Flawsome

Dear Reader

 

You may have noticed that I am not currently a regular poster. That is, someone who can churn out a blog post on a regular, usually weekly basis. I have a perfectly reasonable explanation for that.

 

I suck at this.

 

I’m not an untrained writer, you understand. Not illiterate or uneducated. However there was not a class available in blogging at my university. Or my high school. Or middle school. No one teaches you how to coherently express your thoughts on paper, or blogosphere, for the digital world to digest.

 

However, that is not my Achille’s Heel.

 

I am afraid of writing.

 

Let me say that again. I, a self proclaimed writer and artist, fear the very words and art I put forth in the world. Or want to. When I am not being afraid.

 

Don’t you recall the abject terror that would grip you the second your parent got up from reading the bedtime story? At first you are warm and fuzzy. Reassured through hugs and a good book that all was right with the world. You were protected. All of a sudden, the protector rises to leave. THEY REACH FOR THE LIGHT SWITCH! Don’t they know about that which lurks in the dark and eats children?

 

What is there to be afraid of? ALL THE THINGS.

 

Trolls who thrive on crushing anything uplifting, thoughtful, and that did not come from them.

Failing at expressing my message.

Succeeding at expressing my message, because then I have to do it again.

Not measuring up to the far unrealistic expectations that this shall be a Blog, and all who come to it will be Enriched.

Not saying enough, and not having enough pictures, or the Right pictures. (more on that pet peeve later)

 

My Inner Critics have feasted on my uncertainty and fragile ego for decades, to the point where I will do almost anything to avoid writing. Why bother? Never good enough. So and so does it better. What do you have to say? Why would people care? I am a flawed person. My feet are clay. It’s why the current version of elves piss me off. They are so perfect at everything they do. They way the look, move, their art. Why should a lowly human even bother?

 

Even now I pause to answer the call of a game. On my phone. That really doesn’t require my attention at all.(Petting the cat doesn’t count. That prevents dislodging of the laptop and as such is conducive to productivity. Or so my cats tell me.)

 

Don’t scoff. My weakness is not unusual or isolated to me. Many call it procrastination. A misnomer. Wouldn’t you do just about anything to avoid that which you fear?

 

But wait! you say, you’re doing it now.

 

Yes I am. I write with the utter certainty that no one will want to read it. Will find it useful, thoughtful, illuminating, etc etc etc. blah blah blah. Lo, I have filled near an entire page with my rambling. And it has been so much fun!

 

I had a realization. An epiphany. A light bulb dusted itself off and turned on. Why do I need to prove people wrong? I have the power. Why give it to people who use it to tear me down?

 

It’s mine!

 

So I gave up. I quit. I walked away from proving my critics wrong. I already put posts out there and have not yet been burned at the stake. Why not another?

 

I don’t have to prove my critics wrong. They are never wrong. (I couldn’t even type that with a straight face) They are critics. I just have to prove me right. I write for me, and if others like it, groovy. I get to make mistakes with wild abandon, something that can only be likened to skipping through fields of daisies.

 

In the words of my dear friend and writing bosom buddy, Yvonne Harbison

 

but seriously. it is. it’s important. do the stupid stuff that’s not gonna make you money because that’s where you get the suckage out of the system

 

you learn the routine, learn what you want to do and what you don’t want to do

 

and trying to make a grade isn’t where you learn that

 

because you’re always wondering “what’s the correct answer?”

 

there isn’t a correct answer. grades suck. make good art means expression and that can’t be graded. it either speaks to people or it doesn’t, and if it doesn’t, then you either wonder “how can i improve my communication to better convey what i hope to?” or you realize that not everybody’s gonna get it

 

either way, you learn on accident. not ’cause a grade had to be won

 

Check her out at http://www.thecoffeewriter.com

 

So go forth and suck at something. It’ll be fun. Mua ha.

Life after graduation – The Job Hunt Begins…

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Going into higher education, we don’t think much past the glorious moment at the end of four years when we are awarded that precious pricey piece of paper. There is some amorphic thought that after we graduate we will ‘get a job’. Nothing much more detailed than that, as if the job fairy will come and wave her magic wand. Suddenly we will be gainfully employed in our desired field.

 

 

 Reality is this: job hunting sucks. Job hunting in a non traditional field sucks worse.

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Even the ancients knew hunting was a mess. And you were never the only one.

