New Years Prep

New Year 2015 formed from sparking digits over black backgroundIt’s coming. Just a few short weeks away. It’s coming.

And if you’re anything like me, you not only plan your New Year’s Resolutions weeks in advance, but you constantly recommit to goals throughout the year. The holidays are alright but New Years is when the type A planners like myself who love goals and productivity really feel like giddy little kids.

As excited as I am, I’m already anxious. I’m anxious at the number of people who will be at the gym again. I’m anxious about how many people will be setting themselves up for unachievable goals without action plans associated with them and how I will have to see them slowly get frustrated as the months wear on. I’m anxious I’m going to overshoot my own goals and be thrown off when life has obvious other plans for me.

But I know that the anxiety means I need to be realistic about what I want to accomplish and how to achieve it. And it means I need to make sure I keep up my meditation so I can keep my wandering mind in check. So if you haven’t yet thought about New Years, start thinking about it. Because it’s never too early to plan and it’s never to late to start!

I just made that up. Just now. I kinda like it. I’ll probably hate it by the time I actually publish this post because I ‘ll realize how silly it sounds, but whatever. I like it for now so I’m keepin’ it.

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Noir… now what?

I recently wrote and registered my very first feature screenplay (eeks!). It’s an absurdest, comedic noir. The main character,msmatthewson Margaret Mathewson, already has a twitter handle (@MsMatthewson). I registered with the WGA, it’s pending with the patent office right now, and I sent myself a copy. I’ve been sending copies to a few friends of mine who may help me produce it.

But I’ll be honest. I have no idea what to do next.

I know it needs money. Real money this time. I want this script to be done right and I’m tired of calling in favors from all my creative friends. Of course I’m grateful to even have creative friends who I can call in favors from… but I want this sucker to be done right. I want to be able to pay people so they bring their A-game. I want to be able to pay myself at least a little so I can spend more time concentrating on creating a great product rather than doing it in my (spare) free time.

Like I said, I want it done right.

And like I said, I have no idea what to do next.

But here’s the thing. I like not knowing what I’m doing. I like a good challenge. I like to be out of my comfort zone. And I like learning.

So I’ve done the only thing I can do… set up an action plan and a list of goals and start. I’ve got a list of books that I know are helpful to learn independent film production. I know some resources on the web that I can look up to learn how to learn more about film production. I can ask around and reach out to people. I have a goal for when I want to start production on this thing. And it’s coming up. Which means I have to figure out how the hell I’m gonna get the money to do it.

But I’ve done this before. Many times. So this is just another one of those times. I know it’ll take a lot of steps and a lot of hard work and a lot of uncomfortable moments where I’m out of my element and a lot of note-taking and reaching out and learning.

And I can’t wait.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a movie to figure out how to produce.

Constantly Recommit

commitCan I be honest with you, internet? Can I? What’s that? You’re not going to respond because you’re an abstract concept and not an actual human being? I’m making up this whole conversation in my head right now?

Ok, cool. I’ll be honest then since I know I can trust you.

I’ve been feeling a little lazy lately.

Granted, I know that my productivity levels can fluctuate greatly. I know that there are times I go through intense period of productivity. I know, too, that there are times in my life when I have the schedule and energy to really output a lot of material and other times when I just don’t have that luxury. I know that and I really do embrace it.

But I think- for various reasons- for the past month or so I’ve slowed down a bit. I’ve slowed down on getting to open mics. I’ve slowed down on my consistent writing. I’ve slowed down on spending every waking non-money-making-hour on producing creative content. Sometimes, I hang out with people I enjoy spending time with. Sometimes, I watch comedy I want to see on Netflix. Sometimes, when I’m really feeling self-indulgent, I go to the grocery store like a normal adult human being.

And while all this is fine and dandy (and what some people might call “healthy”), I realized laziness and resistance are insidious. Before you know it, you’ve slowed down or stopped completely. And while I’ve been fortunate enough to be riding a wave of momentum from my previous hardcore energy and productivity periods- so my “slowing down” hasn’t been as obvious, I need to be careful. I need to be careful I don’t become complacent. I need to make sure I’m constantly growing and challenging myself. It’s fine to continue to keep certain elements of balance that bring calmness and happiness in my life- but I need to be protective of my momentum.

