When I began acting, I never thought in a million years that I would be able to be on a set like Fugue. I never thought I would work with talent that challenged me and a director and crew that pushed me to my physical and performance limits while being loving, supportive, and encouraging the whole way.
When we wrapped on Wednesday, I thought
"Well, that's it. That will never happen again."
Beautiful locations, stunningly talented cast and crew members...it was the most I could ever hope for.
Instead of making me terribly, desperately sad, it made me hungry. I want to work with people like this every day for the rest of my life. I want to be surrounded with drive and passion and creativity every single day.
I was expecting a little post-production depression to hit the next day, but I didn't really have time for it since I went directly into filming a dark comedy--Popcorn Landfill. It was an overnight shoot in a part of St. Louis that had me a little on-edge. I hadn't gone to a single rehearsal with the cast or crew and had no idea what to expect.
But then it was wonderful. The cast was dynamic and the director/writer Joel and his right hand Maranda were getting beautiful shots and great performances. It was incredible!
I am still riding the high of the last ten days.
Pickup shots from my first feature length Tuesday Night and Wednesday Morning, Fugue, and Popcorn Landfill. Ahhhh.
What a life.
Check out the photos below and be sure to like and share the Facebook pages and follow along online!
Thanks for tuning in and as always, break legs!
My life has taken me to incredible places, working on amazing projects with really talented people. Fugue, the independent film I have been filming since Saturday, is one of the most talent-rich, challenging sets I have ever been on.
Every single person is giving every single ounce of blood and sweat imaginable. I feel challenged physically and acting-wise, I'm being pushed to a whole new level that I didn't know was possible.
Check out just two of the beautiful locations we filmed at around St. Louis.
More details to come on story line and my experience on set and behind the scenes!
Last night I headed out the door at 7:30 for a last minute pick-up shot. The feature-length that earned me my first-ever IMDb credit is nearly done, and I was happy to be back onset for a project I've loved since I read the script many months ago. (Cue ridiculously-happy, behind-the-scenes gif).
In a weird twist, being back in front of the camera wasn't the best part of the night.
A friend from college messaged me to ask if I was maybe in an SSM commercial. Alarm bells, trumpets, and a few happy squeals ran through my head. Finally, finally the ad that we filmed in February(?) has been released!
I'm officially in a television commercial!
I didn't think I would ever care if people recognized me or the work I did. I make movies, collect a check, and go on about my way thrilled to be a working actress.
But if I'm being honest, it was one of the coolest moments of my professional career.
Recognition is not my goal, but man...it was cool.
Today I am not going to talk about the struggles of balancing a schedule or quality time or support groups (which all have their much needed place and time). Today, I'm going to talk about something that's a little taboo in the working mom circle: What happens when you really love what you do?
Don't get me wrong, I miss my kids, and working full-time has required a significant change for my family, but...
Wait. If I said how much I hate working and how awful it is to be away from my kids and my home all day, no one would think twice. But I love my job, so I feel like it's necessary to qualify and explain and justify what I do.
On filming days, I cannot wait to get in the car and head to set. The night before a writing session, I can hardly sleep because ideas are rushing through my head constantly. It's an adrenaline rush to audition and incredibly fulfilling to perform, and I love what I do.
Why do I feel guilty about not feeling guilty? How messed up is that?
We condition ourselves to think that any kind of work has to be awful and miserable, that we should be counting the hours until we are released to go home, but what happens when you are counting the hours until you can go sit at your desk? What then?
Does it mean I love my children less? No. Fight me.
Does it mean I should never have had kids? No. Fight me.
I just really love what I do, and even if I didn't, I really love having things like a home and electricity. So for me, going to work is always, always a good thing. I'm exhausted by the pressure to feel bad.
Maybe I'll get to a place where I can approach being a working mom with the same attitude I approach character development. (Read Here).
I'd love to hear if any of you working parents have the same 'I should feel guilty' guilt. Leave a comment below.
Thanks for tuning in.
Best wishes and break legs in whatever field you happen to love.
When it rains, it pours seems to be true of both the good things and the bad things in my life. Whenever things are bad, they are really bad. Car-broken-down, job-on-the-fritz, arguing-with-the-gods bad.
Similarly, when things are good, they are excellent. Film-two-movies-in-one-week, write-with-abandon, earn-a-directors-credit good.
This week is a little strange because it has been both. At the same time. My brain really does not know what to do.
I'm trying to focus on the good. I'm trying to learn my lines and remember my blocking; keep my head down and do some excellent work for my father and just keep going.
It's working so far.
To be honest, I just want to be on set somewhere, on a stage where I can lose myself and heal. Saturday cannot come fast enough. My most selfish use of art and creativity is using it to center and heal myself. I don't do it intentionally most of the time, but it still happens. I still walk off stage better, happier, and more me. Every single time.
So, that's what I'll keep doing. I'm going to smile and work and act and heal. It will be my umbrella against all the negative things pouring down.
Break legs and find your umbrella.