To those of us who have struggled this whole time, balancing a crappy job with a sometimes bizarre classwork schedule (so what if I have to wait 24 hours to sleep? I can still make that class on How to Use One Specific Program to Do an Incredibly Cool Thing for One Whole Second) that promise of a real career after graduation is a siren song.

 

 Most of the time, after graduation, you send out resumes to companies you research, you finagle an interview, end result of oodles of hard work means a job. Now, for the most part film is a project based work flow. What that means is jobs appear when projects do. Depending on the phase of production it’s in (pre, shooting, and post) there could be many different occupations and openings, or hardly any at all. And that isn’t taking into account that many don’t last long. It’s not like you are the only candidate available right now. Every other person applying for the same thing (and there are always others) wants that golden ticket. Job security is not in the cards. (Unless you work in post) Many times you get a job because you know a guy who knows someone. 

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Maybe it would be easier in LA.

 

 

 

But I live in the Independent scene. So I am going the rounds, submitting my resume. My networking skills are revved and nurturing contacts as we speak. Currently the fruit of those labors is a cherry tomato. Maybe with care and attention, one day it will be salsa.

 But I can’t depend on that. I can’t wait to make Art. I have to get out and shoot and write and witness and tell the stories to whoever will listen. Its not easy. Never has been for me.

 

I didn’t go into the Arts for easy.

 

More tales from the battle front later.

Graduation, the next step

 

In 24 hours, my life will have moved to the next chapter. No longer a student, but in fact, a Graduate! It only took me three years, part of my sanity, long days and longer nights, and going into debt up to my eyeballs. After the long walk down the stage to collect my token, I and my family by choice will raise many a glass to my awesomeness. I recommend that everyone try that at least once in awhile. The next day, during the requisite recovery period known to many as the hangover, most likely will involve introspection on how I have changed. Unless you’re dead, or frozen in carbonite, everyone changes.

Nothing is different. I still work at the same hourly job, miserable and mentally unchallenged. My bank account still has too many zeros on the wrong side. Anonymity still enshrouds me. I am still flawed.

Everything is different. The journey has changed me, like all good journeys should (Just ask Joseph Campbell). I don’t try and force myself into the cookie mold anymore. The mirror holds more optimism then it used to. I am not perfect.

Rule number one of art: One should be willing to suffer for one’s art.

This was not a decision I could take back easily. College is expensive, in many ways. I once went without power for three months because I felt it more important to pay tuition. I lost count of the times I survived time between paychecks by scavenging the breakfast supplies at work. On average, once a week I would not sleep for 24 hours in order to both work and attend class.

Disclaimer: Don’t DO That! Being healthy is ultra important. Now back to the blog.

Rule number two of art: One should not HAVE to suffer.

Thank all that is sacred and special for my friends. For feeding me every so often, helping me do laundry, loaning me a shower during that three month period. And especially in that last sprint, for standing by me, reminding me I can hold myself up. For not leaving me alone.

Rule number three: Technology will always fail when you most need it. Have a plan B.

At least it does for me. Of course when I have my DVD set up as my show piece, nothing will fix the authoring program. And for those of you who say I should have started sooner, thbbbpt!

courtesy of http://cheezburger.com/7628316416

Life happens, we roll with it. There were things going on that negated my ability to start earlier. And thanks to my friends, I have a plan B. It won’t be near as grand as what I wanted, but it is still good.

In a short time, I will have to be bright eyed and bushy tailed, selling my hind off at the Portfolio Show. It won’t be what I planned, but it will still be awesome.

Sound and Light, a marriage made in media Part 1

Most film types are delighted to expound upon the minutiae of mise en scene, lighting, and other visual themes. None of that amounts to a hill of beans in this world if the sound is bad. Being a visual folk, most student filmmakers hardly think about sound, unless it is to make sure the dialogue is clear. But sound should never be an afterthought. Dialogue can be poorly recorded or synced wrong. Music can be inappropriate, in genre or in volume. Sound effects can be missing, badly timed, or inserted so poorly as to not belong in the film world at all. 

You might be thinking movies are visual media, what does sound have to do with it?

There is a story, an urban legend if you will, about the first time a soundtrack was scored for effect. The Heiress was being screened in front of a focus group. The director walked in during the scene where Catherine was left waiting for a man who would not return for her. The music was the typical sort to drown the sound of the projector. Instead of the expected tears, the audience was laughing at the poor girl. The director was furious. He went to the composer and asked for a piece of music to emphasize the tragedy of the moment. During the next screening, the director got the desired effect. The audience sympathized with Catherine, and that connection made possible by a targeted film score. Whether or not this story is actually true, which is debatable, the moral of effective sound is demonstrable.

