Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Filming Ends

So, after a couple of sleep-deprived nights over the weekend, the film, that is, my section for Melbourne, is 'in the can', so to speak. There is still a massive edit to do, and some audio recording, but the filming, which is the bulk part of my involvement right now, is over and done with, so that's exciting.
Filming ended up being a blast, once I got over my nerves from the black-box session. Sunday was a massive day. I got to Kinsale at 1pm, and didn't leave until 1am. We were mainly filming a very long monologue in an empty nightclub, which required some very tricky work with lights, which was difficult, as we only had one spotlight and the lights they use for the disco. Film acting requires a lot of standing around and waiting. The standing around and waiting is only made worse when the film has no budget, so the only crew is the cameraman and the director, and the only light is the big, old one that the director keeps in her house.
If nothing else, this whole process has given me a much bigger appreciation of the work that goes into filming, and the importance of lighting in particular. Its interesting watching the cameraman setting things up, and the small things that can make a difference. A simple A1 sheet of white paper on one side of me, for example, to bounce light and make the light balance out, or a mirror to do the same. Ingenious!
By 9pm on Sunday, I was ready to gnaw off my own arm in hunger, so we went to a local pub to get some dinner. One excellent thing about going to a restaurant in Ireland desperately hungry is that they always give you far too much food. You get free, heavy soda bread for starters, then your main meal comes with cooked vegies or salad, chips AND garlic potatoes. Unbelievable. Even if you are so hungry you are ready to kill the waitress and eat her, you rarely get through an entire meal at an Irish restaurant. Bliss.
Whilst we finished at 1am, we could potentially have shave half an hour off that time, if I hadn't consistently collapsed into hysterical giggles near the end of the shoot. It really wasn't my fault. It was a combination of the sleep deprivation and the quips of the cameraman. Its probably a good thing though, as some of the material we were dealing with at that hour were particularly heavy and depressing, so being able to laugh hysterically for a while probably helped the whole situation and stopped us getting too sombre. The shots at the end of the night also got quite... well... we're calling them 'arty', but it could conceivably be called, 'nonsensical'. I feel 'whimsical' is a good description. Every show needs a dose of whimsy. I wouldn't be surprised if they're the shows people walk out of the theatre talking about, as they're just too funny and interesting.
Anyway, last night we completed the mammoth task, first driving out to Cork City Gaol for a shot, and then completing it at Acton's Hotel in Kinsale. We had a few extra actors on board that night, who were both lovely and good sports, especially the guy who was playing my love interest. I had to get dressed into a wedding gown (which kind of made me look like Miss Havisham), and waltz around an empty ballroom. Its kind of disturbing the automatic romantic reaction I got to stepping into a long, white gown with a train. It was far too fun to be in that dress. It goes against my rational, post-feminist sensibilities.
We finished yesterday evening at 2am, due to some more hysterical outbursts, and to ensure that we had enough footage for the film. My poor director then had to drive me back to Bandon, as she had picked me up, and then head back to Kinsale afterwards before she could sleep. I've been exhausted all day, but I'm also feeling really happy, really excited and really intrigued to see how the film all comes together. I'm sure I'll hate hearing myself back on film (I can't stand the sound of my own voice, and I can only just bear to see myself on camera. Mainly I shove my fingers in my ears and squeeze my eyes shut, only now and then opening them to squint at the screen), but I do really want to see the result. I'm also ridiculously excited to see Cathie's corresponding video.
Well, that's it for me. Having gone to bed at 2:45 am last night and 2am the night before, I really want to get a good night's sleep this evening.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Filming Continues

