At my ripe old age of I finally know better, I’m happy to admit that, consequently, I don’t know everything. There are lots of unchartered territories of my little life in general, and even though I’ve been clambering away up this wickedly addictive (and sometimes just plain wicked) ladder in the entertainment business for 27 years and counting, there are still things I can learn.
(I’m at my humblest here, and I understand it’s an anomaly. Do not get used to it.)
This business is changing, thankfully, into something different. Juggernaut networks who used to reign supreme are faced with surprisingly heavy-duty creative competition that seem to be more than willing to take chances on edgier, more off-the-cuff material. Also thankfully, these newbies like Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix won’t rely so dutifully on antiquated ratings systems that have little to no merit. Seriously, Nielsen Ratings: none of us are watching live TV anymore. It’s so refreshing, and such a hopeful notion to think that little engines that could might just have a fighting chance nowadays to stay alive after more than just a few episodes. This also might mean that great shows who bit the dust beforehand were just ahead of their time, which makes my heart hurt a bit for obvious reasons. Well, more like seven obvious reasons, but don’t get me started. It all alludes to the fact that the entertainment business is flipping on its axis into something much larger, much more universal, and more creatively sparked and fueled than ever before. And oh, that makes me happy.
Another new element to getting things greenlit in this biz is the crowdfunding trend. It’s tough to get a project off the ground; grants can be handed out if you’re lucky, but sometimes for whatever reason, a studio or investors just don’t feel like taking the gamble. Websites like Kickstarter and Indie Gogo have started to change all that, breathing a little bit more hope into indie filmmaking, and now more and more projects are being able to see the light of day because viewers are able to choose which ones make it to funding, and become a part of the process along the way. And let’s be honest: indie movies tend to stick with you a little more than the average Hollywood blockbuster, because they’re rooted in performances and character development more than special effects. A lot of them deserve to get made. Especially mine.
The script for “How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town” was so good, I couldn’t believe it didn’t have full funding from the get-go. I’ve read a lot of scripts over the past 27 years (hey have I told you I’ve been in this business for 27 years?), but this one actually had me laughing out loud within the first few pages. Besides how hilarious it was, it had a ton of heart, great multi-layered characters and relationships, and a sweet and satisfactory orgy I mean ending. It had everything a great movie needs. Except for funding. Although Telefilm Canada was on board to support the movie for at least part of it, the rest had to be drummed up via crowndfunding, and because yours truly jumped in head first with no net and said I was in, I had to figure out how to contribute to that in any way I could. Some ideas were more fun than others, the not fun being me agreeing to eat the food I hate the most (corn on the cob, which is weird, I know, but corn plus stomach flu means you hate it for life) and film it on camera if we reached a certain number. And of course we reached it, because you internet bastards love to watch me squirm. The better idea, however, was offering three spots to a dinner with me at a restaurant I had never been to. And guess what? There were actual takers!
Because when the time came we were happily already filming our movie in Toronto, we decided on a local institution called The Pilot. Dinner with strangers can be dicey, and it’s important to pick a place with a little bit of a lively atmosphere, food that pleases everyone, and a decent wine list because I ain’t about to do it sober. The Pilot offers all of that in spades, with three areas to choose from- a friendly and casual vibe downstairs, a more secluded and sophisticated upstairs, and a rooftop patio called the Flight Deck when the weather’s cooperating. The menu is unpretentious and crowd-pleasing with everything from burgers to ginger beef, pad thai, pizza, even a New Zealand lamb dish, and all kinds of goodies in-between, including pub favourites like fish n chips, excellent nachos, and the true Canadian delicacy of poutine, a cheesy gooey messy delight of crispy french fries drizzled in gravy and melted cheese curds. You can even order prosecco by the glass if you’re a prissy actress like me, and even listen to live jazz on some nights while you stuff your face with gravy-covered fries.
But the real highlight of this meal was the company I was keeping. My new favourite director Jeremy Lalonde was there, my costar/partner in crime/thorn in my side Ennis Esmer, and my super hot and all mine boyfriend Charlie who you read about here, but we also got to meet our three contributors, Richard, Scott, and Jeffrey. I’ve done my fair share of dinners with fans and strangers at various conventions around the world, and sometimes depending on the person, things can be quiet and rather awkward. I’m not sure if it’s because they’re expecting to meet TV me and they’re a little disappointed, or maybe they’re just too nervous to know what to say, but I’m usually always nervous and never say the right thing, so it can be a bit of a trying experience. Not so with these gentlemen. They were intelligent, funny, warm, and welcoming, and right off the bat it felt like a normal hang out over drinks and great pub food with friends. (Altogether now: PHEW) Also, these guys just happened to be brilliant biologists, developers, bloggers, chefs, and internet experts… And I’m the dumb-dumb who plays make-believe for a living. More specifically: I sit in my living room in my slippers writing about food while Richard’s out fashioning his own spear to hunt a boar to fillet and throw into his sous vide machine for his next dinner party. And even better, on top of being super successful smarty pantses, they all just happened to love to support indie film making.
I can’t tell you enough how grateful I am for the fan base I have, for the twitter followers who heard my plea for help in funding this movie and who showed up and supported us in any way they could. And I’m extra grateful to my dinner companions for being so genuinely sweet and generous with their time and contributions. The wave of the future in this industry feels like it’s finally coming to pass, and I’m more excited than ever to be a part of it for the next 27 years.
(Sorry, I had to say that one more time.)
You will LOVE this movie. I promise you that. And I love you.