I was reading a few books lately of success and productivity thanks to a close friend. What I realized in reading those is that you need to constantly recommit to whatever’s important to you. You can enjoy the fruits and labors of previous work, but you need to always be present and goal-oriented about the things that are important to you to keep them healthy. Whether that’s a relationship, a career goal, a fitness goal- whatever. You can’t just assume that you’re going to keep something going at the level and pace it was because it’s always gone at that level and pace. You need to constantly reevaluate and recommit to make sure you’re responding to the world around you and to your own gut feelings.

For me, at this period of my life, that means recommitting to some goals I have. Sure, it’s not yet New Years and this is an odd time of year to make yourself goals and really push it out since the usual momentum for all that shiz starts at the beginning of the year. But it makes no sense to wait just for waiting sake. That’s just letting laziness and resistance win. So I’ve recommitted. I’ve made specific goals for the rest of the year and am working on implementing them. I will keep pushing and not letting myself be satisfied or complacent.

I suggest you do the same.

Just Delegate It

just-do-it-1I’m good at a lot of things. I’m excellent at creativity. I have a comedic mind. I love writing. I’m organized. I’m great at talking to people. I like turning ideas into reality. I’m pretty great at blogging consistently. And, I’ve just discovered in writing this, I’m also adept at finding things I’m good about that I can write about in blog posts.

But we all have our weaknesses. I’ve realized as I’ve become stronger at my strengths, and worked on turning some of my weaknesses into strengths, that you just can’t do everything.

I also realized this when I literally ran out of time consistently to do everything I want to do.

So what do you do to still be productive?

Delegate.

I can be a bit of a Type-A. So I’m not good with delegation. I just want to get it done and I want it done right. And oftentimes, people don’t do it right. Or I feel like in the time it took me to explain how it should be done, I could have just done it myself.

But what I’ve realized is you have to let people help you. There’s a huge strength in admitting you’re not good at something and letting someone help out.

When I was shooting my web series, The Other Client List, people asked me if I was directing, too. I was like, “Hell no I don’t know how to do that.” And as a result, we found a wonderful and magical director, Erik Boccio, who got together an amazing production team and helped us make this idea a reality. He’s an expert. He made every shot look amazing, brought out the best in our performances, and kept us moving along through the script.

When we were midway through filming, we started thinking about an editor. I had no idea who I was going to get or how. I started thinking I may just have to teach myself to edit it. Luckily, I reached out and somehow lucked into an amazing editor in Glen Montgomery. There is no way I could have done an ounce of magic he’s doing with our series. He’s an expert. He’s freaking amazing.

Glen mentioned we need to think of sound. Somehow we lucked into finding more talent willing to help out with this project in the incredible musician Rick Wright of Subtidal Studios. I cannot do what he does. He’s so talented. It’s his field. It’s what he’s good at.

There’s tons more people on board with this team who are making it a reality. And this is only one project. And a few examples of the incredible work going into this project.

My point is this- I can’t do it all. There’s no way. Adding people to the project only strengthens it. I admitted I need help. And the help came-a-runnin’. And I’m so grateful for it. And have learned a valuable lesson.

Step away from the project, Briana. Let the experts do their jobs.

 

Learning by Doing

I don’t know what I’m doing. sexy face

This revelation is not shocking to anyone who I’ve hung out with for more than five minutes.

The picture in this post I hope confirms that.

I generally have no idea what I’m doing anywhere ever.

But here’s what I do know… I learn by doing. I do something. I do anything. I’m a do-er.

I don’t mind being wrong. I don’t mind asking questions. I don’t mind screwing up. I don’t mind falling flat on my face.  In fact, as strange as it sounds, I like to be out of my comfort zone. I like to be the least knowledgeable one in the room. I like starting something with blind faith that I’ll learn how to finish it as I go.  I do my absolute best to present a project that I’m proud of knowing that it will be imperfect. I do my best to make it as perfect as I can with what I have in the moment, then I let it loose.

It’s the same with these posts and this blog. I write it. I think about it. I reflect. Then I just do. I put it out there and see what happens.

One of my improv teachers used to emphasize just finding things in your environment and doing something with them immediately, then learning what it means to the scene later. You don’t need to know the answer in the beginning.  Just do something  and you’ll eventually figure out why you’re doing it.

