Yup - my baby was 1 month old when we took this picture. My husband and I usually like to get really clever for Halloween. We've been political and topical. One year we were the phrase, "If it's yellow it's mellow, if it's brown flush it down," commenting on the California drought situation.
But then I had a baby and moved into a new house. So with boxes everywhere, still recovering, sore and tired I did not feel like being creative. But we also felt totally guilty that we were not doing ANYTHING. Not a one kid came to our door for trick-or-treat. What a bust. I whined to Daniel - "What are we gonna be???? We have to do something!"
So we started looking around the house. What do we have? Well - someone gave us the shark bathrobe and well - that just seemed EASY. SO we started with that. Then colored on some paper, attached it with safety pins, smeared ketchup all over and made some faces.
My baby was crying almost the whole time we took about 10 different photos. But - it worked and we laughed and we posted this on Instagram: megmessmer. Literally that was the ONLY thing we did on Halloween was this picture. And guess what? It was awesome!
So don't stress out about costumes. Find some condiments and smear them on yourself. If nothing else, it'll be funny!
It was the fall of 2006. I was living in New York City desperately trying to get noticed as an actress.
It wasn't working.
I had moved there in 2005. I was living off the high of working in Detroit. Everyone knew my name in Detroit. Or at least it felt that way. I booked a professional Equity gig before I had even graduated college. I was making loads of money (well....it felt like loads to a college kid) and people were offering me roles. I booked an indie film right as the Equity play finished and I felt like a superstar. So I moved to NYC, like any celebrity would do.....
I waited. Waited for someone to find me, discover me in a coffee shop. Say - "hey are you an actress? cause you're perfect for this million dollar movie I'm making". Who - me? "yes you!"
Yeah...that shit didn't happen. And it doesn't happen. At least not to me.
And you know what? I am HAPPY that it didn't happen.
What happened to me in NYC was this....I sat in my room eating Ben n Jerry's Cherry Garcia until I was bored and depressed enough to finally get off the couch that I was crashing on and find a job. I worked at an Off Broadway theatre in the heart of the West Village called Cherry Lane. I wrote a song about it.
It was through this theatre that I met people. Good people. Hard working people.
And that fall of 2006, I met a girl. We ate pizza and decided that we weren't going to wait anymore. We decided to produce a play. We produced a play with some KILLER playwrights. Writers that are now Showrunners of UBER famous TV shows, one is a Pulitzer playwright. They were just getting out of school at the time, which is why they said yes to writing a comedy for my friend and I to star in....get this....about AIDS.
That was the first thing I ever produced. And it was AWESOME! We ran for two weeks (I think). We donated all our proceeds to the YouthAIDS foundation. It WAS funny!!! IF you can believe it.
And then....I had this breakthrough. I was good at producing.
I didn't necessarily want to do it....but I was good at it....just by my nature. Thanks type A organization skills. And then I realized something else....
When you're just an actor....you get shit on. People tell you you're not good enough, not the right type, you need more credits, you need an agent, you need this/that, you should be this way, unique, different, stupid, smart, pretty, ugly, skinny, fat, rich, cute, PERFECT.
I HAVE NEVER EVER EVER EVER LIKED IT WHEN SOMEONE TELLS ME WHAT TO DO. (Sorry Mom).
So - I started producing. I wrote something. I produced it. I read books. I started interning. I started working in TV production. I went to UCLA for producing. I learned it. I learned it gooooood.
And then....I started doing it. No more Ben & Jerry's for me.
All of this long winded story for the announcement of today.
Today I premiere a pilot that a very talented writer wrote for me, in which I produced and starred in.
It's called GRETCH & TIM.
The screening is tonight and it is good!
It is quirky, fun, & thoughtful. We called in SO many favors from SO many talented people. And to all of them - THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I'm a big girl now. Making big girl stuff in this industry.
Next up, to distribute it.....and get paid. :)
Sum of this blog post:
If you're thinking about producing because you're sick of playing prostitutes in short films like me.....do it! It's so worth it. And then, tell me how it goes! :)
Love to all.
Guys - I'VE TAKEN A LOT OF ACTING CLASSES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I've spent SO MUCH MONEY!
