Laughter is the key to sanity. It is also, surprisingly, the gateway to empathy. My writing is entirely advocacy based, but usually in a surreptitious way. When I began as a playwright, I was unaware of the power of comedy. Every one of the 8 plays I had produced was an exploration of troubling, often unspoken issues which plague people of all walks of life… shrouded in darkness. Audiences cried, and were struck with pain, but only a few times did I hear snippets of empathy for my characters and the situations they were faced with. This was disappointing because, as a writer who was incredibly attached to the content of these plays, I live for moments such as someone approaching me after the show and thanking me for sharing the truth about how addiction can infiltrate and demolish a life. It took me some time, but now, I fully recognize that it is comedy that is the catalyst. When people leave an indie documentary about a specific illness, they might be moved, maybe to tears— they may even go home and donate to its charity— but they will soon forget it, and it will make no impact on their lives. But when we watch a comedy about the same issues, and laugh with the characters, some part of us recognizes their pain on a different level. Through humor, we can channel our own familiar experiences, whether they be directly related or simply remotely similar, and connect with characters through these core emotions. So, in grad school, I switched concentrations from playwriting to comedy television writing. My MFA Thesis was the first project where I truly embraced this newfound theory of mine: a half-hour pilot for a dark comedy television series about soldiers with PTSD. Now almost everything I work channels that frame of mind: comedy is not only the reprieve from tough situations, but is the surefire way others can identify with it as I am currently the assistant to the Director of Photography on The Big Bang Theory and Mom at Warner Bros. From him, and from his Gaffer and Key Grip, I have learned a great deal about lighting a set. I am obviously still an amateur, but the look of my webseries is improving with every shoot. Not only have I absorbed a great deal about lighting and camera, I have also learned the dynamics of how the DP must interact most effectively with the Director and Producers. I think, as a woman DP, there is a certain something that I am able to bring to shoots, in terms of my calm disposition and problem-solving instinct. We will wrap for the season this coming week, and I think the best thing I have learned from working on these shows that it is most efficacious to stay level-headed, to interpret the director’s vision in the best way that you can, and add a bit of your own creative flare as somewhat of an accessory. I have also been working in post on our webseries. From my work at the studio, I have observed color correction of our projects at Technicolor, as well as everything from beauty fixes to special effects. I have taken some of these tools and applied them to my work on my webisodes. I have edited 7 of the 9 that we shot, improving with my pacing, continuity, and technique with each one. Editing truly is the last form of storytelling, so as a writer I actually find that it fits quite well with my screenwriting abilities. I shoot on a Canon C100 Mark II, with various lenses depending upon the shot, and I edit with Final Cut Pro.
The webseries I work on is called Ladies Keepin’ it Real, and the link to the last thing I shot and edited is here:
A link to my short film from 2015 which I wrote, directed, shot and edited is here:
April E. Brassard is a Television Writer, Director of Photography and Editor in Los Angeles, CA. She currently works for Warner Bros. Television as a Production Assistant to the Director of Photography on The Big Bang Theory and Mom. Her undergraduate studies at The School of Theater at George Mason University were in Theater, with a Concentration in Playwriting and Dramaturgy, and a minor in Scenic Design and Technical Direction, and graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2012. She studied Photography for 10 years prior to transitioning to filmmaking. She also studied screenwriting for 10 years, and was a playwright for 5 years before transitioning to a Concentration of Comedy Television Writing while pursuing her Masters of Fine Arts at the School of Film and Television at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, which she received in 2014. She has endured many trials and tribulations in her existence, but proceeds with strength, perseverance, and endless amounts of laughter, just to spite the tough times.