Tag Archives: off topic

What Does All Art Have in Common?

So, we’ve been having a conversation at my house lately, and I wanted to open it up to y’all (or yous, if you’re from the BX) on the blog to think about and comment on.

My friends Dave Chalk of The Northern, Jared Mark Smith (yes, the actor), Whittney Clair Kesslar, and Charlie Callahan (yes, aka’d as Rayman Demure) all got in a rollicking discussion on the subway last night, so much so that the ladies in the next section over got in on the convo.  So, without further ado: please, consider and respond:

1) Is all good art controversial?

2) Is all good art (at least subliminally) sexual?

Please use examples to back up your answers… we will chime in as people respond!

“The Hedgehog in the Fog”

1975, Soviet Russia: “The Hedgehog in the Fog”, a short animated film directed by Yuriy Norshteyn, hits the screen. I stumbled across it the other day and want to share it with you here. I was interested to learn that it garnered a lot of worldwide attention. In fact, Hayao Miyazaki cites it as one of his favorite animated films of all time.

If for no other reason, check it out for the visuals. According to Wikipedia (heh), the fog effects “were created by putting a very thin piece of paper on top of the scene and slowly lifting it up toward the camera frame-by-frame until everything behind it became blurry and white”.

NaNoWriMo

Fill up your pens and sharpen those pencils, folks. It’s National Novel Writing Month (click for link). Thirty days and nights of literary abandon!

On Fashion and Costumes

So, I reeeeealy wish I had a picture of this, but this morning at 10AM found Carmen (one of our production designers) and I walking down Canal street with about 20 yards of 2″ thick foam.  Now, this roll was about 3′ tall and 4′ in diameter, and I simply carried it on my head and walked the 20 blocks to the scenic shop where the sets are being built.

Now, this does sound/it was ridiculous.  But in the middle of Canal street on a busy weekday morning?  No one really gave me a second look.  Ahh, New York.

But onto other things!  A classmate of mine showed me the most amazing blog the other day – it’s called the “Sartorialist”.  It’s just pictures of fashionable people on the streets.  Now, I may not have yet figured out how to fashionably dress myself, but I do enjoy looking at good fashion – and I love this blog.  It’s both fashionable, but extremely practical.  It’s everyday people on the street, and I love the vibe.  It’s maintained by a designer who was looking for a more contemporary, practical pulse on fashion, and he just walks around and takes pictures of people he sees.  Amazing.

It’s also provided lots of great inspiration for our characters.  See the picture I pulled off the site as an inspiration for “Fynn”, a small character in our movie who is a joyful, scraggley, devoted disciple of Rachael’s.  I love it.

That Silent Other

Although my MMORPG guildies and “Sheol” readers may not believe it: Yes! I am, in fact, still alive and directing. Truthfully, never has blogging been my forte or interest. I value privacy, and would rather spend my hours in the world doing, not weaving cyber-confessions for the web. However, every so often, a project or cause or idea cracks the ice of my accountability-aversion, and then it’s WordPress and passwords and fonts and NO, dammit, the picture should be RIGHT-justified! …until the sun goes down. “The Sheol Express” is one such endeavor, and as I was sitting here waiting for video to render a job with which I am presently engaged, I thought: what better way to kill some down-time than by giving our blog a shout? So here it is.

This movie rocks. You can argue and laugh and roll your eyes and attribute my conviction to my direct involvement, but skepticism will not change the Truth. Rehearsing with our actors has opened up new avenues of possibility, and next week we’ll bring Andrew (our DP) into the mix to start tinkering with our preliminary shotlist, adopting the invention introduced by Randall, Alexandria, Michael, and Ashton. The closer we draw to production, the more I discover that my role as director is that of Facilitator: having shaped “the vision” with Ryan, we now must keep our departmental experts in constant, easy communication with each other. I can’t tell you how many production meetings I’ve attended during which Ryan and I ask questions, then open up the floor to people smarter than us. “The Sheol Express” is a collaborative endeavor that defies the prevailing auteur approach… which, I suspect, is a reason we’ve butted heads with NYU authorities on more than one occasion. It is remarkable to me how credit-centric the film business is. It feeds on egos and preys on passion – if you give it your soul, it will damn you without redemption. Expect no return on your sacrifice. So I thank God for the breath of fresh air the “Sheol” team is gifted, as I sincerely believe we are combatting this disease with effective teamwork. Honestly, it feels more like a family than a crew, and for this, I am grateful.

***

On another note, there have been many questions about Ryan’s and my decision to co-direct, and how this decision will affect our set dynamic. Firstly, I must say that neither of us puts much stake in the auteur theory. While one person can make a brilliant film, greatness is not the exclusive ward of the individual. We firmly believe that the right team can outshine the solitary soldier – “woe to him that is alone when he falls, and has not another to pick him up.” We complement each other like peanut butter and jelly, and when we agreed to tackle this beast, our relational point of comparison was – brace yourselves, ladies and gentlemen! – marriage. As much as two humans can, we must share one mind. BUT, and this is where things get interesting, our differences also birth a host of benefits (get your mind out of the gutter). Put bluntly, we cover each other’s asses. 