Sometimes the teachers are not very good teachers. Sometimes they just like to hear themselves talk.
Well it took me three years...but I finally found my one and only acting coach in LA.
His name is Paul Kampf. A very good hearted man who is both a writer and director. He's also done some acting too! So he KNOWS what he's talking about. What else do I like about him? He insists on meeting you first and working with you one on one to learn your UNIQUE style of working and taking direction. Because of this, he learns the best way to re-direct you and individualizes his approach with your acting career.
WOW! And it works! I've seen countless actors come in to his classes and grow grow grow in their craft. Um..I know, because I have too!
Not ONLY that...but in 2012...we made two full length feature films together with his Production wing of the studio! Bonus: he uses all the students in his classes. Now THAT is getting your money's worth!
OH- but have I mentioned that he's completely affordable!? He doesn't steal actors money or pontificate about how many roles his actors have booked after working with him.
He's just a good ole boy with some CRAZY good talent for coaching actors to the height of their craft.
Go look him up!
And tell him I said "Hi!"
P.S. His website is below along with an awesome article he wrote about forging your own path!
I HOPE you like FOOTBALL cause I'm going to be ALLLLLLL over the field this fall!!
YUP! That's me in a Bears jersey celebrating the WIN baby!!
And this was a win for me cause it's my first AIRING National commercial. You can bet all my family and hometown friends are sending me LOTS of love & crazy faced screen shots on Facebook. :)
Send me one too! @ www.facebook.com/meganmessmerfanpage
But P.S. a secret for all you super fans....those are MY Raven's nails tooooo!!! This girl got her nails DID! Buuuut only one hand b/c that's all they needed for filming. The other one was bare naked and lonely. :) Thanks for watching!
So deep inside of me, I want to be a restaurant reviewer.
I want them to know me when I walk in and FEAR me! So much that they give me my entire meal for FREE!!!
Ugh. Alas, I'm an actor. So - I pretend to be a restaurant reviewer every time I go someplace new...which is often....because I LIKE going to new places. Adventure people!
SO this place is called TOWN and it just opened up in my #EastSide hometown neighborhood Highland Park.
So - if you want a romantic dinner - BEHHHH! (that's a buzzer sound) THIS IS NOT THE PLACE.
HOWEVER, if you've been married for three years and you want to act like you're going out on the town for a night, pretending to be drunk and get quick delicious pizza. DING DING DING. This is the place!!
P.S. They are expanding!! As soon as they can clean up the adjacent space. Who knows how long that will be??
The pizza is delicious. I read some reviews of some #HATERS in the neighborhood but when I put that shit in my mouth, it was delicious. I'm a vegetarian so I did NOT try the meat...but I did try EVERY SINGLE one of the Veggie options. And dude - even the VEGAN cheese held up. I hate vegan cheese...except on this pizza.
The pesto one was obvi the most delicious - so if you're watching your calorie intake and only try one - do this one. HOWEVER - ricotta and carmelized onion was also dreamy.
Can't WAIT to see what this place expands into.
I caught a glimpse of the kitchen in the back while we waited and it was a bunch of hipsters working there. Thick glasses and mustaches. YUP! It's Highland Park betches!
To Us, a short film by indie up-and-comer T.S. Meeks, centers on a couple falling away from each other…after only being married less than 24 hours. It’s a crushing, brilliantly acted and scripted mini-drama about the hush after the hoopla, that moment when you and your newly-pronounced spouse escape the noise of the reception, unlock the door to the hotel room, plop onto the big bed, lay in silence, and think, “What have we done, really?”
We spoke to Meeks and star Megan Messmer–who has an improv background including performing at Hollywood’s IO West Theater, the Groundlings, and UCB–in separate phone interviews about screening the film this weekend at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Meeks not letting Megan watch the film beforehand, the benefits of an improv background as an actor, and much more.
Check out To Us at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival today at 2pm and on Sunday at 4:40pm. For more details, click here. Also check out: tousfilm.com, meganmessmer.com
The film screens this Sunday at SBIFF, and you haven’t seen it yet. Are you nervous?
