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.

Running a Meetup Group – 5/29/20

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If you’re looking for helpful advice on how to run a meetup group, this post isn’t for you.

So this is pretty much a lazy bull shit post so I urge you not to read further, I just think I need to get in the habit of posting regularly again. For Mountain Cult I don’t really have anything to do until I secure a location for episode 4.

Ok, so here’s what I did – I realized I new very few people interested in filmmaking, and in particular acting, and also saw that my local area did not have any local groups that would serve my interest. So I launched my own – the Riverside Film Network.

Well, guess what – the corona virus has had this strange effect on people where they don’t really leave their homes or go out in public places. So the first 2 meetings I had with the group were suggestions to create a short youtube video, which one lady kindly did. Also my good friend joined the group and created one, but that was just to troll me.

Now that the covid-19 lockdown is winding down, I’m preparing to announce our first meet up. I’m pretty excited about the possibilities of the group, but also apprehensive. I don’t want to be the constant driving force behind a group if the participation is insignificant. At the same time, however, I am the one who started the group, so it’s success/failure is largely on my shoulders.

Do you have any experience with meetup? If you are a writer I highly suggest you join one. Being in a public group is a great way to motivate you to continue striving toward your goal and is the first step in networking regarding your specific interest.

Ok, that’s it. Here’s my stupid ass short film if you haven’t seen it yet. God knows I’ve posted this thing enough times already.

Intermission – 5/23/20

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After posting episode 3 and marketing it over the past few days, I’m feeling much better than I did during my last post. I’ve gathered over 180 views on it, which for me is a remarkable feat. If you’ve been following me for a bit, you’d remember that I ordered all my equipment, built a camera, and started learning about filmmaking earlier this year. So I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for each new youtue subscriber I have gotten.

Since episode 3 is wrapped up, I’m taking a short break before I begin writing and organizing for episode 4. A major reason for that is me and my girlfriend are looking for a new apartment to rent. Unbeknowst to her, that apartment is going to be used as the “cult” headquarters in my future videos.

I also did some amazon shopping in preparation for episode 4. I’ve purchased a bb gun that looks so damn real I’m afraid to bring it out into public. I also got a second a hard drive, which I finally installed today. Yet to be opened is my new lavalier microphone, which will allow me to record a back up audio track and record audio in shots where it is difficult to hide my current condenser mic. I also purchased a second lens – a sigma 30mm. It’s in the box and I can’t wait to try it out.

There are a couple decisions weighing me down currently. For one thing, my current hard drive and NVME card is nearly full. I’d like to delete all my stored footage, but once I do that I will lose the ability to edit my past projects. Because the story is loosely adhering to a feature length screenplay structure, I’m hesitant to lose that ability. If I go back to my first two episodes, I will be able to improve the coloring and clean up the audio. I can then edit out a few of the credits and combine the clips to create the first 20 minutes of a feature length movie. Who knows, maybe I’ll be able to market it for distribution at some point.

Anyways, these are my thoughts. Hope you have a great weekend and stays tuned for more updates.

Burnt out – 5/22/20

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After weeks of locking myself up and editing a stupid phone screen to make it look black, I completed episode 3. I’m tired as shit, void of sleep, and genuinely sick of promoting the stupid video.

I’m proud of how it turned out – it’s easily the best thing I’ve put together. Ok, it’s not great, nothing special, whatever…. I built a dolly, learned how to color grade, and discovered some new editing techniques to create some low budget “special effects”.

I apologize to all 3 of the people out there who may have been following my blog post. I had to stop posting on here because editing was eating up ALL of my off duty time. Now that the video is completed, and posted, I should be able to interact again more regularly.

I’m already looking forward to the following episode (I’m not burnt out from filmmaking, mind you) and have a handful of actors who are supposedly willing to perform. I have a great idea for the next episode, I just want to make certain I have my resources all lined up before I type out the story.

This weekend I plan to promote the video. It is such a pain in the ass to go through different social media platforms yelling at people to “look at my work! Check it out!” but someone has to do it. Since you have a wordpress account, you’re probably already aware of that.

