The Matchmaker

Here’s a little video I had fun putting together to promote the show!

11 Things about 2011

It’s the last day of the year. We’ve been inundated with lists lately, so…’s a list of 11 highlights of 2011 for me:

  1. Street Scene: I was lucky enough to be a part of the (massive) ensemble that created a highly successful and beloved production of this Elmer Rice script. The cast included children and a dog and a couple dozen actors playing in an intimate (and, frankly, run down) theater. It was a huge show and we worked very hard to bring it together. Because of the the way in which we rehearsed, wherein many people watched other people’s scenes and we were mostly all there most of the time, we developed a great bond as a cast which went a long way to each of us individually, and collectively, owning this piece of theatre. I hope I’m lucky enough in 2012 to have a similar experience. I celebrated that show with several friends at the Ivey Awards where two statues were given out in relation to the production.
  2. The 3-Cent Stamp: I wrote, directed and edited a 1-minute “commercial” for inclusion in a local theatre’s mock production of Fargo. I had a blast putting this together and want to do more of this stuff in 2012.
  3. It’s not about the money: I got paid. Truthfully, it’s no one’s business but mine (and my agent’s) but a couple well paid gigs this year (primarily a single commercial) made 2011 one of the most profitable years for me as an actor. I’ve put it in savings for a rainy day. And while it’s never about money and there’s not a lot of it, especially in theatre, it’s nice to feel compensated for my time and talents.
  4. Testing my skills: I jumped in to a production of a full-length play that didn’t have a full-length rehearsal, and it tested most everything I know about acting, building a character and, in some instances, how to be a nice guy at rehearsals and not get bitchy. Next time I’ll be more prepared.
  5. Flexing my (imaginative) muscle: I once again joined a holiday show where in a single hour I had to play multiple characters, be funny, run my ass off and charm and ad lib a small group of strangers. And then do it all over again for the next group. And…once again for a third group. It was exhausting and exhilarating and fun, and made me enjoy performing.
  6. Inspirations: I was inspired by many things I saw this year on local stages, and one piece of theatre that keeps sticking with me in my head is Moving Company’s Come Hell and High Water. A beautiful, epic (true) story, done in bold imaginative ways and with the utmost attention to the minutiae of the characters’ lives and details. Steve Epp is one of the best actors I’ve ever seen work. This whole thing made me want to be a better, bolder theatre artist. I was also inspired by the depth of work that goes in to the making of a Scream Blue Murmur piece. I was fortunate to spend some time with these great folks whom I admire so much, and learned a bit more about their process. They’re not messing around. We should all be so diligent.
  7. The Silver Screen: I was twenty feet tall. The short film I shot last year was finished and had a sneak preview at the Twin Cities Film Festival. Seeing myself on the big screen was a bit surreal, especially since it focuses primarily on my character and I open and end the thing. It was exciting and makes me want to get to know the film community even better. (On a side note, the other day I discovered that the film is listed on IMDB, so subsequently I’m finally listed there too.)
  8. Disappointments: I wasn’t cast in many things, including one or two that I really wanted. But that’s to be expected. In one case I was sort of relieved to not be cast (even though I was a bit surprised.) I know this is all vague but why go into great details…I’m not naming names. Let’s just say that I was invited to audition for a play I hadn’t heard of but in researching it found it to be incredibly challenging and exciting. Done, for lack of a better word, correctly it could be an amazing and powerful piece of theatre. What I witnessed in the auditions and callbacks, particularly from the director and the choices she was making, was that this was not a stellar opportunity and in fact could be a complete train wreck. I debated for days whether I’d take the role when offered. I decided I wouldn’t because the “good enough” and lackluster approach I witnessed was…well, I guess it was challenging to my own standards and beliefs. (See Creed if you need to know more.) Yes, this probably makes me sound pompous. Of course, they didn’t cast me anyway. I unfortunately wasn’t able to see the show either due to my own work schedule, so I’m not sure how big that wreck may have been. I’m confident I made (or would’ve made) the right choice. It’s disappointing though because I think done right it could’ve made a huge splash on the theatre scene.
  9. 365 Images of 2011: I shot pictures. Lots and lot of pictures. I challenged myself to post a picture for each day (even if not posted every day.) I don’t think I’m going to make the goal, unless I take and choose another 30 or so in the next 5 hours. Nonetheless, I had fun doing it and found new and interesting images around me all the time. I think some even turned out to be good. I’ll probably add them here over the coming months.
  10. Nook: I read. A lot. Although I haven’t written about it I received a Nook for my birthday, and have subsequently doubled the number of books I’ve read. I never thought I’d have the capacity to read more than one book at a time, and keep things clear in my head about each one, but now…it’s only a matter of the mood I’m in when I crawl in to bed at night (that sounds so wrong, but it’s when I do most of my book reading) and I’ll have two or three different books going at a time. Super Sad True Love Story may have been my favorite of the year.
  11. What’s next: I imagined. I still have a small dream in the back of my head to make a film of The William Williams Effect. I know nothing about making a movie, truly, but I know some people who do. I’ve been thinking of taking a stab at putting together a film script version this winter. (Note to self: talk to co-writer.) Recently while driving through the rolling Iowa fields (strangely empty of snow for December) and listening to a Mumford and Sons album I was struck with some images of what the film might incorporate and how it might feel and flow. I think I’ll make it a longer term goal, but plan to find a project or two to write and shoot this coming year, as practice, as learning the craft of filmmaking, in preparation for what might come next with that story.

