clea and Molly-Margaret have begun a funds-raising campaign on Kickstarter, which gives a peek into their vision and their spirit.

They have passed the halfway point and need that push to reach their goal. Please check out their Kickstarter page, page and help them get their movie made. Every little bit counts!

Clea DeCrane is easily one of the most talented actresses I have ever had the privilege of working with in my classes. Her work is consistently honest, intelligent, brave and poignant. Her career is one to ABSOLUTELY follow. She’s going to do great things and this is just the beginning.

When you read her bio below, you will understand why I am so insanely proud of her and how seriously she has taken her craft. I’m thrilled about the learning and performing opportunities she’s exploring and so completely deserves.

About Clea DeCrane

As far as she can remember, Clea DeCrane always wanted to tell stories and growing up in Los Angeles to screenwriter parents, this passion was supported from a young age. When she was five, she started school in a Spanish immersion program.  “That's when my love of language began to blossom: how phrases could or could not translate. How suddenly I could express myself only in a word in Spanish but not English.  I started playing the trumpet and learning music – another language altogether.  Later, I started learning French. A new language: a new key to a new world. More stories.” 

Acting came later. Through high school she took studio classes with me, and then flew east to pursue a BFA degree in acting at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. At Rutgers, she studied with Kevin Kittle, Barbara Marchant, and Deborah Hedwall. Through college, she traveled to Paris and studied with French dramaturge Simon Chemama, and to London to study with Tim Carroll at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre.  

Last May, after graduation, she moved to New York City to pursue a career in theatre and has since performed in EST’s Metrocards, in Lynn Nottage’s Las Meninas with The New Brooklyn theatre, and in The Flea Theater's 'but i cd only whisper.’ She is now currently understudying the role of Nina in the Off-Broadway play Stupid F**cking Bird at The Pearl Theater. 



Camille Umoff

This girl….

I want to be careful that I don’t sound jaded because I’m really not. However, I’ve spent my entire life in the world of show business; growing up in an “industry” family, acting professionally for over thirty years, and teaching and coaching for the last ten of those. So I think it’s fair to say, it is a rare and sublime experience to have my breath taken away by a performer whom I know personally. 

Especially when that performer is my thirteen year-old student.

It’s not that I don’t know a lot of monstrously talented people. I know plenty - and my respect for their talent and expertise is beyond measure. But… there is that thing that (sometimes) happens with familiarity…when you know the person really, really well: their habits, tricks and idiosyncrasies, it’s very hard to be genuinely surprised by their work, let alone transported.

I have worked with Camille Umoff as her acting coach for the last four years. When she first attended my class, she was eleven years old and although she was extremely focused, she was, at the time, very intimidated by the other, slightly older students whom she judged (mistakenly) as better than she. Camille was, as we say, too much “in her own head” and almost paralyzed with worry over not being great. Most of us can relate to that, I know I can.

Around this same time, I also started to work with her privately in person or via Skype and had the pleasure of helping her prepare for the roles she played in her community/school plays and musicals. You know how it goes with youth theatre programs and Junior High and High School theatre - students play roles of all ages and this was no different. At eleven, she played Nancy in "Oliver", she was Mama Rose in "Gypsy" at twelve and, as a thirteen-year-old high school freshman, she played Velma Kelly in "Chicago". I saw her performances in all of the above productions.

How is it possible for a kid so young to pull off roles of stature and sophistication with such ease and know-how? I honestly am not sure, but you have to trust me that this girl did.

And she took my breath away. 

Here is a clip from the 2014 Santa Barbara High School production of “Chicago” with a then thirteen-year-old freshman Camille Umoff as Velma Kelly, performing “I Can’t Do It Alone”. 

(Camille is fifteen now and just performed as the leading player in SBHS production of "Pippin", and will be starring in "Spring Awakening" for the Santa Barbara Theatre Initiative for Young Adults in early January 2016.)

If you are interested in private coaching sessions with Hallie Todd, visit our Private Coaching page.

Congratulations to Christina!

To say that I saw this coming would be a huge understatement.

I am so excited (!!!) to share with you that my former student, Christina Scherer, is making her film debut opposite Anne Hathaway and Robert DeNiro in Nancy Meyers', The Intern, which opens today in theatres nationwide.

Even as a young teenager she was a dedicated artist and a very special talent, so it is no shock to me that she is enjoying a true red carpet moment right now. This is very well deserved and will, no doubt, be the first of many!

The Mooring released

Our suspense thriller feature film The Mooring has been released!

The Mooring is available on DVD, digital download, streaming and Video-on-Demand on sites like, Walmart, iTunes, Netflix, Redbox and more. For a list of retailers, please visit The Mooring website.

The Mooring stars Hallie Todd, Thomas Wilson Brown and ten actors cast from the workshops and classes at Hallie Todd Studios.

Please like the film on Facebook!

THE MOORING Coming to DVD February 19

In House Media, Inc.'s feature film THE MOORING, which stars eleven Hallie Todd Studios students, ten in lead roles, will be available in North America on DVD, Digital Download and Video on Demand on February 19, 2013.

Visit The Mooring news blog for more information on ordering from other retailers.

You can like the film on Facebook as well to stay up-to-date with all of our latest announcements.

Congratulations to our students who starred in the film, all of whom attended either our Spokane or Los Angeles classes:

Karli Blalock
Anna Goodwin
Larissa Hayden
Lilli Hendrickson
Erin McIntosh
Olivia Meyer
Hailee Naccarato
Jessica Pepeli
Katie Simpson
Brooklyn Tate
Clark Perry

Stay tuned for information about our 2013 classes!