Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Married to "Mary"
As well as being the writer and director of Women's Studies, I'm also one of two co-producers. The other co-producer is Cindy Marie Martin, who not only is playing the lead role of "Mary," but is also my wife.
I know what you're going to ask. "Did she get the role by sleeping with the director?" I'll get to that shortly. (heh-heh)
Say "husband/wife producing team" to a group of people and you're likely to get a bunch of different reactions. Surprisingly enough, a lot of big film studios and distributors see it as a selling point for an indie with no big names attached. Before I was married, I found the idea a little too cutesy. There was something just uncool about it. Mom and Pop convenience store? Sounds awesome. Mom and Pop film company? Thanks, but I'll pass.
It works though. At least for us it does. We've co-produced two short films together, and both were pretty successful as far as the production itself went. More importantly, we came away from both experiences still liking each other. I won't dare to speak for her, but I like her even more now than I did before we did the films. Why does the Lonnie & Cindy Marie Martin producer team work? A few reasons I think.
First, we both come from theatre backgrounds. We met as actors at a Shakespeare festival, and a rule we both have followed from the day we met is, "Keep your personal life out of the theater." Cindy and I try very hard to keep the filmmaking out of the relationship and the relationship out of the filmmaking. Does the line blur every once in a while? Very rarely, and even then, only when we're alone. That's pretty much inevitable because part of indie filmmaking is not having any set hours, but kind of working on it all the time.
Hey, there's the second reason we work as a producer team. We know (mostly) when to put the movie biz away. If we go on vacation, so does the movie. Being a filmmaker is awesome, but sometimes you just have to be a person too. If you had ice cream all the time, it wouldn't be as sweet would it? Besides, distance lends perspective. Can I pull any other clichés out of my ass? You just watch me.
The biggest reason it works is communication, and knowing who's doing what. For example, Cindy handles the marketing side of things, and while she certainly welcomes my input, she makes most of the big decisions. I handle a lot of the business and legal research, and while she has a definite voice, she never tells me how to do it. We talk out the pros and cons of different production aspects and make the decision that best suits the film. If we can't agree on something, we try to find a way to meet in the middle. If we reach a stalemate, that whole "distance lends perspective" deal usually puts things right.
Now that I think about it, film production and marriage aren't too different. Both take hard work, diplomacy, communication, compromise, and sex. Okay, you don't always have sex in movies. Come to think of it, marriage can be like that too.
Which leads us back to the question: Did Cindy get the lead role in Women's Studies just because she was my wife?
The answer of course is, "No," but don't think for a second I didn't try to pull that whole "casting couch romance" thing.
As we considered our first feature project, Cindy more than I thought Women's Studies was the most marketable of all the concepts I had in my repertoire. She wanted to play Mary, and after having sat in the backseat on other projects, as least acting wise, felt she'd earned it . I did too. However, when I first wrote the script, I had a very different idea of who Mary should be. The character was more hard edged, cynical, and distrustful, more like what now is the character of "Beth" in the script, all the things Cindy is not. I know, it's called "acting," but I had a hard time putting Cindy in a role so out of character.
Then as I begin to let the personality traits, her sweetness, sensitivity, stubborn resolve, and understated darkness, start to inform Mary. I realized what the Women's Studies story was missing as a whole was a heart and soul. There was nothing to care about. All of a sudden, not only Mary, but the entire script began to take new shape. Soon, I realized nobody but Cindy could play the role, because in essence, she was Mary.
Besides, she's hot, looks good with a tennis racket, and can shriek louder than a banshee. All horror movies need that.
More on Cindy at http://www.cindymariemartin.com/ .