Sunday, June 28, 2015

Loud Lady :: How Lauren Lived Loudly!

Doing daring things and taking risks doesn't come easy for me.

People assume that because I'm a performing artist that I already #liveloudly, but to me, it takes a lot more than that.

I find that when people have a great idea or spark of inspiration there are three things that they do with it:
  1. Put a plan into action an immediately start working on it
  2. Let fear of failure overtake them and push the idea aside
  3. Talk about the idea to everyone they know, saying how they are going to do it one day as time quickly passes
#1 has never been my strong suit. I admire people who get a creative impulse and begin to immediately construct a plan to implement it. For me personally, I step into the pool one toe at a time, testing the waters, analyzing the pros and cons of the situation, letting a bit of #2 creep into the mix, and finally progressing to #3. I do have to say that living in this way seems to make life a lot like a series of baby steps, where goals and ideas might eventually be met, but bigger dreams aren't realized and regrets often come into the mix. So today, I'd like to share about a time when I finally stopped talking about what I wanted to accomplish, and actually did it. This is what I consider "living loudly."

It was early summer last year, 2014, and LA auditions had slowed down a bit for me. Since I'm the kind of person who likes to keep busy during these quieter times, I chatted with my husband Mike about collaborating on a film project of some kind. Instead of waiting around for more auditions to come, in the hopes that that "perfect part" or project was right around the corner, we decided to create our own material. Over the past few months we had written down tidbits of ideas; funny scenarios, character concepts, and real-life dialogue, all which we thought would make for a great sit-com featuring ourselves. We even came up with a catchy title and talked about a web series spoof on our married life. Sounds great, right? Well we sat on those ideas for quite some time and didn't put much stock or seriousness into the "what if."

I'd be at a bar with friends and they'd ask what projects I had coming up. I would talk a huge game about about how Mike and I were working on a web series called "Meet the Quirks," and that we had so many great ideas for the show. But that's all it was... ideas. We hadn't actually sat down to write the episodes yet, even though we had little to no excuses for not doing so.

Now to tell you the truth, these ideas hid in my Google drafts for months. It wasn't until the early fall that we sat down to write the pilot episode "Can We keep him?" which only took us a few hours to draft! So much worrying about who-knows-what had kept us from writing something that came so naturally and innately to us. Reading that first script aloud, and writing the next four soon after, really gave us the confidence to take the next step.

That's when I decided to #liveloudly! I believed so much in the project that we had, that in a matter of days we started a production company called Empty Queue Productions. In addition, we filled the paperwork to become SAG Signatories, which means that we could produce New Media works with professional union actors. During this time we also finished writing our 7 episode season and started casting for the day players. Wow, it was a busy couple of weeks! Now, since my words had finally turned into actions, it was okay for me to start talking-up the show and promoting it on social media.

We started shooting in early October and completed filming right before Thanksgiving. Because we wanted to release the Halloween and Thanksgiving specials near the dates of the respective holidays, we were in production and post-production at the same time. (Now, I would never advise doing this in the future. It puts too much pressure on the team to crank out the episodes by the deadlines. Rather than having a few weeks to edit each episode, our team had only a few days; and several days out of the week were still being used to film! It was quite a learning experience.)

Furthermore, I took other risks and worked outside of my comfort zone in several other aspects of the production as well. Not only was I producing and acting in the series, but to keep the budget low, I was also the Director of Photography on all of the episodes, and Director or Assistant Director on many as well. Let's be honest, I knew nothing about cinematography and had to teach myself everything by watching YouTube tutorials and voraciously reading my DSLR manual. However, at this point, I wasn't going to let anything hinder us from creating the project that we had set forth to make.

While producing my own material was an extremely challenging and time consuming venture, it was also very rewarding. Following through on a project that I had long been conceptualizing was extremely satisfying and gave me the confidence to trust my ideas and creativity. So... is Season 2 happening? Well, right now we don't have any plans for filming (although we do have another 4 episodes in our back pocket.) The good news is, now I have my own production company and I'm really looking forward to turning my next idea into a reality!

Lauren is an actor, plus-size model and vocal coach living in Los Angeles. She blogs at Life Has It's Quirks and loves to post tidbits from her life on Instagram. Join us and the rest of the Loud Ladies for 30 Days to Bolder Blogging, a community challenge featuring daily homework + weekly videos, ending July 1st!
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