For the purpose of this discussion, sound can be divided into two parts. The sound that accompanies the film and is not within the world (non-diegetic for you fancy pants vocabulary users) shall be deemed music. Let us set that aside for the moment.

Sound that occurs within the film, the dialogue, in camera music (such as radio) and the CRASH BOOM POW, we shall call Sound in the Film. Really technical jargon, I know (yes this is called diegetic. So there pedagogues). This is the hum of machines, birdsong and wind sweeping across the plains. This is the wire that suspends disbelief. This is the stuff worlds are made of. No one will believe its really a beach without the sound of waves crashing into sand. Cheap movies often neglect the soundscape or atmosphere of their locations, causing dialogue to sound dead and unnatural. When recording on location, make sure to always get room tone. During post production, a good sound person will also include the necessary sounds that flesh out a setting. It enhances the production. Also in moments of heightened tension, such as horror movies, a complete lack of sound is also effective, in that it signals that Something is Not Right. Like when the forest goes silent because no songbird wants to attract the attention of Big Bad Predator.


Dialogue begins with proper recording. During my latest production, I had four actors speaking inmost scenes. It was essential to my vision for the film that their dialogue be very clear,crisp,and precisely heard. To that end I found someone who majored in sound. I told him what I wanted and trusted him to take care of his side of things. No this is not leaving sound as an after thought. This was making sure sound got done right from the beginning. (the same guy is doing the sound editing, makes it easier all around) Everyone would be miked properly. It was all organized. Murphy’s Law overheard us of course. On the day of, the rental house gave away our reservation! Were it not for the resourcefulness of men faced with a panicky filmmaker, I would have had to figure out how to wrangle five extra people to hold boom mikes (those things on long sticks) and shoot around them. The logistics alone would make anyone nuts, let alone having to reshoot every time one of them wandered in to frame (shudder).

If dialogue is recorded poorly, files mismanaged, or deity knows what else, it cheapens the film and distracts from the story.

Sound effects fill out the picture. Whenever fabric rustles over a moving body, a bag jostles during a run, or shoes slap on a concrete floor, usually it is added in to create a sense of realism. Nothing moves in a vacuum (unless its space. Thanks Joss and Firefly!). If someone strides across a floor, or a horse runs over hill and dale, people need to hear that. They expect to. And woe be to those who disappoint their audience. Sound can define an object, such as the vibration of a lightsaber. We hear before we see. It enables us to define our surroundings. Mismanaged sound distorts the image we process.

Next time, soundtracks and narration.

One of the most dangerous words in any language

Why did Dorothy trust the crazy lady in the bubble that just got the wicked witch even more pissed at her? Why did the Butler play games with his informants?  Why didn’t Darth Vader kill the Emperor sooner?

Every story, every film or TV show hinges on the unraveling of that question. Directors ask that question to find out if they need all the bells and whistles. At least they should. (why did there have to be aliens in Indiana Jones?) The same question that should pop up whenever we do something, be it monumentally stupid (“Here, hold my beer”) or monumentally awesome (“Eureka!”). That echo pounding in our head when we find ourselves in a strange situation. The same one that woke me out of a rut three years ago. I was slogging away in rush hour traffic to a job I had no real desire to fulfill. The moment was ripe. Suddenly ‘Why’ blossomed in my forebrain.

Why was I allowing myself to slowly wither into an apathetic zombie? Was this a story I wanted to tell my grandkids? Anyone’s grandkids? Anyone? Bueller?

That one word opened my eyes. It helped prepare me for the night I went to the theater and embraced inspiration. It looked over my shoulder when I went to film school. It spurred me on with every script. It held my hand with decisions about my short film. ‘Why’ drove me, and my story. Why did I need to show blood from wounds? Why didn’t my killer talk?

‘Why’ does that. It makes you take another look. It shows a character or story the direction it should go. It breaks walls away from what is always done. If you have ever wondered why a director did what they did It opens a conversation. That is why ‘Hello’ also gets things started.

So Hello dear Reader. Welcome to an exploration of the whys and wherefors and what the f^(%$ of the film world. 

 One more thing about ‘hello’. You never know where it will take you.