Selling

I wound up selling streaming video because I don’t have the disposition to wait to see what someone else “can or will do for me” – partly from nature, partly from experience. I had already learned what happens when your sculpture is selling – you have to keep doing that over and over even if you’ve got better work in you or just want to experiment. I already knew what happens when you are a black performer with a play about the Civil Rights Movement – you have to keep doing that over and over even if you’ve got a lot of other stories in you.

When I started entering film festivals, I expected to be treated like a business person. For the most part, that did not happen – in my opinion, filmmakers are treated like beggars in much the same way studio artists and small theatre artists are. Artists, who very possibly were progenitors of entrepreneurship as creator-purveyors of magical images and gods, are now expected to be supplicants who have to wait to see what someone else “can/will do for me.”

When I began to think like the former theater producer that I was for 20 years, I realized that not all film festival organizers are organized enough to be businesslike or businesslike enough to be organized. People who start film festivals likely are motivated by frustration with The Business/wanting to take charge of their own career paths; or motivated by the intense passion of wannabes; or sometimes by a bit of both.

I am not sorry for my tantrums about lack of communication from so many festivals (poor communication may be understandable, logistically speaking given manpower issues but not excused). I have seen so many art and theatre projects NOT happen over the years because available manpower did not match the size or structure of a project. “Don’t bite off more than you can chew.”

However, I am sorry, considering how many shows I arranged without even being in the same town as the venue back in the days of dialup, for not putting myself in the shoes of festival organizers, who are only human and probably most of them not obsessed overachievers who don’t sleep.

Amazon changed its online video business a few months ago to aggressively sell streaming minutes rather than individual rentals and purchases. What can I say – most of the people on this playground know that art sells by the piece. Duh. I am not being paid by the piece by Amazon. It’s not about much money. But the content is mine. I would rather give it away.

What the hell – it is about time for my tantrum / protest / action / installation on Amazon to end, anyway. I am taking most if not all of my videos off the streaming market and making them available on signed DVDs – by the piece.

THE SPINSTER, final version, will soon be available on signed DVDs on Etsy. THE SPINSTER is a performance art movie about an office worker who lives to draw in the classical style. She is obsessed with the Mannerist painter, Jacopo Pontormo. ‘Pontormo’s Diary’ is the only thing she has on her IPod. She lives alone with art supplies and rolls and rolls of paper. She mostly eats eggs & salad, just like her spiritual mentor, Pontormo.

“Sylvia Toy St. Louis is a true artist, struggling the same struggle every artist has fought. I’m right there with her. Her characterizations are true to heart and she fills the screen with words that hone toward the truth that she finally reveals.” Review by Tess Collins Ph.D.

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VOICE, a performance art web series & movie

As bipolar Psyche Lyssa Echo Smith enters therapy so her estranged husband will come back home, her psychoses begin traveling in outer space.

VOICE is a comedic, science fiction fantasy. Psyche Lyssa Echo Smith has entered therapy to “fix herself” so her estranged husband will come back home. All three characters want the same thing – control of Psyche, who is the Self . The conflict intensifies when Echo, the psychotic voice, discovers her personal star and pursues it into outer space. Each episode of VOICE is approximately 15 to 17 minutes total and includes at the end a 3 or 4 minutes long pre-production rehearsal as a special feature. By award-winning African-American filmmaker Sylvia Toy. Selected for TIME is Love Screening 10 (2017), HearteartH, Berlin (2016), International Video Art Exchange Program, Marrakech (2016) and Chemcraft Exhibit, CM Projects, London (2015

VOICE, a performance art movie is a 02:40 hours long feature film that is available on DVD on Facebook or Etsy.

VOICE a performance art movie COVER

VOICE, a performance art web series, Episodes 1-12, each contain extras and are available for streaming on Amazon.

VOICE Episode 1 The Status Quo 850005349

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Voice Episode 4 FINAL poster.jpg

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Voice Part Six.jpg

Voice Part Seven.jpg

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Voice Episode 10.jpg

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TEASERS

VOICE, a performance art movie: June 1st

 

VOICE, a performance art movie is 02:40 long. I am submitting it to Amazon and uploading it to Vimeo On Demand within the next week. The movie will be available on DVD in a few months. VOICE, a performance art web series contains extras and is considerably longer than the movie. Episode 7 will be released next month. The series will be issued in two volumes for on demand and in a 2-disc set on DVD in 2017.