Megan: Yes. My director is a romantic and doesn’t want me to see it until Sunday. We’re all going to be there, and I feel like I’m going to be biting my fingernails and looking through my hands the whole time. (laughs) I do a lot of comedy, but indie film is my passion, so I got cast in this, and it’s the first drama I’ve done in years. I feel like watching myself during these really vulnerable moments is going to be…(trails off). I’m going to be like, “OOH! WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN!?” You know? I’m nervous. I really am.
You perform improv all the time in front of crowds. Do you get nervous for that?
Megan: No. Not anymore. I’ve been doing improv for 5 years professionally, on a weekly basis. I just go out and have fun. Shooting this movie was really fun for me. Even though it’s a drama, being on set and getting into the character…that’s the stuff that I live for. But I don’t go back and watch my improv shows! This is going to be something special to watch myself going through moments that typically people don’t ever watch themselves go through.
You put forth a really powerful performance here. Very impressive. You’re constantly honing your tools doing improv on a regular basis; talk about how those tools translate to genres other than comedy.
Megan: I surround myself with people who have the same mindset, which is that everything you do as an actor is in the moment. You can’t ever play the same performance twice. My director said something to me that was so humbling and awesome. He said, “You’re a joy to work with because you can do no wrong on camera.” Essentially, he’s saying that in every take, I’m going through something different, you know what I mean? I’m in the truth of the moment. You do that in improv, you do that in comedy, you do that in drama, you do that in life.
I remember I did this comedy with some guys that I work with often. They wrote this role for me, and I remember I was almost in tears in this comedy! I took a step back and thought, I’m almost in tears, and this is supposed to be comedic. The character was a woman who was so upset, angry and hurt, that that’s what she was going through. Comedy, to me, is the most tragic, dramatic thing you can go through.
I feel that over the past ten years, people are really starting to embrace the versatility of comedic actors, putting them in more complex, dramatic roles more often. Do you notice this as well?
Megan: Yes. That’s what I want for my career. I don’t want to be pigeonholed into, “She’s a comedy girl.” That’s great, but there’s so much more to be had. I want to do both. Something interesting that I learned is that, at our highest point emotionally, when we’re ready to break, we break one of two ways: we laugh or we cry. I think that’s so interesting. In serious situations, I’ll find myself laughing and I’m like, this isn’t funny, but I don’t know what else to do right now!
You just recently got married, correct?
How did you mine that experience to inform the role?
Megan: Oh gosh. It was easy for me to get into the space of this film. Before you get married, you go through this range of emotion. “Holy shit…this is forever?” It’s not that you’re thinking he’s the wrong person. It’s just, what does this mean? I don’t know who I’ll be in 5 years, 10 years. You’re making this commitment to this person and hoping that their idea of commitment is the same as yours. It’s scary. This woman finds out something she didn’t know about her husband on the night of their wedding. Suddenly, this person is a completely different person in her eyes. There’s this new information; is he the person that I thought he was?
I’m also recently married, so the story resonated with me as well.
Congrats to you as well! I really love the natural flow of the dialog in the film. Was it written or improvised?
Megan: It was written. I like to connect with the words of the writer. I really love writers. In the audition, I used all of the words except one. I think he wrote “honey” and I said “babe”, because that’s what I say to my husband. I really connected to the way he wrote this film.
You have a good cry in the film. Is crying on camera easy or hard for you?
Megan: That’s interesting. I think that people can get to a place where they can cry on cue. That’s not what I did. What you saw was me getting to a place where I’m vulnerable and I’m going through those emotions. That’s hard. I think that the really great actors are vulnerable in front of the camera, and that’s hard to do. You’re putting it all out there and you feel exhausted. No one should be next to you when you’re going through that, but I was worried about the camera being right in my face.
Why should people come out to see the film this Sunday in Santa Barbara?
Megan: This is a really special film. T.S. Meeks has such a budding career in front of him that if you want to see a star-in-the-making, this is a film you want to see so that you can say you were there. Also, my mother-in-law is going to be there, and she’s never seen me do anything like this…so that’s going to be fun! You guys should come out and sit next to us to see how that works.
