Sunday, March 25, 2012

174. Interview with Jeremy Rishe (NYU) - Part Two (First World Problem)

This post is a continuation of the quuuuuuality interview that was conducted at Park Ave Plaza, NYC on February 3, 2012. (Thank you to Dorothy Wilcox for transcribing!)

Missed yesterday's post? Click HERE to read PART ONE.

Back to Jeremy and talking about creating his own work and  NYU Grad Acting  and just "doing it"...

Jeremy: About two or three years ago, me and three other friends decided to utilize this thing called Studio Tisch, which, again, goes in on the philosophy of NYU Grad Acting -- make your own work. It’s basically a place to showcase your stuff in the summer when the rehearsal studios and the theatres on the fifth floor at NYU are not being used. And so we decided to do August Strindberg's Creditors , and it was very empowering. I was like, “Oh, great! We did a play. We didn’t have to worry about getting cast, but we just did this great piece of classical theatre.”

And then the following winter I had an idea for a script...So I called a friend of mine who’s a filmmaker, and I said, "Here’s my idea." I said, "Let’s write a script, but let’s do it through improv. And whatever we come up with, that’s what it is. If those people want to do the project once it’s ready, awesome. If they’re not available, great. You know, we’ll ask our friends to be in it." So we started working on that, and we used, again, Studio Tisch  time to workshop that.

And then I had the idea to do a Studio Tisch Caberet, so I ended up producing that. And I started to realize,... Oh, I have all this creative energy as a producer that is just as satisfying as an actor. And actually, I can produce myself into stuff. And...

Virginia: And hire your friends!

Jeremy: And hire my friends! Exactly! Without having to make them audition....And then this last summer, (again with Studio Tisch) we produced a musical that a friend of ours wrote. Produced that. Did the Cabaret again.

But I think the biggest thing, the thing that I’m most proud of that seems to have the most momentum because it’s entirely us, and we’re actually following through on it, is this web series you mentioned, First World Problem.

Jeremy: What’s been awesome about that is... we have this awesome friend Cameron, who has a camera. And he’s very, very skilled with a camera. And the three of us, me, Stacey [Linnartz], and Cameron Bossert, basically, we decided... let’s do something.

We wanted to do something together. We didn’t know what – actually that’s not true. Stacey had the idea for the First World Problem, but it wasn’t even called  First World Problem . She said, “You guys want to do a web series?” “And I don’t know what I want it to be, but I want it to be really realistic and edgy.”

And then Cameron and I were out, he saw me in a play -- which I got cast the usual lines, and it was very satisfying -- So actually, if I hadn’t gotten cast in that play, Cameron may have not come that night. We may have not gotten that drink where we’re joking around, and he’s like, “Ah, it’s like a first world problem.” We’re like... maybe that should be what we do with Stacey! And I think we asked Cameron if he’d be willing to film it and be our director. We had some dinky little camera. But Cameron's like, “Yeah, I’ll even bring my camera over.” And he’s got a really nice camera, so we’re like “awesome.” 

...Anyway, it’s almost a year later since we started filming these episodes. And the three of us realize we have like a really strong creative vibe...that I think is going to stretch beyond this First World Problem.

“Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.” - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (Playwright, Poet, & Novelist. 1749-1832)

Jeremy: But the fact that we have the drive – and I think like we each bring a different gift to the thing that I think makes it intriguing, and we have follow-through. We’re actually shooting stuff. It’s getting edited. We put it up there.

We shot a movie with these same characters in December. We're submitting it to Tribeca....Cameron is doing all the editing. But it’s extremely satisfying.

The part about it that is like frustrating is like, you know, we’re not making money on it yet. Whereas when someone hires you – and this isn’t always the case -- usually when someone hires you , there’s some kind of pay because someone else is worrying about the money. In our case, it’s like, "Where do we find the money? How do we get the money to come to us?"

Virginia: Right.

Jeremy: But I think we’re in a very good time on the planet earth where as a creative team, there are ways to get money, and there are ways to get attention that didn’t even exist 8 years ago or 5 years ago.

Virginia: I’m intrigued to learn more about the origins of First World Problem. Other than Studio Tisch, how do you feel that your training and experience and the community at NYU has helped you in being able to realize this dream?

Jeremy: What’s funny is... I actually think NYU – personally I felt like it got me more ready for this kind of work than they did for auditioning. Cause there was an audition class but it’s very hard to mimic the reality of auditioning. It’s really hard to mimic that in school the way it is in the business.... I don’t know why. I guess cause–

Virginia: Psychologically you know that it’s not real?

Jeremy: Right... But it’s easy to train people to create their own work...So what was your question again?

