Monday, December 22, 2014

Best of New York City Theater 2014

As we come to the end of 2014, I wanted to recap some of my favorite show/moments on stage this past year (in no particular order).

I thought The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime was an amazing evening of theater. From the way it was adapted to the incredible storytelling - this show created a new genre of theater for me.

Beautiful
Side Show returned to Broadway and even though (like it's predecessor) it's closing too soon, this version gave the story of the real life conjoined twins a grittier look and more compelling story. I am very sorry to see it end in January.

I am a huge fan of Terence McNally and he did not disappoint with his play Mothers & Sons (which I saw twice). Tyne Daly and the rest of the cast gave riveting performances and McNally's words of how we have grown to view that horrible period when AIDS was first mentioned was spot on.

The Realistic Joneses
I'm not usually a lover of the juke box musicals, but Beautiful didn't feel like one (even though it followed the format of using one singer's music). I felt we got to know Carole King's story and Jessie Mueller's performance as the legendary singer/songwriter was  wonderful.

Audra McDonald can make anything she touches turn to gold, but with Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill - taking us through a real-time concert of Billie Holiday - it was more than gold: it was electric! What an evening. What a performance. And one to catch when HBO airs it.

Hedwig & The Angry Inch
I can't even tell you why, but The Realistic Joneses was a play that stuck with me after I left the theater. The 90 minutes in that theater felt real and fresh and I ate up every second of it.

The most energizing and captivating moment in the theater this season was witnessing Neil Patrick Harris in his Tony Award-winning performance as Hedwig and the Angry Inch. What a show!

Disenchanted!
The time I spent with Alan Alda and Candice Bergen while they read Love Letters to the audience is a moment I'll definitely remember as we leave 2014.

One of the last things I saw this season was off-Broadway, but definitely makes my list with the musical that takes women's empowerment to a new level with all of the princesses we know from Disney films. Disenchanted! was completely enchanting! 

Honorable Mention:

Bridges of Madison County
I must give a shout out to Bradley Cooper who blew me away in how he escaped into the role of The Elephant Man.

Sex With Strangers
If Bridges of Madison County had only shown us the interior chamber musical of the two lovers, it would definitely had been on my list. Everything about that portion of the musical was wonderful.

I didn't love the musical as a whole, but the final scene of Rocky was pretty incredible to see on stage.

The chemistry between Anna Gunn and Billy Magnessen in Sex With Strangers was something to witness first hand.

Annapurna

Benjamin Scheuer's one man show The Lion was wonderful at MTC.

Nick Offerman's riveting performance in Annapurna was a masterclass in acting. The man completely disappeared into the role.

Can't wait to see what 2015 brings to New York City on and off Broadway!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Views of Others

When I was young, I always hung out with older people and thought I knew so much…now as I get older, I realize how much I still had to learn during those years. And yet - I don't want to be those older people that think their views are the only ones that are valid. Recently as Whoopi Goldberg played the "I'm a 60 year old woman" trump card on THE VIEW, it occurred to me the oldest in the room many times wants to share that badge with everyone. As if age always equals the most knowledge. Yet there is much to learn from a younger generation. Look at how quickly technology has changed the past ten years. Social media becoming a large part of marketing…and our lives. All from a new generation.

There have been many major events in the news this month and many of those have to do with history and change. From the changes in our relationship with Cuba to the racial tensions that continue to plague our country to even a certain film being shut down because of relationships with another country, history plays an important part in everything we discuss. 

I notice it even on a personal level. I started a new job this year where I must balance the incredible history of the place with the desire for change to occur. I realize this is similar to the events in the news. Everyone is seeking a balance. 

Change is never easy in any situation. People become afraid of it. Some don't even want to
Different 'Views" Should Matter
see it happen. But thankfully, it's the younger generation that doesn't carry all of that history with them and in those cases turning to them can be smart. They allow us to move forward because they don't hold on to the past. Yes, they need to listen to the oldest person in the room that announces their age and honor that history, but that older person needs to realize there are other possible ways to view a situation. It can be a peaceful protest, an online movement, or yes, Whoopi - even those not-of-color realizing what racism is…but sometimes the younger generation may have an answer that will work if we are all just willing to stop and listen.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Princesses Take a Stand


It's amazing how our views of fairy tales are dictated by the mouse over at Disney. A land where every woman waits to be 'saved' by the man on a horse. (I actually think that Frozen did so well because that was one story about sisters taking control and not waiting for the dude…but I digress.) Over on 46th and 9th Ave in New York City, princesses are taking back the power, sharing their TRUE stories and making audiences laugh out loud (yes, a real LOL) in the musical Disenchanted!

