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Today was a good day.

The Mynerthins – Part 2

Read Part 1 Here

Brent returned to work but had a difficult time concentrating. Durk had expressed relief that Assistant Plethor was dead. It was wrong to feel this way, as Assistant Plethor was an appreciated instructor who always kept the Mynerthins hard at work. Plethor made certain they did not deviate from their assigned informative discussions. As a matter of fact, Brent felt he achieved more when Assistant Plethor was actively encouraging him to complete his duty faster!

Brent paused his typing. Something was terribly wrong, he realized. For some reason, Brent was feeling more happiness at Assistant Plethor’s passing than he was supposed to. For the second time that day he wondered if he should seek out a medical evaluation. He searched the room and found the two men with dark sunglasses staring back at him. They approached.

“Brent,” the tall, slender one said. “Come with us.”

Brent followed the two men out from the main work area and into a compact, dimly lit private room. The shorter of the two men secured 2 bolts and a padlock after they shut the door. Brent noticed Steve placed what was called a “handgun” beside himself on the table. Brent had never seen a real one before.

“Call me Steve,” said the tall one, before thumbing toward his stockier, mustached counterpart, “This is Horatio. Do you’re know why we brought you here?”

“Yes,” said Brent. “Director Limely informed us you would help us engage and sort out our feelings toward Assistant Plethor’s death.”

“Great! Now let’s get started.”

Horatio clicked a pen and prepared to scribble notes on a piece of paper. Steve pressed a button on a recording device and a light began to blink red.

“It is a tragedy and something worth feeling sad about,” said Brent. An unsettling image flashed through his imagination – it was Assistant Plethor, only he was screaming and had the head of an axe wedged into his skull.

“It certainly is,” Steve finally said.

“Assistant Plethor always helped us get a massive amount of work completed. He was one of the best at ensuring our productivity.”

Horatio spoke with a chunky, burly voice. “I figure Assistant Plethor won’t be barking orders at you anymore. You must feel good about that at least, huh?”

“Yes,” said Brent. “Yes I think that is relief that I feel. How did you know that?”

The AC vent hummed as Steve scratched his chin. “What were you doing last night around the hour of 2200?”

“I took a shower and went to sleep.”

“Before the shower,” said Steve.

“I was either reading or writing.”

“Which was it?” said Horatio.

Brent thought about it for a moment. “I believe writing. I have been doing that lately.”

“About?” said Steve.

“I journal every night. It’s supposed to help organize my thoughts and feelings.”

“Did you murder Assistant Plethor?” said Steve.

Brent burst out in laughter and pounded the table with his fist. Sarcasm was a rarely acceptable form of communication for the Mynerthins, but one that he secretly enjoyed. It was believed to be a reflection of negativity and passive aggressive attacks, but Brent always found it to be more of an intellectual inflection.

“No, I did not murder him. Would you like to see my journal?” said Brent.

Steve leaned heavily onto the table as he tapped his fingers against his cheek. His eyelids squeezed together as he kept his gaze firmly trained on Brent. “Are you lying to us?”

The smile disappeared from Brent’s face. Being honest and truthful at all times was the most important virtue of the Mynerthins. Their purpose to human civilization was centered on the knowledge that they were the truth-tellers, provided with the authority to correct wrongful thoughts and dangerous opinions. A Mynerthin that was a known liar was better off dead.

“You have disgraced me,” said Brent. “You have not relieved my grief but sorely aggravated it. Assistant Plethor’s death was a tragedy and worth feeling sad over. I beg you to perform a lie examination on me and grant me the opportunity to redeem my integrity. I demand it.”

Sometime went by before Steve finally exhaled a heavy sigh.

“Horatio, go with Brent to his quarters. Check out his journal. And take pictures. I’ll bring in the next grief-stricken warrior.”

Horatio smiled as he stood. “You’re a natural therapist.”

“I demand a lie detector!” said Brent.

“You’re not getting it,” said Steve, before turning to Horatio. “The title’s Grief counselor, and you’re goddamn right I am.”

Brent felt as though his face were boiling as he watched Horatio unclasps the locks.

General Update

I know I began a short story last week, and I intend to continue that as soon as possible. But today I just wanted to provide a brief update.