[Hours after my interview with Megan, I gave director T.S. Meeks a call to get his perspective.]
Are you married?
Meeks: I’m not married! That seems to be “the question”. But I can tell you how I was inspired to write the film. I worked in hotels a lot as a bellman, and I would check in a lot of brides and grooms on their honeymoon. There was this strange eerie-ness, like it was just a Tuesday instead of something sacred. I’d leave their room wondering how they got to this moment in time where they’re committed to each other for the rest of their lives. It all seems mundane. I wanted to explore that.
I studied people for many years. I’m not so much interested in the words being said, but more the moments in between moments. The silences in between events. That’s the kind of thing that fascinates me. Most of life is those moments.
You use and value silence a lot in the film, which is a somewhat rare commodity these days.
Meeks: I think what silence does is make the audience uncomfortable and places them in the moment with the characters, in the room. You can feel the textures of the room. Instead of leading the audience with a soundtrack, I’d like to lead them with the sound of the room.
What was it like working with your actors?
Meeks: You talked to Megan earlier, right?
Meeks: She’s amazing to work with. She could do no wrong on camera. Everything was truthful. That’s what we were looking for, the truth between these characters. My job was to create a safe place for them to explore, and they just dove right in. James, the actor, was eager to find what was right for the character, exploring why he was acting the way he was. What I try to do is create a place of trust for all of us, from the DP to the sound guy to the actors, so that each moment is personal.
The third day of shooting, I realized the excitement of the fact that I’m suddenly a leader, I’ve brought all these people together, and I’m making sure that everyone’s on the same page. It was so rewarding, such an awesome experience to have these people around me, supporting me. It’s not my film, it’s our film. There’s no way I could have done it by myself.
ABOVE: T.S. Meeks
When I spoke to Megan, she said that you didn’t want her to see the film until this Sunday.
Meeks: (laughs) Yeah. I kind of wanted us to all share that experience, because no one else has seen it. You’ve seen it (laughs), but as a crew I wanted us all to see it at once. I want a collective experience. Which is unfair, because I’ve seen it with my editor. (laughs) I’m a romantic and prefer that we all watch it together.
How did you achieve the natural-sounding dialog?
Meeks: It was all scripted, but I let them be free in that I wasn’t looking for the line. I was looking for the motivation and the character coming through. It’s never about the words. I was trying to achieve [that natural feel], so it’s awesome that you say that. I wanted it to be like we’re in the room with them, not distant. In a relationship, you’re all over the map, especially when you’ve had all this champagne, you’ve danced, you probably didn’t sleep the night before, and now you’re finally settled in your room, married. You’re probably going to be blissful and tickling, and then you’re going to be upset. A lot of movies dive into marriages ten years down the line like, “How did we get here?” What if they discovered that on the night they got married?
I’ll end with the same question I asked Megan: Why should people come out to see the film this Sunday?
Meeks: Come out to see a movie that will hopefully make you reflect on how you see relationships and marriages. Hopefully my audience will have some self-reflection in a good or negative way. Either way, as long as a conversation gets started.
I booked the lead in a sweet WES ANDERSON inspired film called "THE KINGDOM".
We're shooting this week and next! So check out some of the behind the scenes photos and we'll also have a vlog coming out soon on YouTube.com/MegMessmer. Love you all! -Meg
BAH!!! The film I starred in last October will be premiering at the SANTA BARBARA FILM FESTIVAL on February 7.
You can find a full schedule here: http://sbiff.festivalgenius.com/2014/films/tous_tsmeeks_sbiff2014
I will be there on February 9! Come Join me!!
GIRLS on HBO premiered on Sunday 1/12/14. And I made this video. :)
I love trampolines.
Friends and Fans,
I have launched a new YouTube channel that will host all the CRAZY, FUN, ADVENTUROUS projects that I LOVE, write, produce and star in!
Please Watch! Subscribe! & Comment!
This has been in the works for a little while now and I am SO EXCITED to bring it to you.
I am sending YOU, yes YOU a biiiiiig hug. and maybe a Smoooooch!
Now wipe your face off and watch!
Lots of <3
All Rights Reserved | Megan Messmer | 2019