Thursday, November 20, 2014

Time to Go Back to Film

Contributed by DeLisa White

The idea was to become a filmmaker. It was the decision I made standing in line for two hours to see a movie – to be a “director.” Of films.  Studying theatre – learning how to be a theatre director was how smart people became good movie directors. That was the foundation – the place you train – the way you become one of the best. But at the time, in my tween years, movies were everything.

I went to a performing arts school (Interlochen Arts Academy) at 14 to study “the theatre.”  They have a film program now, but then – theatre was my option for teenage training. While I declared my major on the very first day of film school, those years at Interlochen studying all aspects of the theatrical tradition helped build the person I’ve become in life and art. The theatre was then and is now: a home, a sacred endeavor, an amusement park of creativity and ideas that has given me an extended family everywhere I’ve roamed since. It has become not –as I expected - just the foundation of my cinematic dreams. It has become the foundation of my life.

Lights Narrow
I have never strayed from doing theatre since those days, but did make a valiant effort to make my dent in indie film in my 20’s. Film was different then, the 16mm medium requiring a semi-full crew of volunteers, a ton of gear, time, patience and developing costs as well as printing and distribution. It was cumbersome and overwhelming and such an intensive process that by the time I had finished my feature, it no longer represented the filmmaker I’d become. I will always feel  regret for the character I wrote whose story I still feel a responsibility to tell correctly and know that I haven’t. But after that time, for effectiveness, for impact, for excellence – the play became the thing.

Over the years, I got better at it. Enough to see the impact of a story well told. Enough to feel confident that the work I engaged in was worthy of watching and made a difference to the people who witnessed it. And in the process, I became part of a community of exceptional artists whose work altered my heart and haunted my brain.

And then I got frustrated. Even my own community often missed the miracles its peers put up on the stage. The expense was prohibitive even for the successes and the reach was so limited for pieces which actually benefitted from the intimacy of its houses. I remain rather angry that performances which EVERYONE should see would only exist in memories of a few. At least they should be videotaped for posterity!  It’s so easy to videotape now!  Everything’s digital!  Why doesn’t the Showcase codes draw scads of agents looking for new talent cuz that’s where it is!  The great future of the American theatre is HAPPENING and people are missing it! Why won’t Equity let us…..


I don’t have to load a magazine or a lug around a Beta Max to shoot a scene anymore.  I don’t need to rent a Moviola. I don’t need to have four different kinds of film stock, a truckload of 1K’s and massive crew to recreate a deeply intimate moment from an original playwright, an accomplished actor, a crack design team – all supported by a (now) experienced and supportive (instead of frazzled) film director who actually values the craft of acting and the power of a great text. What Equity won’t let us video, SAG Indie will let us film.

An Appeal to the Woman of the House
All those people who told me how much they regretted missing Lights Narrow or An Appeal to the Woman of the House (nominated for a total of six IT awards this year with two wins)?
We can give thousands (maybe even hundreds of thousands?) an intimate, powerful experience on film for the same price or less of a limited Off-Broadway run for an inherently limited number of seats.

It’s time to go back to film.


DeLisa M. White has already shot Lights Narrow (for which she won Outstanding Director), currently in Post-Production. In Pre-Production is a feature film version of An Appeal to the Woman of the House. To donate/contribute to the completion of Appeal contact the producers at or for further info.

To contribute to the completion of LIGHTS NARROW contact DeLisa White at or Vincent Marano at

1 comment:

  1. So true. I'm curious, is there a way to declare a performance SAG Indie during an equity run or even outside of an equity run but with the same actors, to get around the equity rules?