Long time no spreadsheet

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Hi there,

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged and I’ve missed it terribly. 

As it does, life got pretty busy because I was making spreadsheets. Lots and lots of them actually. I was hired to be Production Manager and Line Producer for @AriRossen ‘s short film “Sound/Vision.” I was hired in the beginning of May for all the pre-production goodness and we shot the first week of June. What a whirlwind! I learned SO MUCH about how to pull all the details of a movie shoot together and I’m really grateful that I got the opportunity. 

While I was immersed in budget lines, a lot of kooky stuff was happening in the theatre world and has set fire to an issue that quite frankly seems like a non issue, to me at least. 

*In Texas, Theatre Under the Stars had to cancel their production of Hands on a Hardbody. 

*In Milwaukee, The Alchemist Theatre has received a cease and desist letter from David Mamet for their production of Oleanna. 

The big problem with both of these productions is that they made changes to the shows without getting permission from the authors. 

Now, there has been a lot of conversation about this and I wonder, WHY? Some people are arguing about the bad personality of the authors, others are saying that they cast the most talented actors with no regard to gender, others say that it’s the director’s prerogative to envision the show as they wish, etc. etc. 

And honestly I think it’s all hogwash. Unless you’re performing a play that is in the public domain, you have to adhere to the wishes of the playwright’s vision. Or at least ask them if you can make changes (maybe because of financial constraints, or casting issues, etc.) 

I have limited experience with these kinds of contracts, but I do know that the last play I produced had terms that were very specific. They said that the play couldn’t be altered in any way from the author’s original design without specific consent. And I was producing an Equity Showcase. Imagine the contract that was in place for the above shows. I guarantee that their contract had similar stipulations. 

It’s total arrogance on the Producer’s part to think that they could override these details and not get in trouble for it. All the money they spent on the casting, design, rehearsals, marketing and ticket sales? Down the toilet. Not to mention that all the hard work that the actors, crew and administrative staff put in to the show is now a total waste. 

Why? Why? 

I can think of two big reasons. 

Publicity and Greed. 

They may have planned all along for this to happen so that they could attain a headline. Certainly, many theatrical publications are writing about this (including me and this little blog) and probably will for the forseable future, as it’s now sparked a big conversation about creative license. Their company names have been splashed everywhere and I certainly know who they are now. There’s no such thing as bad publicity right? 

And hey, it’s tough out there. Successfully producing theatre is an uphill gig and not a very lucrative one. If you can obtain a longstanding, popular or new play and get it to your audience before the next guy, you might make it another year. 

But here’s the thing. You have to have RESPECT. 

Everyone’s job is hard. As they say, if everyone could do it, they would. 

Just because the writer usually isn’t seen, doesn’t mean that some celestial fairy just happened to appear out of the stardust, sprinkled golden sand and words appeared on paper. Those words that you want the rights to? Those words that you want actors to bring to life? Those words that you want to hire a set and lighting designer for? 

They came from the brain of a person who one day had the kernel of an idea. So they wrote some thoughts down. Then they started creating some dialogue. They shaped some scenes. They erased all of those ideas and scenes and started over again. And again. The story took shape. The character is now not a man, it’s a woman. The town is not in the country, it’s in a city. They write in coffee shops, on the train, in their house, in a room, with the door shut, on the toilet, WHEREVER THEY CAN GAIN INSPIRATION into the world of the story they are trying to tell. 

It’s not easy. It’s really frickin’ hard. I myself am trying to write my very first screenplay and yeah, if someone tried to take what I’d cried about, obsessed about, second-guessed my talent about, re-evaluated my relationships and myself about, searched my heart and soul and true feelings about and decided to turn it upside down and have the audacity not to even ask my permission? I would cease and desist too. 

Art is personal. We create projects because something inside of us can’t let it go. If you love what another person creates, and you want to make a part of it your own, then you have to respect the process that person went through. They own it. You can have a piece of it, that’s why they allow the rights to be attained. But you can’t take their art, think you can make it better without asking, make money off their backs, and expect any good to come of it. 

