Matt Kloster is an actor and director with a BA and BFA in Theatre from the University of Alberta. He is never more at home than when working with a crew of professional multidisciplinary artists. After a brief excursion into the Digital Cinema program at NAIT, he is trying his hand at directing for film. He loves working with actors, and is always hungry for new challenges. Matt is grateful for the opportunity to work on Take A Bite’s Nowhere Normal with this fabulous cast and crew.
Born in Hollywood, raised in Michigan, Emily is now starting a film career in Edmonton. Emily discovered her passion for filmmaking while attending classes at the Film and Video Arts Society of Alberta (FAVA), and has written, directed, edited and produced two short films with guidance from her instructors: Honey Money (2017) and Girl and a Polar Bear (2019). She is currently developing a short horror comedy script about class, cannibalism, and Mozart.
In the great sea of the internet, anyway.
This is what happened on Twitter today:
I have been waiting to see this film since last July. I tweeted this musing randomly (what else is Twitter but random musing?) on my lunch break from my day job. And get a reply from what I incredulously assumed was a spambot, or a fan who tweets under Mr Wheatley’s name. But on looking at the profile of @mr_wheatley (followed by Tom Hiddleston and Mark Gatiss, among others), and looking at the website…
It could be Ben Wheatley and Amy Jump’s staff, managing their blog, who look for any mention of their films. BUT WHO CARES?
So, yeah. Tonight, I have an APN phone meeting, and then I need to renew some artist memberships — because I’m a card-carrying artist. And then, instead of doing dishes OR watching A Field in England, I’m going to write. Because Mr and Mrs Wheatley told me to!
“No, I can’t work with you.”
To people not in theatre: “No, this is not just a hobby.”
To the director, producer, or actors who want to change what you wrote to suit them. “NO, that is not what I wrote, you’re not doing it.”
About asking the production team what they need from me, the playwright, and informing them what I need, at the start, so that the play doesn’t get screwed up.
And if the situation changes during rehearsal, work to fix it. And if it can’t be fixed, decide if I’m going to shrug, wait for the terrible production to be over and move on. OR, if I’m going to tell the production team I, the person who wrote the play which has given them all work, isn’t happy, and take the crap that comes with being a ‘difficult writer.’
Sometimes, it’s not enough for the show to go on. I did recently pull the plug on a project I was really looking forward to, because it was already making me unhappy. And that’s not the point. I’m still disappointed and miffed, but better that, than insane.
This weekend, an Obie-winning playwright told me I was good. I met Karen Hines and told her about the award I was nominated for and how proud I was to lose to her, and she laughed. I made a whole room of people laugh. I don’t deserve to be f*cked around.
Yeah. A two parter. After dwelling on this for a while, I think this issue is too big to swallow in one go.
I’ve said before that I don’t personally know anyone making their living solely in theatre…and yet, by all the measurements of anyone outside of theatre, they should be. If you get a professional production — not at a festival, but in a theatre — if you’ve won awards, if your plays have been published, then you’re obviously doing really well for yourself, right? I cringe when I hear people say that.
Fact: almost no playwright, even one who gets regular productions, recognition or publication, earns enough to live on just by writing. I think most people would agree, that STINKS. I want to tell people who say this, and genuinely believe it, that Take a Bite took me five years to write. It’s been said that the audience doesn’t care how long it took you to write something — nor should they. I’ve also written a play over a weekend which was picked for NextFest in 2000. I was pondering Marathon/Sprint for months beforehand, but when it finally came out, that first draft took 10 days. You can never tell how long it’s going to take, and if you don’t have a producer giving you a deadline, you have to set your own — which inevitably gets pushed back because you also have a job. The personal return on investment in writing a play — if you look at it that way — is near zero. Or you could look at writing a play from scratch as a jumping off point. Unfortunately, I’m still looking for that “jumping off point” : it galls me to admit that nothing I’ve ever written has resulted in further work. I write a show, either nothing happens with it at all, or I produce it myself, and then I have to try writing something else.
One might speculate: “well, the reason you’re not getting paid for your work is because you’re not very good.” (Not true.) Years ago…so long ago that the artistic director has long since left and the theatre has changed its name…I got a very nice rejection letter, for a play which I’d received a grant to write, and which had been workshopped with an established director and actors. It was really, really good, and this letter said so. The AD had quite clearly read the script thoroughly, and loved it. And the letter ended with an assurance that if ever they could produce it in future, they certainly would. So. Why didn’t they?
Why don’t even apparently successful writers make enough to just write? How come so few writers even make it that far if they ARE good?
For one thing, there’s always far too little money to start with. Arts funding is the first thing to be cut when governments tighten their budgets, because it’s not something we obviously need to live. So theatres only have so much money to pay anyone who keeps the building running, let alone the artists who will actually put the show on…or write it. Theatres have to be very, very choosy in what they do. There have been some genuinely fantastic new plays done in Edmonton the last few years…and because I’m playwright, and know the playwrights myself, I know those scripts took years to get that good. Because that’s how long a great play takes. And then a theatre needs to have the time and money to do that great play. Alberta is certainly better off than a lot of places, but there’s still only so much sponsorship people can offer. And there’s only so much you can charge for tickets — otherwise audiences will say “I can stay warm at home and watch YouTube.”
And THAT is where we all need to take a break before part 2…
Tomorrow, director Maria and playwright / performer Heather will be doing the first read-through of It Started With an Allergy. Scary fun.