Its the end of week 2 of The Happiness Movement here at Feathers and Toast HQ and Tallulah and Marge are reporting in on how they got on with their second assignment “giving people the benefit of the doubt”.
And what a week it was to practice giving people the benefit of the doubt. Am I right? 😉 So nice of the world to give us this opportunity to really strengthen our muscles. Did you give it a try? If so let us know how it went.
For those on the journey with us, your next week’s assignment is to cultivate gratitude by focusing on the wonderful people and things in your life. And go!!!
I never normally do this; usually its Tallulah who bangs on and puts up her video. Or Holly who offers her invaluable insights and such but today I feel compelled to write a sentence or two about what we are doing.
When I was still at drama school I heard about a theater practitioner called Augusto Boal and the incredible work he had done using theater as a way of working through social injustices. He inspired me to study at the theater school in Paris, Jacques LeCoq, whose primary focus is on devising your own work. I was passionate about making work which impacted people. Often times one can think of actors as vain or simply self serving in their choice of profession and I had battled my own feelings of worth when spending days pouring over grant catalogs looking for financial aid to help pay for my training at Jacques Le Coq. In these great grant tomes were entries and offers of funding for people going to Africa and saving lives and things and me asking for money to study clowning and mime seemed frivolous in comparison. I questioned the importance of my vocation.
I did find the funding and went on to LeCoq. I created a theater company with Letitia, a fellow clown and graduate from the school. We performed street theater for a year in festivals in Paris and the North of France. We were even paid by a local commuter train company to animate the platforms for the commuters during rush hour. The train company saw the value in lightening a 9-5ers mood.
I went onto work in London in theater, film and television and gradually stopped creating my own work. I became what I had always been in fear of becoming; an actor who simply waited for a call from my agent. I needed a change so I packed all my worldly belongings and with a small sandwich bag full of cash, moved to Los Angeles, questioning what I still wanted to do. I had fallen out of a love with a fickle industry and had forgotten why I had wanted to do this in the first place. Through the encouragement of a dear friend I created my clown, Tallulah, and through the dedication, creative talent and support of my dear friend and collaborator Holly, Feathers and Toast was born.
Holly and I have faced enormous doubt and challenges over the past 3 years. We have questioned what, why and how we can make the show work. We’ve thought of cookbooks, greeting cards, TV shows, vlogs, festivals, guest blog posts, live shows…we’ve done it all. At times when we face the abyss unsure of how to continue we receive messages of gratitude for the show. Seemingly small things like this morning when a stranger shared this weeks vlog about happiness and when I thanked him, he said he just wanted to spread cheer. That moves me beyond belief to know that thats what Holly and I have created. Cheer. Even though our audience is small and the finance has yet to come, we are making a difference.
And that leads me to a clown who made me cry on Saturday night. I come across so many campaigns asking for support for films, webseries, art projects, comics and such and unfortunately most of them I am not in a position to help. But I watched this film and saw the difference this clown, this red nose, is making in a dire situation and I was reminded of the value of comedy and the value of our work. I was reminded of how important the service of making someone smile is. The power of laughter. It is not an indulgence, but a necessity. As Harpo Marx once said if you can make someone laugh for 10 seconds and forget their worries for those 10 seconds then you have done a wonderful thing.
Reilly Dowd, the director/producer of this documentary about a clown in a refugee camp has been making this film for 2 years. Her dedication at bringing a story of hope and joy to the screen through one of the worst humanitarian disasters the world has ever seen is extremely admirable. So there we go. I don’t need to bang on for much longer, if you’d like to watch the video about the clown please do so below and thank you again for all your support of Feathers and Toast.
As I sit here, closing up shop so to speak, clicking all my to do’s off the list one final time for the year, and preparing to spend some much coveted time with my family and friends, I can’t help but reflect on the year that’s passed.
For Mhairi and I, it’s been one of those years we will never forget, so difficult but so pivotal all at the same time. For us, 2015 was the year where we were seriously tested “is this really what we want?” and the answer came back a resounding “yes!”
Rather than giving up, we dove in deeper, and the results were festivals, awards, press, representation, loads of new friends, an expansion of the show into a 1/2 hour comedy, and most importantly for us, serious confirmation that the sky was the limit for this partnership.