Circling back to “Sound/Vision”, I know how hard Ari worked on that script. It was a very emotional and personal process. I can imagine how devastating it would be to have anyone condescend to change it without his input. I remember on set, how respectful the Director and DP were about capturing his vision. 

To close, I think a rallying cry needs to be made in our community. We need to stick up for each other and our creative leaders. Protect each other. What we do is important. We cast an eye on our society and comment through entertainment. We can’t turn on each other, because when we do, it weakens us and the value we bring to our communities and the world. 

That’s my 2 cents. Heck, I think that was maybe 25. 

Glad to be back everyone! 

Live long and Create!

Kim

 

 

 

Gr8ful

grateful hand

I sit here typing and I’m thinking about how lucky I am to be sitting here typing this blog.

I mean really, how easy do I have it?

I get to write about my creative life and wax poetic (or not, depending on who you ask) on all my aspirations and experiences as a producer, writer and actress.

I have a desk, a window, a cushion on my chair. I have this lovely computer that I haven’t backed up in forever and is currently at 13% power. I should be nicer to it.

Over the past couple of weeks I have been attempting to manage my time better and fit in everything I have the passion to do. Often, I’ve harrumped (yes, that’s a word) and said things like “There’s not enough time in the day” or “Why am I so scattered?” or “I’m never going to be good at any one thing because I want to do everything!”

It’s all silliness really. A constant turntable in my head, quietly trying to sabotage my confidence and keeping me from stopping and giving thanks for the very fact that I’m able, in this country, to pursue ALL of my dreams, if I want to.

In light of the situation in Nigeria, I have to sit back and take a good long look at myself in the mirror and thank my lucky stars that I am safe. That I am educated. That I could choose my life partner. That I have a production company, that I’m writing a screenplay, that I can walk in to an audition room and play with great material.

I’m happy that my friends and colleagues and acquaintances and people I haven’t even met yet are able to pursue their dreams.

I’m glad  that I can say thank you. I should never underestimate that privilege. Because I’m able to live the life that’s best for me, I need to say thank you to those that make it happen. To those that will collaborate with me, who will read my script, who will watch my audition.

Heck, I’m jazzed that I can order a kick-butt latte at my neighborhood coffee shop. I have no counter space for a proper espresso machine, you see.

So, I propose that some of us (including me) remember that we are out there participating in this “business of show” because we WANT to, not because we HAVE to. That every day that we have the ability to create, visualize and daydream is a gift.

Simply thank those that support us, because they don’t have to. Give to others, even if you don’t have to. We are lucky. And I am grateful.

Time Won’t Give Me Time

the isolator for work

I have been struggling with time management lately.

I’m sure I’m not the only one.

After much self-reflection and self-evaluation, I have come to realize that I’m a Renaissance Woman.

That can mean a lot of different things to people, but for me it means that I have a ton of interests and I want to do them all, all the time, all extremely well. As you might have guessed, this is not necessarily a great kind of person to be.

I wake up in the morning, the world is my oyster, and I can’t for the life of me decide what I want to focus on that day because I want to do it all. And if I do start on something, I tend to get distracted easily and flit to the next thing before I finish what I was working on.

Now often, I have an appointment, or a job, or an errand or something that helps me to formulate the day’s schedule. This helps me decide how to fit in what I want to do with the rest of my day, simply by giving me less time to work with. But it doesn’t help me decide WHAT to fit in.

Here’s an example of the numerous “to-do’s” that run through my mind on a daily basis:

Exercise, Check email, respond to email, read articles sent to me by email, bookmark and catalogue helpful websites and emails for later review, practice monologues, practice songs, write screenplay, work on DOGFACE Theatricals items, write blogs (the other one being Full Stop Eating, if you’re interested!), clean the apartment, make apartment nicer, walk the dog, learn spanish, learn guitar, organize my desk, contact friends, spend time with family, update my website, watch movies, watch tv, listen to podcasts, read books, listen to music…….etc. etc. etc. on and on and on.

