There’s a terrible amount of excitement around Day 1’s. Everyone gets their marching orders, everyone gets a taste of what could be, and then we’re off. But, the fact of the matter is that production is a slog. Albert had taken care of a lot of the pre-production stuff and that’s been a godsend, but there is still so much to do. Wayne wants us off the production stuff as soon as possible, and I’m not going to lie, I’ll be glad to move in front of the camera. However, it’s still finding staff to supplant what we’ve been doing, as well as bringing on people that mesh with Wayne. Letting go of the production has been way harder than I thought it would be, this thing has been my baby for six months. Letting it go cold turkey has been challenging, but a learning experience. Every other shoot I’ve been on my input has been incredibly limited and I knew what the scope of my work was. This is completely different, where not only do I know the project backwards and forwards, but I have the plans and calculations in front of me.
I realize now the things that I take for granted aren’t always the standard. I’ve tried to be incredibly timely and clear in my communications, but now I understand the inherent frustration in coordinating with literally dozens of people. Passion for a project is great, dependability is better, both is best. Either way, every single piece of production is now heading somewhere, albeit slowly. The fact that we’re advancing at all is a victory, because none of this is inevitable, all of this is the product of brutal and headstrong work.
On the more personal side, it feels incredible to be doing real character work. Besides working on this, I still have to work. It’s heartening to be submitted for bigger and bigger roles. Roles that aren’t just two lines, roles that require you to dig, to let the script marinade in your head for a bit. I think every actor wants that challenge, the challenge of having to pick a direction, to dare in their choices. It’s then and there when my obsessive side starts taking over. You can ask any person who I wrangle to help me self-tape. Being word perfect, hitting every beat, it makes for a demanding headspace, but that’s also the point of choosing this. I do a lot of my work in the stairwell of my apartment building, it has decent lighting and just enough space where I can tape myself. The actors and actresses that I work with on self-tapes are always a revelation. It’s hard to invite someone to be in your process, to live in your head and directly criticize and affect your work.
Scary as it is to open yourself up emotionally and artistically to someone, the work that we do always helps me. I don’t ask people to help me with auditions willy-nilly. The time spent sitting on the steps bouncing beats and ideas off each other has helped me grow incredibly as an actor. You can be as focused as you want with the work, but I don’t think anyone can be all-encompassing with their work. When a fellow actor suggests a different emphasis, a different emotional beat, even just once, the entire flavor of the performance can change, and usually for the better. Whether the result is something you want to submit or not, it still forces you to evaluate the work from a different perspective, which can only help.
Going back to this project, it’s really hard to distance yourself from the character you wrote to the character you’re playing. As a writer you have the bigger picture in mind, as an actor, I think it’s the exact opposite. You have to be incredibly myopic in your focus and be obsessed about how your character sees the world, how your character interacts with the world around him or her, and how they are affected by the world and how they try to effect it right back. As a writer, you have omnipotence, you can shape the world as you see it, but as an actor you simply have to live in it. By blending the two you have a despotic control over the story, which I don’t think is good, but the temptation is always there. I completely understand Wayne’s imperative to get me to switch to actor mode, because it’s absolutely necessary. I love this part of it, constructing the character, figuring it out and building the relationships between all the characters. More importantly, bringing the other actors in and getting them to attack the work with you is the joy of it all.
But still, everything is going, albeit at a glacial pace. You can only see the thing right in front of you, so you hit it, and just keep going. Keep grinding, and hope that the creative part in your head can give you a moment of brilliance when the work demands it.