Family Update: My Summer Vacation

It’s that special time of year when I use my blog to update my family and friends in a way that will bore the snot out of you if you don’t know me personally (and likely if you do, but you’ll feel forced to trudge through out of fear I might present you with a pop quiz at some happy hour).  Plus, let’s face it, at this moment I can’t think of a clever way to make my adventures seem all that interesting and I unfortunately feel the need to write. (That urge is being spurred on because if I move from this spot a certain beagle will race to the kitchen, convinced it’s actually dinner time when it’s not. So, I’m hyper-focused on not noticing that she’s desperately trying to get my attention right now.)

Usual Disclaimer

I can’t type.  I also can’t edit.  David can’t be expected to comb through the myriad of grammatical, typographical and some other -cal mistakes that I’m doubtlessly making every time I write.  Basically, you get what you get in all its flawed glory.  Just be thankful that I catch a ton of things before I hit post, so it could be worse for you – much, much, much worse.

The Show

The Awesome Cast of BatShyt Crazy’s: Live Rude Puppets Show

Over the summer I got to be the Assistant Director for a sketch show.  Hrmm… let me restate that – over the summer I got to hold the title of “Assistant Director” for a sketch show. As part of that title I did some standing, a ton of sitting, some thoughtful nodding and agreeable grunting. This is all very important when you’re putting on a production, or so I’ve told myself. I was the gal that when an actor said “line” I was “on book” and would say things like, “uhh hold on… ummm…”  My other duties seemed to include coaxing the director off the ledge. I kind of expected a big thank you card from the cast, since no one was injured in the production by said director.  I didn’t receive that.  I can’t guarantee what will happen at the next show when the next set of ledges present themselves. Guys, invest in football gear.  Just sayin’.

In truth, I met some wonderful, talented and genuinely fun actors. I loved that they were able to heighten the crazy from show to show (this was a show featuring hard-living, sassy-talking puppets) and they sincerely made me burst out laughing with each performance. This is saying something considering I’d heard the script numerous times over an eight week period.  At our own sketch show a couple of years ago, I couldn’t say the same thing.  In fact, had I heard one of the over-rehearsed sketches one more time, I was going to start screaming like a lunatic and running my head into the paneled walls.

I then stole some of those actors for…

A Commercial Shoot

Behind-the-scenes for my commercial featuring Taylor & Gene as detectives Wolfe & Ramsey

A couple of weeks ago we shot four low budget commercials for our friend Steve who has a new computer shop. Three of us wrote four sketches and each took a turn at directing ours.  In a short 10 hour day, we knocked out all four including one involving a fairly shy, but adorable three year old.  The bummer bit is that we learned at the shoot not all of them would be used, so hopefully you’ll get to see mine one day.  At the very least, I’m hopeful the cast for mine will be able to use their bits in their own personal reels – so when they’re famous they can say, “wow, I can’t believe I shamed myself like that”.  My kudos to Gene, Taylor, Jonathan and Mike who were great to work with as always.  Also, thanks to Topping, Mike and Jonathan for sticking around at the end and helping me with a project for my Video Sketch Class I’m currently in – a Blackout Sketch. My understanding of what that is – a very fast joke that leads with a misdirect.  It’s the best I could think of while trying to produce a commercial shoot.

As for that Video Sketch Class

What can I say? The people are extremely funny. The teacher has a nice take on things. I’m learning, but I hate every single solitary minute I’m in it and I absolutely dread going. I’ve been sitting on my own personal ledge for awhile while Jay and some friends try to talk me down.  I know it’s my crazy, but I can’t break out of it.  There may be a separate blog piece on it and my crazy later.  Three more classes (like years) – we’ll see if I survive that.  No guarantees.

An Awkward Segue to New Orleans

St. Louis Cemetery, No. 2 – New Orleans

Somewhere in all of this I went to New Orleans with April and had a grand time even if I’m not as plucky, fun or as fast moving as I’ve been on previous trips in years past.  April said I’m supposed to tell you she didn’t try to kill me.  All I’m saying is two of my toes are still black and its been 6 weeks since I’ve been there. Nosiree, didn’t try to kill me at all. That was all “me” mmm hmmm.

