“2226,” a new story begins

2226 is a movie about a woman, Ruby, whose life is falling apart because she is being transformed by her environment.

Ruby works with her lawyer husband, Fred, as paralegal to his practice. She has a Bar license herself, but never had the fire to practice herself. For three years after passing the Bar exam, she worked as a paralegal for a Civil Rights lawyer in Omaha, Nebraska until she met Fred, who was in the process of setting up his own plaintiffs’ practice.

Fred had worked as a criminal lawyer and become a darling of the prisoners’ rights front in Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Kansas, when a catastrophic personal injury lawsuit fell in his lap. The attorneys who had initiated the lawsuit died in the crash of a Piper while flying back to Omaha from a fishing trip. Fred, who often had associated cases with them, took over several of their files, including the catastrophic personal injury (a motorcycle/truck accident in which the motorcyclist’s right leg and right were sheared off) case. That case was early in the discovery process and proved to be gold for Fred, who had just gotten married and acquired a paralegal who grew up in her own father’s (mostly insurance defense practice), where she proved to be a gifted legal writer.

When “2226” opens, Ruby and Fred have temporarily transplanted to San Francisco, where they have been working on a class action (employment discrimination) that involves plaintiffs and attorneys from all over the country.

This proves to be a life-changing experience for Ruby, who grew up an only child in Omaha surrounded, except for her family’s Mexican housekeeper, by people who were just like her – i. e., the same stuff, the same education, the same expectations – until she met Fred, whose civil rights/peacenik parents transplanted to Lincoln, Nebraska in the 1960s. Ruby has never seen poverty and she is stunned by the homelessness and human suffering that she is witnessing in San Francisco. We find out early in the story that she is constantly videoing herself and her surroundings – i.e., on the way to work, whenever she runs an errand, always.

The longer she learns about poverty, the more questions and conflict she has about her own lifestyle and upbringing. She is so distracted that it affects not only her work, but, also of course, her marriage.

Right now, I have 3 potential inciting incidents, two of which will have to be killed of course. I think the strongest one involves their dispute about a homeless woman Fred and Ruby see almost every day. And because that character is based on a real person in my own neighborhood, whom I have observed deteriorate over time, that character also is probably a great candidate for a controlling metaphor.

Once I have a script, I will look for a Ruby (probably between 35 and 40) and a Fred slightly older. They have 2 or 3 lawyer friends who are also temporarily transplanted, various ages, and the homeless woman, mid-40s. I have my eye on a bar in my neighborhood as the gathering place of the transplanted lawyers. Because this is an ensemble piece, I am going to take my time and not even think about production until this time next year.


Theo, Pony & The Spinster

I made so many new artist friends while making this movie, that I’ve decided to keep it free. I will explain by telling a story by way of analogy.

During my (extremely!) brief career as a novelist, I started a book about young man who was a closet poet. Theo (as in “Theosaur Poet”) owned old-fashioned, beat up upholstered furniture with lots of holes in them. When he was about 17 and a high school football hero, he felt compelled to write poetry – lots and lots of poetry – which really embarrassed him. So, as soon as a poem was finished, he would fold it up into as small a packet as he could make and bury it in one of the holes in his stuffed furniture. When he graduated from college with a paralegal degree, he packed up all his poetry-packed chairs and sofas, got a job in a Wall Street law firm and moved across the river to Hoboken, New Jersey.

In the early 1980’s, when I myself lived in Hoboken (way before it was gentrified!), artists had begun moving there after being priced out of NoHo, SoHo and Tribeca. There were dozens of empty or mostly empty warehouse spaces where punk, slam, etc., bands played. In the first chapter of my novel, Theo is having a birthday dinner at home with his much older, lawyer girlfriend, who has been trying to get him to move in with her and get married (biological clock going tick, tick, tick!). He does not want to get married and in fact has secretly been spending time in cafes looking for other artists and trying to come out of his creative shell. They have a big blow up and he walks out on her.

He wanders aimlesslessly and finds himself in front of an building that looks like it should be condemned, but is full of punkers, loud music, smoke (not all of it cigarette), and the smell of cheap whiskey. A girl with whitish-pink hair that looks like a giant cotton candy asks him for a light, which of course he does not have. She tells him her name is Pony and she sings with the band, but has had a disagreement with them and is looking for something else to do. Pony picks Theo up (easily, as he is totally out of his depth with just about any woman with a strong personality) and goes home with him (I forgot to mention that he is handsome as a male fashion model and very athletic-looking and tall). The lawyer girlfriend has left the apartment without taking any of the champagne she brought with her.

Theo is not much of a drinker and winds up falling asleep before anything happens with Pony. When he wakes up in the morning, his leather bomber jacket, the hundred dollar bills that kept in his desk drawer AND, a pile of unfinished poems that he also was keeping in that drawer until he finished them and folded them up to stash them. Having never had anyone see or hear any of his poems, he gets hysterical and calls in sick to work for days as he spends all his time trying to find Pony and his poems.

One night he is searching for her in the warehouse district and he hears one of his poems being sung somewhere above street level. The day we read this chapter in the novelwriting class, it was as if Theo had come to life and was with us. Why? Because all of us were creatives who could identify with the crazy mix of feelings that most creatives would have in his situation.

The Spinster, unlike Theo, is an untroubled, content creature who is comfortable in her solitude and with her obsession. As I blogged her story on Vimeo for six months, my fellow artists in the FB neighborhood where I spend a lot of time seemed to “own” her and bring her to life as one of their own much like my novelwriting classmates made Theo one of their own. It doesn’t seem quite right to ever put her on sale. She doesn’t belong only to me.

Sylvia Toy’s pre-production Storyboard for “The Blue Lady,” a performance art movie

This storyboard represents the pre-production process of “The Blue Lady.” The storyboard is nearly complete. Some remaining scenes will be added by text description in panels along the Timeline; a few more scenes will be improvised and added to the storyboard. The movie will be approximately 70 minutes. We will not publish the last scene until after post-production.

The Blue Lady is a story is about what happened the night Master died and the relationship between two slaves in 1830 South Carolina, LaLi, Elizabeth, and The Master’s wife, their mistress, Missy. This is a revisionist tale about slavery from a female point of view. It is a period piece, which happens over the course of one day, morning into dusk. The movie will be naturally lit with daylight, candles and oil lamps. The sets are simple interiors with minimal furniture. The art direction of this movie was inspired by 17th & 18th century Northern European painters and Ingmar Bergman’s “Cries & Whispers.” The dramaturg is Michael Lewis, the director of “running out,” who is also co-producer & director of “The Blue Lady.” We are looking for a vacant or nearly vacant old farmhouse north of San Francisco to shoot the movie in. This is a no budget movie. We have spent approximately $1,000 since December 2013 when the process began. We are shooting on an HG 10 and an HG 20 and likely also will use them for production. We have an agreement with fiddler Gary Sizemore to use his YouTube version of “Possum Up a Gum Tree” for the closing music. Other found sound and images were found in the Public Domain.

Blogging a new eBook: The Backstory of Artifice


Sylvia Toy THE BLUE LADY-rehearsing Missy b Ⓒ 2014This pdf, The Backstory of Artifice, is my writings about acting, improvisation and performance art, illustrated with favorite stills from my performance art movies. I am having so much fun making movies, that I do not have time to make it eBookable. I have decided not to sell it and to make it free and downloadable  here, instead.