In the early days Mhairi and I were just two friends with similar dreams who met at a Women In Film breakfast and started a goal group for two. We would get together every Monday evening, discuss what we learned from the previous week, share our goals for the next and then wax philosophic about things like the importance of a performer not waiting around for someone else to give them that career-changing role and what success really means.
Both of us had had “success” in the past, with some impressive credits to prove it, but had not necessarily been happy in the process. Upon further exploration we realized that for us, the entire reason we were drawn to this business in the first place was because each of us had had moments in our past where we got the chance to feel what its like to be a part of an amazing creative community, to feel the incredible warmth, passion and intimacy that comes when you are working with a community of great artists who know how to put their egos aside and work together to create something better than they could have created on their own. We craved that feeling, so much so that we realized having it was our definition of success and we committed to each other that night that one way or another we were going to create it.
At the same time we were having these discussions, Mhairi met a man who would become our Feathers and Toast guardian angel, Gideon of Paramount. (haha – I couldn’t resist Gideon, just love the way that sounds) Anyway Gideon had come to see Mhairi’s stand up and afterwards suggested that maybe she choose one of her characters and build a show around it (as so many comedians have done before – Seinfeld, Ray Romano etc). Well this just sent Mhairi’s imagination a flying and later she shared with me an idea for a character she had percolating called Tallulah Grace.
Tallulah fancied herself the savior of the lonely cook, encouraging single women to dress up and play in the kitchen even if they were just cooking for themselves, especially if they were cooking for themselves, but what Tallulah would never want to admit to anyone was that she was that lonely cook.
I fell in love with Tallulah immediately and, me being me, suggested that Mhairi not just put together a pitch but rather that she go ahead and shoot something so that the powers that be could see her as that character.
We talked at length about what she could shoot that would show off the potential arc of this character but would still be cost effective and high quality and, as has been the case since the beginning of this project, help started jumping on board.
Before we knew it we had a Director (Mhairi’s very talented friend Barbara Stepansky), a Make up artist (Lygia Orta), a kitchen (mine) and a Cinematographer (my lovely husband Diego Torroija – who would inadvertently become “the Diego” even though he is truly a camera guy and not an actor) and the next thing you know the plan was put in place for what eventually would become the first season of the web series Feathers and Toast (although we did not know that at the time.)
Industry Tip #1
Do not wait for someone to come along and create the perfect opportunity for you to show your unique brand of talent or you may die waiting. If you have a story inside you that you are inspired to tell or a character you were born to play, then do what you have to do to make it a reality based on whatever resources you have at your disposal. If you don’t have much then keep your idea small for now, or shoot the piece of the idea you can afford and still do well. Enroll your friends, borrow equipment, make it happen. In this business if you want people to believe in your story or see you as a certain type of character you are going to have to show them, especially if its unique and original as those are ultimately the most memorable but initially the most difficult to sell.
Next post will talk about the importance of loving your editor, but in the meantime here’s a memory of the humble beginnings of Tallulah Grace.