I just wanted to stop by here and vent out all my frustrations because I know that’s the type of content you signed up for. What better way to start your morning than to listen to someone gripe about stupid shit. I always end my post with “anyways” and even that annoys me right now.

Anyways, I posted the video down below in case you wanted to check it out. Feel free to almost click play and then click back instead so you can read a different wordpress post.

Need Writer With Brain – 4-12-20

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Episode 2 was much easier to shoot then 3 will be

It’s been a good week for me – episode 2 was viewed favorably and a producer requested one of the features that I’ve written. On top of that, my lens hood arrived along with a lens filter. I intend to film outside again. Last time the camera began to overheat when filming in the direct sunlight, so I believe these cheap tools should help alleviate that problem.

Episode 3 is a big turning point. I’ve mentioned here before that the first day of filming was  wash, so I’m basically shooting it from scratch. That gives me an oppurtunity to rewrite the script and tweak it. I’m going to strengthen the story line, but the biggest thing I can do is reconfigure it for easier filming. The short cut to that will be having Josh leap off the rock immediately then get in my face to stop me from progressing. This way, we can placed the microphone closer to the scene and be able to run through takes more rapidly. (last time we filmed I was running to 3 different stations to make sure the camera and sound were recording before I got into position for the take. This was time consuming and cost us more takes).

But there is a bigger issue. I want episode 3 to be faster paced with elevated stakes and greater tension. Like I’ve said before, a story is about what happens. So instead of linking a script, I’ll just list out some shit.

If you haven’t seen episode 1 & 2, here is the just of what happens:

Episode 1 – Ryan (my character) has captured a hiker whom he accuses of being a cult member who played a hand in abducting his wife. The “cult member” manages to break free and leaves behind a piece of Melanie’s jewelry (Melanie is Ryan’s missing wife)

Episode 2 – Ryan shares his cult research with his brother, who suggests he is losing his mind. On his way out, Ryan’s brother suggest that he scope out “Ruggerman’s Trail” – the place where weird, supernatural shit has been reported.

Ok, that brings us this weeks project. As it stands, episode 3 plays out like this:

  1. Ryan hikes, searching far and wide for signs of Ruggerman’s Trail
  2. Ryan spots the pile of clothes that the captured cult member advised him about
  3.  Josh prevents Ryan from proceeding and orders him to turn back
  4. Ryan tricks Josh and gets to the clothes
  5. Josh also has an ace up his sleeve, and the episode ends with Ryan in impending danger

That’s pretty much 5 pages. It’s the most action I’ve had in a single scene, and being that it is outside, I don’t believe I’ll be able to capture all the footage in one day. That is another motivation for me to reduce the scene with Josh to 3 pages, and dedicate 2 pages to raising the stakes and developing the overall story. Here is what I’m considering adding.

  1. Ryan searches a map for the location of Ruggerman’s Trail
  2. Ryan receives a call from his mother in law, who complains how she has only heard from her daughter through text messages, and desperately wants to come and see her face to face. She will arrive shortly.
  3. Ryan tells her he’s welcome, then rapidly packs his belongings and heads for the hills.

Those are the baby ideas that I’d like to develop into A, B, and C story lines. What I could really use is a logical reason for Ryan to recover the pile of clothes to redeem himself from any accusation of involvement and also prove his theory that a cult has taken her. I’m having trouble figuring out a good reason that Melanie’s clothes being retrieved by prove could somehow prove his innocence, however.

On top of this, I don’t have anyone in mind to play the mother in law. This isn’t a huge concern, as the role will only consists of voice-over audio included in the phone call.

I just want the episode to feel like a race, from start to finish, with one thing going wrong after another. I want it to feel like if Ryan fails to reach the trail he will be going to prison, blamed for his wife’s disappearance, and unable to shed any light on the secretive cults existence.

I’m open to any and all ideas at the moment. If you think you see a way that I could increase the tension, stakes, or conflicts in this episode, please do not hesitate to share your idea. I’m open to anything at the moment, but keep in mind that resources are limited. No new actors or expensive props are available at the moment. Thank you for take the time to read through this blather of a post, and I wish you a happy Easter.

If you would like to view episode 2, feel free to check out the link below.

