Here is the new cover of the DVD
Letting Go of God has been a completely home made operation. It's not just a one-woman show, it was a one woman everything. That's not completely true, actually. I had a producer for the movie and the stage show, who did a huge amount of work. And of course all the people who worked on the stage and film productions. But in the deepest sense, this is really a one-man-band.
I was so glad that I started working on this show just when new technology made it possible to do everything myself. I hated that "It's Pat" had so much studio input (that didn't necessarily make it better or worse, it's just that I didn't get to make my own mistakes because of so much interference.)
"God Said, Ha!" which I was able to direct and have total creative control over is now owned totally by Miramax (Disney now, I guess.) When "God Said Ha!" plays on cable, I have no knowledge of that. It's theirs and they can do with it what they want.
So, when it came to "Letting Go of God" it was really important to me to handle everything myself and own it myself. I had a chance to take the show to a large, well-known off-Broadway theater in New York, but I had to give up most of my ownership in the show and also give away rights to the film and so I said "No." (There were other factors too, like relocating to New York with Mulan and mostly figuring out how to be a mother while doing 8 shows a week - I just didn't think I could hack it. Also, I was single at the time so I had no one other than hired help to pitch in with parenting - the whole thing was overwhelming. I was sad it didn't play in a bigger theater in New York, but I felt I would probably lose my mind if I did do that. I set my sights on figuring out how to film the show instead of take it to a prestigious theater.)
I began to sell CDs of my second monologue "In The Family Way" (which I also own) and to "Letting Go of God" on Amazon and I was surprised that I really liked being a small-time entrepreneur of my own work. I liked packing the CDs and then the DVDs off in boxes as I got orders for them, and standing in line at the Post Office, and sending them to Amazon to sell. It's all kind of silly because I could earn (well... theoretically) so much more money working on a show as a writer (I quit my last TV writers job a few years ago) and instead I had (in my mind) opened this teeny store front, like a chewing gum stand, it's so small, and I was making really nothing - pretty much breaking even - but it was mine. Of course I still work on other things - things that actually make money -- voice overs, writing TV pilots, doing speaking engagements, so this DVD business could be my wee hobby.
I was talking to a good friend of mine, Cindy Chupak, who used to be a writer on Sex & the City (where I spent some time as a consultant) and I told her that I liked sending the CDs off in the mail so much that I almost wanted to be my own fulfillment house for individual orders. I wanted to write a personal thank you with each CD that I sold. Cindy looked at me with a worried expression and said, "I think it would be really sad for me to think of you doing that. If I got a CD I ordered of your show, and then got it mailed directly from you to me in the mail, well... that would make me sad for you... y'know?"
That made me love Cindy so much and laugh really hard at myself too. Why did I want to do that? Wasn't it enough that I was dragging boxes of CDs to the post office and sending them to Amazon? Is it my small-world-need-to-connect or is it my obsession with minutia to the point where I don't see the forest for the trees?
I can't explain it. I thought I would be a bigger time mover and shaker in show biz or something maybe. But, I just like the small things. I like the connection. I like that I make my product and then send it out in the world to people. Artists couldn't do this before now - not with CDs and DVDs anyway. I love it that I can do that. Also, I love that I still totally own things - even if it adds up to chump change, it still makes me feel I really earned that money.
Then there was this last year, getting the movie ready to show on cable... There are all these things that have to be done, like getting closed captioning, and insurance against people like Deepak suing me for defamation (it's so ridiculous, public figures are explicitly open to being parodied or made the butt of jokes - I mean I worked on SNL so I know this, it was discussed constantly - but still I had to get insurance just for a nuisance law suit!)
In any case, over this last year it got to be sad to me. I was doing too much, more than I wanted to do myself. I decided this was the last project I was ever going to do this way. If I wrote a play or a book or anything again, I was going to find people who specialized in these things and get them to deal with all the details. I wanted a publisher. I wanted a distributor. I wanted to just be the artist again. Enough with all this!
I moved last year and got to know the folks at my post office. I did absolutely no advertising and no publicity for Letting Go of God over this last year. None. And I would sell somewhere between 100 and 200 DVDs a month through Amazon. I still like taking the boxes to the post office, I still like packing the boxes. I still like touching each DVD with my own hands before it goes off into the world.
I always wondered about the Amazon warehouses. What were they like? Did the people there notice and care about what people had ordered? I imagined myself working there. I would be saying, "Oh! What a great book! And then they got this other great book! Wow." Of course thinking this is a little creepy too - who wants to think people are musing over what different combinations of books and CDs and DVDs people are buying? But I just can't imagine that it isn't happening! I liked the image I came up with of the people packing boxes at Amazon. I wanted to even write something about it.
I was coming to the end of the DVDs I had made for this last year, and so I had my CD graphic designer design a new DVD cover (see the picture above) that fits in more with the design of the CD. I like this one better. I am glad my mug is not on the cover. I ordered the new DVD cases to be "eco" (ha! everything eco!) and it's made from recycled paper (15% more in cost!) and it's not an "avery case" anymore - that means it doesn't have the plastic inside, it's all paper. I ordered 3000 and figured that would last for all of 2010. And maybe even 2011 and 2012.
The movie began to show on Showtime. I have done no publicity. Showtime does not even have the artwork on their website, and no one called me about any interviews. They have showed the movie about ten times so far. They have the right to show it until the end of October next year. I have no idea how many times they will show it or if they'd buy the right to show it after that time.
Last week I got a big order from them for 350 DVDs! It was so much fun taking the DVDs to the post office. Everyone I know there was so happy for me, sending off so many DVDs to Amazon. I was once again glad I was doing it all myself. It felt like Christmas. Hell, it was Christmas!
But then, last night, I looked and Amazon had ordered 1100 DVDs! And over 300 CDs! The biggest order ever!!! The status on getting the DVDs is now 2 to 4 weeks, which sucks because that means people would miss Christmas if that is what they are thinking about! Plus it takes a while for boxes to get to the Amazon warehouse and get recorded in their system and all that. I really want the DVDs to be there and the status to be back to "available now!"
So the point of all this boring, boring story is that I started putting together the boxes. I will run out of the old style DVD (I have only 300 left) and begin to use the new ones. I have about 15 boxes to send.
I realized that the Amazon warehouse that I'm sending these all to is in Indiana - it's about 3 hours away from where I am now.
So.... I'm going to drive them there myself!
I'm going to get Mulan off to school and start driving to the Amazon warehouse. I cannot wait to go there! I cannot wait to do this. This is going to be awesome. I'm going to listen to NPR or my audio books all the way. I tried to convince Michael to take a day off work to go with me, but he can't. He actually snorted when I asked him if he wanted to go. To me this is an adventure!
I'm still not sure if this all just makes me sadder and more pathetic, or in control of my own creative life. I think it's probably a combination of both. But anyway, I'm doing it. I wonder if I'll get a sneak peak inside the fulfillment center? Can I sweet talk my way in? Can I see people filling those Amazon boxes? Or will it be sad and anonymous? Will I be gladder to do this all myself or even more embarrassed that my life has gone this route?
We will see.