I write to you from the trenches of pre-production. Hello! (hello hello hello…echoes)
We are completely buried in scheduling and last minute casting, arranging locations, finding/creating props, and beyond. It’s a lot of emailing and making lists. Lots and lots of lists. Little pieces of paper taped to the wall in the bedroom so that I see them when I wake up. So that I don’t say, “Oh yeah, I need to figure out if we can use the Leinenkugel’s beer logo in the movie” and then forget about it. (Note! If anyone knows how we can do that or has some kind of connection to Leinie’s, let us know! We like their beer – it’d be cool to put it in the movie!).
So it’s a LOT of Business lately, capital B. A lot of left brain. And I can do it. I can put on my producer hat and get to work, pick up the phone, write a scary email to someone I admire and ask for advice.
I’ve learned how to do this. At Northwestern I threw myself into producing and publicity for student theatre productions. I made phone call after phone call to find prizes for a date auction to raise money. I was an assistant stage manager for a comedic farce where I had to run from one stage entrance to another and throw flour in one guy’s face and paint another’s chest with blue paint in seconds.
I interned at a summer theatre company, Door Shakespeare, five years ago where I would take box office calls during the day, pick up coffee and cookies from the coffee shop on the way home, and then drive to the theatre to get into my dress and makeup, do a line onstage as a servant, and then run concessions in my costume at intermission. Honestly, it was insanity but also a kind of bliss. I remember the quiet moments, wearing my serving woman costume and standing in the woods under the stars, listening to the incredible actors onstage performing The Merchant of Venice. One of the best memories of my life. And then we’d clean up and do the whole thing over the next day.
That’s showbiz, I suppose. I can do it. I’ve had some practice.
But, really, and I think a lot of people agree – art is where it’s at. There are times during this process of pre-production where I really wish I could go back to writing the script and have that be all I have to do for the day. I’m a quiet person, and I like coffee and writing. Or I wish we could just be in the middle of filming and finding the magic. The other night I worked on a pastel portrait for a couple hours as a warm up for the portrait I need to paint of my father in the movie. I love art. I love falling into the process and forgetting about time passing, that dreamlike state. It’s like diving deep into the ocean. Even if it hurts a little, the surrender feels good.
Lately I’ve been goofing around on Pinterest. Finding visual information for the movie, remembering what beautiful imagery I want to create, remembering what this story is about. The internet is incredible. I’ve heard that money is kind of like tofu – it’s really kind of neutral, you just add flavors to it to make it taste good. Well, I think the internet might be that way too. It’s how you use it. How incredible that we can collect beautiful images from all across the internet/world for inspiration. And how wonderful that we can all blow off some steam together and look at ridiculous, silly pictures together. For instance, cute animals wrapped up like burritos. I’m serious, check it out.
The balance of business and art can be tricky. It seems to me that it’s a lifelong process for artists. Because it’s not a switch (on either end) that turns on and off easily. The business part takes a lot of courage on my part as well as, quite honestly, a lot of discomfort and headaches. But I’m also so happy to do it because I want to make art – this movie – more than anything in the world. You just gotta slip in a little bit of art in between the business parts so you keep the drive going.
That’s what I’m finding at least. Til next time.