9/14/11

"Smile...with your mouth!"

For the past week, I haven't been able to stop thinking about that scene in "30 ROCK" where Liz Lemon is supposed to be shooting the sassy opening title sequence of her new talk show "Dealbreakers". But she's so freaked out and nervous about being on camera that she forgets how to act like a normal human.

This happens to lots of people on camera. It explains why there are so many bad commercials for furniture stores and car dealerships floating around in the world.

I think from henceforth we shall call it, "Forgot how to be human" syndrome. It looks like this...










Yeah...I can relate.


Not just to the asymmetrical hair cut, awkward waving and nervous eyes. But because that's me in the above photo interviewing Scott Swenson, a (as Bridget Jones would say) top-level executive at Busch Gardens this week. I used to love being on camera, and in a lot of ways I still do. But now that I'm primarily involved in behind-the-scenes work (writing, directing, producing) I find myself all clammy-palmed and Mary Catherine Gallagher anytime I have to run an interview.

Thankfully, Scott Swenson was kind and merciful and just sort of played along. I can only hope that the same thing will happen if I get to meet Weird Al like I'm scheming and plotting for right now. Although in all fairness, his people at Sony seemed mildly frightened when I sent them an email to try to schedule an interview with him three months before he was due in town. Darn my type-A organizational skills. Darn them to HECK! But what all this really makes me think about is the fact that if a ginormous socially awkward nerd like myself can end up in high places with creative big-wigs, then anything is possible.

Second, while I've been busy toiling away in the world of local on-demand television and internet content, this happened.



Of course, the flying cars and 80's themed cafes by 2015 would've been nice too. But beggars can't be choosers and I'll take absolutely anything new from the "Back to the Future" trilogy that I can possibly get. And this totally counts. Does anybody else get major goosebumps at the mere sound of the iconic score? 


If you need a caption to explain this, we can't be friends.
I've been really inspired lately. There's a documentary about the Monty Python boys on Netflix called "Almost The Truth" that Jake and I have been watching off-handedly during meals between shooting and editing.

 I'm paraphrasing, but at one point I think it's Terry Gilliam who talks about walking into a room full of his heroes at the start of his career and being really nervous and he says something like, "This is before I realized that this is all an illusion and that nobody is really more clever than anyone else."

I know I write about it a lot lately, but that's because it's what I'm going through. But the demystification of the creative process is the best and worst thing that can ever happen to an artist. On the one hand, it means you can do whatever you put your mind to and actually do all the stuff you dream of doing.

On the other hand, it's destroys some illusions and means that your heroes are just normal people and it makes you responsible for yourself instead of being able to sigh your life away thinking that "those people" made it because they have some kind of magic touch, so you shouldn't even try. But I think I'm willing to cross over to that dark side if it means I get to do some of the things I've always wanted to do.

That being said, there are a few thing I want to do in the next five years. (Jake and I tend to make plans in five year chunks of time. It gives you enough time to get something big done.) And if it's really true that no one artist is any better or more clever than any other, then there's no reason why I can't do the following alongside Jake and a few other people who shall go unnamed because I don't want to passively aggressively push them into doing stuff they are already WAY too busy for. (Lindsay, Heather, Josh R.)

1. Get more of my writing and/or the whole of "Growing Up Weird" (my thesis) published in some form.

2. Make a feature film, preferably an indie.

3. Sell a screenplay.

4. Make a documentary.

5. Take a short film (preferably a hilarious one) on "the" festival circuit. (I'll figure out what "the" festival circuit is later, I just know that I read about it a lot in Variety and on Roger Ebert's facebook page.)

6. Continue to build toward our own production company and/or studio that employs all my amazing creative friends and family.

7. Make the day job ("Orlando Attractions Magazine: The Show") a success in some form. Whether that means something that has a cult following for it's humor, or becomes a financial success because we grow it and then sell it, or what I don't know just yet. But our bosses/producers have shown us so much faith and creative freedom and they've given us this incredible training ground. I feel that it's so SO important that we teach ourselves how to make a good product in some aspect and do it in such a way that it rewards them too.

But okay, I cheated on number 3. I'm polishing my first screenplay right now. But I play that trick on myself a lot. The one where you put something on your list you've already done so you can cross it off and feel good about yourself. Try it. It's great.

I've been doing a lot of interviews (and planning a lot that I can't get to right now for sheer lack of time) that seem to be all about this topic precisely. The consensus seems to be that the first battle to fight and win as a creative person is the one where you have to make peace with who you are, what you love, what you're good at, etc. Once you can admit to yourself, "Okay, I want to be a filmmaker/musician/writer/painter, etc." then you can finally get on with the business of making things happen through hard work. For me, I had to get out of my hometown for just a second. After that second, everything was crystal clear and I didn't feel like the crazy immature dreamer caving to the external pressures of my fellow well-meaning Mid-Westerners.

And nobody in particular mind you. All my friends and family have always been really encouraging and extremely supportive. The battle I fought was in my own mind. Growing up the weird kid, it takes a long time to shake the feeling that everything you think is stupid or dumb or weird or crazy. Sprinkle a little of that well-meaning, "You'd have to be crazy to want to leave this wholesome home town!" guilt along with some damaging mockery on top of that and it's a recipe for wasting away in your own discontent for the rest of your life.

Then again, a recent interview I did with Ohio filmmaker Larry Longstreth even proves that wrong. He got his first feature made while living in Ohio and he's well, well on his way to an incredibly successful career. Believe me. Remember that name. But what that probably means is that he has a lot more self-control and drive than I did and was better able to buck against whatever obstacles were in his way.

Why am I talking about all this? Well, namely because I barely have time to blog anymore. So when I do finally sit down, it feels really good to let off some of the steam that swirls around in my brain when I try to go to sleep at night. There's so much work to do and so much possibility and unpredictability in what Jake and I are doing here in Florida that I'm starting to realize that I need to make ridiculously specific goals.

For so many years, I've almost played a character of myself. I think that came from growing up with a talented actress for a mother whose career was also based around the idea of playing multiple characters. But I've always been "golly gee" Audrey kind of kicking the dirt around and trying to blend in around people who make me nervous but priding myself on being this closet weirdo and secretly aspiring filmmaker. So I think the thing to do now is the scariest thing of all.

Admit that I might maybe kinda sorta be getting a little somewhere. Maybe. 

I've always believed that verse that says pride goes before a fall, meaning I am permanently superstitious when anything good happens to me. But I also believe the verse about not hiding your light under a basket. ("You have a gift my friend...") But I ALSO believe in turning into a grown up and admitting some things to yourself/the entire internet, even if that means you'll be humiliated when you fall on your face.

I've been asking a lot of people for a lot of things lately. Good friends to help us write and make music and fill up this blog. And everyone has been delivering. And that's really rad. And what it tells me above all else is that if I have any gift at all, it is the gift of pushing people into doing stuff they're not really ready for.

Obviously, I'm joking. (No I'm not.) But how crazy would it be if all these years of geeking and TV and movies all ended up actually counting toward something?

That would be pretty freaking cool.

No comments:

Post a Comment