The entire first season of "WRNG in Studio City" is up and ready for some binge viewing! If you've been following along at home, I directed episode six of this hilarity back in 2012. And now, the whole series, a comedy about reporters making up fake news stories & passing them off as true, is up on YouTube for your viewing pleasure: WRNG in Studio City Season One (with Blog Lady intros).
I directed episode 6, "Pine Barrens", guest starring my fabulous friend, Kerry Hite:
This series was a ton of fun to shoot. I've been wanting to shoot more action and I love to shoot outside, so running around the park was superfun.
Eyeballs are the currency of the Interwebs, so please check the series out, like, share, and comment. You know, every time you post a YouTube comment on independent content, an angel gets its wings. Truth.
Alright, maybe not. But it does make my heart sing.
I ran into one of my next-door neighbors today for the first time. I could swear her curious look said, "There's that girl who plays Creep by Radiohead just a little excessively."
Alright, I'm probably making that up in my head, but her look certainly didn't say, "There's that girl who has all that fantastic sex with her husband all the time" either. I'm having issues with my 40s.
I know I'm only 2 years in, but I can't get a grasp. I feel unsure, unsettled, frustrated. My 40s feel a hell of a lot like my 20s, truth be told. And all I can think about that is, damn I hope my 50s feel like my 30s, 'cause my 30s were pretty awesome until I got laid off.
In the meantime, I keep putting one foot in front of the other, trying to hit my stride.
And then I made a playlist. Five songs that scream my 40s to me, 2 years in.
Soul's On Fire - Big Sky
Creep - Radiohead
The Fear - Lily Allen
Pork and Beans - Weezer
I Am Not A Robot - Marina & the Diamonds
It maybe that I'm going for 40 songs about 40 before I'm done, 'cause I've already added Sail by AWOLNATION and I Don't Want To Be Alone by Billy Joel (from the greatest Billy Joel album EVER, Glass Houses - If you don't own it, go buy it now).
Got any more for me? I can't figure my 40s out for the life of me, but I can listen, and I can be, and here I am.
Last year I was fortunate to direct one episode of the upcoming hilarious web series, WRNG in Studio City, written and produced by my good friend Greg Machlin. It's about a group of website reporters who discover their entire budget's been embezzled by the CFO and spent on a massive hookers and cocaine binge, so they band together & decide to make up news stories & pass them off as true… and almost immediately run into trouble from two menacing corporate "ax people." Can they save the station? Can they save their jobs? Check out our trailer:
It's kinda ridiculous, and I mean that in the most awesome way possible.
This project was superfun to be involved with, and a really educational experience. I was so impressed by how all these wonderfully talented people came together to make it happen, all inspired by my friend Greg. WRNG in Studio City premieres on YouTube Tuesday August 27th with episodes 1-3, and eps 4-6 release that Friday, August 30th. The episode I directed, "Pine Barrens," is episode 6. Sounds like an episode of The Sopranos? Hm...
WRNG in Studio City is co-created and written by Greg Machlin and David Butler, and produced by Greg Machlin and Joe Luis Cedillo. Read more about our show, cast and crew on the WRNG in Studio City website, and if you've got a minute, please:
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WRNG in Studio City is coming! Hooray!
With WRNG in Studio City releasing and Zero Sight: Bad Call out in the webiverse, what's a broke director to do next? A new "no budget" web series, of course! And lucky me, the writer of Zero Sight: Bad Call (and unproduced web series Zero Sight), Michael Patrick Sullivan, has written a brilliant new spy-thriller web series that I am in love with called Tradecraft.
Tradecraft is designed to be brilliant, exciting... and cheap. Last month I had an amazing pow wow with the beginnings of a core team - the people coming together for this project already blow me away - and right now Michael is writing all the episodes. Well, right now he's waiting for some notes from me on the first pass on the first 10, but usually he's writing all the episodes.
