A Creative Mind Meld
There is an improv game called Mind Meld that I love. The object of the game is to say the same word at the exact same time your partner. Two people get in the center of a circle and count to three and then say whatever word pops into their head. From the two words, they try to path their way to the same word. If someone in the outer circle knows what it should be, they can tag in. For example, one says "car" and the other "vacation". The next word they both say might be "road trip". Minds melded. It's an extremely fun, often frustrating, always hysterical game. It's fascinating what you end up saying in response to a single word and how you find your way to screaming one in unison. The paths can be murky or sometimes very clear. And it's downright magical when you manage to get the same word with on the second try.This is what happened when my husband and I were working on our latest script. For those who don't know, Lincoln and I have a production company called Pretty Beard Productions that makes sketches and award winning short films. That's right. We've won awards.Lincoln had an idea for a script and we've been chewing on it for a month or so, going back and forth on what we want it to be. I had a very different concept than he had begun with and it was starting to be a frustrating struggle. We were finally able to sit down and focus on it, going through the beats we had written. Conflict still arose and to be honest, I was losing a little hope we had a good story at all because we couldn't decide on anything. We couldn't find the hook of it.We took a few minutes to breathe. When we came back, we started talking out the basic plot again, searching for the common thread, the reason, the heart.
And then we said it at the same time.
This is the first time we've worked on a script in this way. Normally, Lincoln writes a draft and I read it and we work on it from there. This has started from a seed that we planted and now we have to make it grow. It's a bit more sledging through than we anticipated but hitting the right chord at the same time was fucking magic.The creative process has escaped me for the past few years. I haven't dove headfirst into it aside from my writing but I'm on this train and we are speeding up. We knew we wanted to make a new short film. Our last was two years ago. While we've released a few sketches since then, it is films that we really love making. Knowing we thrive with comedy, we are hoping to make another quirky, heartfelt short that tells a good story with memorable characters. It's time.The idea of getting back into the acting business gives me a bit of anxiety still. I am not certain it is for me any more. However, the idea of doing a short film that I co-wrote with my husband and team of friends plus new recruits gives me a buzz and inspiration. It may be that I like the control of it all. Could be I enjoy stepping back and seeing how it all was pieced together from scratch. Making my own work is incredibly rewarding to me and right now, it feels like a clear path. A while back, when I thought about my 'dream life', one of my answers (because who doesn't have multiple dream lives?) was to be in the independent film game, traveling around during festival season and taking in and sharing work with passionate people.I haven't had a hunger to make a film in a minute. With my depression and anxiety taking over the past two years, I haven't had room in my body for anything else. I let myself be torn down by rejection, anger, and jealousy. I watched others grow and let myself stay stunted. Lincoln asked to work on ideas and I shoved them aside, making excuse after excuse. I always blamed the location, the time, the money. But honestly, it was the effort. I did not have the energy to put effort into something that could be squashed the moment it leaves the nest. I was afraid of failing and had no desire to put my work out there where I didn't think it mattered. I gave up.To come up with the same hook at the same time as my partner was reassuring. In those few moments before, I was losing hope because it felt difficult. How pathetic is that? Where did my courage go? Where did my drive go? How was I sitting on our couch with the least amount of pressure possible with just the glimmer of a script and freaking out that we would never write together again?I'm trying not to put pressure on myself being back in the city and needing to succeed. That was part of the reason I left. I burned out by sucking out the joy of everything I was doing. I forgot why I was acting, why I wanted to write, why I lived here in the first place and let myself been eaten alive. It turns out I put that same pressure on myself and multiplied it by ten when I was in Vermont. I had to prove myself because I had left and I feel like I had failed on multiple levels. Giving up was easier than trying again there. What if coming back here I do the same thing?In that moment on our couch, I let the joy I had lost seep back in. That similar excitement of saying the same word at the same time when playing Mind Meld allowed a spark to ignite. It is such a burst of delight when you get it in the game and 10 times out of 10, leads to a high five between you and your partner. And that's exactly what we did. We automatically did a high five, let ourselves laugh, and then got right back to work.