Fumbling, But Hopeful

“I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in life. And I am horribly limited.”

-Sylvia Plath


Currently: sauerkraut and wheat bread loaves.

I’m beginning to see how I only write in this blog when I am longing in some way or another.  Ugh.

Days slip by.  Hoping, always hoping.  And avoiding.  And clenching – grinding my teeth, I feel the edges rounding down.  Bad, bad, bad.

I want everything.  It’s deeply troublesome most of the time.  But when I’m high on coffee it’s the best thing ever.  I can do it alllll!!!

Anyway.  I’m pushing myself in some ways lately, and in others I’ve been running in the complete opposite direction.

I’m pushing myself to branch out into LA.  It feels good.  Going to auditions, meeting up with friends – some of them so dear and lovely that I can’t believe I’ve waited so long – , seeking out new places and film events.  It’s gratifying to stretch.  It’s hard, but it gives me a high now and then.

The next thing to do is start looking like a professional (dammit).  Fix up the new headshots and have them at the ready.  Get business cards (wha?!).  Considering getting a trendy Squarespace site for SilverLeafFilms  (or would it make sense to just buy a nicer theme??  I’m a fool when it comes to the Internet…see I capitalized it).

I’m filling my head with good things – reading Great Expectations and watching movies with James Cagney and Greta Garbo.  I’m singing along to Whiskeytown and Slaid Cleaves (and wishing I connected to my own generation better).

And yet – I’ve been avoiding the biggest, most important things.  Editing and preparing for another Indiegogo.  It’s just….it’s fucking torturous.  There, I said it.  Or maybe it’s just getting into it that’s hard.  I’ve talked about it before, seeing all my mistakes on this movie is just godawful.  And that Indiegogo last year….it just about did me in.  I need to trust that we’ll be okay when we launch it  next month.  There are enough people who got excited about this movie last year – they’ll help, I hope?  We’ll find an even bigger audience now that we’ve actually made the thing.

So, this holiday weekend, I’m facing it.  It’s time to edit, time to get going on the film website, the newsletter, all of it.

And yet, if I could meander, just a little while, play some guitar, spend a morning painting, go to a lovely cafe with Charles Dickens….I think I’ll make it through.

God, what a rambling post.  But there you have it.  That’s how things are these days.  Fumbling, but hopeful.


Glad That’s Over

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Well.  The rough cut is done.  It’s a mess.  It’s rough.  But I got through.  I spent this last month killing myself on this damn movie.  Was it worth it?  I don’t know.  I got sick regularly from staring at the screen for so long and often found myself lying on the floor of my apartment, hopeless with a piercing headache and a stomach in knots.  I routinely went from euphoria to complete and utter hatred for this film.  (Confession: I still do)

The movie right now is at two hours and six minutes.  Yikes.  I need it at about an hour and 45, tops really.  Less though, please let it be less.  We’ve loaded sound for about one third.  There are two fantastic music sequences right now, well, really three if you count the wedding.  The color is all over the fucking place and needs major work.  But – we made a rough cut.  And now I’m taking a couple weeks off (heading to the WI Film Fest in Madison on Wednesday).

And that goal of submitting to IFP?  Sad news is we didn’t do it.  Happy news is – that deadline got us to the end of a rough cut.  I never would have pushed us so far had I not been aiming at that submission.  In the end, as in yesterday, the due date, we had a million problems (we’d been working on it for days) trying to get the film down to around 1 GB to put onto Vimeo.  We just don’t know what we’re doing with something so big.  We got it down to a little over 5, but then we started losing major quality and it looked awful.  It’s a learning curve.

And truth be told, all day yesterday (and throughout this month), I’ve had a sneaking feeling that we need to stay in LA.  I understand that IFP would have been life changing, but we would need serious help getting to NYC for three separate trips – and when we run our next Indiegogo we’re gonna need all that money just to help us with Post.

