The Shapiro Files

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Melody Makes a Movie!

My 3-year-old daughter Melody has become very used to the sight of her mother in our home office working on video projects for her business Life Visions Productions. So it shouldn't have surprised that one day seemingly out of the blue she said to me, "I want to make a movie like Mommy." My response: "Sure, we could do that." Over the course of the day following that exchange, Melody began to outline the story of a young princess kidnapped by a grumpy wizard.

With the certainty you can only find in little kids (well, I suppose politicians as well), Melody declared that Julianne (our 2-year-old) would play the princess in peril, Marcie would play the Mommy Fairy, I would play the Grumpy Wizard ("because only boys can be grumpy wizards" she explained), and she would be the heroine, Fairy Melody.

We shot the little movie in short bursts of fast and furious activity over a couple of days. You have to work very fast with kids as young as mine because they lose interest quickly. In fact, even at that frantic pace, we lost Julianne after just one scene. Once we completed the forest sequence that opens the movie, she didn't want to have anything more to do with the project. So I did the best I could to edit around her absence. After my final edit was done, it still wasn't good enough for Melody and we ended up doing some re-shoots a week later. It turns out she's already a better filmmaker than me because the new ending is much better!

And now, without further ado, here it is:

Here's a direct link to the video on YouTube, where you can see it at a larger size and even in near-HD if your Internet connection and computing speed supports it.

By the way, be sure to keep watching after the closing credits. I put together a montage of silly dancing and funny outtakes in the spirit of closing title sequences in movies like Something About Mary and Cannonball Run.

Oh, and on a final note, we showed a rough cut of the movie to Marcie's local cousins last week. They enjoyed it so much that my two oldest nieces, Jianna and Kaylie, asked me to help them make a movie of their own with a plot that's pretty much exactly the same as Melody's. So if that all comes together, you can look forward to another video addition to The Shapiro Files.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

New Photo Albums Now Online

I'm pleased to announce that our latest collection of photo albums are now posted to my website:

Melody & Julianne: October - December 2008
Shapiro Family Holiday Visit: December 2008
Melody & Julianne: January - March 2009

These albums cover all the autumn/winter holidays, Julianne's 2nd birthday, Melody's activities at school (including my very brief return to stage acting), and a whole lot more.

Plus, don't forget to check out my photo album collection page to view all of the albums I've posted over the past number of years (including some pre-kids theater albums).

January 2009: The kids showing off their matching winter couture

Monday, May 11, 2009

Live Theater, Real-Time Disasters

A theater friend of mine recently posted a fun blog entry about how mistakes during a live performance can actually enhance the experience of seeing a show. It reminds the audience that something real is happening right in front of them, something that everyone is participating in--audience and cast alike.

While I've experienced my share of mishaps on stage, my time as a music director and pit musician was especially full of such unexpected challenges that could only happen in live theater. For example, there was the time when the nearly 50-pound digital piano I was playing slipped off its stand and ended up in my lap while I was simultaneously playing and conducting. The audience that night got to enjoy a rather surprising "cluster chord" noise coming out of the pit and a momentarily missing 1st trumpet, who left his station to rescue me.

Then there was the time I was conducting Secret Garden in Boston and during one of the quietest, most emotional moments, my second keyboardist accidentally hit the wrong button on his control panel and a Techno beat came blaring out of his amp. I could barely make it through the rest of the act due to my uncontrollable (albeit pit-appropriate-quiet) laughing.

Another favorite memory was when I doing a performance of JC Superstar in Davis and the music director/drummer/producer (ya gotta love community theater) had to deal with a mid-show technical issue and wasn't able to make it back to the pit before the next number, which happened to be in the rather unusual 7/8 time signature. Just as we were about to start the song sans-drums, much to my surprise, one of the actors suddenly appeared behind the drum kit and played the whole song in 4/4.

And finally, I should probably share at least one acting-related story. During a performance of Last Night of Ballyhoo, I was in the dressing room when fellow cast member Anne burst in with a look of panic on her face and declared, "They're ad-libbing!" She was referring to the actors on stage who had resorted to making up lines because someone was late on their entrance. I told Anne that I thought perhaps she was the one who was late. After a beat, she bolted out of the dressing room.

Moments like these remind me why there's nothing quite like live theater.