Lucky 13 Studios / Joseph Dunphy's Homegroup

The director goes on a ramble

Lucky 13 Studios / Joseph Dunphy

Lucky 13 Studios / Joseph Dunphy

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A few points, before we get started.

1. This is the time to claim my authority, I suppose.

As any honest person who has ever subscribed to one of my flickrgroups will tell you, I tend to run a fairly mellow show, but "mellow" and "low key" are not synonymous with "weak". I am quite familiar with the practice of cultivating a lack of self-control in order to get what one wants - winning through intimidation - and have seen that game played in a variety of forms. Sometimes I've met the openly belligerent frat boy who never seems to feel drunk enough, and sometimes the "sensitive soul" who is so "offended" whenever somebody dares to disagree with him in public, that his rant will never cease until he gets his way. Either way, no matter how he plays the game, he soon learns that I'm not a good person to play that game with, as some will note with dismay and others with relief.

If you make a scene or - and as far as I'm concerned, this is just as bad - act to enable somebody who is making a scene, you should expect to be ejected. Having shown courtesy - not to be mistaken with submissiveness - I expect to be shown courtesy in return. If you are acting in an unjustifiably belligerent manner with me or one of my guests, you are not being courteous, even if you have decided that courtesy needs to be redefined for a new age. One might be amazed to discover how very many people will do just that.

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Lucky 13 Studios / Joseph Dunphy

Lucky 13 Studios / Joseph Dunphy

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2. A month or two ago, I found myself in one of my favorite coffeehouses, talking to a few actors, one of whom seemed absolutely delighted to find that I personally had little use for the far right. He immediately seemed to assume that I was liberal - I am not - and said something that bothered me. He said that one "had" to be a liberal to go into theatre. This, I will never accept, even if I did hold my tongue at the moment. Why should anybody have to give up his freedom of thought just to pursue an artistic interest?

What I was encountering was Political Correctness, which is far more a cultural phenomenon than it is an ideology. It is an attempt to silence dissent with a very poorly thought out point of view by isolating the dissenters socially and not merely bullying them into silence, but bullying them into expressing agreement fantically, making the intolerance go viral.

See point one - I will not stand for that. You can be liberal, you can be conservative, you can be out in public calling for the return of the caesars, and I might be smiling at you about that last one when you're not looking, but I won't really care, because that's not really my business. But when you join in on an effort to deny somebody the freedom to be heard by making your willingness to associate with him condition with his compliance with a demand that you have no business to be making, I'll make that my business.

If you get up and walk out because I've let a communist or a John Birch republican or a african-american or a muslim or whoever else it is that you feel like persecuting this week, do not think that I will ever forgive or forget, or let you back in my door. I'm also familiar with the game of making peace as a preparation for renewing hostilities.

Also - in case you missed the words "african-american" or "muslim" above, they are there for a reason. Not all intolerance comes from the Left. Every once in a while a white supremacist or other hatemongerer, on hearing opposition to Political Correctness, mistakenly imagines that he has found a kindred soul and general awkwardness follows. If you are such a person, please move along to the next group, and please don't tell them that I sent you. In fact, why not just turn off the computer altogether, and go out and enjoy the sunshine for a very, very long time?

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Lucky 13 Studios / Joseph Dunphy

Lucky 13 Studios / Joseph Dunphy

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3. Within the context of my own events, I am a benevolent dictator but I am still a dictator, in the sense that the final word is mine. I've seen theatre pieces that were written by committee, the actors deciding on plot twists by consensus or vote, and the results were unviewable. No, we're not professionals and yes, we're here to have fun, but whatever it is that one is doing, one ought to make a reasonable effort to do it well. A play, either on-screen or off, needs to have a unifying creative vision to make it work. On my projects, that vision will be mine, not because I make any claims that my vision is superior to yours, but merely because it is my project.

When we're doing your project, then you're the dictator. Fair enough?

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Lucky 13 Studios / Joseph Dunphy

Lucky 13 Studios / Joseph Dunphy

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4. Certain things will not ever be demanded of any participant as a condition for casting in a given role. In fact, I seriously doubt that I'll ever even suggest one of these as a possibility. Citing a few that seem to come up elsewhere:

A. Anything that could get you hurt, and I don't just mean physically. Let's say that when you were little, you were trapped in a burning house, and fire has terrified you ever since. Please don't soldier on. Tell me about it, and we'll find a way of writing around the issue.

B. Displays of physical affection (kissing, etc), either real or simulated, with a member of the inappropriate sex - inappropriate for you, that is. If you're heterosexual, that would be a member of the same sex. If you're gay, I guess that would be a member of the opposite sex? Either way, for you it is wrong, so we won't do it.

Being straight myself, I don't write gay themed pieces, chosing to leave those to authors who have more relevant life experience to draw on while writing them, so this will often (but not always - see next post) be a moot point for heterosexual actors, anyway.

C. Nudity. I'm not offended by it, but I can't remember ever seeing a clearly valid theatrical rationale for it.

Yes, people tend to be naked when they're having sex, but is sex part of the plot of the story that is their day, or is it merely the culmination of one of the plotlines in that story? Is it not a release of tensions built up during events that took place while the couple was still clothed and thus, really, largely defined by those events, emotionally and dramatically? If this is the case, then what is the point to not cutting away just as the clothes start to come off, other than a desire to not hear the audience go "aww ..."?

Also, even though we speak of the fourth wall - something I've sometimes deliberately broken in the past - and the characters supposedly don't know that they are being watched, we, the audience, know that we are watching. Who are we, and why are we there? Yes, in literal terms, because we paid $10.50 and walked into Loews, but that's not what I'm getting at. When an audience member loses himself in a film or a play, and stops noticing the theatre around him, where does his subconscious put him in relation to the action? In order to connect to the piece, does he, as the viewer, not find himself psychologically placed into the action, albeit in a passive way?