I’ve spoken here often about improving my own time management. I am constantly working on something, but different projects require different amounts of time. For instance, editing a film, mastering a song, or molding a story are tasks that can be done in a day or a year. A great example that demonstrates this trend is the song that I’ve been working on for the past month. No matter how much I try to recreate the emotion through synthetic instruments on Ableton it has not matched the emotional impact it provided when I first played it on acoustic. I have to practice the song on a real guitar, stay true to the tempo, and learn the same chord progression in the key of Bb major. All the work I’ve put in through Ableton has been wasted, though I have created some unique synthesizers in the process.

Regardless of your aim in the world of creativity, a simple step back allows you to view the reality of accomplishing your goals. I fundamentally disagree with the longing to “get discovered”. Carving out a sustainable career is a result of a relentless effort to master the skills required for a specific profession. Eminem constantly references Dr. Dre for discovering him and exploding his career. Though he no doubt became a breakthrough artist thanks to Dr. Dre, Eminem was the one honed the skills that unlocked his meteoric rise. He needed a platform for what he was selling – but the product was already top quality.

I am trying to quantify the steps that I must take to produce a feature length film that will prove a profitable undertaking. Whether that means making more short films, knocking on doors, or building a large online following, I am game. I am certain I must have a completed script before I can be taken seriously in any avenue. Before that is completed, however, I am attempting to identify daily habits that will continuously bring me closer to my goal.

The two most obvious are daily writing/research specific to the story I am developing. The second obvious step is to educate myself on film financing.

I love wordpress and the audience that I can reach. It is the one task I can complete while I am at work. I also intend to return to creating youtube videos, but I need a more regimented system. Oftentimes I will write a script in a day, film it the following day, then require 2 weeks to edit all of the footage and music together. I’m considering creating videos where the focus is scene analysis on films that I’ve enjoyed. I feel I can come out with one of these each week. The most important aspect of creating youtube videos would be to dedicate no more than 30 minutes each day over the course of a week to create the video.

I am still waiting to find my film “Doctor with the Red Houseware” on Xumo. Once it is featured I will be happy to advertise it. As it stands, I have not released the film for free viewing on youtube. This week I am going to take steps to market the film again and set up for a free release online. I can do this by posting regularly to instagram and creating videos detailing the struggles encountered throughout the production process.

Anyways, hope all is well and to write again tomorrow. I do intend on further exploring the short story I began. It is a story I loved and one that I would consider producing. Because I have many ideas that I love I realize in my lifetime I will be unable to tell them all unless I sacrifice a little of the production quality in order to simply tell them. Have a good day.

The Mynerthins – Part One

Brent couldn’t take his eyes off his own reflection. His mind felt as if it were a bouncing water balloon.

Dirt, sweat, and blood – From his forearms to his forehead. And his muscles – fatigued to the point of instant cramping. Brent washed himself off thoroughly then went to bed.

Breakfast was served – 2 eggs, toast, and a slice of bacon.

“Good morning Brent,” said Keira. “Did you sleep well?”

“Good morning Kiera,” he responded. “I did, how did you sleep?”

“I slept well also,” Kiera said, than held her bacon up.

“No,” said Brent. He scoped the room – nobody else had seen the gesture.

The bacon was the size of his pinky finger. It was Brent’s favorite part of his meal. He often wondered what eating must’ve felt like in the old world. Meat was consumed at a gluttonous rate before the world became uninhabitable. Not every Mynerthin ate meat – in fact it was considered a weakness.

The fluorescent lights above increased to full strength and the Mynerthin’s took their place at their desktop computers.

“Good morning everyone,” said Director Limeley.

There was a strange look about the director as his eyes swept around the room. Two men with dark glasses stood at his sides. It was rare to see anyone from a parallel dwelling, but always a source of excitement.

“Assistant Plethor has died,” said Limeley.

A rush of disbelief overtook the room. Brent turned to Kiera and shared her confused expression. “Plethor’s dead?” he said.

“I’m sorry to inform you at the start of your day,” continued Director Limeley. “We have received two grief counselors to speak with each of you. My hope is that you will communicate them honestly about your feelings and answer whatever questions they may ask you. Please do not discuss this matter amongst yourselves.”

Brent took his place at the computer desk and began his humble obligations. With limited communication between dwellings, many other communities looked towards his group to provide informative discussion that could help prepare civilization for a return to dirt and grass.

