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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Stuck on "act one..."

I'm staring off at the wood grain of my desk, with droopy eyelids, even my cats are sleepier than I am.

I'm stuck in the twilight zone of "act two," for lack of better terminology. I find the classic act structure rather confining, but it's an easy way to refer to sections of a script. I've had the first part of the three sisters-porn star dad idea pretty much ready to go for a while now. I just don't know where to take it. I'm attempting some exercises I learned while consuming as many playwriting classes as I could take while in college with the amazing Suzan Zeder: make up as many possible endings as you can, and make them as wild as you can make them. Or even better: write the area like you were another playwright. I find this one really frees up some choices. I did one at the time as Irene Maria Fornes and I did not recognize myself in what came out. Try it, you writers out there, if you have not already. It's really a great liberating exercise.

Making choices when writing is a mini death. Some things survive, others must be buried. But choosing what is executed and what remains alive is very stressful. The "what ifs" are almost constant. A director's power is in the decisions they make, I would say about 98% of the time (the other 2% is luck or lack there-of.) When one is writing what they will end up directing, there is the added pressure of making sure you are choosing the right thing. But how do you know? When you are behind the nimble keypad, while the rest of the world is asleep, and you are the only one pushing yourself forward, ignoring your internal clock, where do you go? At the end of the day (or night), what tidy little inn will you find yourself in, tucked away, trying to sleep, while the muse complains constantly about the poor executed creative nymphs she has dumped on your plate? One's stomach is only so big.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

New Project, New Ideas, Old Habits

Now that the house moving and renovation has settled a bit (kinda), I have resolved to start blogging a bit more regularly about another feature I'm working on. Right now, it's a black comedy (why do I keep gravitating to these things!!) about three sisters and their old ex-porn star dad. I have other ideas in the works, as usual, but resources and time and life's realities make this most likely to be the best option for me right now. Not that I'm complaining, this is a really fantastic idea and when I talk about it to others, it always gets a good chuckle.

I started the initial idea while drinking wine after a late night catering shift almost a year ago. I was alone in my apartment. Things were pleasantly quiet as I typed away on my old Mac laptop. I started it as a fiction project, but it soon became something more than that. With some occasional revisits this last year, I have decided tonight to begin looking it over again after this several month "house-hiatus" I like to call it. My challenge as always is to put everything aside and give myself uninterrupted time (no kitties on laps, no text messaging, no checking email, no rendering something on some other film project) to truly focus on this exploratory phase. What is this story about? Who is it about? Why am I telling it?

My mind keeps wandering to method and technique as opposed to what I should be writing about. I tend to do that as a director and filmmaker, probably because most of my filmmaking time is using technology to capture and create things, rather than just raw story telling without the use of a computer. I will be crafting story over the next few months, working with actors who don't mind being part of the development process and me showing a cheap camera in their faces to capture the scenes we shoot together. Reading a script is one thing. Seeing it even on a crappy camera is another thing entirely, but provides invaluable insight into what is and isn't working.

I do know this: this is like athletic training. One has to give focused immediate attention and effort now, even after a long hard day's work, even when tired after taking care of all your other domestic and work chores, even when everything else in the world is competing for your attention. Finding those silent quiet moments when the rest of the world is asleep is sometimes I feel the reason I still wake up in the morning.

So, the spring breeze blows cool through my new studio room where my cats are fast asleep, the red wine flows, my script is open, my notes are before me, the white board clean and empty, note cards at hand...it's time to dive, and dive deeply.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Post-House

I have not blogged in a while. Buying and doing minor renovations to a new house have sucked most of my free time for the last four months. Hanging some of the last of the paintings, I can see (kinda) a bit of a light at the end of the tunnel, just a faint flicker, even as I hear the drip-drip-drip from the front yard faucet that requires a fixing.  Home ownership. Better than renting and making some fat fucker in a Hawaiian shirt richer, but still, it is something that will always require my constantly divided attention.

The addition of another item to my list of ongoing projects has made me reflect again on the nature of time and how we all truly have our own measures of it. No matter what system of clocking time we honor, we still respond to our internal response to time.

I tend to panic a bit when it comes to time. I would not say I am old, but I am definitely of the age where I sense the brevity of things. But I have always been pretty sensitive to the shortness of human life in general, as I had a dance teacher as a 19 year-old at NYU that drilled in to me the importance of "playing hard, working hard" because this is all we have. This short span of human life. I hate that I am where I am and despite being truly dedicated to the strange callings of the "muse," I can technically be considered poor and destitute by most measurements of finances and culture in this country. What can I say except that love will leave you blind and poor? The muse is a jealous high maintenance lover and she will take all of you.

I have a file cabinet full of short stories, novels, plays, and scripts that will never breathe life. I have music on records and CDs that will probably get dumped into a trash pile by my nephews when I die. One's cultural importance can never be guided by the one creating the "culture," but only by the ones that consume it, if they choose to do so. And in that sense, the creator is truly not in control of their destiny.

My point in bringing this up is while I love the new house that I have, love not hearing neighbors practice very very bad bass guitar or play horrible rap at all hours of the day, a house takes the time I feel I sometimes need to be creating. One does not grow as an artist for sweeping and moping cat hair free from their hardwood floors, but having the space and time to let the mind waunder. I never have time to let my mind waunder, to look at a dove taking a shit on my tomato plant and feel inspired. I feel I clamor for this precious "free" time on a daily basis and always lose the race.

I envy those born into support systems they will never recognize as being part of their recognition and greatness. I envy those for who time sits like a fat cherub in the passenger seat of their sports cars, eating grapes and dipping spoons into endless vats of Nutella while shoving bananas into their mouths. My passenger seat is only covered with dirt from the last move, coffee stains from a morning where I awoke too early, exhausted as I always ALWAYS feel, wondering what the fuck is this thing called life that we all are truly addicted to.