4 hours of filming this evening, from approximately 9:30pm onwards. We finished at 1am. I'm exhausted. And yet, here I am, blogging. Can't help it, I suppose.
This was a much harder shoot than Saturday. I was doing a large chunk of the script, direct to camera, in a space that was meant to resemble a black-box theatre. Thanks to the lighting genius of our camera maestro, Justin, a crumbling, white-washed barn (converted into artists studios) took on the necessary appearance. The set up looked more than a little amusing, with one large-ish light on one side of me and a mirror (propped up on a duffel bag and quilt) and giant sheet of white paper (pinned to a dressmaker's dummy) providing the necessary lighting on the other side. This is what a no budget film set looks like, people.
So, it turns out, that in spite of my ridiculously optimistic, 'I loved filming' post from Saturday, I still hate camera work. Turns out, what I hate about camera work, is the line-delivery. Quite happy to do all sorts of ridiculous behaviour on camera, as long as it doesn't involve lines. Curious. Especially because lines and line-learning have always been my 'thing' in acting. I've got a knack for line-learning. Can do it ridiculously quickly. Unfairly quickly. And as a kid at YPT (Young People's Theatre), I always used to measure the 'goodness' of my part by how many lines it had compared to all the other roles.
Anyway, tonight was not the night that proved my ability with lines. The minute I was staring down that camera lens, I was terrified. I was so anxious, I was so self-conscious. One small hesitation became a small line mix-up, became a huge line screw-up. The first scene took 7 takes. By the end of the night, I was Jenny 'One-Take-Wonder', but only because I had screwed up so many takes before hand, that there was only a very limited amount of space on the camera, and we kept deleting any take that wasn't exactly right. So, the clapper always read 'Take 1'.
But, we got through it. There were some hysterical moments, like, at the start of the night, when I attempted to lift myself up on to my high stool, but instead, got my foot caught on the long train of my dress (I was wearing something highly theatrical, to heighten the sense that I was in the Theatre, capital 'T'), and went catapaulting towards the edge of the un-fenced, un-guarded landing, and the concrete floor a few meters below. But, said suicide attempt did not win me any sympathy and we still had to complete the shoot. At about 12:35am, just before the final take, when I had to be all emotional, my director attempted to click the clapper (that sounds great!), but instead, kind of twirled it out of her hand and towards my face at great speed. This meant that for the next 10 minutes, every time she went to click the clapper (still sounds great), she, or I, would dissolve into hysterics, to the great joy of our cameraman, who wasn't at all tired and wanting to go home to bed. In my experience, this happens at least once in every show, when everyone is absolutely exhausted, and/or you are attempting the hardest, most uncomfortable scene in the production. This evening, it happened to be both.
I had thought that putting all the stuff that I'd written on to camera would be much easier than saying it live in a theatre, and was very pleased that I didn't have to cross that threshold yet. However, it turns out that its just as hard to share your innermost thoughts and feelings to a camera, as it is to do so in front of a group of people. If anything, I found it harder. The camera lens is so cold, so judgemental. I know its making me look much bigger and uglier than I would like. At least, if you get the right people in, you can look out into a sea of encouraging or sympathetic faces. You can pretend that they all think you're beautiful. And thin.
Anywho, its been an experience. I'm learning a heap more about film and filming and being on a movie, and that's exciting, and useful, I feel. We have another evening of filming on Friday, then something on Saturday morning, I think, and then I am pretty much done, for the time being, as its on to editing. I will, of course, be helping with Melbourne as much as I can from Ireland, but I get a little bit of a break, at least, which is nice.
Speaking of helping, please do support our show through FundIt, it you are based in Ireland. We are getting a Pozible set up asap for those supporters in Australia.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Filming Begins

We started filming my half of the script yesterday.

As I say in the film, 'I am so excited.'

We've got a great camera guy on board, Justin, and we ran about various parts of Bandon yesterday to grab various shots.

I've always hated film work, I usually feel far too self-conscious and wooden, but I really enjoyed yesterday. Plus, I didn't have to watch back much of what I'd done, which is great, because that's the part I truly hate about film work. I was given much encouragement and ego-stroking when I was able to get most shots in one take, and we were all falling about ourselves giggling about how funny some of the shots were going to be.

One of my particular favourite shots was one we did of me holding a sign saying 'London' next to the sign for Bandon, and trying to hitch a lift. Of course, the people going past were giving me the strangest looks, and I just could not keep a straight face. Eventually, we got the shot, but not before much screaming and giggling and gnashing of teeth and biting of the inside of my mouth so that I wouldn't keep laughing.

The few shots I did see looked gorgeous and of very high-quality, so that's really exciting. We're doing some more filming tomorrow night and then on Friday, and then a couple of weeks later, Yvonne will be taking the finished product with her to Melbourne.

I can't believe this crazy idea is actually happening.

I am so excited.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Script Finished (kind of)!

