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Why Aubrey Plaza Nicknamed Her New Movie 'Blackout Bear'

Best known for her role as the morbidly sarcastic and infinitely quotable April Ludgate on Parks and Recreation, Aubrey Plaza has proven time and again that she's much more than a one-hit wonder. She's appeared in a number of high-profile productions on both small and big screens — from Legion to the Child's Play remake – and she's no stranger to the indie realm, either. Aside from starring in indie classics like Safety Not GuaranteedPlaza happily hosted the Indie Spirit Awards twice, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see her on that same stage again in the years to come.

Her most recent film as of December 2020, Black Bear, sees her take on the role of a filmmaker named Allison, who's looking for inspiration for her next project. The search brings her to New York's Adirondack Mountains, where a young couple houses her and, oddly, doesn't seem to want to leave her alone. Without spoiling anything, things take an intensely emotional turn, and Allison finds herself in a meta situation she never would have expected from an innocent visit to the quiet mountainside.

Writer and director Lawrence Michael Levine strove for authenticity in the making of Black Bear, shooting on location in the Adirondacks. While the choice no doubt adds to the movie's overall feel, Plaza revealed that it also added to the challenges of producing it and led to her nicknaming the movie "Blackout Bear" (via IndieWire).

A new type of bear

Filmmaking is a stressful endeavor for everyone involved, but the reasons vary from person to person and set to set. Sometimes it's on purpose, as in the case of method actors, who willingly put themselves through the wringer in real life in order to more accurately portray their characters. Other times, as in the case of Black Bear, unforeseeable or unavoidable circumstances get in the way of progress.

According to Plaza in an interview with IndieWire, the 20 consecutive days it took to shoot the film were riddled with technical issues of all kinds. Thanks to the remote Adirondacks location, internet service was spottier than you could possibly imagine, but the worst part was the almost hourly power outages. "We would have total blackouts," Plaza said. "I made a T-shirt for the crew as a wrap gift that said 'Blackout Bear,' because we were just dealing with blackouts the whole time."

The nickname is perfectly in line with Plaza's sense of humor, and the crew surely appreciated the gesture since, as the actress also mentioned, the shoot took a toll on everyone. Between the blackouts, the total seclusion (pre-COVID-19, mind you), and the emotional intensity of the script brought to life by Plaza and her fellow thespians, days on set must've felt very long indeed. The trials and tribulations weren't in vain, however, as Black Bear is doing well with critics and audiences alike.

Plaza has plenty more on her plate post-Black Bear. Set to appear in Best Sellers alongside the iconic Michael Caine, Plaza is showing no signs of slowing down. She's also slowly racking up producer credits, and the director's chair certainly isn't beyond her scope. "I've always wanted to direct," she told IndieWire. Plus, COVID-19 has given her ample time to prepare herself for just that; she's working on multiple projects, and is just waiting for the right opportunity to get them off the ground. No blackout can dim Plaza's bright future, it seems.