I first took notice of the show when I saw a snippet on TV about it, but this show has been playing regionally for a few years (including the Orlando International Fringe Festival not too far from those other princesses walking around at Disney), and has finally made its way to New York (with many of the original cast in tact).

What a fun show! A mix of a vaudeville and variety show all hosted by Snow White as she (along with Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty) try and set the record straight about who they are and where they came from. (Check out original stories on the musical's website.) Along with Belle, Mulan, Rapunzel, Pocahontas, and several others - each woman gets a chance to shine in this one act musical evening. 

These women are fabulous! And I mean that in every sense of the world. From their acting,

their timing, the camaraderie on stage, and those voices…WOW! I was completely blown away by each of them. (With a shout out to Snow who can belt with the best of them and then turn into an operatic soprano…look out Kristin Chenoweth!) Michelle Knight reminded me of a spunky Leah Remini with the control of a CEO running the show. Becky Gulsvig rides the naive line well as Cinderella without ever going too far in either direction. Jen Bechter is a wonderful Sleeping Beauty that teaches not all princesses need to be cut from the same mold. Alison Burns gets to show great comic chops as several princesses (and gives us a little Lisa Marie Presley at times). I fell in love with Lulu Picart the moment she stepped out as Mulan and found my eyes going back to her all night. And when Soara-Joye Ross shows up as the princess that kissed the frog…she had our audience in the palm of her hands.

Fiely A. Matias and Matt West keep the evening moving along quickly with a wonderful team that has paid special attention to costumes and the look/feel of the show. But it is the songs that make this show. Dennis T. Giacino has written the book, music and lyrics and I want a cast album of this show NOW! This man knows how to write for theater. Each song constructed perfectly with ingenious lyrics, beautiful melodies and a heck of a lot of soul!

Give yourself the gift of a fun night out this holiday season! Get a group of friends and go see this show  (limited run). You will not be disappointed. 

April 2015 update: The show has been moved to the Westside Theatre on 43rd street with an open ended run (officially opening April 7th). I saw it again here and loved it just as much. Go to the website, get tickets and see these princesses! 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

A New Side Show Has Much to Offer

Back in 1997 I fell in love with a new musical from the creators of Dreamgirls. Side Show was one of the musicals that developed a cult following in the three months it lasted on Broadway with people loving Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner's Tony nominated performances as the real life Hilton sisters. I bought the CD and listened to it over and over. But as quickly as it arrived, it left New York with many believing Broadway audiences were not ready to embrace a musical about conjoined twins. All of these years later, it is back. And more than a revival, it is a revisal as so much has been rewritten and removed. Director Bill Condon has added new book material to what Bill Russell and Henry Krieger originally had. He has also rethought the work as a director and has given us a grittier look into the world of carnival side shows.

I will admit that I went into this production expecting to not like all of the changes that I've heard about. I was worried I wouldn't enjoy it as much as before. Wow - wrong. Erin Davie (Violet) and Emily Padgett (Daisy) are wonderful as the sisters who want so much more in life. One to be seen as normal and settle down in marriage and the other seeking fame and fortune. The two are believable as twins onstage and yet carry their own personalities to show a uniqueness while strongly connected. Davie plays vulnerable and fragile so well that Padgett's sassy over-protective sister is a layer that
The Hilton Sisters
keeps her own sensitivities well hidden. The two sound amazing both alone and together. Their soaring ballads are very different from what we all came to know from the original cast album, and yet I was moved to tears in their Act II number (thanks in part to a certain direction from Mr. Condon). 

I think Condon's decision to make 'the freaks' truly deformed and different (with amazing makeup and costumes) allows us as an audience to be more sympathetic to the plight of everyone on stage. The 1997 production was met by laughter from the audience because of the twins joined at the hip, but in this new production we see such diversity on that stage - laughter is not an option. We feel the pain and sadness of each person doing what they must in the family they have created. We now get a backstory to the twins life and we internally cheer for them to succeed. Either in love, career, or life. And all of those themes are addressed in this show.

