Tuesday, June 25, 2013

DanielleTBD's Director's Blog: 'Dating in L.A.' Day 1...

Technically it started back in 2006, but I wasn't aware of it for a few years. My friend Patricia, who I was working with on a short film at the time, used a tote bag that said "L.A.: Where Dating Comes to Die" screen-printed across the front with a blog address underneath. I was intrigued immediately but had no idea she was the one writing the blog, let alone that it was loosely based on her own life and experiences, right away.

The blog was about two years in when I started reading it, clicking on the homepage to check out the topics of the moment before going back to the beginning and reading everything, chronologically, in one sitting. I was hooked. I loved the characters, the voice, the themes, the stories. I wanted to see it come to life.

Patricia and I began adapting the blog and developing it as an original series around 2008. It was broken into web-sized episodes, back when the web was the wild, wild west and people had no idea how long a "webisode" should be. I guess technically that's still kind of true but only because censors and corporate bureaucrats have mostly still left the web alone, keeping the content in the hands of the creators, allowing more artistic freedom than even the most progressive cable networks. But because the internet was then, and is even more so today, such a vast ether of content where anyone and everyone can throw something at the wall and hope it sticks, we crafted a half-hour, more traditional pilot, too, to pitch to networks like Starz and USA (the former which ultimately decided to stop doing comedy, the latter which promised it would start...but didn't for a few more years). 

When I say Dating in L.A. and Other Urban Myths has taken years to come together, I therefore literally mean it. But it has finally come together, and the teenage me who used to believe everything happens for a reason has been fighting the even more jaded me to let that slip out of my mouth a couple of times. All of these years later, the work is richer from more experiences-- both in the industry and outside-- and the team we were able to assemble is that much more accomplished and amazing, too. 

Yesterday I stepped back on set from a production stand-point for the first time in well over a year and for the first time in the director's chair for the first time in many years to shoot two key scenes from the pilot presentation of Dating in L.A. and Other Urban Myths. Leading up to it, a couple of friends asked if I was nervous, and one said he, specifically, would be so stressed out if he were in my shoes. Honestly, to me, it felt like coming home.

I moved out to LA to create. I got into the entertainment business to create. When I wasn't able to do so as quickly as I wanted in the field of production, I moved into blogging where I would literally create dozens of pieces of new content a day, even if it was a compromise. I mean, let's be honest, I was really just writing about other people's creations, so it's a stretch to call such content creative, let alone artistic. Teenage me is knocking on the inside of my head, telling me that this revelation is happening now because I have been flirting with the idea of leaving the industry, leaving LA, and apparently when you try to get out, it finds ways to pull you back in. If that means something will finally come of Dating in L.A. and Other Urban Myths, I will happily stay. Patricia deserves that kind of success, and I care too much about the project and its message to just walk away now, on the brink of it all finally coming together. 

That's what this business does, though. It gives you just enough of a taste, a temptation, to keep you riding high for awhile. When you come down and look around and realize your life is not what it could be or should be because you were distracted by the blinding lights, you may make plans for something more "normal" and "steady", but the industry can sniff that out a million miles away and reels you back in. Few are strong enough to resist it; few want to resist it. Let's face it: we all get into this business because we're chasing something outside of ourselves, and by the time we find some semblance of it, or something else that makes us equally whole, we may be dug too deep to ever fully leave.

Today I feel like I got hit by a truck. And yet, that's a good thing. See, the thing about production that most people don't tell you is that it's a non-stop adrenaline rush while you're on set. At least for the director, anyway. There's so much to think about, from the actors' looks, to the dialogue, to any minute action to capture, to the actual look of the set and the shot composition. And being a producer/director hybrid, the back of my mind is filled with making sure everyone's happy, having fun, being fed, and that we're not going over-budget or off-schedule too terribly.

I was on my feet for ten hours yesterday, bouncing between the set and the monitors, actors' holding and make-up. My regular days are spent on the couch with my computer on my lap writing about other people's creative works. Yesterday, I actually got to be creative in a way I had just come to terms with never being able to. It's a tricky little game, an emotional roller coaster.

I came home wired and impossibly excited to shoot the next few scenes. But today was not our second day of production. Instead, we have to pick up in July, so the crash that comes after the highs of production has hit suddenly and hard.

I can't wait to get back on set with our amazing cast (two core actors whom we haven't shot with yet at all). I can't wait to play in the beautiful L.A. locations we found that perfectly showcase why this story is set here and why people put up with the smog and the traffic and the industry b.s. to live here at all. I can't wait to collaborate with our rock star crew, some of whom I worked with before, too long ago, and some of whom I just met for the first time yesterday but all who helped make something really special. And mostly, I can't wait to share the pilot and some key bonus footage with the world so that we can make even more of this story and this show!

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