Even though we are plowing forward at light speed, I think it is worthwhile to take a step back and talk about the origins of Meet Jane Doe. Not that it is a particularly interesting story, but for sake of posterity and documenting this whole process, I think it is necessary to delve into the origins of Meet Jane Doe.
I didn't intend to write a movie. When I started writing MJD back in July of 2009, it was going to be a short film about a really wild character. It was to be my showpiece as an actor and nothing more. I started writing it out of frustration – as an actor I was tired of being the mom, the wife, the secretary… I had 4 auditions in one week, and each one of them was for a "crying mom." Blech. I wanted to play characters – fully developed CHARACTERS! But, alas, they did not exist...
So, I decided to create one. As a writer, I knew that I could write myself an amazing short and I could play several characters and I would find someone to shoot it and it would be a fun little project that would take no longer than a weekend, and I would have the best demo reel on the planet.
That is until I started writing. The more I wrote the bigger the story got. It quickly grew bigger than a short film, so I decided to make it into a series. After all, a series would be manageable – I could film 8-10 minute episodes on a manageable schedule – no problem. But then the story went and did something horrible to me. It ended. It was at that point that I threw my hands up in the air and declared, "It's going to be a feature length film!"
With that realization, came a whole new set of problems. I didn't know anyone well enough in the industry to just be able to pick up the phone and say "Hey, you wanna help me make a movie?" So I had to go out and meet people. I had to get some advice. And I had to let go of some things in order to take on the additional responsibilities of making a movie.
The first thing I decided I had to let go of was casting myself in the lead role. I couldn't do it all, and I no longer was making a showpiece for myself – I was making a movie. So the first thing I did was find myself a new leading lady. The first – and only – person that came to mind was the talented Ms. Audrey Walker. We had spoken about the project at a Women in Film mixer, and she knew that I had written the role for myself, and she was over-the-top flattered that she was my first choice. And she said yes.
So, now I had a script and a leading lady. But that was it. Oh, and I had the leading lady's best friend, Maggie (Sadie Medley). I met Sadie years ago in our other jobs (advertising), but we didn't connect and become friends until we were partnered together in Lana Veenker's workshop (which I highly recommend for all actors…). Sadie suffered through reading the script from it's infancy and I have her to thank for the way it grew and evolved. When I stand at the podium and accept my Oscar for best screenplay, she will be one of the first people I thank! A close second and third will be Lanie Hoyo and Jason Rosenblatt – my other script reading guinea pigs!
But I digress. I had my lead actor, her best friend, and cast myself as the villain – still a nice juicy role, but one that was more manageable given the additional responsibilities that I placed on myself. So, now I needed to meet my crew. I started chatting people up on film sets, and I became a major networking whore! I attempted to attend every networking function on the planet – sometimes 3 or 4 every week. My husband and son started to get a little lonely….
I hit up everyone I could find for advice, and was fortunate enough to get the ears of some of my local heroes: James Westby, Todd Freeman, Phil Bransom. All of these fabulous and talented filmmakers took time out of their schedules to talk to little ol' ME!
So where does that leave me now? A million miles from where I started. I now have the finest film crew money can't buy. A crew of amazingly talented and dedicated individuals who read the script and jumped on board – fully confident that one year from now we will be sitting on a festival-worthy film.
Up next: I will introduce you to the fabulous crew that I mentioned I roped in. Each one deserves to be singled out and praised individually. Stay tuned – I will chat them up in the coming days!