Since moving into acting full-time, I've taken more careful stock of the shows and movies that I love. I have spent the last year analyzing, trying to find a common thread between the shows and actors that captivate me. The most common theme comes from actors who convey more with their facial expressions than with their words.
I'm working my way through AMC's The Walking Dead again, and in re-watching the show, I feel strongly that Jon Bernthal's performance as Shane was severely overlooked. Granted, he's the "bad guy" riding the fence, losing love, betraying friends, etc. and that story got a lot of attention, but Bernthal himself pulled off some of the best non-verbal acting I have ever seen and no one talks about it.
Several times, during season two, I find myself reaching excitedly for the remote to skip back and watch a look or reaction like the one pictured above. By dipping his head, lowering his voice, changing his gaze, Bernthal clearly convey's that Shane is not just angry, he's dangerous. It's brilliant.
My favorite moment of the season, intensified by beautiful direction and framing is so underrated that I could not find an image on the internet at all. Check out Season Two "Pretty Much Dead Already". When Bernthal shoots the zombie being restrained by Hershel, every single person in the frame is acting with intensity that has nothing to do with words.
In fact, Bernthal's face isn't even in the frame that I watched three times in a row. It's just his body. But he delivers the headshot with such authority, his shoulders square, without breaking stance, that his presence is still the strongest on the screen. It's just so badass, and not a word is spoken.
This is the common theme and the level of acting I aspire to.
I want to take people's breath away without saying a word.
Charlie Hunnam is another actor who floors me with what he can say without words. Yes, he's beautiful, and Jackson Teller was well-scripted, but my favorite moments in Sons of Anarchy are the moments Hunnam is allowed time and space to react. "Balm" (an incredibly difficult episode to watch, fair warning) is one of my favorites because we watch Hunnam (as Jax) goes from shocked-to the broken son-to the outlaw. And he never says a word.
As actors, we focus so much on the words, and great words can get you pretty far. A dynamic monologue can do a lot of the work, but more than anything, this is the skill I work on in the mirror. Not just what I am saying, but what I am conveying.
Pay attention to the moments that make you want to hit rewind, and good luck out there.
*Note: I am not an affiliate for IMDb or Amazon Video. I just believe in crediting work and watching entertainment legally.*
I'm not going to lie, I never saw myself moving backstage or behind the camera. Being on stage, out front, in the lights was not only thrilling, it was easier. When you're talent, no one expects you to do anything but show up, know your stuff, deliver, and go home.
Crew is another universe.
I saw the directors, producers and behind-the-sceners around me working themselves ten times as hard without any of the acknowledgement, and decided it wasn't for me.
Producers have to fight with everything from scheduling to billing to neurotic creative people, and it just didn't feel the same as nailing a performance.
Or, that's what I assumed.
Come to find out, being on set is my real high. It's what I do and love best. No matter the role or responsibility I have. However that is accomplished, I am just as giddy and proud of what we create. Knowing I'm genuinely helping translate ideas, or that I make editing go more smoothly, carries the same pride and thrill for me as being applauded onstage.
So, I encourage you to try new things. Learn. Be a sponge on set. You never know what opportunities might come of it. You never know what you might become from it.
One of the greatest compliments a director can give is saying you 'take notes' well. Basically, as an actor, it means you are able to listen to what a director is asking and deliver a new interpretation. Sometimes directors do this because they are looking for something specific and want to know if you can nail it. Sometimes, they are not sure what they are looking for until they hear it, but most of the time, directors are just wanting to see if you will listen without throwing attitude.
Taking notes is something I have always done well. I am a student at heart. Besides, half of what I love about my job is the challenge of learning something new all the time, and I know if it was my script, I would want someone to listen to me.
I learned something about myself and the creative process through the years, though. When I take on a character, I take on their story. I become responsible for their voice, their presence and I become their advocate. Most of the time, I agree with the growth and evolution of a character, but twice I have had to stand up for the person I am portraying.
Ignoring my natural tendency to just give the director/producer what they are asking for, I decided to take a stand in these situations. In both cases, I only stood my ground because additions to the script fundamentally changed who my character was or what her purpose was in the greater scope of the project.
I truly believe this passionate belief is central to what makes me a positive person to work with. Not only do I care about my performance, I care about the story and the person I am portraying.
Now, let's be clear, I didn't argue with anyone in either situation. I never raised my voice. Instead, I stated my opinion including why I disagreed with the addition and what it changed in my character. These simple statements, presented to the writer/director showed my dedication to the character and the storyline and in both cases, my approach allowed the bosses to give my point-of-view some consideration.
I left the final decision where it should be--in the director's hands, and I moved forward in both cases with as much passion as I had the day before even though only one director sided with me.
When you take on a character and spend time developing a performance, it's okay to stand up for the art you have created (an important lesson I learned from the incredible theater director Brittanie Gunn with Tesseract Theatre Company).
So I say: Treat people with respect, take notes, and act not just with passion, but also with thoughtful care for the story you've been handed.
Good luck out there!