Hiding The Brushstrokes
In most forms of painting, it is considered good form to "hide" your brushstrokes, making your finished piece appear as if it wasn't painted at all- it was somehow transferred directly onto a canvas, unblemished and beautiful. In our modern lives we encounter a similar issue. As participants in today's media-soaked environment, we are encouraged to present an almost superhuman highlight reel of our successes while either diminishing or ignoring the failures, rejections, and hard work that were the stepping stones towards said success. Our preoccupation with ourselves as a product- our "brand", our carefully curated stories- does ourselves and everyone who appreciates our work a disservice by hiding the humanity underneath our efforts.
I don't aim to change this societal stance. I can only change what I do about it.
Below you'll find my production diaries and retrospectives, my acting notes made by and for myself, and maybe even final reviews of my own work in my own hand. You'll see my struggles with emotional dead-ends, my hastily made work-arounds, and no small amount of self-criticism pushing the process forward. In the end, I hope this serves as a testament that the only way to make art that survives (and not everything I've ever made is art, nor has all the art survived) is to leave something of yourself in it. The human touch is the hardest to miss.
Happiness Adjacent (2017)
Written and Directed by Rob Williams
Produced by Rod Johnson
Starring Adam Fried, Ian Dick, Rachel Alig and Jorgie Goico
As an actor, one of the first things you learn in LA is that there are writers everywhere but good writing is hard to find, and it's made even harder when almost all of your initial work is done outside of the union bubble. With that said, this fact of LA life makes the uncommon occurrence of finding a well-written project incredibly rewarding...but now you have to fight for that diamond you just found in the rough.
I initially had no idea of the quality of the project when I submitted, I only got to read a scene when Rob contacted me around four months later to arrange a self-tape audition. I was enduring a bout of flu and thought the email was a fever dream when it bounced across my laptop in-between viewings of The Venture Bros and Airplane, but once the sickness broke, there it remained. Rob was incredibly understanding, and once I received the sides that I was to audition with, I quickly realized that this was a story that I wanted desperately to tell. Kurt Dimmeldorf, on the surface, was fairly far removed from me- a married yet closeted bisexual Jew(ish) man from the midwest who seeks out flings with other men on the rare vacations he and his wife take is a well-established trope in LGBTQ cinema, but the depth of pathos that Rob imbued this character with floored me. Kurt wasn't a guy on the hunt for some good vacation dick- he wanted desperately to connect with someone on an emotional level that his wife was incapable of reaching. He was a man for whom loyalty and love were tightly interwoven and yet as fluid as the life he led. He drinks heavily, he lies convincingly, but through it all he loves so, so deeply. I could see that on the page, and I knew this wasn't something I could let go of.
My self-tape...boy. It's funny, watching it three years later. I remember sitting in the kitchen of our Tujunga house as David Murakami, one of my best friends (and directors) from college and roommate at the time, read opposite me, stumbling over some yiddish that Rob sprinkled throughout the script.