I actually believe the book changes (as well as some of the dropped songs) really help
propel the story and pull us in as an audience. For anyone that has ever felt like an outsider or been thought of to be different, Side Show shows us examples of each of those people from the obvious (the sisters) to some that hit closer to home (Jake: racism, Terry: career changes, Buddy: sexual identity). David St. Louis, Ryan Silverman and Matthew Hydzik all three give wonderful performances as the men in the twins life.

Side Show touches on many themes, but while it is set during a period of yesteryear when people would gawk at those less fortunate - we really haven't changed that much as a society when reality TV and social media allow people to constantly point, stare and comment on the lives of others. Or if Daisy Hilton were alive today, she'd probably be running her own youtube channel to chase her fame and fortune in whatever way she could. Don't miss out on a truly moving and wondering evening of theater. Get to the St. James Theatre to see this one!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Birthdays are Days To Be Grateful

I know that Thursday is Thanksgiving, but I'm so thankful today because someone extremely special to me was born on this day. Someone that without, I wouldn't be who I am. The love and support of my husband, to allow me to live out my creative dreams - words can't describe how lucky that I am for so many reasons.

I've blogged before about people that take risks and make career changes later in life - but what about those that know what they are good at and stick to it. Anthony is one of those people. For over 25 years he has been at the same place serving people in a way that many would find unfathomable. As a radiation therapist, he attacks cancer head-on daily; even when he has lost loved ones to this horrible disease. He is kind, caring and keeps his patients laughing and smiling everyday. I don't know how he manages to keep up that cheerful disposition in his job, but I sure do admire that quality. (And he gets beautiful notes from people thanking him for it.)

Even outside of his job, anyone that comes in contact with Anthony instantly likes him. He can talk about anything to anyone (which means I never have to worry when I take him to a party or an event where we need to mingle). The man can work a room. While we may enjoy some of the same things in life, we also know it's okay to have other interests. Allowing those differences in our lives have kept our relationship going strong; even when at times we have to stop and evaluate. (Ant is a bowler - that's right - he's on the work bowling team.)

No one can make me laugh like Anthony. We literally sit at home at night cracking each other up with those stupid things that only couples can do.  We often say it was good we found each other later in life because we knew who we were as people by the time we met and that has been wonderful for our relationship. We can usually detect when the other needs something and try as much as possible to accommodate it. (No - we are not perfect in this area, but who is?) 

Still - he has ended up on stage for me in a show I directed when he would never in a million years thought of doing anything like that, produced our short film together, travels with my family, and puts up with my picky eating.  Yes - I am very grateful this Thanksgiving week to have such a person that I can call my other half. And today, I am so thankful he was born all those years ago so that one day we would find each other.

One thing he hates is his birthday. I'm sure I'm embarrassing him with this blog.  But after spending over 14 years with him, I think I should get to embarrass him now and again. Happy Birthday, Ant. I'm the luckiest man to celebrate with you and wish you many, many more ahead. Love you. 
    

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

When Are You Finished?

Last Saturday I announced on social media that I was done. 

I meant that the editor gave me the final DVD of our short film MOTHER. I was excited. I was sad it had come to an end. I was thankful for the amazing people that have come in my life during the past several months (and have blogged about them before). Another project that I could put that check mark next to on the TO DO list as completed.

Then I realized…I'm not DONE. It's just beginning. 

The point of making a film (just like writing a book) is that you want to get your work out to people. In this case, we want to submit this film to festivals and that work has already begun. There are tons of film festivals all around
the country and the world. Finding the correct ones for your own project means tons of research. Seeing where filmmakers you admire have gone. Looking at the festivals to see where you believe you or someone on your team can attend (if chosen) to represent the work. Luckily, I started all of this during post-production and had my spread sheet made. I knew that I had missed the cutoff for some festivals, but working hard to make the deadline for others. So many occur in April and those cut-offs are happening now. Then there will be more in summer and next fall and I'll go through this process again to meet those deadlines.