I’m a firm believer that’s the only way to really learn something anyway. Any lesson I’ve ever truly learned has come through experience. You can tell me all you want not to do something, but I’m probably going to do what I want to do anyway. Because when I experience my own shortcomings or my own failures, I feel them fully. They become a part of my own life that I can grow upon. They’re new tools and stories I have that I can use to make different decisions in the future.

Like with the web series I’m in post-production for right now. I wrote it not knowing how it would get produced. Somehow, we found the perfect director who had access to an amazing and talented team of people willing to be a part of the project. My partner and I did a crowd-sourcing fundraising campaign not knowing how those work. We raised enough to make something a reality. We didn’t know how, but we’d make it work. We had hectic schedules and didn’t know how we would coordinate, but we just did it. I’d never been a “producer” before- making sure the locations were available and appropriate, coordinating people, making sure everyone was fed while still knowing my lines and watching all continuity.  I had no idea how much planning and coordination went into every single shot we did, but I learned.  I didn’t know how we would edit it. But we found someone perfect. I have no idea what it means to be in post-production, but I’m excited to learn. Anything I don’t understand how, I know I can learn bit by bit. I admit that I don’t know how to do something. And by admitting it, I’m totally open to learning.

It’s good to plan. And it’s good to prepare. But I think people can get so wrapped up in doing something “right” that they never actually do anything.  And if I’ve learned anything in my short time on this earth, it’s that the actual doing- even though that means often failing- is the most important (and most fun) part of our existence.

How do I know this? From a whole lot of doing.

So just do it.

This post has been sponsored by Nike.*

*This is completely untrue but I’m totally open to getting money from you, Nike, if you’ve got any to spare.**

**I know you do. So give me money. Just do it.

 

 

Back to the grind

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For the past couple months, I’ve put a lot of stuff on the back burner in order to focus on finishing the filming and production of my web series, The Other Client List. 

We finished filming on Saturday. I couldn’t be more proud, grateful and excited. It’s been an adventure and I’m glad to know it’s really only the start of the adventure.

On Sunday, I let myself sleep in. Then looked at the “To Do” list I’d been putting off…and had a little freakout.

Then once it was over, I stood up (did I mentioned I was curled into a ball on the floor?), took a deep breath, and got to work.I let myself freak out for a minute. It’s ok to sometimes feel overwhelmed. It’s ok to feel frustrated. And it’s ok to be true to whatever your feeling in the moment. I didn’t want to fight the freakout. I just allowed it.

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I think part of what was overwhelming me was not knowing how much I actually had put off and not knowing how it would all get done. So I just started attacking it step by step. I did some cleaning and organizing. I looked through piles of papers and figured out what goes where and what needs to be addressed. I made some phone calls and sent some emails. I did my taxes. Not all of them, but I figured out what I could get done that day, did it, and have an action plan in place for the final steps to finish them.

I even took a couple hours off midday to laugh with one of my favorite people.

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Even though there’s still plenty to do in both the web series, my personal goals, and at least eight other major projects I’m workin

g on, I’m ready for it. I want this life. I want a life of projects. Which means I’m ok with having times of being overwhelmed. Because everything is a balance. You just have to give yourself every advantage to learn to handle it. That way it gets easier over time. Just like everything else you practice.

I’m still learning. But at least I got a good practice meltdown and recover session in yesterday. I feel good about that.

So now it’s time to get back to the grind. Bring it.

Coordination Station, Clase

photo2When I was in high school, one of my spanish teachers would always rhyme things then say “clase.” I think she’d be proud of my little rhyme in this subject line.

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She always also said, “Bad news bears, clase. Bad news bears.” And she flailed her hands a lot. And we all had spanish nick-names while in class. Mine was “Chita.” She would say, “Don’t be a cheat-ah, Chita. Get it, clase? No cheat-ah, Chita.” Then she’d giggle profusely.

 

The more I think about it, maybe there’s a reason my spanish isn’t better…

I’ve mentioned before, I’m currently filming my web series The Other Client List. This past weekend was one of our businest filming weekends yet because we had tons of people and places I needed to coordinate. It was a bit insane. Tons of people came out of the woodwork to help in lots of different capacities.

 

 

We got the majority of our major scenes done and put ourselves in a position to essentially be finished filming the series with only one more shoot date this upcoming Saturday.Anyway, I’m not writing to tell you about Sra. Jones. I’m writing to tell you about how fun and magical it is to coordinate a ton of people.

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WHOA.

