Flutterbies

Well, in fact, butterflies. But when Christopher was small we always called them flutterbies. What can I say – the name stuck!

The flutterbies are due to the Opening of a community theatre production tonite called “Stepping Out”. Although not a cast member (thank God!), I’m working for the first time in my life as Stage Manager. So yup – sitting in the booth with the Tech guys calling the light cues, starting the show, and so forth.  Bit nerve wracking. Just a bit! Mostly because it is a dance show in part, so there are some really cool but quickly timed light cues. However, during rehearsals I discovered that i really kinda like calling the cues…feels neat having that responsibility. I know the show pretty well since I attended most of the rehearsals (yeah, like four a week for the past while) and the cast is really terrific, so it’s going to be a lot of fun. But yes – flutterbies. So nervous! Good to be nervous once in a while, taking us out of our comfort zones and challenging us. At the same time…

The thing is, there’s quite a gap between theatre and film. You’d think it’s kind of the same thing, since both involve actors, directors, cues…lights, sound and other technical requirements. But there’s just something about the pressure of presenting a show live on stage in front of an audience.  With film there is a different kind of pressure – like you worry about the footage you’ve shot (at great expense, may I add) until you get to see it, and then that stress only lessens a bit until the thing is cut together. Only then can you heave a sigh of relief.  In theatre, there are those moments when you really hope and pray all the components come together – sound cues, light cues, performances by the actors…when they do, it’s magic – so let’s all pray for some magic tonite and for the next three shows! Exciting!

In other news, well – where do I start – sorry I have been absent from my blog for a bit. Last month was filled to the hilt with deadlines – grant deadlines for some short films, film deadlines for the Island Media Arts Festival (burning a DVD as I write!), client meetings for the bread and butter portion of what I find myself doing these days, a few odd shoots for friends here and there. Busy times. So the little practice comedy I made, The New Neighbours, was finished Wednesday – that’s what’s burning now – and I find myself in a little bit of a quandary over it.

You see, I made it as a practice film with a thousand dollar grant from the Island Media Arts Co-op. A thousand dollars doesn’t go far in film endeavours – by the time the cast and crew got paid and fed, that was it, no money left. Not that I expected any, though by golly it would be nice to be able to afford some new clothes and a better vehicle. Oh, and pay some of that thousand dollar oil bill we got yesterday when the company miscalculated the auto fill-up. After a day of freezing and feeling yucky cause the thought of a cold shower chilled me as much as the shower would have, we finally got our fill-up and had to have the pipes bled. Lotsa fun and a challenge to edit when your fingers are so cold you can barely move them.

Today is a new day (why am I still freezing? Oh yeah – to SAVE on oil. What’s the point?)  But, I digress – back to the quandary with the short film. This is the deal – I’ve been chatting with a talented writer and producer from Halifax about working on a particular Feature Film project. When the project landed on my lap, I thought ‘oh hey, maybe this is a project that I can actually get behind and Direct’ – I really want to Direct my first Feature. But logic set in and I realized that the major Canadian funding agency, Telefilm, will not likely allow me to Direct. After all, logically so, they have to protect their investment in the project. Why would they allow a small time short film-maker the reins to Direct a Feature?  Generally that doesn’t happen unless you have a significant track record OR have raised eyebrows with a particular award winning film. So the quandary? I laugh at The New Neighbours and I think it has some merit, but let’s face it – the usual budget for a decent short is about $ 40 0o0.  This is what I tell my clients too on the bread and butter side – this little thing called Production Value – it goes UP when the budget goes up. So while TNN is funny in its own thousand dollar way, it is not going to be an award winning film nor is it going to raise Telefilm’s eyebrows. And rightly so. So do I put it out there in the public eye and let people enjoy it for what it is? Or do I keep it to myself as the practice tool that it was meant to be? Any artist will attest to the fact that it’s dangerous to put forward work that will not move us forward. However – it’s my first comedy, so out to the public it’s going. But only here on PEI. In front of a small audience. That’s the quandary. And where does it leave me in my career? Thinking I need to make a $ 40 000 short with a SPECTACULAR STORY and the LUXURY of not having to worry about money so I can focus on delivering an amazing film that WILL RAISE TELEFILM’s eyebrows. And might lead me to more Directing jobs, which is what I want.

In the meantime, all you filmmakers and artists out there – keep on creating. Learn from every project and take baby steps if you have to in order to get where you want. I can still be involved in this Feature by the team in Halifax. But it would be as Producer. Which will still be an amazing journey. It’s a sweet film and there’s likely lots I can learn from who does end up Directing it. And the craft service is always good on film sets. So hey, why not help someone else’s dream come true? I think there’s an email in my inbox I have to respond to…

In the other meantime, there’s a Play waiting for me to call light cues for. Community theatre, an absolute freebie for months of rehearsals (cause I was also kinda helping people learn their lines and filling in for missing cast and stuff) and a freebie for the next four nights, but guess what – it’s absolutely as much of a challenge and as much fun as film. I’m having a blast.

‘cept for the flutterbies.

– Susan

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