At lunch time Brent spotted the available seat beside Kiera. He continued onward due to the inherrent dangers of sitting beside the same person for two consecutive meals. Unfortunately for Brent, the only remaining seat was beside Durk.

“What do you think happened to Padley?” Durk said.

Brent eyed his own bowl of rice. “I believe Director Limeley urged us not to speak it.”

Durk nodded and shoveled a scoop of rice into his mouth.

Brent wasn’t hungry. This was odd, as he hadn’t eaten much at breakfast, either.

“I do feel it is a tragedy and something worth feeling sad about,” Brent finally said.

“I agree,” said Durk.

Brent took a sip of water. Rice was a good meal and one that he was grateful to receive. He wondered if he required a medical evaluation.

“But Plethor will never instruct us again.” said Durk.

“It is awful,” said Brent. He stared fiercely back at Durk. “We should not speak of it any further.”

“Yes, it is a tragedy and something worth feeling sad about,” said Durk.

The two men returned to eating in silence. A song played through the overhanging speakers just loud enough to overcome the chewing. It was a positive song that evoked feelings of joy and happiness. The Mynerthins used many tools to maintain a positive work and life environment.

“But I’m glad he’s fucking dead,” said Durk.

Brent searched the room and found nobody staring back at them.

The urge to eat suddenly returned. Brent took a bite of rice.

Writing Genre Specific Fiction

Each genre of fiction incorporates specific nuances. Comedy must be ripe with jokes, thrillers constantly elevate the stakes, drama evolves conflicts, and horror unleashes fright. The best writers do not compress their stories to fit within the limitations of a single genre, but often utilize elements that will enhance their own story from parallel genres. When a song is composed it is written with a specific key in mind – but elements of the song will inevitably transition to other keys – relative minors, fifths, parallel minors, etc.

I have yet to write a horror story but look forward to utilize the elements of dread, terror, and shock. I am also certain mystery will be the engine that keeps the viewer captivated. I recently rewatched Pirates of the Caribbean (action) and was shocked to find just how frequently mystery was used to carry the story through each act. Major reveals catapult the first and second act into the third – the pirates on the Black Pearl are all dead, Will Turner is the son of a pirate, the gold medallion is valuable because an Aztec curse was placed upon it, and Jack’s seemingly garbage compass actually works precisely as its supposed to.

These captivating reveals are never dumped as information but occur as payoffs. In the beginning of the film we see Will wearing the medallion but do not know its significance. We know there is a supernatural aura regarding the pirates from the skepticism villagers display. Still, we have no reason to assume they are immortal. Jack Sparrow’s compass appears to move erratically – but he studies it as if its telling him something.

I feel that unfolding a story in this way requires the writer to know the secrets before they are revealed. That may seem obvious, but I remember another show where I am convinced the writers had no idea what the hell they were talking about. That show was “Lost” – where an airplane crash lands onto an island and everyone on board struggles to survive as they encounter supernatural phenomenon. The mystery that jaded me the most was the numbers – 8,16,32,64… something like that. I swear they spent an entire season talking about those goddamn numbers, including a flashback where a character won the lottery with the exact digits. Anyways, I finished the whole series and never found out why those numbers were so important. That left me unfulfilled and quite honestly resentful.

What do they mean? Nobody knows. Not even the writers.

It’s easy to write a mystery when you don’t know the answers to the questions you are presenting. Imagine a rabbit starts eating a treat out of a box then suddenly disappears. Ya, obviously there is motivation for you to keep you reading, but the explanation is the pay off. If I tell you that the treat was a magic invisibility pill I’d wager you’d put the book down. But if that rabbit ate a genetically altered carrot that included a chemical composition discovered at MIT by 3 first year engineer majors, and that same composition is theorized to accelerate redox reactions by electrons, you might believe me. It’s incoherrent bullshit, but at least there is a method to the madness. You’d rightfully anticipate a legitimate explanation to how the rabbit disappeared and why that matters. I feel “The Prestige” is a great example of this specific comparison at work. The payoff was worthwhile, despite remaining unrealistic in accordance with real world science.

So as I begin my course with this story I must choose the information the viewer will receive early and the information that will be delayed. But more importantly than that, I must figure out the elements of fear that will make this story a horror. If I fail to find ideas that are terrifying and disturbing than I am better off writing a science fiction thriller. And those scares must occur repeatedly throughout each scene. Dread, however, is an awesome area, as it basically suspense with the anticipation of terror.