Despite our cultural and (ahem) fashion differences, Mhairi and I share the same sense of humor, work ethic and undying desire to lift people up, to make a difference, essentially we are on the same page, and as result, our collaboration feels effortless and fun.
Looking ahead, 2016 will be all about expanding our collaboration, by first finding, and then working with, all the amazing future colleagues who will become beloved and instrumental contributors to making our 1/2 hour show the best it can possibly be, and we can’t wait to meet them.
As you know, Tallulah fancies herself a revolutionary of sorts, “Saving the World One Sandwich at a Time”, but what you might not know is that we do too. Like I mentioned in our recent interview with BTR Productions, in a world consumed with bad news, where, even in fiction, darker storylines are all the rage, we consider it a conscious act of rebellion to offer up something light.
In fact, it is our most sincere hope for this holiday season and for the new year ahead that through Feathers and Toast, and the soon-to-be show, Tallulah Darling, that we can inspire you to consciously bring more play and silliness into your life. To put on that hat you’ve always wanted to wear, make that recipe you’ve always wanted to try, reach out to people you’ve always wanted to meet, conspire to make others laugh and just, in general, resolve yourself to have more fun, for no other good reason than just because.
It’s like one of Mhairi’s favorite quotes “what will you do with your one wild and precious life?” Its completely and totally up to you. Which leads me to…
Industry Tip #34
Don’t give up before you get to the good stuff.
And without further ado, for your enjoyment, a holiday message from Mhairi and I as seen on WebVee Guide’s Holiday greetings. See you in the New Year.
Episode 3 made Mhairi and I both laugh out loud even at the first thought of it. (Yes that’s what we were cracking up about during our writing session in Malibu, in case you were wondering Jamie Foxx. 🙂 )
Whether people realize it or not, we are fully aware of the ridiculousness of Tallulah constantly banging on about the fact that she is a “classically trained mime” even though she literally never stops talking.
Tallulah is quite possibly the chattiest Mime that ever existed. In fact, if there was a society for Mimes, I am pretty sure Tallulah would have been kicked out by now for talking too much. But she would never admit it. No darling, she would say she left because they were droll, banal and terrible conversationalists.
So as we were coming up with all these ways to keep messing with Tallulah over the course of Season 2, we knew we had to throw a mime into the mix.
We found the perfect one in Mhairi’s dear friend Jabez Zuniga. I had never worked with him before but had a feeling that he was going to be great and he did not disappoint. The dichotomy of him back there, finding all these great moments, and Mhairi, straight faced, not having a clue what he was up to was, for me, hilarious.
When she finally did discover him and then accuses me of not even finding a real Mime. “He’s probably from Burbank or something” I almost had to break character and laugh. I don’t know where she comes up with this stuff, but she genuinely cracks me up, despite the fact that she’s my friend. Which brings me to…
Industry Tip #17
If you are making comedy, you better make yourself laugh. If you’re not even making yourself laugh, then you should keep honing it and developing it until you do.
And now for the ultimate test, does it make you, the audience, laugh? That’s what really counts. Without further ado, here is Episode 3 of Season 2 “There’s a Mime in the Kitchen!!!”
I know I’ve been yammering on about the business side of things for a while now, but when I re-watched what will be our video for the day today (which just happens to be the one Mhairi and I lovingly refer to as “The Infamous Pad Thai episode”) I realized its time to get back to talking about the creative.
The Pad Thai episode was yet another creative turning point for us for multiple reasons.
First, there was the obvious turning point in storyline. I think if anyone still had any doubts about whether this was an actual web cooking show or not, this episode killed that and showed that we were up to much more as this episode gave a more overt glimpse into the deeper narrative we were eventually going to tell.
Second, this episode showed me what an incredible actress I was working with and that the sky was going to be the limit in what we could do with this show. It sounds silly now, but prior to seeing this footage I had never actually seen Mhairi in action. I am a Second City trained yes-and-er, so when she told me what she wanted to do with this show I just said yes, and then assumed she had the acting chops to pull it off, but up till then I hadn’t seen any proof. I just trusted that she was in fact “Classically trained”.
