Wow, wow, WOW, what a year. For anyone who's wondering where I went the various times I disappeared in 2014, here it is. Where to even begin....? I guess, as the man and legend says, I will begin at the beginning.
In January 2014, we were in prep on my company's (A Small Fire Productions) second film, Aphasia. It was a very special time: massive anticipation, reconnecting with people who heard about the film and wanted to show early support, and finally seeing a project materialize that had been attempted twice already in the past five years. Wow.
In January, I also had the esteemed pleasure of studying (acting) with one of my favorite New York actors, Reed Birney (who was nominated for a Tony this year for his transformative work in Casa Valentina.) There is something about working with people of Reed's caliber that changes your nerve endings as an actor. Great artists have an energy about them that is nourishing, and I have been so lucky to spend time working in the same room with people like Reed this year. Zach Wegner and I traumatized people with the mass amounts of stage blood, as usual. We have honored our tradition of great playwrights and blood now for many years together. Thank you to Tracy Letts, Bruce Norris, Rajiv Joseph, and others for writing some of my favorite work and putting blood in it.
Speaking of stage blood, January allowed me a chance to work with the blood-master, Leigh Scott, on his wacky sci-fi-horror-comedy, Piranha Sharks. I've never had such a blast in a boxy pants suit.
We shot Aphasia in February. The set ran like a dream, thanks to my phenomenal production partner, Olivia Bosek, and a cast and crew sent down from heaven.
On the heels of wrapping, Olivia and I took off for SXSW, which is possibly what the coolest summer camp for film people would look like. I love this festival so much. Austin is a magnet for awesomeness to begin with, and to get the chance to meet people you've looked up to since they won a freaking Oscar (or Independent Spirit Award or any other number of awards)-- it's both humbling and inspiring. Oh yeah, and Jeffrey Tambor giving an acting workshop on Harold Pinter? F*cking priceless, friends. (Also go see Before I Disappear and The Guest. Now. You won't be sorry!)
Rehearsals for the thriller, The Minions, started as soon as I got back, and we shot in late March. Some people might know by now that I love physical acting work, and Jeremiah Kipp helmed this baby perfectly. Great cast, and a creepy little film coming your way soon.
April is always one of my favorite times to be in New York. It's right on the verge of spring, and everyone's moods change as they start to bare a little skin and shake off their winter muscles. I've been at Tribeca for the past seven years, and this year was probably one my favorites. The weather was perfect and so many wonderful people I know from LA came to town-- it's always a blast to get to see them all on my home turf.
Editing continued on Aphasia in May. I took a short break to go to Cannes, which was not at all amazing, magical, or jaw-droppingly beautiful. I mean, WHAT? I lived in Europe for a year awhile back and traveled a lot, but this place is just heaven on Earth and sharing it with the top people in the industry is just... sublime.
June was an interesting month: I booked the role of a pole dancer (the non-naked kind) in a comedy and was sent to a month-long pole dancing intensive. A total blast? Yes. A major challenge? Ouch. Pushing the limits of your pain threshold as a woman to new and torturous heights? Oh, hell yes. I have never been so bruised, including all my years in martial arts and ballet.
By mid-June, I was covered enough in bruises that I had to wear jeans to the premiere of a comedy I was in, "Callie Wants a Solo." We won Best Film and eventually the outtakes of the film began racing through Reddit and Buzzfeed until they were the top trending topic in the country. Check it out: it's ridiculously cute!
By July, I started writing a new feature, Here Be Dragons, and I gave myself three months to finish a first draft. I spent a lot of time at Rooftop Films going to see all the things I missed at festivals earlier that year. I cannot recommend joining Rooftop highly enough. Dan and company curate the absolute best program, and the filmmakers always come by to talk about their films and stick around for drinks in the courtyard. Join! 10000 KM and The Infinite Man were both fantastic, and I discovered an incredibly talented female DP, Dagmar Weaver-Madsen. Being that female DPs account for about 1% of pro cinematographers, and the opening shot of 10000 KM is about 20 minutes of stunning, challenging, single-take beauty that even Chivo would give props to-- this is rad to me.
August, we picture-locked Aphasia. Just as we were putting the final touches on the ending sequence, our director, Luke LoCurcio, and I thought to ourselves, "This needs something....else." And we headed out to the parking lot to shoot the very last moments of the film. They may be, to date, the proudest moments of my entire career in making movies, mostly because they were some of the most instinctual. I think it adds a lot, and I cannot wait to share it with an audience.
In September, I found out that I had booked a new feature called 7th Secret, which I am super excited about. I'll be playing Brooke, the rebellious black sheep of the conservative Kelly family. I love auditioning. I always have. But this process was a special one for me. Brooke didn't connect with me initially. I tried all sorts of different "ways in", but it got to the point where I was wondering if it was hopeless. And then suddenly through the panic and despair, just when I was wondering if maybe whiskey was the only solution: I found her. And man, it was one of the most rewarding auditions of my life. Actors: I hope you are all shooting for transcendence in the audition room (I know you are!). You can have it every time. Reflecting on that process has taught me so much about acting and auditioning-- I felt so fortunate just to grow the way I did during the audition. I can't WAIT to work on the film itself.
By October, we had finished all the post on Aphasia and started sending it out to festivals. The last push was pretty climactic: I slept on the floor of the mixing studio to finish our sound mix on time. It doesn't get more bohemian than that, I think, but hey! I'm pretty sure we made a great little film, and it was worth the exhaustion. I had engineered our voiceover session myself and supervised all the audio and music composition, sat in on every color session-- it only seemed fitting to go out with a bang.
After a short recovery period, I started rehearsals for Christian B. Leadley's first reading of his new play, Eurydice Ascending in the role of Eurydice. Ladies and gentlemen, remember this man's name. He is a force to be reckoned with. Not only is he one of my favorite fight choreographers (we did Electra together), he is an extraordinarily talented actor, singer, dancer, and now playwright. This show is a hell of a show, combining Greek tragedy with dance, stage combat, some awesome remixes, and of course, that good old guitar playing from Orpheus himself (and yours truly). Developing new work is always a blast, but this one is very special.
By November, I had finished writing Here Be Dragons and sent it off to a few grant programs. The Minions had its first screening, and it is just as creepy as I thought it would be. Score! A Small Fire's other short, Sideswiped, which I co-produced began going out to festivals as well.
As the year began to wind down into December holidays, and I could just taste the egg nog and see the screeners, I told myself: this year you will relax and do nothing. And then the phone rang. And I realized: with a job this fantastic, I just don't WANT to do nothing. (New projects will be announced shortly, including a new script and a couple of projects with a phenomenal actor/producer/director I have long admired.)
Looking back on this year, I have been so grateful for all the collaborators I have had. That is not limited to just talent and crew. There are so many wonderful people that make this industry what it is. I have felt welcomed in so many phenomenal casting offices this year, engaged with visionary festival programmers, met with some of the most supportive financiers, and continue to be represented by one of the best teams a girl could hope for at Vanguard.
Hoping you all had a safe, healthy, and happy end to 2014, and kicked off 2015 with a bang! It's gonna be a great one-- I can feel it!