Reply to Green Room Blog – If The Boat’s Not Afloat, Get Outta the Moat

The Setup

quiet de luxe by team flipmeover

This past weekend I was graced to work with two astounding actors (or actresses – your pick) during my directing debut on “quiet de luxe” by team flipmeover (@fmeover) during the 2012 NYC 48 Hour Film Project.

One of them wrote a blog about her experience and it struck me as an opportunity to provide context for actors from someone who knows what they’re going through.

I say she was astounding, she says she was… Let’s go to the video tape blog,

“I sucked so bad it’s funny!”

Her post is titled “If The Boat’s Not Afloat, Get Outta the Moat” and can be read on a great blog called “The Green Room Blog.”

She calls herself “The Newbie Actor” on the site but IRL (in real life) she’s known as Katelyn, Katelyn Collins.

On the Other Side of the Coin

Katelyn is an actor. It just so happens to be that I am one too! Holy christmas ducks, Batman! Did you know that?!

As you read above I directed this piece which put me in a completely new role. What is my directing background? I’m very observant, ask questions, and listen to directors talk about directing. Tada! #bow

I was in Katelyn’s shoes many moons ago. “Back to one…” Huh? What the what?

Yep, I had no clue what was going on but by paying attention and thanks to the all powerful ‘ask a question’ thing it’s easy to learn in-person or via the web. Use that smartphone while on-set if you need to to know something immediately so you can feel more comfortable and confident.

It was thanks to many an on-set experience that I learned more and more. One day I asked “Why are they saying ‘audio speed’ when they’re using a digital recorder?” Remember, peeps, I’m a techy so the idea of anything spinning in a flash based device (aka no moving parts) made my head hurt. The answer was simple – history. That’s the way it was done before digital devices and so that’s the way it’s done now.

Everyone knows what it “means” on-set and says it without batting an eye at their solid state camera and audio equipment. Do-do-dooo.

Could I have taken classes to learn this stuff? Sure but why not learn on the fly like I did much of my acting skills? Boom, on-set again, and again, and again. Now I can speak pretty clearly to crew and only sound like a noob every now and then. #wink

I’ve been thinking of directing for a few years now and this project provided me the opportunity. Did my acting background help me to direct? I think it did but that’s another blog I plan on writing. #extendedwink

Looking from the Director’s Perspective

Katelyn (awesome!), Me, Raffaella (awesome!)

I fully respect and appreciate Katelyn’s perspective in her blog. I wholly and cmpletely understand it because, as I said, I am also an actor and have been in the exact same position. Like her I was trained in the theater and have an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College.

I love the stage. I’d give it a hug if it were here with us, me… You know what I mean.

Unlike Katelyn, my first 48 Hour Film drove me away from film for over a year. It was painful for MANY reasons and it drove me back to the stage. Yes, the director of that film is aware of what happened to me, he’s also the director of Rising Star – Hi, Marty Lang!

I said MANY reasons not to be vague but to be clear. It was a perfect storm of issues that defeated me and so I ran back to what I knew.

A year or so later I realized what the film represented and now, in 2012, here I was producing and directing my first film.

I called Katelyn to cast her. Once. Twice. Three times. I DM’d her and wondered if she was actually interested in being a part of the film. After all, this was a director with absolutely no experience calling her. Sure, I’d taught her about the use of social media in a seminar or two but this wasn’t going to be a one-on-one session about YouTube.

Note: This is every actor’s nightmare, to live a life and at the exact moment that you are doing something someone calls you and you can’t get to the phone.

Next! Opportunity, lost.

Normally, but not this time. I wanted to work with her and waited for her to call back, hoping that she would. If not, I’d be waking someone up very soon.

She called.

Her reaction to my call was exactly what I as a director wanted to hear – excitement and a willingness to make the 48HFP work.

Limited time = Limited (casting) options

She was everything a director will want. She did her best to arrange her schedule. Mind you, it was after 10pm and we were going to start shooting in the early morning the next day. Rock! #hug!

Yes! “I want to work.” That’s what her actions told me.

She re-arranged her schedule and voila, she would be on-set the next day around 1pm. How freaking cool is that!? Rock!

