Tribeca Film Festival

Magic?, Measure for Measure, and the Tribeca Film Festival - "Farewell. Nope. The mayor is a drunkard as well, tell him I said so!" - Lucia, Measure for Measure

Going into the last half of April, there was a part of me that thought I'd be able to find time to keep up this blog while also being in Magic?, Measure for Measure, and working the Tribeca Film Festival. That was straight up a bald-faced lie to myself.

So now instead, let's review!

The Tribeca Film Festival is one of my absolute favorite things, but this year it just flew past me. I only got to see five films, and I just barely eked in the minimum number of shifts. But I always love being around the energy of the festival. There's always a feeling like new and exciting things are happening there - it's not about having the films that are going to win Academy Awards, but telling stories and using media that represent the future of storytelling.

Also, I got to experience VR for the first time there this year. IT'S SO COOL. I don't think it's a replacement for cinema as we know it. But what a weird and interesting experience to slip a headset on over your eyes, and look around underneath the ice in Antarctica.

Definitely did not attend opening night of the festival, though. That's because it was the same night as the performance of Magic? at Dixon Place!

Photo credit: Mo Rabbani

Photo credit: Mo Rabbani

What a ride of a show. Going from being cast to putting the show up in less than three weeks? It was so insanely intense. And it never could've worked without my talented, giving castmates, and more than that, our dedicated director, Chris Erlendson. I already wrote about how great they all on my last post. Even if that was a month ago. But it deserves repeating again. And again. And again.

The cool thing about this show was how much everyone was willing to give to make it work. When you do a show with a certain level of intensity - you especially see this in high school and collegiate theater, or touring companies - everyone in the cast and crew becomes family. You just spend too much time together not to. And it's interesting to me that we were able to attain that even though we did the show so quickly. Maybe it's because our lives revolved around each other so much for that time. When all day every day is devoted to the same group of people, maybe you're just bound to get that connection, even if that experience only happens for a relatively short length of time.

And then after the Tribeca Film Festival, I was in Measure for Measure! This one was just a ton of fun, and it reminded me so much why I enjoy playing comic characters.

Photo credit: Dylan Lopez

Photo credit: Dylan Lopez

I played Lucia (genderbend of the original character Lucio) and what a character arc that story has, man. She's funny, and she's part of the comic relief of the show, but she's not just a dumb delinquent meant to amuse the "common people" in the cheap seats back in Shakespeare's day. She has a point of view of what Deputy Angelo is doing in Vienna, and she is very deliberate at every turn in how she chooses to stick it to the man. She does it with a smile on her face and a clever insult on her tongue, but she does it well. It turns out that the man gets to stick it back to her in the end. (Shakespeare did have a thing about the innate goodness of nobility. I guess you have to when they're the ones paying your bills.) But she's an interesting, fun, crafty character, and it means the world to me that our brilliant dramaturg and director Jenna Schlags entrusted me with her. If it had been up to me, I would've thought of myself as more of an Isabella. But I so, so prefer having been Lucia. She's a character that's going to stick with me for a long time.

And what's coming up next? I don't know, man. I'm gonna try to stick one more show in there before the move to LA, I think. Because if Magic? taught me anything, it's that you can easily do a show in two weeks! Or, if not easily, you can at least do it. So I'm going to see what can be done. It's part of the spirit I love so much of New York.

California Dreamin'

You may have noticed that I'm a primarily film and TV actress living in a theater town.

So I'm considering the move to LA.

On one hand, it terrifies me. I'm a native New Yorker. Being a part of this city is a part of who I am as a person. And what if I go out to LA, and I can't gain any traction there? There are so many actors out in LA, what's going to make me stand out? I'm going to spend all of this time and money moving, possibly jeopardize the relationships I've already built here in New York by not being here, and what if nothing even comes of it? It'll be such a colossal waste of time.

But I also keep hearing that I should follow the fear. That if I'm scared of something, that just means that it's the next great thing.

