Eight Years of Lez Bomb

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After eight years, my first feature was completed yesterday afternoon. EIGHT YEARS! I realized I drafted the first version of the script that long ago, and it’s taken a near decade to make the film a reality. The editor, the sound mixer, and I listened for any last minute sound adjustments before we printed the mix. I was reluctant to say “Okay. We’re done.” But the moment came, and we finished.

Looking back at the eight years, I can see the many miraculous dots it took to connect in order to reach this moment. There were countless seemingly random encounters that led to relationships, that led to miracles and doors opening. But I think the most important factor in the eight years, was in fact, the amount of time it took to make Lez Bomb. Had I made the film eight years ago, it would have been a very different film. The first draft was confused, emotional, in turmoil, and jam-packed with all the emotions of coming out. What the eight years allowed was the necessary time it took for me to settle into my sexuality with comfort, pride, a sense of ease, and the ability to look back at the process through a comedic lens.

Coming out seemed one of the most difficult things I had to navigate. Dealing with expectations, my own being the loudest, and my future not matching with what I had imagined, was a challenge. But it ended up being the greatest gift. It’s through experiences that force us to confront who we are and what happiness personally means to our own unique soul that force us to grow into the best version of ourself.

Over the past eight years and well over a hundred drafts of Lez Bomb, I can most certainly say that coming out may have took some time, but was well worth the wait and reflection. It’s given me the strength to tell a story and hopefully spread a bit of love and laughter.

Script Writing Lessons

 

I went off and got married, disappeared on a honeymoon, and haven’t blogged in forever. On the honeymoon, my wife and I had an amazing adventure in Bali. One of the days, we ventured off to visit a healer. Our driver took us to a village where we waited an hour for locals to chat with this healer, until it was finally our turn for a little divine intervention. One of the things he told me that’s chimed in my head since was – I need to make decisions and stick with them, and not get stuck in the chaos of “what ifs” and the crippling tangents our mind is so naturally inclined towards that create stagnation, and prevent action.

I’m in the middle of a rewrite on a script I’m developing with a company. While digesting the notes, I see my main character, my protagonist, doesn’t really know what she’s doing in all the scenes. Yes, the scenes and dialogue are funny. But she doesn’t always have a clear objective. She’s lacking the decisiveness I sometimes struggle with in my own life.

Story structure is a wonderful reminder that we’re all the hero of our own journey, and have the option to choose the narrative we want to tell. The problem is, we often find ourselves reactionary – life happens at us, and then we react, instead of us creating the space for life to happen, giving ourselves a moment to observe, and then actively choosing our next step on the narrative we long to tell. I loved choose-your-own-adventure-books as a child. It’s a mystery why I so often forget to choose my own adventure.

My biggest regret in life would be to be on my death bed and look back at my life as if it were a script and realize my protagonist didn’t always know her objective and didn’t always make clear decisions that would lead her on the journey she wanted to embark upon.

Instead of getting stuck in the stagnation of the world happening around us, lets gently reminder one another that habitually reacting to the chaos doesn’t give us the space and opportunity to give meaning to the chaos, and decisively choose our next step, in a way that helps us actively create the story we’d like to tell on this adventure of life.

Girl Night Stand

Girl Night Stand

The internet has been a crazy landscape these past two weeks for one of my projects. About a week ago we released my short film GIRL NIGHT STAND on After Ellen and had some incredible feedback. Everyone loves an awkward one night stand. Sexuality aside, those confusing emotions are universal. It’s the universality I’m interested in exploring. At the core, we’re all humans trying our best. And through comedy, an audience can be united in laughter.

After another featured article on Bustle, and then getting featured on Elle.be, I have to say – I’m just floored.  I’m beside myself with gratitude for the amazing support I’ve received from complete strangers helping and encouraging my feature Lez Bomb and the Lez Bomb team’s endeavor to get the film made.

Girl Night Stand from Jenna Laurenzo on Vimeo.

