Chew Chew Chew

One thing I have learned about myself over the years is that I am akin, in spirit and chewing abilities at the very least, to a cow. Ruminent animals have a second stomach of sorts, designed to ferment and continue to digest food.

I don't do this with breads or meats however, but with thoughts. Way too much introspection at times. Way too much.

So, the husband and I have this project going on. We are producing a short film loosely inspired from the mumblecore genre, and completely improvised. The subject is "a closing night party of an improvised show" and the characters the actors played were approximately 5 degrees off themselves and created in warm ups. We moved from Julie and Andy and Audrey to Jessica and Ferdi and Devon who of course ALSO had characters they'd played onstage in "the play". Additionally, I was also playing the real time producer so there were at least four roles bouncing around in my head

(It got a little confusing at times, trying to figure out when the improvising stopped. It was disorienting on at least one occasion, but then I am prone to disorientating in situations like that.)

I think the night, overall, went really really well. We got lots of really sweet footage, some grounded scenework, and fodder for more scenes and combinations of characters.

Some things I ruminated on during the night-

1)Doing a big night like that again, I'd choose not to act but just produce/AD so that Chris could feel more focused. Also? Just too confusing for me personally, trying to be in a character and then break it and figure out what I might need to do. It felt like being half in/half out all the time and I never felt as connected to the players as I wanted to, I couldn't totally give into a character as a few others did. And we needed more crew. We had ROCKSTARS for our crew, but I think having a few more hands would have probably a) helped their experience not be quite as tiring, and b) just added more support in general.

2)We need better equipment. God, how film is a gear heavy and pricey venture. This is when being teh wealthy would be awesome.

3) Improv is pretty magical when it's up on a real stage, but damn it's got some weirdly therapeutic personal aspects to it when it's in a room on it's own. I had a few moments last night where I was me but also Jessica but looking in some kind of inner mirror and not liking what I saw in the character, and then arguing with Julie about just allowing it to be what it was, and I could see the Producer part of me trying to wrest back control because it was 8 pm and we needed pizzas and where was Chris and the lighting was all jacked up......

Also, Improv has been used, interpersonally, in many arenas like Playback Theater and in group therapy sessions, so some of the stuff happening wasn't entirely unfamiliar, but I was caught off guard a few times, not only by my own reactions but how I could see these sides of people I'd not seen before. Real or memorex, I don't know. I hope it wasn't too disconcerting for anyone else, or that if it was, it was nice and chewy and they got good personal stuff out of it.

(Typically here, and this is where my own rumination comes in...see how I'm worried about everyone's experience rather than just letting them worry about it themselves and talk to me about as they need? Good quality? Maybe. Maybe just based out of too much personal fear of chaos or need for control or worry about relationships. Bleah.....Jessica did that too, the bitch.)

4)Relationships of any kind = potential drama.

5)I tend to play likeable characters but last night my character DID not like herself all that much, and I didn't get the impression that she was all that liked by a few other characters. Weirdly, there were several other actors playing characters that seemed like real jerks which she did not like at all. Playing in that uncomfortable space is harder for me than some of my peers, I think. I would like to take more risks and allow that tension to just be (and yes of course I know there are old school reasons for my safety go to characters, it was just surprising to confront that last night). It's all good though, because none of us are likeable all the time,and one thing Chris wanted was the willingness for characters to be difficult or unlikeable. So, win.

7) I continue to be, irritatingly, really hard on myself and need to cut it the fuck out.

6) There were two characters that popped up that were just so adorable and real to me that I didn't want my scenes to end with them. The feelings they brought out in me (Jessica? Who the fuck knows anymore) were really lovely and the actors playing them were so open to it. It was really magical to watch them.

7) We have a shit ton of work to do to continue building the story out of the stories.

8) The warm up games I adapted from familiar improv exercises worked wonderfully to build an elaborate world of a theater company, the people in it, relationships, secrets, feelings, fears, irritation and love. I was pretty proud of my direction during that part of the night, and that this incredible world came out of some awesome people and simple exercises.

9) Our peers and friends who participated last night were so fucking game to try it. To play. To create. They just jumped in and rolled with it and did some super super work. Whether it was them being themselves, a few degrees off, both at the same time...they were inspiring to me for their willingness to go there and take some risks. I'm surrounded by good teachers.

10) Chris is awesome. End of story.

I'm tired of chewing, though. This last month has been filled with it and in pretty much every area of my life. It might be time to just not chew, not digest, hell not even eat for a bit. Just enjoy.

Does anyone out there think I'm even capable of that? Don't answer that question and I'll promise not to write another blog post about it. For a few days at least.


  1. That sounds awesome! If you need help in the future, you know you can always holler at me...

  2. What a cool project! And how awesome that you and Chris are working on it together.


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