It began with a writing problem. Two of them, actually.
Ian Delaney, who considers himself “an actor who writes,” noticed in reviewing his work that he consistently wrote better material for his friends than he did for himself. So he decided to write a one-man, short film. Borrowing a technique from an acting class in improvisation, he decided to create a limiting or constricting situation by making it a one-location shoot as well.
The theory was–or is–that creating borders, or writing ourselves into a corner, facilitates creativity. Delaney said he learned from his acting instruction that when we begin there are “an infinite amount of options.” Sometimes, the freedom of a blank slate can also cause a kind of creative block, since as actors (and writers) we hate to say “no” to any option. We want to do everything.
Delaney’s solution was Holes, a film that would not only be one-man show, but would also be a one room shoot as well. He wanted to think of a story that could be told around one person sitting at a kitchen table. Holes is a story about grief, a story as much about the chairs that are empty at that table as it is about the man talking to them. Delaney is quick to respond that it is not an autobiographical film. Writers may be instructed to write what they know, but actors are trained to create what they imagine, so the classically trained actor hopes to apply the creative process of acting to the craft of writing.
The necessity of postgraduate education in the fine arts is a hot topic these days, and Delaney carefully parses the pros and cons of pursuing acting through a college degree. He concedes that those who pursue the profession directly often have a “five or six year jump” on those, like him, who went to college. But he also sees education as being “phenomenally important” for those who wish to develop not just as artists but also as human beings. It seems clear, too, from the examples he uses in conversation that his own education helped to provide a breadth of knowledge that he uses to inform his writing and acting alike, helping him to move beyond the one-dimensional stereotypes of the stock characters we so often see to more rounded character portraits with “better details.”
These days Delaney is wearing a third hat: producer/fundraiser. He has launched month-long project on Kickstarter to try to fund Holes. His hope is that the universal nature of the subject matter may lead some to donate as a means of supporting a project that can help audiences better understand loss. Holes may have started as a writing problem he set out to solve, but it ended up being an encapsulation of the reasons he wants to make art at all: “To effect change, to shed light on an emotion, an injustice, an idiotic hilarity and thereby give our audiences the catharsis we all need from time to time.”
UPDATE: OCTOBER, 2014. Delaney reports the project is completed and being submitted to film festivals. The film is now titled Every Single Day. A trailer is available at IMDB.