Marketing has also begun. One would think you may not need that media kit until you know if you've been selected for a festival, but if you use one of the online film submission sites - it is best to jump on it now and start writing. Synopsis. Stories about the process. Bios. Photos. There is so much involved. And it's a wonderful tool to use to make yourself think about your film, the process, the stories you want to share and to help with any kind of 'buzz' you need to start on your film. For me, it has been an amazing process that I know already has touched so many people involved with the film. Now I hope that audiences will feel the same way when they see it.

So to answer the question…I'm not sure when we're ever really finished.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Broadway Has  Holiday Gift with Love Letters

There are many reasons people attend a Broadway show: the spectacle of lavish costumes and setsthe wonder of watching a favorite film that has been turned into a musical, or star power. Sometimes, it's simply to hear the powerful words of a playwright and to be transported  by a story. The producers behind Love Letters offered that very thing when they opened their show on September 18 with the decision to rotate the two leads. Strip away the trappings of huge technical shows and Love Letters provides audiences a gem of a gift wrapped up in a small bow. 

The power of hearing two people speak via the lost art of letter writing is something important --  Audiences in 2014 should put down their numerous technical devices and pay close attention. There is a reason that many of the romantics of time past are captured in letters written to lovers. They were not instagramming photos or writing 'limited word' tweets. They were pouring out their heart and soul on paper in words of adoration and love. That is what author A.R. Gurney has done with his play first written in the late 80s. The story shares the story of Andrew Makepeace Ladd III and Melissa Gardner as they correspond over 50 years, sharing the ups and downs of their lives with that long lost love.   

While it is beautiful in its simplicity, it is complex in covering so many years in the lives of these two people. We grow to know them and care about them. Like the play/film "Same Time Next Year", this show also takes us to different points in the lives of the characters as we watch them grow and change. I also find it amazing how timeless it can be. Melissa wants them to use the phone to speak instead of writing letters; much like today's texting has replaced people connecting on the phone.  



Alan Alda and Candice Bergen recently stepped into the roles of the two loves and what a wonderful couple these two make. With careers that span multiple decades, the two have done everything from TV to film to stage. No one can deliver a monologue like Mr. Alda and I loved every word he said. He tends to stay in the book more than Ms. Bergen, yet that doesn't bother me in this production.  In contrast, she uses her face throughout the performance as she looks into the audience, reacts to the letters he reads and lives in the moment as she takes us on a journey of this wonderful character. Not allowing actors to rely on movement and blocking and instead focusing on  the written word makes for a glorious 90 minutes of live theater. Something like this comes along very rarely in the New York Theater scene, but the holiday season where we think of family and love is a perfect time to take in this show. You can't help but be pulled into the lives of the two characters and you'll be amazed that simply listening to people read letters could affect you in such a way. That's what makes this show so incredibly special. Audiences have nothing else to concentrate on (or be distracted by) so you have no choice than to be swept away by…love. 

Up to now, my favorite romantic play has been Say Goodnight, Gracie - a one man show about George Burns. I must say, Love Letters is right up there. The amazing thing is that both of these show talk about love in a very unique way and both cause you to leave the theater thinking about your own relationships.

The show is running through February and will have other actors switching into the roles. Check out their website to see what couples are going in and give yourself the gift of stepping back in time, away from 2014 and enjoy the love that A.R. Gurney has poured onto the paper.

Monday, November 10, 2014

A True Lesson in The Elephant Man

The Elephant Man is a story that many people have known for years. Either they saw the 1980 film or perhaps have seen a stage production of it at some time. Being a theater kid, I recall doing scenes from it in school, witnessing other schools do it at play competitions, and have seen numerous productions over the years. I will admit, I was apprehensive about 39 year old Bradley Cooper - Mr. Hollywood and People's Sexiest Man Alive taking on this iconic character. 

Boy was I wrong!

From the moment he steps on stage, as Dr. Treves shows us photos of the real Joseph Merrick (called John by many), Mr. Cooper transforms in front of our eyes without make-up, words, or much of a costume on his body. It is pure acting and this actor tackles this role head on with such gusto, he had me in the palm of his over-sized hand. I was moved to tears a few times from Mr. Merrick's plight. The fact that I forgot I was watching a movie star on stage is a testament to what Mr. Cooper is doing nightly in this role that he originally played at Williamstown.