This is the end of my post. One day I will discover the correct way to end them.

Returning to the White Pages

I’ve been largely absent from this blog this year. That’s in large part due to my interest in music. I’ve really enjoyed learning more about music theory, production and sound design. After completing “Doctor with the Red Houseware,” I needed some time before I felt ready to tackle another project.

I have a terrible habit of overthinking details. This results in the phenomenon of “Analysis leads to paralysis”. I’ve flirted with several premises I would like to develop but have yet to take the plunge and commit to any of them. There are a few main reasons for this – but the greatest pitfall has been the almighty dollar.

I feel filmmaking is somewhat unique to other branches of entertainment. If you are a great musician, comedian, actor, or even writer, your number one asset is yourself, your number 2 asset is exposure. The creation of a film has much less to do with talent, ability, and skills, and much more to do with budget. You can create an outstanding film with less, sure, and you can use your problem-solving skills to tackle obstacles that pose a risk to production. But at the end of the day, you’re going to need money if you intend to create a film that can rub shoulders with major box office productions. You will want the best camera, best sound, best effects, and most famous actors you can afford.

Acquiring that money is the obvious challenge, but of course there are unlimited strategies to accomplish that. From watching interviews with other filmmakers online, I’ve arrived at a variety of potentially successful avenues. The common thread for soliciting investments, however, tends to involve having a product worth selling – so obviously you must begin with a completed script.

As any writer knows, each project requires an overwhelming amount of time, effort, and anguish to complete. The major salt on the wound for writers is finding a single reader is even more of a challenge.

Part of the joy I’ve experienced in filmmaking has been the knowledge that I would produce and shoot the scripts that I wrote. As I begin work on a new feature length script I can’t help but confront the obvious – I am going to need external financing to complete a 110-130 page story.

I have developed several daily habits that require 30 minutes or less. I find that the more I limit my time the better I manage it. I’m actively considering ways in which I could post a new video to youtube each day. I feel that developing a fanbase could help me reach my goal in more ways than one. I also fear, however, that I will be tempted to devote more time to each video.

Another habit I am considering implementing has to do with knocking on doors. By routinely networking with other producers, distributors, and production companies, I can greatly improve my odds of having an ear open for me when my story is ready to pitch. I can begin to immerse myself in the business of filmmaking rather than hiding in the fantasy of it all.

I would like to return to the idea of crowdfunding the film. Of course, before I can launch a kickstarter campaign I will need to have the script completed and a sizzle reel shot. The sizzle reel is something I can take care of without any hefty investments. This would include a single location with legitimate actors that provides the overall tone and promise of the story I would like to tell.

Just wanted to share some thoughts today. I hope to do so again tomorrow.

Tone & Premise

Still from “Mountain Cult – Doctor with the Red Houseware”

As I set out to write my next project, one writing element comes to mind as the dominating cornerstone – tone.

Its importance is oftentimes understated, but I believe it plays an enormous factor in the viewability of a story. We enjoy watching films that satisfy a certain longing. It is the same reason we may return to a barbershop with sub-par barbers – if the music is “cool”, the workers are “chill”, and the “vibe” is right, we may still have an enjoyable experience. We can learn from real life experience that people are drawn to power and certain moods. It is the reason why radio stations play garbage disposals on repeat instead of music.

The second major element I intend to exploit is premise. This contains the basic idea behind the story – and what most viewers are considering when they search a film to watch. Think “Aliens land on earth to impregnate cows and form a competing intelligent species.” Within the premise you may find a motivation for watching.

I have some early ideas and routes I would like to go down, but nothing is cemented yet. I will take my first crack at a short draft on Monday. I’m hoping to produce a short film that contains the essence of a feature length story. From there I will solicit funding and distribution. It’s a long, treacherous road ahead, but the well paved roads are too boring to skate down anyway.

Lofty Goals and Loose Plans

Still from Mountain Cult – Doctor with the Red Houseware

After speaking with a competent and knowledgeable filmmaker, I am beginning work toward my next project. “Mountain Cult – Doctor with the Red Houseware” has yet to be released but I intend to make it widely available by the end of the month. I uploaded it to filmhub a couple days ago, but it failed quality control due to poster image & subtitle issues. I would like to provide my film to a marketplace distributor with the high-end goal of selling it before making it free to view. Lofty goal but shooters shoot.