So, we've bashed together the script in the last week or so, and this evening we start filming. Its kind of exciting. The weather is even playing ball by being awful and rainy today, which is kind of perfect, as we needed miserable weather for all my comments complaining about the weather.
The script is... interesting, I think. It is well-written, I'm certain of that, its just now about translating it into something theatrically interesting. It was great bashing it into shape together, as we mostly had the same opinion, wanted to make the same cuts and changes, which meant I felt very confident about the structure and what was being left in.
I did read out a much longer draft for our camera guy on Wednesday night, and that was hugely embarrassing. I think it was made worse because he was a guy, and there are some... well, kind of "crazy girl" moments in the piece. You know, I'm fat, no one will ever love me, the sort of stuff that every guy loves to hear about. I was worried that he was getting bored, but he said it was interesting (because it was so personal), though he did think it needed to be cut down. I have to say, though, I'm ever so pleased this part is being recorded, and I won't actually have to be looking at people as I'm saying it. I don't know how I'm going to handle it at Wexford. Maybe what I'm saying won't be as personal. Maybe, hopefully, I'll just be reacting to stuff that Cathie's written.
Please, please, please, let that be the case....
The exciting thing about the script, of course, is that it is ever-changing, updating and adapting to our situation. So, I might have a whole raft of new reflections by November and Wexford. It might be an entirely different Jenny that steps out on to the stage, which is exciting as well. Of course, it could also be the same old anxious one, but that's ok too. Hopefully she'll have some new anxieties to report on. 
So, at the moment, we are starting our fundraising drive. We're having two - one in Ireland, one in Australia, and hopefully that will get us through for the first two productions. I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but we are hoping to expand it further, to Alabama and Adelaide next year (maybe somewhere else in Ireland too that starts with an 'A'...), and with another performer, and we need to start thinking about that sometime soon, which makes the project... never-ending. I was hoping to get a break in between these productions and the next!! Oh, well, keeps us motivated, I suppose. I'm hoping, by that point as well, we'll be much more used to the production and getting things up and going in different countries, so it'll make it easier and less stressful the second time around.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Positive Post

Its time for a positive post. My last few ones have been so stress-ridden and anxiety-induced that I don't think anyone reading this blog would be interested in seeing the show. Well, maybe they would be, but only as a sort of sideshow act, see the crazy, anxious actress go onstage and have a meltdown.

ANYWAY, that's enough of that.

Because the show is going to be great.

I actually think its going to be great.

I can feel it in my waters.

We've been working away at the script, Yvonne and me, over the last two weeks, and its starting to feel like something. Something good. Something interesting. And, whenever I get worried that its all too self-absorbed and self-indulgent, we splice together some of my writing and Cathie's writing, and it suddenly sounds like... something. Something interesting.

Yvonne has some really interesting ideas for the video, which sound great, and I do hope they are able to be used. We're going to be working much more with the 'art of film' so to speak. Instead of just filming a theatre performance, or me, standing there, talking, there will be a much more concerted effort to make the video into something interesting in its own right. I think that's exciting.

We're also really playing on this idea of the theatrical conversation. So, even though I'm working very hard on a script for Cathie right now, this will most likely not be the script that I perform in Wexford. Instead, my script will develop along with what Cathie produces in Melbourne. This is another cool idea, and really sets us up for future work (we are looking at Adelaide, and adding a third performer for a festival in Alabama.... right now, this sounds very daunting. And I'm not committing myself yet - to either the festivals or the mental hospital - but, seriously, if it goes well, it would be exciting to develop it further, and maybe we can look at the Dublin Fringe again.... ).

That's it for now. But, I am buzzed. The show is going to be 'something'. I don't know what that is yet, and it might not sound particularly concrete. But, that's what's kind of exciting about the whole thing. Terrifying, too, don't get me wrong, and not usually my style, but, well... you've got to keep throwing the bowling balls down the alley, don't you? And then, eventually, one of those bowling balls is going to hit over some pins. Its going to be something this show, because it has to be. Because we've booked spaces and advertisements, and registered for fringe shows. We've given ourselves the permission, the impetus, the absolute command to perform, so we have to do something. I think a lot of people think that's a bad idea - 'Don't do it until its ready,' 'Don't go out there with something until you're absolutely certain of it,' 'People will judge you if its great.' All true, I suppose, but on the other hand, how do you learn if you don't do it? How do you get experience? I want to perform. I want to write for the stage. Its no use sitting in my bedroom, reading words out loud to myself. That's not going to cut it. The American director, Anne Bogart also said, 'Don't wait.' Don't wait until you have enough money, the right space, until everything's right. Work with what you have right now, otherwise you never will work.

