Writing Episode 4 – 7-23-20

white head

Finally, after over a month, I’ve begun piecing together episode 4. I have some strong ideas for how to make the “mountain cult” distinct from previous mobs, politically applicable to current events, and dangerous in a modern sense. The cult will also play to the theme of individualism vs. group think.

My goal is to crumple together a working script by the end of this weekend. If I do that, I can post for online submissions & auditions. My aim is to shoot in Mid August, which should give the actors and myself enough time to prepare.

I’ve already messaged my meetup group, Riverside Film Network, inquiring as to who is looking to work on another project. A few members have informed me they’d be happy to assist.

I’m also working my ass off at my primary job, working 6 out of 7 days this week. The more overtime I work, the more I can budget into the next film. I intend to pay each actor $50/day. I may use crew members as well, and can see myself allocating $25/day for that as well.

sink and blue moons

I have no reasoning for why the Sugar container is the focal point of this shot.

Since the last video shoot, I’ve purchased 2 additional lenses – a 30 mm f1.4 by Sigma and a 50 mm f 1.8 by Sony. I’ve been practicing using them all week and have been learning a lot of basic camera stuff that I never took the time to learn earlier. The biggest lesson I learned from Episode 3 is the importance of proper exposure, and also how to tell when my image is exposed correctly. I’ve already purchased 2 Led lights & a light bar that can change to 6 different colors. Yesterday I ordered my first ever variable ND filter. That will assist me in outdoor filming that requires me to turn down the exposure effects of direct sunlight. One thing that I learned late – Adobe Photoshop won’t read RAW photographs without some sort of plug-in. So the only photos I can show you from my new apartment were done yesterday with my sony 50 mm f 1.8 (done in JPG). I’ll try to upload shots from the 30 mm soon enough.

simba 1

kelly’s cat “Simba”. I like him a lot but he sheds everywhere!

It’s funny how much film has taken a backseat to other things the past 2 months. I hope that as I get closer to filming I can slow down from working so often and put more energy and focus into making short films, which is what I’m truly passionate about.


Here I chose to focus on the big mac container. Not the obvious, giant McD’s bag in front of your face. Still learning.

One final note – I’ve been doing a lot of thought about story lately. The world needs more individuals who share stories that mean something to them and include a message that they believe in. When you tell a story, you have a responsibility to yourself to express your own message and life lessons through your medium. You can enjoy telling stories without making Hollywood or Penguin books your end goal. Instead of aiming to reach the widest audience, aim to provide a satisfying experience for those who choose your

Below are some more photographs from my Sony 50 mm. I’ll try and upload some from the sigma 30 mm f1.4 soon. Hope you enjoy.

new hummingbird


I was really hoping he’d go for the in-focus blue feeder if you couldn’t tell

simba 3

Simba has mastered that classic look that says “Leave me alone.”

Preparing to prepare – 7-17-2020


After having a smoke and stating our lives are finally headed in the right direction, Kelly glanced up to see our new neighbors.

We moved in on Tuesday. I spent all of Wednesday building a computer desk and piecing together my new “office”. After working a ton of overtime, I spontaneously purchased a FE 50 mm 1.8 sony lens that I’ve wanted for a while. I’m really excited about the prospect of filming again, and have been contemplating how I’m going to structure and shoot episode 4. I’ve also been learning more about camera basics and how to improve my own cinematography.

And then, yesterday, I finally figured out what has been causing my 2008 Toyota Tacoma repeating troubles throughout the year (I’ve changed out the sparks plugs twice and the coils once). After discovering yet another cylinder misfire I finally checked the oil cap – and underneath was a gunky, custard-yellow goo. My coolant has clearly been mixing with my oil, which means I’ve got a blown head gasket. That’ll be $1200-2000 to fix.


The good news is I’ve been saving up all year so I can afford to have it fixed. I’ve also become accustomed to facing a once-a-year issue with my truck that winds up costing me around $1000. Last year it was a radiator and coolant overhaul.

In other words, this is going to cost me, but I don’t see it as a good enough reason to put my production on hold for any longer.

I’m aiming to begin filming in the first week of August. I want the shoot to last 1-2 days, and I’m looking to hire 2-4 actors at $50/day. I’m going to advertise the roles on Actors Access and plan on spending $200-300 in production cost.

So the next step is the script. I’ve been thinking on episode 4 for a while now. It will introduce the members of the cult and reveal to the audience who they are and what they are all about. I need a group that is capable of savage murder and danger, but I also need them to be believable as a community and have a moral order that separates them from your caricature mob cronies.

You may or may not have read a previous post I made about hermeneutics. In case you missed it, hermeneutics pertains to a perspective change regarding information. For example:

  1. Your boss tells you if you don’t get to work on time, you’re fired.
  2. You wake up late, grab your daughter’s drawing she made for you, and race along side streets to arrive on time.
  3. Stuck at a red light, you see a young girl smoking cigarettes with a group of older teens. You check out the drawing your daughter made for you and see it’s a picture of you on an airplane soaring through clouds while she waves to you from below.
  4. You text your boss “Can’t make it today, deal with it” then make a U-turn and head home to spend some time with your little girl.

The punishment for missing work hasn’t changed – you’ll still be getting fired. What has changed, however, is the your perspective on losing your job. Initially viewed as a means to make a solid salary, the events that occur in the story transform your opinion to view a potential job loss as an avenue toward strengthened familial relationships.

