Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Big Decisions...and Why I "Get" Spalding Gray

The fact that I put this blog off last week and my procrastination actually turned into a full week sans blogging is no accident. After a productive and eye opening phone call with my career coach, Emily Grace, I admitted to myself that I want to direct and should direct my own project, my feature film, Gold Star. But for some reason, I still feared actually announcing it. Emily even encouraged me to blog about it, saying it would make for great material, so here I am, finally getting to it and owning it fully.

November 2012, and 2012 in general, has been a year of growing, learning and creating for me. Sometimes you just gotta roll with the punches, but if you kept letting yourself get punched in the face, you learn nothing and come away with a bloody face. Not so fun. When I had to take tai chi at the Lee Strasberg Institute way back when at NYU, I learned that when attacked, the best form of self defense is to use the attacker’s body weight against them, use their own force to bring them down. I believe this not only applies to fighting, but also to life and less physical things thrown your way. When bad things happen, use them, and that’s what this film’s been for me, a form of self defense against horrible things. By writing about my difficult year, I think I’ve changed it in a way, and my thinking of it. But I can’t go halfway with it. I can’t just write it.

After my father passed away last month, my view of the film changed. It became even more personal than I could have imagined. I was so afraid to admit that I wanted to direct the project, not only because of my fear of failing in some way, but also because I thought it would make me look like some kind of a control freak/megalomaniac, neither of which I am. I love collaboration. Discovering new ideas through partnership is exciting, and I plan on involving a great team to bring this film to the screen. I recently realized, though, that directing this is something I have to do. I go to sleep at night seeing scenes play out in my head, imagining the look of the film, the tone, everything. Gold Star is not only something I wrote and many things I experienced. It is real to me.
Not only a photo to promote my film, Gold Star, but a reminder that my father is everywhere. Photo by Ben Jarosch

I feel completely different as a person, like I came out of a battle scarred, yet with a new perspective on life. Everyone’s parents die. It’s something we all face, but in actually experiencing it I've had somewhat of a paradigm shift, maybe because I’m a bit young to lose a parent, I don’t know. Yesterday I was sitting in a workshop with a casting director, and I felt isolated as everyone was asking questions, like I didn’t really feel like a full-on actor per se.

Let me attempt to explain what I mean. The multitalented performer, monologuist and all-around favorite of mine, Spalding Gray once said something to the effect of (and I couldn’t find the quote anywhere but remember it striking a chord with me)…I couldn’t act because I kept judging the writing, the words and it all came out as judgments and I couldn't say it. Sometimes I feel this way—actually, a lot of the time. Ever since I started writing seriously and learning what my voice is, everyone else’s seems fake or like I’m going against myself by reading someone else’s words. I always connected strongly to Spalding’s work while at NYU. I’d spend hours in the library watching his archived, difficult to find videos while eating snacks by myself, laughing and writing down favorite quotes. I’m just starting to realize why I love him so much.

As artists, I think the greatest challenge is being brave and doing something different. Don’t be afraid to do something because you might fail. If you’re a smart, hard working person, you can figure it out. Yes, I will be taking on many roles in getting this film made, but it is my film, my voice and my story. I really have to be the one that tells it. 

1 comment:

  1. Everyone experiences self-doubt at some point in their life. Reading your blog shows me that you've come to terms with yours. Do the things that make you happy and drive you. As you've already seen, just making the decision and giving voice to it is liberating in itself. This will not be an easy task, nor should it be, Things that are worthwhile are difficult by nature.
    That being said, I have no doubt that you will see this through. And no matter what the result, it will be as you stated, your voice and story. It's only right that that you should be the one to give it life. Be well and do well.