If the Boat’s in the Water, Keep Paddling

Having arrived on-set, Katelyn was exactly as I remember her: kind, polite, genuine, etc. Some of the crew were… Terrified.

The reason was that this question ran through their minds:

“How is she going to play the role you cast her in, Gar? She’s supposed to be obnoxious and cruel.”

The character is not Katelyn and I knew that. I also knew she has a background in theater. Remember, I do too! This said to me, she’s going to be fine because she knows what to do – make a bold choice and go with it. We don’t have time to rehearse to find the character. I need someone who would find choices and give them a run for their money.

She. Was. A. Star.

She did do one that that is true about sucking. She ‘sucked’ the air out of the room and left these crew members speechless.

Did I just freak out my awesome actress by airing the inner thoughts of the crew in this post? Nope, I told her of these thoughts after the shoot because I felt that she deserved to know that the way people saw her and the character she brought opened people’s eyes. The 48 HFP is a learning experience for everyone and this was one of those opportunities.

What does this mean?!

Katelyn wants to learn more about acting for the camera and believes she should not be on-set until she is ready. I say, she’s ready and will be an asset to you/anyone on-set. Cast her. She’s talented, she will pick up on the jargon and you won’t even know that she didn’t know.

Heck, I had no idea she didn’t know what was going on.

Be confident and know that what you’re feeling/thinking isn’t what others are seeing.

I needed an actor who knows her craft and that’s what I got in Katelyn.

Did I say you should cast her? You really should.

Where are you on this?

  • Have you held yourself back from working on a project because you didn’t know something?
  • Do you prefer to learn in the classroom on in the hot seat?
  • Can you recall anything from your first jargon experience on-set or stage? (ahem, up-stage vs down-stage!)

1 Comment

  1. Gary, I am completely floored by this response.  Thank you.  Thank you thank you.  I can’t thank you enough for your ridiculous praise.  I’m also astounded that you had an experience that drove you away from film for a year! I actually sent the trailer of Rising Star the movie to a few people as an example of the sort of acting I felt I “should have provided” last weekend.  (Readers, check it out. Seriously. It’s only a trailer, but Gary fills up every moment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CD_TN8uXrD8

    This all really has been a whirlwind of a learning experience.  In regards to your question that closed the post … Personally, I’m typically somewhat of a perfectionist and try to live up to the ridiculous notion that I should be the best at everything I do (from acting to working a day job to washing a dish).  Therefore, growing up I was always inclined to get everything down pat in a classroom first in order to feel “prepared.”  One of the reasons I love acting is that this is one of the notions we get to throw out the window.  On stage (and on film!), we have to throw so much caution to the wind, open ourselves up to vulnerability, and simply experience.  There is so much learning in the moment that a classroom simply cannot provide.  I think it’s a balance between learning in the classroom and in the hot seat.  I look forward to getting more experience in both and now my feelings have changed regarding staying away from set for a while.  Now I want to get in there and get some hands on experience.  I want to ask those questions that were floating in my head last weekend.

    My main concern last weekend was that I wasn’t doing justice to the film.  In acting IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU!  The best actors are the ones furthest from egocentricity.  We’re here for the sake of the film (or play), for the characters, and for the themes we’re trying to plug into peoples’ heads.  I was devestated when I thought I didn’t bring it and for a day or so (until I saw the final product), my stomach was twisted with guilt, thinking I had lessened the integrity of the film that I knew had such great potential.  On Monday I saw the film.  I have to say, it’s amazing. I’m so proud and I feel spoiled to have been a part of it.  It’s a beautiful piece.  Everyone was brilliant and it shows.  Do I think I could have done better?  Yes.  Much.  Do I think I ruined the film? No.  My performance – I’ll take it, especially coming from a newbie like me.

    PS – Gary, while you were calling and DMing me, I was dancing away in a hip hop class.  Thank God you were persistant and didn’t go with another actress! I’m thanking my lucky stars!

    Come see the premiere of Quiet De Luxe!

    Mucho love everyone. Thanks for the support, Gar.  Looking forward to a real in person sit down soon. 🙂

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