Friday, May 30, 2008
We got out of rehearsal just in time for a costar and I to race downtown in time for the opening curtains of the shows we were seeing. I went to see the XXX's production of E. It is a show that I might possible be doing in the fall, so I was interested to see another director's take on the show. Especially from a well-funded theatre that has a reputation for excellent theatre. But the experience last night was very disappointing. The design of the show was amazing, and the most effective moments were the ones that were born out of the set and lighting. There was a moment in which the blue-washed stage was lit brilliantly by a wash of yellow. The effect was striking, and people in the audience actually gasped. There are also two sequences that are thrillingly theatrical, in which E's father builds her a room in the underworld made out of string. Such time and care is given to the moments, it is refreshing to see the director have the faith that the moments would play if given the proper space.
With all these striking elements, however, the production felt very hollow. Several of the leading actors weren't at all convincing in their roles, as if they were trying for something in high style and they never quite pulled it off. The scenes between father and daughter, as well as husband and wife, should have been touching and sweet, but they all felt forced. And with no emotional connection between any of the principle characters, I felt very little emotional connection as an audience member. Some characters broke out of the realistic mode, however, including the three-part "chorus of stones." Attired and interpreted as a trio of clowns, they were complete with baggy pants, oversized shoes, funny hats, and black and white make-up. They performed well as a trio, but I couldn't see how they connected into the rest of the world. And in the double role of "nasty interesting man" and lord of the underworld, XXXXX earns some of the shows more hearty and inappropriate laughs. It felt as though he were presenting characters from a standup routine as opposed to fully created performances.
The director of the upcoming show I might be doing was curious as to my thoughts. And as a result of the show last night, I think I can give him a very good guide as to the potential traps of this show. Our artistic sensibilities lie in the same directions, so I think that most of my thoughts would also be his. I'm glad I caught the show, even if it wasn't all that I thought it would be.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Saturday, May 17, 2008
We spent a long time on the closing credits sequence, both making the sequence time correctly to the music we had chosen, and allowing Rob the time he needed to learn how to use the 3D modeling program that we used for the sequence. Even though it was quite maddening to match the music cues together into a seamless transition, I think the final result is worth the effort. Once we hit the 4am mark in the editing process, we both decided that we might as well finish in that sitting. So we worked until about 5am, and then spent an hour waiting for the computer to encode the movie so it could be put on DVDs. Another hour later, we had a finished film as well as three copies of it. Bidding Rob a good morning, I managed to make it home around 6:3o in the morning. I literally dropped my clothes on the floor before I fell into bed, slept for about 30 minutes, and then I got up, got dressed, and got out the door for my first day back to Pella Windows. We had been editing for seventeen hours, and we managed to finish the project. It hit the mail the next day, and I'm really proud of the movie that we created. It was exactly what I wanted it to be, and the film came out very well.
Or should I say that our "competition cut" of the film is completed, and now it's time to work on the general release version. Not that it will have more scenes or different cuts, but it will feature alternate effects and perhaps a more finely tuned opening sequence. There were a few moments that got the "quick and dirty" treatment just because we were starting to run out of time. Rob and I discussed those alternate cuts, and now it's a matter of finding the time to put those finishing touches on things. We also still need to finish the promotional materials for the film, including a movie poster, and then we'll schedule the premiere and have ourselves a party!
And this is just me being paranoid, but I wish I had used overnight delivery to make sure it reaches the contest before the deadline. There, all said. Saying it out loud makes it better.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Last Saturday marked our last performance of TMS, followed by a limited set strike. We made sure to grab all our personal belongings that had been used for both costume pieces and set dressing, and then we helped our director get all of her stuff down the steps and into her car. We picked up our official show T-shirts, grabbed all the leftover posters that we wanted, and then headed home from the theatre for the last time. On the next night, we met at a restaurant near Villanova for a little cast party, with drinks, food, conversation, and ESPN. It was a nice, low-key way to say goodbye to the show.
