film&theatre resumé 2020

A Year of New Beginnings…

Whoa, 2012 is over! Here’s a look back on my year, which I think I might call a point of no return.

UF Graduate School in Anthropology: Semester One
Anthropology of the Media (Dr. Ieva Jusionyte): I began my anthropological investigation of bullying with a media studies project, in which I analyzed the lexical and semantic content of 75 news articles on the topic. The process was tedious, but enlightening: my initial reading of the articles, which dated back to 2005, revealed trends in the pragmatic focus and rhetorical tone of the articles. Although I had to work with a small sample and without an independent coder, I found that my initial observations were supported by the analysis of semantic elements, which I analyzed both by time and against each other. I found that bullying has been reified in the news media, and increasingly portrayed as a disease. The paper will hopefully be presented in the graduate colloquia by next summer.

Other work from the class is partly represented on our class blog.

Film Analysis (Dr. Robert Ray): My other class, not including my requisite proseminar, was a film analysis class which spurred some of the thoughts you’ll find on my new blog, Confluey. Although our discussions were lighter on the history and heavier on the formal analysis, the exposure to classic film and my newfound understanding of their social undercurrents are essential to my study.

Community Theatre

Acrosstown Repertory Theatre: As discussed here, after Galileo of Gainesville, I immediately jumped on board ART’s double feature production of a one-act Hamlet and a one-act parody, The Prince Formerly Known As Hamlet, by Bruce Kane. As usual, I began as stage manager and did what I call the “magnet sweep, “which causes the various vacant production roles to stick to me. Thus, I was Stage Manager, Properties Designer, Props Master, and Zombie Makeup Consultant (the parody went interesting places). The show was a hit.

After a summer hiatus filled with dreary retail work, I reprised the sickening household set (although the level of filth accomplished in Prima Donna was not possible in a stage production) for Come Back, Little Sheba. Through some careful thrifting on a shoestring budget, I managed to approximate the period (sadly, not perfectly, due to budgetary restrictions) and establish the neurotic personality of the lady of the house.

The theatre has also developed new committees: I sit on the Facilities Committee as Design Manager—meaning I facilitate the production teams by getting the resources and people to the theatre, keeping the theatre organized and safe, and maintaining our props and costume closet.

Next spring I will be stage managing Outburst, written by Gainesville playwright Leroy Clark. It is a drama about a gay teacher’s job and relationship troubles after he accidentally outs himself in his classroom.

Professional Theatre

Yes, I went pro! For the Hippodrome’s production of A Tuna Christmas, by Jaston Williams, Joe Sears, and Ed Howard. The show has been done several seasons alongside the Hipp’s annual production of A Christmas Carol, and requires two actors to play 22 characters. The Hipp performs a slightly edited version, with only 15 characters—but still. Because of my stage management experience, I was hired to manage the wardrobe and the dressing team for the run. The comic pacing of the show + only two actors = a lot of quick changes. I was essentially an ASM/run crew head specifically for wardrobe. The entire process was delightful…well, maybe not the laundry. I was very excited to add this adorable satire to my resumé. In addition, while one has less a sense of “building” theatre when working pro, the available resources and possible efficiency lend an incredible sense of camaraderie and family. However, whether the theatre is educational, community, street, or pro, the sense of making magic is both integral and inextricable.

4x4x4

Although I am sitting on a few plays waiting for the best opportunity to submit for production, I kept my playwriting muscles in shape with a 7-hour writing binge as part of the 24-hour play festival called 4x4x4 (the number of playwrights, directors, and actors per play, respectively). My 20-minute play, Empower Play, was produced the following evening for the festival, hosted by the Civic Media Center on August 11. Because of time constraints, the play could not be accurately memorized or produced with any allowance of specificity or fanciness. However, as a writer, it allowed me to gauge the flow, naturalness, and efficiency of the script by how easily it was produced. I was pleased to see that the director and actors were able to stay true to it.

4x4x4 was repeated at the CMC on October 13, on which I was one of the directors. While for writing, I can easily get into flow, and for a short work can usually ride the wave to fruition, so to speak, having one day to direct a play was unusual and problematic. Doing all of the prep work, teaching the actors blocking, and helping them memorize lines and refine their characterizations within 12 hours seemed an impossible task. To make it worse, my playwright had given me an absurdist post-apocalyptic dark comedy, the most difficult style, setting, and genre (although some of my favorites as well), all in one! Amazingly, we pulled it off to the delight of our audiences.