Director Scott Ellis has made a name for himself with both musicals and plays on Broadway and keeps this show moving at a fast pace. So much that Act 1 is over before we even know it. Beautiful costumes, simple lighting and sets (all moved by a well-oiled ensemble) ground us in the late 1800s. The entire cast assembled work as a wonderful ensemble (including the delicious Anthony Heald and multi-talented Scott Lowell) in this show full of outsiders all wanting a piece of the MAN.

I would be remiss to not mention the wonder that is Patricia Clarkson and Alessandro Nivola as the actress Mrs. Kendal who tears down the walls that surround Merrick and the doctor who takes him under his wing as a family member. Both care for Merrick in different ways and these actors give extremely powerful performances in their own right.

Knowing this is still in previews and things could change, if I had any complaint, it would be that Act II should be tightened up to match that experience that Act I rushes over us in such an extreme way. I was taken on such a journey by intermission that I wished Act II could match that same feeling. Perhaps it is the play itself or it could be director's choices, (but there were things that definitely felt different to me than what I had been used to in seeing other productions). The play originally opened on Broadway in 1979 and was revived in 2002. Some may question why a show would return just 12 years later, but after seeing it - questions should cease. Something is in the air this season with American Horror: Freak Show on TV, the musical Side Show back on Broadway and The Elephant Man all teaching a story of diversity and to not be fearful of those society shuns. Perhaps that is a lesson that we shouldn't put an expiration date on of how often a story should be told. 

Usually I would not write a review for a show that is still in previews - but I want those reading to know they need to grab up tickets BEFORE it opens and reviews come out. If you can get tickets before this limited run ends February 15, 2015 - do yourself a favor and do it NOW to experience real love. By that, I mean Mr. Cooper's love of the character he is playing and the love you will feel for the man that society had pushed aside.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Journey into Crowd-funding

What a ride.

The fundraising campaign that annoyed everyone that follows me anywhere on social media has finally come to an end. Those involved in any type of independent, non-profit, or charity work can attest to how hard it is to raise funds to accomplish any project. I've worked in all three areas in my life and depending on the kindness of others can be daunting and satisfying at the same time.

I set out on the journey unsure of what would happen. Would I meet my goal? Would anyone care? I mean, after all, I'm not Zach Braff or Veronica Mars…both of which raised tons for their projects. Then I found other projects that were crowd funding success stories.  I thought there was no way we'd hit our goal, but if you don't try

Well - was I ever wrong! People came to our aid and it was amazing. Either seeing the stills from our shoot, watching the video with our cast/crew talking about their moms, or seeing the trailer our editor finished before the end of the campaign - something caused people to get excited and come onboard. It's always amazing when a stranger gives to a project simply because something in that project speaks to them or they want to pay-it-forward in some way. But for the most part, our funders were friends of people involved in this project and I am extremely grateful to each and everyone of them. 

We met our goal!

We continued working during the entire campaign with our post-production team and in the next 7-10 days - we will have our film completed and begin the process of submitting it to festivals.

The last 4 months from pre-production through now have been so fulfilling to me in numerous ways. I've gotten to work with amazing people and grow my network of a film family that I hope to cross paths again in the future on other projects. 

Thanks again to everyone that helped us get to this place. Sincerely. We could never have done this without all of your help.

Now we put that film out there and see what happens next. Fingers crossed that some festivals will accept it and want to screen it for film-goers. My hope is that this short film will touch someone else's life as much as it has touched each person's that has worked on it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Adapting a Work


Recently I was watching my new favorite show on TV and a character told another that everyone has one novel in them. I instantly thought back to when I first started to write novels as I thought I only had Well With My Soul inside of me - dying to get out. All these years later and a few more books under my belt and I find I'm returning to familiar territory. I recently used a book of mine as the basis for a short film. I adapted the novel Missing by Drake Braxton into a feature film screenplay and now, I'm attacking a story of mine that I believe should be on screen.