Moving to LA also doesn't mean that I can't come back to New York. Being bicoastal is definitely a thing. And I can start meeting bicoastal CDs and agents/managers now, so I'm prepared to be able to fly back and forth whenever I need to, or at least send video auditions on a regular basis, and I'll have the support system to give me the opportunities to do those in the first place.

If I do move, it'd be in late April, or early/mid May. If I tried to move now, it'd be too late to know anyone well enough for pilot season 2017, and I don't want to throw away a perfectly good pilot season here in New York. And then, if I'm going to be here that long, I also want to be here for the Tribeca Film Festival next year.

This isn't an announcement or anything. Just something I'm really, strongly considering.

After all, I know I have to go out there eventually. It may as well be now. Or at least soon.

Tribeca Film Festival 2016 - "Shit just got REAL!" - Ricky Baker, Hunt for the Wilderpeople

So I just disappeared off the face of the earth to be at the Tribeca Film Festival. #sorrynotsorry

Not only are film festivals a wonderful orgy of movies where you just go see film after film and you take it all in and discuss them with other people who absolutely love cinema, but they're also an artistically interesting combination of films made by people who have been working in the industry for years and are masters of their craft juxtaposed with shorts made by first time filmmakers.

And it's so inspiring and reassuring for someone like me who has incredible impostor syndrome. Maybe I'm not yet good enough for my films to get global distribution, but I could make a film that's good enough to be shown next to one that is.

It's also refreshing to see friends again at these festivals who are every bit as driven as I am. Remember me talking about a month ago about my priorities and the work/life balance? Theirs are the same as mine! Maybe I haven't seen them in months, but that's because they've been working just like I have, and are just as excited to take the time to see me now as I am to see them.

I dunno, man, it's just a fabulously inspiring incubator for people who love films, and love making films. There's so much energy to it, and a feeling like interesting, artistic things are happening. I feel like I'm not explaining it properly. But I also think it's not always possible to fully describe an emotion in words, and all the writer can do is try.

I guess at some point I'll just have to pretentiously ~*ACT IT OUT FOR YOU*~!

For the record, there was one film in particular that showed at the Tribeca Film Festival that is getting a theatrical release in June, and it's so wonderful. It's Little Miss Sunshine levels of funny and touching and feel-good. It's called Hunt for the Wilderpeople from New Zealand by Taika Waititi, and it will make you feel all of the things. You're welcome.

"A wizard is never late, nor is he early. He posts precisely when he means to." - Gandalf the Grey, The Lord of the Rings (or something like that)

So those of you who are good at numbers and dates and figures have probably noticed that I haven't posted anything in here for about a month.

Those of you who aren't probably noticed as well.

But I have an excellent excuse this time! For ten days, ending this past Sunday, I was at the Tribeca Film Festival!

...I have no excuse for the time before the Tribeca Film Festival.

But you guys, TFF was amazing. Working there was legitimately fun! I met so many wonderful people! I got to network with fellow filmmakers!

And the thing I took advantage of the most: There were tons of really wonderful films there.

I saw sixteen of them.

Now, I'm not going to post about all of the films here because not only would that make for a disgustingly long blog post (that, frankly, I don't have the time to fully write during the half hour I have left of my lunch break at my day job) but also I just really want to highlight a few of the ones that really stood out to me. Which isn't to say that the others weren't wonderful! But here are a few of my favorites for which I really think you should be looking out.

Viaje was the first film I saw during the festival, and one of the most visually gorgeous. It was shot in black and white in the parks of Costa Rica, which seems ridiculous to say as that's a place that's known for its color, but the effect works perfectly. Especially for how intimate the film was, it meant that we could focus on the story and the characters instead of being overwhelmed by the environment. It was fairly small - almost the entire thing was just the two lead characters. But they got the intimacy of a non-traditional relationship down perfectly. The both of them had incredible chemistry together. And it's just lovely overall to watch.

