WEEKEND COLUMN: THE JOYS OF FILMING A SHOESTRING-BUDGET TV SHOW ON THE UWS


Alex Spieth shot much of her new show on the UWS.

By Alex Spieth

I’m Alex Spieth, a writer and actor, who has lived in the Upper West Side for the past 4 years (109th….home of the Obama and currently some dudes selling drugs). When you last heard from our heroine, she was reviewing the locations of the Upper Best for the first season of her show [Blank] My Life (watch trailer here). In the journey to create the second season (filmed from October to March…although insurance ran out in February…oops), she again went out to see set and conquer all the places one can film at for under 200 for a 6 hour period.


The man playing Alex’s boyfriend (only on TV!).

Locations Used: 

109th Sidewalk between Broadway and Amsterdam: Filmed a meet-cute section with the dude who later becomes my series boyfriend (SPOILER: we are not in love in real life). Filming on streets is precarious because of sound issues, so you will have to take like literally 45 times in the attempt to get a 15 second section with clean audio (look this article isn’t just clever!! There is real advice here!!)

The street felt bitter because it was the route I had walked on Tuesday where I cast my vote for Hillary Clinton. We filmed on a Friday.

Pros: 

–No one in NYC literally cares if you are doing anything, and, in fact, are usually totally kind and interested in what you are doing.  My advice is to get a sign, so people can read it.

Cons: 

–Slightly cold on the day we shot

–Random Dude gets a little too interested in me, and one of the directors has to act like “She has way more important things to attend to!” to get me out of the conversation.

Three Stars for the Memories and Dreams of What We Could Have Been

1020 Bar: Filmed on a Monday in December.  I connected with the owner, and there has truly never been a kinder man. 1020 Bar has long been a home to those Columbia Students and….people looking to get with them. During the filming, both a member of my crew and I connected over the fact that we had hooked up with Columbia grads due to the magic of this bar.

Pros:

–In true, indie film fashion, I had bought lots of curtains to tape to the windows to appear as if it’s night outside (“Ah! The Magic of Cinema!”) and in true, indie film fashion I had underestimated….how many curtains…we needed.  The porter came to my rescue and provided me with another curtain.  THANK YOU, THANK YOU.

^^Upon wrap of the season, my camera guy said “I do have to say one thing about you…you’ve been really great at blacking out areas.”

I hope that such a statement is repeated when I win an Oscar. Or maybe when anyone ever says….anything nice about me.

Cons: 

–We were all totally sober during filming and were tragically not able to be loose enough to hook up with each other.

Five Stars for being Kind, Sincere, and that’s Literally All.  Love you, 1020.

110 Underground Subway Stop: Filmed a section where my series BF tells me he loves me.  NOTE: I was totally terrified because I was super afraid the MTA Police would ask for a permit.  NOTE: No one said literally anything, and my jumpiness proved to have no effect on the general public.

Pros: 

–This is a great subway stop! I’m a huge fan of the general smell and atmosphere.  While some might prefer 116/103 for their Uptown/Downtown crossover purposes, I prefer to be stuck on one side and have to deal with the consequences of your choice. BRAVA 110.

Cons: 

–We were on the side without the Pop Shop that sells Swedish Fish, so I didn’t get to scratch that particular itch.

Two Stars for Fear.

Home at CPW and 88th: Filmed a section where a I realize the kid I baby-sit is cheating on me with another baby-sitter.  The director allows us to film at this childhood home and man, oh man, did I desire to return to Junior High.  Life was sweet at Interlochen Arts Camp and getting awards saying, “Best Actor Goes to Alex Spieth”** rather than…getting emails that says, “Please Stop Emailing Me, I am not Your Agent, I am just an Agent for Other People.” Man, did I miss being told I was great, and it not being totally weird to have headshots of yourself framed because your rents are proud of you.  Oh man….

What was I saying?

Pros: 

–Awesome home, sound, and there was literally AN ELEVATOR.

–Beautiful shots for B-roll (Note to New Filmmakers! B-Roll is a great trick!! If you mess up continuity, you can ALWAYS cut to a shot of a lamp to make people forget what the former shot looked like!!!)

Cons: 

–It was the day of the NYC Marathon, so it was scary to get there because I’ve always been intimidated by large crowds of people trying to get anywhere too quickly.

Four Stars for Location and Hospitality.

**Did Y’all know I’m literally the 2008 Winner of the Maddy Award for Excellence in Rep Theatre awarded by Interlochen Arts Camp?  If you have kids looking at performance arts theatre camps…allow me to advise you.  And by that I mean say, Go To Interlochen.

ABSURDITY, ART, COLUMNS | 14 comments | permalink
    1. Amanda Hugnkiss says:

      I like how the author specifically goes out of her way to make clear she doesn’t date an Asian man. #whitegirlshit

    2. Chase says:

      i can barely understand what is being said in this article… reads more like a poorly written advertisement.

    3. Rebecca says:

      drop “literally”

    4. I-Generation says:

      Me Me Me

    5. johnny culver says:

      No clue what is being discussed…

    6. Katie says:

      I can’t believe I actually (“literally”) read this whole thing. At first I thought it was a satire article mocking Millenials – but nope! FML indeed, if this type of thing is the future of our beloved city.

    7. Ethan says:

      Here’s some advice: when writing a stream of consciousness piece, it still must be crafted to read coherently, not “literally.”

    8. Joe Rappaport says:

      I always enjoy reading your commentary. By the way, the guys selling drugs were there for sure when Obama lived on 109th Street too (he was on the block between Amsterdam and Columbus). Probably different guys, though. (I lived on the Broadway-Amsterdam block when Obama was living on 109th; didn’t know him, though.)

    9. Sarah says:

      C’mon, it’s supposed to be light-hearted. God forbid someone not take their art Ultra Seriously.

      And I’m pretty sure the boyfriend disclaimer was based on the hotness, not the Asian-ness.

    10. Coucha says:

      …and “totally.” And while we’re at it, “awesome could go too.”

    11. Bruce Bernstein says:

      i thought it was kind of funny.

      a stream of consciousness about filming an indie film on the UWS. good for her.

    12. Kev says:

      “No one in NYC literally cares if you are doing anything, and, in fact, are usually totally kind and interested in what you are doing.”

      Which? We don’t care, or we’re interested in what you are doing?

    13. Sid says:

      This probably should have contained a “Sponsored” tag. It’s essentially an advertisement for her show.