creativity

How to Make a Movie: Location location location

Last week, Caroline and I visited Long Beach, NY as a possible site for our short film. This was such an exciting part of the filmmaking process. After finishing the script, it was so much fun to imagine the characters we created in a real space.

Please enjoy our recap of the location, and ignore my awkward joke:

We spent several hours walking around the beach, pinpointing specific angles we liked and possible settings for different shots. It was a great way for us to talk about how we envisioned the movie.

We still have a few more locations to scout, but progress is being made! More to come on our first production meeting, and the audition process.

In the meantime, please like our official facebook page, and follow our new twitter acount for the film. We’ve been blown away by how supportive and encouraging everyone has been so far. Every like, comment and follow goes a long way in making this crazy dream feel more attainable.

Why aren’t you listening to this?

earSometimes we need to hear something at the right time for it to click. Here are two things I listened to recently that I had to share with you and I hope it falls on your ears at the right time as well.

In this brief, one-minute illustration, Ira Glass speaks of the difficult growth processes of creativity. What he says is so obvious and true but I never thought of it that way.

Are you done watching it? Great! What did you think about it?

Next up, is a podcast my friend, Tricia recommended. A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment is by Sherman Alexie and Jess Walter, two accomplished and incredible authors. I loved hearing their candid view of the creative struggle and their vulnerability in sharing works in progress. The episodes are about an hour long, but well worth it.

I’ve been slow to jump on the podcast bandwagon but I’m starting to appreciate them. (In case you’re not familiar with the term, a podcast is simply a recording online. They’re usually free to listen to or you can pay to download them).

Do you have any podcasts you’d recommend? What do you like about them?

Serious Entertainment

secret theatreOne of the things that I love about New York City is that it attracts some of the funniest, most talented people in the world. It seems like on every corner, you can stumble into a bar and watch a performance that is funnier than anything you’d see on SNL. The Magic Jukebox, presented by The Serious Theatre Collective, is no exception. This is the third Serious Theatre production I’ve seen and I’m a big fan of their low-brow meets high-brow humor, and their efforts to make high-quality, original theater affordable.

The Magic Jukebox is a zany combination of sketch comedy and musical theater. Make sure you go to the bathroom before the show starts because you’ll be peeing in your pants. The collaborative writing style has led to some hilarious sketch ideas: a gospel choir that offers support during a first date, singing tele-spam, and homicidal dolphins just to name a few.

Some of the performance highlights include Ricardo Delgado’s R. Kelly inspired cameo, any time Sam Durant Hunter’s on stage, and Abby Goldfarb’s comedic timing. It was especially fun to come early and sing along with the impromptu karaoke that sparked up from the house band’s catchy set. At $18 a ticket, you can’t afford to miss this show! Make sure to follow the collective on facebook to hear about future shows.

Playing at Cannon’s Walk at The South Street Seaport (206 Front Street, NY, NY)

All Shows: 7:30pm door, 8pm curtain
Thursday 11/6
Friday 11/7
Saturday 11/8
Thursday 11/13
Friday 11/14
Saturday 11/15
Thursday: 11/20
Friday 11/21
Saturday 11/22

How bullying made me a better writer

Most kids joke that their favorite subject in school is recess or lunch. Those were the times I dreaded the most. Classmates spitting gum in my hair; getting called ugly/ fatty/ freakazoid; kids running from me, afraid they would catch ‘Tracy germs.’ I ate lunch in the bathroom whenever I could sneak by the lunch attendants who seemed more preoccupied with keeping us all in one raucous room rather than ensuring that no one was getting hurt or bullied.

While I would never wish that treatment on any young child, as an adult it’s easy to notice the bright side of the past. The truth is something positive did come from that time. I truly believe that my skills as a writer were formed during the isolation and depression of bullying.

