The Tree of Life (Highly recommended. Simply one of the best films produced and distributed in years. Keep in mind that this is an experimental film with narrative elements and not vice versa. See this film in a good theater and give yourself the rare gift of the experience and the opportunity to love or hate it. Seriously it is worth traveling a couple of hours for a showing. Don't read anything about it, check out the trailer and go!)
Sleeping Beauty (Almost a solid literary film. The filmmaker needed to revise small portions of context during the screenplay's body in order to make the last scene fit and achieve her theme, much less give it the intended punch. As is, the film is subtly interesting yet frustrating. Afterward your mind will work to fill in the gaps for what was not adequately presented in hopes of deciphering a coherent intention.)
Melancholia(Highly recommended. As with 'Tree', here is a film that is larger than the rest of this year's offerings. The title coupled with the tagline, "A beautiful movie about the end of the world" is accurate. To contrast the romanticism of the setting and design, the director filmed the majority of the film handheld. So if films with swishy pans make you motion sick, be prepared. I'm sensitive in that regard, and yet I will watch this film again. Sad and lovely with a sense of freedom for some and loss for others, and, as with most films on this list, you do yourself a favor in seeing it at a good cinema. The opening Phantom cam overture is hauntingly awesome.)
Another Earth(Recommended. "Another Earth" means "Another Chance" in this independent drama-romance. The scifi aspect is thematic and poetic, much like in 'Melancholia', instead of a plot-driven. The film is therefore terrestrial. It's a keen fit for a sleepless night and the ending is just right. Although scientifically a stretch, repeating visuals of Earth II in the sky makes the hanging globe a character in itself, and one of the more memorable filmic images of the year.)
The Sleeping Beauty
Plus, a drama with hints of magical reality and a comedy with hints of fantasy:
The Future(A lonely drama with hints of magical reality about borderline dysfunctional adult adolescence and narcissism. Young Adult, also out this year, addresses similar themes. Miranda July is always quirky and it's clear that she's making choices, but in the case of this film, I can't say that I always find those choices to be the best possible or the most persuasive.) Midnight in Paris (Highly recommended. Charming and surprisingly--well, I won't say too much. The trailer is wonderful. It piques interest and is true to the film but gives nothing away. Best trailer I've seen in years. If you read reviews you will be spoilered.)
If a Tree Falls (Recommended. A look at motivation, protest and the relativism of the term "terrorist". Battlestar Galactica raised these ideas via fiction. Here we see them prompted and questioned in real life.) General Orders No. 9
You'll recall that we are also interested in fresh offerings related to art production and media analysis:
Conan O'Brien Can't Stop(Recommended. A look at Conan's recovery from being shafted by the NBC/corporate media conglom culture. In my own way I can identify with his desire to always be "on" and there for audiences, while at the same time being exhausted, which is a struggle.) Page One(Recommended. A focused look at news, the editorial process and original, high-quality creation in the age of digital parasites and aggregators. The information here is both accessible and important. Did you know that production on a Pulitzer-worthy investigative journalism project costs around an estimated 400k? Typically those are the news pieces that save communities and lives, and confront corruption.) Miss Representation
Additional films of any genre which may prove solid enough:
Young Adult(Dark comedy-drama, slightly quirky, depressingly accurate movie about narcissistic adult adolescence. Trailer contains most of the funny parts.) The Artist Shame Martha Marcy May Marlene Pina(Two days before production on a documentary about her work, choreographer Pina Bausch died. Her dancers convinced director Wim Wenders to continue with the film. Was the result the most technical and creative memorial service in existence? I don't know. But it's crafted for film; intimate yet public. Criticism I've read says the uncomfortableness of her work was left out in favor of lighter, dance-driven performances. I'm not familiar enough with her work to confirm, but I did note that the edgy-ness and boundary pushing that typically elevates artists like Bausch was missing. Perhaps this kind of editing is human nature when remembering a loved one. This is an easy first taste of modern dance crossed with physical acting for those unfamiliar, especially as the movie shows short segments of longer performance pieces. 3D was technically fine and subtle, but unnecessary. The trailer is representative of the movie.) The Descendants(Recommended. By now it's old news that this film is solid. It also happens that I liked the film far more than I'd have guessed. Avoid the trailer as it gives away too many of the film's setups.) Drive(Recommended. Stylish, moody anti-hero drama-actioner. The heist story is nothing new. You'll get no twists or epiphanies, and replacing the already well-liked cast would make the flaws more glaring. There's nothing audacious here. Yet the filmcraft is keen and ultra-cool, and the character study gripping and defendable. The director lets the story breathe just right. Personally, I dug it. I dug the font, score, way the city was shot, use of stunts and lighting... Useful recommendation for expanding the tastes of folks who mainly watch garbage studio action and comic-adaptation blockbusters. Avoid the trailer as it is basically the entire film!) A Separation
My friend works with kids in an affluent area. A group of smug, rich 5th grade girls told him that they had formed a club called The Jerk Club.
Thinking this was the most accurate name to a club he had ever heard, he was inclined to let its members go on calling themselves jerks, but it is his job to mediate insults and cliques, so, "Why do you call it the Jerk Club?"
And they were all, "Noooo--haha--[stupid teacher]--it's J-E-R-K, you know, Junior Educated Rich Kids!"
He had no comeback for that.
Some people are no good at trolling wisdom into little girls.
As I Googled it for him, I'm all, Bro, that's some tween slang acronym that's been around for years. Diffuse by ribbing them for their lack of originality as well as tossing out in an exaggerated excited manner other absurd things that JERK might stand for. Jumping Ewoks Riding Kites or Jazzercise Erases Running, k? or whatever--
Then the Google results came back and O_O
Anyway, he should probably make some ornate hyperbolic signs and post them in the corner where the jerks like to hang out. This is what the taxpayers would expect, yes?
C.Sto: Why does that look silver?
C.Sto: That clover dipped in gold I gave you that's on your necklace.
Jessica: The chain is silver. Maybe the metallic association is making the clover look silver in this lighting.
C.Sto: (incredulous) The chain--no--did you do something to it?
C.Sto: What did you do to it?
C.Sto: But what did you do to it?
Jessica: I used my Alchemy to change it from gold to silver.
C.Sto: Oh. ...Well why didn't you just say that, stupid!
Within the last twenty hours I was caught twice in a downpour. Southern California has erased my east-coast innate umbrella-carrying instincts. When you think of me, think of me as rain-soaked. As long as it's warm out: that's not too mean. It's lovely, actually. But if it's cold when you picture this in your mind, then at least give me a warm coat. No need to be a jerk about it.
Can't stop thinking about clothing, it's true. I'm in the middle of additional wardrobe research, among other things. And by "things" I mean the Artemis Eternal redesign and numerous other pieces of the project. I've received a couple film-related speaking requests and I'm hoping for a good one planned well in advanced and local to DC or LA so that I can plan a robust Wingman event around the appearance. Yes I will include dodgeball, but maybe we should talk about movies, too. Maybe.
At times I am forcibly reminded that items which occupy the minds of the general citizenry fail to capture my imagination. In the following instance, despite wardrobe on the brain, I couldn't even get into the custom-designed gowns, some of which were made by my favorite design house (but looked instead like they were made by someone's conservative mum from the 1920s). You know the one, that large event that happened that I couldn't be persuaded to care about no matter how loudly I was bombarded. ...Until I saw a photo of two of the guests. Then I became obsessed with the hilariousness of that one unimportant photo for about an hour, still ignoring the rest of the world-wide watched pageantry. Then I forgot about that photo.
Then I received an e-mail today.
I don't know who took the time to MS paint this image (it was forwarded to me by C.Sto and a Tineye search turns up no results at the time of this post). I noticed the same effect at the time, as did many others, apparently. But I couldn't be bothered to make the meme as I am not a college student procrastinating from writing composition 101 papers that were due last week. I'm sure the anonymous meme-maker took the time to e-mail their professor an unopenable file labeled as their paper, however, so they have a few days in which to create highly important cultural artifacts such as this one before they're asked to resend and have to scramble to copypasta together a five paragraph persuasive essay on The Perils of Obedience. /hattip
I expect this instance shall spark a new fad in expensive cliche dream weddings wherein the brides influence local high-profile designers in order to trick the guests into dressing up like villains. Villains are the new must-have accessory, really. Oh you didn't have them at your wedding? That's because you're a nobody.
If I ever get married, C.Sto's bridesmaid dress + absurd "hat" will evoke peace... no peace. Honestly? I will probably get married just so that I can do this. But I won't sign anything like certificates and what not so it won't count. Sorry to whoever the bloke is, but it's really important that all girls have big expensive weddings with villains, even if they don't like the groom much and just get divorced shortly thereafter. I don't know why guys don't get this.
Anyway, lucky good thing C.Sto and most guys who I would consider letting play the groom role at my wedding don't read my blog.
What do you guys think about that Wingman event? Willing to travel? Will you wear funny hats?
On exhibit in Germany is a giant triangular sculpture consisting of 72,000 bottles of beer. In order to accomplish the deep meaning of this artistic installation, the gallery invites visitors to climb and drink from the sculpture. Hey American artists, next time you think about expressing yourself by reviving obscure ballet or creating a series of impressionist paintings based on your experience of growing up in Harlem, consider your audience. Not sure where to start? Try turning one of the other Seven Wonders of the World into something Billy Bob can understand: The Hamburger Gardens of Babylon, the Colossus of Rocky Roades... Take one down, pass it around and maybe a case, four cheeseburgers and a few swollen handfuls of icecream later, the public won't be so keen to abolish the National Endowment for the Arts. After all, what Patriot could object to the agency that provides for the all-American pastimes of drinking beer and developing Type 2 Diabetes?
Do be on guard in these interwaters, sir. I have recently embarked upon an adventure to slay the infamous fail whale, for the oil it shall bring forth will power my computing machines for five generations. Yet, I do find the pixelated beast oft catches me off-guard when he breaches, and then, upon refreshing my view, discover he has again evaded me by aid of various waterfowl that leverage a remarkable rescue system consisting of strings!
TheProfessor: Well well well...
Jessica: ...fancy meeting you here?
TheProfessor: I know. I never come to the internet anymore. It's too crowded.
TheProfessor: And the music they play sucks now.
Jessica: I know! I was listening to AIM sounds back when they were on vinyl.
TheProfessor: I've got the "You've Got Mail" sound on 8-track.
Jessica: retro, man. Can I borrow it sometime?
Jessica: you know
Jessica: to make a digital copy
TheProfessor: That's stealing.
Jessica: no way man it's a personal copy
Jessica: for me and one million of my friends
Kid: What do you do?
Me: I'm a director, which is a kind of artist.
Kid: Oh. (beat) Did you get really bad grades in school or something?
Me: Actually, I am quite capable and earned As at University. Tell me, short person, why do you view my vocation with disdain?
Kid: My Dad got straight As, he was the best student in his class! Now he works for the government! Which is a real job!
Dad: (increasingly mortified) ah... haha, kids! Can I have you, uh, autograph this? For my wife?
A shirt that's legit to our community and production vision, and that subtly prompts questions and provokes thought. Yes, we really went for it; for you! So snag a tee, download the desktop and add it to your computer and phone in order to convince your co-workers that you belong to a secret darkfilmz movement that has covert headquarters in the LOLlywood underground. You can buy them a shirt, just don't teach them our secret handshake, k?
This is a full Artemis/JSDC interactive-team production. Concepted and produced by me and designed by Greg Martin, with webmaster mojo from Lord Iain Edminster, who assisted in quickly making multiple choices available to you here.
Dark grey, pictured behind the designs above, is the color we designed to (AA color: Asphalt). However, when I asked for color requests, many of you rang in on the side of Heather Black and Dark Aqua, which should also look rad. Thus we are offering three color choices this go! And, two styles! The ink printed will be two-color: white and grey! I've never been so pumped about screen printing!
Please place your order by January 7th!
Use the drop downs below to order and specify domestic or international, men's or women's, the size and the color.
Thank-you to everyone who ordered! The order has now been placed with the printer. I will keep you updated on Twitter with delivery dates.
I will print to order, so there will be no shirts available after this run. YOU MUST ORDER BY JANUARY 7, 2011 in order to receive a shirt! As we are handling shipping internally, these will take a few weeks to process, print and get to your doorstep. I appreciate your patience as we work to bring you ethically produced, high-quality, unique and lulzy thought-provoking apparel.
Unlike our Comic-Con "no-wimps" team shirts, these shirts are open to anyone. You need not be a Wingman at this point in time to order one and there is no limit to how many you may order. Feel free to purchase these for anyone and everyone.
Profit from the shirts goes to ARTEMIS ETERNAL. Most likely, I think, to some aspects of the new website relaunch. If we sell enough, then I will push more concept art into production! Please share, blog, forward and retweet this link and design to your network. I'm hoping that we sell a couple hundred shirts so that we can continue to offer unique items. This is very much a fundraiser for us as well as a way to deliver to you something you've asked for.
These shirts will be printed in Los Angeles by a museaum-quality screenprinting company that we worked with previously (they printed our Comic-Con shirts). The shirts are all American Apparel, which means they are made in the USA and labor regulated.
In the meantime, Wingmen, please let us know if you change your e-mail address so that you can continue to receive your subscription, including announcements and previews for the new site. Drop me an e-mail if you need us to update your information, and it shall be done!
My front burner is afire with the redesign of this website and concept art. WE NEED ONE MORE WINGMAN in order to push this portion into production. How about you? Are you a Wingman yet?
We would know if you were: We have matching sweatshirts!
This is a special portion of the project and thus a special way to join The Wingmen. Our community has a lot of fun, but they are also committed to supporting professional independent film via Artemis Eternal.
Fact: Wingmen could have their own CW show if they wanted to. Wingman's Creek, or something. (Everyone would be overwrought. And Ninjas.)
I sold a few dozen rad rally shirts and, even though I haven't technically net'd profit yet--whatever!, I'm donating to the Donors Choose Challenge! Some orders have come from the Reddit community, the entity that created the challenge, so a big pat on the back to you all: Thank you for being a part of this donation and for promoting the epic and dire movement toward SANITY. Woo!
It took me a while to pick a project as so many are worthy. I reviewed all of them and ultimately settled on a few that relate to my interests and periodic work with kids, as well as the rally's theme of media literacy: Something I'm outspoken about in my own work.
You can view those here. None of these teachers have had other projects funded by Donors Choose: This would be their first donation and assistance. I concluded that their supply requests made sense and weren't unnecessarily inflated. (With the exception of perhaps the cart/storage here, which might be overdoing it a little.) Update: It's a week or so later, and I just donated a little to a project involving the Periodic Table. That particular teacher has had numerous projects funded in the past. Over a dozen! I missed that detail. The project has merit, however, but in terms of need my general suggestion is to look for well arranged projects by classrooms that so far have had zero support.
...I threw in a little more money as a dedication to Redditor "licenseplate", who has worked hard to make the "classy" Reddit rally shirts and hoodies available to the Reddit community and, on top of that, donated all of the profits! From experience I can say that producing and distributing t-shirts is a time suck. I tried nominating licenseplate for Redditor of the Month, but unsurprisingly she's already had that honor, so I'm suggesting Redditor of the Year. She is ridiculously generous!
...Then I threw in a little more as a dedication to you regulars, my audience (for you JSDC rooks: I'm an independent artist) + my professional film and interactive team members, who are an incredible lot of savvy souls with a deep affinity for the arts and education, media issues and social justice. Although many are not Redditors, they are all over le Internets. Some are involved in funding everything I do, and all are involved in furthering everything I do.
...Finally I squeezed out a little more and donated to another Donors Choose project by a friend of ours (@BadAstronomer), just to really feel the burn. When you workout that's the only way you'll exceed your plateaus. Maybe it's true for charity, too!
I also ran a self-serve ad on Reddit to put some money back into the site. Although it's owned by Conde Nast (a media conglomerate I do not generally support) you wouldn't know it: Reddit sometimes rebels against the bullshit practices of its corporate overlord and lives rather skinny. Not enough to mean anything, it's semi-faux-indie, but it's enough to not make me bulk at a $20 experiment. One small business, regular advertiser posted that Reddit self-serve ads are great for awareness but not for sales. Regardless, it was interesting to see how their service works.
So, dear reader, you can't see me right now, but I'm adjusting my fancy monocle, raising my goblet and toasting you!
Click through to view. You should be able to change the shirt make and color on any of those designs. I'm also experimenting with this store to see how I want to go about printing and distributing the next Wingman tees.
Will any of you be attending the Rally to Restore Sanity in DC?
Once we tinker with a new idea for new shirts (these will be totally different than the Comic-Con prints), I will likely run those ideas by you, too, so that we create the best possible shirt(s).
Thanks for reading! We can't plan ancillary awesomeness without your feedback.
Update: Great! Thanks for your feedback. We are currently working on a variety of designs. Last time, when you asked to buy the shirts we sported at Comic-Con, I noticed that many of you ordered a few copies, so this go I figured: Why not have different choices? Save your pennies, kids: Wingmen t-shirts are teh slickz! We're mocking them up and will share the ideas soon.
M.Sto has loads of pristine books around Stover Mancha and, in an attempt to create less of a deficit in shelf space, is going to donate a stack of nice fantasy-myth books to the library tomorrow. Most of these I haven't read, but I thought you might like a few of them.
If you are a Wingman and you would like any of the following books, then let me know by midnight Sunday ET (today). All you have to do is pay for shipping. (I can choose the cheapest shipping method for you, no problem.) Claim as many as you like, just e-mail me to let me know! Since they've only been read once, most of the books are either in excellent or great condition. Especially the hardbacks.
Hardback - Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman
- The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
- Shadowmancer by G.P. Taylor
- Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Paperback - His Dark Materials box set by Philip Pullman
- The Chicagoland Vampires series: Twice Bitten by Chloe Neill
- Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater
- Lament by Maggie Stiefvater
While I do like fashion very much (wardrobe is a part of drama, after all), I don't usually care for shopping. And I especially do not care for malls. After spending too much time in a mall today (for the first time in years, I might add), on a lark I looked up the Wikipedia entry on malls. Perhaps I was searching for amusing evidence to support my theories on why these fast-food-scented concrete temples leave me feeling unnaturally drained if not a bit despicable.
Apparently, some contributor felt that Wikipedia was the platform for reflecting personally upon his or her dissatisfaction by creating a new topic. Here is the "Tourism" section in full (in case it is edited soon). Enjoy.
- In order to understand the relationship between the shopping mall and tourism one must first understand the meaning of the word. Tourism no longer defines those who seek adventure – in fact it has come to represent just the opposite. Today’s tourists are more interested in a risk-free, pseudo-cultural experience where every path is pre-determined in order to maximize his or her stay with hopes to maximize profit. To borrow from Professor Ayad Rahmani’s definition, the tourist is someone who “having tired of routine work or current living conditions, seeks relief in variety. In doing so, he or she tends to reach out to circumstances that generate the greatest visual reward in the least amount of time.” Using these interpretations of tourism, shopping malls have arguably become one of the most design-manipulated “cultural” experiences a person is exposed to today - proof that it has become a distinctly popular tourist attraction. The result of this spectacle-driven attraction has created a negative sensationalism that, rather than encourage inspiration and creativity through its design, has been executed with the sole intention of generating revenue. As one begins to walk around the mall, it is apparent he or she has become a tourist - surrounded by storefronts suggesting Parisian boulevards and New Orleans’s Bourbon Street. When asked why, a publicist for the Fantasyland Hotel of the West Edmonton Mall replied, “What we have done means you don’t have to go to New York or Paris or Disneyland or Hawaii. We have it all here for you in one place…" -
- Again one is brought back to the notion of the shopping mall as a tourist attraction. In places like the West Edmonton Mall (WEM), people are attracted to this very idea that no longer does one have to spend time and money planning a trip, when they can experience what a place represents, both in physical form by use of the façade and the intrinsic qualities or emotions one associates with the vernacular of that place all under the umbrella of a single shopping mall. Shopping malls can be understood in yet another way as tourist attractions if one looks to other popular tourist destinations. For example, many people travel to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, staying in moderate to luxurious hotels and spending most of their time at places designed for the tourist - such as bars or the sandy coastal beaches the city offers. However, what most of them will not find, are the poverty-stricken locals or the numerous violent gangs that are essentially hidden from this tourist community. In the same way, shopping malls strive to design a cleaned-up downtown, in order to create a “fantasy urbanism devoid of the city’s negative aspects: weather, traffic, and the poor people…”  -
. . .
Wait, this section has citations?
Margaret Crawford, “The World in a Shopping Mall” in Variations on a Theme Park, ed. Michael Sorkin, 3 (New York: Hill and Wang, 1992).
Publishers Weekly describes Variations on a Theme Park thusly, "Eight essays by architects and academics criticize as elitist and alienating such contemporary urban and extra-urban phenomena as mega-malls, historical re-creations and gentrification."
...Wait, waitwaitwait--so the citation is a book, and it does exist?
I was rather expecting that some passing Interwebs teenager enraged by the societal norms espoused by malls went to troll town on this entry under the guise of being an intellectual mall expert so that people would read it without realizing they were being insulted. Kind of like Stephen Colbert did to George Bush during the first half of his White House Correspondents Dinner speech. Alas, 'twas in reality a for-reals serious expert who phrased the opening of her critical essay with this original gem,
"In order to understand the relationship between the shopping mall and tourism one must first understand the meaning of the word."
In order to understand magnets one must first understand the meaning of the word.
In order to understand the relationship between Inception memes and the lulz one must first understand the meaning of the word.
I'm intrigued... tell me more of this "meaning" you speak of.
Instant expert. Works for everything.
Anyway, I now have a purple dress for every occasion.
DC, for some months now I have attempted to ferret out your production soul. Those who know me will recall that my R&D is extensive. I've met with just about everyone key who is representative of the film spectrum. The mid-Atlantic region is dryer than it was a couple of years ago when I first started investigating locations and building the framework for Artemis.
When I left the DC area for LA, I was young enough and busy enough working professionally on and behind camera that I never really had a chance or need to get a feel for the city, what production happened here or the theater and performance scene. The masters, technique and set experience I experienced in LA trumped much of what is available here, where the main industry is politics. Yes, for months I have been looking for something masterful and unique to this region.
It was finally and very recently that in the theater and performance scene (which has a few gems) that I discovered something genuine and cinematic that additionally suited and challenged my imagination.
Synetic Theater invited me to train with them over the course of 14 days, so for the past two weeks I joined in their intensive training at their rehearsal space, which is more a gym than a stage.
Theirs is a physical theater company. Regionally they are well known for their incredible wordless Shakespeare performances and for dark, dramatic, athletic adaptations of such classics as Dracula and Dante's Inferno.
My minimum goal and expectation in working out with Synetic was simply to learn something different. ...I also understood that the way they train was likely to kick my ass. I've been needing a challenge lately. Wish granted, and how!
Let me see if I can step outside of my performer's context to describe the skills included, layman-style. Beyond being able to handle classical stage acting, you have to have some of this flavor: Move, trick and pantomine like a Jabbawockee, twist your face into cartoon characters like Jim Carrey, dance technical (which had me wonderfully frustrated enough to lament not having taken ballet classes in the past) and improv movement and character. Synetic's pictures break forth from blank space, and in sequence melt in and out to form stories, much as pictures and story break forth and transition from simple sand here:
It's like a theatrical performance style of Kseniya Simonova famous sand drawing. Using actors. ...Or a high art manifestation of some of the best visual performance techniques you've seen trickle down to ABDC or Gaga vids. Try moving fluid from a handstand into a controlled worm and making it look effortless. Yep it's cool. ABDC crews perform levels of spectacle like that, and beyond. But you know when it's cooler? In context of a narrative and character. Like, say, The Metamorphosis. This shit is upper level. And the potential is stunning. I find it far more meaningful and impressive, because it's sans product placement gimmick and lazy scripts or reality game show spectacle. DC this is happening in your city and its timeless narratives, tricked-out classic stagecraft and international influences gone American and mod belong to you: The local supporters of this company, which is currently celebrating it's 10-year-anniversary season starting with a peformance of King Arthur.
