Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Confessions ...

Now that the film shooting part is completed for THE WHOLE TRUTH production, I have to tell you some behind the scenes stuff that doesn't necessarily make me the world's greatest comedy writer/director.

It has to do with uncontrollable laughter.

Namely, mine.

I had to bar myself from my own set *twice* for two scenes in which Elisabeth Röhm was performing what was in the script ... and I could not stop laughing. Everyone else was remarkably controlled, wearing muffler scarves in which to guffaw silently, looking at the ceiling as the scene played out, letting tears flow without making a sound.

I tried all those things, and even desperately attempted to "hold it in." I swear at one point I burst a very vital organ because I was in excessive merriment constricting pain the rest of the day. It was like suffering from unexpressed laughter constipation - one just can't back one's self up like that without hurting one's self.

I had to yell "action" and "cut" from a distant location holding a small monitor.

OK, in the name of full disclosure: one of those scenes was performed in a room next to where I was located. Elisabeth had a direct eye line to me and at one point got up from her chair, walked to the door staring at me, and closed it because watching me laugh sent her regaling - preventing her from saying her lines as pathetically as her character was supposed to be feeling.

It wasn't enough. She could still hear me stifling myself through the closed door, so as I say, I moved farther away and fortunately have a very loud voice so the cast and crew could hear "action" and "cut."

Seriously, do Christopher Guest and Frank Oz have these problems?

Elisabeth has a stealth laugh mode. You know she's laughing but she doesn't make a sound. My producer Larry Estes can do the same thing. Larry, his wife Debbie and I went to see Rick Overton and John Fugelsang perform stand-up at a local comedy club. There I was, falling apart at the seams, tears streaming, in genuine pain from laughing so hard, pounding the table with one hand, shielding my head from physical injury by putting my other arm on the table so it would hit only flesh.

Debbie laughed heartily, aloud.

Larry? Seriously, his body was shaking, tears were flowing, the mouth was open .. but not a sound. It was like flying owl laughter. You can't hear owls fly, you know. They're totally silent when their wings "flap." Eeery.

Now, Elisabeth can also make sound, but apparently when it's "appropriate" (whatever the hell that means), she's a stealth laugher.

Eric Roberts is an expressive, audible laugher. I'm proud to say we share that in common.

A few evenings after a long day of shooting a couple of us would get together and plan the next day of production. I would be tired and giddy and suddenly seized with fits of laughter as my colleagues would wait patiently, shaking their heads.

1st Assistant Director Megan Griffiths told passer-by Larry Estes they had no idea how to stop me.

Said Larry, "Watch this."

Tears streaming down my giggling face, I listened closely.

"Vice president Palin," he said, stone faced.

I immediately returned to work, completely focused, not a sound out of this mouth other than the business at hand.

We were all mighty impressed. As was Larry with himself.

Because of course, the election is not funny. It's urgently important that we all participate.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans have fought and died over the centuries to achieve our precious right to choose our leaders and decide our future. Women have had the right to vote in the United States only less than one hundred years. Before that, we were not considered "full" citizens and were excluded from taking part in "mainstream" politics.

I mailed my ballot last week.


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  • At 3:03 PM, Blogger The Entertainment Corner said…

    Stealth laughter ... I didn't know such a feat was possible. Guess I could accomplish it if I bit down real hard on my tongue ... or stubbed my toe ... thus resulting in tears.

    Laughter is good medicine ... either stealth laughter, or uncontrolled tears rolling down the eyes hysterical laughter. The Whole Truth sounds like it will be an overly generous dose of that good ol' medicine.

  • At 4:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    LOL- I had to hone my stealth laughing skills on this very set. Colleen, it is true that you would burst out in raucous laughter, but those of us in the courtroom had to keep all calm and collected lest we be admonished by one of the many PA's looming in our periphery. But this film, and your contagious laughter, made me crack up at every turn. I look forward to seeing this on the big screen where I can laugh as loud as I darn well please.

    Congrats on a job well done!

  • At 3:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    did Elisabeth Rohm get married? I recall reading she was to marry in October.

  • At 2:58 PM, Blogger cp said…

    Um, *if* I knew anything about Elisabeth's personal life, chances are I wouldn't say anything about it. I just don't roll that way. You know, if I actually did know anything..


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