I’m really in love with hermeneutics and predict it will be a staple in future how-to-write-fiction advice. In my honest opinion there is a serious hole in the philosophy that your protagonist should have 1 goal that nothing can dissuade them from. Of course, hermeneutics amplifies the inner conflict of a story making it more of a dramatic production. Still, I think good stories require shifting perspectives because that is what keeps them true to the human experience. For me personally, the source of conflict and course of action makes the above story more intriguing than standard forms of conflict – ie: traffic jams, boss calling and yelling at you, construction occurring on the roadway, etc.

Anyways, I’m hoping to begin writing the script this weekend. As soon as I have it written I can set up a shooting date and send out to have the roles filled. It’s an exciting time for me and I’m looking forward to running my small production company like a legitimate business. I’ll try to upload some apartment pics tomorrow so you check out what will likely become “cult headquarters.”

Moving In – 7/11/20


Can you even imagine living here?? I can’t either, because I will never be able to afford a place like this. But my new place is ok.

The apartment is virtually a lock, as I’m just waiting for the leasing office to open on Monday and have the papers ready for us to sign. As soon as we move in I’ll be updating you with pictures. After that, the fun starts – we get to furnish it. I realize how effeminate that sounds now that I’ve written it. I suppose some context could help – in the foreseeable future I will use our place as a repeating location for short films. That means I get to apply a little bit of knowledge to the layout of the land. Ideally I’m going to add wallpaper, christmas lights, and some rustic looking furniture. Basically I’m going to create a shooting set for mountain cult, Kelly just doesn’t know it yet.

But along with that we will have to purchase: A couch, a big screen television, a kitchen table with chairs, and a balcony table. Then to top it all off I get to purchase my future writing/editing desk, which I’m really excited about. It’s also a 3rd story apartment which will give me and my camera an excellent view.

Besides that, I’ve been spending the night trying to learn more about photography. I’m finally starting to grasp some of the basic concepts – more specifically the relationship between aperture, ISO, & shutter speed. I figure as long as I’m not filming I can at least build up my knowledge of the tools.

Actors access has been going alright, I got one audition that was due last week. It required me to participated as a couple, which I actually talked Kelly into doing. The problem was me and Kelly only had 2 days off together last week, and the deadline for the audition submission arrived on day 1. We wound up getting drunk and watching sharktank together instead.

For my next role, I have the opportunity to do some voice acting impersonating Elvis Presley. I’ve never done anything like it before so I’m excited to try it out. I’ll try to post pictures this week as we move in, but for now it’s back to checking out online furniture.

Brief Update – 07-09-20


I’ve finally found a new apartment with the girlfriend, and we’re hoping to move in this weekend. It hasn’t been confirmed yet, but with both our incomes we should truly not have much of an issue gaining acceptance.

This is the main reason I haven’t been blogging, writing, directing, or creating in general. Sometimes life is more important – I could easily spend the rest of my days trying to produce something incredible and never make it there… I realize these two items show no real world correlation, so I’ll state it in a different way. As soon as I begin production on a new short film it will consume all my time, energy, and focus. I made an agreement with myself that I would not involve myself in a new project until my living situation was figured out.

In the past few weeks, I’ve been working a ton of overtime at work. This makes a huge difference in income, and should allow me some financial liberty in the near future. 1 overtime shift for me earns me an extra $350. The cool thing about my work is overtime shift are available in abundance.

I figure if I work 1 additional overtime shift per month, strictly for film, I can improve my production. Say I need 4 actors for the film involving a 1 day shoot. I can easily afford to shell out $50 for the day. The reason that is significant is because I can post the roles on major casting websites. Here, actors sift through roles searching for different criteria. By offering $50 the role has much more appeal and values their work (in comparison to the numerous unpaid roles). I’m going to take a wild guess that I can get 5-10 submissions for that kind of rate of pay. And if I need only 1-2 actors, I’ll be able to pay $150, which is much more legitimate.

Somewhere in the near future I’d like to start looking for advertisers/financing – but before I will feel comfortable pitching to small businesses I’d like to grow my channel’s audience. I truly believe that having the balls to approach individuals & corporations (small and big) who may find value in supporting your work ultimately separates the amateur from the professional.

Imagine Mountain Cult has an episode that focuses on the main character hiking through the mountains. He uses a compass to navigate his way. Let’s pretend my episodes average 10-50k views. Well if you’ve developed a new compass and have the opportunity to reach that size of an audience, wouldn’t you be interested, and willing to shell out some marketing money to have your compass featured? That’s my rudimentary understanding of how this would work, at least. What I DON’T want to do is receive any financial support from individuals who are interested in supporting my works because I’ve appealed to their emotional side (this is my dream and passion, please help make it possible!). I don’t have any problem with people who do it, and I understand why one would, that’s just not the route I’d like to start down.

My approach to becoming a successful producer is simple, albeit idealistic – If you can create content that people are naturally drawn to watch, investors will follow, leading to greater production value, resulting in even more views, and the cycle repeats exponentially. That’s capitalism for you – as unfair as it may be when you’re working your way up from the bottom.

In summary, this post was one big exercise in random brainstorming. I’m loosely plotting my future because I’m finally close to being able to prepare to film again. I’m very excited and will be sure to have more updates when I’ve returned to film mode. In the meantime, here’s some hungover footage Kelly and I got attempting to record crows eating bread crumbs.