Last week, I spoke to the University of Kansas Screenwriter's Club about the ins and outs of producing your own work. I haven't posted here about the short horror film I made because it's still in post-production, but I was able to share stories from that experience as well as the webseries and some of my school projects. The audience seemed to enjoy my Fyre Festival-themed talk, and they had great questions afterwards, including one of the harder ones to answer: "What was your favorite and least-favorite part of production?" My answers were both from the webseries, with the worst experience being when our editor cut huge chunks of footage - AS IN SCENES - without telling anyone and then posted the video live, which left the director and I scrambling until 2am to do damage control. My favorite part of that project, however, was when we found out that we had won an award in a festival for it. That feeling, knowing that someone else thought that we'd made something worthwhile, made everything else worth it by far.
But my director, who has worked with me on both the webseries and horror short, had two different experiences to share, and hers were very touching to me. Hers were both from the horror film, which I will write about in more detail at a later date upon completion. Her lowest experience was when she acted as my body double, which required wearing a blood-soaked shirt in freezing weather and lying on a cold dirt floor. That's understandable. However, when it came to her best experience, she said it was the filming of the pivotal scene in the film, when my character discovers something with heartbreaking implications (no spoilers, duh!). She said that filming this was her favorite moment, because when I acted out the scene and nailed it, she knew that this film had everything it took to come together.
I was very touched by her sharing this, and after my presentation, while I spoke with a smaller handful of students about their projects, I realized why it mattered so much to me what Claire thought about me as an actress. The students I spoke with all had the same fear: That they were some sort of imposters, who didn't really know film or feel like they belonged in film, and therefore, why would they ever think they could make a film? They didn't know all of the same trivia facts as the other kids in their classes, they didn't care about Italian Nihilism in the 1950s, they couldn't tell you one camera lens from another. I realized that the fears they were expressing to me about film were the same ones I've felt about acting. I act, I've always acted, but I didn't major in theater, and I constantly feel like I have something to prove. Everything I hear about my acting, whether it's criticism or compliment, I question it. I've had many people tell me that I'm a subtle actress - does that mean I'm not as expressive as I could be? I've heard I have the right timing and personality for comedy, does that mean I'm kidding myself if I try drama? As I was talking to other film students, I reassured them that I felt the exact same way as they did, and that's precisely why you have to make your own work. You can build a safe space for yourself to not only learn and create, but to prove to yourself that you have what it takes to make it in this business. Honestly, I'm starting to think that sometimes, that's half the battle.