From the perspective of a performer who has now had the rad opportunity to have trained with some of the company and choreographer/founder Irina Tsikurishvili, I have to say that back in the times of famous theater actors, Irina would have been a household stage name. She's a force of nature. In time, at least regionally, I would expect (and hope) that Irina and Paata Tsikurishvili will become widely known in performance circles for a specific mastery in the Synetic technique they've developed, and performance students will seek them much as I immediately sought out The Atlantic and The Groundlings.
The trailer from their latest show, performed at The Kennedy Center:
Theater has had a tough time marketing against a landscape of audiences trained by billions of studio marketing dollars to recognize and worship the cookie-cutter strategy of big budget movie trailers and posters. Something is lost in translation, as too much of the population does not have the context of having attended stage plays. For those who have, the same ol' musicals saturate the space with familiar performances. On the online side, if Synetic had a cross-platform new media strategy, they would be famous on The Internets and would likely redefine the way theater companies engage their audiences and raise the bar for what counts as an "OMG WOW!" performance clip gone viral. I think they're in a unique position to do so, but really what theater has the bandwidth for that? It's a shame.
You know that the business ethic of a production also concerns me and is something I investigate. Beyond the creative side, I like what I see so far in terms of the way they do business. They're invested in their creative members and the community, and they have smart partnerships with certain stages and local business districts (The Kennedy Center, The Shakespeare Theater, Crystal City etc.) vs maintaining one venue. In addition to their dramatic main stage shows, they craft comedic, imaginative children's shows at their Synetic Family Theater in Arlington and other family venues.
For actors, I looked it up and periodically they do offer classes, although I don't know if Irina teaches any of them at this point. Regardless, senior company members are terrific and you need some time with them before she steps in simply in order to be able to keep up with, and make the most of, her instruction. They have loads of Synetic technique expertise to offer, so if you are an actor with a dance/atheletic background (you need to be fit and have some muscle memory going already), then seek them out: Mixing the two will likely satisfy something for you as it did for me in terms of drawing all of your skills together in service of narrative.
My face was often skewed in concentration, I sweated more than I have all year and at times the intense conditioning left me feeling murderous ("one more eight count?! FU!"): my quads screamed. I learned neat tricks like how to moonwalk on any surface (and how to go from said handstand into the worm), and practiced skills as diverse as stage combat and (more frustrating for me) leaps. I was an evil spirit, I was seaweed, I was... a street lamp. Most importantly and excitingly, there were some new approaches to physical acting and stage picture that I hadn't been exposed to before. This is useful to me in considering AAE and beyond: Anything that grabs me I ingest and consider adapting to our filmic endeavors, and it's probably obvious to you by now, lovely reader, that I was impressed by the people I worked with. The timing and discovery for this was perfect and overall I had a such a fantastic time for hours and hours day after day that I hardly know what to do with myself now that training concluded Sunday evening.
Artistically, I haven't seen anything like Synetic in the show biz/arts cities in which I've studied (LA and London). While many separate skills including and beyond acting I've accomplished with masters in those places (the gymnastics coach I work out with in LA is world class, for example) there is no other place I could have experienced this particular signature technique.
If you live in the Washington DC metro area or are coming to visit, then go to a Synetic show! The fantastic, dramatic, immagintive style should appeal to you Wingmen and I do believe the unexpected storytelling will delight and blow your mind, and have you thinking differently about storytelling and theater. Procure individual show tickets or subscribe to the full season.
Synetic is a non-profit company, so if you've been looking to make a tax-deductible donation, then I recommend becoming involved with their work in that way. For those of you who are microdonators, why not try a small amount? They are like-minded to our endeavors here and I'll vouch that they work harder than any theater company around, and will make you proud. Go here.
There are a few Artemis Eternal things that you have been asking for. The #1 thing is concept art.
Concept art was not in my original budget because we understood that the production's design could be completed without full paintings (and indeed most of it has been). I am thus tackling this as a side project, but an awesome, beautiful and important side project.
Concept art will help the actual film and it will also help the aesthetic of the newly redesigned website, as well as aid in engaging new individuals and communities. I think you understand this and that is why you have asked for full art. So, you asked, I think you're right, and I have since been packaging this part of the project and experimenting with how best to accomplish the art with you.
I am elated to announce that the artist we will be working with is celebrated film and graphic novel artist Christopher Shy (SOUL STEALER, PATHFINDER, CONAN). Chris has been working independently for over a decade and shares our mindset. He is fabulous and patient. I cannot wait to collaborate with him and share the work with you!
Review and experience more of Chris' work here. (Soul Stealer and Pathfinder are some of the more relevant works.) Now, let's get down to creating...
Let's start with one piece. If you would like to be either the Wingman, or a part of a group of a few Wingmen, to back our first piece of art, then please shoot me an e-mail. You few and you alone will receive a limited giclée print signed by Chris and myself as well as special recognition in this portion of the new site. If you're new, this will bring you on as an Aurum-level Wingman. We'd be glad to have you.
Update: I already have TWO Wingmen who would be interested in splitting this with another. Who's next? I'm thinking a handful of you so that the amount is low and thus a great value for the contribution and your limited print!
Update: Just need one more Wingman to push this into production. E-mail me!
Father's Day weekend feels more like my birthday: On Friday evening, The Grizz suggested that we set up his astronomy gear so that I could take a go at teaching myself digital astrophotography. For a first lesson we tinkered around with planetary photography. Thus do I give you Venus at twilight.
Cancer, the environment, DDT, Kathy Lee Gifford's bullshit media and propaganda hypocrisy... The Corporation is now on Hulu and touches on the complex history and controversial impacts of corporate design.
The following excerpt is exemplary of many of your letters. Thank you, Wingmen! It is amazing how far we've come already, even more so given the landscape of film and media. Truthfully, I am glad that I am not traveling alone in this endeavor.
"You are going to succeed in getting your projects completed your way, mainly
because of who you are: intelligent, witty, talented and strong. Your
Wingmen trust you for these reasons and more. Remember that we are all here
for you when any number of cliches dealing with difficulties are in your
way. We are all happy to help you in any way we can (and I'm not speaking in
the royal vernacular here). If you ever need a naive sounding board as a
different perspective on things, feel free to contact me. I'll gladly show
my ignorance. :) "
"This portal is mine and must be sealed up forever for the love of God!"
Being John Malkovich: This is one of those films that I've been meaning to see for years. It's awesome(!) and John Malkovich's involvement and performance is dazzling. Damn shame I was so young when it came out and therefore I didn't see the film in a theater. The sole regrettable aspect to Being is the handful of product placements. Certainly, though, they are far more subtle than those which haunt us now, over a decade later.
Now that we're at the end of the decade, I'm noticing that the '00s haven't matched the '90s in terms of the frequency, quality and distribution level of interesting and/or dramatically solid films. In comparing "best of" lists, I've wondered that the '00s are full of "franchise" films, many of which were not fundamentally good much less great. The shift is subtle, but it is there.
I've remarked in the past that just after the turn of the century I came to understand I was witnessing (and involved in) a shift in motion picture and media. Some of this was magical, and some of it was highly alarming. This change had to do with a tipping point in vertical integration + media conglomerate consolidation and, accordingly, the way that franchises came to be identified, developed and marketed. On the micro side of this effect, I've talked about how I was an AOL Time Warner franchise myself. At "all-hands" meetings there would be a Powerpoint slide with my work and likeness included in the presentation, and the executive speaking would trumpet me as one of their original franchises along with the music franchise Sessions. This sounded like a good thing at the time. Everyone wanted to buy me lunch despite the fact that with more attention I was increasingly losing what creative leeway I started with. So it was that I was influential among millions of teens. For a time. I failed to sell out as I came to these realizations early on in my career, and course corrected quickly. I have since been informed that this is unfortunate: It is apparently better to develop a conscience and pursue wisdom after I exploit you.
Back then, at the turn of the century, the DVD market and the Internet were two phenomena that shaped this sweeping change in Western mass media, as did the growing presence of WalMart, which became the world's largest corporation in 2002. WalMart: A superstore with limited shelf space for (certain types of) movies and, in many places, a local monopoly on communities. This has not changed. If WalMart won't agree to stock it, then why make it?
The way that AOL Time Warner treated The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter marked this turning point specifically in regard to studio film. Since over 90% of the box office is owned by the studios, in saying "studio film" I mean the entire film industry: The influence and ownership is that severe.
As much as I find to love in the The Lord of the Rings film/media case study, I find to loathe in the Harry Potter film/media case study. Of course there are worse examples than Potter (such as anything to do with Disney merchandising).
Perhaps this change isn't as marked as the change that occurred before my time, during the Lucas/Spielberg era that launched a thousand multiplexes and Ewok dolls. I wish the turn-of-the-century change had not occurred, however. The impact on the quality of motion picture has led to a further decline in the quality and thinking of corporate media conglomerate business practices and therefore has had ill effect on production and filmmaking. Hence, when entertainment reporters ask me why I'm adamant about producing independently, I send them this:
Most chuckle, "Good one!" and then go on about their business, perpetuating everything that has created this lamentable climate. I should note that I don't much talk to entertainment reporters anymore: They are owned by the same companies who control that 90%! News media and motion picture share the same blight.
Yes, this is our present day: A time when I can no longer visit my favorite blogs without having calculated ads for McMovies thrust in my face at every click. Here are some things you definitely don't need in your life:
A. Anything to do with fast food
B. Another bullshit credit card
C. Yet another Shrek sequel
D. ...Especially a sequel designed simply to sell plastic dolls and mass-produced artificial flavors coupled with factory-created fats to a media-addicted society that needs far, far less of both.
When you look at the '90s and '00s "best of" movie lists and view what was produced and distributed during those two decades, what do you think? There are great films on both lists. Do you mark any changes in quality between the decades? If so, do you find them gradual? Or dramatic? Are we moving in the right direction?
"Do you see what a metaphysical can of worms this portal is? I don't see how I could go on living my life the way I've lived it before!"
"Money does not represent such a value as men have placed upon it. All my money has been invested into experiments with which I have made new discoveries enabling mankind to have a little easier life." - Tesla
The nearly unbearable, highly intriguing life of an artist. An extreme, volatile state in these ages modern wherein mass effect is decided by media control. A state of loathing sprinkled with moments of immense joy when the gift given and developed is put to wise use, and neither silenced nor abused nor perverted--
But, would you? Would you worship my image, if they told you to? Beg me to sell you Vodka and Wonder Bread? Miracle Whip? Famine the horseman rides and pays my production costs! Eat it up--as the talking box compares me to Andy Warhol! Insert product placement without comment. Broadcast!
The altars of art went untended, then lost, then forgotten. Richer fires now burn, roar louder in worship to billboards and uncanny valley'd magazine covers and Fox-y charlatans: Facades of halls long gone cold, or bulldozed. Asbestos shrines painted in lead. Toxic cities of the Gap-dressed walking dead.
And while all the big kiddies were tucked in to headsets and screens and bleep-bleeping mobile entertainment machines, some Few laid an exclusive weave over the Western world and the mass of airwaves saw something they had not since the rise of Nazi Germany.
"I wouldn't have done it!" cries Bernays "if I only knew, I wouldn't have!"
Ha--Come now, brother. You knew then, just as you now know.
And the fat man sneers astride his sickly horse and canters in the sunshine,
"You have cancers? I'm lovin' it. Starve!"
"JUST OUR LITTLE JOKE! LOL!"
Citizens stop to admire his golden scales,
Publishers hurry to pen his commercialized confessions,
Journalists proclaim him, An American God!
A cinematographer once by chance captured a photo of him trampling an orphan.
You didn't see it: A famous person had an affair that day.
All of this has happened before, and it will all happen again (In Banana Land) This is what Really Cool People Do (In Banana Land!) How can something have so many calories, and yet so little... food? (It's bananas, man!)
I’m not a member of any of these entities, but I do know many of the people involved. Since I started out my career in what is now called Web Television, and because I’m outside the bubble in this matter, I’ve simply been curious about the context of what has come to pass in the wake of the Streamy Awards failure earlier this year. I pinged a friend involved and he offered an analysis of the business strategy in play. In case it proves useful to the layman:
Jessica: From my position on the outside, it seems that if it hadn't been this particular fuck up, then something else would have caused the same debate, like it was coming anyway.
Jessica: Maybe there needs to be a video'd conference like Obama's healthcare
WebVidPal: IAWTV = volunteer, unpaid. Streamys = nonprofit org owned by TF, meaning fees and excess profits can be routed to TF for "organizing" the show. Thus, follow the money.
Jessica: Right, they are a contractor.
Jessica: So by virtue of controlling the contract, they get paid and generate work for themselves.
Jessica: Essentially IAWTV can't shop the contract.
Jessica: That is the main cause of the debate, then?
WebVidPal: But also if the IAWTV wants a different show, or to rename the show feeling the "Streamys" name or brand is tarnished, TF loses their ownership over the project.
Jessica: So basically IAWTV could start a different project and hence control shopping the contract.
Jessica: And of course TF doesn't want that, because then they'd essentially be in competition with another show supported by the IAWTV?
WebVidPal: My sense of it comes down to the IAWTV board (created by TF, and of which 5 of 11 members are from TF) probably asked TF to step aside, and TF wants to protect their investment.
Jessica: That's certainly understandable as TF has invested quite a bit, even if only cashless, in terms of time, expertise, intellectual property and energy.
WebVidPal: I don't object to their concerns. I object to the way that it's presented and spun to the outside world as selflessness when it's really just internal politics.
Jessica: Maybe it's neither: It's just bare bones game theory. But you're right in that it is coated in some nebulous bullshit, which is why I couldn’t grasp the full context despite the numerous websites and statements.
WebVidPal: It's the Streamys failing, and them trying to spin the consequences of that failure as a hostile takeover.
Jessica: Would you mind if I cleaned up our conversation and shared this?
WebVidPal: Also, I don't know for sure whether the IAWTV is volunteer. I'm 75% sure they don't get paid, but that's a pretty big aspect of this argument.
Jessica: I would be curious to know that as well.
'They seem a bit above my likes and dislikes, so to speak,' answered Sam slowly. 'It don't seem to matter what I think about them. They are quite different from what I expected — so old and young, and so gay and sad, as it were.'
Not my first re-read, or even my second, but it has been a few years. I'm a huge fan of the P.Jackson & co. film adaptation, and yet it is swell to get back to basics and fall in love with Fellowship all over again.
After all, how many books pause for songs and poems with such wondrous thoughts as 'Not all who wander are lost'?
And, as early as the beginning of the journey from The Shire, the mere presence of the word "Hobbits" evokes much delight and affection, especially when spoken in dialogue, even in the most ordinary of situations!
- Finished preparing our production taxes for our awesome production CPA. His other clients are bigger business folks like "Weird Al" Yankovic. This firm is top notch and has been most excellent to us over the past few years. Paperwork is like kryptonite to me, so I'm glad to be done. It takes me days to complete this task. Days!
- Hey UK Wingmen: Has Wired Magazine UK run that piece about Artemis Eternal yet? Are they going to? E-mailed the reporter to find out.
- Sat down with the Washington Post about the project. Reporter is going to be shadowing me, then writing a story and then publishing said story. At least that's how it should go. He's going to be calling some of the cast/crew and some of you Wingmen, so thanks to those who agreed to be a part of this story.
- Redesign! Epic. Working on it.
- Have you discovered our concept art alliance announcement? More soon.
- Also, am writing a set of articles to most likely be published by Salon. Will of course send links.
- Are any of you Wingmen in DC or going to be in DC soon (who haven't been on camera yet)? Possibly looking for a savvy Wingmen to ask questions and discuss project with in the next video update. Shoot me an e-mail if you're interested.
- Slight possibility that I will be back in LA at the end of the month. I will bother you LA Wingman if and when that is to be the case.
If you're new: This website is the crux of the sci-fantasy movie Artemis Eternal and all associated adventures. Once you load the website, you can explore the production process by moving the map left and right. Folks who move us forward become Wingmen but, thanks to them, this space is open to all. So be welcome, and enjoy!
"...I really think this is not a big deal. Only because the war has been proven to be started on lies, and the men and woman who brought evidence to the table showing it to be an illegial war, have been discredited in our society (see Valerie Plame). This one video just shoes how ugly war is, not that America is bad. That has already been proven with no results."
The above thought is representative of a theme in public discussion on every comments string I have researched, including one that I later started myself. And why not? That this video is neither important to war policy, nor will it have influence on such, is a point that has merit and speaks to a truth in public consciousness and the lifestyle and attitude we've adopted while we've been at war, as well as certain behaviors we have allowed. The WikiLeaks video is important, however. I will sign my name to that statement, right now, without the benefit of hindsight.
But the video and the influence it may or may not have is important for what is perhaps a non-obvious reason. By no means do I mean to posit that being desensitized to war and war politic is acceptable, or how I personally prefer reality. More simply, this reality is the status quo in the human realm in the west and the context for why WikiLeaks exists in the first place, as well as sets the stage for a larger root issue in play. Something that is more important than the life-or-death industry verticals of war, agriculture, energy and healthcare.
That something is the media.
After all, if one does not have viable information and analysis, then how will one make decisions, vote and influence on any of the above? Worse, purposeful misinformation runs rampant on a massive scale. Of course education comes hand-in-hand with the importance of viable news reporting. Even if citizens were receiving viable information and media, and even if the voices and ownership were diverse and the debate robust and well researched; if the mass of people lack the critical thinking skills and basic problem solving ability, and contextual awareness, needed to evaluate and act on information, then our circumstances remain equally dire.
For these reasons, and more, I posit that the Apache helicopter 'Collateral Murder' video is more important to the media dialogue than to the war dialogue. Furthermore, the video is highly important to the media dialogue.
Let us look at this event in its entirety. What is important about the WikiLeaks video, an overview:
1. The effect on military credibility due to the lack of accountability and transparency demonstrated by the US military, and the Pentagon as a symbol of the US military, in the sense that they willfully withheld details:
"The military did not reveal how the Reuters staff were killed, and stated that they did not know how the children were injured."
"It was unclear whether the journalists had been killed by U.S. fire or by shooting from the Iraqis targeted by the Apache."
"The Apache crew fired because militants 'were endangering the stability of Iraq' and because they had positive identification that the militants 'had weapons and were using them against coalition and Iraqi security forces,' said Maj. Brent Cummings, the battalion's executive officer. 'No innocent civilians were killed on our part deliberately. We took great pains to prevent that. I know that two children were hurt, and we did everything we could to help them. I don't know how the children were hurt.'"
2. Whether or not the Rules of Engagement and other operational rules and laws were appropriately followed is being debated online, as are the spirit of the rules against the actual letter of the law. Further discussion extends into questioning the legality of the war in Iraq, with many suggesting that the tragedy captured in the Apache video leak is a byproduct of larger injustices.
Some of what's missing, and is being discussed, is the context of the video.
3. The effect on media credibility subtly became a prime discussion point in the over all dialogue about the leak. Internet community has a sense of ownership of this style of leak or reporting, which in itself may be argued to be a sign of the times and a response to the media status quo. The lack of mainstream (read: corporate) media coverage and attention (especially in lieu of gossip-driven non-stories such as Tiger Woods, et cetera) is demonstrative of "news" media priorities that have little if anything to do with public interest.
This is somewhat of an unprecedented occurrence and what makes this moment remarkable.
Over the course of the day that the video was leaked (yesterday), and in response to a lack of coverage and attention, this video as a piece of news information had an unintended effect: It became a test. Audience members tipped news outlets to the video and story in every way possible, and watched in dismay as the premise that corporate media has little interest in public interest, or pursuing truth, was confirmed by a lack of coverage and response. These types of media issues are generally discussed online, and are often associated with problems attributed to media consolidation.
Once independent, now Condé Nast-owned, community news site Reddit.com fostered the most robust gathering of news links and discussion. Notably, the community there became a central owner in the attempts to collaborate with and influence corporate media outlets.
Various screenshots comparing Al Jazeera English to CNN.com, anecdotes about iReports on CNN.com being vetted and then deleted... all of these were offered by the public as evidence of news media degradation. Some asked if MSNBC.com was censoring the Wikileak due to the video not coming up in their search (the result of which was reportedly due to a bug in the coding and not intentional).
Others were critical of the "Army Accused of 'Video Game' Killings" angle FoxNews.com took after they were one of the first corporate news outlets to carry a story about the leak. At the same time, when the BBC finally picked up the story, Reddit users urged other community members to visit the story on the BBC's website and thus send traffic in order to demonstrate positive support for viable news coverage and exploration in hopes of elevating the story to the front page.
These practices and discussions are common on the Internet when it comes to media politic, but in this specific case the public had an important piece of news information in their hands, a piece of media that belonged to them vs. a news outlet or company. The audience thus became engaged in an effort to convince mainstream news to report the news. What is typically a loose knotting of complaints, jokes and "circlejerk" "You have my sword!" discussion and proclamations about the media bias and monopolies of knowledge of the day suddenly became a focused movement to elevate a specific story independent of marketing budgets or corporate branding and strategy. The community was experiencing first hand, via technique instead of theorizing or armchair political punditry, the landscape of corporate media and journalism.
Despite the work of citizens in the online space and WikiLeaks, by midnight EST on the day of the leak this story had not been elevated by press enough to reach mainstream awareness.
Now, the day after, those who sense that some injustice has occurred have issued calls to action: "What do we do about this?", they ask. I have seen online communities suggest jump starting the anti-war movement, military veterans who served in Iraq taking it upon themselves to answer questions in forums while providing context for the military engagement in the video and frustrated citizens posting letters they've written to their congressional representatives. I propose that what we need most is not an anti-war movement, but a media awareness movement. Media literacy and knowledge of media ownership and the strategy bred by corporate media consolidation is a crucial key to opening all national dialogues in a meaningful and legitimate way.
For now, viewers and readers of news who are not media professionals have gained the muscle memory of taking a legit news story to corporate media and being denied, ignored and shunted aside. That's valuable experience, and something I expect to be useful in our collective understanding and engagement with both conglomerate and independent media outlets.
If you haven't watched the video yet, then I suggest watching the long version without annotations first, followed by the short version with annotations. You can review additional references at the WikiLeaks site.
Overheard: "I'd like to pretend that I could continue to have a job if I gave my actual assessment (which is that they should all just shoot their guests and themselves and spare the world of a bunch of pretentious twits). But I don't think that would be well-received."
I was playing six-on-six soccer with a giant crab soccer ball today, as you do when you can't find a regular soccer ball, and was probably the youngest adult playing. But last I checked I am over 18, so, water break and,
10-Year-Old Onlooker:(steady on his rollerblades, looks to Jessica to commiserate): It's just weird when adults say "pwn".
Jessica: ...O rly? because I'm pretty sure that was invented by gamers who have credit cards. Do you and your friends have credit cards? Yeah that's right, kids don't have credit cards. That's what I thought. Guess who does? Adults! PS: pwn is, like, so half-a-decade ago. That's what you get for living in the boonies. Do you even have a computer? What about a phone--oh not a cell phone, but you have a phone at your house? Maybe you should go to your house and use it to call the Internet and ask them what the latest meme is. It's like I can't stop, the pure pwnage, it's tumbling out--skate! skate for your life or be forever shamed!!
Note: I don't care if any of this is actually fact. The point is that I should clearly be working with children more often. Clearly.