  1. It made me more observant.
    If I wasn’t bullied, I was ignored. At these times I could watch my peers; studying their gestures, their words, and their behaviors . I thought if I studied them hard enough, I would learn how to become popular. Of course that didn’t work, but I did learn how to be quiet and absorb the information around me, and put that into my writing.
  2. It taught me the art of revision.
    As a kid, I was terrible with come backs. As soon as someone dissed me, I froze up and English became like a second language to me. This made the kids laugh even more. While trying to fall asleep I would go over the insults kids hurled at me that day and come up with all the clever responses I should have said. Writing gives you the ability to sit with a cluster of words and sculpt them as much as you want until they finally resemble your elusive thoughts.  Writing gave me the ability to use my words, an ability I didn’t have on the playground.
  3. It turned me into a reader.

    In order to become a good writer, you must read. This is the best way to absorb effective structure, beautiful prose, potent vocabulary, and great ideas. I was slow to reading, in fact I didn’t start reading until 3rd grade, but once I was able to decipher those inky pages I couldn’t get enough. I escaped into the world of books. If my reality was full of play dates and giggles, I probably wouldn’t have read so much.

  4. It taught me the complexity of humanity.
    The best authors make you sympathize with people who do bad things. In order to achieve this, the author needs to have incredible understanding as to why a person would behave that way, and, most of all, she must be able to forgive that character. It took me a long time to forgive my classmates for their treatment, but eventually I was able to understand why they did it. They were scared little kids afraid that if they didn’t pick on the scapegoat they would become the scapegoat. They had siblings or parents who bullied them and they took that out on me. They thought it was a harmless joke. When my best friend arrived at our school in fifth grade, I asked her if she knew how to talk because she was so quiet. Years later she told me how much that comment hurt her, but at the time I didn’t know any better. Whatever the reason for bullying, I don’t believe that kids are evil, they were complex.
  5. It helped me handle rejection.
    Getting a letter saying “unfortunately we cannot represent you at this time,” doesn’t feel like rejection compared to what the boys used to say on my school bus. I remember one time the kids teased a boy, saying that we were boyfriend and girlfriend, at which point he pretended to throw up. His retching was so convincing that the bus driver pulled over to see if he was okay. Kids would kick the empty seat over if they saw me coming to sit next to them, or they would beg my teacher to be partnered with someone else. That was a kind of rejection that puts all future rejection in perspective.

I spent years pitying myself as the victim, not understanding what I did to warrant that kind of treatment. The truth is it doesn’t matter. Bad things happen. If we choose to let those times teach us rather than beat us, we are stronger and better for it.

Why you should get bedbugs

What the heck is this new musical, Bedbugs!!!, everyone is talking about? I got to see it a few nights ago and I was blown away.

After losing her mother in a tragic bedbug accident, Carly becomes an exterminator determined to rid the world of bedbugs and avenge her mother’s death. Despite warnings from her lab assistant, Burt, she creates a deadly concoction to kill the bugs, but it winds up mutating them instead. Meanwhile, Canadian pop-singer, Dionne Salon, tries to resuscitate her career, but these  mutated, hyper-sexualized bedbugs threaten to kill off all of her fans. At Dionne’s concert, Carly must decide between the bedbugs who have embraced her as their creator, and mankind who blames her for the apocalypse. In the end, it is the power of love that saves them all.

The show was hilarious, but even more fun was watching the audience crack up. I’ve never seen people laughing and enjoying themselves so much. Fred Sauter has written an amazing and unique show. Paul Leschen wrote music that is so catchy and fun you’ll beg to buy a cd.

Everyone on the team (on stage and off) is so talented, but the three leads will blow you away:

Grace McLean’s sultry voice adds depth to her rock ballads. The last notes of Silent Spring will send shivers down your spine. Her transformation on stage will make your jaw drop. There are few actresses that can play nerdy, sexy, angry, rocker babe, but Grace plays it all to the extreme.

If you haven’t heard of Brian Charles Rooney yet, you’ll never forget him after this performance as Dionne Salon. His comedic timing is only matched by his incredible vocal range. He owns the stage.