Its going to be 'something', this show. It really is.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

5:33 am

I haven't posted in a while, I suppose I've been avoiding it.

I've been trying to sit down and write, but its been difficult for me, I think because I'm stressed about the producing side (hence why I'm awake at 5:33am, attempting to get some things done and alleviate some of that anxiety). I would dearly love an Australian producer or co-producer to take on board some of these responsibilities. Particularly someone to do all the publicity stuff. I don't like that sort of thing, I find it difficult and it makes me uncomfortable. I've got some contacts from a friend, but I haven't actually emailed them yet, which I really should do. I'm a brilliant procrastinator, of course.


I'm aware that I have a lot of stuff written already, but that most of it I don't think is relevant or interesting anymore. I'm also aware of the fact that I will actually only need a very little amount of writing, considering its a short show, we are planning on having music as well as physical theatre, and there has to be time for my fellow performer to have her say as well! So, its both comforting and terrifying to think that I only have, maybe, 10 pages to write.

*Phew* Only 10 pages to write.

Argh! I have to distill all my experience from the past year into 10 pages???!!!

You see my problem.

I think its made even more difficult by the fact that I'm still in the midst of the experience, so I can't pick out the important details. I can't pick out the stuff that in 2, 3, 5 years time I'll be including in stories to friends. More than that, when you're in the midst of emotional turmoil, you're so busy feeling everything, its difficult to make any sense of it for an outsider, beyond hackneyed and slightly obvious phrases like, 'I'm homesick', 'I'm confused', 'I'm lonely', 'I'm anxious.'

Though, now that I've written those phrases down in quick succession, they seem to have a power and simplicity that all my previous pages and pages of writing lacks.

Maybe the key is to record what I'm feeling, rather than attempting to make sense of it all. Attempting to make sense of it all just sends me into spirals of self-doubt. Attempting to squash the experience into some sort of narrative structure just doesn't seem to work, probably because I haven't gotten to the natural end date yet: the return home (whether that home is Australia, or ends up being somewhere else). Attempting to create significant moments and stories that explain my situation has just seems false.

Well, isn't that interesting. I feel much more confident about my abilities to write this script now that I've written down some of the problems I've been having.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Start of the Script


I'm wrecked. I really need to do some writing on the show tonight, but my brain feels like white noise. I'd really like to sit and watch BBC News 24 and drink a bottle of wine and give into the white noise, but I really have to write something. Anything. Anything to get my anxiety levels down.

My director, Yvonne, has passed on the 'scribblings' of the Irish actress living in Australia, which I am using to inspire my next round of writing.

Actually, maybe I should explain the 'concept' first?

The show will be performed in Australia and Ireland in October of this year. One half of the show in each country will be live and the other half will be filmed. There is an Australian actress living in Ireland (myself) who will be performing live in Ireland and by film in Australia and an Irish actress living in Australia (Cathy) who will be performing live in Australia and by film in Ireland. The idea is that we 'meet' and share our stories of travel and migration through the theatre piece.

I think it has the potential to be a very exciting piece of theatre. What I'm glad about is that it was originally a piece just about my experiences in Ireland. I think (I hope) that by opening it up to another actress in Australia, and by sharing experiences the piece becomes more universal and less self-centered (and less like a diary entry or therapy session).

Anyway, Cathy's first few thoughts have been sent to me, and there are some interesting and surprising links. We both thought we must have been pregnant for the first few months after arriving in our new countries. I find this fascinating. It shows what a huge impact an emotional upheaval, like moving across to the other side of the world, has on your physical well-being. The emotional upheaval was making our bodies feel so strange, so alien, that we thought another human being must have been creating the havoc. I think that's a really really interesting parallel.

On a more, 'huh, that's weirdly convenient,' kind of feeling, we both sing and play the violin. Our director is hoping we may be able to use this to our advantage, maybe having a piece composed specifically for us to play/sing in the show. I think that would be pretty cool.

Finally, here are some images of the two spaces that we will be performing in. The first one is of 'The Cart Room' in the Irish Agricultural Museum, which will be our venue for the Wexford Fringe Festival:

The museum is in the grounds of the Johnstown Castle, also very cool:

The site in Melbourne will be the Clifton Creative Arts Centre in Richmond. I like the space quite a bit, actually, it reminds me of the church halls I used to do Young People's Theatre classes in (and anything that reminds me of YPT is a good thing):