We had discussed prior to shooting that we wanted Tallulah to have an emotional arc for the season and what that arc would be, but when we sat down to look at the footage I realized she had pulled it off in a much bigger way than I was expecting. She had yes anded me. 🙂
Allow me to explain…
For me there are 2 types of comedy: there’s the kind where the character knows they are funny, where they often keep it light, sometimes even ham for the camera and we, the audience, laugh with them and then there’s the kind where the character is actually quite serious, deeply invested in their circumstances and we, the audience get to laugh at them.
I genuinely love both (as for me comedy is like Chocolate, some kinds are better than others, but I pretty much like them all) but if I’m honest, as a lifelong fan of Writer/Directors like James L. Brooks, The Coen Brothers and Cameron Crowe, Nancy Meyers, the second kind of comedy is my all time favorite, which is why I was over the moon to discover, based on Mhairi’s layered and nuanced Improv performance, that this was the kind of comedy we were going to get to make.
The third turning point came in the form of another much needed confidence boost for me.
Editing this episode was difficult, and not because I didn’t have good material to work with, but because she had given me so much. I was staring down the face of 3 awesome takes I was attached to, each with different emotional aspects that I adored, each offering different story elements I thought were important. I found that I was wanting to use the very best parts of all of them, but since this was Improv rather than scripted material, it was not at all obvious how all these elements would line up seamlessly and to be honest I didn’t know if I could pull it off.
I found myself needing to draw from all my years of both writing and editing to perform the mental gymnastics needed to marry these takes together in a manner that looked like I had done nothing at all. And after a long series of “hang on a second, I know this is crazy but let’s try this” and “maybe if I put this chunk here, and that chunk there” I was overjoyed to discover that it had worked. That I had been able to pull it off. I surprised myself! Which lead to the quiet confidence of “I can do this” that you can only get to when you are first challenged and then rise to the challenge. And now…
Industry Tip #7
When shooting Improv performances always use at least 2 cameras. (Or at the very least shoot some close ups that can act as cut aways)
I would not have even had the option to grab the best of each take and make it look like it was seamless if I hadn’t had two different camera angles to draw from. Even with the 2 camera choices we still needed to employ the use of title cards on occasion to give it that seamless effect.
Without further ado, here is the Infamous Pad Thai Episode. The episode that saved Marge’s life. The episode where Tallulah gives us an example of the difference between being the eagle or the chicken. The episode where Tallulah was not actually making a Pad Thai. Hahaha. In fact, I think all of you should ask her about that story.
Hope this finds you in the midst of all manner of springtime activities such as skipping and lamb spotting. If you are looking for a distraction from your seasonal shenanigans then look no further than the screening of Feathers and Toast at the world famous Grauman’s Chinese Theater on Thursday May 21st at 9.30pm. For tickets and further information please click here
Hope to see you there darling and in the meantime wishing you the freshest of Springtime Weeks.
Well darling, thank you so much for watching the season with us. I’m sorry to say that this is our finale episode. In the wise words of someone “all good things must come to an end” here we are darling…until next time. We shall rise again and be back darling like a feathered phoenix from the kitchen ashes and things, but in the meantime please sit back and enjoy the last 5 minute episode of the season. In the meantime we shall continue on the upwards #trending ladder so please follow us on twitter @feathersntoast FB https://www.facebook.com/feathersandtoast youtube https://www.youtube.com/user/feathersandtoast
Thank you so much for watching, Happy Holidays darling one and all!
Hope this finds you well and fireside with snowflakes and things swirling past windows. Well darling, here we are at the finale of season 2. This little teaser will bring a dash of heartwarming-ness to warm the cockles of your wintery hearts. Yes darling its true, one can rise above a flip flop as it happens.
Yours in season finale teaser feathers,
CLICK HERE TO WATCH VIDEO <iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/gct7AKSqYSQ?list=PL9OP6hVPsuchZtunQHDxHgb4abFoWhtRT” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>
Hope this finds you well and baking pies and things. I am so thankful for so many wonderful things this year, family, friends, feather boas and Lulu, Holster and the nominations of Outstanding actress from LA Web fest and also for Diego who received Outstanding Cinematographer nominations…and for you for watching the show. Thank you so much. Champagne and things shall be sent out accordingly.
Have a wonderfully feathered day of turkey and things and hope you enjoy this teaser for Saturdays episode.
This is it darling. The Left Handed Sandwich episode, which promises to rebalance your head and generally bring you into a calm, balanced state of mind. There’s a lot to be said for a little challenge when making a sandwich darling to be honest.