My Editing Challenge

The video is shot and the voice over recorded. I spent several hours today going over the materials and started piecing things together. It’s not going to be easy.

Not surprisingly there are too many ideas, too many details that I want in there. I find it hard to edit myself.

This isn’t new. I think I’ve always worked this way. Years ago, even twenty-some years ago, when I put together my first original piece I had a hard time eliminating parts. My cohorts on that project had to push me to edit, to simmer things down to the essential and important elements.

What moves this forward? What doesn’t?

And then years after that, still several years ago today, I had a number of struggles with my fellow-creators when we were producing original adaptations. I struggled with cutting things down. I did it though (and once did it very painfully) but I did it.

I think I can squeeze this thing together and make it work. Knowing what I know now I wish I’d shot some other specific footage, or perhaps gone about the process differently.

Still, I can make it work. It’s all in the magic of editing.

Edit later

The other day I started outlining ideas for that new play. Yesterday I mailed off the Fringe application, and have only to wait for the drawing. And today I started working on one of those other projects, writing a draft for a short video I hope to shoot next weekend.

It felt good to just sit down, focus on something and get it down on the page. I wouldn’t say it’s done (and in fact I’m in need of a way to button it at the end) but I feel fairly good about it for a first run.

I realized while writing it that I can change things later. I just needed to get things down, on paper. Don’t edit myself. Put it out there, and shape it later.

This is different than I feel I often work on things, which is cautiously, carefully and very intentionally. Almost editing as I go. I wonder if perhaps my daily photo experiment, now in its fourth week, (along with some other day-job work related projects) is forcing me to make decisions more quickly, and is having an effect on how I’m working?

I wonder how, or if, it impacts the final results.

Whatever it is, it’s the kind of energizing activity I needed.

48-Hours: I’d do it again

I just stumbled upon a posting about a 24-Hour Film project and it reminded me of my experience on the 48-Hour Film Project a couple years ago. .

I was dragged in to it by a friend – one of those friends I’ve worked with many times, who every time he needs a hand with some project he turns to me, and I invariably say “sure.” The final result is often satisfying, even if the journey there can be some crazy hodge-podge of activities, such as rehearsing at 11:30 @ night, building air-cannons and testing them by shooting various stuff, getting kicked out of the Mall of America or just simply accidentally deleting two weeks worth of video editing and finally understanding the moment of being really upset and saying “I think I’m going to throw up” and meaning it.

Our film project was truly a group effort, where we had two writers, a graphic designer to do the titles and credits, professional directors, all our actor friends, and perhaps most importantly, a producer who happened to have a private studio built in to her garage (which doubled as a studio and editing room) and an adjacent lot that included a park and pond for all our outdoor scenes. 

It was one of the most exhausting weekends of my life, but the intensity and focus on the work was inspirational. I wouldn’t say it was any of our best work, and it’s not something to be done more than once a year, but it’s something we looked back on fondly and know that the next time, we’ll know how to do it better.