I am invited to a '90s party. Apparently a lot of things I thought took place in the early '00s were actually the mid to late '90s. Who knew? I didn't. This will be just like a middle school dance! Except for the drinks. I never got to order drinks in the '90s. So... WIN?
Dear C.Sto, you don't know it yet, but you are so going to a '90s party with me. You think I care about your thesis? I don't. I know you aren't really working on it, but instead playing classic Zelda on Wii.
Massify & Lionsgate - My Entry - "Caliocracy"
A bunch of filmmakers waste their time crowdsourcing a bullshit studio project through an indiewashing site called Massify.
As I was telling Wingman @RMSpuhler on Twitter, the screenplay sample I submitted will probably win at least two Oscars. It took me five years to write. It would have taken anyone else ten years, but I am a genius.
Update: Those bitches! The link no longer works. I think they may have deleted my critical entry.
Get far away from disease/corpses + procure survival gear. Build a sweet fort at Stonehenge. Read other people's unopened letters. Tinker, tinker, write. Migrate. Hang out with dolphins. Check out some library books on rocket science. Train up some monkeys. Launch whatever NASA space shuttle was prepped all by my onesies. Well, except the monkeys would help of course. So long and thanks for all the fish.
I'm excited: Thus far the Game of Thrones HBO/BBC production stands a good chance of being solid. The first production image they released today looks like it is from the very first moments of the book. And hey guess what I submitted that link to Reddit, the listing hit the front page, and now joyous Songconversation ensues. Props to Wingman @JayBushman for the assist on the link. Maybe I keep game stats for you all. Like basketball stats, but for the Internet. You don't know. Don't ask me how many rebounds you have.
Right now (like the map indicates) we're focused on the redesign of this very web experience. And by "right now" I mean literally that is exactly what I'm working on as I type this entry to the side during a break. Just wrapped up a few interviews about Artemis Eternal, including Wired UK magazine. Will update upon any publishing, of course.
Related to our interests, I grabbed this link from Wingman @seanbonner's feed. I don't advocate piracy, but I do agree with this flow chart, and I intend to never do the bullshit outlined in said flow chart to any DVD. As long as we're independent, we can make it so.
Finally, welcome to new Wingmen, and howdy to you two Wingmen at the Olympics! Seriously, wherever a Wingman goes, I feel like a piece of me goes, too. We have the best adventures.
Letters sent to me by Wingmen are funny, touching and often amaze me. Here are a few from this month:
What's a Wingman to Do? So your whole recent VA governor consternation thing has made its way to my state: The dem senate candidate for the seat held by Ted Kennedy is an inept fool, and some sweatervest Republican is about to beat her.
The worst of it is, I can't move to Australia anymore because they're all uptight about video game ratings, and I can't move to England because I'll be arrested for taking a photo of Buckingham Palace on a Tuesday. Canada
ain't looking that great either.
Have you seen Avatar yet?
From Wingman The Professor, a.k.a. @Clint47, and no: I haven't seen AVATAR yet. Shocking, right?
The Wingman is Strong With This One JESS,
What's the film about? Like i mean i watched that one video on your site that you directed with the people saying how movies and shows are controlled by six different networks. But what are you trying to change?? I mean i'm still young and all but its really cool that someone is just going after their dream and not sitting around and dreaming about it!! Those are the people that you look towards as a role model. And i know that i might not understand it fully, but i want to understand.
oh yeah, and of course i want to know everything your movie is about:)
and one more thing, Whats a wingman??
From my cousin, who is currently a Freshman in high school. This is the first time she's e-mailed me. (Most of my family has little idea of what I do in the world beyond serving as a moving jungle gym for the wee little cousins at familial get-togethers.) She's since read through so much of the site that I can't help but feel proud of her curiosity.
.Net Initiative ...I dare say you should consider making it out to Colorado one of these days and shake the Coloradan Wingmen out into the limelight :) Take care and Happy 2010 to you and *Æ*!
Ah...yes... Now that I have your ear a moment, and now that the idea to tell you has sparked in the wilderness of my mind: I am the guy that owns the .net version of ArtemisEternal.com (that is, www.ArtemisEternal.net). I've had it forwarding to ArtemisEternal.com since October of 2008. I have it registered until October 19, 2010 (a year and three months before your .com expires), at which point I have it set to automatically renew in two year increments. I'm happy to keep the .net directing to whatever website *Æ* finds is its' home on the web. However, should you at any time like for me to transfer ownership to you, I will have no qualms with accommodating for the transfer. I currently have it registered through GoDaddy.
Anyhow, thank you again and Good Night :)
From Wingman Drew, a.k.a. @Zathman. I found this moving. And no that doesn't make me a wimp that makes me a Wingman.
The Story of How $3 NZD Was Priceless Hi Jessica,
Firstly, Happy New Year! On to my reason for emailing: basically I have $3 (NZD) sitting in my PayPal account about to "expire" from when I verified my debit card. So instead of withdrawing it (and losing $1 in fees) I am giving it to you (losing $0.03, much more efficient!).
I know it isn't much, and probably isn't worth worrying about, but if it buys one more sandwich I will happy. I would much rather my measly $3 is put to good use than get absorbed by PayPal.
Anyway, I feel I am starting to ramble. I will let you get back to work...
From Wingman Hayden Patel.* ...So James Cameron now has the #1 and #2 worldwide grossing films of all time - that's the big news in the film industry right now - but I honestly wouldn't trade him for the experience we're having together via ARTEMIS. And yes that still doesn't make me a Wimp: It makes me LOCO. Like, 'Insane in the Membrane' style. Check the track. Anyway Wingmen have emotions that's not what "No Wimps(!)" means, kthx!
PPPS: Wingman Taryn, a.k.a. @tarynoneill e-mailed me a video of genre novelist Bruce Sterling speaking about the future, but not the future you're thinking of when someone says "future": A different one. Taryn highlighted Bruce's idea of building a new infrastructure vs. not just positioning yourself in the existing narrative. Well said by Bruce, and certainly that is the idea behind our approach to ARTEMIS ETERNAL. There are more thoughts here well worth checking in with.
PPPPS: Yes Wingmen have emotions, but it is a well-known fact that they are incapable of crying ever since Episode I stole all of their tears.
Dear Wingman, I hope the letters of your brethren appeal to your imagination and sense of pride in the community as much as they do to mine.
*FYI this was prior to the disaster in Haiti. Just in case you were getting any ideas about Hayden hatin' on Haiti: No way. I mean I'm pretty sure he's got at least one voodoo doll of Michael Bay and would have totally transfered his $3 to Haiti relief if it had been Now and not Then. Donating to Haiti is so hot right now. Give it a go!
Jessica: (dancing a little dance, chanting) I'm going to have a bagel, I'm going to have a bagel--
The Grizz: You stay away from those bagels, boy.
Jessica: Why? There's five--
The Grizz: They're numbered!
Jessica: (resuming dancy-dance, chanting) I'm going to put them in some tupperware, I'm going to put them in some tupperware...
(Does. Turns to put bagel 1 of 5 on a plate--The Grizz pops the lid on--) Jessica: I was going to put the lid on--
The Grizz: You're slow, boy! Air is instantaneous.
Jessica: What?--I was--
The Grizz: The light in your room is on.
Jessica: I'm going back in there!
The Grizz: Focus, you need to focus.
Jessica: I am focused!
The Grizz: You're a freak!
...Yes, these are the exchanges that result when I crash at Stover Mancha. PS: Air is instantaneous.
Dear Wingman, Happy New Year! If you did not receive an awesomesauce letter from me on New Year's Eve, then please check in with me to make sure that your address is correct on the Wingman-only e-mail list.
The above is thought provoking. I actually purchased this as a card for a Wingman who played host by allowing me his guest room over holiday in London.
Upon discovering the card in a boutique, I lifted it from its hidden spot on the bottom shelf and thought hard for my own answer, even though that answer came swift. But I thought hard so as not to overlook any aspect of my nature.
Certainly the answer was and remains ARTEMIS ETERNAL. Welcome to my no-regrets pursuit. I wish you the same, and cherish the adventures we've been through so far, as illustrated by the evolving, breathing map you see upon striking "Begin" with your cursor.
Furthermore, I'm suddenly reminded of this rhyme I jotted down a while back. You may recall,
On strum! On drum!
Raise lights, sing cheers!
For cowards who slumber,
We’ll rumble their ears!
Bear torch, bring map,
In dark, unrolled,
The advent is glowing
Our futures unfold
In dreams, awake,
Come hosts unseen:
The Wingmen who number
two hundred fifteen!
It's been thrilling, it's been tough: It still is. And onward and upward we go!
You know, just in case any aliens or future humans want to listen to Earth. Or get their Intergalatic Planetary DJ scratchin' on. (wiggity--wiggity--what?fool!)
"Engraved on it are instructions for building a phonograph to play the 'Sounds of Earth' record. A stylus and cartridge are included with the record. Also shown are the proper way to reconstruct the pictures recorded on the record and the location of our Sun in our Galaxy."*
Truth: The construction is gold-plated copper.
The committee that curated the record was headed by le hero Carl Sagan.
It should probably include a photo of me looking at it. You know, for scale. So that aliens know how big we are in relation to the record. (That's the featuring J.Sto part.)
...I mean, I'm not going to, like, sing the hook to the "Music of the Spheres" or the wind or anything. Although maybe I'm taking singing lessons right now just in case NASA needs someone.
I made the title totally longer and therefore better by adding "Space" along with "Stellaradicus" and "Infinitus". (Both humans and aliens are sooooo into Dog Latin.)
I originally found Leon Lynn's letter and John Kovalic's blog via Wingman Curt, and when I RT-ed the letter link on le Twitter, it struck a chord with the rest of the community, so off I went into the woods. In the past I/we have made a case that corporate media conglomerate bullshitting such as this is trickle down from the many issues that extreme media consolidation has created.
Here is the original posting of the letter on Dorktower.com I'm glad that Leon Lynn wrote this and that John posted it to his blog. I hope they both like this vid.
'A Charlie Brown Christmas' the soundtrack by Vince Guaraldi can be found on iTunes and Amazon, et cetera. The short film special can be gotten via Netflix or Amazon and so forth, although I warn you to be careful of what version you buy or rent as there are different edits.
The version ABC chose to upload to Hulu after their broadcast debacle was the same, exact version criticized. That might have been the place to make it up to viewers, but again Disney really has no need to go out of their way and uploaded the compromised version. Viewers have no leverage against a company that's too large to fail. And yet, there were many incensed comments on Hulu regarding Disney's raping of the work, Leon wrote this letter... the Internets were not pleased and some news blogs picked up the story via the letter... all of which led to a Hulu upload of the 42-minute version (available until 1/1).
ABC/Disney/Hulu did not go the extra mile and make Charlie commercial-free as a solid make-good for the audience (my opinion is that that would have been a mutually-rewarding move) and this hardly helps the television audience (television = the most influential medium still), but regardless of all that mess, to my knowledge this change is completely due to web feedback from viewers and that's worth noting. The web, unlike a TV, is a two-way dialogue. It saddens and alarms me that corporations will do whatever they like until they are caught and called on it (and usually not even then do they make changes or abide by laws meant to protect the public). There is a larger issue at play here and we see it reflected both in the actual stories being distributed to our culture and in the way those stories are wielded to influence viewers.
Some people think that in a free market (truly free with no regulation), these issues would not exist as they would be corrected by the market. Other people think that the market is incapable of correcting the problems with big media as these corporations are simply too large and corruption runs too deep. Still others compare our media situation to cartels. And still more people have different ideas, various combinations and nuances... my general point is that if this reasoned debate isn't happening about the role of media in our lives and what media control means to that influence, and if these news stories about the media, communications & entertainment vertical aren't responsibly examined and broadcast, then I wonder what information people will use to make decisions.
I heard (would welcome additional confirmation) that the network compressed the showing in question in order to make even more room for adverts, so Leon's instincts are correct: The audio-sync error is hardly due to ABC not having the ability to check its delivery standards, but instead was also done to accommodate excessive conglomerate advertising and mindless, zero-sum cross-promotion. The only reason Disney probably aired Charlie in the first place was to leverage a title in their library in order to promote the new franchise-less program they had up next by tethering it to something you already know and care about. Sadly this works.
In contrast, it feels good to think that there was a time when A Charlie Brown Christmas aired in full, untouched by the commercialism that makes its premise so wonderful.
Unfortunately, my understanding is that Charlie was never a pure short film. The original special apparently had multiple instances of pushy product placement and ads incorporated in-story targeted at children, which arguably undermines the point of the story. Now that those sponsors aren't paying they have been removed. There is also that the FCC later passed laws about advertising to children. The program has thus gone through quite a few different edits, always (from my understanding) to do with advertisers. Charlie was also turned into a franchise, which means it was licensed out to make all kinds of cheap junk and the characters were used in multiple adverts. Basically, when the kids grew up someone used their dear Charlie to sell them insurance. This was all before my time, so I'd be curious to see/hear anything you know about the history and have experienced yourself.
Yes, that was then. TV has been wrong, a lot, in the past. TV promoted cigarettes and censorship in ways that we now find unbelievable. And this letter should have been written about the original broadcast in 1965. And here we are, now, with our own opportunity to set the bar. Instead of looking backward to a golden time that never was, let us look forward. Let us be the first to air moving art in all forms in the mainstream without undermining its messaging or selling it out to special interests, without using story to manipulate, indoctrinate and sell, sell, sellll! And, when advertising is present as it is at present, let us all be media literate enough to understand the machinations involved, and make decisions accordingly.
Back then, viewers only had the one-way street that is the television. Now, we have the Internet. It is my hope that the 'Net's diversity will counter television's concentrated influence, and will create opportunities for motion picture to exist without advertisers controlling the purse strings or being involved at all, really.
So Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Namaste(!) and best wishes of joy and peace to you in whatever spirit you celebrate with glowing hearts and minds alert, on whatever day, in whatever loving way, for whatever human reason--Shalom!
It is no secret that artist Greg Martin and I are in production on visual concepts for the film The Silver Legacy. We are now proud to offer to you limited edition art prints of one of the TSL paintings.
The concept painting in question is the valley scene from the beginning of the film and is grander than the previous concept work you have seen. View the art here. (Click the desktop sizes to see the details.)
Limited Edition Conceptual Painting From The Silver Legacy Each 20x30 in. Giclee fine art print is produced on premium quality archival paper with a lustre finish to minimize fingerprinting and glare, and is numbered and signed by Greg Martin and Jessica Mae Stover.
The run is very limited: Only 40 printed. Only 10 are still available.
“The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent government agency, directly responsible to Congress. The FCC is charged with regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable. Their jurisdiction covers the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. possessions.”
Next week I have a meeting with Commissioner Copps' office at the FCC. This punctuates a string of related meetings I've already completed on the following:
+Corporate Media Consolidation
-Lack of Diversity in Media
-Artists Issues/Smaller Ownerships vs. Big Media
-Monopolies of Knowledge theory applied to Media Concentration
+Network Neutrality / The Internets
+What we've learned from ARTEMIS ETERNAL (how all of this affects film production)
+Anything else related (including education/critical thinking).
+Censorship and Free Speech (as an artist & citizen of a democracy, this is always a concern of mine)
Help me/us be smarter: If there is something you would like to add and/or for me to find out or raise during the meeting, then please comment your thoughts by Monday night.
And, if you haven't watched this yet, then it's time.
[Bill Moyers/PBS Reporting on Big Media two years ago]
This debacle and the lack of coverage on said debacle happened after my cracking point, i.e. what drove me to re-imagine my approach to film and create ARTEMIS ETERNAL.
These are issues that we have been speaking publicly about for years. With your help and alongside you, I work tirelessly on challenging people to understand propaganda and media bias, and to illuminate the the negative effects of media consolidation, politics and control so that said global citizens can make better decisions in place of actively undermining their own best interests.
"We're all independent thinkers here…"
Although we do tend to agree most of the time, being a Wingman means neither conformity nor total agreement on these issues. Rather it stands for independent thought, the ability to use reason to evaluate and discuss the issues at hand and a desire for all to have those skills alongside access to viable information. The one thing we agree on is a higher ideal, and one worth striving for: Media and power should not be biased and consolidated in disservice to the public. That, and we all love movies. Particularly epic, myth and sci-fi/fantasy films. Alongside the social journey of filmmaking.
To Muggles: Wingmen include Republicans and Democrats, numerous other international party members, atheists and born-again Christians, scientists and stay-at-home moms/dads, students, journalists, actors, artists, activists... folks from all walks of life, faith, orientation and trade. Again, there is a higher ideal here that we all subscribe to. I personally value the diversity and debate amongst Wingmen a great deal: We have a good time discovering what we think that way.
Media Consolidation as we know it is anti-democracy. It is anti-independent thought. Although other verticals and issues are more important than the media vertical and movies (verticals such as war, agriculture, health care, civil rights…), the media vertical is both a democratic check and serves the distribution of information to the people. The lack of media diversity and the consolidation of media distribution is therefore paramount in the list of the troubles facing humanity. After all, people cannot make decisions with out information and reasoned discussion. Even worse than the lack of diversity, mass disinformation is spread on a day-to-day basis and validated by association with the media conglomerates' news branding.
With the NBCUniversal/Comcast merger on the table, with consolidation regulation on the table and with Net Neutrality on the table, RIGHT NOW, media issues are finally getting some play. Everywhere I go in Virginia I have asked adults about these issues and they are completely unaware. Unfortunately it is in the corporate press' best interest to not cover this story aggressively, or at all. (Although they have plenty of airtime for the Tiger Woods gossip non-story.) It is also in their best interest, and the best interest of anyone who would seek your consent, not to educate you on what is happening and how it affects your interests. For example: What passes for “journalism” nowadays is being done to - not for or with, but done to – a great lot of people. “Wake up!”, we cry. And yet, despite ingesting over four hours of media a day on average, Americans remain willfully ignorant on anything to do with media politics and bias.
Again I ask, how can the public make decisions about war, health, civil rights, global warming and so forth, if they cannot get viable information? How will they evaluate who to vote for? Right now elections are largely based on 30-second TV ads. Campaign reform relates to media consolidation, too: The better your funding, the more media influence you can buy.
Artists play safety on the football field that is the media vertical. When news fails, artists are already there, working (our process being a longer, slower one in terms of production), and exploring the questions of the day. Sometimes via documentary, sometimes via a metaphor in a sci-fi film, or perhaps even via a parody show like The Daily Show. Media consolidation has eliminated the artist, too. From the trenches I tell you we are more compromised by big media special interests than politicians are. You cannot work in media or run for office without considerable funding, and you cannot accept that funding without being held to special interests. This remains a dangerous time.
I am thankful everyday for The Internet. I shudder to think where I would be artistically without the web and the waning diversity it provides.
After all of my work in Hollywood and other media centers, after visiting three countries and 19 states, after taking every useful meeting I can line up on these matters on all sides of the equation, I have spent the last few weeks in Washington DC and the surrounding metro area meeting with local media players, including crew members and artists, hunting down as much related knowledge as possible.
Hand in hand with issues of media control come issues in education. Even if citizens were receiving viable information and media, and even if the voices and ownership were diverse and the debate robust; if the mass of people lack the critical thinking skills and basic problem solving ability needed to evaluate and act on information, then our circumstances remain equally dire.
Furthermore I contend that the tyranny of media consolidation cannot end without the understanding and support of individuals worldwide. We could remove "Media Machiavellis" like Rupert Murdoch, but another tyrant would simply take his place and the population would allow them to continue to consolidate as they do now. And Michael Bay? His receiving constant work and so wide and constant a distribution share is merely a symptom of that same disease. Again this information is not reaching the majority at all much less in meaningful ways, and individual education is also at play in understanding these concepts.
To that end I strive to not contribute to the dumbing down of my generation (something I once participated in at times while working within the AOL/TimeWarner megabeast). Last week I met with the NIH alongside my media sessions, specifically focusing on the science education department of the director's office. My goals are to fully understand the educational issues we face (check out our dreadful PISA scores), to understand how this lack of critical thinking skills relates to media consolidation, media bias and manufactured consent, and to see if there's anything I can do via my expertise (beyond my personal projects) to help improve the landscape. (As a side note, that meeting was a terrific meeting of the minds, and I was impressed by their work.) Anyway, twenty years from now I don’t want to be creating sci-fi films for people who are sadly unable to understand basic concepts. I understand that someone may choose ignorance, or even an intelligent route that differs from mine: I’d simply like for individuals to have choices.
I've also just spent three weeks in schools hands on in order to evaluate where our local youth is at in terms of critical thinking and what compulsory education in public schools is like. This isn’t the first time in my life that I’ve learned something valuable from le short people (kids). In fact half of them seem to be smarter than their parents. Or at least more reasonable. ;-)
I have sent a letter to my Senator (Webb) about media literacy. Please e-mail me if you are a Wingman and would like to forward to your own state Senator.
I realize that International Wingmen obviously do not have US Senators. Please do not consider yourselves left out or underrepresented as Wingmen. We all understand by this point the influence that American media companies have worldwide (not that we are seeking a solution in government, incidentally). Furthermore, if there is way for us to help you locally and nationally in your own country, then by all means let me know. Also, I’m always on the lookout for non-US media studies and facts.
”Those who control knowledge through the dominant media of a given society also control reality, in that they are in a position to define what knowledge is legitimate. Thus, monopolies of knowledge encourage centralization of power.”
The above is simply a line pulled from the “Monopolies of Knowledge” Wikipedia page, an idea crucial to consider.
It is altogether fitting and proper that we should sign our formal letters, "No wimps!",
Most of my family lives out toward Shenandoah, Virginia (west and then farther west and south of Washington D.C.). Today I went out to my Uncles' (on The Grizz's side) to see their newish house and hang out.
My cousin Wes has a huge pitbull, and to wear her out he hops on an ATV and rips around the hills while she gallops alongside like a friggin' horse until she's gasping for air and tired enough to be brought in for the night. This is an excellent idea if you don't want, or are unable, to run miles a day with your dog. I hadn't done the ATV thing in a few years. Wind in my hair and such. Not quite as good as horseback riding, mostly because of the pollution ATVs cause, but it is freeing. Especially when you do it irresponsible-style, sans helmet.
Meanwhile I heard further news that my other Uncle, who lives farther out, has been congregating with my older male cousins over a Jeep or two he has rigged for mudding. Unsurprisingly (for Stovers) he pushes it to the rebel-edge and may or may not drink beers whilst doing. Forget whatever movie premiere is next: This is the sort of creek-side event that I need to procure an invitation to.
I hadn't seen four of my littler cousins (Have I mentioned that I have thirty-some or so cousins? I should count how many. Or ask my Grandma.) in a few years because, as exceptions to the VA rule, they now live in NC. It's rare that we are both in Virginia at the same time, especially since two are now school-aged and I'm usually in California.
I made up for lost time today by teaching them backflips, magic hour photography and videography, and, finally, destroying the Kindergartener at foosball. (Life lessons, people, life lessons.)
For example here is a video taken by the first-grader:
At one point, while we were talking when I first arrived and she was failing to recall any memory of me, the first-grader, who loves science and was explaining how excited she is to be studying different kinds of rocks in school, paused, and then said softly, "I don't know how god made flowers in eyes--but you have blue flowers in your eyes... ."
Ah geezus. That's not just cute, it's soulful! It was so sweet that I was too stunned to explain the genetics of eye color. And then the 3-year-old is equally cute as the rest. He constantly says a tiny "Hey!" because he wants your attention, but it sounds like a martial arts "hihh(!)". At the same time, when he speaks, he sounds a little like a Jawa. So he follows me around and it's like a Jawa is perpetually challenging me to a duel. Cute overload.
