About the Creator…
ANNE MARIE CUMMINGS moved to Los Angeles only four years ago after spending 30 years in the theatre as a professional actress (working with Tony-award winning directors); a playwright (Off and Off-Off-Broadway); and director and artistic director of her own theatre company. In its final years, her Upstate New York theatre company moved from a black box theatre into a movie theatre where she began to film her plays and the plays of well-known playwrights. This was the beginning of her new direction launching her avant-garde theatre work off the stage directly onto the screen.
To help her reach her full potential as a writer, when Cummings arrived to L.A., she, for the first time in her life, formally studied writing with acclaimed television writer, Ron Osborn (TV show “Moonlighting”) and wrote her first feature, “Eat Bitter, Taste Sweet.” This culinary romantic comedy has since been picked up by Primetime Emmy-nominated director, Wendey Stanzler (“Sex and the City”). However, it was Ron’s hard-core teaching style, and inspiration from playwrights such as Caryl Churchill and Neil LaBute, that pushed Anne Marie to churn out “Conversations in L.A.” on her very own.
With “Conversations in L.A.”, Cummings has intuitively brought together all of her vast experiences as an actress, writer, and director by organically merging her vision of theatre onto film with unique, single-camera episodes – all highly choreographed and all quite daring in their own right. No stranger to embracing an entrepreneurial spirit, she paid for this entire project by taking a huge financial leap of faith – – selling her home in Upstate New York.
Cummings began acting on stage at the age of six, and after performing in a dozen or more professional plays by the age of 16, she attended the highly acclaimed drama program at Carnegie Mellon University. During her summers at Carnegie, she continued to study theatre at Northwestern University and the British American Drama Academy in Oxford, England. There she studied with some of the greats such as Simon Callow, Jeremy Irons, the late Peggy Ashcroft, and the late Sir John Gielgud.
About the Story…
“Conversations in L.A.” is about Michelle Macabee, an unemployed, menopausal woman who goes through the rewards and difficulties of redefining herself at midlife. When she meets the sexy and much younger Hispanic – Gus Borrero – they have an unexpected connection they discover is worth fighting for, despite the challenges of their age difference, their pasts, and the strong opinions of friends, family, and everyone they have conversations with in the City of Angels.
~ Immediate Vision Productions
How the One-Shot is Done…
After Anne Marie maps out the actor blocking, she, line-by-line, writes out the camera blocking in the script, breaking up the episode into sections (or beats). Then she teaches her camera blocking to the Director of Photography, beat-by-beat, until he has that memorized.
For Season Three, Anne Marie’s sole DP was Sebastian Heinrich (as seen in the photo). Once Sebastian learned Anne Marie’s detailed blocking for 20-to-30-minute episodes, then, while working with the actors (or sometimes stand-in’s) on location, they together created the angles, frame-by-frame. The next step in the process – to select the camera settings that would best suite the actor and camera blocking. During the final phase before filming, the finishing touches were to determine the pace and rhythm of camera moves alongside the actors.
This may sound straightforward and relatively easy, but make no mistake, plenty of trial and error was a necessity to finding “it”!
“We learn from failure, not from success!” ~ Bram Stoker