As most things in my life – this adventure started in a yoga class. I was deeply conflicted about directing Lez Bomb. Instead of focusing on my breathing and my practice on the mat, I was mentally going back and forth about whether or not I should direct the feature. I had gone through many conversations with potential directors, and there was always some reason that got in the way. I finally had to ask myself – should I just direct the piece myself? I had written and produced so much content in the past, and I had directed before.  But a feature?! My feature.  That’s scary.

My yoga teacher asked us all to grab two blocks and then asked us to kick up into handstand on the blocks.  I found myself afraid of kicking up.  But why? We were against the wall. Then I realized I didn’t want to fall – in front of who? The teacher? The class? “Oh my God, I’m afraid of falling! I’m afraid of failing!” I kicked up into handstand on those two blocks – successfully. I just sucked it up and mustered up the courage – who the hell cares if I fall?! And that’s how I decided to direct my feature. And short. I realized I was the only one holding myself back.

Thankfully I found two blocks, a handstand, and a little boost of courage. I’m terrified of directing an entire feature.  But sometimes we just need to confront fears – especially when they are self created, and kick upside down to gain new perspective.

#Hiking and #handstand. Happy fall day. @aineod8

A post shared by Jenna Laurenzo (@jennalaurenzo) on

Ride the Wave

 

SURFvenice_Jul202014_3665During a yoga class, recently, I found myself asking why the hell I was putting myself through anguish after we had been holding a posture for what felt like eternity.  “Why did I willingly show up for this hell?!”  But once the drama in my head calmed down, a thought bubbled up to the surface: Because it’s good for you.  That same weekend a friend of mine took me surfing for the first time.  It was a whole lot of falling before I finally stood up.  When exhaustion set in and a giant wave smacked me in the face, again I asked myself “What the hell am I doing!?”  But after regrouping and sitting on the board looking out into the ocean I thought, “This is a learning experience.  I’m game to play with the waves.”

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Often enough we relish in the drama.  Our patience is tested, our minds start to yell, and then our emotions join the party.  Before we know it we’re distracting ourselves with so many fantastically developed narratives about what’s going on instead of sitting in what’s actually going on.  Sitting in a posture for a extended period of time allows us to confront ourselves, head on.  Once the muscles start aching and sweats falling in the eyes, we come face to face with our threshold and are given a choice.  Do I flee from the posture by either jumping out of the pose and/or distracting myself with a novel worth of thoughts?  Or do I hold steady and allow the sensation to keep me engaged in the present moment to explore and find a way to find ease within that moment?

I was forced to write 7 drafts of a single script within a week.  My patience was tested and I literally wanted to punch someone.  But my mom said something pretty wise: “Sweetie, at least with each new draft it gets better.”  It was true.  The story and comedy came to life in a more focused and specific way with each new draft.  And now the final script is exactly what it should be [of course there will always be tweaking]. The excessive rewriting gave me the opportunity to stick with the process through the frustration and eliminate all that didn’t best serve the execution of telling the story.

Each day we have the opportunity to practice staying present through the waves of sensation we find ourselves riding.  Through the waves we’re given an opportunity to learn something about ourselves and then we can move on, hopefully a little lighter, slowly removing those storylines and tangents that don’t best serve the story we’re trying to tell.

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Don’t flee from the wave.  Ride it! Maybe even fall a little.  Every time you stand back up you’re bringing newfound knowledge.  When fatigue’s set in, remember beneath the wave there’s an all pervading calm we can always return to.

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Freedom within Boundaries

It took me a long time to call myself a writer.  I don’t like labels.  Took me an even longer time to identify with any part of the sexuality spectrum for the same reason.

I’m in pre production for my feature LEZ BOMB, which I started writing over three years ago and just Friday I finally had my protagonist say “I’m gay.”

While I don’t like labels, I must admit I’ve come to appreciate the focus that comes with the specificity of labels.  I’ve always resisted labels and structure, because they felt limiting.  Once my yoga teacher asked me what it is I want.  “I want to be able to fly and do the impossible.”  His response: “Well, both entail limitless potential.”  Our conversation brought me right back to him telling me to do my Sadhanna, which requires specific poses, breathing techniques, etc. done every day.  I was right back to the structure I wanted to break free from.  However, once I dedicated myself to repeating the same poses, over and over, I found that because of the routine of it, it forced me to dive into each pose, every day, from a different space.  Approaching a pose over and over again, and figuring out how to utilize the structure of the body within the structure of the poses, forces creativity.  Within the rigid structure, there’s a world of creative freedom.