For Tradecraft, I'll be doing the primary editing and then my normal editor, Randall Waldrop, will kindly do me a polish. To this end, I've been upgrading my laptop, which by some miracle meets the minimum requirements for Final Cut 10. I'm now only one 3-paycheck month away from having my editing laptop up and running. And soon I'll be looking for two more core members of the team.
Not sure yet if we're going to start shooting in the fall or push to January, but I'm very confident that Tradecraft will hit the web in 2014, and I'm VERY excited about all the elements we'll be bringing together, including some very cool transmedia goodness. (Hat tip to Zero Sight: Bad Call producer Paige Barnett for the term "transmedia.") More to come on Tradecraft and the awesome people involved in the upcoming months for sure.
I wouldn't be so confidently embarking on our Tradecraft adventure if not for the example set by writer/producer Greg Machlin on WRNG in Studio City. It was very cool to be part of such a great team and to see how he pulled it all together, inspired us all, and continues to work so hard on our social media presence and series launch. So BIG thank you, Greg. I've got all my fingers and toes crossed for a season 2 of WRNG in Studio City, because I can't wait to see what you've got in store for us.
Webby goodness, people! Feel the love.
I turned 42 last week, and I'm not sure what to make of that. I'm obviously open about my age, but when my friend Jane from MidLifeBloggers said on my Facebook, "Ain't the 40s great?", it felt weird. There's no denying I'm there, but I don't have any of the big things I don't care about - house, kids - nor any of the big things I do care about - profitable directing career, partner. Add to that the fact that I decided upon arriving in Los Angeles to whenever possible consider my life and my decisions as though I was 10 years younger than I am, and that I don't dye my gray hair, and you've got one somewhat chaotic 42-year-old.
I do think it's a pretty cool number (I like numbers divisible by 3), and I was happy to be having my Douglas Adams birthday. 42 being the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything, according to The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. 42 feels better than 40. 40 was fun, but it felt surprising to be there, if birthdays that come every year can ever feel surprising.
I feel wiser at 42 than ever before, at least when I'm not feeling completely clueless, as though everything I've learned has abandoned me. We never lose the ability to be a dumbass, I think.
My year this year has turned out to have the theme of "patience."
Patience in this context is not patience in the sense of waiting for something to happen or for something to go away. Patience, like all of the far-gone actions, takes place in the present moment. Patience here means not pushing our experience away, whether it be pleasurable or painful. The discomfort of pain arouses aggression in the sense that we want to push it away. Patience is the opposite of aggression. It is nonaggression, which means experiencing whatever is present and not rejecting it. -Moh Hardin, A Little Book of Love
This is definitely at the forefront of my journey these days. I have been enjoying many moments, even as forward movement on the things that are important to me feels painfully stagnant. As though I am caught in a delightful and very, very thick mud bath.
Here's some progress: I don't want children. That's taken 42 years to say, so straightforwardly.
Because for as long as I can remember, there is this thing I was taught and internalized long ago. That women naturally want children, and that someday I would wake up, change my mind, and regret. There was a clock, and it was ticking, even if I couldn't hear it.
These days, even the concept of that series of events makes little sense to me. That I would regret instead of honoring my choices and accepting my life in any given day, even if something inside me had changed.
I don't want children, and when I think about the fact that I've spent my entire life giving energy to the thought that magically one day that would change - well, I spent one moment wondering how life would have been different without that constant caveat. How would a honest and straightforward acceptance and communication of this fact have effected my love life and my career? How does this internalized message about my life and my value as a woman continue to affect me? Yet, it is what it is. We grow when we are ready.
And, more than ever before, I am free. Our biological clocks will do what they will, but I no longer believe in a clock that will make me suddenly want to be a mother more than I want to be a director, and make me look at my life's work, such that it is at any given point, and regret that I never had something that I didn't want in the first place.
Directing is what gives my life meaning. That's who I am, even if my projects remain small and far between.
...we can discover this meaning in life in three different ways: (1) by creating a work or doing a deed; (2) by experiencing something or encountering someone; and (3) by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering. -Viktor E. Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning
Some believe that a statement like Viktor Frankl's above, doesn't fully apply to women. Because, men are full persons, and women are women. The rules are different for us, some think.