Overall, I'm glad that TMS has come to a close. It was a tough experience for me, both for rehearsals and for performances. It was a frustrating rehearsal process that challenged me very much. The director and I worked in different ways to the show, and she supported a "straight line" approach as opposed to my own method of "smaller and smaller circles." I'll write a compare and contrast essay later, I suppose. And then the three week run was exhausting, both because of the intense focus that the show required as well as the limited number of shows per week. We had long breaks between performance weeks, and it is always hard to build a sense of momentum through those long dry periods.
And not twelve hours after the party broke up, but I was once again sitting in front of the computer to complete the final edit on "Changing Lane." But that is another posting entirely...
Saturday, May 10, 2008
We also had to solve a particularly tricky problem of continuity at the halfway mark of the movie. In her closeup of a line, Lucy took a swig of her beer and looked away from Lois. She reproduced that physical action in no other shot, so we had to insert another moment in Lois' closeup so we could match the action from one shot to the next. It took us (and by "us" I mean Rob) a good hour of hard work to figure that moment out, but it ultimately it works better than it did before. It was a great instance of a practical necessity producing the best of all artistic options. We took a crack at the opening credits, finding a really cool effect for them. It took a while for Rob to get the graphic for the title card correct, and while it still needs a little tweaking, it's heading in a great direction.
We also took a quick pass at laying in some music for the film. We found a piece for the opening, a nice set of riffs on an acoustic guitar. Rob and I went back and forth as to whether the music needed more than just the guitar, but I eventually convinced him to just put the track over the opening of the film and see what we had. After we watched it for the first time, we both looked at each other and agreed that it was perfect just the way it was. It goes to show that sometimes you can over-complicated things, and that the simple solution might just be the best one. We wrapped the work around 3 in the morning, but we have done more since this post. The deadline for the film is fast aproaching, so we're working overtime on this so we can get it submitted in time.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Saturday, May 3, 2008
Yesterday was a particularly hard day for me, in terms of my acting career. So when I arrived at the theatre last night (late, I might add), I was totally not in the right "zone" for the demanding performance of the show. So I got dressed, and while thinking of other things I finished the screenwriting book that I've been reading. The book, as well as the play I saw on Thursday night, was all about how to not only work in the arts but also have a fulfilling life outside of your devotion to them. And so when I went backstage to start the show, I wasn't really as focused as I should have been. And when we didn't get started until around 8:15, fifteen minutes or so after we were supposed to start, I confess that I had become completely distracted from the performance and the show. And so only a few minutes into the show, I realized how distracted I was. I normally don't hear or see the audience members when I'm onstage, but I couldn't ignore them last night. And so when I embraced the sheer folly of the acting moments, when I gave myself over to the crappy job I would be doing, then the performance paradoxically got better. I stopped trying to reclaim something that had been long, and I instead started honestly responding moment-by-moment to what was happening without any preconceived ideas about it. I won't lie; it wasn't a miracle of acting by any stretch of the imagination. No sudden epiphany here about the craft. Just a slightly bewildered actor trying his best to make it through the evening.
Tonight's show is going to be a better one. And, in fact, all of the ones coming up as well. It was an unfortunate set of circumstances last night, and I ended up doing the best job that I could. It's heartbreaking and heartwarming to think that all performers have bad nights, and that these sorts of stories come with the territory. Also add in the idea that I spent the rest of the night having a few beers, eating Doritos, and watching "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade." Things weren't so bad after that.
Friday, May 2, 2008
We had a brush-up rehearsal for "TMS" yesterday afternoon, which felt very useful in the sense that we got a chance to run through the show and run through all the lines. But in the other sense, it felt to be a waste of time because we've already been running the show. The director keeps giving me what I think of as "notes from acting class," making me feel like an acting student again. I might be getting defensive when it comes to these notes, and I'd be the first person to admit that. But perhaps the week after a show opens is not the most appropriate time to be giving notes on "how to act."