General Thoughts

I’ve got 20 minutes to write this before I attend a work required class. Not enough time to do anything of significance but maybe I can get something out there.

I hate watching days pass as I continue to work on my current project. As I’ve noted throughout, the belief in what I’m doing for the current episode is based in what it may provide for me in the future. I came to a realization that frequency and quantity of content is a better predictor of success than quality alone. If you make a perfect song as a no name artist, you may not have anyone to give it a listen. Pop stars, on the other hand, will have their bullshit replayed over radio waves until even the non-complicit listeners know the words. Film and novels are no different – there are tremendous stories out there that nobody has ever heard of, and maybe never will.

I think about Van Gogh a lot. We all know he was an insanely talented and tormented artist. But what amazes me most about Van Gogh is his inability to sell a painting. He lived in his mind, constantly improving his craft with a non-stop output of material. But his personality was abrasive which I believe led to a lot of personal rejection. I believe Van Gogh thought that strangers would see the magnificence of his work without having a personal relationship with him. Today’s “influencers” are the polar opposite – they don’t produce a product, they’re personality is the product. For me it is proof that the majority of people value social status over the invisible truths – beauty, love, faith. Today Van Gogh is universally praised as an artistic juggernaut because it is the accepted social norm of a view. In his day, I’m certain the common man would respond to his name with a “Who?”.

All this is to say I believe in my current project because it should enable me to produce more content faster in the future. I can return to making music and include a new track in each episode. I can reuse the characters I have already designed, programmed, and replicated in multiple perspectives. The show itself is about ambulance workers – so I don’t see why each episode shouldn’t include an ambulance and a hospital for 75% of the runtime. That means I can reuse backgrounds, which again promotes efficiency.

The lag I have experienced is related to this repeatedly. Reusable background are created in multiple perspectives, as are the dynamic assets within them (passing vehicles, phones, chairs, desks, etc.). But why design one vehicle in 3 perspectives, when you can simply change the color and create 10 vehicles in 3 perspectives? This same thinking applies to everything. Why create a picket fence for the scene at hand and not save it as a PNG with alpha to be reused later? It’s millions of small tasks like this that drain the day. I do not enjoy any of it but stand by my philosophy.

A few days ago I ordered some studio monitors (aka speakers). Last week I purchased a new focusrite interface that will allow me to mix in surround sound. I am extremely excited about this possibilities this provides. Even if I should start mixing other filmmakers work, that might produce better long term results than spending more hours at the job I currently have, which is unrelated to any of this.

Any way, it’s time for me to head out now. Hope all is well and you find joy with your day.

To Those Who Dig

A young man frightened his friend when he started to dig. He was convinced he had been blessed with a vision by God, directing him to the location of a ancient treasure chest. He set out to the hills in the early morning and did not return until the late evening. At the end of the first day, he did not find his treasure. His friend scoffed When the young man returned, but was relieved to see him back.

On the second day, the young man dug an additional 8 feet down. His friend was disappointed that he was still stuck on the vision, and asked when they would be able to hang out again. The young man informed his friend that he would not cease until he found his treasure. At the end of the second day, the young man did not find his treasure.

As the young man dug deeper he ran into a problem – the depth of the hole was too great to efficiently transfer dirt and rubble to the surface. The young man set into town to borrow a machine. At the end of the first month, the young man still had not located his treasure.

It was not enough to simply borrow the machine, the young man would discover. Operational challenges impeded his progress. The young man requested operational manuals which he studied in the library. At the end of the first year, he had not found his treasure.

The dig site had become something of intrigue to the rest of the town. While his friend went off and got married, the young man had somehow managed to dig a site with enough acreage that the town’s own mayor came out just to believe it with his own eyes. The mayor informed the young man that the location was perfect for the town’s new amusement park, and the young man’s knowledge of machinery would serve him well as the lead technician. The young man agreed, as long as he was permitted to dig further onward for his treasure. At the end of 5 years, the man still had not found his treasure.

He continued to dig relentlessly, even inventing new machines to assist him in unique challenges. He began filing patents and selling his own inventions to government contracted paleontology organizations. He had grown distant from his friend as the years rolled on, but knew he had children of his own, along a mortgage and lawn that put the other Johnsons to shame. Ten years passed and the man had not found his treasure.

