Episode 17: R&J

(For a better viewing experience click on the HQ button once the video starts.  Everything is more fun in full-screen mode…)

[Thanks to Matt for holding the camera, and thanks to Pete for holding the camera on the first day, before the effin’ camera died.]

Disclaimer: If you would rather just form your own opinion about this episode and aren’t interested in this mini-tirade, please feel free to just skip to the comments section and tell me your thoughts before they’re influenced by mine.

May I be completely honest here tonight?  I’m not happy about this episode.  It’s not that I don’t love Shakespeare, because I do, and it’s not that I don’t I feel good about some of the moments in this, but this… isn’t what the project is supposed to be about.  Not really.  It’s not that there was no character work in this video, but there wasn’t enough.  Not for my standards.

Here’s the deal, and maybe it’s just an excuse, but all I’ve been thinking about lately is The Farm (the play I’m in).  It opens in a week, and I still feel like I have a lot of work to do on it.  As a result, any work I’ve done on 50in50 has felt like… well, it’s felt like I’ve been cheating on the play.  I’m also trying to get a final writing submission into SNL before the month is up, so… yeah, between those two things, I just haven’t been able to focus on 50in50.  Or, I’ve chosen not to focus on it, and when I do focus on it, I feel guilty.  And when I don’t focus on it, I feel guilty.  And that’s been making me unhappy.

So, what to do here?  In a way, I think the best thing I could do in terms of keeping the quality of the project at my standards would be to just postpone new episodes until after the show is open.  Actually, as I’m writing this, I’m debating whether or not I should release this episode at all.  It doesn’t feel like a 50in50 episode.  Could I take two weeks off because I’m working on this play, and I want it to be really good?

Maybe.

It’s funny.  This isn’t a contest.  There’s no Governing Body of the 50in50 Counsel.  It’s just me.  I made up the rules, and I define the project.  Yet, after sixteen weeks, there is some expectation.  There is expectation for what the show is going to be.  Not merely from myself, but also from my (small, but beautiful) audience.  Or is that all imagined?  I have this vision of if I take two weeks to focus on something else there will be riots in the streets (of the internet), and my audience will cry, “Foul!” and they’ll never watch again.  Intellectually, I think that’s foolish, but viscerally, that’s how it feels.

How would I feel, if I were an audience member?  Would I care?  Would I understand?  These are the questions which have been haunting me lately.  I recently did an interview for The Apiary (here’s the link), and one of the questions I was asked was, something to the effect of “By talking about the ugly side of the process and all of the struggle, do you think your career will suffer?  Wouldn’t it be better to make this all seem effortless?”  (that wasn’t a direct quote).  That was the toughest question by far.  I still don’t really know what the answer is.  Is all of this some bullshit disclaimer?  Some people, I know, think so.  Personally, I feel like I’m just a guy who is trying to figure it out.  I could claim to have all of the answers, but that’d be the emperor’s new clothes.  I’ve come a long, long way in the last ten years, but that doesn’t mean I’m done yet, or that I’m as good as I’m ever going to be.  There is still a lot that I want to work on, and there are places where I need to grow.  I hope to be a far better actor in five years than I am today, and five years from then, I hope to be even better.  50in50 was intended to be a part of that process, which, regardless of its form from week to week, it is.

One of the interesting things about this episode for me is that I played Romeo back in 2002 (opposite a male Juliet, coincidentally enough), and it was interesting for me to see the differences and similarities.  In general, I think I’m a much stronger actor than I was seven years ago.  That said, there were moments when I reverted back to how I played it back in 2002, which now seems like an arbitrary choice, but they were still ingrained.  It was interesting to see insecurities and moments of awkwardness that I’ve since worked through, resurface as if I was still that kid.  It’s amazing how strong habit is, no?  For that reason, I actually enjoyed doing some of the Juliet stuff more, because I’d never done it before… but that also meant that I didn’t know the lines as well (I’d heard ‘em a millions times, but never said ‘em), and if you’re thinking about your lines, you’re not really in the scene… you’re trying to read the image of a page you have in your head — that’s not living moment-to-moment.

All told, an interesting experience, and one I may well attempt again at some point.  Maybe not for this project, but someday.

As far as what’s going to happen next week, I couldn’t tell ya.  I’ll be slammed in rehearsals, and that’s really where my focus needs to be.  If I can come up with something that I don’t feel like is an abomination, and that I feel won’t take too much of my focus from the play, I’ll do it.  If I can’t, then I hope you’ll forgive me for pressing pause for a week.  Time will tell.

Much love,

Brent  7.25.09  2.51am

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~ by 50in50 on July 25, 2009.

3 Responses to “Episode 17: R&J”

  1. Hey Brent! As you are actually soliciting opinions, here’s mine: I think you have done really well in accumulating some loyal viewers, and part of that is that you have taken them on the journey with you (via blogging about your process), instead of simply posting videos and saying, “See what I can do!” That’s what I try to do on my own blog (www.smalltimorethemovie.blogspot.com, hope you don’t mind the plug), and I have my own little audience that now expects me to continue giving them that peek behind the curtain. Acting and filmmaking are two entirely different things, and people need to realize how hard it would be to do EITHER (creating a character OR filming and editing a short) every week for 50 weeks straight, let alone both. They are also both things that the average person has a glamorized pre-conceived notion of, and I think it is important to the audience that you have established to give them the nitty-gritty. I don’t think that part is potentially damaging to anything, however putting out a product (short and/or character) that you yourself believe is sub-par could be. As your audience I want to see the best product you can show me, as a friend I want you to do what is best for your career and reputation. I’d rather see something that you are happy with every other week, or as often as works for you, than having you not give your all to it OR to your play. I keep waiting to see if you can top Al Griffin Goes Outside, my fave, and I don’t think you can do that when you are spreading yourself so thin. Give yourself a break, but give yourself a deadline to get back to it. My two cents. Take care! – Jeanie

  2. I definitely concur with the sentiments expressed quite articulately by Jeanie. I think it would be beneficial to the quality of the episodes and video production if you focused more on your play rather than trying to spread yourself too thin by doing these episodes and preparations (which I can imagine is rigorous) for the upcoming play. I have noticed that the last few episodes have not been up to par with your usual stellar work and I can surmise that this is the result of you trying to do too much and have too much on your plate. While it is honorable and commendable for you to try to put out an episode every week, it may simply not be feasible at this juncture for you because you have so much going on right now. Perhaps a break from these episodes is in order so that you can more fully prepare for the play. Just my humble opinion.

  3. I concur as well. I deleted the R&J episode because… well, I didn’t like having it out there in the world. This week I’ll air an old episode from a previous project, which should be fun, but it won’t count as one of my 50 characters. One of the only rules w/ this project is that I wasn’t allowed to half-ass it, and that’s more important than just about anything.

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