…And here is where I unveil my geekdom, by comparing our approaches to videogames. Any Real Time Strategy fans out there? You know who you are. Red Alert, Starcraft, Age of Empires (I’ll still kick your ass)… the top-down, micro-managing, big picture sort of titles that put the lives of legions in your hands. Well, that’s Patch: a multitasking logistical god. Don’t cross him online, ye of the RTS world! But while I can hold my own in RTS classics, I’m primarily an RPG player. For me, it’s all about first-person world immersion! The experience is tantamount, the environments are key, the details essential to fleshing out the Universe, so that sometimes, the practicals are lost in the ideals.

But our forces combined? My focused specificity couples with Patch’s logistical oversight like a frackin’ chain spell. We’ve had our share of “marital disputes”, but the endgame strength of our pairing unleashes a whirlwind of production. And we’re also just really good friends. So. Yeah. I never watched the Power Rangers.

***

Recently, the question was posed to me: “do you think that tackling the grand questions about the Universe [ie., Truth, as in “The Sheol Express”] is actually a way you have of deflecting a filmic investigation of more personal struggles within yourself?” I answer: no. Maybe I’m the only one’s ever thought about jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge on account of the lack of a coherent worldview, but c’mon, man – we all need an anchor. Something solid to cling to, enabling us at least to believe we’re more than driftwood. Hell, Ivan beat me to it: 

“The universal and everlasting craving of humanity – to find someone to worship. So long as man remains free he strives for nothing so incessantly and so painfully as to find someone to worship…For the secret of man’s being is not only to live but to have something to live for. Without a stable conception of the object of life, man would not consent to go on living, and would rather destroy himself than remain on earth, though he had bread in abundance.”

…Then again, we could all just laugh.

***

My next film project, though, likely will deal with something a little more modest, short and experimental. It’s not everyday we take a train ride through the afterlife, and I’m itching to watch somebody wash his hands, or lose his car keys, or get dumped, or something. Still, I’ll be writing the big ones like “The Secret Masters of the Universe” (legislative editor Edmund Erasmus unearths a conspiracy to end the world in seven days), “The Ferrymen” (carrying the ashes of their village’s dead, two brothers traverse a subterranean world to reach a mythical paradise), and possibly a play entitled “Sailing to Golgotha” (a sailor receives an absurd vision, instructing him to travel to Jerusalem and witness “the death of God”) – editing a documentary about infant health in Burma, and another about Alaskan predator control, with my brother Dan’s support – but am planning to esteem the mundane therein.

Several days ago, my sister sent me a precious email, which I will cherish forever: 

“Life isnt about the ups and downs. Its about the little moments that make up the ups and downs in life. Just another one of my wise thoughts I figured out from just taking a step back and observing my life. Moments when the world seems to be at peace with you and you are perfectly content with the world. These moments make me ahppy. When Sadie does something stupid but cute, when Josh breaks out in song, when Mom makes my favorite food, when Dad comes and swoops me up in a giant hug. This is why we live life, for these special treasured moments. Remember these.”  

I intend to, Christie. 

So! “Every word is like an unnecessary stain on silence and nothingness” – signing off  -

Mike

More “Watchmen” Pizazz…

I am so over this movie…

And then THIS shows up.

Should You Watch the “Watchmen”?

In a word, No.

I don’t often like to give simple, one-word answers, but this film’s second weekend begins today, and it’s success this weekend will essentially determine weather it’s considered a success or a disappointment by Hollywood standards.  I felt that I should say something to influence people in favor of more deserving films.

“Watchmen”, as you are no doubt aware, is based on a Hugo-award winning graphic novel (don’t call it a comic, someone will hurt you) and has been ranked on Time Magazine’s top 100 novels of all time.  These oft-repeated facts are given to try to elevate people’s conception of the material (and the movie), above what people perceive as a “comic book” movie.  I personally think that “Dark Knight” was all we needed, but apparently the people at Warner Brothers thought differently.

And the book itself is deserving of these words – the material is really quite dense.  However, it seems that the creators of the film completely missed these deeper meanings in the text.  What’s annoying about the film is that director Zac Snyder does an admirable job preserving the visuals from the comic (apparently keeping as many easter eggs in as he can (link)) and lifting most of the dialogue directly from the book.  But despite this, the movie doesn’t add up to something worthwhile. read more »

Everything Must Change.

Ride A Train Across the US

From the New York Times, as shared by Ian Korn from his Google Reader.  Be sure to check out the “Voices From the Rails” thing on the right side of the article.

“Finding the Charm of Cross-Country Rail Travel” at nytimes.com.