Imagine if you were married to Daniel Day-Lewis or Christian Bale. These actors are critically acclaimed for their unusual process, but what would it be like to live with them while they prepare for a role? A method actor lives in their characters shoes to empathize, discover and create. This is the world of Claire, wife of the transformative actor Nathaniel McDaniel.
I wrote a television pilot titled I MARRIED A METHOD ACTOR. It's a ½ hour single-camera comedy set in the eclectic Silverlake neighborhood. Centered around a young bakery owner trying to navigate her new marriage to a method actor. Her quirky friends and self-involved Korean mother are there to help or add to the challenge. We've all been there...balancing relationship with individual autonomy. We are responsible to other humans; our lives are never entirely our own. However, at the end of the day, we find love within community.
I want to see this come to life. I want to use this pilot presentation to pitch this as a series. I want to make you laugh!
To do this, I need to shoot this sucker. I plan on gathering friends who work in the television and film industry. Luckily, I know some brilliant people and production houses, but creative hard-workin' types shouldn't work for free. I need your help with: cameras, locations, equipment, lighting, catering, editing, script supervisor, sound etc. This adds up. For example, hiring a qualified sound person costs about $300 a day and I'm looking to shoot for 7 days.
I've worked hard on this script. It's been troubleshot in writing groups, gone through revisions (8 drafts) and 2 table reads. It's my very weird unibrowed baby and I love it.
I love TV. At the end of a long day I want to watch exactly what I’m producing.
The pilot itself is kind of based on Daniel Day-Lewis in “My Left Foot”. The story of a man born with cerebral palsy who learned to paint and write with his left foot. While he was preparing and shooting this role, he lived as the character using a wheelchair. Apparently, PA’s would grumble about lifting him to and from his trailer and accommodating him. He broke two of his ribs from assuming the hunched over position in the chair. Many people became frustrated with him because Day-Lewis notoriously refuses to come out of character. Day-Lewis won the academy award for Best Actor for this role.
This process may seem ridiculous but it’s balls-to-the-wall story-telling. Actors and artists in general can throw themselves into a project and create something beautiful and thought-provoking. It’s easier said than done when it comes to our own judgements and fears. When I read about actors doing “crazy” things for their art, I often think about the “normal” people that surround them. In his last Oscar speech Day-Lewis said, “Since we got married 16 years ago, my wife Rebecca has lived with some very strange men. I mean, they were strange as individuals and probably even stranger if taken as a group, but luckily she’s the versatile one in the family. She’s been the perfect companion to them all.”
I wrote my Claire character as the lead because I wanted to work through my own feelings of what it means to be a couple or team. It’s difficult to support another human being and be on the same page, regardless of their job description. Our responsibilities to others versus what we want to achieve as individuals is an itch I can’t scratch enough in my work. I chose to explore these themes because the heightened stakes make for great situational comedy!
On a personal note, I’ve been in front of or behind the camera for the past ten years, but this is my first foray as producer, director, writer and actor. It’s a big endeavor and as a bonafide introvert I had my fears about depending on others and taking the leap myself. But I believe in this project strongly and I have confidence in my community. I’m already grateful for the support I’ve received. This is going to happen and I hope you will be a part of this journey with me. Please share the kickstarter and thank you!!!
Here is the treatment and series outline.
Want to read the full pilot script? Here you go!
Risks and challenges
Any production feels like a train leaving the station. Once you get it moving, it cannot be derailed. I plan on scheduling issues. It's difficult to get about 15 people in the same space for any extended amount of time. I've production coordinated a couple day shoots with a $75,000 budget. I foresee unpredictable events like a location falling through. This is the nature of the beast. Part of the fun of producing is problem solving and a lot of caffeine.
Once the footage is given to an editor, a scene might need to be reshot. I've planned on a day to reshoot anything that didn't work.
My community of filmmakers are the best and I have full confidence in them and myself. I have no doubt I MARRIED A METHOD ACTOR will be "in the can." Completed and ready to be enjoyed.
- (30 days)