Focus on the process. That’s the theme Jake Jarvi and I kept coming back to this weekend.
Jake is the writer, director, actor and producer of Platoon of Power Squadron (PoPS). He spent the weekend in Los Angeles because his webseries was among the five nominees for top Indie in this year’s Streamy Awards. The Streamy Awards honor the best in online video (particularly YouTube) and the creators behind it. Jake also directed Jack, which won Wes Craven’s Studio 360 Scary Short Film Fest.
I had the pleasure of working with Jake in episodes 7 Catalyst and 8 Fight of PoPS playing Riley, an eager-to- please suit who’s part of Damon’s evil gang. If you recall from my previous post, Jake wrote ep 8 just before I was set to leave for Los Angeles. He gave me the option of writing Riley out of the script. I postponed my trip for two weeks to shoot the episode. And I’m glad I did. The response to Riley and his demise has been fantastic and overwhelmingly positive.
PoPS unfortunately didn’t take home Streamy gold. But that’s not why Jake created the show. In his own words:
“When I was auditioning in L.A., I basically got called in for three character types: Stoners, geeks, or pedophiles on cop shows. The third one only happened a few times, but the fact that it happened more than once was an eyebrow raiser. I started acting because I wanted to be a plucky hero or a dangerous antihero. Nobody gets into acting because they’re dying to be a pedophile brought in for questioning on the way toward meeting a more interesting criminal. But I cheated. I started my own internet series. Terrible quality at first, but better by leaps and bounds with every episode. It became good enough to get a really [awesome] audience going. Now, I’m my own antihero, the kind of character I’ve always wanted to play, a sarcastic wise guy with unspeakable power and a dark past.”
PoPs is a labor of love. And a lot of work. Each episode takes about eight to 12 months from initial script to final uploaded production. Jake handles most of the special effects. To maintain audience interest, he produces both a written blog and a video blog each week informing subscribers of his progress. He also creates indiegogo campaigns to raise the funds to pay for actors, food, location, props, etc. and distributes the appropriate crowdfunding campaign rewards. The awards are nice, but it’s icing on the cake. The show, the creative process, the ensemble work and the audience that watches, waits for and comments on each episode is the reward.
If I’ve learned anything in my soon to be one year in Hollywood, it’s focus on the process. Jake and I discussed in greater detail here. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the glitz and glamor of Hollywood because there are so many opportunities here and the “right place, right time” stories abound, but once you dig deeper, you realize it’s a process of attrition. Build the relationships, meet the right people, do the work and let the cosmic tumblers fall where they may.
Mike Myers of SNL, Austin Powers and Shrek fame said something similar during his WTF podcast interview with Marc Maron. “Don’t chase the high, follow the heart.” Ironically, Jake and I saw Mike walking up Sunset Blvd. as we enjoyed some eats at Carney’s Restaurant (train car diner).
Focus on the process. Do what you love. And enjoy a Chicago dog and sweet potato fries every now and again too.