Virginia: How did your training at NYU help to support the web series that you’re doing now?

Jeremy: What I’m doing now? Well, I mean, I guess – I was just talking about this last night with Stacey...Well, I was sort of pondering...

NYU was a big commitment. It’s three years, a lot of money, and sometimes I’d wonder, I’m like, "Did I really get anything out of that or was I just like looking for bragging rights just to say I went to NYU?"

I teach part time to support this creative habit which has yet to be a source of income. I hope it will. Did I just get a master’s so I could teach to support this habit? But I was thinking to myself, cause now that I’m doing some teaching, when you’re teaching theatre, what you’re doing is having someone else doing all the work, and you can look at it and give your opinion about it. And we’re realizing like all this power we gave to our teachers of like, “Did you like what I did?” kind of BS because they’re not going to be DOING anything. You know? You’re doing all the work and they’re just giving you their opinion because they are -- I want to call them -- they’re an expert. Whatever that means. They’re an experienced artist.

Virginia: Right. They’ve seen a lot of work.

Jeremy: So they're giving you their experienced artistic opinion, right. And they see a lot of young people come through and do the same bullshit. And when they see something that is not the same bullshit, they’re like, "Oh, that was you. That was something that only YOU, I think, could do."  You know?... And still it’s just their opinion.

Virginia: Right.

Jeremy: And with Stacey, I was just sort of pondering... What’s the use of that experience then? And I think that IS the use of that experience.

You’re going to learn what you’re going to learn whether you go to grad school or not, I think. I think that’s kind of how life is.

Especially as an actor, it’s all about just doing it. And grad school is all about just doing it. And you’re in a place where you have nothing to do but the thing you want to do. Whereas if you’re out in the world, then you’re going to juggle. But if I didn’t go to grad school, I’d be playing the same game...

And so what I think NYU did is... it was just three years to focus on the thing, "Is this what I want to be doing?" And sort of get "the nasty bits" out in an environment where it doesn’t matter that the nasty bits are being explored. What I mean by “nasty bits” is -- Boring, boring, boring. This is stupid. Your idea is going nowhere.

Virginia: So that that never ever happens to you now?

Jeremy: Um, you know what? This is what we were talking about...No, it doesn’t!... And it’s not because suddenly I’m like this amazing person, but it’s because I realize what it takes to collaborate. It’s doesn’t mean that everyone is going to like what we've come up with, but –

Here’s what we were talking about – 'Cause when you’re in school, the teacher says, "All right, go create – You have all week. So when I see you next, you’re going to have done your assignment: The Tree Grows By The Sidewalk. All right? That’s the thing you’re going to create."  And everyone’s like, "The Tree Grows By The Sidewalk ? That's the assignment?...All right, see you in a week."

And you’re sitting there looking at five other people. You’re like, "The Tree Grows By The Sidewalk ? What the fuck?!"  And... everybody has an idea. And sometimes you’re in a group where no one is listening to anyone else’s idea. They’re only focusing on their idea. Or everyone is saying "yes" too much, cause everyone is trying to accommodate everybody. Or everyone’s afraid to say, "That’s a really stupid idea. Why don’t we do this instead?" You know.

Virginia: Yeah.

Jeremy: And you spend like three years like that...I look back now and I’m like, "Why was it so hard to go away and do  The Tree Grows By The Sidewalk  or whatever?"

If someone said to me, go create Land of the Rocks in a week, I’d be like, "Awesome, let’s go."  We’d probably create a really awesome Land of the Rocks . Some people might like it; some people might not, but it would be US. It would be COOL. It would be INVENTIVE. It wouldn’t be like the teacher’s sitting there saying, "What the fuck did you do for a week? This is the worst. This is boring."

Virginia: Right.

Jeremy: Seriously – there was one time in the movement class when we went on for like 15 minutes, and finally the teacher was like, I’m just going to stop you because this is clearly not going anywhere...

(OOOOOOh, but it is going somewhere!!!! More Jeremy tomorrow. We'll talk about collaboration and pretending-to-be-something-you're-not and building confidence and reasons to go for your MFA annnnnnnd more First World Problem! Whew!!!)


P.S. Check out some of my FAVES below...  (Subscribe to the First World Problem YouTube Channel by CLICKING HERE. )

A major First World Problem...Subway train etiquette.

And how about...Unemployment?

Or perhaps the power struggle to prove that Yesterday is not a Beatles song? Watch out! This may threaten to destroy the foundations of your entire relationship.

Or maybe it's time to have "the talk" with your significant other?  

Or you're having trouble dealing with migraines?

Or are you consuming too much corn syrup?


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