Collages
Updated:More about PopConcoction
I decided to embark on a different sort of pop culture investigation. Rather like Claude Levi-Strauss deconstructing myths, I decided to deconstruct American cultural icons. Rather than making extensive charts, I used images from advertisements, surrounding the icon’s face with a collage of associated and representational images. The first sets of the two series, TV Icons and Divas, showed at the Civic Media Center in the July Artwalk and on the UF campus in October as part of a student art exhibition sponsored by the Inter-Residence Hall Association. The next sets in both series will be shown at the January Artwalk at the Civic Media Center.

Certain projects, such as my music, the revisions of my screenplay, and my fandom study were necessarily reduced to allow for these other projects. However…I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Next year I look forward to Death of a Salesman at High Springs Community Theatre, the aforementioned Outburst, my foray into the documentary portion of the anti-bullying project, research presentations, and who knows what else.

film&theatre resumé 2020

As “Galileo” is launched, new projects emerge!

The premiere production of the new play “Galileo of Gainesville” just finished its first weekend to great acclaim. For a play with heavy symbolic content, very scientific, lyrical, and nerdy dialogue, and goofy folk songs, all the disparate elements came together gloriously! Complete with a gorgeous set  furnished by generous actors, decorated by yours truly, and painted by the talented Ken Brown of Gainesville’s Hippodrome Theatre, and wonderful performances by members of local indie folk group Nook and Cranny and their musical colleagues, this was a production I was happy to be a part of.

Now that the prep work is done and it’s just the rhythm of each performance I must maintain, I am preparing my stage play for review as a possible production for ART’s 2012-13 season, continuing work on the 80s throwback fantasy drama, and obsessing over my screenplay.

Update: I will be stage managing a production of “Hamlet and the Prince Formerly Known As Hamlet” at Acrosstown, and hopefully moving soon into construction mode for the fantasy film.

film&theatre resumé 2020

“Galileo of Gainesville” Shoots for the Stars

Auditions have just passed for the interactive neo-postmodern (is that a thing?) play “Galileo of Gainesville,” written by local actor Dan Kahn with the help of the people he’s met doing homeless outreach, as well as his musician friends, making this a verifiable folk musical. In fact, “folk” is the reigning theme of the production, from its emergence from ordinary folk to its inclusion and focus on homeless folk to its musical interludes of the genre folk to its eventual involvement of the audience folk. I am extremely excited to a part of this production, especially after seeing the amazing improv skills and propensity for fun of the auditionees. (Improv is needed for the few interactive moments of the play; few, but it’s enough that we don’t expect any production to be like the one before or after.)

More information

film&theatre resumé 2020

Still seeking opportunities in production design…

Unfortunately, it seems that I have been let go from production of the short film. 🙁 Or perhaps I was never in, I’m not sure. After a successful (I thought) interview and sending my preliminary report as requested, I was contacted twice telling me that I would be called within a few days to discuss the project. A week passed between each of these emails, and I thought at least I would be contacted personally if I wasn’t in, but instead I got the form email sent to everyone who applied and didn’t make it. How insulting.

This is always a risk with independent films; people will toss the offer your way, get you to do some work for them, and then drop you for someone who “better fits our needs.” Thankfully I hadn’t given too much time…still, disappointing.

So, I am anxiously seeking a new project, and need to do some research on how to seal the deal for a production design gig. It almost seems like a throwaway term at this point, given the variation in what people ask for when you apply. I do hope an interesting project comes my way soon.

film&theatre resumé 2020

The Next Wave of Projects

With “The Milkman” in post-production, and ABIBS experiencing continued hurdles, the time has come to look for new projects in design and production management. I am lined up to stage manage two productions for the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre here in Gainesville, FL, beginning this fall. In addition, I am working on another short film as Production Designer, this time in the true function of that title as manager, rather than catch-all “small-stuff” designer. Of course, such titles are both meaningful and meaningless. Like “associate producer.”

Nah, I’ll be gettin’ into it as I always do…it’s just no fun to sit and watch the other people build the props and set. Where’s my screw gun?

film&theatre resumé 2020

Slasher Film Wrapped!

Definitely learned a few things (like, putty is helpful to plug bloodlines, and to bring a dish of water to put the blood equipment in, or ants will find you). But overall the shoot went very well, the actors enjoyed getting yucked up, and hopefully folks will be pleasantly horrified and grossed out! Photos up here.

Update: Check out the director’s website here.

film&theatre resumé 2020

New Design Projects

I am pleased to announce that I am designing for two independent films, and hope that the portfolio boost and new connections will help me find a professional job in film.

Project 1: A two-minute slasher film of the gory-yet-tongue-in-cheek subgenre. As I am new to special makeup effects, I have been doing a lot of research on the best ways to accomplish slashed throats and smashed heads. (Thankfully, my “Grey’s Anatomy” habit can be considered part of this research: lots of blood spurting, squirting, spraying, oozing, caking, gushing, flowing, pooling…God, blood does a lot of things, doesn’t it?) In addition I am looking for particularly informative DVD featurettes and finding a wealth of information on homemade slasher movie effects online.