 

VOICE, a performance art web series: Latest Trailer

VOICE, a performance art web series: Echo, Lyssa and the Rhythm of the Moon from Sylvia Toy on Vimeo.

Amazing what simple ambient sound with a few simple effects can create.

LANNEFF Femmes Fatales, 2016

LANNEFF Femmes Fatales 2016

Thank you, LANNEFF, and congratulations to my INDIGO LADY stars, Sapna Gandhi & Rebecca Longworth.

VOICE, a performance art web series: The End

IMG_1787-0Around this time in 2013, I was sleeping less than 5 hours most nights because of being awakened by my homeless neighbor George talking very loudly to a voice whom I found out was Robert. Robert is cruel and aggressive. Not only that, it was clear from the exchanges between George and Robert that George was sexually abused or molested at some point and that he was conflicted about his sexual identity.

It was shocking to witness this in the middle of the night. I have tried to treat George with the same respect I would treat any middle-aged male neighbor who was particularly respectful and polite, since when George is lucid enough he practices the kind of manners that boys at Sunday School had in the 1950’s. It is painful to think of your neighbors living in some sort of hell.

However, during one particularly bad night when I only got one and a half or two hours of sleep because the yelling was so wrenchingly horrible, I realized George was winning. He was calmer, more sure of himself and spoke with firmness and self-confidence to Robert. That was an amazing lesson for me. In 2009, I had realized that 1250 mgs of Depakote was not making a damn bit of difference to my mood swings – probably for over 5 years; and that my primitive version of stress management was what was keeping me out of manic misery and suicidality. I have had good experiences in therapy, but no therapist ever did the work for me. In fact, my work on myself – self awareness, mental discipline, believing I could feel better – started when I had my first depression at age three and a half. I’m not special. I am an organism made up lots of little organisms – our job is to survive. I knew nothing about death when I was three and a half, but I believed depression was trying to destroy me. Me and all those little organisms fought like sons of bitches to stay alive.

After listening to George, Robert and at some point, John (a meek, soft-spoken voice that I have only heard two or three times), it hit me like a stinging slap upside my head, George, who mostly stays out of jail and the hospital, who has enough sense to eat solid food despite frequent self-medication, who even while raving will make eye contact however briefly to say “Yes, ma’am” and “Thank you,” and who minds his own business and does not harass or verbally abuse anyone except Robert, George is keeping his life together in his own way without taking anything away from or violating anyone else. He is not the man who is so together and professional at work but yells at his kids and hits his wife just because he’s angry. He is not the woman who takes her most capable child for granted and denies her attention because she mistakes the child’s being perfect for not needing her. He is not the drunk boyfriend who beats up a baby for crying.

No, George has his shit together, relatively speaking, compared to a lot of people. We all overrun our edges at times – it is not okay to flood any other person with one’s crap.

VOICE and its backstory began forming inside my head when my sunny weather hypomania was worse than usual going into June and July 2013. I did my first story development monologue for VOICE that July. My own inner noise was so so so much worse than usual – but what I realized is that even though my voice, Susan, does not verbally beat me up any more, the noise is almost always there – loudly and piercingly and crazymakingly more so the closer the days get to July. This realization was liberating and I set off on my VOICE adventure with hope and excitement about the story that I believed would eventually develop and start storyboarding itself inside my head.

The story developed. It storyboarded itself inside my head. But I couldn’t make it happen until it became clear that it would take a number of chapters for the story to resolve. And VOICE finally has resolved – like anyone else who enters therapy, once the protagonist Psyche figured out what was really bothering her, her journey through VOICE ended and she began a new one.

VOICE Parts One through Eight are in the can. Part Nine is nearly finished. The series needs 4 or 5 more episodes to resolve; and a good part of those are done. The series will be complete by December. I, whose greatest fear is ‘running out of art,’ would be freaking out if I hadn’t already begun working on Killer Jane, whose backstory is still developing. And, also, since I learned so much about greenscreening while making VOICE and I began learning animation last year for PASSAGES, A MYTH, I am greatly encouraged to go back to work on character and effects development for DERMALIAN, a sci fi story about a race of aliens far in the future who find a collection of Shakespeare’s compleat plays during their excavation of the New York Public Library long after the extinction of humans. The Dermalians, who resemble jellyfish, choose their own gender. Their highest class are artist-anthropologists, who often develop human form and practice human customs because they find human culture so interesting. My husband, Michael Lewis and I will collaborate on DERMALIAN.

Rarely bored. Often, however, overwhelmed. Film at 11.