I did see and experience new things.  I rode a paddle boat down the Mississippi in a rain storm, which was lovely, explored the cemeteries, visited a former home of William Faulkner (a co-worker asked me later who that was, please don’t make me hyperlink it – I believe in you), ate some amazing food, and of course, then tried to order nachos in New Orleans, because well… I’m not a very seafood-y person and nachos really sounded fantastic in that moment. I later griped about them to my husband in a text, and got a very sympathetic, “and that’s what you get for ordering Tex-Mex in New Orleans”.  I also discovered Buc-ee’s a convenience store chain I had never heard of which I think I will make a blog post of its own.

That’s about it.  I have no other adventures planned at the moment.  No shoots.  No writing (other than that Buc-ee’s thing). No shows. No trips until Thanksgiving. It’s back to my normal waddle-y, self-deprecating routine.

How was your summer?

Fifi & Mr. Pickles

Another shoot featuring one of my favorite people that was written, directed, and edited by another one of my favorite people, and filmed and sounded ummm soundified? soundied? by more of my favorite people.  And to get Executive Producer, all I had to do was offer up my garage (you’ll soon admire how fancy it is), eat cookies and occasionally shout out a line when needed (only occasionally… sometimes not at the right moment, but meh I made the credits! Go me!

You may remember this shoot was mentioned in a previous post where a crazy neighbor stomped on my porch and let us know she didn’t want this kind of thing in her neighborhood.   “…people popping up and down…”  The scandal!

Well, now you too can enjoy the scandalous shoot that shocked a neighborhood in all its scandalous glory.  Starring Holt Boggs & Jonathan Spear!

Abra-ka-what-what!

You may recall that last August our little gang entered our first Austin 48 Hour Film Project.  I may have written (vented?) about it in a behind-the-scenes post.

While we were able to turn-in a completed film, it wasn’t the film in its entirety.  (If only we’d had 49 hours!) But today, thanks to our DP/Editor, Richard G. Bingham, II and our writer/actor Topping Haggerty, we give you the full video.  Keep in mind this was all written, shot and edited (save the middle section which had to be scrapped to make the deadline) in 48 Hours.  Also, note that no children were harmed despite accusations from a disgusting little HOA hobgoblin (who has since inspired an original song and sketch ideas – our little troll muse, as she were).

Just an Ordinary Day

Our garage is like almost any garage – kind of ordinary in its rectangular-ness mixed with a hint of boring.  It’s a space where only cars and items that aren’t quite loved enough to hangout inside live.  The occasional yard tool loiters aimlessly against the wall. Every day I come home, open the door and am greeted with the sameness – the blandness.  A life tucked away slowly passing through each season.  I spend as little time as possible there.  No particular reason to linger. Just grab everything from the car, close the door and wait for another day.  Ordinary.

Then came Saturday when I opened the door and found…

Photo Bomb! From left to right: Holt Boggs, Topping Haggerty (Director), Jonathan A. Spear

Closeup! Holt Boggs & Jonathan A. Spear

Ahhh! Magic!

Be sure to look for “Fifi and Mr. Pickles” a short by Topping Haggerty coming to you later this Summer.

Dunes

You’ve seen the Twilight saga (it’s ok, this s safe place and any snickering on my part will subside soon enough) and now I present to you “Dunes” – a parody of the beloved movie franchise written as part of The Institution Theater’s Sketch 201 class featuring the most underused supernatural love interest.  I do suspect that after this sketch we’ll see more of “them” as romantic leads.  Yes, I’m being vague. I can’t go around spoiling things for you.  (Thankfully, you can’t see the YouTube still below, so it really will be a surprise.  Right? Right?!?!)

This is my second sketch to be filmed and I want to thank all the cast and crew involved in making it happen.  Thank you for your time, your energy, for letting me pay you in sodas, coffee, breakfast tacos and sandwiches.

Some special thanks to:

April – for helping me make the costume (we are now pros and our next supernatural costume of this sort will be even more awesome – lots.of lessons learned there), thanks for your ideas, for all the shopping trips, for letting us invade your space, re-arrange and decorate your room.  Also, huge thanks for all of the behind-the-scenes photos.  You were incredible as always.