My Aunt told me a story about teen Grizz. I didn't realize that she went to the same high school as my Dad and his many siblings (including her husband, my Uncle). Since she was the love interest of his older brother, one day upper-classman The Grizz did his bro a favor and gave my future-aunt a lift to school. As she hopped out of his red, suped-up Camaro in her Freshman cheerleading uniform, she was all, "Well gosh, thanks!" And The Grizz was like, "Don't mention it." She smiles, and just as she's about to say goodbye, he says, "No really, don't mention it," in a straight faced (but joking), don't-tell-anyone-I-associated-with-you way as he speeds off with a "Zing! Too cool for you!" expression on his face.
Haha--OK, but really, my dad had a red Camaro that he worked on when he was a teenager?
I only hear these stories when the Aunts and Uncles are together: Especially the brothers Stover. Also my Dad had a motorcycle. I knew that, but M.Sto was telling a story about how cold it was to ride on the motorcycle in the winter and punctuated the anecdote with, "Oh yeah, he was a wildman."
And I was all, "Yeah. Grizz. with your secret teenage red Camaro and your van with a bed in the back."
He looked at me sideways, "That's right, punk." And just as I went to say something to that, he flips his hand up and says, "Silence, King o' the Freaks."
I'm certain that if he could have exited the car at that time on that line, he would have.
Apparently that is my new nickname.
Anyway, as you can see from family day it turns out the 1st-grader was the photag of the bunch. She took these:
She was thoughtful about where she stood when capturing images. In my experience, kids her age don't innately take steps to get a better angle.
Being on camera suited the Kindergartener, so she wins the performance award. And my little Jawa wins most likely to be sad when I forget him inside and go to the trampoline with the girls. (For the record I did call out to him, but he was entranced by SpongeBob.) You can't see or hear the toddler-cousin in this entry: Imagine the award she wins for best matching cap and coat on an adorable little person with a tiny, rosy nose from the chill air.
There are loads of other little Sto cousins, and more just born or on the way, so if you are thinking about breeding: Don't worry about it.
Friday, on Twitter, I made complaint about a certain stripe of mail I receive and also shared some tips on how to get a response from busy people. Then I did some light mocking. It went like this:
Wish aspiring artists (who are not kids) would not e-mail me cold without knowing anything about anything they could look up themselves.
Wasting my time doesn't help. Mail: Be clear, professional & knowledgeable+have argument for why recipient would give you what you want/need.
Also, Wingmen always come first. Obviously. And, hello, you're online: Spend some time contributing to communities when applicable.
Literally while I was complain-tweeting, the following, random e-mail was delivered to my Inbox. The subject alone made me want to chuck my laptop out of the window and yell a lot at the walls. But I opened the letter, just in case it was actually legitimate. (It wasn’t.)
Subject: Film proposal
From: "Nick Nombre" firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Friday 10:37 pm
To: “Jessica Mae Stover”
I am trying to keep your recent comments on Twitter in mind as I write this. I will
strive to be clear, professional, knowledgeable, have a logical argument, etc.
I have spent quite a lot of time researching your film project, Artemis Eternal. I
am impressed by the scope of your vision and wish to be a part of it. The lead
part, to be precise. I believe you should cast me instead of Todd Soley. My
reasoning for this is simple: I'm totally better. Also, I can ride a Pegasus
bareback for 12 hours straight in freezing high altitudes with very little effort.
Can your Mr. Soley do this? I think not. It is rare indeed to find someone with my
excellent Pegasusmanship who can also act. And believe me when I say I once brought
the acting giant Sir Ian McKellan to tears with my rendition of Shakespeare (all of
it). Please consider this offer seriously. I cannot promise I will be available
for much longer.
There is, however, one stipulation I must insist upon if I am to lend my talents to
AAE. I must be supplied with a miniature pony at all times. This is absolutely
nonnegotiable. I would prefer a black pony, but will settle for a bay or palomino
if necessary. Said pony must wear a festive bandana around its neck, which MUST
match my outfit for each day. If you can meet this one demand, I will be perfectly
cooperative and give you the performance of a lifetime. Trust me - your film needs
a Pegasus. So many filmmakers ignore the Pegasus factor, yet it is so essential!
And you of all people should know that to make a great Pegasus scene, you need a
great rider. I believe I've already established that rider is me.
Well, I believe I've made my case as well as anyone in the history of mankind
possibly could. I'm looking forward to your acceptance of my offer. Also, I would
appreciate if you would explain to me what exactly "sci-fi" is. I'll be expecting a
reply by the end of the evening.
You're welcome for my time.
Also, this is totally a real email and definitely is NOT Katie messing with you.
This probably will not surprise you: The Disneyfication of fairytales was a peripheral exploration I completed over a literary history of fairytales course of study I did at university. Disney's theatrical films don't bother me, in fact I enjoy most of them and embrace the idea of different applications of old tales. It's Disney's commercialized marketing that's truly perverted. Unfortunately the messaging behind franchising is what has more exposure. From supermarkets to theme parks, Disney's selling you chocolate bars made by children in third world countries with smiling Princesses on them and urging you to wait for two hours in line to meet one of the promotional Princesses in their cartoony costumes who has been trained up in the art of public smiling and forever-girlish voices at Mauschwitz under the shadow of the Cinderella castle. In art there is room for exploration of misogynistic themes, subtle or otherwise, or any themes, actually. Art. When looking at Disney marketing, we're not talking about an intellectual exploration, however. Also these particular messages are aimed at small children.
Regardless, it's smart to expose humans of all ages to diverse ideas and my course of study at university was about the evolution of myth and not a feminist crusade against Disney and films like Pretty Women (those students already exist in droves, believe me). I focus on the larger disease, and trace issue-symptoms such as Disney's Barbie-like influence on young ladies back to media consolidation and bias.
Essentially, in the marketplace there is no actual competition for Disney's Princess point of view. When I say Snow White I immediately think of Disney's version staring back at me from plastic cups and pillowcases. Disney corporation owns too much media and shouts its messaging louder than anyone, and has been doing so on a mass Princess-market scale for over a decade. I also think they'd be quick to bully-sue any independent production company who titled a movie Beauty and the Beast even though the fairytale is public domain. Truly their conglomerate has a lock on this brand of body-image niche aimed at school girls. What's worse is that school girls aren't outgrowing the obsession, or in the least thinking about it critically, once they become adults. What comes next? Voting for Sarah Palin. Matt Damon said it well enough.
But the lack of diversity and brand-princess indoctrination would not be solved by assassinating the Disney company. Another brand-tyrant would simply take their place. The key is in the larger issue: Media control and, more importantly, in the mindset of The People. These are the same issues we address with The WINGMEN movement behind Artemis Eternal. This entry itself and the ideas reviewed here are an extension to my philosophy essay and filmmaker's letter, as well as works we've explored and completed together. Thus, I'm not surprised that a Wingman was considering the subject.
To Dave's point, here is an essay similar to that of the "Disneyfication" research I studied, although this paper is neither as intelligent nor exact. I recall this link making it's way around the 'Net at some point, probably because it introduces some of the questions we've also raised, and is free. My reference books are in storage in LA so I cannot access the essays I used and I failed to locate them on the Internet. I have also heard of a similar essay titled, Breaking Disney's Spell but I have not read the work. Scholarly work is of high value, and therefore requires you to purchase or license the books and essays. And I hardly see the press covering these topics and interviewing those scholars the next time Disney releases its next Princess products. So it goes that you probably won't ever hear this discussed on whatever news program you still deign to watch. Just know that there do exist critical voices and academics researching, writing and speaking about this specific subject: They've been doing so for at least ten years now. From the last link, which is rather like a book report, consider:
"Many American children have grown up completely unaware that the concept of a prince saving a princess is a distinctly Disney idea. The classic fairytales often involve feminine strength and an urging of women to be able to outsmart her predators. If a girl is not able to outsmart her attacker, she is simply killed. This is evidenced quite well in Perrault's Little Red Riding Hood and the Brothers Grimm tale of Little Red Cap."
"Disney's portrayal of princesses or young girls as weak and frail leads Zipes to believe that Disney "perpetuated a male myth" which is, subconsciously, a celebration of his own destiny and success (Zipes 348)."
Seeking out original versions and translations of fairytales is something I recommend. The true originals are often darker (in a tragic, unrequited love story, the Little Mermaid allows her tongue to be cut off instead of trading her voice) but you can find ones that are softened in that regard (no one gets their eyes pecked out) without losing the poise, intelligence or usefulness of the tale or perverting the so-called heroines into commercialized Barbie dolls while marketing them as "strong women" and role models. It is possible to find versions of traditional fairytales that have gorgeous illustration: Works of art that make Disney's cartoon books at the local Safeway look like exactly what they are: The plastic crocs of storybooks.
As a kid, I used The Random House Book of Fairytales as a broad jumping-off point. M.Sto gifted that book to C.Sto and I, but I commandered it immediately and sister C.Sto never complained. Some of the tales are watered down, but not useless: I became familiar with the stories and learned which ones I liked in particular, and then sought other versions at the library for compare and contrast. In fifth grade I performed a monologue of The Princess and the Pea adapted out of that book, although I never have truly grokked a positive purpose to that story except perhaps to illustrate how absurd and sensitive nobles were. Over time, however, Pea certainly seems to make more of a comment that refined Princesses/women are ridiculously sensitive physically, perhaps as metaphor to emotional sensitivity. So a noble woman must be high sensitive in order to prove her blood, quality of womanhood and title? I'd be curious to research older and alternative forms of that fairytale: It's so short that it's often overlooked in favor of critiquing Snow White and such. Also note that fairytalers such as Hans Christian Andersen didn't necessarily invent the stories they wrote: Many were passed down orally and Mr. Andersen and his colleagues recorded them, as Disney did (although not with so extensive of changes), in their own style. So is the tradition of myth: Ever-evolving.
And from that time comes the story Catwitch, which is a now out-of-print treasure I discovered at a used library book sale and snapped up immediately for the whopping price of 25 cents. The stories I have recommended I have read in the past few years, except for Catwitch. In this fairytale the protagonist is not a girl, or even a human, but in actuality a male cat (Jules) in search of adventure. Catwitch has unicorns and wizards and fantasy illustration. I remember liking it for what it was: Something lighter and more modern with a dash of pop culture. The story mentions things like the Narnia books and... Elizabeth Taylor. Also, faeries speak to Jules through the television.
The original Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll is really quite something to read aloud to your kids, and then for young readers to grow into over time. On the surface it's purposefully silly, absurd and full of nonsense, and yet there is, of course, a load of logical depth to be experienced in the story. Alice and Looking Glass put a young female lead in a philosophical, logical and sometimes math-driven world. Historically, in the US, girls have not been encouraged to excel at Math (both the movie Mean Girls and the show My So Called Life make this point), so for our purposes, Alice is a welcome revelation. Plus, what proper Wingman-parent wouldn't want to introduce their kids to their first "down the rabbit-hole" adventure?
"...a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in all my life!"
For elementary readers (and all ages, really,) I also suggest the Harry Potter books (not the mediocre-written movies). An obvious choice of late, but I'm going to go on about it for my own pleasure. Although the key protagonist, Harry Potter, is not female, story-lead Hermione kicks ass (top student in her year), and Harry falls for independent girls like Ginny and Cho, who are stars on the Quidditch field. Supporting characters like Fleur and Tonks have elite skills, and elders like McGonagall and Mrs. Weasley get the job done from dueling to house and school ruling. And then there's Harry's mum, who was quite skilled and outspoken in her day. Female characters are fully-developed (no one is Princess-perfect). Traditional feminine qualities such as kindness and sensitivity are positive and powerful traits alongside intelligence, athleticism, wit and courage, and, in the end, the greatest power: Love in all its various forms. Furthermore, the "magic as power" metaphor levels the playing field between the genders in the Potter universe. Rowling is a pro at character: This is one bestseller that's not overrated. For girls I prefer this to Narnia or more recent books like His Dark Materials. Although certainly I think Narnia is something to add to the general fantasy & myth repertoire: It's just that I don't particularly like C.S. Lewis' treatment of Susan later in the series. Rowling's girls, on the other hand, have more depth and diversity, and wearing makeup or being attractive and social isn't any comment on a girl's abilities (see Fleur). Rowling also allows her girls to grow up. The His Dark Materials series allows for maturation as well.
Well hey, guess what, I just ran a search on gender in those books, and found out that the discussion is common enough to be included in Wikipedia articles. In fact Rowling has commented specifically on the "lipstick" treatment in Narnia. Perhaps I do know what I'm doing, after all. Anyway, of that series I always liked The Magician's Nephew best, and, accordingly, Polly. ...And I see that that too has been commented on.
His Dark Materials has one of those "strong female lead"s. My hang-up is that I don't consider the story to be as masterful as Potter and it's heavy-handed. To its credit: Evolution is presented interestingly via the world of the Mulefa, organized religion that has become oppressive is challenged and alternative ideas are presented about "the Fall" and self-awareness (Christianity). These have value. In wider scope, the author selling the story rights to the media establishment essentially mirrors the establishment that he criticizes (and has his characters rebel against) in the story, thus undermining his story premise via his IRL handling of the story. Also, the US versions of the books are censored in terms of Lyra's coming-of-age sexuality. Yes, that's right: CENSORED FOR CERTAIN COUNTRIES. In addition, the movie produced by New Line left out the soul of the work and strongly censored the anti-religious ideas that make the novels, and a film adaptation, worthwhile. This was all to be expected given the studio/big media track record. (And, all of this is just peachy because apparently, in one of the first quotes she made to press about the production, Nicole Kidman revealed she wouldn't have done a film that metaphorically explored the abuse of power in the Roman Catholic Church. And here I thought she was an artist.)
In our study of modern mythology, the times often require us to consider the cross-platform and commercial extensions of a story as a part of the story itself, since messaging and marketing is ingested more than the actual work. Especially we might consider this in terms of a book that condemns censoring and then submits itself to be censored.
But again, any issue I take with the execution of the Materials is part of that larger problem I mentioned before.
I'll close by wondering if students' school texts are growing less challenging over time. Many of the books M.Sto read in middle school, such as The Scarlett Letter, I did not read until Freshman or Sophomore year of highschool. I was an Honors & Advanced Placement student in literature, so at the time I found the curriculum-gap strange. Was my mom's generation smarter than we were when they were younger? Was greater ability expected of them than of us? Why had the measurements changed? Meanwhile, in 7th grade English I was incredibly bored. I'd finish my work, help my friends with their work and then get into trouble for talking because there was nothing to do. My aptly-named teacher, Ms. Cross, called my parents complaining. Perhaps the bar for the standard reading level was and is continuously lowering. If so, then why?
The best advice to consider when concerned about young readers, I believe, is to teach your kids to argue (i.e. to think and express themselves critically and analytically) in order to equip them to recognize and deal with all forms of bullshit that will come up over the course of their lives. The "teach a person to fish" lesson, as it were. Here is that link again: So simple, so awesome.
As influencers, parents or no, we do well to continuously sharpen our own skills.
If you have recommendations on further stories for little and school-aged girls, and translations of fairytale and myth, then please do share.
Should I recall or discover other stories fitting, then I shall update this entry. Enjoy!
...And don't forget that you can periodically put all the books down, and tell your child your own version of any of these stories: Just as you would have in days past when tales hadn't yet been committed to paper, much less Disneyfied or merchandized. ;-)
Updates: - Found a terrific article from 2007 published by The Nation.
- Learned of a handy term: "DPS" (Disney Princess Syndrome). I haven't discovered from whom the phrase originated, however.
- Remembered The Red Shoes fairytale. Illustration on this book looks great and adaption of tale sounds promising. I haven't read this version. Would love to hear your insights if you own it or purchase, or suggestions on another adaptation.
*The Snow Queen: Search for versions that suit you. For example, the copy I liked as a kid was non-religious and therefore did not have the direct references to Christianity and quoting from the Bible. Also the lead, Gerda, may have been more active.
I met Carl Sagan's work for the first time a few weeks ago after accidentally running into the following video. Since that day of discovery I've been:
1. Raving about this vid.
2. Ridiculing every science teacher I ever had for not showing Cosmos in school.
3. Enjoying Dr. Sagan's beautifully written Cosmos series on Netflix streaming. Full of optimism, wonder, science and caution, please enjoy a fan-made, well-done introduction to the awesome ideas therein,
"A still more glorious dawn awaits, Not a sunrise, but a galaxy rise, A morning filled with four hundred billion suns: The rising of The Milky Way!"
Electronic data management: Perhaps it is not the awesome evolution we perceive it to be.
...Or so wonders the girl who literally spent all day working with Palm tech support in attempts to fix an issue due to a corrupted calendar+addresses data file. I may have lost my calendar. My perfect, perfect calendar.
My external drive broke down, so I haven't been backing up all of my data since I haven't had the scratch to pick up a new LaCie as I nomad about. I have two other drives that are loaded up with video and music and vital backups of original/evolving creative works. Over the years, I've been careful with backing up. So it came to pass that I was vulnerable for two months and, of course, got nailed.
The only way you lose a hardcopy in your lifetime is in fire, flood or other disaster-like occurrences. In which case your computer is also compromised (assuming all of your tangible objects are in the same geographical location). I would guess that the odds of natural disaster wiping out your hard copies are way lower than the odds of a drive going out.
Furthermore, down the line, technology may will change, which means that it is possible for digital archives to become inaccessible unless data is migrated. Floppy discs, for example.
Maybe this is further argument in favor of keeping data "in the cloud." Although, in the past the cloud has experienced fail as well: Both in access issues and a loss of actual data. Additional factors to weigh include the reality of exchanging safety for privacy/control and comparing the hard costs of different storage methods.
Did you know that it is far more expensive and tedious to archive digital movies than movies on film?
That one makes sense, but only after you set assumptions about digital ease aside and think about the facts.
Digital problem days: What we sacrifice in order to save more time via computers, I suppose. And yet, after all that time lost on a minor issue, it is difficult to see the long-term benefit: All I want right now is to curl up into a ball and fade out.
I didn't mean to pitch a story on ARTEMIS ETERNAL to The Associated Press.
About a year ago, I found out that they had told our publicity firm, and other publicists at other firms, that they only have the resources to cover the obvious, big, mainstream entertainment stories. You can imagine how that went over with me, and how alarming I found that statement coming from one of the largest newswires in the world. I looked up their US Entertainment Editor and sent him an accusing e-mail in order to find out if this was an official, public rule they operated by or a loose standard that only folks in the industry understood to be true. While researching, I noted that this particular editor had a sports journalism background and therefore was unlikely to be one of the entertainment queens obsessed with getting five minutes with Reese Witherspoon or whoever, so I wrote thinking that I might actually get some information, or at least cause him to self-evaluate. After an argumentative exchange via e-mail, he decided that you and I have a story with what we are doing (Artemis Eternal & The Wingmen). He exhibited signs of being an exception to the compromised press industry, so I agreed to meet with him. And a second time and so forth, to the point where he read through the screenplay before assigning the story to a reporter. (I sat down with her later.) I (and therefore we) invested hours in allowing them to vet me, the project and the community aside from everything that's already accessible on the 'Net.
After all the time spent on this front, you can see why, per the scrappy vlog embedded above, The Associated Press is the (rather large) straw that broke the camel's back.
Allow me tell you another story: So it's a day in LA and in the afternoon we're scheduled to do a shoot with Reelz. They decide to layoff a bunch of their segment producers day of. We find out after waiting two hours on location. We're out time and money and it wastes the time of our archery masters/sponsors, as well. I would say it wasted the time of our publicist, but she didn't do anything anyway, so I fired her after she admitted that she did nothing and then after much arm-twisting, I negotiated a full refund from the firm (42 West). I think the firm was afraid I was going to sue them for the value of the film. Anyway, FU Reelz: They never rescheduled or apologized. And yes I do care about that dick move, even though they just cover the same four movies everyone else does, and the same story about how x actor wanted to do a kids movie so their kids could watch it so on and so forth and--who watches this?--perhaps we should have seen the irresponsibility coming. All of this happens despite the fact that their parent company is supposedly founded by a "pioneer" who believes in the importance of media and the local community and whose grown-up kids still own the familial media empire.
I never would have pulled a move like that while producing anything, irregardless of how big or small the entities I was working with were, including my show at AOL (a time when I had more leverage). They don't care, however: I am one person, and their resources and platform can easily drown me out.
Except I'm not one person: There exist Wingmen. We are a community.
Do you know that the LA Times runs previews of movie seasons sometimes? Take a closer look, all of the films featured have bought advertising in that very section. So basically for that section about the films to exist the distributors have to fund it via buying ads. There was only on exception last year and that was procured by the publicist we fired. I wouldn't chalk it up to her abilities, however: That blurb was for an indie film that featured Michelle Williams and had a hint of the recovering-from-Heath's-Death story, so they bit. Also, maybe they needed an exception to the bias rule so that they could use the exception to disprove the rule. This is kind of like how Attack of the Show has that "Hottest Women of the Web" segment wherein most of the women are not web ladies (Megan Fox? Scarlett Johansson? Half-naked FHM models?) except for a few token actual web-based talents (recall that in association with Artemis I have been one of those token females).
This bias exists, as conglomerates do, across platforms. Journalists sometimes complain about their compromised outlets and work, but they still participate. Personally, we have about a dozen instances of press sitting on the story of Artemis Eternal, exactly like The AP, because they "have to" write about The Peoples Choice Awards or something else utterly meaningless. My life isn't long enough to write a book detailing how retarded (literally) the entertainment press chooses to be. I've demonstrated in the past that it is frequently a talking point of many, many people (from Bill Moyers to FCC commissioners to Jon Stewart to Bi-Partisan Media Scholars): All news media has the same cancer.
Here's another gem: Entertainment press veterans complained when the Matrix 2 came out. Scoring access to talent for 1:1s and coveted invites to the premiere was much more difficult than first go. It was virtually impossible, actually. Plus, the Wachowski Bros., smartly, do not participate in press. "During the first movie no one knew what it was, they needed us!" whined one reporter for a major outlet... and then another... and another. The point here is that this reporter is an sycophant and a fool. The PUBLIC needs you, reporter, and the relationship with studios should not trump, well, everything you are supposed to be doing in the public interest. If a movie is great, which the first Matrix was, then report on it no matter if you get access or free screenings that include a buffet and a chance to chat up Keanu Reeves. The studios don't owe you "reporters" or "movie reviewers" anything. The studios should just tell you all to STFU and buy your own movie tickets. They won't, though: It's too easy and comparatively cheap for them to buy your free publicity and vetting. I say do your job and stop angling to get the studios to put you up in the 4S so that you can write about their shitty sequels while you sip a Martini called "The Junket" (yes, true story, 4S in Beverly Hills' Windows lounge has those). And if your editor won't let you write real serious writing, then go nomad.
And if by chance you are one of those press outlets that "doesn't take studio funding" for junkets and what have you, then maybe you should stop writing about the same shitty movie products everyone else elevates. You didn't get the room at the 4S, so I don't know why you'd even waste the ink, virtual or otherwise, when there are so many stories out there that are hugely awesome and, often, important. I'm not talking about Artemis, although it is awesome: I'm talking about everything else you are failing to cover while you rewrite that annual "feature" on Women&Film and pat yourself on the back for being "diverse" blah blah blah we get it Sumner Redstone is your boss. Also let me add that the studio pays loads of money to create those commercial junkets: By participating you are using their funding (especially broadcast), even if you did pay for your own hotel room.
On that note I would like to say thank you to all the studios who put me up in the 4S over the years, in many states and countries so that I could participate in this dance of fools: 'Twas a top-notch education in why things like affiliate morning shows, Entertainment Weekly, USA Today and People Magazine are so dumb and shallow.
