People often trot out the Ira Glass Quote which, in bastardized form, means “You make a lotta bad stuff before you make anything good.” Everyone seems to know this quote! In a blink of an eye, teachers/friends/lovers can transform into NPR parrots who have the scripture memorized and are able to repeat it back to you. Was I on a bathroom break when all of the US committed it to memory? The quote is mentioned in times of artistic trouble and repeated in times of despair like a mantra. “We all go through this.“
However, I would like to talk about living it through my web series. In summer of 2014, I got dropped by my acting agency which cause me to have to “Re-Examine My Life and The Choices I Have Made”. The previous year I had graduated from a stellar acting program where everyone liked me, I got lots of acting recognition, and everyone thought I was the next coming or some version of… Smash-cut to NYC where I couldn’t seem to get a call-back (WAH! LIFE AS ACTORS IS SO HARD!), No one thought I looked good enough, I was constantly told that I might not have enough confidence for this career. Being dropped was the cherry on top of a year of wondering if I am not meant to be an actor.
In a desperate attempt to re-discover myself, I decided to start writing and filming shorts with my friends. I borrowed the camera, a Canon 60-D, from this guy at a Sports Bar. He handed it off to me in a plastic bag in exchange for 24 Coronas – I kept it for 4 months.
During that time, my friends and I filmed a lot of shaky, uncertain, short episodes (here’s one) . The seeds of the story and humor were there, but the quality was poor. The first one we shot was supposed to take place in a restaurant, so we tried our best to make the living room look like a restaurant. It looked nothing like a restaurant, and, in fact, looked ridiculous. We never released that episode. All the time, I kicked myself for spending so much time in college with acting-blinders on and not beginning to understand how to actually create something on my own.
My friends stood by me on the journey to pieces of Internet Art. It’s worth mentioning that the majority of my collaborators are male and have raised me up as a woman. In a moment I would rather not fess up to, I said, “Guys, thanks for taking a chance on filming something written by a girl!” My collaborator said, “Don’t ever say that again.” I have since heeded his advice. And I would say the same to any female: Don’t ever say that again.
However, as magic (and practice) would have it, my friends became my collaborators. My team and I got better by doing it, and more players joined us who helped us work more smartly. We evolved into making things which looked better and were slightly longer (see improvements here). By the summer of 2015, I felt ready to make the first real season of [Blank] My Life.
Over the past 5 months, we shot 11 episodes on no budget, and are now in the process of releasing them every Friday. We scheduled three restaurant shoots, had a friend fly in from California, became SAG-AFTRA, and have gotten bigger in all the right ways. This web series has in many way saved me; In the process of doing something really hard, I began to feel a new confidence in me which auditioning, rejection, and criticism had taken away. In place of fear came the desire and the need to create and share.
The Ira Glass quote I mentioned is primarily speaking to growing in one’s creative art, which I assumed to be acting/sculpture/digital media/what-have-you. Additionally, however, it speaks to resilience in oneself. “Getting through Bad” isn’t just necessary for the sake of practice; it is intrinsic to recognizing growth in yourself and your art.
Well! Oops! Look at the time! I have to go now, because as I haven’t yet memorized the text, I’m going to get the IG quote tattooed on the underside of my left arm, so I too can whip it out for those in times of struggle or doubt. Come to think of it….maybe that’s the trick everyone is using. “