It’s ridiculous. I have lists upon lists upon lists that break down all of these items into potential actionable details, but it makes me so overwhelmed that I look at it all and tend to flop down on the couch with a glazed look on my face and watch “Housewives of Orange County.”

Okay, I’m exaggerating.

I do usually achieve 1 to 3 things on my day’s activity list before I’m spent and go into said above brain coma.

I have been told again and again that if you accomplish 1 to 3 items on your daily list that you’re doing great, actually. That humans aren’t wired to constantly “multi-task” and that’s why our society is incredibly exhausted, worn out, and over it.

I really do want to “suck out all the marrow out of life“, as was so eloquently written by Henry David Thoreau and spoken in the movie “Dead Poets Society.” (And if you haven’t seen it yet, HELLO!, put that on your list of must-see-movies, stat!)

So I guess the real challenge for me is to control all of these “over-achiever” urges and calm the heck down. To know that what’s most important for me is to value quality over quantity, focus on what is really inspiring me RIGHT NOW, and not what I feel I SHOULD do. I need to trust that I will accomplish all that I desire in life, in the right time, for me.

How about y’all?

Are any of you “Rennaisance?” What does that mean to you? And how do you manage your time and projects?

***For a fascinating book on how some of the most prolific writers, artists and thinkers of our time organized their work and life, check out Daily Rituals. ***

 

 

“People

…are people so why should it be, you and I should get along so awfully?”

A great lyric by Depeche Mode and something that I’ve been ruminating on for months now.
(You can geek out to the whole song here:) http://youtu.be/VGGlTR71FEk

They say that very few people are meant to be with you for a lifetime, and most only for a season. Often they come in and out so that you can learn a lesson about yourself.

I used to get really upset about this fact of life. Anxiously clinging to the good times, I would analyze what went wrong, and bash myself for not being good enough or communicative enough. I would push back and ask why, and demand to get answers for why a relationship (work or personal) wasn’t gelling. (Oh who am I kidding, I’ve still been known to do this on occasion. But I’m improving!)

But what I’ve realized over the years is that you can’t quantify “why” sometimes. You can do your very best to get your voice heard. You can try different ways of willing the other person to understand your point of view. All of this won’t make a bit of difference if they don’t want to hear you or talk to you or care about you. It’s just over.

And although you are the center of your universe, it’s important to remember that other people are the center of theirs.

I do the best I can to communicate with the people in my life, but I’m not perfect. Who is? It takes two to tango and no one person is to blame.

People will change their mind about you, or their opinion won’t mesh with yours, or they are expressing themselves in a way that you don’t get or are unwilling to understand. And vice versa. Fine.

Sometimes simply saying goodbye is the absolute best way to resolve a situation. I don’t have to have the last word and I don’t need to engage in a situation that circles endlessly without resolve.

There is no “my way or the highway”, there is no “burning of bridges”, there is just… the walking away.

You have to do what’s right for you and not be afraid to call a relationship done when there’s no going back. Seek other healthy working relationships with people.

ps: In this day and age of texting and emailing, it’s very easy to misunderstand where someone is coming from. I suggest we go back to the “old days” with a phone call or (gasp!) an in person meeting when you feel there’s some tension. It may be uncomfortable to those who don’t like “confrontation” but isn’t life just one long series of confrontations anyway? At least you’ll know where you stand.

Computer Style

IJ_Cursive_1128

I am currently writing my very first screenplay.

While I’ve written my angsty thoughts in numerous journals, and tried my hand at poetry and short stories, I’ve never written anything that I seriously considered sharing with anyone else.

But, for various reasons, here I am.

And it’s scary.

Some of the thoughts and ideas that come out of me on a daily basis are quite surprising. And when I don’t let myself edit what I write, and just let it flow out of me, I often feel like I need to look up and around and make sure no one is peeking over my shoulder, lest I be labeled as a complete weirdo.