Chris Hall’s performance as Cimex, king of the bedbugs, belongs in the leagues of Tim Curry in Rocky Horror Picture Show and Neil Patrick Harris in Hedwig. His voice doesn’t even seem possible. You won’t be able to take your eyes off of him. I don’t know what’s cuter, his over the top facial expressions, or his latex-clad tush. His performance is made even better by the incredible custom designs of Philip Heckman.

I know this show wouldn’t be where it is today without the enthusiasm and perseverance of my mom, Dale Joan Young, as the lead producer. Three years ago she saw a production of Bedbugs!!! at a bar and even though all of us loved it we didn’t see the potential she saw. She has lost her voice, broke her leg, and invested her savings all in the journey of bringing this show to you.

I hope you run out and see Bedbugs!!! You can buy tickets here and use the code HesoBitten for a huge discount. It’s playing at the Arclight Theater in NYC until October 26.

Are you waiting for permission?

I’m a huge fan of Amy Poehler’s videos on Smart GirlsIf you’ve ever wanted to start a large project, I suggest watching this video. Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer met doing improv at Upright Citizens Brigade. They created a web series based on their unique friendship and sense of humor, and it took off, leading them to the hit show on Comedy Central. In this video, Amy interviews the writers and talent behind this zany comedy, Broad City.

I love it when they talk about finding your voice, and how to get started on a dream. Everything they said reminded me of starting Writers Work 🙂

Abbi Jacobson’s response when Amy asks how someone can copy their success says it all for me:

“A lot of people wait for someone else to tell them it’s okay to start doing something or they have to be allowed to do this. But, no, we create that. You just have to start. No one’s gonna give you permission.”

What are your ambitions? Are you waiting for permission to get started?

Exciting News!

Do you ever have one of those months where everything finally comes together? I hope you do, because it feels fantastic. After a lot of hard work, I have some great news to share:

  1. I have a new website for my Writers Work conference series, and I’ve added a writer’s retreat feature! I used the logo you guys chose. Check it out and let me know what you think.
  2. I sent out my first query letter for my novel!
  3. I submitted a short story to The New Yorker and The Missouri Review.
  4. AND MOST IMPORTANTLY…discounted tickets are now available for the next Writers Work Conference 9/20/14 in Times Sq. NY! Have lunch with an agent, hear about authors’ experiences of getting published, meet approachable editors and publishers who want to share the inside scoop with you, and connect with other writers. It’s going to be an amazing day
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Ahhh the joy of getting sh*t done!

Pictures from the first-ever Writers Work Conference

I couldn’t wait to share these pictures with you. All of them were taken by the talented Amy Stockhaus. If you would like to get involved with the next conference, which I’m planning for this fall, please visit this page.

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The exciting moments before the audience arrives.

All of the presenters Jamie Cat Callan, Christina Bryza, Gayle Squires, Annelise Sorensen, Tricia Remark, Jen Doll, Melissa Baumgart, Tracy Sayre, and Whitney Jacoby.

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The first arrivals.

Go social media!

Go social media!

Tricia Remark, writer and promotions associate for Worman.

Our first presenter, the effervescent Tricia Remark, writer and promotions manager for Workman.

Some of our presenters: AnneLise Sorensen, Gayle Squires, Tricia Remark, Jamie Cat Callan, and Melissa Baumgart.

Captive listeners.

Our presenters were just as engaged as the audience 🙂

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Our presenters sitting next to the product of their hard work

Announcing the next speaker.

I introduced each of the speakers.

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20 minutes of Q&A between the audience and the presenters.

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After the presentations there was an hour for networking. This was one of the most important parts of the event for me because I really wanted to grow a creative community and encourage an exchange of ideas.

During the networking hour.

Networking hour.

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The presenters were all extremely approachable and loved sharing ideas and encouragement with the audience members.

Networking hour.

Freelance writers sharing some tips.

I hope you can join me for the next conference! Please use the contact form on this page if you have an ideas for improvement, speakers, sponsors, or venues.