But, I am a person, and I was immensely gratified to read this statement of the breadth of ways we find meaning in life, the many options we have as humans. And I am a person with a very full life that has no room or desire to raise children. I live my life for the opportunities to create films, and web series, and in my dreams, television or features. Big, action packed features that cause giant billboards to go up, and viewer's hearts to race.
I don't dream of the pitter patter of little feet, I dream of the day when I have one job that is directing I can fully immerse myself in, and I cherish the opportunities to work my ass off directing while holding down a full-time office job, because if that's how it has to be, then I just have to make the choices I can, and gather all my knowledge and stamina and passion and make it happen.
I am a filmmaker.
That's my 42.
SIGHT - Nighttime lights of The Valley as you crest in going north on the 405
SMELL - Thanksgiving dinner 'cause peeps stay in town
TOUCH - Late night purple sky bare feet on the cool stars of Hollywood Blvd.
HEARING - Chillin' out to great bands at Hotel Cafe
One of the best things about "Zero Sight: Bad Call" hitting the web this week was unexpected. So many of my friends and mentors watched it and sent me the most wonderfully thoughtful responses. One thing I love about directing, and why I'm drawn to it, is that it continues to present challenges and opportunities to learn. And you learn throughout the process. I've no doubt that "Zero Sight: Bad Call" will have things to teach me even a year from now, and I'm so grateful to have so many wonderful people in my life who took time out to watch the short and give me real feedback. (Keep it coming!)
Now, don't get me wrong... I'm also incredibly fond of every single person who simply told me that it rocks! Check it out; what do you think?
Another thing I just adore, is the ability to put content on the web and just immediately share it. The potential for feedback and sharing and interaction is just fantastic. I love that on the web, a project lives just as soon as you upload it.
The flip side of that is the need for marketing and my fixation this week on the number of views and likes. And the fact that they matter. The fact that the first day, the first week, matters. There's this push-pull energy between viewers, who watch when they can, and creators, where you need people to watch right away. It feels like some sort of cruel irony, the way I watch and interact with content vs. the sudden need for people to watch, like, and with any luck SHARE, the film short I directed. It's kinda crazy. It's certainly crazy-making.
I've a fair bit of experience in Internet marketing and social media, of course, but for the blog it's always been different. I do what feels organic and fun, and then that's just it. I blog for myself first, and it's always been that way. Yes, it being public is a big part of the energy of blogging, but it being popular has never been my personal goal. Clearly.
There were a couple years there, as blogs just began to become mainstream, that people would seek me out and ask me how I got readers, how my blog reached the level it was at then, and honestly, the only answer I have is that I was blogging organically and honestly in 2005. The community was much smaller, some cool people linked to me, and I made some awesome blog friends. Then the Internet changed, my readership has naturally gone down, and I'm just still doing what I do, less the types of posts that now live on Facebook instead.
As I write this, "Zero Sight: Bad Call" is at a little over 1500 views, which to me seems pretty awesome, particularly for a video with an adult content warning at the head and nobody famous or singing or being broadly humorous in it. Also, no cats. So I'm pretty happy about that number, and to be honest, I'm pretty amused by the adult content warning, too. (Even if the reality is pretty mild.)
But the hard thing is that I love it, and I love everyone who worked on it, and I want MORE and MORE people to see it and love it, too! And so I rack my brain for ways to make that happen, ways to rise above the ocean of content. You send messages and emails and press releases and tweets and shares, and you just hope it gets out there. That people like it and that people share it. (SUPER thanks to everyone who's watched, liked, commented and/or shared - YOU ROCK!)
I know I'm not the first one to dive into this, and I guess what I would most want to share is that I think that if you send something out and no one responds and picks it up for a post on a website or something cool like that, you have this tendency to think, Oh well, maybe it wasn't that good then. Maybe next time.