And, honestly, I don’t want to keep leaving LA.  Already I’m going to leave for a couple weeks this summer so I can say goodbye to my family’s cottage (where we filmed June).  But I want to be here.  (I mean, I don’t really – all afternoon yesterday Chris and I were fantasizing about moving to Colorado, but anyhoo.)  I want to immerse myself in the acting business and the filmmakers all around us.  God damn, I want to do a play so badly.  And I want to find mentors HERE.  (I don’t have a community here yet and it’s so so painful, I can hardly take it.  That’s what you get when you leave all the time.  I made tons of awesome friends in Door County while filming, but…guess what?  I live here, so I don’t see any of them anymore, and LA is as lonesome as ever.  No more of that.)

Whew.  Anyway.  Cut to the chase – the rough cut is done and now I’m moving forward with my life.  Which means – acting and writing are back in focus.  I have a new script I’m working on.  I’m on a mission to read a play a week and a script a week.  I’m studying the business of acting.  I’ve created deadlines for myself to get new headshots and to audit some classes (hoping to save up for a class this fall) and to start getting involved in Film Independent and getting to more film festivals and events, etc.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep editing for about 2-3 hours a day.  I’m much better with this kind of work mixed into a full day of other activities.  I’m not a “lock yourself up until you finish” kind of person.  I used to think that writer’s retreats sounded amazing – but no way.  I could never ever do that, just hang out in a cabin and write.  I would write for two hours TOPS and the rest of the day I’d go hiking and read and watch movies on my laptop.  I’m a moderation all the way kind of person.

The truth is, this last month was more than draining because of the work involved – it drained my soul.  I sound like a high maintenance artist, but I need beauty.  I need it or I die.  I need time to read poetry, to paint, to meander with literature, to play guitar, to write, to cook elaborate meals, everything.  I am not an editor.  I know what I want in this movie, but this nitpicking technical work is not me.

And now that I can relegate it to a few hours a day, I can’t tell you how free I feel.  Space.  Yes.

And I promise to write here more now that my life has been returned to me.  Later.

The Pile Grows…

Lots going on.  I’m suddenly really feeling all that time I took off this month… I mean, I needed it, and yet I’m suddenly in full swing here.  It feels startling and good at the same time.  I’m glad to do the work.  It’s the antidote to depression every time.  The only thing is, you have to get yourself up to take the first step.  And the avoidance and fear of that first step is generally always my primary source of depression.  Catch-22, man.

So what’s new?  We shot the student film on Friday night.  Here we are:

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Aren’t we cute?  I don’t think I’m too believable as someone working in a police station, unless if I was some kind of intern (?), but, meh. It was a good experience to just pop in for about three hours, do some lines, and go through all the nervousness being on someone else’s set.  It was a safe place for me to be out of shape as an actress.  And for me to have such bad hair.  God damn, I need a haircut and highlights.

Otherwise?  Oh, where do I begin?  Editing, posting stills, listening to podcasts at my cleaning job, tutoring a verrrry ADD boy, finally finishing up my reel, getting footage out to actors for their reels, submitting to auditions, getting better at managing money, and more editing.

Here’s what it looks like when I do some of these things at once, all from the office of My Bed:

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All good stuff, but it’s a lot.  A lot of considerations to be made lately based on income and time.  For example – I need more money coming in.  I put up a tutoring ad and that generally gets a response.  I want jobs that are essentially on my time or that are one time gigs that I can move around (as in, I’ve done art modeling before – I’d love to do that again and get quick cash for sitting around but not necessarily be scheduled into that every week).  I also don’t want to be working too much because editing this movie is more than a part-time job – and I have so far to go.  I’m hoping to be very far along come April so I can take a breath and start really working on my latest screenplay and so that I can full-on pursue acting.  And, you know, make more money.