The view of the press is limited, even when they think they have a wide view, thus the view of mankind in society is limited. Example: Yesterday I read in The Washington Post all about how a well-known filmmaker has made a documentary and posits that media companies are biased and controlled by conservative corporations. So guess what! All that "Hollywood is owned by liberals(!)" stuff is, allegedly, bullshit!
Well, shit, Washington Post: WHY DON'T YOU DO AN ACTUAL PIECE THAT EXAMINES MEDIA CONSOLIDATION AND POLITIC AND FIND OUT THE TRUTH? Then try relaying what you learn, facts and such, to us in the form of an article in your paper. I'm pretty sure you could find the facts to this and show how this affects anyone and everyone who consumes any form of story and media. I did that research and legwork, and I'm not even a reporter. And no, my work wasn't funded. This is an exciting, eye-opening, important and often profound story that relates to everyone who reads your paper. But instead maybe you could just go ahead and write snarkily about how Dakota Fanning was crowned homecoming Princess at her highschool as if that someone negates how sellout you are for mentioning it in the first place. In related news, snark does not cancel out your elevation of a non-news item, you asshole.
A huge, sincere thank you to everyone who has covered the story so far and who covers legit news and responsible editorial no matter the media form and topic, and who refuses to bend a knee to what they know is wrong. I could stand being turned down by those types: They fully consider and research a topic, and don't waste my time with spec meetings about some story that won't ever be published. Not that I haven't said thank you already, but, you know, the Interwebz and local press (read: Independent press) have been good to us and I appreciate the dialogues that these few steadfast individuals spark. Thank you, thank you: You're a dying breed. We need you as a check and balance in this world of media tyranny.
I don't like doing press and promoting to establishment, but it is my job to elevate this story - it's important and something I signed on to do when I created the project - and to also excercise our premise that news media is biased via consolidation. I fully committed to working with the press on their terms, on terms that the press actually works, and in turn worked myself into the ground doing so, as have many of you. I wish I had been wrong about the whole press being compromised and useless part, but I 'm not. There are plenty of people speaking out with the same message: They're just not actually doing anything about it. Except talking.
Which has gotten all of us nowhere.
So that's why we have a technique, a working premise and a project vs. solely theory and punditry.
It's also why we challenge people, people everywhere(!) (including ourselves!), to be better, to be wiser, to think critically and analytically and independently, to be visionary and to innovate. Yes Men have no value: Independent thinkers do. This means that you Wingmen may not always agree with me or with each other about every particular nuance. That's just fine: In the past I have always heard and weighed any existing, responsibly articulated views. What we have in common is a larger ideal. I felt that was important to state in the Distortion vid. The last thing I want is for us to become the group think we abhor. So question everything. Question this editorial. And be diligent in your pursuit of truth, and what you repeat.
What I require from the media is justice. They don't owe me anything as an artist simply because I made something: If I create a shitty movie, I want them to say as much. OR NOT COVER IT AT ALL. I would rather have that, than knowledge that no matter what I do it will get mad press just because I'm a Brett Ratner on a studio payroll or a candidate backed by the Republican or Democratic party or the daughter of a Senator.
But we don't have that justice. The press is not even close to that level of necessary legitimacy. As a sidenote to other artists and filmmakers, if you think your experience will be different: It won't be. Media is a whore and isn't going to change for you, sorry. There is nothing we can trust to here. Until the press becomes viable again, all of our mainstream press (even when our work is newsworthy) is meaningless, even if lesser minds still ascribe meaning to mass media.
In sum: The truth is that we need media reform. Unfortunately, speaking to the media, who need reform, about that reform has proved impossible. Perhaps even more alarming is that our tireless search for exceptions to this rule (in terms of exceptional journalistic talent) has also proved fruitless.
Media bias has always been a large part of our working premise in terms of corporate media control (including movies). It's true with the studios, and it's true with the press. Of course as I said I didn't want for us to be right about this: That only makes our road tougher.
I once had it put to me, "The corporate media is not a watchdog protecting us from the powerful, it is a lapdog begging for scraps."
And then there's always, "He that lieth down with Dogs, shall rise up with Fleas."
Indeed. And that's not how we roll. No wimps.
No smart quotes were harmed in the creation of this editorial.
Wingman The Professor has not donned a Halloween costume since he was a professorial kid, so when he informed me that he was preparing a last-minute costume this year, I insisted that he send me a photo.
There exists a challenging pose in Yoga that I'm going to call "Wingman Pose." The traditional name is "Firefly," which Wingmen fans of the show Firefly (myself included) will likely get a kick out of.
I just began Yoga a few weeks ago, as a beginner, and I'm making it my long-term goal to achieve this advanced pose.
Yoga makes you a better athlete, relieves your stress and contributes to your emotional and physical well being, which could save you loads in medical bills down the line. I immediately discovered that the beginner Yoga poses were ones that I'd done in dance, martial arts, acting training and gymnastics: Yoga is a foundation to many great arts and makes you better at life. It also puts you more in the moment. (apply to performance at will)
I urge you to find not just a class, but a great class and great instructors in your area, and a form of Yoga suited to you personally. Audit, research and then stick with the work. Make the time. Go even when you do not feel like going: Afterward you will be thankful you did. Right now I go at least twice a week. There are all manner of people at the studio I go to: Young, old, male, female, athletes, dancers, people who have never really worked out before... .
I realize few of you are likely to take up this gauntlet. I'm not that flexible to begin with (for a girl) and I'm busy as all hell. But I'm doing it and it's awesome. How cool would it be to have a group of Wingmen who metaphor the "face the future as finishers" spirit via discipline to achieving this rad, expression in physical form? SO COOL. No wimps. No babysitting. No spandex. (Really you don't have to wear that to Yoga, promise.) I'm going for it no matter, already. Even if it takes years. Let me know if you're in. One step, or stretch, at a time...
The rain has been steady and driving, unrelenting for days now. I was scheduled to attend a few very rad annual events this weekend (it's the fall harvest weekend here out east, amongst other things) but of course those activities have all been ruined by the excessive rain and unseasonably low temperature.
Despite the cold and the wet, I decided to brave the dreary weather to go on the hunt through the day-dark.
Yes I was forced to purchase an umbrella.
Then again, that did lead me to this place while the fog was creeping down the mountain:
*'Still Falls the Rain' is a poem by Dame Edith Sitwell
Was it about the heinous levis commercial that uses Walt Whitman's poem?
If so, good on ya."
It was from my mom.
If my own M.Sto wasn't sure of the subject discussed in 140 short form, then I thought I best clarify in a longer format. Thus, for your pondering, I post a selection from my Twitter stream last night. This requires you to read bottom to top because that is how Twitter posts status updates. I'm slammed with the Artemis Eternal redesign and other aspects, so this post is little quick and dirty. For your consideration:
I did send this company feedback via the form on their site. Futile, but I advocate trying the normal avenues, speaking up and so forth. Mostly I found this mythologizing to be very limited in thinking and un-pioneer-ish. Does this move America or young people or thinking or anything forward? Is this company leading the charge toward a new idea or region? No. At least not any idea or practice they'd want to trumpet. Legally they may use recordings in the public domain just as I may legally defend their disingenuously spinning the American pioneer myth and the degrading of the integrity of a very specific and well-loved piece of American art to anyone who will listen. That doesn't make it right, however. Or even the best choice for their own goals.
In explanation: I am an artist, I am a filmmaker, I am a published poet, I am an American, I am the target of these ads, I majored in English, I am currently in the lands of our founding fathers, was recently at the waterfall out west featured in the commercial, have made my own westward journey, in the past I have been dubbed by press a "new media pioneer", I attended a secondary school where our mascot was a Pioneer, I am a mythmaker, am at the helm of a project that illuminates the power of mythmaking and implications of story/media abuse, have professionally experienced first hand what happens when advertisers own storytelling, am a fan of Walt Whitman (this poem is a favorite). On first watch, I admired the photography, had no idea what they were selling until then end and found, and still find, this entire campaign incredibly insulting. It's not the worst example: Simply one of many.
The romanticized version of the American pioneer would be the opposite of this campaign.
The more realistic version of manifest destiny and the dark side of American values and how this land was settled is comparable to what this campaign sells, promotes and perpetuates. But that's not what they are selling or would benefit from selling, or making a comment about.
If someone is beginning the world over again, has the power to do so or make a major contribution toward doing so, it is not good for it to be this company. For obvious reasons.
COME, my tan-faced children,
Follow well in order, get your weapons ready;
Have you your pistols? have you your sharp edged axes? Pioneers! O pioneers!
45 minutes away from where I currently lay my head each night I found a scene between two brothers that invoked something out of a magical reality/fantasy movie the likes of THE GOONIES or ET.
Imagine the younger is Walter, shrugging his shoulders under the weight of his over-sized backpack as Kevin, the older, tells him exactly what he thinks about... Pirate maps? Having an extraterrestrial in his room? What do you think they're saying? What's the plot, and what does this scene mean dramatically?
If this were my screenplay, it's likely the red tree would mean something. In general the color red probably would be a theme. Take a closer look at the set for this shot, which is in front of their house. I don't need to tell you the costly lengths normally gone to in order to contrive such a composition as you understand already via following ARTEMIS and probably through production notes on other films. See the fall color palette, the prominent red tree, the red wardrobe of the kids and how they are given equal weight in leading colors, the way the mountain fills the frame and how it works with the incline of the walk, what the picket fence adds as information to the scene, how the brother making his point is positioned higher (dominant) on the threshold of the walk and what the space between our two "actors" says... . The only way it could have been better as created naturally is if Kevin were lit a little stronger in order to bring him out from tree more and at the same time to bring the green tree out from the b.g. of the mountain and add more depth. And if I had caught Kevin with his arms fully extended in the height of his shout(!)ing down at Walter.
If I had had an SLR on me, I might have been quick enough to get basic coverage on the scene (close ups, et al). And of course if I had been shooting film the shadows would have looked nicer. I'm wary of photographing other people, especially kids, however. I'm sure parents don't find it normal for people to enthusiastically photograph their kids on the side of the road. Couldn't let this one go, though.
Take a look again and realize why I've planned to shoot ARTEMIS ETERNAL not in Los Angeles, but in much more vibrant place. A place where even the front yards are more lively and epic.
I am about to tell you guys something wild but you have to promise to keep it absolutely between us and never speak about it in public not even to your mom.
Maybe I have a friend who invented a time machine for the Pentagon, maybe I don't. And maybe when this maybe friend needs to test the maybe machine I'm like hey no problem let's get all Sliders with this thing I mean no worries I'm from The Future anyway no wimps.
And my friend she's all yes but the Pentagon isn't interested in The Future.
So I'm like whoa creepy and the soundtrack picks up because next I'm like... What are they interested in, then?
SOUNDTRACK RISES TO ALARMING CRESCENDO
Then she admits that it's the past that the Pentagon is interested in and the audience's minds are blown while they evaluate the mystery and morality of this most devious governmental news.
But hey I'm just here to test the thing so I'm like ok what do we do?
To make a long story short we went all wayback to this pre-Civil War battle at Harpers Ferry you want proof that's fine check it I have to take photos for the experiment so that someone at the Pentagon can show Barack Obama what's really happening once he is on a need-to-know basis like Bill Pullman and Area 51 in Independence Day. Here is some proof straight out of my OFFICIAL REPORT:
No problem I know him who do you think told him to grow a beard?* GOSH.
Ho-hum these union troops do not look ready to take on Lee.
They need someone to get them pumped!**
Yes I would have wished those guys luck but I've already seen this one so I know how it ends up and I don't like war or violence and I didn't want to see John get nicked and besides they don't have Starbucks there so I had to swing by 2002 for a latte and get back to '09 to Tweet some of JB's OHs I mean that guy really can motivate.
I met JB once when we were teens too and he was very rough Mr. Darcy-ish in looks as a young man but that was then and this is now... and then. A different then. It's really weird to see him older like that and at war even before the war... like The Time Traveler's Wife but IRL and the wife travels instead of the husband except no one is married and I didn't see that movie, anyway.
The point is that JB gets caught by Lee BUT later on someone sneaky frees him. I have no idea who this subtle Ninja might be but it's probably kind of like HP3 at the end by the lake and randomly I happen to know the pre-Civil War version of a Patronus and yet am not mentioned in the Wikipedia article about John's rescue at all which clearly means something.
...And that's how the Civil War sparked and was won by the Union and slavery was abolished THE END + Copyright!: Don't even try to turn this in as your history paper. Boomshaka.
*Taken with John Brown's camera you can tell because it's Sepia
**Taken with the government's camera you can tell because it looks so Now
1. Wingman Dave, a non-industry Wingman (that is to say he doesn't work in entertainment or publicity) hears an interview podcast he enjoys.
2. Dave goes online to the podcast website and finds the contact/e-mail button for the show runner.
3. Dave sends this person an e-mail pitching Artemis Eternal and in this case myself for an interview to talk about Artemis Eternal.
4. The show runner e-mails me and books me on the show.
Now, you (and new folks) may listen to the PYDK interview, all thanks to Dave. I appear at the 31:16 mark... [PLAY MP3](right click to download mp3)
This is a micro example of how simple it can be connecting to press in order to elevate the project. Dave also accomplished this successfully with The Globe & Mail, Wingman Byron accomplished this with the Girls Gone Geek interview I did at launch, Wingman John V. accomplished this with TechCrunch: You can do it, too. And I urge you to test your might. Press wants to hear from you in the case of this project, I have found. Plus, you can hands on experience much of what this project is about, most importantly: The media politics side.
You can e-mail newspapers, TV news and entertainment programs, Internet news sites, radio stations, podcasts, newswires... wherever there are listeners and the subject matter makes sense, you can do this and pitch whatever angle you think savvy.
"Seven social sins: politics without principles, wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, and worship without sacrifice." -Ghandi
These all make sense to me... except the last one, the implications of which elude me. I feel "worship without sacrifice" could be more clearly stated and yet I haven't figured out how. Mostly because I'm not sure what Ghandi meant.
Also, are the pitfalls of group think/"sheeople"/blind followers covered here? Or is that an idea that is missing?
As we move from summer to fall, here are some of the major moments from the past few weeks:
- Wingman CRIMSON This offering introduces a new tier of Wingmen with new possibilities for your involvement in the production story. Includes becoming a character and appearing on a billboard.
- Master of Two Worlds An epic essay about my nomadic approach to production and where in the world I am now, and why.
- Comic-Con: 2nd Years Photos from our Sophomore year at San Diego Comic-Con International. Always great to see Wingman and friends of the project in person! One of my longer-term dreams around this project is to somehow get a load of Wingmen (everyone!) in one awesome place at one awesome time. It's on my list of plots.
- Hylaryous Studyo Executyves An exchange between myself, a Wingman, a stranger and a GM at "Syfy" about The SciFi Channel's approach to programming as demonstrated by their branding change.
- Experience the PlanetsArtemis Eternal Designer and artist Greg Martin's new, gorgeous independent art project. "Our solar system through the eyes of artists."
It's interesting to see how lessons from designing the site for Artemis Eternal informed decisions as Greg designed Experience the Planets. And, in turn, it's interesting to see his new programming tricks and artistic moves revealed, some of which will undoubtedly influence the Artemis Eternal site redesign.
Speaking of the redesign to this web experience, I'm prepping to head to Portland this week to kick all that goodness off with Greg. I really can't wait! As usual you can read my dailies, which cover personal adventures alongside ARTEMIS & industry insights, via JSDC /Scrolls and Twitter at @JSto. ...Although, someone dared me not to tweet for a week (until I depart for Portland) and have indeed taken up the gauntlet.
- New? Join us: become a Wingman! If you're critical of the current state of media and film or simply love genre film, then this is your opportunity to challenge the handful of companies who have a deathgrip on the industry by building up, creating and opening new doors to new production approaches all while being a part of an unprecedented movie project. Click "Begin" to load our journey!
Nomadicus Jessicus: This is dog Latin for “I just put all my LA possessions in storage.”
Let’s do that obnoxious thing that audiences tolerate wherein I show you the present, and now we go back in time to show you how we got here. Subtitle: “Thirty days earlier.”
I know, I know usually it is “one day ago” or whatever but come on I am not practiced in this type of playschool script trick.
THIRTY DAYS EARLIER…
That would put me at Comic-Con San Diego…
It’s strange how you become something to someone and, if you don’t do something drastic about matters like shaving your head or robbing a bank, you remain that way to them forever. Or how you know that different people view you in different ways, whether it is an individual or a group of people. The way you were in high school, for instance.
Or, here’s one: I always think of Navy as viewing me as this little scrawny teenager, because that’s who I was when we first met during our Cambridge studies. Maybe it’s because physically I am small compared to him, or because I’m younger and was very green when we first met, or because in England he was like a big brother or that, in my mind, he will always be better traveled than me and worldly in separate ways because he is a SEAL. I don’t know if this viewpoint is true, we haven’t discussed anything so dreadfully self-analytical, but this is always how I have viewed our dynamic.
I worked as a lifeguard on the beach for four days this week. While we were picking up our assignments in the morning, the director scheduled me out for deep water. One of the staff guards, Gidget, generously offered to let me, “Get back into things by taking shallow water, if it’s more comfortable for you.” Before I could decline her offer the director established, “No, she’s one of our strongest swimmers.”
Allow me to point out that this is not true, nor has it ever been true. I am one of the most comfortable of the staff in the ocean, especially among the girls. That is true. And I got caught in some big water a few times and managed somehow to swim a few kids back in and straggle back onto the beach without dying, so there’s that. My small-ish stature probably makes 8-10 foot waves and such look more menacing as opposed to one of the guys who are 6’3. I’m a good athlete to boot.
But I have never been one of the strongest swimmers, not even during that first summer wherein I worked there part time, which is what allows me to list as a sub. I’m good enough, sure, and have had formal swim training all my life of course, and the certification necessary, but I wasn’t on swim team or things like that, or water polo and whatever else all these dudes did constantly growing up. When I got caught in that rip I realized my breath control had weakened. It’s a couple years later so hey guess what I’m not even as good as I was then, and even then I scolded myself for not having been better.
Alas, I remain one of the strongest swimmers in his mind: That is the role I play in his world. Anyway Gidget didn’t like that too much. I flashed her an apologetic look and took my shift in deep water. Then I taught a bodysurfing clinic. Completed a shift from the beach in the afternoon, drove home and barely made it through a shower before passing out for three hours.
Sometimes it’s the opposite and we lose the perception of our best qualities despite still having said abilities. I’m sure my sister thought I was cooler when I could take her to New York City for dinner just to celebrate our good grades and had the support of a studio company, prior to facing up to the realities of the entertainment vertical and taking the Independent route. I.e.: The route of most resistance and least pay. I'm wildly more enlightened and rad now, although regrettably unable to express my affection for my friends and family with lavish dinners.
Sometimes you have to lose a little face in order to maintain your ethics and purpose long term.
The last time I was in Virginia, I flipped through my Cambridge files and found a photo of Navy and I from the end-of-term feast. I look the same--I always look the same!--but he looks different. I think it’s that he had a goatee then, which I did not remember as I don’t see that as suiting his current personality. There I am, scrawny teenager and him this Navy guy finishing up his master’s degree.
My Cambridge friends have always seen me as a different person from the one my hometown friends see. Most of my going to LA and England was due to the training and opportunities in those places that a professional artist and performer cannot access elsewhere. A small part, however, had to do with a need to shake off that hometown social typecasting so that I could explore my talents without the social restrictions of others.
I was an athlete, a sister, a daughter, a girlfriend, a student, a lot of fun, but a dramatic stage actor? A multimedia professional? Published author? Screenwriter? I was working professionally and it didn't seem to register with my posse. Through moving, traveling, publishing this site and my work in Los Angeles, my friends have become reacquainted with me, who I was when I got here. Who I was becoming. Who I am now. They got to know what had changed while I was in England and LA and matched that to the parts of me they knew so well which hadn’t changed. And Cambridge did change me hugely: The shift in my perception… I came back: evolved. Los Angeles has done as well, but in different ways and via many negative lessons.
Day to day we go on with it: Typecasting folks. We can’t help it, or can we? People are both fixed and fluid. To require of someone that they stay the same is to suffocate their growth or expect they die on the spot so that we may always remember them as they are right now.
Here's the part where I cite THE BREAKFAST CLUB:
“Saturday, March 24,1984. Shermer High School, Shermer, Illinois, 60062. Dear Mr. Vernon, We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. What we did was wrong, but we think you're crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. What do you care? You see us as you want to see us: In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. You see us as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal. Correct? That's the way we saw each other at 7:00 this morning. We were brainwashed.”
Whatever your “it” may be, whether it’s related to the above idea, or something else: It’s one thing to know and recognize it, it’s another to do something about it: to master it.
When I saw Navy 30 days ago in July, I was inspired. Now that he’s back in San Diego, when he ships out for six months or more-ish (yes, we are still at war), he chucks his stuff into storage. When Brad and I crashed with him overnight for the Con, he was subletting a great place right behind the Padres’ stadium, fully furnished, for three months. This made a lot of sense to me.
While in London a few weeks prior, I stayed in Kensington with a friend & Wingman who is also renting a flat fully furnished. Everything he needs is literally right outside his front door on his block: two groceries, post office, tube, drug store… even a Starbucks. He doesn’t have a car. I got an incredible lot of work accomplished by not having to drive or plan driving or deal with LA time. It jarred me right out of my Hollywood coma: I had… time. I had time to go to Kensington Palace and take reference photos of statues and fabric all day long. I had time to write. This lifestyle made a lot of sense to me. Basically, you get more done in all major cities, except Los Angeles, which I find unacceptable. In other cities people are out and about, and you can meet them. You may not even have to own or maintain a car.
Yes, this is Stonehenge
LA does not make sense to me. No one is out and about here: you cannot meet them. Time is wasted here, everyday looks the same, soon blending into a five-year fog of traffic, smog and hours spent trying to coordinate driving plans in order to meet up with friends you only see twice a year all while suffering under the tyranny and slow movement of the studio system. If not for all of the in-town production resources and stellar crew, I would label LA one of the worst places to do film and media business.
I will now lean in close, lower my voice and tell you a secret that apparently is not obvious: Those production resources can be built up in other places. New Zealand, Northern California, Texas, New York City… . Oh, if you work professionally in film, you will always be required to check in with LA. I find this reality acceptable: There are things I like about Los Angeles. I like my friends in Los Angeles. I reserve the right to visit or live in or partially live in the universe of Los Angeles. But it doesn’t have to own me. And certainly other places are more interesting to the filmmaker and audience, and allow for a different kind of agility in business and production.
I tossed my possessions into temporary storage. I consider myself shipping out, like Navy. It’s the perfect, smart choice, really, and doesn’t feel like a huge deal or unnatural to me at all. Which is why I was surprised when, in two different, recent press interviews about ARTEMIS ETERNAL, the journalists interviewing me treated the idea so… heavily. For example:
“You are leaving Los Angeles soon, is that true?”
I paused because, was it just me or did that question sound like an accusation?
“You are leaving Los Angeles soon, IS THAT TRUE?”
Let me be clear that I am not the mayor of Los Angeles, so beyond losing the cache of living in Hollywood (which has nothing to do with accomplishing film, I’ve learned) I am not really sure why this warrants an investigative, accusative sort of, “IS THAT TRUE?”
