Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Letting the Face's Rant

Imagine, if instead of having one face, we all just had mask, each of which we had sculpted to resemble one side of us? To some people we'd show one face, then just switch it off to another as we slipped into another social group. Life would be so simple. We would just act the part of the mask, and all the people who liked that side of you would love you for that, and then you could move onto the next group with a new mask. Life would be good, and no one would fight. That is, we would love this new set up, until we got home, and lined all our faces up on the table, each and every one of them. And we stare at them all alone, thinking "which one shall I wear tonight?" With no one to try and please, you don't have a mask to wear. Then you look at yourself in the mirror, and realize the worst kind of thing; "I don't have a face of my own." Some days, I feel I live like this.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Oldies!

Recently, I've been incessantly listing to the music of Billy Joel. At first, I was one of those tentative fans. Say "Piano Man," I say "Oh yeah, I think that's by Billy Joel!" and that was the extent of my knowledge. Then, my dear friends hands me a stack a mile high of old music, most of which is from the eighties (honestly, I just can't stand the eighties!) Yet deep in the blastphemous coal of that wretched time period, I found a true diamond; disk one of Billy Joel's greatest hits. So I poped it in. Listened to it. Listened again. And again. Before you knew it, i didn't stop listening! I got disk two and fell head over heals for "She's Got a Way About Her", then "River of Dreams", "2000 years", "It's Still Rock and Role to me". I'm still on the greatest hits, I can't wait to find what gems are in his actual albulms!

Something about his songs just draws me in. The music is truly brilliant, his piano and guitar, every thing just flows. Then his voice! He changes it so well and can encapsulate so many different genres. Yet Its his lyrics that get me. Such frankness and honesty he packs, yet at the same time, beauty and truth. His lyrics tell stories of pain and pride, love and hate, rebellion and loyalty, taking situations and not changing them or distorting them, but just putting raw thought onto the page. I can't lie, its inspiring. So thank you Billy, for the music.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Kudos to Dad and his bountiful knowlege

I'm a musician, and to be frank, my dad is not. Not to say he doesn't like music or doesn't understand it, he just doesn't create it. Naturally, he's not one to go to for musical help.

Just yesterday, my band (The Sepiatones. We're way cool) were working on writing a song. It started simple, but as we began to work out the kinks, we were amazed at what we had just written! It was a fusion of epic guitar, Icelandic style drumming and a thumping bass lead! It may be one the the coolest songs i'd heard, and we had written it. With just one problem; we didn't have lyrics. And after an hour of pounding on the piano and getting really frusterated, I left the practice barn (yes, we practice in a barn) despondant at our lack of lyrical genius.

There I was, six hours later, laying on the floor, pounding a beat out with my feet like a kid throwing a temper tantrum spouting out random words. Needless to say I probably look a little silly to my dad who was passing by. He knew my dillemma, because it was all I had talked about for that day.
"Thinkin' of lyrics?" He asked, giving me a quizatical stare.
"Yeah, i've got nothing though." my reply reeked with a desprate tone.
"Try reading something! You can often find inspiration there," yeah right, Mr. Musician dad.
"Yeah, sure. i'll try" With that he left, and I kept pounding, getting no where. Finally, I picked up some Walt Whitman and started reading "The Open Road". And what do you know? Twenty minutes later, I had the first verse and chorus. Funny... I guess my dad knew what he was talking about!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Exporting sucks

Four years ago, I had just finished an extensive film production for our church. A near four months of shooting, writing and general goofing around finally came to a climactic close at our church's dinner theater, as The Rebourne Identity (a clever spoof off of The Bourne Identity series with a spiritual and comedic twist) finally was shown on the gym walls while our audience ate a delicious dinner. It was finished a mere four hours before its big debute, and to say the least, we were exauhsted, and decided to take on a much smaller project of the next year. With my friend and producer Paul graduating, that position fell to me. So, I sat down with my director Tracy, and we started brainstorming for some simple film ideas. One that could be shot in about a week, and edited in maybe a few days. We finally settled on parodying the old TV show, Star Trek. It was a solid and simple plan, and I started writing a script fall of 2008. We continued to edit, and after casting parts, we were ready to shoot spring break of 2009.

Yet the seeds of doom had already been sown.

At first, we had hoped to build some very simple sets for the space ship scenes. Upon realzing this might be a little too much work, we decided the simple thing to do would be to shoot on a greenscreen (which was a technology that we had absolutely no experience with). Also, we had failed to realize the Boy-Project-Productivity Law. It goes like this

[(Length of scene)(number of boys)/(amount of food on set)]*3= The amount of time you will spend shooting (in hours)

With six boys, and absolutely no food, we got absolutely nowhere. It didn't help that we were missing half the costumes. Or no one knew there lines. Or the main character (captain Quirk) didn't want to be in the film. So the film was shelved until the next year. We knew that if we got an early start, with a good cast, it couldn't take more than one month to shoot!