In a scene set in a public or semi-public place, we might imagine ourselves to be bystanders, just walking by unseen, but in a place that is as private and intimate as a boudoir, is there not at least a hint of feeling of wrongness that we are hiding out there? In distancing ourselves from the feeling and reminding ourselves that we're not really hiding, that this is just a movie, aren't we taking ourselves out of the piece and thus weakening the suspension of disbelief, and the impact the movie has on us - that impact being the very reason for the creation of the idea of the fourth wall?

We're here, to have fun, yes, but to put on a performance, not a strip show. That being the case, I find the usual use of stage nudity to be counterproductive and certainly it is of great potential embarassment for the performers. Perhaps they can, with practice, get past that fear, but why should they have to do so, ever - especially for some low budget, amateur production that they probably aren't ever going to be paid for having been on, that at best is going to be a resume building exercise for them?

In all cases, it's about respect. Respect for each other and respect for oneself.

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Lucky 13 Studios / Joseph Dunphy

Lucky 13 Studios / Joseph Dunphy

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5. My role - In a video / film / movie you see on this page, I will be the writer. I might be the director, but not necessarily. I can think of a few people I know personally who I'd love to see direct one of my films, but they're very busy people, and I can't afford to pay the participants for their work, so I might end up having to settle for myself as the director, for the time being.

We will, along the way, be playing some improv games. In some cases, this will be for the creation of a piece from scratch - and yes, if you've contributed to the creation of a piece that way, expect to be seen credited as one of the writers. In others, this will be part of the process of going from one draft of the script to the next and, again, expect to be credited as a writer. This, we would be doing because I don't want all of my characters to end up sounding just like me.

Nothing coming out of my pen is holy scripture. On camera, we make a reasonable effort to stick to the script, unless something unscriptable comes along that we shouldn't throw away. (Think about that moment in "The Truth about Cats and Dogs" when Abby's cat hooks its claws into Brian's sweater). Those moments make everything feel more real.

Off camera, when we're doing those semi-improvised rehearsals, I want your thoughts.

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Lucky 13 Studios / Joseph Dunphy

Lucky 13 Studios / Joseph Dunphy

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6. Something that isn't my role - I won't be appearing on-screen. There are a few reasons for this, some of which I'll explain in person, should we ever meet, but the main one is because I write by observation. I don't want any face recognition, because that would make people act less naturally around me.

So, at such point as we end up showing films offline - and I hope that moment will come - and somebody is up there introducing all of this, that somebody in the spotlight will be somebody other than me. Which if you've ever heard my speaking voice, you know is for the best. I'll be out in the audience, but please don't point to me.

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Lucky 13 Studios / Joseph Dunphy

Lucky 13 Studios / Joseph Dunphy

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7. Money - I don't have any. I am completely broke, which is the reason why I haven't uploaded any videos, yet - I'm still saving up for the camera. At least in the short run, those appearing in my films will be unpaid.

In the long run ... if we ever get to the point at which we think we're ready to make something to sell, we'll reorganize under a different name, and represent ourselves through a different site. Anything done through Vimeo is not for profit, and I believe that Vimeo would want us to do things that way.

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Lucky 13 Studios / Joseph Dunphy

Lucky 13 Studios / Joseph Dunphy

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8. Location - I'll be shooting in the Chicago area, exclusively, and possibly in the city of Chicago, itself, almost exclusively. I might throw in some of the older, more photogenic, easily accessible and safe suburbs - Evanston, Wilmette, Lake Forest, Oak Park, Elmhurst, Glen Ellyn, Wheaton, Riverside, Hinsdale, Naperville, Batavia, Geneva and Elgin come to mind. We will be avoiding new suburban construction as far as we can, which might remove some of the towns in DuPage from consideration.

As for going out of region to shoot - I did mention that I'm broke?

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Lucky 13 Studios / Joseph Dunphy

Lucky 13 Studios / Joseph Dunphy

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9. Genre - Films will be set in the present. Low key, student film like ... would "domestic drama" be the right phrase for this, I wonder? No aliens, no terrorists blowing anything up, no zombies or demonic possessions, and definitely no superheroes. Just mundane, every day and sometimes brutal urban realism, without a lot of action scenes, if only because I'd have a hard time picturing the film office returning my calls. We're amateurs, and right now "we" is just "me". Under the circumstances, even the sound of a blank going off might be good for an arrest and really, shouldn't the words "amateur stuntman" leave us a little concerned? Would we even want to have approval for a car chase?

Yes, there's going to be a lot of talking on-screen.

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Lucky 13 Studios / Joseph Dunphy

Lucky 13 Studios / Joseph Dunphy

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10. Individual videos - Not everything I upload will require the presence of actors. Expect to see some cooking and hiking videos, a little street footage, some nature videos ... if I can ever afford a camera. I hope that will be relatively soon.

If you think that you might want to be an actor in one of my films - which might not be made for a while - you might want to follow my fiction blogs, first, because those stories will be the start of some of what we'll be doing. No need to follow all three of these links, as they lead to pages which are mirrors of each other.

a. webspace.webring.com/people/cv/videos/Fiction_Blogs/
b. josephdunphy.allalla.com/Fiction_Blogs/
b. joedunphy.20m.com/Fiction_Blogs/

As I'm writing this, those blogs are just beginning so, no, the dramas aren't going to be shot for a while. What you will find is that a very un-Hollywood like attitude comes out of these stories. I'm not going to tack a happy ending onto a story naturally evolving in an unhappy direction. I'll just let the story go where it wants to go, asking myself "if this were to happen in real life", what would I be willing to believe might happen.

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