We are Young. We are Strong.
You guys, this movie left me literally in hysterics at the end. Hysterics in that I couldn't stop crying I was so terrified. It wasn't a horror film, it was just based on true events. It takes place in the former East German city of Rostock in 1992, during the anti-immigrant riots. And it focuses on three storylines: That of a Vietnamese immigrant who wants to be a productive member of German society - she has a job, she's working towards her residency, etc. - but is still very much an immigrant; a politician who is trying to figure out how to deal with all of this anger and outcry from a political perspective; and his son, a teenager, who goes around the city with his friends... and they're all neo-Nazis. The thing this film does so terrifyingly well is that is shows the humanity of each of the characters. I honestly couldn't even tell you that the Nazi boys in this film are bad people because they're so real and the audience can see exactly where they're all coming from, even when they do awful things to other people. And it was upsettingly timely, too. I want everyone who has an opinion on the rioters in Baltimore to shut up and watch this film first. There are parts in the middle where it could've been cut a little, but the last act is so powerful I ended up just not even caring. It'll terrify you. Go watch it.

Good Kill
This one will probably be fairly easy for you to find, as it stars Ethan Hawke, January Jones, and Zoe Kravitz. So it'll get distributed. It's the only film I've ever so much as heard of telling the story of the soldiers who man the drones in the Middle East while safe here in the US, and the issues they deal with/the incredible PTSD that is inflicted upon them. Ethan Hawke is fantastic in this; subtle, truthful, and brutal. I desperately wish they had given the female characters more, though. January Jones was painfully underused because they just elected to focus more on Hawke's Manly Pain than tell anyone else's story. But overall it was satisfying, eye-opening, and very much worth the watch, especially if you enjoyed films like The Hurt Locker.

During the Q&A after the film, someone stood up and asked Lily Tomlin how it feels to be a goddess. And a lot of the audience was a little annoyed that this guy hadn't stood up and asked a more substantive question. But none of us could really disagree, either. This film is funny! And substantive! And human! And real! And not only does Lily Tomlin own it, but she brings out the best in everyone around her, too. The film is about a girl who needs money for an abortion, so she goes to her grandmother for help. But she doesn't have the money either, so the two of them go off on a journey to get it. And it's edgy and sharp and witty and wonderful. Not only did it make me think about humanity and relationships and why we bother getting into them/what do they mean about us as a species, but it also made me laugh and left me feeling good at the end. What more could you want in a film?

Sleeping With Other People
Here's another film that is going to get picked up; it's more a matter of "when" than "if." It stars Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie, and it's the single most feminist and sex-positive romcom I've ever seen. And I love romcoms with a passion. The director described it as "When Harry Met Sally for assholes" and it's exactly that, but funny in a modern, coarse way that Nora Ephron never really touched, giving the film its own flavor. I so desperately want this film to get really wide distribution, or to at least have a cult following. Because it was, by far, my favorite film of the festival.

There were parts of the pacing that were rough, character traits that I just straight up didnj't believe, and plot points that weren't really necessary and I don't care about any of that because the film was clever and funny. It's about a fifth grade teacher who falls apart when his wife leaves him, and how he then tries to use the school play to win her back. I do wish that they had discussed any of the women in the film more and, instead of just asking us to trust that they were worth loving, told us why. But the film overall was still an absolute delight because it had loads and loads of heart. Which is, I think, the most important thing this kind of film can have. Also, the kids who play the entire fifth grade class are amazing. They alone make the film worth seeing. And there's a whole lot more than them to make it worth it.

...I have to stop now because I literally have a minute to post this and finish eating before going back to work. But expect more posts soon about more things TFF! Because it's really an amazing festival.

Tribeca Film Festival 2015 Crew Member!!

Oh hey, so you know what I didn't tell you guys?


True, I'm not in a film that will be screening there or anything. But I'm so psyched just to be working there, to be surrounded by other filmmakers, and to get to see some of the great indie films of this year at their premieres! Or at least be working around their premieres, and then watch them during crew screenings later!

This is the best kind of microblogging post.