Episode 7: The Reverend

(For a better viewing experience click on the HQ button once the video starts.  Looks a lot better in full-screen…)

[A humongous thank you goes out to Kai and Karine.  Much love to both of you.  A very special thank you to Stef, as well, for being my unwitting co-star.  Ha!]

So, here’s a thing.  Every week I have the very strong impulse to tell you what I think of the episode I am releasing.  I want to tell you whether I think it’s “good’ or “bad”, and how I think it stacks up to the others.  Every week I stave off that impulse, but just barely.  I think it’s a way for apologizing for my work, if you don’t think it’s any good.  I also think it may preempt you forming your own opinion.  So, that’s no good.  There is a fine line, though, because I’m supposed to be talking about my process and my feelings about it.  So complicated, this.

I presided over a wedding on Saturday.  In the days leading up to it, most of my free time was focused on that, and wedding related things.  Here’s a tip: if you’re crazy about a girl and want to be in her family’s good graces, DON’T FUCK UP HER BROTHER’S WEDDING!  Luckily, I didn’t (I don’t think), and I think I am allowed to continue to date her.  The wedding was a beautiful occasion, but man, right up until the actual ceremony began, I was really, really nervous.  That feeling played a major role in the creation of this character, but I wouldn’t have the “Aha! Moment” for another few days.

The day after the wedding was Mother’s Day.  No time to shoot.  Just have a post wedding brunch, then hang with mi madre and drive back to the Bay Area.  Then on to the airport to catch a redeye.

My plane landed on Monday morning, just after 7:30am.  (Note: I always try to have all of my shooting wrapped by Sunday afternoon.)  I went straight to work, still having no idea what I was going to do for this week’s video.  I’d considered trying to do something with the wedding footage (which I’d recorded to make a DVD for Kai and Karine), but I didn’t have any ideas, really.

I got off work at 6pm, and raced (with my luggage) to try to catch the last bit of daylight.  I had decided to do some sort of thing w/ the footage, where I’d be a reverend who didn’t know what he was doing, and trying to write a sermon at the last minute and being really bad.  I started writing jokes and bits for that as I left the office.  Then, somewhere in the middle of my commute home, the choice occurred to me of making him a person who stutters.  The idea was totally impractical, as I had not prepared or done any research, really, but I liked the idea and couldn’t shake it, no matter how hard I tried.

I got home, went straight to YouTube, and started watching videos of people who stutter.  Then I called my friend Lauren who works for a theatre company for kids who stutter (Our Time Theatre Company) and tried to confirm a few of my ideas and observations, or see if I was way off.  I was really, really worried about doing a cliche and offending someone.  I hope I haven’t.  The way I had to reconcile this was by saying, “Okay, if you were going to play a someone who stutters in a play or film, you would spend a long, long time researching it to really get it down.  But, if you got a call for a last minute audition, you would try to get as much as you can from twenty minutes of research, then go in there and give it your best shot.”  So that’s the way I’ve chosen to think of this, and given that it’s a “process-oriented” project, I’m becoming cool with that.

Also, here’s a fun fact: I stutter sometimes.  Not often, but I do.  It usually happens when I’m really tired and/or when I’m nervous.  Most people might not notice, but I definitely get tongue-tied and have trouble getting words out.  So I was able to draw on that, some.

Anyway, once I was done with the research, I pointed my camera at myself and went.  I figured I had about twenty minutes of usable light (turns out I had twenty-five), so I didn’t have time to go slow, or stop to think, or judge myself.  It was just go go go!  That ended up being somewhat liberating during shooting; once I started editing, though, I didn’t think I’d gotten enough decent footage.  I had to make the rough-cut that night (we’re still on Monday here), and I think I may have still been to close to it to be very objective, because frankly, I hated this episode last night.

My work had a benefit tonight, which meant I didn’t get home until after 1am (after working a 15hr day).  No time to reshoot.  No time to make any major changes to the rough-cut.  Yeah, right.  It’s 5:20am right now, and I’ve only just got the episode uploaded.  Gotta wake up in two hours and go to work.  Not an awesome welcome back to NY.

I was going to try to wrap this all up and have it all tie together.  I may re-edit this blog post tomorrow if I remember how I was going to do that.  Too fried at the moment.  I’ve been meditating on this project and my life a lot lately, though, and I hope to share some of those thoughts in blog entries later this week.

For now, I’ll say that considering I had less time to work on this one than any of my previous entries… well… nevermind what I think.

Smooches,

B.  5.13.09  5.28am

~ by 50in50 on May 13, 2009.

6 Responses to “Episode 7: The Reverend”

  1. Hey,
    Really liked this one a lot, very moving. It says so much without spelling it out in an obvious way. Thanks for relying on the intelligence of your viewers to figure it out for themselves.

  2. If I hadn’t read your blog, I might not have diagnosed him with a stuttering disorder (it’s hard to diagnose someone with one situation and without interviewing them myself, anyway). Everyone experiences dysfluent speech from time to time, especially when there’s pressure to talk, people are nervous, or tired…as you’ve noted in your own life. If the Reverend is indeed a person who has a stuttering disorder, he has clearly had speech therapy (yay!). After reading your blog, your portrayal of him has me guessing his stuttering behaviors are actually quite severe, but he’s learned to use techniques to make speaking easier. The phone is often a very challenging speech act for people who stutter, and he seems to have developed a way to speak on the phone without too much trouble. You do an excellent job of demonstrating what we in the profession call fluency enhancing techniques. Well done! You have a great intuition about stuttering and I’d love to share more insight with you. Here’s a website you might find helpful http://www.stutteringhelp.org/ (It happens to be National Stuttering Awareness week…nice timing, my friend).

    • This is really interesting to me. From the documentary I watched I mostly chose one person to base my speech patterns on (though modified, somewhat), and indeed, he did have a very severe stuttering behavior, but had been in speech therapy since early childhood, and had developed/learned techniques to speak with more clarity, and ease. The Reverend is actually milder case than the character he was based on.

      One thing that really helped me was one of the subjects describing it as “it’s like someone is grabbing your throat”. That gave me a real image and sensation to work with.

      Thanks for your insight, and happy National Stuttering Awareness Week! (what are the odds?)

  3. Another great episode. Seriously. It’s beautiful, very moving. You made me cry! Perhaps because I know the the actors’ true story :), but still very nice work my friend.

  4. Nice job my man. Very sweet. Simple and well acted.

    Ahhhhh God bless the women!

  5. Hi Brent.

    I visit your site via http://www.ehrensenf.de (germany).

    Congratulations!

    Great Cinema!

    I remember to the beginnings of Robert DeNiro…
    and i hope i can enjoy the whole project after 50 weeks.

    Keep goin`.

    Best wishes from good ol` Germany

    Björn

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