Is There Too Much Planning in Improv? (and Chicago You Are Next!)

I have to be honest. There are moments when I feel I am still over-planing this documentary. I spend a fair amount of time reading and writing emails, searching the net and looking to the future to ensure everything will be fine. Does that make me a cheat?

New York you have been amazing so far. I’ve had the chance to encounter various improvisers, musicians, actors, comedians and teachers. One of the question I like to ask them is: “Is there a trick? How much of this is planned / how much of this is truly improvised?” The answers vary but they seem to all go in a similar direction. Once you are on stage, you improvise 100%. Some people have described it as a trance, some people feel like they are becoming someone else, some people simply let go of their fear and need for control.

There are rehearsal, training sessions, preparation. Preparation and planning, however, are not the same thing. You learn and prepare the structures in which you will improvise. You prepare ammunitions that you can use. In a way, you set the boundaries, you get familiar with the mechanics, the notes, the ‘rules’ well enough so that you can let go of all that thinking once the stage is set and you are performing.

Yes, I am still over-planning this a little, but I am doing it less and less. There are moments when I have frozen, I have not acted on my impulse and have missed some great opportunities. The random encounters we have had in the street and the parks, however, have helped me to find some courage. You hear something, an offer, and you act on it trying to add and build from it. Sometimes, all we need are small ‘victories’ to find some courage.

Chicago, you are next! We will be landing on the 19th of January and stay for a week. If you are based in the city (and even if you are not) see below how you can be part of this documentary. Thank you to all of you who have been giving me small boosts of confidence across the journey and I am looking forward to hearing from/meeting everyone else.

• Provide guidance.  Where should we go next, and why? The sooner you contact me with an idea, the more likely it is that we can make it happen within our means. I’d like to stay in North America at first, but I am willing to consider any corner of the globe. Where should I go next and Why?

• Provide subjects. I know what I am looking for but I do not know who will deliver it. For every improviser we will meet, I would like to record an interview and a performance. Do you know musicians, comedians, poets, dancers, painters, rappers or other kind of improvisers? Do you truly believe that they have that something special in regards to what they do? Do you know people that are obsessed with improvisation, that have studied it from a psychological or evolutionary point of view? Could you put me in contact with them? Who should I include and Why?

• Provide artistic/technical support. I might end up in your neighbourhood, you might have an extra camera sitting there, you might have some spare time on your hand on that day, and you might be tempted to join us. We are traveling light and only have one camera system and a small action camera for this project. Can you join us for a shoot?

• Provide sponsorship. We have limited funds, some would say very limited funds. We intend to continue our exploration of improvisation for as long as we can stretch our resources. Any form of sponsorship is welcome. Discounted or free travel, accommodation and food are the main concerns. We will also need venues, where we can gather, interview and improvise. All sponsors will be thanked through our social media networks and clearly included in the final work. 

• Let other people know. Share this post and its content with everyone you think might be interested. Actually, share this post and its content with everyone you know. Let other people know. 

How can you follow us along? You can keep track of our activities and movements on:

Blog: wanderinggio.com

Twitter: @improvdimprov @wanderinggio and @bezocean

Facebook: An Improvised Documentary on Improvisation and   W(A/O)NDERING Filmmaking

Instagram: @wanderinggio and @bezocean

Youtube: w(a/o)ndering

Who are we?

Giorgio Palazzi (Producer/Director)

Born and raised in Meyrin (GE, Switzerland) from Italian parents. After various jobs and experiences on set and mainly in post-production, he transitioned to a career in Filmmaking Education, in search of a more stable life. This allowed him to live and work in Australia, New Zealand, Rome, Bangkok and the UK, teaching and coordinating for various Filmmaking Departments. He recently setup a small production company, W(A/O)NDERFILM Ltd. It seems stability is not entirely what he was after, a passion is a passion, and teaching it was simply not enough. He still ‘educates’ from time to time through his filmmaking blog, waondering.com.

Sergej Bezuglov (Director of Photography)

Born and raised in Klaipeda (Lithuania). He trained as a diver and dive instructor before embarking on various underwater jobs around the world. After visiting the reefs and wildlife of the Maldives, Greece, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, he was ‘forced’ to take a camera in his hands. It was love ‘at first sight’ and his curiosity pushed him to learn about most aspects of film and video making. He was later employed by a Filmmaking School where he mainly taught cinematography and color correction. A passion is a passion, however, and teaching it was simply not enough.

Why am I doing it?

For the last couple of years I have been stuck in preparation hell. I have been working on various creative projects and they were all at “various stages of development”. It was frustrating. It is frustrating. I feel the need to do.

I look back at when I wrote this post –  Let’s Wing It: Improvisation, Film and That Something Special  – It was more than a year ago. I wrote it with a lot of admiration (and a bit of envy.) What really bugs me is how little I have done since.

I have often told my students not to invest their own money in their films. I am not sure why I used to tell them so. I was told so by my teachers and I was just repeating what I was taught. In the end, it is like saying do not invest in yourself, and that does not make any sense to me anymore.

How can you contact me? You can use the channels above or write at gio@waonderfilm.com

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