Aaaannd, when it comes to money – where does the very little spare money go?  I found three film festivals I want to submit to, so that’s a good chunk in submission fees.  At some point I gotta join IMDB Pro, but now doesn’t feel like the time as I slug away at the edits.  And I’m gonna need new headshots…that’s gotta wait too.  And putting my reel up on Actors Access is gonna cost some cash, but I can’t wait on that anymore as it says my old name, not my stage name

Ay-yi-yi.  It’s a beast.  So many tangled threads.  You need to find your moments of clarity and enjoyment.  And one I cannot wait for – I have been on a cleanse since January 9 (my idea of a cleanse is no sugar, dairy, wheat, alcohol, caffeine) and I am going to have a gorgeous beer on Friday after my 21 days are up.  Holy good God almighty.  I’m just dreaming about that beer.  And a cup of coffee.  Just one.  But a cup will do.  Oh, yes.

Good News and Blahs

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The days have been a bit quiet.  I haven’t wanted to do a lot since I got back to LA several weeks ago – oh my god, almost a month.  I’ve been tired and uninterested.  It’s been a very very slow wake up process after the holidays and after my grandpa passed.

I’ve been disoriented.

And while I am feeling better (I’ve been on a cleanse – no sugar, wheat, dairy, processed foods, alcohol, caffeine – mayyyybe that’s part of feeling down and now feeling better…), it’s still a roller coaster.  Facing facts about my life in the new year has hit me pretty hard – facts about money, about being 28 and living essentially at poverty level (though I need to not tell myself that), about only just now starting to try acting in LA, and so forth.

But in the midst of two great pieces of news and some venting to my mom and Chris (thank god for them), I feel myself starting to perk up.

Good news 1 – our short film Cam Companion was accepted into the Wisconsin Film Festival in Madison.   A wonderful shot in the arm for us in the midst of the winter blahs.  We’ll be there in April, can’t wait to get back out to the Midwest.

Good news 2 – I’m in a student film tonight.  Honestly, I’m hardly doing anything, playing a receptionist for a couple seconds, but it feels good to get the call sheet, to plan outfits, to do the work of an actress.  But it’s also a little shaky feeling – I spent the summer playing the lead in my own movie.  So that means I only had to please myself – and I wrote it, so I understood all the layers in the character.   I’m realizing that I’ve gotten a little spoiled by that experience…and a wee bit lazy.  So I’m grateful to ease back in with low pressure.  Should be fun.

And it’s editing time.  Whether I like it or not.  June cannot wait any longer.  Currently in the process of carving out focused work time on the movie…it’s so much harder than I’ve led myself to believe.

Well, here we go.  An awkward, fumbling start to 2015, but I feel better every day.

Thanksgiving and Actor Impostor Syndrome

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Happy Thanksgiving!  Yesterday!  We celebrated quietly at home in South Pasadena with baking and chopping and cooking and eating starchy foods with excessive butter.  It was heavenly, in other words.  And I’m happy not to cook like that again until next year.

Here’s one thing I know for sure: I am never going to get used to the lack of seasons out here.  Every September/October I hit a depression as I slowly realize (again) that fall really is not going to come.  At all.  There will be no need to wear black tights and boots and wear a scarf.  No brisk air and cozy cafe mornings, curling your fingers around a coffee mug.  Nope.  It will be 80-90 degrees and it’ll be all Pumpkin Spice all the time and it will sound completely disgusting because it’s so hot.  Lemonade, please.  I mean, come on, it was in the 80s yesterday on Thanksgiving.

So the trick is – during the day it’s California, fine, and at night when it gets colder, you pretend it’s “really” fall and you make meals with thyme and root vegetables and drink red wine and burn candles.  That’s how I make this work.

