To Live and Write in LA

Circus Vargas and Indie Film

(Originally published on blogcritics.org)

DSC-0180Circus Vargas came through town a while back. It had been years since we’d been to the circus so my wife and I decided to go. This is not a big “sports arena” circus like Ringling Brothers. Circus Vargas sets up old fashioned big top tents in a mall parking lot, sometimes has a circus parade, involves the local community and is gone in a few days. (You can see Circus Vargas in action in the 20th Century Fox production Water for Elephants.)

DSC-0041As I was getting the tickets – I had a special deal from Goldstar.com – I noticed that the lady in the ticket booth was made up to the max. She didn’t quite know what to do with the Goldstar discount so she called someone. When hersupervisor arrived, again I saw more makeup than you find in Macy’s. I chalked this up to the general weirdness of the world; kind of like the clerks at Virgin Records who dress up like they’re rock stars.

It wasn’t till the show was underway that I understood what the layers of Lancome were all about, and why those who work in indie film can take a cue from Vargas.

The ticket sellers were also in the show. And not once, but several times.

If you go to Circus Vargas and watch closely, you’ll see that the star of one act has a minor role to play in another. You’ll see that everyone is in the chorus line and that the cast includes entire families. The kids, too. Everyone does whatever needs to be done to make the show a success. No union restrictions on jobs at this circus.

You may be thinking, “Last time I worked on a video, it was a circus”, but take these hints from Circus Vargas anyway. Work with multi-talented people who are dedicated to getting your project done, not to feeding their egos. While you’re on location, involve local people (most everyone can act with good direction). Plan to set-up, do your production, and move on quickly. And, most importantly, treat everyone like family.

You’re the ringmaster. Make your next production the greatest show on earth!

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