Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Long Day: Filming and the Status of SHE STOOPS

Saturday was indeed a long day.


As previously mentioned, Anna and I helped work on a short film. "The Doctor: We All Have Our Demons," co-written and directed by our protege Gabriel Komisar and featuring a few familiar faces from Gorilla's theater circle and others we hope to work with more in the future. Anna and I provided sets and assistant directed. Anna appears in the film as a mysterious woman who will give the protagonist a towel and some sound advice (thus winning the Douglas Adams Fan seal of approval!) before tossing said protagonist out a door and taking on some demons. I was the cameraman and cinematographer. I will also be editing the film.

I think the shoot was above all an educational experience for everyone involved, and looking over the footage now uploaded, I can happily say a success. Working with high school students is tough. Not because of intelligence or maturity so much as the simple reality that they are often quite busy in ways that make it challenging to get all in one place for rehearsals and blocking and all the preparation that goes into a smooth shooting schedule. In this case, we had to knock out the majority of the film in one day starting at 9:00AM and ending at 3:15PM. Everyone walked away exhausted, and I'm sure wondering not if we nailed every shot, but if we nailed any shot. Ultimately, we didn't them all. Some things could have used another take. I found some technical hang-ups with sound and a few shots, but as a whole, we didn't shoot a broken film, and some scenes came out genuinely great. The rests our the griefs of perfectionists still learning (myself included).

I need to talk more with the writer/director duo about what more I can share from or about the film. It really was a blast, and for Anna and I, the project was also a proof of concept for grander ideas. I'm sitting on a script for a full-length film, and after today, I feel very confident that with the proper resources, we will definitely be able to handle shooting it. More on that later.

Status of She Stoops To Conquer

With the evening came less happy tasks. After much discussion and reluctance, Gorilla Theater Productions has decided to terminate Tim Hulsey's involvement with She Stoops to Conquer. It is neither my nor Anna's desire to dwell on the particulars for why she came to this decision, nor do we wish ill will towards Tim or his future pursuits. Some clarification is due however. Tim is gone, but we are still doing Stoops.

Tim presented the idea for She Stoops to Conquer to us, and adapted the script for the production. Tim takes that adaptation with him, and we fully expect he will direct his interpretation (which I do not mean to imply was anything so radical - just that it was simply his) of the classic sometime in the near future, perhaps even the very near future - independently or as soon as he can find the backing of another company. This is my presumption though. Tim is no longer involved with GTP, nor we with him, and so neither can speak for the other. If he does pursue it, then whether he accepts it or not, he does have our blessing on the task. Tim came to Gorilla with enthusiasm and praise for Antigone, indicating that he believed in what we were doing. If that sentiment has changed, we nonetheless appreciate it for what it was at the time. We genuinely do wish him the best of luck.

GTP is a small company, based largely out of our home (stage flats still rest in the hallway between the living room and my office). The success of each show literally funds the next, allowing Gorilla to survive. It is essentially a non-profit without the 501c3 to make it official. Our reputation is still growing in this town, and it can't afford the hits that, for example, canceling space rentals (potentially convincing key venues that we are unreliable) can cause. We've committed to the location, spent money on fliers, and devoted many, many hours to this project ourselves (especially Anna). A large part of the changes to the summer programming were due to devoting more time to this production, the first production to mostly feature an adult cast, showing that Gorilla is not just a youth theater company. So, yeah, no pressure.

It really was a hard call for Anna to make, but we move forward with at least one conciliation - that our production will truly not take Tim's show away from him, even if he opens his own version on the same week. I find that the older a play is, the more malleable it is to re-interpretation. She Stoops to Conquer is 239 years old. Whatever vision Anna is coming up with for it, it will be pointedly not like that conceived by Tim.

As the use of "we" and "our" throughout should suggest, I will be much more involved with this project. Besides promotions, my role has been fairly vague, but I have a feeling I might find myself wearing more than a couple hats as we solider on.


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