This also brings back my years of Halloween makeup-ing, the wounds makeup we learned in makeup classes, and my fondness for this particular subgenre. I’m very excited to be working on this project.

Project 2: An hour-long fantasy drama that puts a twist on the classic rogue-and-princess fairy tale and makes it a metaphor for teen angst and broken hearts. I’m doing the various princess dresses for the female romantic lead and the set decoration for the leads’ bedrooms. I love dressing bedroom sets: it’s psychology meets decorating!

film&theatre resumé 2020

“The Elephant Man” @ ART a success; new directions

It has been about a month since the run of “The Elephant Man,” directed by Michael McShane, wrapped at Acrosstown Repertory Theatre here in Gainesville. This was the first community theatre production in which I was Stage Manager, and thankfully the nature of the play and the shortage of help allowed me to flex my dramaturgical muscles and work on my longtime favorite, properties design, as well.

I contacted a number of people before reaching the director and jumping on board. I read “The Elephant Man” in high school and it deeply affected me, staying with me in a place of great sentiment and in a sense of creative investment: I chose it for a class project in which we did the director’s prep work. Sadly, no production outside of my imagination took place then.

Being on board on a real production meant a lot more paperwork, and that everything had to be done within financial and time restraints. Admittedly, it was frustrating having to construct a set and gather props with a limited budget and few personnel; in university theatre, there are always hands on deck, even if some are there out of requirement for classes. And there is much more money.

All the same, Mike and I managed to find suitable props through loans from other theatres in the area, and I provided the rest on my own. I aimed to approximate Victorian-era set props that matched the color scheme and minimalism of the set, for lack of the 100% period-appropriate props I wanted; a well-trained props designer avoids anachronism like the plague. There were of course snafus and severe time limitations, as I was functioning primarily as stage manager, and secondarily as company manager, dramaturg, and dialect coach, but overall I was pleased with the final assemblage, including old, worn books in earth tones, the cold tin dining ware, the basket with Mrs. Kendal’s knitting supplies, and of course the model of St. Phillips’ Cathedral. See photos in the Design Gallery.

“The Elephant Man” is not commonly produced, probably for the extreme demands placed on the actor who plays Merrick, the pivotal nude scene, and the heavy medical content and themes, but I would wager the model is a large deterrent. Creating a scale model that could be assembled during the course of the show and appear to be at several distinct stages of completion was a daunting task, especially with limited funds and time. Initially Mike had a contact experienced with scale models, but when that didn’t pan out, I offered to complete the project within the next month, in time for opening night. I had worked with dollhouses and Christmas villages for years, and so I felt confident in the project. When I looked at photographs of the cathedral, though, I was overwhelmed: first by the beauty of the church, and then by the realization that I had agreed to create a scale model of it! The level of detail would need several months to complete. After all, in the play, Merrick takes at least a year to complete the project; one can assume having one useful hand slows him down only so much.

I decided to construct four separate pieces, each completed with its architectural details and paint job, that could be assembled on stage with the rising dramtic tension of the second act, with the pinnacle last. The main assemblage would be foamboard with painting and selective decorative pieces to suggest further detail. Under Mike’s suggestion, I initially designed the model to be able to house its various pieces, so that Scot Davis, who was playing Merrick, could pull them out between scenes. However, the flimsiness of the foamboard and Scot using only one hand made this impossible. So the final product was a fully assembled church minus the front atrium and bell tower; I divided the latter into three pieces that Scot could simply stack until he reached the pinnacle. Oddly, I felt more accomplished afterwards for having braced the embarrassment any perfectionist would feel when a less-than-complete project needs to be used for rehearsal, than for actually completing the model. I still feel the model needs work.

The run was successful, despite my having to fill in as run crew, but as usually happens when I’m involved in a production, I knew the functioning of the show well enough to be able to fill in such gaps. This was definitely a too-little-butter-over-too-much-bread situation, but I was extremely pleased with the final result. Being able to work in so many functions on a show I love was delightful, and I am reminded that there are many avenues in film and theatre I could take. In a tough job market, that’s essential. Here’s hoping one or more will take me into professional work soon.

So what’s next? I will not be attending graduate school this fall, unfortunately. I am waiting to hear on a couple of jobs. Mike has asked me to work with him on a couple of upcoming projects. I feel that right now, my energies would be best directed towards my own writing. “The Elephant Man” was an excellent opportunity for growth and experience; until the next inspiring experience comes along, I will probably be working at home.