Every little piece has to be in the right place, otherwise the whole project is off. And every single person you see on that screen helped screw in a little bit.This whole process has been an amazing learning experience. I have a new respect for the amount of work and organization and gumption it actually takes to make these projects a reality. I will never again leave a movie theater before the end of credits because very single one of those people was an essential part to the major production.

 

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So screw you if you overlook them. Next time you need help, I hope you’re screwed.

So thank you to the wonderful screwballs who came to help out this weekend.I don’t hope that at all. I just wanted to use “screw” again and it seemed appropriate.

You kept us from being screwed.

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…alright. I’ll stop with the “screw” words.

 

This is becoming pretty screwy.

 

(giggle giggle giggle)

Making Dreams Come True

I don’t have a fairy godmother. Because I don’t need one. I’m lucky enough to have amazing people around me who can make magic.

I’ve mentioned a few times I’m currently producing a web series called The Other Client List. This basically came out of the fact that my friend Arye and I had kept in touch from our Groundlings Basic class for several months. One day, we’re sitting at a lunch and mention we should just produce our own work. We should do a web series.

And from that, an exciting partnership and adventure was born.

I spent a couple months writing it. I’d never written screenplay scripts before. I’d always done sketch which is much more lackadaisical in formatting. And easy to fix as you rehearse. But screenplays follow a distinct format because they’re the foundation upon which so many other creative brains are going to build. So I did my best. It’s not perfect… but it’s close. And I certainly learned while doing it. And after a couple months, we had 10 scripts.

Then we were lucky enough to find a creative, focused, hard-working, and hilarious director/DP, Erik Boccio. Who has a great team of people who can help it all become real. We asked for money from friends and family, raised over $4,000 and are currently in the process of filming it every time we can get everyone together.

It’s wonderful. And magical. And I’m learning so so so much. Because this is what I want to do. And the best way to learn how to do it- how to really do it- is just by going for it.

So many extremely talented friends of mine are joining in for roles in the process. And Arye and I are turning out to be quite the complementary team.

And it’s fun. God it’s fun. Did I mention it’s fun? We’re all working our butts off and spending money and time we don’t have… but it is so much friggin’ fun.

And it’s good. It’s going to be so funny. It’s absolutely invigorating to get to see the words I pulled out of nowhere and gave to characters that I made up in my head actually come to life and tell a cohesive (and hilarious) story.

It’s magic. And I’m loving it.

And I’m so grateful to every person who’s helped make it a reality so far. I know it’ll be successful. It’s going to be such a good product- I can’t imagine how it wouldn’t be.

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Week Off

Last week, I did a very strange thing for me. I took a whole week off working.

To be fair, I love my work. I love to create. It’s how I relax. When I finally make it my career, I’m going to be the most uptight relaxed person you ever met.

But because I do work on so many projects and am constantly focused on performance and creating, it can make me distracted at times. And when I’m away from it and think there’s a lot I should be doing, I can get a little worked up.

So I made myself a promise to take the week off last week when I was at home visiting my family and friends for the holidays.

And let me tell you… it was great.

It’s easy to lose perspective when you’re totally engrossed in something. I think I had lost a little perspective in my own world. And by forcing myself to not constantly produce, I got to breathe a little deeper and enjoy the present moment even more.

But most importantly, I got to just hang out with my family without anything else on my mind.

Sure. After Christmas when everyone was just relaxing by themselves, I may have done a little organizing for our upcoming Other Client List shoot. But I wasn’t working hard. Just a lil. And just because it’s relaxing.

And rest assured, after about 20 minutes, I joined my dad in the living room and drank cheap wine and watched terrible network TV.

And it was awesome.

Webseries

I’ve mentioned it before, but I wrote this webseries called The Other Client List. I’m currently working on producing it with my awesome production partner Arye Rapini.

I’m really excited about the project because it’s a combination of so many things I love: Projects, collaboration, comedy, jokes, silliness, writing, acting, Arye… and FITNESS!

The storyline follows two women who are opening their own fitness studio. Both Arye and I workout daily so when I was thinking up ideas for our series, I thought… well, that’s something that we have in common (that’s more interesting than just ACTING which is what every friggin webseries focuses on anymore…)

Anyway, we’re going to have some fitness elements involved any many of the episodes (obviously). So before we start producing I’m going to work out even harder. Because the creativity is inspiring the fitness and visa versa.

It’s a perfect little symbiosis! HURRAY!