The same principle applies to screenwriting.  I resisted the formula of screenwriting books for a long time.  I just wanted to write and let the magic happen.  With the lack of structure, my writing had a lot of tangents.  My scripts moved in no particular direction because they moved in every direction.  But once I allowed structure to enter my process, that’s when the magic happened.  Just a little structure and straight lines bounding my creativity helped focus the energy, and then within that bound space, there was far more freedom to play.

…Bringing me right back to sexuality and relationships.  Asking the question: “Who am I attracted to?”  “Who do I want to be with?”  Being specific, honest, and direct with one’s self opens the door to boundless opportunity because it’s clear and specific.  A pair of binoculars will allow for a breathtaking view at whatever landscape’s out in front of you, but focusing on the particular details of that landscape (a tree, a bird, etc.) will allow for the landscape to come alive in a far more rich way.  And going further and further within that detail will unlock a world of potential and awe.

Being specific doesn’t bound you from infinite possibilities.  There’s infinite possibilities for you to discover within the focal point.

WATER WITH LEMON

It’s time for a new web series!

As the fourth of July passed, I couldn’t help but reminisce about last year’s hot, sweaty, 4th of July shoot.  It was the first day filming PARKER & MAGGIE.  Mistake number one: shooting on a day everyone has off, is partying AND there are fireworks.  Sound was a challenge!  Number two? Get a make up artist – especially when people’s faces are sweating off.

A year has past, and I’m all the more wiser.  With that said, I’m bringing a new project to the table: WATER WITH LEMON.

Working in a restaurant can really suck the life from you.  It’s downright demoralizing at times.  I’ve literally taken 30 second breaks to cry in the bathroom, regroup, and get grounded.  BUT I’ve taken the experience and turned it into the inspiration for this web series.  The various bars and restaurants I’ve worked at over the past few years have served as inspiration.  The people I’ve encountered, worked with, argued with,  given attitude to, received attitude from, and wanted to punch, have been some of my greatest teachers.

Restaurant work feels like team sports.  Everyone bitches about the work, the boss/coach, and the demands.  But at the end of the team, the teams laughs about the struggles they endured together, and how NO ONE ELSE understands.

I want to bring to life the humor of that sentiment.  And so was born, WATER WITH LEMON.

Please “like” on FACEBOOK to keep posted on the project.

And most importantly, help this idea become a reality.  Become a backer on KICKSTARTER.

I can’t tell the story without your help, and I can’t begin to express my gratitude for those who’ve already supported.

Flight of 2012

On New Years Day I stumbled upon this quote at a Cuban Restaurant in Jersey City.  The food was “eh” but the quote struck my fancy.  So did my company; but that’s another tale for another day.  In case your eye sight is struggling: “Many times I feel like…I need to fly!!! But then…I forget…I don’t have wings!!! But there is something about it that I just can’t stop trying!!! Again….Again…And Again!!!”  The quote felt near and dear to my heart, so I needed to know more about it’s source: Duda Penteado.  I wondered who this “Duda” was as I ate my questionable food.

Google delivered the message: DUDA PENTEADO

I read through his biography and came across the reason for the serendipitous brunch moment.  My eyes landed on the quote to lead my mind to this one: “Philosophically, my mission as an artist is to empower and to create dialogue about difficult issues…A great artist has the ability to capture the imagination of future generations and say something of direct relevance to them…my art pieces are not an end in and of themselves, but a means of arriving at a fundamental human truth: the struggle of the carnal and the divine in our lives.”

When people ask me why I like acting and writing, I may just send them this.

While I’m still working on my “mission,” the word choice of Duda’s has been a beautiful kick in the ass towards the winning field goal.

I’m ready for my flight into 2012. Happy New Year folks.