In the twelth year, four months, and three days, the man found something – it was not gold, but it was black as death and runny as syrup. The man had struck oil in a location that he had purchased for pennies. He had never drilled for oil before, but was grateful to discover he was more than prepared to lead a team and purchase the right equipment. His oil business boomed – and soon he had sites throughout North American and even Venezuela. After 15 years, however, the man still had not discovered his treasure.

20 years went by when the man’s friend spontaneously decided to pay him a visit. He himself had fallen on some difficult times. Infidelity had led to the dissolution of his marriage, and that event had its own destructive role in his work performance. He never understood why he had cheated on the woman he had promised his heart, but also knew he his desire to cheat had been suppressed for far too long to write it off as a spontaneous act.

The friend was astonished to learn the man he grew up with now owned the largest skyscraper in all of New York, and the journey to his office would include 3 flights of stairs, 80 stories of elevators, and 3 separate ID checks. But when he entered his office, he saw something that made him forget all the other extravagant sites.

Smack on the desk, in between the friend and the man, was an unmistakable treasure chest – just like in the stories. It had already been pried open and featured gemstones, gold, and rubies. The friend dropped into the seat and placed his hat onto his knee.

“You found it,” he said, shaking his head.

The man nodded and grinned.

“Was it at the same site? You know, right where your vision told you it would be?”

“Oh, no,” said the man. “It was discovered in South America. We were excavating a new drilling site then rammed right into it.”

His friend was silent momentarily, then scoffed. “Jesus. You really had my heart racing there for a second.”

“Why?” said the man.

“Well, I suppose if it was at the site from your dream, that would have meant your vision was real. I suppose I would have to rethink some of my own beliefs. No offense, but I mean, I read the news – you’ve drilled all over the world. It only makes sense you finally found something, it was really just a matter of time. “

The man smiled.

“What are you going to buy with it?” Asked the friend.

“Hmm,” The man said. “I don’t know. I never really thought about that.”

His friend stood sharply and his hat fell to the floor. He grazed his fingers over the gold and jewels and gazed into the sunlight bouncing off the gems.

“Never thought about it! What the hell were you thinking about all that time?” He shouted.

The man plucked one the gold coins from the pile and flipped it into the neurotic grasp of his friend.

“I don’t really know,” said the man, “I guess I was just thinking about how to find it.”

The man turned his gaze to the window and down to the congested streets 80 stories below him. He sighed.

After 20 painstaking, backbreaking years, the legendary man still, had not found, his treasure.

Robot Paramedic – First Look

Don’t worry about the mouths or eyes. They look funny because multiple expressions sit atop one another.

I’ve been tirelessly designing an animated web series that I intend to launch before the end of the month. The show is a buddy comedy about Blue, a salty paramedic and Ricky, his enthusiastic robot trainee.

The first episode will be about Blue realizing Ricky was not engineered for immediate success. They will experience their first real call together and it will put Ricky’s to-the-moon expectations through the meat grinder.

I have no intention or desire to be an animator, however I do view it as an effective media for storytelling. I can utilize skills and abilities that I’ve learned through filmmaking, music, and writing to produce short episodes with a high standard of quality. The cool thing about animation is you can constantly reuse assets – facial expressions, backgrounds, character actions. The larger plan is to produce episodes on a weekly basis that allow for greater time efficiency. Once the ball is rolling I hope to write a feature length script. As I build an audience for the show I can use that as leverage for other projects.

Hope all is well and I look forward to updating progress for episode 1 here soon. If you haven’t seen Doctor with the Red houseware yet, feel free to click the link and check it out on TUBI.

Filmmaking Process – Day 5

Watch “Doctor with the Red Houseware” on Tubi!

Today I’ve post the 5th and final installment of the behind the scenes process of creating “Doctor with the Red Houseware.” I discuss the specific challenges of this day that included prop design, time management, and acting in a scene when you are feeling delirious.

Doctor with the Red Houseware is available for free streaming on TUBI!

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.