Catching Up

Hey You! It has been a while since my last blog post. I didn’t realize that the last blog that wrote was in March, or I would have made a point to sit down and write what has been going on. In this post, I am going to talk about a panel discussion on race, inclusion and diversity in writing that was sponsored by the Austin Film Fest, The New School and WGA, East. I am also going to talk about the table read of Sam Borowski’s feature Stay Fresh, CJ Cullen’s Hang Onto Your Shorts Film Festival, my indie improv team My First Tattoo, reading Pauline David-Sax’s How We Survived at The Bechdel Group and other exciting news.


If you have been following my blog posts or social media, you have heard about Wedding Season. Well, we submitted our film to Austin Film Fest. So, when I heard that the prestigious film festival was putting together a panel discussion, I was very eager to participate. I invited several of my industry friends, and we eagerly awaited the announcement of who the panelists were going to be. Closer to the event, I got an email with the details on the discussion topics and who would be participating in the panel. Writers/Producers Soo Hugh (Under the Dome, The Killing), Gary Lennon (Power, Justified), Jess Row (The Train to Lo Wu, Your Face in Mine),  Cándido Tirado (Power, Fish Men, Momma’s Boyz) and Judy Tate (Another World, Days of Our Lives, As the World Turns) were have a conversation on identities, inclusiveness and writing stories about cultures other than your own. One of the audience members asked the panel how they go about writing genuine characters who don’t underscore stereotypes: Cándido said to give all characters a dream. If you are writing a character about a Hispanic drug lord, give him a reason to be living this life. Cándido also mentioned that many shows will put a POC in an attractive role but will not actually take the character out of the socioeconomics associated with the race of the character. For example, a writer may write a role for a WOC as a physician, but then would write in that she has a sister who is a prostitute and a drug-addicted mother. This type of writing furthers negative stereotypes. Soo was asked about the working environment in her offices. Then, she said one of my favorite quotes from the evening: looking into a person’s eyes when they are speaking is the most basic sign of respect. Regardless of a person’s level in the writing room, she requires that all her employees look into each other’s eyes when they talking to each other. She developed this rule whenever she realized that her colleagues would sometimes not look at her whenever she was speaking. So, if I am staring at you intensely when I am listening, I swear I am not trying to be creepy. I am trying to be respectful. Here are a few pictures from the panel and the reception afterwards.


Earlier in April, I participated in a table read of Sam Borowski’s feature Stay Fresh. While I am not going to talk about the plot of the screenplay, I will talk about some lessons that I learned through this experience. When Sam was beginning to put together the reading, he sent an email around to some of the class, asking who would like to read. He mentioned that he had already brought on board a couple of actors from class, but he was giving the rest of the class the opportunity to speak up. Instead of waiting around for Sam to reach out to me, I emailed him back and said that I would love to read and was available for the reading and class the day before. Sam responded and said that he would give me a part. Good. I started doing my homework. This included watching films, reading the entire script, looking up the work of the other actors on board for the reading, working in accents, conference calls with Sam and other actors and even offering to bring my essential oil diffuser to make the room smell nice. Even after I had been assigned a few roles, I looked for extra roles that hadn’t been cast yet that I could jump into – I wanted to be involved as much as I could. Then, we had class the day before the reading. Instead of working on an array of scenes like we normally do, we focused on the scenes from the screenplay. This let me get any last-minute feedback before the reading (the pics below in my banana shirt are from class.) On the day of the reading, I woke up early to shower and put myself together. I took a car service to Linden, as I didn’t want to make anybody come pick me up from the train station while they were setting up the room. When I arrived Taylor and Sam were getting everything ready. I was able to help them set up the tables, get my diffuser going, figure out some seating arrangements and ask any lingering questions about my roles. Before the reading, Sam treated everybody to pizza and cake. Two actors showed up to the reading late. I mention this because the other, more established actors were all on time for the reading. These actors are from major television shows and movies. They noticed that they were having to wait for other actors. One of them made a joke about us all texting one of the late actors. I don’t want to be an actor who inconveniences other members of the cast and crew. Once everybody arrived, we began the reading promptly. It was great! I think Sam was on a “high” from it for a week. Later at CJ Cullen’s Hang Onto Your Shorts film festival, I ran into three of the actors reading.


Wedding Season, the comedic short that I associate produced and acted in, screened at Hang Onto Your Shorts Film Festival a couple of weeks ago. We were even nominated for “Best Ensemble” and “Best Comedy!” Taken in the Night, a short in which I played an alien, also screened and was nominated for awards. Fortunately, CJ scheduled both films on Sunday. I was also able to go see my Meathook costars’ short 33 Years – Kim and Ryan were even both nominated for acting and directing awards. While I was at the festival, I noted that several of the films were from Actor’s Green Room’s monthly film challenge, which encourages actors to create their own content. So, if you are wondering whether creating your own work is worth it, this is proof that making your own short film can lead to festival runs and awards.  Here are a couple of pics from the red carpet and the Meathook trailer.

Go behind the scenes of the latest horror flick by "critically acclaimed" director, Lars Von Weir. #MeathookMockumentary

Posted by The Making of Meat Hook in the Mountains on Sunday, April 15, 2018


My First Tattoo is working on new improv forms – our most recent one being “free form.” In this, we do more line grabs, object grabs and other seamless edits. We could even use an emotion or location on the stage to transition from one scene to another. For example, we had one scene on a roller coaster (I was the arms of the seat that go over the chest of the rider) and chanted “chug chug chug” as the ride went up a steep incline. This “chug chug chug” led into a scene at a bar where we were partying with friends. Recently, we took a poll of the group: most of us would like to perform twice a month. Hence, we are always on the lookout for opportunities to perform. Most of our shows are through The PIT. I usually share the event on Facebook whenever we have a show coming up – keep an eye out there if you ever want to see us perform. Here is a picture of us as an Easter basket.


A few other thoughts: I am heading to Baltimore this weekend for some Letters from Sam reshoots. I have been counting down the days until I get to hang with the cast and crew again! I also just participated in a reading of How We Survived by Pauline David-Sax with The Bechdel Group. They call these “coldish” readings as we don’t rehearse them or get direction. We do get the script a few days beforehand so that we can familiarize ourselves with the characters. In this piece, I read for a 19 y/o college student who has a unique fascination with death. During that reading, I also had the opportunity to listen to another group of actors read Sam, Inc. by Jamie Rubenstein. Jamie’s excerpt had me thinking about how science could be interwoven through the script. Not in an educational entertainment way, but in an indirect way. If you know me very well, you know that this excited me.

 

Until next time,

Sarah