Very few people read Cool Side of the Pillow. I'll admit, when released, I tried something new with only placing it on the Kindle as an eBook (which cut out many readers right there) - but to be frank: it bombed. Had it been a book released by a major publisher, they would have yanked it from the shelves after the first month of sitting there collecting dust. Yet I'm so proud of that book. In some ways, I related so much to the main character in search of who he would be in the second half of his life and in other ways - this stay-at-home Jewish dad was completely foreign to me. Even as I wrote the novel, it was always a movie in my mind. I could see every scene. I can visualize the eccentric character that is Ginger Charman - the aging actress that completely turns Zach's life upside down. And now, I've plunged head first down that rabbit hole again to turn it into a screenplay. Sure, that screenplay may sit in a drawer forever (or at least on my computer's hard drive), but I believe I need to get it written so as to have completed that goal. (I'll take overachiever for $500, Alex.)

Here is the hard part of adapting something for film: everyone always loves the book more. And there is a reason, when we read - we create our own movie in our mind. Plus, there is so much more texture and layered backstories that can be in a novel. Think about it - do you really want to sit in a three hour movie? I know my butt got tired during Gone Girl with its running time of 149 minutes because they wanted to keep that book/story intact. But usually, you try and keep movie scripts under two hours. That means scenes, characters - so much needs to be cut and you must get to the root of the story and tell it in a new way.

I'm finding that difficult. Time has passed since I wrote this novel, but as I go back to it now - I can't help but look at moments that I LOVED and now think "dang, that has to go for the film". And that's where I am. Killing off moments as I adapt so that the story can possibly have a new life in a different medium. It's a challenge. It's a risk. And ultimately, it will be rewarding. For now though - at times I get overwhelmed and walk away from it until I can look at it with fresh eyes and not allow the novelist to get mad at the screenwriter. (Then the screenwriter tells the novelist that adapt means to alter, make it fit…to change something up and the two of them go at it!)

The one good thing about this is - no one read the book so I won't have to hear that the book was better! See how I found that silver lining? 

 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What to Do When You Don't Fit A Mold

Recently we were having some painting done in our home and the painter was having the "what do you do?" talk with my husband. It's easy for him. Radiation therapist.  All nice and neat in a tight box. The man asked about me and Anthony started saying I write books and directed a film. Then he stopped,  looked at me helplessly and said, "what DO you do?"
 
Everyone wants it spelled out so concisely. Business cards. LinkedIn. Even Facebook if you are creating a public page that requests your title or industry. They are looking for a one title job. But what if you can't be placed in a box?

Late night TV and talk shows are full of it. This actor has written a children’s book. That actress has a clothing line. This person opened a restaurant after doing reality TV. More and more, people can’t be labeled by one title.
 
It got me thinking. What am I?
 
Author
Speaker
Director
Theater Manager
Filmmaker
Producer
Business Owner
Entrepreneur
Publisher
Advocate
Storyteller
 
Not to mention husband, son, brother, uncle.
 
It's so hard in today's world to choose one thing. I think what all of those have in common is that I'm most happy if I'm creating something. Anything. That doesn't make me an inventor and yet that's what industry that would be assigned in one of those "please pick one" lists. It can be creating new programs at the theater I manage, creating a story for a book, a film, or encouraging someone else in their dream...but that feeling of creation is passion to me. Perhaps it's about what I'll leave behind. The mark I'll make. I'm not sure, but I know this: if I'm not learning something new...I'm dead. So I'm also a student! Not that I'd ever want to quote Taylor Swift, but I heard this on the radio as something she recently said and it made perfect sense. If you are the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room. 


Disclaimer: I was watching Julie & Julia again this past weekend where her husband told her not to put a fight of theirs into her blog. Just to be clear, I checked with my husband first before outing him in this blog.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Phases of Filmmaking

If you are around the film industry at all or just a lover of movies, you always hear about preproduction, production, and post-production. Each phase carries their own weight and I won't go into details on what each entails because you can buy a book to read up on that. I will talk about what these phases mean to me personally when I'm directing a project. 

In preproduction, you plan and you plan and you plan. You are looking for people that you know you can work with, trust their judgment and utilize their assets to help you get to that point of production. You doubt yourself and your abilities. You wonder if you are crazy. But you have those people around you pushing your forward. I was extremely lucky in this phase.

