Scotty has been here, staying in my house, doing cool neon installations with Devon, and learning things about me that are probably not common knowledge. My dad was visiting a couple weeks ago and we all had a big dinner together. He told Scotty about his budding acting career and theater company, the 2nd Act Players, which led to talk of the three plays I wrote in high school. It's not exactly something I go around telling everyone I meet, especially since it wasn't that recent, so this was the first Scotty heard of it. He was intrigued and after everyone left we drank lots of wine and watched the videos of all three plays.
Every year at my high school there was a one act play festival. Anyone could write a play and submit it, then they chose 5 each year to produce. After attending the performance freshman year, I knew it was something I could be good at, and my plays were chosen the following three years. It was really fun, not only writing but also casting and directing. The premise of each play was super random, from crayon naming to animal actors to flashlight salesmen. But a good representation of my weird creative teenage brain.
Scotty is probably the only person who could talk me into getting back into playwriting, but I'm really glad he did. He asked me to write a short play for Likewise, the bar he is doing his artist residency at. Anyone who came to the bar could be in it and then we would have a screening a few nights later. And it would include neon, of course. I have been making all of the flyers for his + Devon's residency, but they were excited to collaborate with me in this more creative way.
Recently, my dad has been writing plays that are each about a part of his life. Its got me thinking more about writing personal things. When I was in college, all the art I made was personal, so why not make a personal play? I knew the story that would be most important - that of my friends. I've got the best friends in the world. Unfortunately, I don't live in the same place as any of them anymore which gets kind of tough. Its so magical, those friends you can see after not seeing for a long time and its like nothings changed. I just want them to know they're appreciated and know how much they matter to me, even when we are far apart.
I pulled a lot of memories from an old blog, emails, and various other places on the internet. I also chose a bunch of song lyrics that I directly associate with each person. Then I threw in some inside jokes and tied it all together with recent conversations. Its as if each of them are talking to me, but the whole audience is me. Scotty and Daniel read through it with me a lot, which was really helpful. I was worried about making it so personal that other people couldn't relate, but they told me that making it more personal and specific to me would make it more interesting. If its trying too hard to be inclusive, it goes the other way and becomes totally neutral. After many revisions, I think it got to a good place that tells an interesting story of my relationship with each person, while also reminding viewers of their own best friends.
The day of filming was pretty successful. Lots of people got into the script and laughed at the funny parts and were moved by the serious parts. To not limit the number of people involved, I thought we could make this background of neon. Three arches, each a different color, so that as people switched out you would know it was the same character based on the color of the neon. I'm really happy with how that worked out.
The movie itself I am less sure about. At some point I just had to let go of thinking it had to be the absolute best since it was about and for the best people. I had the footage I had and there was no going back to reshoot anything. The audio isn't the best but that was the equipment we had. And the color of the neon changed slightly as the sun set, making it less obviously connected from person to person. So I starting thinking more about a good way to combine and organize all the clips, which felt like a completely different thing from directing a play. At the viewing, it was really awesome when people that I didn't know and who weren't even in it told me how much they enjoyed it and felt all the feelings from it.
In the end, I think that people reading it in person was more successful, but telling them it was for a movie made for an interesting dynamic. I'm hoping in the future to take the script and set it on a stage or shoot another movie in a more controlled setting. I'm still really happy that I put this all together and dusted off my playwriting brain. I am an artist, but I haven't put my whole self into many art things recently. It feels really good to connect with people through art again, like I used to do so often.
If nothing else, I love my friends and this is for them.
Oh and the song in the credits is one me and Paul made when we were 19. The best song we ever made together.