But I've worked in PR, and I know that's not necessarily true. You can create something amazing, and it can simply not make the leap because of the timing or the right person was too busy when they got your message, or any number of things. We're all in a big ocean these days, and you need like a flying fish to leap up and help you glisten in the sun where everyone can see, but sometimes you just get stuck in the waves with all the other drops of water.
Geez, I can really milk an anology, right?
Anyway, I don't really know how we next get more eyeballs, but I love "Zero Sight: Bad Call." I think it came out pretty damn good, and everyone who worked on it is superawesome. It's hella fun, my friends. Sexy, cute, fast, and hella fun.
If you agree, how about you vote for "Zero Sight: Bad Call" for Short of the Week? THAT would be awesome!!!
And SHARE it, my friends. I promise that mature content warning will protect anyone from getting in trouble with the boss. And it's the weekend now anyway.
Well, I'm not an actress, but what I do have is a fairly large - for a one-bedroom in Los Angeles - apartment. And so we shot a lot of my Stage 5 TV Continuum film short, "Zero Sight: Bad Call," in my space. The entire first, fat day of shooting of a two-day shoot, to be specific.
Now, I have an odd hobby in life of going through my things and getting rid of stuff. It's an ongoing, process, and I have a lot less things than I used to. But going into a film shoot, even more had to go. I spent a lot of time moving things like my rocking chair and my bike to my friend's basement, taking things to the thrift store, and reorganizing.
I moved my china cabinet into the bedroom, a freestanding pantry to the porch, and my old TV to the bathroom. I painted my kitchen over Christmas, put all my movie posters under my bed and stuffed my closets to the brim. By the night before the shoot, the only thing in my apartment that I hadn't personally moved was an armoir in a corner of my bedroom. Space was at a premium, and the best place for the sandbags, was the hallway. The HALLWAY where people walk was the best place for the sandbags.
We put most of grip and electric on the porch, but I was concerned about load-bearing so I insisted, no sandbags there. The weight of those suckers adds up fast.
As production design and equipment were moved in, my producer Paige Barnett and I became really concerned about space and number of bodies. So much so that when a friend who had volunteered to be on-set photographer had to cancel, I called Paige and said, "Good news, the set photographer cancelled!" A little tongue in cheek, to be sure, but with a solid tinge of truth. (And BIG thanks to Paige for taking tons of pics during the shoot!)
I wish I'd have somehow hired a script supervisor; I regretted the decision not to in editing, but I honestly don't know how we would have fit another person without all of us going mad. Here's a shot of Jon Gentry (Cam) and VyVy Nguyen (Veronica) chilling out in the bathroom. VyVy's sitting on my TV:
My bedroom was hair and makeup, DIT, AND the green room. Craft services went in the kitchen, and had to be moved whenever it was in the shot. The space was full up, and to the cast and crew, what can I say, but thank you, thank you, thank you for your good humor about it all. Thank you!
Now, my place was previously apartment white. Here's Paige at the beginning of that project, the weekend before the shoot:
We did three coats of the yellow, ultimately, on what is a pretty big room. I have to admit, it was a little panic inducing seeing bright yellow paint go up against blue painter's tape. I suddenly had images of my apartment as a preschool. Big thanks to my production designer, Jessica Mahnke, who picked the colors, because it was my confidence in her that kept me breathing while the yellow went up. Here's a shot from the film where you can see some of her marvelous production design:
The craziest thing we did in the apartment was a 180 degree dolly move that required full-size curved dolly track and a doorway dolly. Originally, we'd thought we'd be able to use a smaller rig, but the nature of the move and the size of the RED camera meant we needed to upgrade. Which meant that we needed to fit even more into my apartment. Looking at the track the night before my shoot, I thought to myself, Ah, the fine line between brave and stupid... There it is:
And, setting up for action:
Ultimately, working around my full-time day job, it took about a month to prep the apartment for the shoot, and over a month to recover. It was kind of amazing, and totally worth it. When I came home at the end of day two, I dropped my bags and took this shot:
So now, my apartment is pretty much all back together. Funny thing, getting ready for a little get-together about a month and half after the shoot I actually thought to myself, What happened to my carpet? And then I laughed out loud. Um, I think it was the film crew.
