I can't believe it's been, like, two years that we've been working on "JesusCat (or How I Accidentally Joined a Cult)." Oh, wait. Yes, I can. In fact, two years is really quite nothing in the world if independent film. I guess I'm just anxious to get it out there, and maybe even seen by people other than our significant others. But I wanted to take a moment to sort of, reminisce about this whole process - or at least how I remember it.
In 2010 my original play, "Twenty-Two" premiered in Los Angeles. This was Shaina and my first collaboration, which we also co-produced and co-starred in. It was extremely heavy and largely autobiographical, and somewhere during that process we voiced that our next collaboration certainly needed to be a comedy. And voila! Somewhere between then and the following year, we agreed upon an idea that involved Shaina playing a cult leader and me playing a documentary filmmaker that followed her around. And like many good mockumentaries, we figured it should be improvised. But mainly we just wanted to have fun. We specifically wanted a "side" project that we wouldn't have to get severe anxiety over. We figured - no script, no budget, no crew - no stress! I'm sure this concept could be easily argued, but we just wanted to be able to shoot most of the project with no one but the two of us, cast our friends in all the supporting roles, and just do this in our "spare time."
Well, what started as a "side" project, quickly became my "primary" project (and often my "only" project). Shaina and I spent a few months, maybe, drafting a story outline so we'd have some sort of structure to improvise around. Also, we needed some kind of "script" to submit to SAG (now SAG-AFTRA). We chose a "New Media" contract for this project, because it's really the only union contract that actors can afford, and our original plan was to create a webseries. I mean, everyone's doing it, right? I had attended a seminar on creating new media content a while back and was advised that even if you're releasing a webseries, you should plan to shoot and cut it like a feature film that runs about 88 minutes because that's how you get distribution overseas or something. So we decided to follow that advice. Well, lo and behold, somewhere in this process, it dawned on us that the story could really work as an awesome feature-length film. And that we should submit it to festivals and stuff. And, if anything, we can still always chop it up and release it episodically on You Tube down the line.
After about 6 months of production, say, once or twice a week, Shaina and I started editing. We had about 12 hours of footage and we slowly shaved it down to 8 hours, then 6 hours, then 3 and so on. We had to work around a lot of breaks - meaning, breaking of character because we'd start laughing. After another 6 months of editing, we had trimmed the film down to about 90 minutes and scheduled some pick-ups with the primary ensemble cast to help us fill in some gaps in the storyline or clarify specific points. And tomorrow (literally), Shaina and I will be incorporating some editing ideas given to us from our test audience into the final cut. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Well, it's not, actually, because it's today and tomorrow is in the future so it can't technically be "history" - or can it?