I have never been so wrong.

We started again the next fall, and I spent the next six months of my life chasing down actors, buying costumes, setting up greenscreen and generally having very little productivity. My skill as a producer/shoot planner was very un-honed, so production took even longer. Finally, we had the whole thing shot, and waiting for visual effects, when the night before the preformance, a hurricane of a glitch hit us; exporting. It would take nearly 24 hours to export just one scene! Adding up that we had less than that time left before we had to show it, my director and I, feeling defeated, yet again shelved the project.

The next fall, we sat down at the drawing board, looking at what we had and what was left. Seeing as we had a few months left before the show, we thought we could re-shoot all of the live action scenes (a meager 60% of the whole film.) Not to mention all the editing and post production we still had to do. Finally, after a grueling six hour final shoot, and my director and I camping out next to the computers, the film was almost ready the day of. I had to help serve dinner to all of the guests, so I was impatiently waiting for the film to be finished when I got the shocking news- an hour away from showing, the computer had crashed-while exporting!

Needless to say I was terrified that it still wouldn't be done in time, not to mention that we had never practiced the flow from film to live performance. But there he was; my director, marching in the room with computer in hand.

It was a wonderful feeling, listening to my audience laugh. Admitted, not all the jokes were laughed at, but people still loved it. I still have a kid, begging me for a copy. I can't give it to him yet, because its still not finished (the very last clip was never shot because of the film to live action flow) But we're gonna shoot it, and when we do, I'll finished it all. And I'll export it. And even if something goes wrong- we're toasting to this movie!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What you put in will come out

Music is my life. I live it. I breath it. I play it. And more often than not, I eat to it. My whole thought-life is kinda like a gigantic drum and guitar solo, constantly running through my head. Its full of bass licks and dance beats, simple blues riffs and harmonica slides.

On the other hand, the music I listen to is anything but normal. You could tell that if I listed a few of my favorite and most influential bands, Sigur Ros, Jonsi, Sufjan Stephens, Radiohead, The White Stripes, Cold War Kids, etc. Kinda sounds like a bunch of forein names, doesn't it?

I also have a slight affinity for darker music, such as Pink Floyd's 'The Wall', or Radiohead's 'Hail to the Thief'. In fact, look back a few years ago, and that was all I listened too. I enjoyed listening to the darker side of man.

I did not notice the direction this sent me. I didn't check myself to see how this music affected me. And when I did, I was rather disturbed. My mood was often reclusive, thoughtful, and when interrupted, grumpy and even violent. So, I tried cutting back on darker stuff, and found my mood improved.

Just thinking back on this, it reminded me that what we put in will effect our 'output' of emotions. Which is rather scary for me, as I see the lyrical direction modern music is going. I won't rant and rave about how its evil and your a sinner if you listen to it. I just want to say, it will affect you.

And chances are, you wont notice it.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

This was a video a friend of mine and I threw together a few weeks ago. We really hope you catch the sarcasm =)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Cobb wasn't the first to complete Inception....

Nolan has truly made a masterpiece. A film I can watch three times and still be puzzled by all the little details I miss each time. Ok, I do read a little too much into everything, making it easy to think I've discovered something that doesn't exist. Often, I'll notice an emphasis on a specific word spoken, or even a glance between two people and deduce simply from those words that they are actually all under the process of incepted by Cobb's grandfather. Yet still, I alway's walk away from the film, feeling as if I've gained one more piece to the puzzle, only to discover the next gap. It's infuriating for some, but I find it exhilarating.

Yet I couldn't help but notice that the idea of Inception, the idea that you could make someone think a thought that does not belong to them, is not a truly new idea. Let Shakespeare's play come to mind, and substitute the great villain Iago into the part of Cobb, except with a different motive; to drive his target, Othello (the fill-in character for Robert Fischer) to the point of destroying his own life with a simple idea. Iago starts his plan with building a web of little lies and disbelief, such as getting Casio drunk, promising Rodrigo Desdamona, and convincing Casio to ask Desdamona for help. These could easily be compared to the 'Levels' of the dream that had to be built. 

Iago also uses the "Mr. Charles" ploy on Othello, convincing him that he is one to be trusted (hence the often chanted refrain of 'Honest Iago!'), all the while successfully turning himself against the ones who care most for him, and are there to protect him.

Finally, he plants the seed. He gives a simple implication that he thinks Othello's wife Desdamona is cheating on him. Here we see the major difference; Cobb will settle for now less than 'genuine inspiration', where Robert must think it was his own idea, while Iago just needs a subtle nudge, and all hell breaks loose on its own.

Either way, we see this power of the idea Cobb speaks of. We can see that an idea can really tear apart companies. Or lives.