Renting a carpet cleaner is on the To Do list.
On May 1st I did something I've never done before. I changed my New Year's Resolution to something completely different.
Those playing along at home may remember that my New Year's Resolution was to Break Some Rules and Kick Some Ass. This was really fitting while I was working on my upcoming film short, Zero Sight: Bad Call. (Premiering May 14th on Stage 5 TV's YouTube show, The Continuum!) I did indeed break some rules, and I did my damndest to kick some ass.
But as I transition forward from that project, other ongoing personal work has risen to the surface, eclipsing the need for rule-breaking and the sort of ass-kicking that goes along with it. And so, on May Day I resolved to
That's a lot of words, but they encapsulate for me a feeling that I hold in my heart and try to live every day, in every situation, with every person. Some days are easier than others. Some personal situations are easier than others. Some days it feels damn near impossible.
And that's why Be is my new resolution for 2013.
Have you seen this new video from Dove? I kinda hate it:
For a while, I couldn't quite put my finger on why. It's rather treacly and contrived, which I find unpleasant, but just this morning I realized that what really pokes at me is that as I watch this video, particularly towards the end, it's just a whole lot of emotion and energy about looks. How a women thinks she looks. How other people think she looks. Women. Looks. Looks. Women. It's too much.
I care about how I look, but I care a whole hell of a lot more about how I feel. How my body works and how it feels while it's working. How it feels to me and how it feels to others.
I'm really focused on losing weight right now and getting more physically fit. A strong 25% of that is that I want to fit in my clothes and my bathing suit and look good. But 75% of that is that how my body feels right now is uncomfortable. I don't like how it feels when my little beer belly hangs over my underwear. I don't like that my pants are tight. (And I hate shopping for pants!) I don't like grocery bags and laundry feeling heavy. I love how tight abs feel. I love how strength feels. I love how it feels to be able to do all the things I want to.
Similarly, I worry how others perceive my gray hair, and the effects of that on my life, but the winning factor is that most days my hair feels fabulous to the touch. It's strong and healthy. I don't worry about it making me feel old because I'm 41 years old and this is the hair that grows out of my head. So in objective reality, it can only make me look exactly 41. It's 41-year-old hair.
Oh, is 41 "old"? Well, I'll let you know when it feels like it.
Now, one of my favorite physical attributes is my breasts. They don't look remotely like the women you see in magazines, but I gotta tell ya, they feel fantastic. So I don't really spend any mental energy at all worrying about what they're supposed to look like, and for the record, they can each hold a pencil. While feeling fantastic.
I don't buy clothes that look good but aren't comfortable.
I don't eat healthy food that isn't delicious.
I don't make decisions that don't feel right in my gut.
Since I started this post hating on a Dove video, I'll give you one more example. I never used shower gel before I did a paid post for Dove Body Wash. Now, my shower always hosts a bottle (yes, of Dove). Why? Because now my skin feels soft all the time. The other day I got a pedicure (yes, because I like my toes to look pretty), and I saw the woman feel my feet and choose the softer side of the sander. That's what it's about for me. Feel is always going to trump look.
Have you seen the Men's Parody video of the Dove Sketch Video?
Honestly, the two videos together just kinda make me feel sad. It made me wonder if men did the second sketch in the women's video, how would that turn out? And then, I gotta let that go because again, it's just too much focus on looks. I honestly believe that ultimately attraction is substantially about feeling for most people. How do you feel when you're around the person? How do they feel to you? In your gut and in your arms.
At the end of the day, most of us care to varying degrees about what we look like. There's nothing wrong with wanting to look our best. I want to look my best.
But how we define that, and how we let society define that for us, is ultimately up to us.
Me, I'm gonna just keep doing what feels good.