July 8, 2015 § Leave a comment
It’s called Gemma & The Bear and we just released the first two episodes this past Monday.
It was over two years ago that it all began – sometime between giving birth to my son and my mom’s brain tumor being diagnosed. Kevin and I wanted to make something together and I thought it should be a web series. We’d done theater together, but I wasn’t doing theater at the moment because I had a tiny child to take care of. Something on-camera felt more manageable.
So we began. We met and wrote and had a reading and got rid of everything we’d written and started again. Working on the project was always a joy; it was also my artistic life-line. Without the luxury of time I used to enjoy, it became important to focus on doing one thing well, and that was our show.
Late last summer – almost a year ago – we began our casting process (we paused so I could have back surgery), in the late fall we launched our Indiegogo campaign, and in December we finally – FINALLY – started filming.
We shot for seven non-consecutive days in December, January and February, going by location rather than chronology of the script. When our office location fell through the morning before the shoot, my brother came through with his office for us and we squeezed what we’d planned to film in three days into two. We made third graders stand outside on one of the coldest days of the year. We re-cast a major role at the last minute because our original actor was injured. We called in favors. We got it done.
I handled the craft services and, later, the payroll. I wouldn’t choose to take on those extra roles again, but it felt really good to support our cast and crew in a loving way through food, and later, to appreciate them by redistributing about 75% of what we’d raised to make the show in the form of checks to our artistic and technical collaborators.
I thought the hard part was over. And then I found myself a producer of a project in post-production.
But now it’s here! Gemma & The Bear. Kevin R. Free was my collaborator in all things – writing, acting and producing – and Matt Scott as director, editor and co-writer has provided invaluable additional vision and input. This has been one of the most rigorous and most rewarding artistic experiences of my life and while I learned a lot (and would do some things differently if I had to do them over) I am incredibly proud of what we’ve made.
We’re still working on episodes 3, 4, 5 and 6 – they’ll be out in August – but for now I hope you enjoy episodes 1 and 2.
Episode One: HE’S BAAAAAAAACK!!! – Gemma gets a big assignment at work and graduates from therapy, but a blast from the past threatens her security.
Episode Two: MEET THE BEAR – Gemma visits her dad, Hank, to try to get to the bottom of the Bear’s reappearance in her life.
This isn’t theater so I can’t see your faces; leave a comment!
July 2, 2015 § Leave a comment
This time every year, I can’t help but think of this amazing video:
I love this video for its own sake, but I especially love it because it reminds me of this:
If you don’t know, this book is where that cherry tree story comes from (“I cannot tell a lie”) and many others. Weems made stuff up to build up America (and for personal profit). It was a new country and it needed some stories, some culture, some history of its own to help it feel established and viable and “real.” And Weems wasn’t the only one on this band-wagon. There’s a reason so many buildings were built with Greek-style columns (the Greeks had credibility, they had gravitas) and I’ll always remember learning, when I toured Yale, that the windows were intentionally cracked and then repaired and that worn cobblestones were imported from Europe to give the place an older, more established feeling.
To me, the Cox & Combe’s video is just taking absurd part in (and, sure, poking fun at) this same tradition.
I love that tradition. Well, I don’t love the making-stuff-up per se, but I love the spirit of re-invention. I love self-determination and being the author of your own story. I love Jay Gatsby inventing a new, fabulous life for himself. I love that no matter where we’re born, we don’t have to feel destined to end up there.
Yup, there’s a lot that’s wrong with our country. Jay Gatsby is a fiction and a white, male one at that.
Nevertheless, on the anniversary of our country’s independence, I like to appreciate that dyed-in-the-wool of America is the energetic belief that each of us is free to pursue his dreams and to be whoever he or she wants to be. It might not happen for everyone but it wouldn’t happen for anyone if we didn’t begin with the assumption of that possibility.
June 18, 2015 § 1 Comment
How great would it be if the street musicians you see performing in the subway or in busy public areas let you sing with them live-karaoke-style?! (Answer: pretty great!)
Hear me out.
- It wouldn’t work for every musician. It has to be someone who does covers. And they’d have to be fine just playing and singing on their own; it couldn’t hinge on the event of karaoke.
- Live Karaoke is already a thing – a popular and very cool thing. I’ve done it. It was fun.
- The transit system (and the street) are venues where, for performers, engagement is already really low; people aren’t there to hear this band or musician. Defying expectations by engaging a member of the public – both for the person brought temporarily into the band and for casual observers – grabs attention and turns the energy way up by introducing an element of risk. The performance becomes a special event, not just background noise.