Here is what I need: I need the freedom to go lifeguard on the beach for four days because I feel like it without fearing that somehow this is interpreted as whatever kind of failure or departure to commitment in my film career. I usually put in as a substitute at the beginning of summer. If they call me and I’m available, I go in. Since I mostly deal with kids there, it’s a nice relief from some of the people I deal with on a daily basis. If I went to the beach for four days on vacation it would be fine for perceptions, but because I go there to make sure no one drowns and I get paid…? Oh the pay sucks compared with production, make no mistake: I do it because I want to and hey earning some money for hard, physical work feels good. I suppose it would have more cache if I weren’t getting paid. But guess what there’s no such thing as a volunteer lifeguard and hell I deserve and need that pay. Anyway it was like getting a paid vacation! I just adore the ocean is all. And I hadn’t seen it all summer.
The beach is essentially a different universe and I reserve the right to visit different universes as much as I like. This makes me a better person and therefore a better writer, director and performer. And being around that many kids is, quite frankly, hilarious and good for the soul. I can’t Twitter while I’m working there (another benefit?) but if I could have, then you would have been treated to some amazing OHs.
In what has recently become a popular piece of web writing, Neil Gaiman used the “paint your house” example to explain that creatives need time to live. I don’t want to paint my house. Ever. I want to go work on the beach for four days. It gives me access to gear and training and a purpose for being there. I miss being constantly active in team sports. I like the people; they don’t work in movies or marketing or title themselves using words like "Executive" and "SEO". Well except for when I end up in a conversation with Christian Slater or Pam Anderson or someone who obviously works in movies, but I assure you we are talking about skim boarding and water conditions and nothing to do with things published in faux-news entertainment magazines. No, I’m not going to paint my house or even my room, but maybe sometimes I want to go get paid to do a physical job that puts me up against the elements if only in a minor regard. I also want to position my production in the way to best serve the film. That might mean chucking my stuff in storage for a while. But I won’t stop there:
You know what else I need? For journalists to quit with the being egregiously judgmental and/or basing their editorial evaluations on the multi-billion dollar mythology the studio system has crafted.
“You’re leaving LA soon, IS THAT TRUE?”
“Yes, for a season. Or whatever is required.”
(closing his notebook) “Mmmhmm.”
Oh, I see your Rita Skeeter+Dolores Umbridge, and I find it contrary to what art and film is at its best. Challenge and confront me on my work and ideas as you like. In fact I encourage you to be that caliber of journalist (for a change), but I suggest that passively aggressively judging my answers as though an unrelated fact is going to make or break a story about the film is ridiculous. It also proves a premise of our project that I never want to be right about, and that’s the entertainment press is almost hopelessly hypnotized by the studio system and all its thin, flashy tricks. If a reporter is a part of the panem et circenses, they are probably going to be resistant against publishing an article about the artist, production, community and movement that is blatantly challenging the panem et circenses model. Faux-rebellion is embraced and elevated. A true challenge?
That particular interview remains unpublished.
Sorry, I can't hear you, I'm on a horse scouting locations so that I can make something while you rebroadcast studio movie releases all day long for profit.
I clarified the strategy involved and that ARTEMIS will mostly be lensed out east. I’m also getting ready to head to Portland to kickoff work on the intensive ARTEMIS ETERNAL web experience redesign. In addition, the concept artist that I plan to work with, well it turns out he lives in the Midwest and will be on location in Europe, so we will not be working locally from Los Angeles.
Sorry, I can't hear you. Look what I found while you were changing your Twitter bio to read "Social Media Expert"
Since I am ARTEMIS ETERNAL, the project and I are increasingly inseparable, and since you, reader, are involved in ARTEMIS ETERNAL, I figure you might be curious about the particular strategies of my whereabouts.
I will of course be here in Los Angeles for a month when we prep and shoot CRIMSON and for anything else requiring for me to be here before that point. Post-production will most likely be in Los Angeles as well, at which time I would consider myself moved back, most likely. It’s not difficult for me to come back as a local when I need and I can sublet if I need a longer spell. In short I’m multi-basing a little and it doesn’t concern me in the slightest as I will be saving heaps of money/overhead from chucking my stuff in storage and unloading my flat. I will guest and quest and work all over the place with one mission still at the forefront of all my action: ARTEMIS. This will be good: Neither Wingmen nor ARTEMIS ETERNAL are tied to LA. We’re larger than that, now, and in this way the world, our world, is a small world. It’s what planes are for. And guess how valuable this flexibility is? Wicked valuable. So back off, Mr. Rita Skeeter-Umbridge guy. Also there is no reason for you to ask me the same question twice in one interview.
“IS THAT TRUE?”
Dear entertainment professionals, give up your attachments to LA. This is the reason all movies look the same, and most of you are out of work. And, if you’re in work, you probably aren’t on a project with much of a soul and, at the same time, aren't being paid what you should be paid. Over educated and underemployed: Why are you here? Why are you perpetuating this worldview?
Sorry, I can't hear you. I'm too busy reenacting The Lion King "Circle of Life" on this rock.
Multi-basing or technomading or living out of a suitcase… that’s what I want my production story to be. That's where I want my story to be: In the field. It’s nothing I’ve been relegated to: I am actively pursuing my life in this way and sculpting my productions to be not here but OUT THERE.
YES, THAT IS TRUE.
Out there where life happens. I do have a center to my universe and that’s my family home out east. I do hold that there is a center for the film universe and that is LA. For all of my time in Los Angeles I have considered myself somewhat bi-coastal. Although, if you told me I’d be living this way when I was a teen I’d have replied with sarcasm, noting that this idea is counter-intuitive to everything I am. I was afraid then. I didn’t have Wingmen or a college degree or world experience or mastery in multiple crafts and I hadn’t yet read this story.
If being the master of multiple worlds is a weakness, then how do you reporters define strength? Mastering multiple worlds is only the result of every major hero monomyth journey, is all. Embrace the wisdom: I object to being subjected to your limited view of what film and a filmmaker should be. I’m pretty sure there are other locations aside from Los Angeles or sound stages just like there are other places to hang out other than your shoebox apartment or exoskeleton of a car jammed in traffic on a freeway.
It’s strange to turn a corner, to suddenly notice that evolution and triumph, and then to have someone else judge your step forward, the chess move that makes the most sense, as a step back.
Los Angeles is currently one of the worst cities for economic stability, recession recovery and unemployment. Perhaps it is a wise filmmaker who seeks to, for a spell, operate with increased freedom out of the top, most-stable metropolitan areas.
Here is my advice, and challenge, to directors of film:
Get to LA
And then GET THE HELL OUT OF LA.
Come back whenever you feel like it or find it necessary, because once you know this world exists and can be survived, you can do film anywhere. Including Los Angeles.
Master of two worlds.
Owner of a well-earned master key.
Now if the wimps are done with the judging, permit me, along with The WINGMEN, to continue unlocking some doors. I've got a flight to catch.
"On Monday I was nearly overcome with the absurdity of some of the things I do at work for clients, and how often I find myself in the position where I really just want to say, 'look, I'm sorry, if there weren't all these business conventions and if my bosses weren't trying to make money, I would have told you from the beginning that this was a dumb idea.'"
- From a conversation with a friend/colleague
" I had a telephone call today with a company that made a bunch of shitty 15 second preroll ads. Then the company decided, 'hey, these could be viral videos OMG LOLOLOLOL!' and hired us to 'promote' them. (I had no part in this phase.) Then it fell to me to deal with the inevitable failure."
- From another conversation with a friend/colleague
---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
Subject: Fwd: more photos . . . Kenya Mission 2009
To: "J.Sto", "C.Sto"
-------------------------------------------------------------------------- Thought you might like to see Jon's photo and story from his Kenya trip.
---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
Subject: Re: more photos . . . Kenya Mission 2009
To: "J.Sto", "M.Sto"
-------------------------------------------------------------------------- awesome, I want to go to Africa.
---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
Subject: Re: Re: more photos . . . Kenya Mission 2009
To: "J.Sto", "C.Sto"
-------------------------------------------------------------------------- Jon would probably be glad to have you go on his next trip. I think only a few people who went were from his church.
---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
Subject: Re: Re: Re: more photos . . . Kenya Mission 2009
To: "C.Sto", "M.Sto"
-------------------------------------------------------------------------- I just imagined C.Sto on a church trip...not.
---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: more photos . . . Kenya Mission 2009
To: "J.Sto", "M.Sto"
-------------------------------------------------------------------------- What, I could go on a church trip. I just don't feel like it right now.
C.Sto's mission to Kenya (she walked more than .1 miles while there, which is a new record)
I'm actually not sure who I'm making fun of here. M.Sto's suggestion that C.Sto would a.) go to Africa b.) with a church is ridiculous. Then again, she has to realize this, and therefore might have been joking. That seems a little advanced for you though, Mom.
And there is, of course, the fact that C.Sto doesn't like to be hot or around anything "annoying." She has also never felt "like it" in regards to doing anything that is not air conditioned. So her replying that she wants to go to Africa is also ridiculous. ...Unless of course by "Africa" she meant "a luxury beach spa," which is the only way to make that statement make sense.
Taking Woodstock premiere. You know I love '60s music and movement. And Ang Lee's work. Thus was delighted to be invited (and to support Ang Lee's head via forced perspective).
At the party I unexpectedly had the opportunity to talk with Catherine Hardwicke about this article, which you may recall I get asked sometimes during interviews. Example. (Often the question doesn't make the final cut, but I am frequently asked about the lack of female directors issue. Usually this article is cited. Sometimes I cite it myself.) CH is smart and youthful. You know I have no interest in Twilight. More so, in the moment (and now that I've met her), I was/am interested in her as she's quite... well there's only one word for it: Cool.
As context I should disclose that I have only met two female directors in all of my time working in the industry (having talked to dozens and dozens of well-established film directors). The other female director was completely rom-com uninteresting. Glad it came to pass that CH & I were both in the same place at the same time. Wish I could sit down and talk with her further, really. There are next to no working female directors around, much less interesting ones. Maybe three or four. Catherine directed Thirteen & Dogtown, and managed to land a major fantasy film with a useful budget. I dug her fashion tonight and how fit she is, too. Just really impressed, actually: And you know how difficult it is to impress me. If it were permissible in life to do honest things like call someone up and say, "Hey let's go on a director's date and talk about how fucked this industry is and how the hell you managed to pull off having a career in the land of boys clubs and Michael Bay," well, I'd call her. Again you know I don't say shit like that lightly and that that particular statement happens to be very unexpected in this case.
Briefly spoke with Ang Lee early on, who made one of my favorite films (Crouching Tiger) not to mention other obviously great and celebrated films: Brokeback comes to mind. He's adorable. Directors' intros can get old when you do the screening thing regularly, but his introduction to the film was genuine. He cheerfully mentioned his approach to Ice Storm as being "a hangover from the '60s" and shared a story about desiring to depart from his habit of directing tragedies. When you see him, you get the urge to hug him, however his formidable talent gives you cause to restrain yourself and simply enjoy the happiness of his sphere.
Also met new Focus guys and girls, who miraculously managed to be rad despite pulling a 14-hour day with the event. Focus is a picky production company, which is commendable. They remind me of Searchlight in that they always at least try to create something great and high-minded. They often succeed. Also met Richard Kidd, an EFX supervisor who, like Catherine, I could have easily talked to for ages if the party weren't wrapping up. His production-teamwork mentality is kindred to ours. Look up his credits, and you'll see how welcome that perspective is given the level at which he operates. So came and went tonight: Another fun experience in hanging with our pal Francis, talking about serious hats, watching ArcLight movies and chilling at Boho. The Paparazzi chased someone down outside (this is disconcerting to witness) but otherwise the evening was spirited and flawless. All of this occurred two miles from my house. Most of the time LA is terrible, but sometimes it is extraordinarily kind. And so it is, my friends, that time now flies.
Our boy Greg (who not only designed this site but the Artemis site,poster and TSL concepts etc. etc.: you should know him by now) has launched his epic EXPERIENCE THE PLANETS project: "Our solar system through the eyes of artists." The website is essentially a cutting-edge, free gallery of space-art awesomeness that will continue to debut new paintings.
It's interesting to see how lessons from designing the site for Artemis Eternal informed some decisions as he designed this project. And, in turn, it's interesting to see his new programming tricks and artistic moves revealed, some of which will undoubtedly influence the Artemis Eternal site redesign.
In fact, maybe we've already been talking about that.
I know you love Art of Greg Martin and have gotten to know Greg's work through our collaborations, and are probably as proud to associate with him as I am, so get on over there and "enjoy the view" already!
We paid our dues last year (still ranks as the most exhausting thing I've accomplished!), and thus our Sophomore year at Comic-Con International was brilliant. Felt just like a Sophomore year should: Retained a bit of that new-ish feeling and curiosity as we got to know things better but 'twas more laid back than being a freshie in that we now know what we are doing and people, in turn, know us.
I visited with old friends and made new ones, plus this year I was free to have more of a San Diego experience and, in what is becoming a SDCC tradition, got to hang out with some SEALS. Thank goodness for the hospitality of Navy SEALS: 2 years running! We'd ask them military questions, then they'd ask us production questions... remarkably, we were equally fascinated with one another's work. Or perhaps they were just politely returning interest. I mean we had a lot of questions about the war and combat, so. Anyway, did I mention it was brilliant? It was! Now I will show and tell you a little about the Con & our fellows, some of whom are top secret and could not be photographed (you understand):
Some people drive down, some take the train, some fly... I have my own mode of transpo to the Con.
Transformers Chevy product placement? Dear Michael Bay, FUFUFUFUFUFU!!1
Hey Taryn let's pose like serious models and then I'll show you the fastest way to get back to LA:
k just go through the shiny stuff and then...Vortex!
It was a short tour for us this go. Comic-Con was wonderful to us yet again (thanks, Clydene!). Couldn't have had a more pleasing time. I should have more photos coming my way, so we'll add new galleries during redesign. Really a pleasure to see you all.
For a little compare contrast, check out the Freshman year Comic-Con gallery on the Artemis Eternal site.
In a few days we'll be headed back to San Diego for Comic-Con International. I wanted to share with you that the Con has been terrific to us/ARTEMIS ETERNAL this year as well as last. They gave us many choices, but in the end I declined booth space this year because the return on investment would not have been worth it for us to pay out that much to again stage a space this go around. Of course we will still be there in person. I want to be more causal and less distracted for this, our 2nd year, and focus on a more intimate and relaxed way of gathering during Con hours.
Thus, on Friday at 2PM PT please meet us inside the Convention Center at the left-most entrance to the exhibit hall for a bit of a hang out.
If I did this right, it should indicate the entrance that is down by the video game booths along the last wall. Check out this sweet map I just made for you at 1AM:
Actually, I did that semi-wrong. The star should be one block further <-- left where it says "Entrance." So maybe that map isn't way better than the one in The Goonies but it will get you there regardless. Here's a full-sized version with less hot pink, if you're into that sort of thing.
Just come as you are and we'll have a chat. Please be on time. Since there aren't as many of you in attendance this year and we aren't promoting ARTEMIS ETERNAL heavily like we did last year, I'm expecting it to be a small group (which is what I prefer for a change!). I will not have books or anything for sale with me so if there's something you want inscribed please bring it along with you and we'll get that taken care of. I cannot take cash/sign you up to be a Wingman on the spot but you can quickly register online at the official site anytime during the Con.
This year, as I mentioned, is about connecting with less people in a more meaningful way: both existing Wingmen and new folk, so please bring your friends and don't be shy. If you want to say hello and see that I'm in a conversation, please DO NOT LEAVE: flag me down so that I know you are there and can include you or approach one of the guys and ask them to introduce you to me. Remember, I am driving down there to talk to YOU so if after the fact I hear any of that, "oh I saw JSto but she looked busy so I didn't get to talk to her," then you will be seriously grounded. Plus, you can meet one another! We will all be wearing amazing, blue Wingman "No wimps!" t-shirts and thus will be unmistakable. I will try not to wear any confusing wigs (no promises).
Should there be changes or updates, they will be posted on here and on Twitter. I will be Tweeting mobile so please do follow @JSto to keep along.
In a previous post I reported that AAE lead actor Todd Soley will not be there this year. Todd has just finished work on the latest Final Fantasy and is now off shooting a movie in Russia. He will of course be missed (who will get me into trouble this year?), but as I can confirm that actors are most happy when in production, we won't morn his absence: Instead, please join me in giving him a big virtual high-five.
I'm ready to have a worry-free time this year wherein I don't have to eat my lunches under the booth table or wake up at the crack of dawn everyday for a week or answer the same questions five million times over. Or carry anything heavy! See you there!
Comic-con is this week. By Monday I should have our meet-up information posted.
If you follow me on Twitter, then you may have taken part in the discussion we had with Syfy (Siffy?) Syllyfy's General Manager of Digital about their brand change. The Internets has been examining the go from Sci-Fi to Syfy at length, and earlier this week Wingman @Gennefer and I were spontaneously discussing that very topic with this other stranger-friend dude who I don't know. Our take away basically being that a brand change was fine and likely neccesary (not due to bullshit trademark excuses but an organic need to evolve). Unfortunately the execution is terrible. The flow was all:
...What? I looked up the random @Syfy reply's profile and it had many official titles such as SVP & GM of TL:DR...
Those are the broad strokes and I thank you for your @ replies as they were both savvy and a total crack up. The audience has won the debate, but then again being this dude right now is probably about as fun as taking on the role of press sycrytary secretary for the G.W. Bush administration during the Years of Obvious Fail. (SyFayl.) As a quick disclaimer you know I champion BSG so that is an exception to the realities spewed forth.
While I think it's great that an executYve is permitted to actually talk (down) to the public directly on Twitter, he still knee-jerk linked me to their FAQ in assumption that I was uninformed and unable to search a website or the Internet for basic information. He must have missed that episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air which clearly states that you shouldn't make assumptions or you'll be an ass and the ump will tion shun you. He also didn't really say much about trying to make it better, but we all know how companies like to prevent their best employees from actually improving anything. So anyway bros, I don't think I'll be receiving an invite to the Syllyfy Comic-Con party this year. ;-) Tragyck.
Otherwise, Wingman Central has been keeping up with community news (and plotting an interesting feature for the near future). Wingman @TarynONeill mused about the Twitter Siffy Syfy discussion on her blog, which you can read here.
It's been slow as we've battled with The Associated Press (and other gatekeeper, studio-friendly outlets) on the grand question of whether or not they will nut-up (or just do their "news" jobs) and cover Artemis in a timely fashion. "Timely" meaning when I met with them multiple times three months ago. I've traveled and met many of you abroad and Greg and I have begun thinking about the fall redesign of this space. Of course Comic-con marks an upswing so here we go back into the frey!
A question I continue to receive quite a bit of late and that thus bears mentioning is, "What stage of production is Artemis Eternal at?" Per the map we are in a unique pre-production & press+promotion stage. The film is 90% fully prepped and packaged. We simply need to hit our funding mark and I can shoot four weeks later. In the meantime my next step related to the film itself is storyboarding. Less critical to this specific project but also on my list because it will be interesting to you: Concept artwork alongside those boards.
If you have a concept artist/storyboard artist who you would like to suggest, then please get in touch. I would find that feedback useful as you may turn me on to an artist of whom I am not yet aware.
Last week I traveled to Bath. I needed more time there: my trip south-west to Somerset was a gorgeous, Georgian blur. Fortunate to have been there at all I won't complain about the brisk tour, however. I missed the town before I had left, and the water temple gave me ideas to ponder.
Notably, in times when Bath belonged to the Romans, curses were folded or rolled and thrown with purpose into their healing spring, that sulfuric, milky green mossy Celadon of The Great Bath all lead-lined and sulphate ions and geothermal energy.
"To Minerva the goddess of Sulis I have given the thief who has stolen my hooded cloak, whether slave or free, whether man or woman. He is not to buy back this gift unless with his own blood."
And so the incensed Roman would send his curses into the cloud. Before you think it seems quaint, or laughable, or a little extreme for a cloak:
And before you go saying, "Well yes, but, Jessica Mae, dear, Twitter is different because people actually read Twitter," let me remind you that we are reading the Romans' curses. There was just a bit of a delay, is all. And they were written in a different language. Oh, and perhaps a bit soggy. Except they were engraved on thin sheets of lead (curse tablets) so not really.
Maybe the Romans were using sarcasm, hyperbole, overstatement and other techniques for humor. You don't know. One day your tweets are going to be misread by future humans and talking dinosaurs from another planet. They are going to think you worshiped cats and thought said cats could speak to you about cheeseburgers and won't know that "lol" means you weren't being awful and were j/k j/k all the way. Together the humans and dinos will study the vocal chords of cat fossils, deduce that cats could not speak and surmise that you were in a mental lolcult. After that there will probably be a dino-human war. Just because.
So back in the day in Bath the waters were their Internets, the tablets, their tweets, and they were @-ing the Gods. Then they'd get wasted off some sulfuric acid water, do a few laps, rock around naked and nearly get driven out by Boadicea. Then infinity years later I'd see a statue of Boadicea in Westminster and would be all, "sweet!"
(For any dinosaurs from the future by "sweet" I mean "impressive." Not "sugary." Also give us some of your fossil fuels we're addicted kthx lol lol--oh, was that dinosaur-racist? No way I said "lol"! You future dinos just don't get our humors.)
Maybe the future dino-human war will be about fossil fuels. Humans already have practice at that war so we might win. In the meantime, here's another curse:
"May he who has stolen VILBIA from me become as liquid as water ... who has stolen it or her. Velvinna, Exspercus, Verianus, Severinus, A(u)gustalis, Comitianus, Minianus, Canis, Germanilla, Jovina."
This is way worse than getting your name written on the blackboard for talking in class. Trust.
There is one place I have always been set on since I was a child and that place was and remains England. For that reason I went, unflinchingly, to study at Cambridge. I was fortunate to stay, work and shoot in London as well.
If I hadn't been so set on getting to LA permanently to master my motion picture crafts and participate in an industry which I now understand is illogical and ridiculous (but at the time thought was workable), and if the expense of living in London weren't so discouraging, then it's highly likely that I would have moved there already. When someone asks me what would be ideal for me in life, I respond something to the effect of: Living in London but retaining a space in LA so that I could do production business here when I need to, and of course visiting VA between. I hadn't been to London in a few years, however, so the memory had worn thin. Now it's fresh and I'm well past learning what LA has to say about film craft, directing, writing and drama.
So I'm basically just looking for an excuse, is all.
"To he who has perpetuated Hollywood stupidity and mediocrity, and robbed this house of sanity, whether he be agent, production executive, The Associated Press or Michael Bay, Latin, gods, curse, may he be forced to watch The Hills "Best of Spencer" on repeat for infinity, until he returns honor to the ArcLight of my divinity, pays for it in blood, more gods and curse, middle finger, sotheretakethat, curse renewed, triple sow cow, moonwalk, legal and binding. ps: blood!"
"I knew what I was doing was not the right thing, but I was being well rewarded. And, it was legal."
I admit: the further I delve into other verticals and systems and the more I learn, the more futile life's picture becomes. So I try to attack things from a different angle, and put my mind outside of a black and white struggle, and beyond ideas that are inferior and small minded.
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
For years now I have meant to read this book. Confessions is popular with the young-professionals crowd in DC and many of my friends pursuing Masters and PhDs in related fields frequently cite the work and urge me to read the book. On my way back from London, by way of Boston, I had the privilege of sitting next to good people: a mother and daughter. After some talk about what I was working on, the mother showed me the book she was reading considering it to be kindred in information and ideal. It was, of course, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. She insisted I read the introduction on the spot, which I agreed to do gladly. We spent the rest of the flight struggling with the implications of the knowledge imparted and our role therein.