There’s a great quote by Salman Rushdie that says, “Self-censorship is a lie to yourself; if you are going to be trying to seriously create art, to create literary art, and you decide to hold back, to censor yourself, then you are a fool to yourself and it would be better that you kept your mouth shut and did not speak.”

In the world of writing, you’ll never make anything great if you hold yourself back from ideas.

And the only way I’ve been able to do that is writing longhand in a brightly flowered notebook with a satin placeholder. Notes are scribbled everywhere…flashes I receive while riding the subway, dialogue I write while drinking my 4th latte in some random cafe. It’s a mess frankly.

But it’s the only way that I feel like I can purely write.

Maybe it taps into my childhood, where the bright colored visions of my future seemed as wide and magical as when you look out into the unending sea. Looking down at that pink page (yes, it’s pink, although not scented) I just feel like the whole world I want to express can pass down through my fingers, into the ink and on to the page.

Yesterday I was talking about this with some incredible ladies who I’m lucky to call peers, and voiced that soon I’m going to have to transfer all my cursive musings to “Computer Style”, which just made them giggle.

I sounded so old, like talking about computers was this new fangled fad that all the kids are using.

But I guess when it comes to this particular project, this new talent I’m trying to nurture, I have to ease in with all the self-care and open eyed wonder that I can get.

***As a side note, if you are interested in the debate on whether cursive writing should still be taught in schools (yes, this is actually happening), check out this article from USA Today on the topic.

Is cursive’s day in classroom done? 

 

Intuit

intuition2 pic

This is has been one swashbuckling year for me intuition-wise and it’s only April.

I feel like January and February almost don’t count because after the holi(daze) are over those 2 months seem to whoosh by in a current of resolutions lost and gained and I awaken somehow and it’s March. But I digress.

They say that a woman has a special intuition aptly called “women’s intuition or sixth sense” and I tend to believe it. I can’t tell you how many times I have said “something isn’t right with him/her” or “the feeling in this house is weird” or “that chocolate is calling my name”. Okay, that last one might just be my insatiable need for sugar but that’s another blog altogether.

The one thing that I have learned most recently is that I have to listen to my intuition. We all need to, but I find that I (and other women I know) have a harder time with it because (and we’ve all heard these before…)

* We are brought up to be nice

* We are brought up to compromise

* We are brought up to empathize

All of these are wonderful qualities but in business, you can’t let them get the best of you.

I’m all for giving a person or a situation a chance. Often if you don’t suss out something fully, you can make hard mistakes. Yes, you need to ask questions. Yes, you need to LISTEN. Yes, you need to take time to think things over. Yes, you need to weigh the pros and cons. Yes, you need to seek counsel from peers that you respect. All of this is good. But none of them all added up should detract you from your intuition. Any thing or person can look great on paper, but at the end of the day, if your gut is telling you that you’re not happy, you’re not being respected, you’re not getting some value, then it has to go.

I read a GREAT book a few years ago called The Gift of  Fear.  In it, Gavin de Becker (whose company manages and predicts violence for clients in government, universities, police departments, corporations and media figures) provides many examples of how you can harness your intuition and take it seriously in your daily life. He tells you to give yourself the power to follow it no matter what and to not override your fear in a moment because you think it’s not “nice” or “you’re just being silly”. Your life could depend on it.

And although what he’s talking about is a more extreme version of following your intuition, the takeaway is that what you feel matters. Do other opinions count? Yes, of course. No one can collaborate on an island by themselves. You need people to be successful. You have to learn how to play well with others (and for all of us this is a challenge and a worthy road to follow).

But at the end of the day, it’s your life. Your career. Your path.

And you have to do what sits right with you. Work with the people that lift you up. You are your only compass for what you can live with. You must listen to your intuition and trust it, love it, give it a big bear hug.

Take that intuition and let it serve you. Go out in to the world with it as your right hand man and do the best you can.