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So we went out for dinner on Wednesday night with my aunt and uncle and cousins.  It was wonderful to see family, and they’re really just such great people.  I traveled with Sally about (wow) 5 and a half years ago in England for a week on my way to BADA (Oxford acting summer program, Shakespeare, nerdy, nerdy, nerdy), and I appreciate having her and Graham in my life, even we don’t see each other all that much. They’re very cultured, very supportive of the arts, well traveled.  And she’s my dad’s sister (my dad passed away almost 6 years ago now), so having Sally in my life is really a special thing.  It’s just genuinely a good, relaxed time hanging out with her and Graham.  And they’re always up for wine and cheese or a good beer, so that helps.

Anyway, Sally asked me at one point the other night if I was now more interested in working behind the scenes rather than in front of the camera (which makes sense as I just finished writing/directing a film – but also playing the lead role).  And I said, no, I want to pursue acting as well as writing and directing.  And she meant it as a completely innocent question (and in truth, I have much more creative control over my career as a writer/director – which I love).  But in the moment and later on, I got the old creeping impostor feeling in my stomach.  Ugh.  No.

I mean, I’m very, very glad that I said I want to be an actress rather than lying and saying I prefer being behind the scenes, but “who knows, maybe I’ll do a little acting” (because that not true – I want to do it so badly – and I want to write so badly).  But it makes me incredibly self conscious.   Just speaking this desire out loud seems to take me outside of my body and makes me harshly critical.  I imagine judgments from other people like, “she must think she’s really beautiful, little does she know she’s not that great” or “this shy, awkward girl thinks she can be an actress?” or “she’s a little old to start out now” – all of which is bullshit.  Yes, I’m imperfect physically, yes, I’m an introverted person, yes, I’m about to turn 28 in less than a month (only someone going into acting would think that’s old).

Fine.  Do it anyway.

I have been out of college for four years now this coming month.  And I have felt deeply uncomfortable all this time with saying I want to be an actress. Writer is safe, even director has been okay (although I feel like a complete impostor when around real directors who have directed real crews and real films, but that’s for another post).  But for some reason, it really feels like now or never with the Actress thing.

I’m in a transition.  I just wrapped my “directorial debut” (oh god I hope I’m not cursing myself by saying that – it’s what it is) – and now I’m ready to pursue acting head on.  Which means calling myself an actress.  Without apology.  And it means behaving like a professional actress.

It’s tricky.  Because I genuinely don’t know how to go about this.  I’m learning constantly.  Googling.  Reading blogs.  I’m pulling myself together into a presentable actress online.  I’m aiming to have my new reel done by next week sometime (editing it myself).  I’ve got a new headshot.  I’m joining more breakdown sites.  I’m getting my ass on IMDB.  And I’m ready to audition.

Ready.  Scared.  Ready.  Scared.


Here’s my headshot.  (!!!!!!!)  Imperfect, but me.



Holy hell.  There it is.  Not fancy, but presentable I hope.  Natural, not too glammy.

[It’s so so weird, figuring out your image, how to present yourself publicly.  Honestly, I’m so glad to be getting (just a little) older.  Because I frankly have seen enough actress breakdowns where the girl is supposed to be “stunningly beautiful,” “breathtaking,” “perfect 10,” or even just “super hot.”

Actress breakdowns are horrible anyway and they’re a whole feminist discussion I won’t go into now (but I will at some point, I will discuss women in Hollywood until I die).  But, if you haven’t seen the Lady Parts Tumblr, check that out and feel just a little better that even though casting is full of misogyny, at least there are women out there who call bullshit when they see it.

I mean, I got into this to be like Joan Allen, not Megan Fox.  Fuckers.]

Anyway.  Despite these awkward feelings, despite not feeling good enough or pretty enough – I know I can act.  I’ve done more writing and it’s easier for me to sit behind a laptop than it is for me to get onstage or in front of a camera – but I know I can do it.  I’m not a great auditioner – but I’m ready to work on it.

I’m all in. And that means telling other people that I’m all in too.  Terrifying.  But I’d rather feel awkward or insecure going after what I really want than having than hiding what I want and feeling like I’m not showing up all the way as myself.

So, here we go!  I wanna be…an actress.