Posted by Kelli Joan Bennett
Day 288 Year 2:
It’s been a long time since I’ve logged-in to write an in-depth “In The Trenches” report—237 days to be exact! It is now far from daily and is more like a bi-annual report. My last two (brief) posts were about the Declare Your Dream Experimental Motivation Project. It’s easy to write about that because it is a constant source of joy. My last substantial report about being in the creative trenches on February 20th—Day 51 Year 2: Transitioning—was a rather melancholy, whiny laundry list of why I hate transitions so much and how I was so exhausted. Re-reading it makes me want to go back in time and slap myself in the face a la Cher to Nic Cage in Moonstruck and scream, “Snap out of it!”
But as Daniel Day-Lewis says on disengaging from a character after filming:“There’s a terrible sadness. The last day of shooting is surreal. Your mind, your body, your spirit are not in any way prepared to accept that this experience is coming to an end. In the months that follow the finish of a film, you feel profound emptiness. You’ve devoted so much of your time to unleashing, in an unconscious way, some sort of spiritual turmoil, and even if it’s uncomfortable, no part of you wishes to leave that character behind. The sense of bereavement is such that it can take years before you can put it to rest.”
The only excuse I have for not writing more often about what I was going through post-filming is that I was truly exhausted. I wanted a break. A break from bitching. A break from being exposed. A break to crawl into a hole and hide from the world to put my sense of bereavement to rest.
Where to begin? So much is still not done but a lot has gone down in the last seven months. The latest: I just went blonde! That may not sound terribly exciting or relevant to my movie-making efforts but I actually did it for my next film, Death Over 3 Bottles of Wine. The character I will play is blonde.
I’m still working on a first draft of the script (I’m writing this one) so there’s a ways to go with it. It’s a very personal project inspired by an emotionally painful experience I went through and expressing it is, hopefully, the final cathartic stage to letting it go.
I’m still developing The Botox Party with Screenwriter Cindy. She was busy most of the summer writing a script for another producer—she’s on fire. I got some great feedback from my closest creative peers for the next rewrite and I’m still wrapping my head around exactly which way to go with it.
The most progress has been made with my documentary, High School 911. We are poised to complete it this year! I am simply in love with this film. I can’t wait for you to see it. The most recent cut is at a robust 2 hours and 55 minutes, but that is down from a 3 hour and 27 minute cut, which was down from 4 hours and 21 minutes, and of course it is all down from 1200 hours of total footage. It’s still too long but we’re getting there.
My film Collusions is at the rough assembly stage—I can’t call it a rough cut yet, but hey, it has promise! Thank god. I really don’t want my first scripted feature to suck. My executive producer and I met with a sales agent we both like, plus, we have interest from a distributor who thinks, “It looks like a great film that has all the elements to be very successful in the international marketplace.” No one has seen any of the film except the producers, editors and my director so I can only presume this distributor guy is going off of our imdb page and/or my site’s page on the film. But hey, from Distributor Guy’s lips to all the distribution gods’ ears.
The biggest thing in my life, as of late, is that I’m working on doing what scares me again. I was so fried after we wrapped that I lost my fearless edge. I had gotten it wicked sharp doing my 2012 Yearlong Experiment In Prolific Creativity, which culminated in shooting Collusions this past January. After such an expansive, public year and intense production I contracted into an itty-bitty ball. Granted, I went back to editing which by its very nature is solitary and isolating but still, I completely stopped doing anything that felt even remotely scary. I went into a cocoon of my comfort zone. I’m still there but I’m working on getting out.
In June, I was incredibly inspired when Hugely Successful and Super Talented Producer Friend Turned Mentor, who borrowed a friend’s racing bicycle and trained for a year, successfully completed the Aids Lifecycle Ride from San Fran to LA raising a shit load of cash for an amazing cause—one that is near and dear to my heart.
That was the very ride I had contemplated undertaking just prior to crashing my own bicycle on October 2, 2009—an emergency room visit, concussion and broken arm later, my cracked helmet and beaten up bike were stashed in the back of the garage along with the idea of ever riding again. I was so inspired by my friend’s fearless ride and fundraising I dusted off my bike and worked up the courage to get back in the saddle after almost four years. It was scary but exhilarating once I got going.
In August, my Dad was diagnosed with a serious health issue. The ultimate “snap out of it” slap in the face. There’s nothing like the hint of death to wake you up. I’ve been in Missouri off and on for the last two months to visit and show my support. I’m writing this from Kansas City right now. I’m here for Dad’s next treatment.
I’m not going to lie. This is intense and scary. Crawling under a rock and hiding sounds good right about now. But considering my Dad is inspiring me by doing what scares him—facing his own mortality—I will be brave and do what scares me…go through this with him.
Until tomorrow, create from what you have…things to do that scare you.