Here is what I absolutely know to be true of the world you are creating, not only because it is corroborated in the link above and by occurrences you yourself can witness on a daily basis (possibly in your own career or that of your colleagues and friends), but because I lived that cycle working within the studio system until I put a halt to it: Doing things that undermine the non-zero-sum win and health for all parties WILL BE REWARDED. Fanciness and access will mollify your doubts. YOU ARE IMPORTANT. Hey man! It's not illegal. Lighten up! Listen to what the author describes. Any of us who work for corporations are likely guilty of perpetuating this system, of exploitation, in some regard. But what do you do now that you know? How long do you dare deny? Doing the right thing will likely make you broke. Not poor; broke. I also know this firsthand. It is painful and leaves you with undesirable choices, especially if you have already chosen to have a family or have others who are dependent on your income.
I understand there are nuances that lock us in and I am further ashamed: Are we the most personally irresponsible country in the world? I have not been everywhere, but from where I have been, I think we are. My trip to London had me thinking about this constantly. The irresponsibility at play, and the sociopathic quality of public corporations, is not at all in accordance with the ideals set forth by our founding fathers. How many friends do I have who are engineers, who design systems? Who work for companies who execute what this author describes? It is difficult to watch. These are intelligent, caring people! Yet, we cannot expect anyone to act differently than their peers. Some of these individuals make six figures, or close to, right out of the collegial gates. Your hard work WILL BE REWARDED. You're just doing your job, after all. ...Right?
There is an idea, an effect that I'm sure has a term although I cannot recall it (if I ever I indeed knew it in the first place). The story goes like this: Traffic. You, sitting in it on the freeway; unable to see the cause of the jam. It's been hours and you've not moved an inch. Fellow drivers all around you are antsy, checking their apps for updates. You've been sitting for so long that it's starting to get dark. No way around it, though: You'll have to wait while your dinner gets cold and your desire for a brief reprieve between arduous workdays slips away.
Suddenly a car passes you on the right, which is strange because you are in the rightmost lane. Well then, that car is using the shoulder. Must be on official business. Maybe there's an accident and it's a policeman or fireman in an unmarked car speeding toward the scene. You've seen this happen before. Once, during a fire, you saw a fire chief pull up, leap out of his personal vehicle and change into protective gear on the side of the street. As you ponder this, another car passes you on the right. You look closely and see a teenage male. Surely that's not official? ...But it's against the law to drive on the shoulder. You grip the steering wheel, surf the radio for a traffic update and try not to feel claustrophobic. And yet another car passes you. Then two more. Suddenly the guy behind you, your comrade in waiting for these past few hours, speeds up the shoulder as well, bypassing the traffic jam as he gears toward the next exit, and freedom. More cars begin to stream past you on the right...
How many cars will pass before you feel cheated and join them despite it being illegal? Despite risking an accident? Despite knowing the trouble that will be caused if everyone cheats?
What's the point of following traffic laws? Of toiling to recycle? Of throwing your trash in the bin when so many others carelessly litter on the streets? Of maintaining a garden while the neighbors ride their bikes through it as they use your yard as a shortcut? What's the point of creating art when it's simply going to be stolen leaving you broken and starving? Or what's the point of creating art for a company when the company will use that art to undermine the reason you created art in the first place?
The question before last hints as to why copyright protection is included in the constitution. We hardly want to be a country where artists and scientists have no incentive to create because, once they do, they are stripped of their ability to make a living. Of course that law isn't particularly being enforced, which is a matter in itself. My point is: We want to promote the progress of science and art. ...Don't we? I mean, it's in our best interests, is all. Thus you cannot have whatever you want whenever you want it when it comes to art and media, just like you cannot have a Dolce & Gabbana coat wherever and whenever you want it. Get over it. I have.
Incidentally, if you don't want to sit in traffic constantly, then you have options. Work to create better public transportation, for one. Now that I've written it I realize that that sounds hard, especially given the system. So if the system doesn't work and is so futile, why do we subscribe to it? And what else is life for but to work these improvements?
There are days I'm amazed I even get out of bed, to be honest. Being a part of that system as both a global citizen and the system of the media vertical is crushing. Knowing doesn't exactly make it feel any better. The press is wholly unhelpful, unapologetically compromised and corruptible. And yet we turn to the press to vet ideas for us and tell us what we should see and consume; what has value. No one can help me, so I work hard to help out myself since wisdom says the Gods (metaphorically speaking) favor those who move. I say it's not working, so I try something else. But it's not working.
This past year I haven't written screenplay at all. Unless Artemis fully succeeds, my thought is; why do it? Good movies do not get made and even seasoned, deserving, gifted auteurs struggle more than is healthy for anyone. It is an intolerable existence. Simultaneously I have both lost much of my faith in humanity while being touched and impressed by individuals within and without The Wingmen community. It is a small faction, however. US citizens have greatly disappointed me, while Canadian and European citizens, as well as Australians, have in general demonstrated themselves to be far more savvy and willing to act on their knowledge than the audience in the largest market; the market controlling media.
So I go back and forth. Some days wishing for the carefree days I experienced as a young teen, when the biggest injustices suffered were high school sports politics. Ignorance prevented the burden of pondering the world's troubles and a busybody school system left little time for exploration, or to question whether the journey society had set me on, the promise of fulfilling a meaningful place in the world, was solid and not simply a mirage contrived to keep me in line with pleasing teachers until regimented enough to enter the system myself as yet another Matrixed human battery. Perhaps none of this matters. We speak of the human realm which, when one applies enough higher thought and takes in the scope of the universe, appears insignificant. Many of the corrupt are stupid and all lack wisdom. At best they are clever: a trait that, without some honor to temper craftiness (not craft) and ambition, becomes a dangerous flaw. There is no greatness there. What power can there truly be in that? It's an illusion.
And yet we are human so this human realm is our home. We must all live here together. Together we create a combined reality; a human picture: What you do influences the world around me, and vice versa. Is it not then our responsibility to improve our shared circumstances without exploiting one another? Do we not as Americans prize innovation, and if so could not this innovation be focused on non-zero-sum community wins that solve problems like pollution, oil dependency and media consolidation vs. finding tax loopholes for corporations and yacht owners? Could we not be active in evolving and saving news, newspapers and journalism, avoid having to bail out banks and make it so that anytime one of our citizens was injured he or she would be well taken care of because we are just that badass with loads of worthy doctors and universal health care? Don't mess with us: we take care of ours. That would be the best trash talk any nation could boast.
And then there is Los Angeles. Humans have truly made this a terrible place. You forget, while you're here, what other places are like. Oh you might appreciate other places; the town you grew up in, the mountain trip you took last year... but if you love motion picture production and work in that industry (as I do) then you might believe yourself trapped. You see, that industry (and thus supposed opportunity) is in Los Angeles. I want to leave Los Angeles but I am still in love with, and do not want to leave, film. And so many artists have signed themselves up for nothing less than an IRL version of Azkaban.
I am so sorry, so very sorry, if you understand the soul-sucking existence I'm referring to. We convince ourselves that LA has highs and lows just like any other place, but must understand that this is incorrect. There are far, far better places in the civilized world where people do not train themselves to be fake, where desperateness and fear are not rewarded, people don't fail upward nearly so quickly if at all and the isolation that defines LA is non-existent. It is time to begin creating viable film markets elsewhere before we spend our best years preparing for a whole life tariff in solitary, demented by the wraith-like gatekeepers who lord their Catch-22s over artist's heads while exemplifying nothing. "Allow me to take you to lunch at the Ivy while I discuss my limited knowledge of finance and distribution. YOU WILL BE REWARDED, AS I HAVE BEEN REWARDED. See my corporate credit card? It's awesome. I'm going to Sundance, can't wait. Yes someone put me in charge. Maybe I have a business degree. Clearly I am fit to decide on the nature of what messaging is distributed to the whole world."
There are millions of artists here. You must fall in line. Just forget what makes you unique, forget what you want to impart about the human experience and instead participate jubilantly in the artificial. Do it, or I promise you will be driven mad by the unwavering system.
That mother I mentioned, from my flight? She was making her way back from Canada and told me that she was happy to have her daughter away from The OC so frequently. "It's not reality," she said, sagely. I inclined my head to show that I agreed and thought darkly to myself that I understood perfectly what she meant.
Juvenal spoke of bread and circuses: a phrase that would become famous for criticizing the tactics that politicians and leaders use to gain support and preserve the status quo. He said, "… Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses."
What is overlooked when this phrase is cited, however, is the responsibility of the People defined. I find the "abdicated our duties" line the most poignant. The Spanish called it bread and bullfights. The Russians; bread and spectacle. For us, t-shirts and reality shows.
Maybe you think I'm full of it, and myself. Arguably, in my current state, I am too pathetic to be the latter, but go on if you must. Maybe the fact that I got out so early, without going so deep and dark in my own field as John Perkins did in his, because it did not take me long to anticipate this lesson; means to you that I am less credible. As time passes and we exercise our premise more and more I have less and less of an idea of how to arrange for us to break this system and less and less hope that it can be accomplished.
For, somewhere in the myriad of stupidsauce YouTube comments, so-called and self-styled experts mediocre blogging about media and the weaksauce Twitter trending topics of the day and their associated, even weaker Tweets comes the realization that If I had stayed in, I WOULD HAVE BEEN FURTHER REWARDED. If I had stayed in and then finally denounced the system, if I had stayed in and then turned and illuminated these issues further down the line, then I would have been further rewarded while also reaping the rewards of the system and of turning toward the light, as well as, quite possibly, the rewards brought by my turn against the odds. Redemption characters are compelling.
Nevermind the damage I would have done in the doing.
If evil does exist beyond simply being confined to the human dimension as a human definition for that which undermines the health of the species in favor of self-advancement, often by what our programming interprets as unnatural means (murder, torture, exploitation, slavery) or focused irresponsibility (failing to consider the consequences of our actions on the lives of others), if evil does exist, then it is a many-headed, ever-evolving monster. This has been said before. Life may very well be about the struggle to keep evil at bay. The question, then, is this: Is there a point where evil turns the corner on you and you fall so far back, that the realm is so far gone, that all is lost? It certainly feels like we may not come back from this one.
Is evil external to you? Are humans innately good with natural tendencies toward evil, or innately evil with natural tendencies toward good?
In highschool philosophy I vehemently argued the former. In thoughts of late I’ve been far more neutral, if not drifting toward the other end of the spectrum.
And so I propose a new premise. Heroes are for fairytales: Not real life.
"The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready."
"It is better to travel well than to arrive."
A few weeks ago: Virginia
I've just programmed a Selected Press page in order to consolidate listings on the map inside. We plan to make minor adjustments to the site this week, so if you see anything wonky occur, the aberration is likely due to the robots working.
As I mentioned in my recent e-mail to you, I'm currently in England for a spell meeting and greeting UK Wingmen and such, so updates this week will be light and it may take us a few more days to add new Wingmen. As usual my dailies can be found on JSDC and Twitter.
My challenge in the abstract, for you; to make specific to you, right now, is to move and keep moving. Move yourself and all you are involved in, including Artemis. Kinetic energy is so valuable, and momentum always improves the picture. Blog about why you're a Wingman, tip off a reporter whose work you admire... use the site you built to discuss ideas.
"I travel not to go anywhere, but to go! I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move."
- Robert Louis Stevenson
Incidentally, related to our beloved theme this week (yes, suddenly updates have themes; or at least I usually craft any theme in less obvious manner): the descriptive form of "kinetic" comes from a Greek root meaning "motion." The word "cinema" (i.e. motion picture) draws its roots from the same.
Now go forth and impress wimps at dinner parties everywhere with this knew amazing knowledge!
RIGHT NOW: I'm excited to be catching a midnight flight for London. UK Wingmen who want to meet and greet over there should e-mail me by tomorrow night (if you haven't already). I'll e-mail you to set something up once I get there and get settled.
LATE JULY: Comic-Con! We will be there for one day only; Friday July 24th. I'll figure out a time/location in the afternoon for us to say hello and hang out. (Suggestions welcome.) We may also be attending the Sideshow Collectibles party that night. I'm keeping our time in San Diego casual and all about the community (you and our friends of the project) this year. I know less of you are attending this year (damn you, economy!) so we'll do a little Comic-Con this year instead of a stressful, over-extended one like last year. Maybe we will make an HD vid together. How about that? You'll love it. I'm bringing a couple crew members and one US special forces individual who may or may not have been involved in shooting some pirates.
And yes we will wear matching t-shirts don't mess with us.
I mean last year there was one fight and one almost-fight at Comic-Con so I come prepared.
Todd will not be there this year because he will be shooting a foreign film in Saint Petersburg. Please join me in giving him a virtual high-five. (High-five, Todd!)
AUGUST: Redesigning the official site and working on (once we hit the fundraising benchmark) concept art & story boards. Otherwise, I'm not sure yet. (London is for thinking and plotting.)
Click the "Recent Entries" selection below and right for journal entries just prior to this le notice.
It's amazing how much you can say about an idea with a simple lolWimp.
For instance, the one above makes for a lovely greeting card. You know, if you have the unfortunate instance of befriending Michael Bay, Brent Ratner, or that CEO guy at Sony who is all exasperated about Piracy (rightfully) and yet leads a company that dicks over the collective of humans and artists on a daily basis (fool!).
The Professor and I have considered turning the above into stickers and placing them on anything that sucks. And of course this next one is an instant classic:
Both of these were created by Wingman Katie over at Wingman Central. If you make one, send to email@example.com and they'll share your lulz with the Interwebs.
"And the sun on your
I'm freezing that frame"
Some have asked what make the Wingman sweatshirts are in the video. Here's the link on Amazon, color is Navy. Most sports stores have them, as well. I personally wear a medium. (I've never seen a size small in the store, so I haven't been able to try it on yet but would probably prefer that size.) There is a very small tag on the front pocket; clip that and you are brand-free, which is one reason we roll with these hoods.
Other reasons are: I don't personally wear black very often because my hair looks dark depending on the light and is so dang long. If I wear black my hair thus blends to my shoulders and I look like a funny square. I wanted a darker, stealthier color, but black wouldn't have worked so well given these were night shoots and we were limited in what lighting was at our disposal. I knew I wouldn't be able to make people pop out as much as I'd typically prefer. I also wanted a casual-uniform/team feel. In general, wardrobe-ing people in these circumstances is easier than instructing them on what they can and cannot wear on camera and hoping they bring the right items. Add to that that I needed the garments to be brand-free and also affordable, and that you can run, do parkour... cause trouble in these garments, and these fit the parameters nicely. Especially since it was cold. I also like how you can sculpt the hoods. In DC all the girls looked like little hooded night elves, of a sort. I wish I had a photo of them huddled together in sculpted, pointy hoods to show you. Angie in particular was cute as she was the last to trail through the doorway, raising her lantern and scuttling to catch up to the others. (Her full shot isn't in the final cut just for time reasons and it's too dark to grab a decent still since unused footage wasn't color corrected.)
Of course most of the sweatshirts on camera went back to the store(s) the next day (money saver). Sorry to break the illusion, but they were only worn for the time when the Wingmen were on camera. Many have purchased their own, however. I myself have two.
I should probably note that in Los Angeles some stores have experienced enough fashion and film productions attempting to return clothes the next day (as we did) that they now have restocking fees. Fred Segal does, for example. Typically upscale. It's not something I suggest you do, but I wasn't too hard on myself for returning sweatshirts that people wore very briefly. I've had team uniform fittings where we were far harder on the clothes, and in those instances the unused sizes are always returned. So I equated the two. The sweatshirts were immaculate. I would have kept anything that had been compromised during shooting. Given the price that was do-able. You see? These are all little things you must think about when shooting. Overwhelming, no?
...But whenever I do get overwhelmed, now I can slip on my oversized Wingman sweatshirt, pull the hood low and slink around to the grocery store at 2AM or huddle at my computer writing at 3AM in the dark and dismiss everything else to go away.
They are functional clothes, aren't they. In fact I'm pretty sure these sweatshirts make you invisible to the rest of society, which I suppose can come in handy to a Wingman, at certain times.
Glow in the street
as we walked along"
You know, times when one is traveling through the woods, not to Grandmother's house; but to secret Wingmen meetings, whilst carrying a magical lantern. Or if you're really cold on a shoot. Or if you want to look like riffraff when in reality you are a superior film fan all just to misdirect your foes and Brent Ratner: Those times.
"-- How did it go so fast --
as we are looking
and then we'll
We held gold dust
*The three italicized quotes are by Tori Amos, 'Gold Dust' a song with the idea that "somehow these frames are written on your body and they've made you what you are."
Bring me a rose in the wintertime
When they're hard to find
Bring me a rose in the wintertime
Roses on my mind
For a rose is sweet
Most anytime, and yet
Bring me a rose in the wintertime
How easily we forget
Bring me a friend when I'm far from home
When it's hard to find
Bring me a friend when I'm far from home
Friendship on my mind
For a friend is sweet
Most anytime, and yet
Bring me a friend when I'm far from home
How easily we forget
Bring me peace when there's talk of war
When it's hard to find
Bring me peace when there's talk of war
Peace on my mind
For peace is sweet
Most anytime, and yet
Bring me peace when there's talk of war
How easily we forget
Randomly sold quite a few books in the US this week. Thank you to you orderers. Years ago I broke even from the initial pre-order sales before book launch, so now when you buy a book I actually make a little money, and it all goes to me! Sometimes I can buy groceries off of that small profit, which is no small feat. Plus, I own the intellectual property. True, I didn't make a cushy 30k advance as you do with a publisher. But did I mention that I own my own IP? And for my first book I did whatever I want, i.e. a collection? And I didn't have to put up with any corporate bullshit?
Leave me alone, corporations! I'm writing to my peoples.
I also had a little signing party in Virginia, which was fun. And caffeinated. (A few of us staged that linked snapshot afterward.) It was the first time (during Greyfeather V.O.) that I worked with Wingman Mushy, who recently did the mix on the Distortion short and the first time I worked with Brad, who also came to work on Distortion, DP-ing in both DC and LA. I learned how to publish, promote, sell and ship a book and that was valuable. It also made creating the TSL prints much easier because the shop was already set up.
When Aidmheil sells out, I will think about doing something else in print. Maybe it will surprise you.
I want to take a moment today to welcome new Wingmen. This week everyone new is International, from places such as Canada and Sweden. As a point of information, I've found that the project resonates more strongly with Canadians and Europeans. We've had more US press, thus more Americans have had the opportunity to know about the project leading to more US Wingmen. Plus, I'm American, so more people in the US come in contact with me than anywhere else in the world (so far). Otherwise I believe Canada and Europe would be leading for Wingman locations. Not that it's a race: Simply an interesting sociological/cultural point, I think. The largest local Wingman areas remain the LA and DC metro areas.
TSL on the other hand continues to be (behind the LA and DC areas) popular in Russia. Russia? Russia! That film project has received virtually no press at this stage because we aren't promoting it yet. Most of the prints at this point tend to be International sales as well. America is always the market artists want to break into, so why are we so far behind when it comes to taste, art or even new pop trends? Even The Backstreet Boys broke overseas before here! That's why when they were all "Backstreet's back, alright!" We were all like, "WTF? You just got here." Not that that was the only "WTF?" involved with the discovery of the Backstreet Boys, but you get my point. Then I Want it That Way came out and had to stop making fun of them and go to all of their concerts.
Anyway, it is a pleasure to translate a Russian blog about TSL to see what's being said. And by "translating" I mean "badly translating" via an online auto-translator for the lulz. Receiving e-mails in broken English about one's work is also a pleasure. The letters are always kind (and amusing). And lead to the realization of how far behind US students are in terms of learning a second language.
No matter where in the world you are, though, or what language you speak: It's difficult, really, really difficult to be an artist right now because of the Internets, piracy and public perception. Many artists don't talk about it much because they don't want to be caught up being positioned against their fans. There have been some bigger things on the table lately such as digital residuals/the strike, orphan works legislation, the Google books debacle in Germany and so forth. Established artists who have been backed by labels or studios or publishers for years (ex: NIN, Radiohead), well their story is different and that has lead to interesting interactive case studies that cannot be applied to the rest of the creative class. The truth is that the creative class is facing, right now, some tough issues. And they are all labor related. Despite that, and how frustrated I am, it still remains my pleasure to be an artist, and to share with you something that I did independently in my salad days (Aidmheil). So thank you for being you, for being here, and for valuing creatives just as you would your mechanic, your doctor or any other professional providing you with something that fills a need and adds to your life.
"I think first of all if you are an artist . . . there is something in you as an artist that burns, you can't live any other way," she told me by phone during our second interview. She feels the need to create. "It's what gets you out of bed. Literally there is something in your chest that burns."
We first talked at Comic-Con, me the reporter walking blindly into the hurricane of enthusiasm and belief and she and her handsome, magnetic lead actor Todd Soley at a modest table at the granddaddy event of popular culture. (They will be returning in 2009.)
"I consciously created an opportunity where you take adventure into your own life. TORn has done that, where you take real life events into your life. It becomes a tactile experience."
Larry and I have talked quite a few times both in person and via phone, and he's interviewed Todd as well. Part of what makes TORn a standout among fansites is that TORn is run by a staff of professionals. In this case Larry is a journalist by trade, who then lends his expertise to covering TORn articles. If you aren't aware of the successes their community has worked together to execute (for instance the amazing Oscars party they threw), then brush up on the fine, inspiring example they set.
In related news, I'm working on figuring out our presence at Comic-Con. Who among you friends and Wingmen are planning to attend this year? Please comment below with your plans as your feedback will help me make decisions!
Update: Today the Con called to offer us a larger space located right in the middle of all the studios' booths. As theatrically awesome as it would be to blast The WINGMEN vid right next to booths for Twilight and LucasFilms and additional cinematic fails, it would be ridiculous to spend upwards of 7k to stage a space that large. It was hard to turn down, however. Typically there is a three-year wait (at least) for that level of presence. And did I mention how awesomely hilarious that would have been?
I had to lift this out of Screenwriter and hack together a final transcript because the original script was moved around so much that I abandoned a formal document the day of the first shoot. It pains me a little that I don't have time to edit and include the narrative so that you can view how I described the cadences I wanted prior to shoot and compare to the vid edit. Other missions are at hand, take precedent, however.
All italics are movie lines, which is part of the argument of the piece. Can you name them? Even I have probably forgotten where I lifted a few.
Just remember: This is all over the second we ride up Troy's bucket.
[Static, walkie garble, consumer images... flashes of ideas...]
Six companies control all the media that you are seeing--
Is that true?
Yes, it's true--
What do we do?!
Storytelling belongs to the people--
I want to be there at the beginning of something big--
Six companies control all the media that you are seeing--
[Whisper] Wake up!
But they don't control THIS.
WARNING ANNOUNCEMENT (V.O.)
If you're receiving this transmission, then it means you ingest lethal doses of mass produced media: news programs, magazines, commercials, movies--
[distorted, reverb, audio broadcast sounds like THE WINGMEN have stolen into the broadcast booth at a stadium for an EPIC SPEECH...]
Yeah I love movies!
I really want better movies
I want better movies
A new model for production
You think it's impossible?
You're afraid of change!
You are not a Wingman!
You probably thought 'Episode I' was good
I know what you've been doing, why you sit by your computer, you're looking This could be the greatest night of our lives, but you're going to let it be the worst And I guarantee a week won't go by in your life you won't regret walking out, letting them get the best of you I'm not saying it's going to be easy With great power comes great responsibility Thank you for all the... HYPOCRITICAL INSPIRATIONAL LINES, Hollywood
[BAM! - emphasis cue]
Media conglomerates are full of it You can absolutely say they're full of shit! Why don't you practice what you preach Warner Brothers! (Yeah!) Studios and big companies they've got all the money, the lawyers, the resources Well who do you think gave it to them? WE DID! The line must drawn HERE This far no further Storytelling belongs to the people Then by god we take it back! It's a rebellion! No wimps! I want better movies
WE make better movies
I am a Wingman
I am a Wingman
I am an Artemis Eternal Wingman!