In production - you are shooting your film. It's what many say is the smallest portion of the entire process. Once again, I was sooo lucky in this phase and even blogged about it once it was over. It was an amazing time and I instantly had that sad feeling that one gets when something ends. I was going to miss these people - that family that you create and spent time with - even if it was for only two days on our shoot.

But then we jumped right into post-production and a completely different part of my brain went into use. It's as if you start to market the film before it's even done. Yet you must if you are trying to raise funds to finish the film: people need to KNOW about it which means marketing.

You want to ride the creative wave of the project while raising money so you start putting together your post-production team. Editors, composers, songwriters, design teams - this is when you begin to sift through resumes and reels hoping you can find the right collaboration for your project. While I was so sad when the production part ended, being involved in this portion has rejuvenated me all over again.

Our music team is incredible. I can't wait for people to hear what Mikey is writing as an original score and the song that Nicki has written for the closing credits. 

The producers that are helping with fundraising have been top-notch and with 20 days left to go on our IndieGoGo campaign, we are 83% towards our goal.

And then joining up with an editor that understands your sensibilities and connects to the story…that doesn't view it as "just another job" - words can't express how much I've loved working with Rob the past two weeks. (A film director/writer as well as an editor.) I feel just as in sync with him as I did working with my DP Jeff during the shoot. The work an editor does by compiling all of those scenes, enhancing moments by making different decisions, and painstakingly searching for the perfect sound to bump a certain moment - it is all incredible. I am so excited about our rough cut and yet I know he still has more work to do - which means I'll be over the moon when I see the finished product!
Rob Moretti - Editing MOTHER

I've said this film has been a labor of love for all involved and that has been true from start to finish. I think people bring their own stories to it - their relationship with their own moms - and that is perfect for this particular film. People have been touched from the first phase through the last and I hope that continues as we contact festivals and get this film out there in 2015 for all to see.

What a ride…and it's one I know I'll be taking again.




Sunday, October 12, 2014

Was My Youth Really That Long Ago?

This is Our Youth, the play by Kenneth Lonergan playing on Broadway at the Cort Theater is not MY youth. Sure, I was living in New York City by 18 years old. The same decade in which the play is set (the 80s). And I would have many evenings with friends where we would sit around trying to solve the problems of the world and talk about what we would become in 5 to ten years. But my issues were not solved by rich parents or smoking pot and doing drugs to take me to another state of being. I understand that angst and was looking forward to reliving my past in some way/shape/form with this play - but for me, form is truly lacking in Lonergan's play.

I realize that the NY Times wrote a love letter to this play when it opened, but if you click on the comments it is amazing how many people say they left at intermission. I actually had 
a different experience. I walked in and saw the incredibly accurate set designed by Todd Rosenthal and knew that I have loved Anna D. Shapiro's direction in past productions. I was actually enjoying the three performances in Act I. All three actors (Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin and Tavin Gevinson) bring wonderful energy, characterization, and voices to these characters. Cera makes you care for his character that has been kicked out of the house by his dad (and he has stolen some of his father's money). Many say he always plays the same character, but his line delivery evokes laughter and feeling from an audience. The same lines said by someone else would be very different. Culkin is wonderful as the (what appears to be as he is older) - the aging druggie who believes he is a great business man. And Gevinson may be new to acting (I actually loved her in the film Enough Said - but more know her as the child prodigy who became big as a fashion blogger), but holds her own against these two. Each actor has such a distinctive sound to their voice that I found that element so appealing and different in this show.

However, the play itself (which is a revival of a late 90s Off-Broadway play) is in need of more of a plot and an editor. It becomes repetitive in dialogue and in direction. I am well aware that not all plays need to be piled with huge plot lines to pull in an audience, but if it is going to be so small - I would have preferred this to be one of those 90 minute plays that doesn't give an audience an escape plan at intermission. I was laughing all through the first act and wondering where it would go in Act 2. And then it simply slowed down to a halt. While the audience's Saturday night laughter continued into Act II, I almost felt a collective loss of the audience where everyone checked out when Culkin's character went on a drug-induced tirade when it felt as if the show should be winding down. And it didn't. It went on and on and on.

Perhaps that is the theme that Lonergan was going for. That our youth is never ending and we can't tie things up  quickly with a pleasant ending for everyone. Unfortunately for me, this play could have been called Three Good Actors in Search of a Better Play.