So this competent filmmaker has consistently worked on other projects and takes his craft very seriously. I am excited about the opportunity to work with someone who knows what they are doing and recognizes the value in preparation.

Thought yesterday we made loose plans for rushing a script and filming a type of “practice” short relatively soon, I am now second guessing that idea in favor of my loftier goal for 2022. I would like to write a scene for a “sizzle reel” – a short scene that encompasses the tone, characters and premise of a feature film. If you want to secure funding for a film, the best way is to complete a visceral sizzle reel and use it to leverage your product’s merit with people who have the money to make it come to life. It is also wise to secure distribution before funding.

I have a few ideas floating around that vary in genre and budget requirements. The one thing I have learned through experience is that no matter what idea I pursue, I will inevitably fall in love with it and devote much more time and effort than I had initially planned. It is for this reason that I have decided against a practice shoot.

In other news, I have been updating an instagram account and facebook page for the film regularly. I hate doing it but it doesn’t take much time. I don’t quite understand how facebook business pages are supposed to attract followers when you cannot friend request them. I’ve built a good amount of “friends” on my personal page and use that one primarily to market the film. Because I click on random people each day to add as friends I inevitably have friends from regions of the world that don’t use English. I guess I have much to learn about marketing.

Anyways, that’s today’s update. Hope you have a great day.

Self Doubt and the Assumption of Guilt

I just woke from a dream that contains a lot of the building blocks for a successful plot. In the dream, a schoolbook was circulating through national news due to its connection to an unsolved crime that occurred decades earlier. On the inside cover of the book there was an address and a phone number. I immediately recognized the number, address, and handwriting to be my own – but I had no part in any crime.

I took it upon myself to contact the detectives, despite my father’s warning for potential consequences. My neighbors spoke to me afterward and I realized that I wasn’t the only person to recognize the book belonged to me. Be assured this was all still a dream – which did include several giant spiders and a detective who forgot he was still on the line midway through our conversation.

I woke up with a hazy wondering about whether my friends might have been responsible for this non-existent crime. I even considered my own guilt, despite not knowing what crime had even taken place. I guess that’s what this post is about.

Nothing feels worse than being interrogated – having your words, body language, and moral compass subjected to scrutiny. Now imagine that instead of being interrogated by a detective to clear your name you are defending a composition of your own creativity to a judgmental audience.

“Is it good, or bad?” Just as the detective is studying you on whether he believes in your innocence, any audience will analyze your work in an effort to determine the worthiness of its existence. When someone criticizes our artistic work we immediately discover reasonings within ourselves for why we failed as an artist.

I am very much put off by youtube channels that review films and determine whether they were a failure or success. In the same way I find any personality similar to Simon Cowell of American Idol a complete fraud. We offer so much attention, weight, and undeserved elevation to personalities who consistently judge others and embellish their own qualifications for reserving the God complex in their respective fields.

When you are determined to improve at your chosen craft you will recognize talents, abilities, and the observance of principles in the works of others at your level. You will hopefully find yourself hesitant to eternally damn the careers of others as they depend on the same improvements that you must make in order to find success. It is only when we have ceased to look inward and strive for personal betterment that we can sit comfortably in the judges chair.

Searching within for your own shortcomings is not a confession of guilt; it is a product of humility and willingness to learn. When we shield ourselves from introspection, reflection, and our own inadequecies, we simultaneously shield ourselves from the ability to empathize, develop, and create effectively. Resist the urge to sit in the judges chair and learn to sit comfortably under scrutiny.

I know I have been away from here for a while now. I became preoccupied with building an instagram and facebook audience for “Mountain Cult.” I have some followers on there, but somehow that led to my getting more involved in music production. I swear my brain feels like it floats and turns with the seasons. My tendency toward obsession never halts but the object of its fascination always does. Anyways, “Mountain Cult – Doctor with the Red Houseware” has already won at 3 different festivals and has been selected for a handful of them. I am trying to submit it for distribution through filmhub but am having trouble understanding some of the spec requirements. I plan to release the film this month regardless.

Check out the IMDB page for it if you’d like. Hope to write here again soon.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt17677268/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1