This weekend I participated in Kansas City’s 48 Hour Film Festival. I found the experience to be much like the film we ended up creating, sometimes excruciating, sometimes amusing and a journey of process rather than product.
I used to say I was an actor, or more accurately I wanted to say I was an actor. I never actually did. I had a lot of hang ups about the who and when of that title. Living in LA, the term was slung about loosely to describe reality tv and pop icons. It was also interchangeable with the title of waiter, temp and unemployed.
These days I have no problem calling myself an actor. I have eased up on the self-deprecation enough to acknowledge that while it might not always be Oscar-worthy, there is talent there and I just have to deal with it. It like winning a grant or a residency my friend, classmate and brilliant sculptor Reilly Hoffman explains, “Because if you get it then you have to do something with it.”
So I went into this project as an actor, just an actor. And in the context of that job title I should have just shown up, read the script and did my thing.
This process didn’t go that way. Part of it was to be expect. I knew that we would be improving much of the piece and I knew that rules of the game were such that limited time required increased collaboration.
But the thing is being an actor is a really passive reality. I once had a boss in LA who actually got in an argument with me when I called myself an actor.
“You are NOT an actor!” he cried. “You are a producer and you just need to admit it."
This weekend I sat silently on the roof of a dive bar cursing the situation, cursing myself and cursing that boss for being right.
The process drove me INSANE. It was not at all how I would have done it. It was not organized. It was not thought out. It did not involve call sheets, crew lists or the utilization of excel.
I kept telling myself to relax, to do what I was told and go with the process. But I am just not that kind of girl. We were under a time crunch, in a bit of a creative crisis situation and there seemed to be a lack of cooks in the kitchen.
My control freak mode could not be controlled and I was insisting on locations and story arcs and cringing at the lack of organization.
And I KNEW that this was what I was getting myself into but I just couldn’t help it. The more I said, “just be the actor” the more I wanted to ensure that the process of production was streamlined.
It didn’t really go so well.
When we wrapped the 12th hour of shooting on Saturday and turned control over to the man with the camera, I was spent and concerned. I was also a little relieved. Sorting through the two hours of plotless footage wasn’t my problem. I felt very much like a mother must, sending her children out into the word having given their upbringing her best shot, leaving them to beer bong and walk-of-shame their way into adulthood.
This morning the director sent me a link to the finished product. He hadn’t turned it in in time. Essentially the purpose of the product was pointless – you have go to love alliteration. It really didn’t matter how good or how bad the film turned out to be. It was finished but the process was without climax and it seems the rest of the participants on our team were utterly disgusted with the process.
And that saddens me a little. Because the film to some might totally suck. And my ass to anyone with eyes might look totally enormous. And it wasn’t even finished in time to be judged.
But it was finished and we all learned something in the process. At least I did. And while I am not rushing off to show anyone seven minutes of my tragic emoting, I can’t say I wouldn’t do it again.
Next time I will just know to be in charge and admit my narcissism and control freak nature up front.