Wrote and Directed a Short Comedy Film

We shot our short comedy film last Wednesday night for the February 2, Iron Mule Festival. The title, Spork Wars, was shouted from the audience. A spork, of course, is a spoon and fork.

Spork Wars is a silly story of a spork salesman, played by Michael Martin, who tries to sell sporks and connect with diner owner, Jay Fortunato, only to discover a familial bond from the old country.

While I had hoped the shoot would take an hour, it took three.

The secrets of my recent filmmaking productivity?

1. a deadline.. there is nothing better than having to finish something by a drop-dead date. A deadline is a line in the sand and I’m pretty good about not crossing.

2. a crew… one of my seven secrets to success is to “Pile on the People.” In filmmaking, you get to work with awesome, funny, creative people. It’s been superfun to make new friends, like Ryan Decker, Ali Mao, Michael Martin, as well as work with old friends, like Pat Bishow and Jay Fortunato!

Don't you love a good diner? Gee Whiz Diner!
Don’t you love a good diner? Gee Whiz Diner!

3. a location… The peeps at the Gee Whiz Diner were super-nice. And in exchange for free use of their lovely diner space, I promised to promote them! They are located on 295 Greenwich Street, right near the Chambers Street subway. Try the Greek salad.

4. a sense of humor (and flexibility)… Of course I wanted my actors to speak the lines exactly as I wrote them. But Jay and Michael are improv geniuses. Naturally, they strayed. It was cool. In fact, I was laughing so hard, especially at their improved bit about gyros, that I feared my convulsive laughter would ruin the sound track.

5. a letting go… I really don’t know what the credits should look like or how the background music should sound. I forget to call, “Action!” I don’t know all the filmmaking nomenclature, but I did my best. And done is always better than perfect. And very good is a nice place to start.

Alison sent me the RC (rough cut!) last night. And I have to admit, I found it pretty funny. I showed it to my 15-year old who chuckled, which is a pretty good response from a 15-year old.

Let me know what you think. Come to The Iron Mule Short Comedy Film Festival, 8 pm on Saturday night, February 2.

I won’t be there. I’ll be in in Charlotte, NC, co-leading a memoir writing workshop with Ms. Cynthia Sloan. If you’re nearby, please join us. When she and I get together, there’s always laughter (and tears)! There’s still room for a few more at the story of your life, memoir.

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Starred in a Short Comedy Film

I am back in movie-making biz, baby.

After a 15-year hiatus, which coincided with the birth of my three children, I have begun acting, writing, and directing short comedy films again. So fun.

There are so many more wonderful women comedians and directors out there now for me to emulate. Not like when I left the biz, way-back when. The world has moved on since the days of Mary Beth & Friends, my cable show on Manhattan Neighborhood Network in the early 1990s. There’s now Tina Fey, Kristen Wiig, Nancy Franklin, Amy Poehler, and Kathryn Bigelow. Right, I know Zero Dark Thirty wasn’t a comedy but I just want to mention my name in the same category as Bigelow’s).

On December 1, my name was pulled out of a hat. I won the “Wanna Be a Star?” contest at the Iron Mule short comedy film festival. The next thing I know, I’m getting eyelash extensions. ‘Cause I’m hoping that my eyelashes will distract viewers from my crow’s feet (smile lines!). I’m wondering if the camera still loves me. Vanity!

The name of the movie was shouted from the audience, the Alan Ladd Syndrome. And so last month, I starred in a funny short film written and directed by Victor Vornado. (not available for viewing yet.)

The premise is that the less popular the actor Alan Ladd was, the shorter he grew. When I threatened to break up with my boyfriend, played by the hilarious Michael Martin, he claimed to have this syndrome too!

I had so much fun performing in this little film that I announced to my husband Chris, a broadway veteran, I’m going to call my old commercial agent to see if I can start auditioning for commercials again.

“Well,” he said slowly. “You reach a certain age…” And he paused, presumably, sparing my feelings.

“Really?” I said, defensively. “Because I see people like me in commercials all the time — dog food, Viagra, anti-depressants?!” Yes, that’s what I said and that, indeed, did make me feel depressed — in need of some dog food, Viagra, anti-depressant.

“Maybe?” Mr. Broadway said, noncommittally.

Screening room (courtesy of 92nd Street Y Tribeca)
Screening room (courtesy of 92nd Street Y Tribeca)

Then the movie aired January 2. The Iron Mule Short Comedy Film Festival shows the first Saturday of every month at 8 pm.

Jay Stern, co-host with Victor,

interviewed me in front of, like 80 or so audience members.

I felt proud and cocky ’cause, hey, I had just starred in a movie. Besides, my eyelashes looked awesome.

I mentioned that their festival needed more women filmmakers. (And, if you know me, I think every institution needs more women, especially the White House cabinet.)

“Even though you probably have binders full of women.” Yes, I said that. Witty, no?

Jay asked me, in front of everybody, if I’d write and direct the next one. And so, of course, I said yes.

And, as usual after committing to a job, I had to overcome a few little hurtles — namely, a morass of self-doubt, inertia, procrastination.

Did I manage to get the film made? I’ll tell you tomorrow.

Read what’s coming up on the Iron Mule blog: Iron Mule NYC