My name is Irina Varina. I work as an actor and filmmaker in New York and Philadelphia. I have acted in film and theater, as well as produced my own projects.

This summer, after working on my first feature film for 2.5 years, I wanted to make something with less pressure and faster. Faster in this case meaning – I wanted the distance between a desire to express a thought or a feeling and that expression reaching audiences to be shorter. And, I wanted to experiment. Enter web series.

I decided to work only with the budget I had available at that moment and find people who’d be up for it. I ended up paring up with a cinematographer (Kate Raines, a visual marvel) who also wanted to experiment and agreed to work with a lower rate. I hired always-up-for-it and a local film scene fixture Bill Drummer as my sound mixer and boom operator. And Floyd Raynor, who I had great pleasure working with on my feature film “Us, Forever Ago”, as sound designer. I reached out to a vast pool of performers and dance artists I know in Philadelphia, where we were filming, with an offer to come “play” with us for a short time (30 minutes to 2 hours) and that I would do a favor for them in return. Anita Holland, Scott Rodrigue, Christina Gesualdi, Vanessa Ogbuehi, Kelly Filios, Bianca Sanchez, Laura Vriend, Kevin Aoussou and Robert Weick were available and said yes! The hardest part of production-wise was aligning everybody’s schedules.

About script and all the creative stuff. I’m always scared. Even when I’m already doing something, there’s a thought running in my head: “I can’t believe I’m doing this, I can’t believe I’m doing this…” The trick for me is to start before I’m ready. Mostly, because I’d never feel ready. I played around with themes of this web series in my writing before and had versions of the script but it all came together fully when I had a deadline, hired people and set dates. Surprisingly, barely anything changed in the script when we started filming and later in editing. Usually, it’s quite the opposite for me.

We filmed over three days around Philadelphia and in my cinematographer’s basement. I shot YouTube-type videos of my character by myself on my phone camera in a small room padded with blankets to lessen the echo.

It took me about a month to edit the series and a month and a half more to finish the sound design with Floyd Raynor. The result now is six episodes, 4-6 minutes each, that, visually, move fluidly between YouTube-type videos, “interviews”, phantasmagoria, and straightforward narrative, and dive with sharpness and humor into our cultural conditioning around romantic relationships. Somebody called it “funny, sexy, and painful.” Judge it for yourself. We had our live premiere at Free Philly Fringe Festival and released online shortly after.

Official synopsis? “Things I’d Like To Do Instead Of Thinking About Men” follows a woman (Varina) who disappears leaving behind a YouTube show called “Things I’d Like To Do Instead Of Thinking About Men”.

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