Be a Good Peer

In this blog post, I am going to talk about how My First Tattoo (my indie improv team), Wedding Season and The Making of Meathook in the Mountains all came together through working with friends/peers and having a diverse network.

On Groundhog Day, My First Tattoo had one of our best shows to date. Former PIT house team Shark Dance opened the show for us. They had a solid set, which I think it a big reason why our show went well – Happy audiences help make the show a success! In this show we did a montage with focus edits, line grabs, swarm edits and sweep edits. This is the new form that we are working on with our coach Rachel Rosenthal. I have mentioned in my previous posts how I joined this team, but I will do it again. About a year and a half ago, I heard that The PIT was looking for experienced students to help fill up an improv class that had poor attendance. I volunteered to join the class and met Kelley, Tayler and Aubrey (all now on My First Tattoo.) After the class, Aubrey messaged me and said that he and his friend Kevin were putting together an improv team. I had literally just said the day before to another friend that I would like to be doing more improv, so I was eager to join. This is an example of how peers can work together to form something meaningful and ongoing. Here is a clip from our last show right when I am doing a line grab (taking the last line from a former scene and making it the first line of my scene.)

Wedding Season got accepted into its first film festival – Jersey City Popup Film Festival on February 21st! We are all very excited – this film was a unique experience. We all worked together to fund and produce. Plus, we are looking to make more films together. Here is what the Lead Producer Frances Nicole Lopez has to say about making the comedy.

“When I first volunteered to be a team leader I didn’t have any idea what I was doing. I knew that I wanted to create a film with an all-female cast, and I wanted the film to be about a topic that women can relate to. I think that any woman who watches Wedding Season can find a character that she can connect with. Nothing was sugar coated – This is the real deal. I wanted to make sure that we all had our own comedic timing and that we all could shine in our own way. Each character supported one another. It was the perfect example of girl power. The characters knew they had flaws, and they were working on a solution without judgement from others. It was a “safe space,” as our film puts it. This experience has been amazing. I met six extremely talented actresses. We had never met each other until the day of filming, but we all hit it off so well. We knew that what we were creating was unique. It’s truly astonishing to see women stick together and be so supportive. Also, it feels great to prove that we don’t need a male character to “build us up” or “carry” the film. We are and will always be enough.”

I could not agree more. It was a pleasure to work with other young females who don’t see each other as competition – An open door for one is an open door for many. We supported each other with our performances, on set demeanor, bridesmaid dresses (a few of us brought dresses for the other ladies) and being open to collaboration. It is easier now than ever to make your own work with peers, which also means that it is more important now than ever to create your own content. I would even go as far to say that young actors are expected to have some experience behind the camera, whether it be as a PA, writer, director, producer, AD, gaffer or any other role. I can think of numerous acting peers who make their own short films or webisodes. I can only think of a handful of young actors who haven’t at least attempted to create something. If there is one thing that I have learned about making my own shorts, it is that friends and their professional networks and advice are invaluable. Here is what Carly Otte, the writer and director of Wedding Season, has to say on the subject.

“Once you start creating your own work, it’s hard to stop. I’ve spent the greater part of the last year writing, directing and producing and now it’s hard sometimes to step back and “just” act. There is no better feeling (to me) than seeing something that started as a vague idea, or a few lines on a page, become a full movie or series. When Frances approached me about her idea for Wedding Season, I knew that an opportunity to write for an all-female cast was something very special and I jumped on the chance. Not only that, but it was also such a hilarious, millennial concept that I knew people would be able to relate to. Writing for actors that I had never met, I took a lot of guesses and knew I would have to hope for the best. But then, on set it all came together even better than I could have imagined. Everyone was professional, talented, kind and creative. And I left that day on set with one the greatest filming highs I’ve ever had. I just kept thinking “I can’t wait until every day of life looks and feels like this!”

Lastly, I am excited that we will be filming The Making of Meathook in the Mountains this weekend! Janelle Meghan is producing this short, and Ryan Reid and I wrote the screenplay. Last week, we had a wonderful table read with the entire cast – most were actors who I had never met. Ryan, who is also directing, let us read the script word for word, and then we had another run-through in which we improvised and had fun with the dialogue. We were able to find new jokes through this table read, and we also found a few places that needed fleshing out. So, I am glad that Ryan and Janelle put together this reading and allowed the actors to give some input. Ryan was just as excited as we were about the reading:

“It’s exciting, and we’ve picked such a perfect cast for this project. Everyone’s improv and talent are reflecting perfectly off each other, and we got a lot of good stuff going on. It’s a great team!”

Before working on this short, I knew both Janelle and Ryan separately. Ryan and I met at a film festival in which we both wrote, produced and directed competing films. I met Janelle at a network event that she hosts for actors and writers during warm months. Ryan and I happened go to Janelle’s meet-up on the same date, and we were all open to collaborations and helping each other succeed. Then, a couple of months later, Janelle posted on Facebook that she had a story that she would like adapted into a screenplay. Both Ryan and I jumped at the opportunity to work with somebody as proactive with their career as Janelle. Janelle is also a very upbeat and positive person, making her a pleasure to be around on set. Here are a few final words from Janelle on Meathook:

“I’m so excited to be able to work with such an amazing cast and crew. During the read-through all our jokes just flowed right off each other. This group is so witty and can’t wait to shoot!”


Until next time,