Hopping on the 'Bandwagon'

Paul Saitowitz

Known more for the demon-turned-mortal starlet Anya portrayed on the

cult-schlock TV show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," Emma Caulfield's

latest role is as a bit lesser known character -- herself.

The 31-year-old actress turned writer and executive producer will

play herself as the lead role in "Bandwagon," an improvised

mockumentary about her and her character's philanthropic project to

work with a developmentally disabled woman.

The film will debut today at 5:30 p.m. at the Lido Theater as part

of the Newport Beach Film Festival.

Caulfield's version of herself, while obviously adhering to some

similarities of her personality, is not a photo-realistic version of

the person she is. The character "Emma" is said to be an

internationally known megastar.

"It's subtle, but the role I'm playing is more of a [jerk]

celebrity that decides to change her image by documenting her

experiences with this person," she said. "She initially hires a crew

to follow her around as she fights for better farming practices, but

the course changes."

While using the developmentally disabled in a comedic way can come

off as vitriolic or sophomoric, "Bandwagon" takes a different

standpoint.

"People already have their prejudices when it comes to the

disabled, and their views are polarized," Caulfield said. "In this

film, Emma takes most of the brunt of this and in the end she learns

a lot."

The subject matter was a risk for someone who starred in shows

like "Buffy" and "Beverly Hills 90210," but creatively she felt it

was something she had to do.

Caulfield wrote the story, which was then turned into a shooting

script by director/actor Karri Bowman and co-producer Camilla

Rantsen.

"All the actors played themselves except for Karri Bowman, who

played Tabitha McTavish, the disabled character," Caulfield said.

"The cast was really good with all the improv and the responses we

have gotten so far have been really great."

The film, which was made for around $250,000, was shot over two

weeks on digital video.

"We had to shoot on DV because of all the takes we had to do with

the improv," she said. "It would have been way too expensive on film.

The digital look also helped add to the documentary feel that we were

going for."

After the showing at Newport, the goal is to build momentum and

continue to hit the festival circuit.

"We'd like to go the L.A. festival and keep the buzz going and

hopefully get some distribution," she said. "This has really been a

labor of love and I'd like to take it as far as it can go."

Caulfield is already underway on writing a new project, which she

has pitched to several Hollywood studios.

"Acting is not a priority for me right now ... I'm really into

writing and producing," she said. "Being on 'Buffy' gave me a lot of

leeway to spend time doing what I really want to do."

* PAUL SAITOWITZ is a news editor. He may be reached at (949)

574-4295 or by e-mail at paul.saitowitz@latimes.com.

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