Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Divided Loyalties with Arts Fwd: Howlround and Kennedy Heights Arts Center

Whoa, it's weird when worlds collide. Or when they merge in places you never in your life suspected.

Innocent me: Today I logged on to Facebook. I've been keeping away from Facebook for about a week now. The noise, noise, noise, noise was getting to me. But then I saw this post from HowlRound, about voting for them:

HowlRound is a semi-finalist for the ArtsFwd Business Unusual National Challenge! it read. Our idea, Culture Coin, aims to put the equity back into sweat equity! Vote and read more here!

I'm behind HowlRound's work, so sure I'll vote for them, I thought. So I follow the link to here, and I see this link to another organization, Kennedy Heights Arts Center. Whaaat? It can't be the same Kennedy Heights, next to where I grew up? But yep, click on the link, and it's an arts center on Montgomery Road, in Kennedy Heights.

I grew up in Pleasant Ridge. P-Ridge. The Heights is just one neighborhood north, right up Montgomery Road. I went to school for a year at Schroder Junior High. I know none of this is important to anyone else, but lately I've been having strange little things like this tear me from today and put me way back there, maybe not necessarily Pleasant Ridge and Kennedy Heights, but way in my past.

There was that dream I had about one of my best friends in high school, and then I learned he had died about a month before. I found a tape my father sent me, making it about thirty years since I had heard his voice. Thanks to social media and the Internet, in the past year I've had three people from long ago contact me. It's always jarring at first, because it's so unexpected. But it always does bring a little smile to my face, just like this did today.

Who to vote for? HowlRound, who is doing some ground-breaking research and work in the American theater? Or Kennedy Heights Arts Center?

You can vote everyday until May 31. If you're reading this blog and have some roots back in Cincinnati, I'm giving you a heads up about the arts center. Good things are happening back there.

Friday, May 3, 2013

2013 48-Hour Boston Film Project

Starting tonight, we're going to make a movie.

I've never made a movie before. Or, maybe it's a film we're making, not a movie. I'm not sure if there's a difference. I imagine there are lots of people who could fight the live-long day about the difference between a movie and a film, just like in theater people fight about the spellings, theatre vs. theater.

When I was an undergrad studying photography we had to say we were making images. We couldn't say we were taking pictures.

Making images.

Making film.

Lots of people in theater say they're making theatre. I know I do.

I guess maybe it's all about intent? Is it? Film, theatre, images is about intending to make something, oh, I don't know, something lofty. Something...more?

But I've never done this before, though as a playwright I have worked on a couple of 24-hour theater events. In 24 hours, we--the playwright, director, and cast--met, and in 24 hours we wrote, rehearsed, and performed a new play.

As you can imagine, it's scary stuff for the writer, because it all starts with the writer. You have to make something--a script, a screenplay--out of nothing. Well, not really nothing, because there is a whole lot of somethings that writers pull from. You just have to remember that.

And I'm not in this alone. There's a whole crew of people, and just like with a good bunch of theater artists, you work together. Wendy, the person on my team (we're Red Dirt Productions, just so you know, named for the production company that we're with) and I met on a 24-hour play fest, with me as the playwright and she was the director. At our initial meeting, I was in that state of shock where I was wondering, what did I get myself into? What am I going to write? And all Wendy said was, you know, the characters don't have to be people. From that, I wrote A Meating of the Mind, from about 11:00 that night to 2:30 a.m. So, I'm sure we're going to do a bit of brain-storming tonight before we all go our separate ways for the night and I camp out on my couch with a pot of coffee and a bowl of popcorn, because for some reason I like to snack while I write.

The first time I did a 24-hour play fest I tried to think of scenarios, things to put in my pocket. That doesn't work. You just have to give yourself up to the process. The best thing I've learned to do is view the things that inspire me, no matter what it is. Things when I look at them or read them or experience them in some way, make me go/say/think, damn, I wish I had done that.

I've been looking at a few short films, just to get my head around it.

And when it comes to intent, what I'd love to do is make a film that has maybe one line of dialogue, and is filled with visuals that tell the story, and a soundtrack that supplements the telling of the story. Sometimes the clink of a coffee cup in silence conveys so much, you know what I mean?

That's where I stand now, about five and a half hours before we do our kickoff meeting.

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