Location Scouting – 3-20-20

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The first episode of the web series is all but wrapped up. I’m really happy with how its turned out but I still have some colorgrading and music to add before I post it. In the meantime, I’m preparing for the next day of shooting.

I have a different friend who’s willing to participate this upcoming Wednesday. That’s not a for sure thing, however, as he lives quite far from me and there’s also a statewide stay-at-home order here in California.

Regardless, I’m formulating plans for the second episode. I want to get ahead of the curve so that I can post regularly to youtube. It’s no secret that consistent & regular post help you build an audience on social media.

I don’t want to give the plot to the first episode away entirely, but I’ll share some of it with you in case you’re interested in my process. In episode 1, My character’s wife has gone missing, so he kidnaps a hiker with a high index of suspicion that the hiker was involved in her disappearance. My character believes this hiker has links to a mysterious cult that performs human sacrifices deep in the wilderness. The first episode takes place in my characters barn yard-turned-prison cell. The second episode will take place at one of the locations below. I went on a hike today and took some pictures around the area I’m considering. Feel free to share any ideas for which area I should select for the episode. As of now I’m limited to myself and one other actor.

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I like the rustic look of this little outpost

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The multiple directions really appeals to me artistically, but I’m afraid this area would get interrupted by drivers during each take

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This is a pet cemetery. Is that creepy or cute?

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More cemetery 

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This will probably be my spot. Trees and hills go on for days, it easily accesible, and far enough from the main road audio don’t pick up the vehicles trudging along below. 

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A miniature dog walking park that nobody uses. Kind of unsettling. Small chance for some interruption during filming. 

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Another solid spot. That horizon line looks amazing. I like how the trail disappears right behind the bushes, too. 

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Some kind of hawk flying overhead. Not a film location but the bird is pretty bitchin’. 

So, there you have it – a regular trail with scenic background, a pet cemetery, and an unused dog walking park. Also that rustic looking barn. Not sure which spot I’ll use, but I need to figure that out first before I can develop an episode for it. I’ll also need a reason for me and the other actor to be at that spot, searching for clues about my character’s wife’s disappearance. I better get it sorted out quick, because my golden day to film is only a handful of days away.

Editing is a nightmare – 3-19-20

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If you’re a writer you know the feeling of crushing procrastination. You love your story but there’s a certain roadblock you can’t quite wrap your head around. Why does your antagonist take this action if what he really wants is this? Why doesn’t the protagonist make the reasonable decision to contact the authorities and instead take matters into their own hands? The lists of rock-and-a-hard place choices is endless.

Well I’m finding out swiftly that goes the same for video editing. There are two action sequences in the short I’m editing (if we can even call them that). I already spent my entire Sunday afternoon cleaning up a simple sequence that features me unclasping handcuffs, unlocking a latch, picking up a rifle, and entering a cell room. As the week progressed I moved deeper into the scene where I’ve met my next major sequence obstacles.

My scene partner looks at the piece of jewelry in his hand, continues on with his dialogue, then hurls it into the cell wall and flees the cell. That’s it, it sounds so simple (and maybe it should be) but it’s turned out to be the crux of my scene. We have multiple takes of the same sequence, but none of the pieces seem to fit together. He pulls out and looks at the jewelry at different times. He practically jogs out of the cell after distracting me. And I am slow to flinch and grab for the jewelry.

It amazes me how such a simple action can make my scene look so f*king stupid. You remember The Office, when Michael Scott shows the James Bond type movie to his coworkers and they all laugh at him? Yeah, this is what that feels like. Funny enough, my only goal right now when I make a short is to keep it from looking like some teenagers put it together on one boring afternoon with an Iphone.

Anyways, thought I’d share my bullshit with you before I get off work and try to figure this sucker out. I’m messing around with different editing effects on Adobe pro premiere, such as zoom in/out and slow motion/speed up. Some of them look really good. An issue with slow-mo is I shot at 30 frames per second, when it appears much better if you shoot at 60 fps for that. When I decided to start directing, I made it a goal to let the story come first. I’ve never seen a film where insane visual effects improved the emotional impact of the story, so I’m trying not to get too invested in that aspect of the process. Anyway, thanks for listening to my complaint.