“I was the shyest human ever invented. But I had a lion inside me that wouldn’t shut up.”
Chances are if you’re reading this, we’ve met or you’ve seen me in some video or other about this movie. (If neither, then, hey, let’s be friends. I’m glad you found us!)
So, as I write this, I’m amused when I think about all the people I’ve interacted with in the more recent years, especially during the making of this movie. People who probably think of me as an extrovert. Who have no idea that massive, paralyzing shyness essentially defined me for most of my life up until now. Yep. I’m talking about that. Ugh.
When I was a child, I whispered. I could hardly speak to anyone. I couldn’t order from a waiter in a restaurant until I was about ten. Amusingly I don’t know if I felt that bad about my quietness/introversion initially, but over time, I gradually learned that being quiet – really quiet like I was – in our culture was a very, very bad thing. (Check out the book Quiet by Susan Cain – I mean, I could fill a book, but she did and it’s brilliant). So I often felt terrible about it – and I think that the meeting of my naturally quiet state and the pity/annoyance I picked up from adults around me turned into an insane, trembling, heart pounding, dry mouth kind of anxiety in large groups. (Teachers threatening to lower participation grades, and so forth. Awful.) I became painfully aware that I wasn’t speaking in almost every single situation. Still, that didn’t help me speak up. I wanted to disappear.
I could write about this for days and try to clarify exactly what it is that makes shy people tick, but that’s not what this is about. This is about how the hell does a person like this someday direct a movie?
Middle school, high school, college. Not the best days of my life. Some parts were wonderful. Summers were pretty great. When I could be an idiot around my family and close friends and make art privately through painting, ballet, writing, playing piano. I’ve always been most comfortable when I don’t have to speak. And when I did, especially in class or with large groups, my voice shook uncontrollably and I hated myself. During the school year, I stayed up as late as I could stand, anything to put off the next morning at school.
So what changed? Well, I want to say everything and nothing.
I know that I gradually learned to fake it (and quite honestly, that’s what a lot of introverts learn to do – my dad was one and saw tons of patients every day and, from what I gather, they loved him). I took acting classes – because I dreamed of being an actor, but it was so, so painful to do my scenes. But I got tough with myself – it didn’t matter if it hurt, I was going to do it. I forced myself to take singing lessons. I traveled alone to Europe and made friends in language classes – part of the reason being I knew I needed to get out of my comfort zone. I worked as a barista and waitress for years, despite loathing customer service.
But I think that one of the most important things that ever happened to me was taking writing classes in college. Prior to switching to dramatic literature, I was a theatre major. Meaning every single person wants to be heard, to shout, to push their argument. I mean, if that culture works for you, power on. I wish I could do it, but in that world, I was drowning. And moreover, I was just in a general state of annoyance most of the time.
But fiction class was something else. For one thing – I get story. I understand plot, I breathe emotions and characters. And I have very, very strong opinions on what works and what doesn’t in a story/play/movie (same thing with directing those pieces). In writing class, I was shocked at how much I had to say about what made a piece strong or what could be done to improve it.
And – finally – I was in a group of people who had some damn patience. And some of whom were as awkward as me.
So….. cut to the making of this movie. As you might imagine, talking to groups of extras, directing actors I’ve never met before, even doing the little bits of producing like calling business owners – is sort of a socially anxious introvert’s worst nightmare.
But at that point, I’d learned how to fake it well enough to get by. And I’d also learned something along the way – I’m an introverted extrovert – or an extroverted introvert. I love people, I’ve known that for a long time. I love doing theatre and bonding really tightly with actors and getting up onstage and sobbing or acting insane or anything. I love the atmosphere of “putting on a show.”
I also get really, really tired from people very quickly. I have to recover after parties. If I don’t get enough time alone I will start crying inexplicably.
I love putting on a show, and I love being left alone to write. (See how the life of being a writer-director-actor might be the best choice I have? totally alone and then totally surrounded – a perfect cycle)
And I will say this – having conviction in what you’re doing, in the story, the characters, the themes, every little detail – knowing exactly what this movie (play, novel, song, whatever) is supposed to be – can carry even the shyest person through.
And even now, this conviction is carrying me through and will continue to carry me as I bring the movie out into the world through social media. Because, honestly? I HATED Facebook when it first came out and resisted it for years. I refused to tweet or instagram until before we started shooting and I had to publicize the movie.
I still don’t feel comfortable being so public about, well, anything. I made myself a lead in a movie – I mean, ha! What an arrogant asshole! It feels so, so weird. And yet- I was the right person to play June and I was the only person who would have had the time to film as much as I did without pay. I was always around because I was always directing.
I’m rambling right now, but there you have it. If I seem awkward, it’s because I absolutely am. I am not cool online and nor will I back down from pushing this movie out into the world. I don’t care how uncomfortable it is for me – because I have a lion in me that will not shut up.
p.s. Ha! Again! We have until next Wednesday on our Indiegogo campaign! Help us finish and spread the word!