That’s all. I think it would be a MAGICAL development in street performing if, occasionally, a performance was built to accommodate (but not dependent upon) the participation of passersby. At the very least, I think some marketing campaign could co-opt this idea to good effect.
What’s your latest good idea? Leave a comment! The world need to know!!!
June 9, 2015 § Leave a comment
That’s my rap name.
Okay. Not really. BUT my rap video did just come out.
You’re saying “WHAT?!”
I know. It’s a little “off brand,” as they say.
Here’s the story: I wrote this rap to be performed live as one of thirty short plays in Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind which is an “ever-changing attempt to perform 30 plays in 60 minutes.” That was back in 2007. This particular plastic monkey had become a motif/recurring character in a number of Neo plays and this was my contribution to the clapping-monkey-play genre. The play was pretty popular amongst the Neos, we did it at Best of, brought it to gigs from time to time, etc. In 2011 we shot the footage for the video and our awesome director, Chris Stocksmith, who was filming it gratis for us, promptly got very busy with work and the video never got made. About two years ago the footage was recovered and only just recently was it finally edited together by the delightful and talented (fellow retired-Neo) Connor Kalista.
June 4, 2015 § Leave a comment
The other day, I found myself googling one of the people in my community. I’d visited the website of a local business to get the phone number and, while I was waiting for the call to go through, saw the full name of one of the delightful employees. So I started Googling.
I’ve done this before. Kind of a lot.
I get fascinated with someone – for any number of reasons – and it just isn’t socially acceptable to start interviewing people with whom you have only a passing acquaintance, you know? So . . . Google.
Two things about this:
- I’ve been surprised by who is easy to google and, conversely, how many folks are really hard to find on the internet. Sometimes it’s just a common name, but more often it seems like a lot of people just don’t show up on the web and that kind of fascinates me.
- It occurred to me to wonder, in my most recent bout of “research,” how normal this is. Do YOU do this kind of Googling?
Then I thought, I can ask people! You! I can ask YOU! But asking for your response in the comments – especially about something like this that might feel embarrassing to have on the record – seemed like not a great way to find out. So . . . (drum roll) . . . I made a SURVEY!! It’s short – only six multiple choice questions – and in a few weeks, I’ll share the results. HERE IS THE LINK!
FUN, right? Or is this just another way that I’m weird . . . ? You can leave your answer to that question in the comments, no survey required. ;)
June 3, 2015 § Leave a comment
The weekend before last, my husband and I found ourselves in the rare position of having an evening to ourselves (the kiddo was asleep early) and enough time to watch an entire movie in one sitting. Hot Damn!
Some quick googling of “best date movies” led us to The One I Love staring Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass plus Ted Danson in a small supporting role. It’s currently streaming on Netflix which describes the movie this way:
Confronted with the potential end of their marriage, Ethan and Sophie take off for a weekend together, hoping to negotiate their future. When they reach their idyllic destination, however, the couple strolls into a bizarre new brand of trouble.
We really enjoyed it. I wrote before about another Mark Duplass movie, Safety Not Guaranteed, and what both of these movies have is a kind of eerie magical realism that works really beautifully.
Also, as a recent producer of video content (aka Gemma & The Bear) it was hard not to be impressed with how the movie really only has two actors in it – such a smart way to have room to focus on excellent acting (which The One I Love has in abundance) and great production values.
If you watch it – or if you’ve seen it – leave a comment and let me know what you thought!
May 28, 2015 § Leave a comment
This past weekend, my husband, the kiddo and I explored a cool public art exhibit that’s going in in Central Park right now. Presented in conjunction with Creative Time, the exhibit is called Drifting in Daylight (all the info if you click on that link). It’s based in the northern parts of Central Park and it happens Friday and Saturday afternoons through June 20th.
We had a great time visiting Spencer Finch‘s ice cream truck and watching a brass sextet perform on a boat on the Harlem Meer. The former was fully delightful and delicious while the latter was lovely to behold and surprisingly moving.
Days later, my son asked his babysitter “Do you know Spencer Finch? He has an art thing. You should go. There’s ice cream! You have to wait in line. You should go.” That and the fact that he wanted to stay for three performances by the sextet make me fairly confident that he liked it too. Recommended for families.
We’d started the day with a visit to the Natural History Museum, so by the time we made it up to the Meer, the boy was exhausted and it was time to head home to walk the dog, but we hope to go back to see the rest of the pieces which include visual art as well as dance and performance pieces.
Have you seen this exhibit? What did you think?