Jonathan – thanks for taking care of the cast and crew, keeping everyone happy  and for knowing me well enough that when I get brain-locked, I don’t have to say a word – you just swoop in and do.  I hope you’re always available to PA.  You are awesome!

Richard – I cannot begin to thank you enough.  Without you and your talent this project wouldn’t have happened.  Thank you for volunteering so much of your time from filming to editing to providing the music, sound effects and of course the fantastic special effects.  You are terrific and it’s a great privilege to be a part of any shoot you’re on.  I truly feel guilty receiving any praise for this when so much of what made this work is you and your dedication.  I’m looking forward to shooting Clown Family and for borrowing you again to shoot my horrible family birthday sketch.

2012 In Review

Here we are at the end of 2012 and what a great year it has been.  While I don’t have a Top 10, I thought I’d run through some of the personal highlights that made this year so great.  Now I fully accept that I may be the only person interested in this, but by golly I’m doing it anyway despite the yawns and alt+tabbing. (Oh, you thought I couldn’t see that did you?)

This year I’ve read more books than I have in awhile and while that number isn’t impressive by any stretch, I still did it and count it towards my personal achievements.  As a person who used to live in books, my past non-reading has been a bit embarrassing.  This week I’ll finish up A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini and then it’s off to Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale.  That only leaves me with a gigantic stack of books (about 2’ high – I have the best intentions) that I’ve been meaning to read for a long while.

I wrote a lot of sketches this year, I got terrific feedback from Esther’s Follies on one I submitted to them, and we had a show that sold out over a three week run.  Fantastic!

I was involved in three film shoots – two were for sketches I had written and the other was for a fellow classmate’s sketch.  I can say that in my shoots, I was surrounded by incredibly amazing people who taught me a great deal.  I’ve learned a lot and hopefully, if we continue to shoot sketches, I’ll become a stronger director.   Right now, I’m more of the, “ummm hey guys like if you could maybe like ummm read the line like this… yeah, ok? Roll sound.  Roll camera.  Scene 1B Take 5. Action.” type.

Behind the scenes for Dunes

Below is my classmate Richard’s sketch “Good Morning” (you’ve gotten to see mine already – time for something new) where I got to play the role of Production Assistant and door slammer extraordinaire.  It turns out I not only have a knack for door slamming, but it’s really quite enjoyable. (Note: I got to slam that door no less than about 20 times.)  Now if I could only spin that into a job.  I know I’d excel.  Maybe move up the door slamming ranks until I became a Slammer Supervisor and allowed to slam two doors at once or maybe a French door on occasion – I mean, if my performance evaluations went well.

(Features many of the cast from our “Moral Compass Rumpus” show and all of the writers.)

I finally used my “big girl” camera and while I’m not entirely amazed by the results, I learned more about it and more about film (yes, yes, I’m a hold out).  Namely, that I may be investing in a DSLR vs. the SLR I have in the future.

Film – Chinese Lanterns – State Fair of Texas 2012

I’ve asked Seth a ton of questions and learned many new things.  Seth endured high school with me and is one of those insanely smart people who kindly puts up (for reasons I don’t understand but appreciate) with a random question a month.  Seth gets nothing in return save the knowledge that I’m kind of an amusing air head and that fuzzy good feeling that comes from helping the hopeless.  This year I’ve learned about topics from Copyright Law to Lomography to purple vs. the light spectrum.  He also tries to encourage me to use my camera. He claims it’s not scary.  I’m supposed to go on a photo stroll.  Yes, I will get on that. You can see Seth’s amazing photos here.

I’ve had some great times with some great friends despite April’s attempt to try and bump me off.  She’s now got me in a regular walking group.  I think her diabolical new plan is to make my heart explode.  In the last two months I’ve walked further and climbed higher than I have in a long time.  New muscles reintroduced themselves to me by way of “I can’t move my legs”.  Muscles like hip flexors said their hellos. Hey guys, where have you been?  Ouch.

I look forward to 2013.