We're using the Internets to change the way you think, man!
I am the Internets
I am the Internets!
I AM A GOLDEN GOD!
LET'S DO THIS! Let's make these movie lines mean something...
Advanced citizenship, you've got to want it bad because it's gonna put up a fight. It's going to say, You want free speech? then Free your mind You're going to work harder than you're ever worked before But that's fine 'cuz we'll just get tougher with it! Failure is not an option So believe me when I say What every warrior has known since the beginning of time: Even the smallest person can change the course of the future But you've got to get mad! Take it to the mattresses!
No, try not; do or do not!
(Mmm!) [Yoda Impression]
Right now, they got to do what's right for them. Because it's their time. Their time! Up there! Down here, it's our time. It's our time down here This, is YOUR time Let no man forget how menacing we are, we are lions [Rawr!] Who's with me? [RAWR!!] WHO'S WITH ME?! [meow.] Sieze the day! Never surrender! Victory or death! Sign your name to a declaration of film independence Some principals are eternal The movie Artemis Eternal is completely free from studio control It reminds us of all that once was good, and could be again From LA to DC all the towns inbetween and all around the world we're looking for 1300 more Wingmen, 1300 more Wingmen! (That it?) You know how we roll! Hey we're all independent thinkers here, but there's one thing we all agree on: Six companies control all the media that you are seeing, but they don't control THIS!
[Improv] - Nice! Jam! Throwing those gang signs! ["blog" gang sign] Read my blog!
So if you know what we know, then it doesn't matter how you find us; JUST FIND US.
[whisper] Wake up!
If only I could learn to charge these with my explosive bio-kinetic energy...
Have I ever mentioned that I used to do little magic tricks in the school lunchroom to earn money for the milkshake machine? M.Sto did not see fit to fund my milkshake desires. Milkshakes every Wednesday; it was special, you see. Only one day a week! And tasty. I had to have one.
So I made up my icecream money with entertaining performance storytelling card games. You would be tricked! And your dollar would be MINE. If you were an adult, then it was five dollars. Of course M.Sto overheard me performing my nifty card stories for one of the little league dads, gasped in embarrassment after I displayed I had won the trick and, discovering that there was a bet involved said, "Oh you don't have to pay her!" But of course this adult had honor and paid me, chuckling that I was clever. So I had five dollars. Ice cream was only 50 cents thus you can see that was a big pull for me.
One time M.Sto said I could not have a TV so I babysat until I had $200 and bought my own. I think it took me all of two weeks. Of course she was right I probably shouldn't have had a TV in my room it's only the worst habit ever but I was tired of sneaking to watch LEGEND on TV after my bedtime. The phone, however, was a neccessity. That she did not deny me. And never computer access, either. Which is lucky because having the Internets used to be expensive and babysitting wasn't as quick or fun as a good bit of playing card story-magic.
In third grade my bracelet business was banned because it was distracting people (i.e. girls) in class (shiny!). But that's ok my bread and butter (or icecream money) was really made at the bus stop from selling keychains to the BOYS. No I didn't keep them in a caboodle. This wasn't NAPOLEON DYNAMITE and anyway I kept them in a boldly-colored can that was more attractive to my audience. It was actually a pencil holder I made for The Grizz in first grade. So what big deal it was RED and from it poured badass handmade keychains you could attach to your backpack except these came in boy colors. Then I would sell the matching one to the girl who liked the boy or vice versa of the one who had already bought. I don't know somehow people were into it. And the hand-woven bracelets took me forever to make, so they were a steal. All of those third grade keychain couples are probably married now.
This other time we really wanted to go to the movies so we mixed up some lemonade and made forty bucks. The key is to only charge a quarter except no bicyclists have change and you don't keep change so they tell you just to keep the dollar because you're seven. Then we washed some people's windows (if we lived in the city I suspect we would have had competition) and made ten bucks. Then we blew it all on candy and cheap jewelry from Claire's and (better) embroidery floss for weaving superior friendship bracelets to make the muses weap in shame (and sell at the bus stop). Oh and maybe we went to see A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN.
Ask me to do a *card trick for you if you see me. Providing I'm not rusty, you will be amazed.
The End of any Great Era is always tough, but I think it's important to pass the torch. If I'm ever old, however, I wonder if I'll be hanging on too tightly past my time, like I see so many people doing.
I can think of times when I've had tears in my eyes come the end of just such a rare, formative season, but I always went on; through the less-sweet times.
Those ends and beginnings come at all ages, but when you are young, your eras aren't twenty years long. Or more.
Not that the camaraderie and freedoms feel any different due to length of time, but I do imagine that after so great an expanse change may be even more difficult.
And, I recognize that perhaps I too would pause, restructure, resist, if I had some power to not have to move forward. To extend past the prime. To hang on.
When your term is up, the conditions change and typically the pieces shift; no longer aligned. The sun will never shine so brightly on these particular moments as it did in the past, and you know you have to go. Summer's over, schools back in, graduation has come, you've left your job, an uncanny sports season has ended, you're moving, your show finishes its run, there is new leadership at the helm... it's the end of an era.
Life, it moves.
But I'm not currently at the end of any personal eras, so I'm simply watching the tides, is all.
Notes: You requested outtakes and behind-the-scenes moments from The WINGMEN/Distortion Video where we also quick captured a few stand-ups on the fly. Thus, here I gave myself five minutes to string out any raw footage I felt appropriate from the DC & LA shoots.
The biggest illusion of all from the Distortion video, I think, is not the magical Aurum Lanterns or momentum that professional editing creates: the grandest trick of the shoot and edit is that it doesn't appear to be 20 degrees in the DC shots, and yet; it is. When I finally went to bed at 6AM my face was brutally windburned and for some hours I was reduced from EPIC DIRECTOR! to Tiny Frozen Human. Totally worth it, though. As you can see.
"So, there is a character in ARTEMIS ETERNAL named Artemis and you are going to play her, right?"
Actually, there isn't really a character in Artemis Eternal named "Artemis"! So the answer is no. Artemis is more of an idea than a person.
After this question was posed to me, I could see how many people might obviously come to that conclusion. In fact I would not be surprised if everyone were thinking along those lines. I laughed because, well, how could I not have seen that logic flow before?
I'm generally not one to name stories after characters. Of course the exception to that is Greyfeather.
For more on Artemis Eternal you can check out the synopsis on the first panel of the map, under the "Conception" phase. The synopsis was actually written by a Wingman who is a professional studio screenwriter. I simply edited it up a little. How about that!
It's the final countdown! You know how it goes: In this corner, The Groom gets ready with his MEN, and in this corner, The Bride prepares with her 'Maids. I don't know why I capitalized "men," but it looks funny so it's staying that way. My way, your way, anyway... I'm pretty sure The Viking requested a chalkboard in his ready room so that he could outline his strategy for his teammates. Maybe we should get him a PC Tablet.
This is a testament to how many snapshots The Viking Clan takes. They have it covered from all angles, every second of the day. They are probably taking photos of you right now and you don't even know it:
Let it be known that there was a fair wind on C.Sto's wedding day. I think we eventually got at least one photo without hair over our faces, however.
I don't know? I'm smirky.
Champagne antics! Featuring Rach and Sarah and Larry, the latter of whom is extremely paranoid about the Cylons returning to Earth.
I have one billion photos and we haven't even had delivery yet from the professional photographer. True story.
My sister was married during my voyage east. You know this already. Except for the first photo above, which is actually an HD still, these lead-up snaps are brought to you by Erich's Viking clan. Oh, the many events over the week! Here goes: Erich and I make a video for C.Sto's shower; C.Sto arrives at her Princess shower; Stover musical chairs final four eye of the tiger grudge match (in the end I totally beat my Grandma and won!); You can't see but there are at least three Disney Princesses on that cake; Bachelorette sushi dinner; Bachelor party (obviously I wasn't there for that one); Because of C.Sto's sash and crown (and limo!) Strangers in DC asked me, "what did your friend win?" all night, so eventually I decided that she was Bride of the Year for Bride Magazine, which sounds totally believable, especially to dudes; Blocks! I'm sure you are not surprised to see me playing jumbo Legos on the floor and yes musical chairs at the shower was my idea so what; Erich's twin sisters hosted the rehearsal dinner at his father's house, where Stovers and Vikings gathered to pay homage to the ceremonial chocolate fondue fountain; HELLO, WE'RE THE STOVER SISTERS! (she hates when I say that).
I need to enable JSDC for HD vid so that I can post Sarah dancing bonkers to Beat It in the limo. You know, for inspiration.
It's late, and I'm packing to make my way back to Los Angeles. In the meantime, earlier today The Escapist (gaming magazine) published an article including a new interview about Artemis Eternal. This was the first e-mail interview I accepted for this project. Mr. Chalk asked challenging questions that prompted detailed answers, and it felt good to have a few moments to hit our transparency initiative and speak about strategy. Excerpt:
"Until we lock the complete budget there will always be a significant risk that we don't reach our benchmark for production, but the risk to The Wingman herself is low since we fund via micro-donation," she continued. "After that benchmark the risk decreases significantly. The tremendous thing about the Artemis plan, however, is this: Once the film is safely in the can and in post-production, our worries evaporate. We'll have finished building out a rad community, establishing vendor relations and garnering interest. Typically it's the reverse because distributors have to worry about promoting and getting asses in the seats and pulling out all the stops and flooding the world with marketing to make sure they're building up a strong licensing platform at the box office so that they can eventually turn a profit down the line."
When it comes to exploring natural exteriors for production; we're golden. Technically I've been location scouting and negotiating locations for production since the turn of the century, albeit always for my own shoots and not independent at first.
In terms of locations, Artemis and beyond works tend to be far more challenging and interesting than what I've done previously. Although, admittedly, many of the studio locations for my show were awesome. Of course I've never officially held the cavalier-like title of Location Scout since I personally fit those tasks under my directing and producing roles.
For the right personality (as is true of most crafts in film that take a special kind of individual) Location Scout is a stellar crew position and one I have always privately viewed as exciting. Depending on what caliber of filmmaker you are; scouting can be a life-changing, world-evolving personal part of the process. The research, planning and exploration can also be tedious. Especially when done on your own without a team, as will happen in pre-production. It depends on the material, and I suppose isn't a task all directors enjoy.
I'm rather inspired by tales from The Last of the Mohicans crew, who humped gear on foot deep into the Smokies, and from my Great Aunt, who was on set for that shoot.
Meaning that I have to think about where I'm asking people to march, but there do exist crews who get fired-up over getting the shot just as much as the director, and aren't some kind of union sissies as so often depicted.
Anyway, so far I haven't asked anyone to go anywhere I haven't gone first. So there is that.
The "Consumption" chapter is probably the most poignant, if you're in a hurry.
Are you a consumer? Is that what makes you valuable?
Is this applicable to the movies vertical and what we are doing with Artemis Eternal? (yes)
Do you have any ideas on how we can use this insight and vocabulary to improve how we make movies?
I have to say, it's quite obvious that most studio flicks are unapologetically "destined for the dump."
During a meeting recently, with someone who repeatedly failed to grasp what we were doing, I put forth that I didn't view Wingmen as consumers, but as guardians or stewards of an ideal or important realm that we make tangible project to project. I hadn't really thought it out much, so I didn't have a great description for guardians of what exactly. What do you think? There is a creed, but it is nice to have a concise vocabulary whenever possible.
Also, can you think of any companies or individuals/artists who make a great product that lasts a long time, or a lifetime? It would be neat to come up with a list of stuff that's cool and useful and future-proof/timeless.
My sister was married this weekend. If you had asked me a few years ago, I would have predicted I'd feel like Jo when Meg gets hitched (and stolen away, in a manner of speaking) in Little Women, but really it hasn't been like that at all since she's dated Erich. Le Viking has always fit in well with our family and their fairytale simply works. In fact, seeing them have a slight argument this past winter was almost jarring because rare, so needless to say as it is obvious: I have considered myself to have an additional brother for quite some time now. Really my only complaint about The Viking is that he enforces foreign beer pong rules that are native to his homeland even when the game takes place at not his homeland.
Here are two more stills from a video we made last weekend. It looks like an exclusive interview for some highly prestigious news program such as 20/20 or Yo! MTV Raps but I swear it's just a casual mini-production for C.Sto's bridal shower.
Everyone from Virginia marries someone they went to highschool with.
Weddings! It is very likely that I will post a few photos from the celebration once the professional photag gets them back to us. Thank you for all of the well wishes. The Stover + Viking clans had a tremendous time.
C.Sto + Viking are now happily ever after on a beach enjoying their honeymoon, drinking Viking-native drinks (such as Smirnoff Ice) and plotting a trip to The Magic Kingdom.
In the meantime, The Professor arrived today in the nowimpsmobile, which means it's time to get back to pre-production work-adventures.
I read this book upon arriving to Los Angeles and taking workshops with The Atlantic. Simple and solid, Mamet's text permits no misunderstanding, and immediately became one of my favorite books in general, and especially in terms of non-fiction as well as performance and motion picture subject.
A mix of project realignment and simplification prompted me to pluck True and False from my bookcase a few nights ago. Now, given the way I'm working independent and direct with the audience via ARTEMIS, and having utilized the acting and directing technique that Mamet teaches and trumpets, the book cuts through the noise and rings truer, the work even more tangible and clear, than on my first read.
These are philosophies and techniques that transcend acting or directing, or any single craft or life.
Fellow Wingman Brady BD wrote about a case study that is related in that it illustrates why I don't sell the remaining 159 copies of Aidmheil available through Amazon. They take a 45% cut, which is huge when you aren't moving a large volume. Of course distributing under the Amazon brand somehow seems to vet any author; worthy or not (relations with established brands always do even when meaningless).
Given how few copies are left available, however, the promotion and trained consumers aren't worth the price in this case. If you are moving Harry Potter numbers, however, then Amazon strategically is a great choice, as are other venders who pack and ship. The point is that, in my experience, the method of distribution is not always a comment on the caliber of a work. Media politics get in the way of that being a useful way to evaluate and if you decide to forgo all of that and distribute independently, then you are playing with far, far less distro money. Books specifically are low budget to produce (compared to film), therefore the quality of the work is not affected by a lack of conglomerate production funding. Of course that's a light analysis in the name of the artist/reader/distro relationship, and yet should be just enough to serve as fuel for thought. Happy reading!
For you boys I can report back that Tricia Helfer is gorgeous and Grace Park is taller than I would have imagined, and also gorgeous. And (as you can tell) Magda and Alessandra are free spirited and a lot of fun. I guess we are going to go undercover and fight Cylon crime now. Or something.
Seth Green and his purple mohawk moderated the actual event, and as always he was a crack up. I shot with him one day years ago and he remains one of the nicest people in the industry who I've met. His notecards were clipped at the corners, BSG-style, as if he needed more nerd props (but got more regardless!).
I only lament that C.Sto wasn't there. After living through the Seattle trip debacle, she has more than earned the right to some BSG-related celebration.
…I joined Twitter and ARTEMIS, having just launched, was featured on YouTube, MySpace, TechCrunch and BoingBoing. Then I went to a party for Shakespeare’s birthday. What else? Joan of Arc monologue-ing, press release-ing, new BSG watching,
Yo dudes, so I have sent The WINGMEN short around to a few festival and screening opportunities. Please comment if you have a festival that you'd like for us to submit to, and I will review. As you can see a few on the list are ones you already suggested via Twitter.
Submitted: Los Angeles International Short Film Festival
FIND Monthly Screening
San Diego Comic-Con
Fantasia Film Festival
Hollywood Film Festival
Austin Film Festival
Women’s Film Institute Shorts Tour
NBC Universal Short Cuts Film Festival (for the lulz)
FYI, I am already aware of Sundance, AFI, LA Film Fest, Edinburgh, Virginia, SXSW and Tribeca, and we don't qualify for Toronto (filmmaker has to be Canadian to submit to shorts program).
Before you post a link, glance over the submission rules just to make sure we qualify. All ideas welcome: You don't have to be a Wingman to make a suggestion.
PS: What about you Aussies?
PPS: Anyone have any experience with HollyShorts?
"Hence the saying: One may know how to conquer
without being able to do it."
First of all, congrats on the 50k views The WINGMEN: Distortion vid has quickly received. Since this was released entirely independent, that is remarkable! Well done!
If it's not apparent to you, we've definitely outgrown the ARTEMIS ETERNAL site and especially the map. "But that website is awesome!' I hear you cry. You're right, but if you look closely, month's worth of stuff has occurred since Comic-Con that we didn't have in the original plan. That's the thing about a good journey: You can plot it out as much as you like but, there will always be delightful and/or necessary things you couldn't have foreseen. The site is flexible but we need more flexibility in terms of the map.
Greg and I are planning a redesign of the experience for end of summer. For now, as it has been for a while, it is cramped and we have loads of assets that we have to shortcut and squeeze in and we have so much it doesn't fit clean and perfect as we prefer. Growth is good and as always we're up for the challenge of a better evolution.
In terms of the film, everything is prepped to the point that we are really only dependent on filling out the community so that we can lock our budget. In the video we state we're looking for 1300 more Wingmen. Thus, you can check the "who's in" list numbers to see how progress is going. And you can always help the project by spreading the word so that people have an opportunity to enjoy the content and the worthy have the opportunity become Wingman. Obviously the more money we raise the more chances we can take with the film and the web experience. I have a tiered budget that almost works as sort of a wish list of upgrades. The first is the minimum of what I need to accomplish the film properly and at a high quality. The next has the things I'd like to add to heighten the story technically or pad things if we can raise to that level and on and on to a version with upgrades on what sort of composer we'll work with and how the music can be arranged right down to how exotic the instruments can be. When we get closer, this is something I plan to publish and ask you about. I'm also considering jumping ahead and pulling some concept visuals together for you. Although I will have to take a look at the budget and weigh a few choices before I make that decision.
Press and paperwork take me away from those parts, but they are necessary. However we've been through a bunch of that and now I can focus on creative aspects. You know we're good at what we do, and work hard, so most of the time it's more a matter of mobility and resources, which goes back to (that accursed word--) funding. There are many excellent ideas I cannot wait to implement, but alas; I must. That's not to say that you have not already given myself and the project (and those involved) tremendous amounts of freedom. True, things are tight, but we do not have to suffer fools. You absolutely have given that to us and that's really the smartest and most useful gift an artist can be given. That being said, we are wise enough to understand that restrictions are also a good thing as long as they don't wholly impede the work. The right restrictions and hurdles typically challenge the production to be better and life is such that hurdles always present themselves, so we're not in short supply of those. In fact the problem-solving aspect of production is one of the qualities I like best about the filmmaking experience.
Sky's the limit. More soon.
As we continue to outgrow this version of the site and create the new one, I'll continue to write much more on JSDC, which is where I groundwork the production journals. Those are about a year behind in terms of being organized and linked on Artemis Eternal dot com.
With the redesign I am planning to up the amounts for involvement. The idea behind that change is that it was much more challenging to come aboard before this point and therefore for that reasons and others the increments are lower. If you have any feedback about this, then please e-mail me.
In other news, I'm working out our presence at San Diego Comic-Con this year and will update for you as soon as I have the information. I'll be at the Battlestar Galactica/Caprica Paley events this week in Los Angeles, so please say hello if you are there!
I set out a camera in the green room during the DC-area shoot for The Wingmen to mess with if they felt inclined. I've just now had time to watch the clips.
Here's a little window into the camaraderie of that night. I believe this is early on during setup of the first shot.
[window removed: you missed it, sucker! Too bad.]
Appears that it was Wingman Kelli who captured this. This occurred just before I marched in with a stack of work gloves and asked if any of the restless dudes wanted to earn honor and respect by helping us clear a path through the forest, which meant removing the tedious brush and bracken. The worthy Wingmen fearlessly accomplished this feat in fifteen minutes, and professional greensmen, grips and swing gangs everywhere were shamed. Meanwhile, from the other videos, I can piece together that most of the girls were checking their makeup and/or playing Mortal Kombat 4 tournaments on the Nintendo. The former is war paint and the latter is actuality a Wingman training program sort of like the ones The Airforce employs. You know, just in case we ever have to engage in a graphic battle for the world that consists of magic and martial arts.
As you can see it was a true team effort and everyone pulled their weight. Also, Wingmen are always prepared. Like girl scouts. Except we know fatalities.
You know what else I learned about Wingmen today? Four of them have given birth in the last 12 months. Maybe you guys are following suit of all major world religions (and China) and breeding ourselves into higher numbers so as to achieve WIN. I was going to suggest we clone a bounty hunter a million times over on some far away water planet, but clearly you guys thought this out a year ago, so who am I to interfere?
Tonight I’m pouring over Artemis Eternal creative pieces (screenplay, et cetera) and pacing through the location, which I haven’t done in a while.
What I’ve been doing lately has all been paperwork and promotions and anxious stressing out. Essentially, very boring non-production work. I’d like to finish up a newer screenplay, but part of me says that adventure, although I enjoy it immensely, is useless and painfully delusional if it is impossible to finish the journey by actually making the film. So maybe a bunch of us need Artemis to succeed so that we know the futility isn’t 100% impregnable. The project is engineered for that, of course.
Earlier today Leah and I met up spontaneously so as to catch up before both of us head out of town to our respective destinations. Destinations that are, thankfully, not Los Angeles. Conversation over cups of ale turned quickly to how screwy LA is, how screwy arts, entertainment and media is and the suffering these systems inflict on even the most hearty, well kept and realistic of individuals who dare tangle with said void. When is enough, and what else can you do if this is what you do? Can nothing be done? How do you come to captain your fate again—is that even possible given the circumstances of the beast? Thoughts of that sort. I invoked the idea that I felt kindred to the proverbial solider without a war.
Then the bards entered the hall and we were serenaded, and it got intense.
"I expect that more formulaic projects will be down out the gate as studios will be less likely to take significant risks since most of these projects will be financed by both the studio and their investors. In short, you will see more Iron Mans, animation and SAWs; they are
money in the bank when you factor in ratios, etc."
To date, Wingmen have collectively commissioned an HD short, a portfolio website of art and information, 85% of preparation and preproduction on a scifi/fantasy film and put about 100 people to work while giving these artists and technicians a place to develop their craft in harmony with a quality story experience, so that those professionals working on Artemis based on merit are further enabled to stay out of the "less-developed" category in a manner that they also find meaningful.
Along the way Wingmen have illuminated areas of concern in terms of media politics, media consolidation and business ethic, and made the adventure available for free and free of advertising to everyone as an ongoing reference tool and case study. What have you done lately? (I'm cheeky, I know.)
So why does every business model for arts and entertainment revolve around advertisers? Who then is really in control? (The linked statement is from the same agency, mind you, who told me years ago that entertainment was quickly falling completely in the hands of advertisers, and who seemed very pleased with themselves for noticing that occurrence as if it hadn't already happened years prior.) One point is that if you don't pay for it you aren't in control of it; something that can be applied to piracy as well. In theory we also lose control of our collective destinies that way, but this is a larger exploration for another time, as is the fact that fans/consumers being in control of movies and so forth via box office is currently a myth.
Let's get back to the point and shift gears by seeing if it's possible to put the CAA e-mail in context of McLuhan's thinking and technique. What is the "message" here, and can we identify those changes and patterns of the "medium" accurately in order to predict what is to come (or already coming) in terms of the medium, that is to say the next extension of ourselves, and what the effects/messages will be in terms of film?
Then, how far behind is this agent, and everyone lauding the e-mail? What subtle changes are we currently dismissing as insignificant and what content distracts us from the messaging? And do I really sit around my room all day doing tetrads?
"Control over change would seem to consist in moving not with it but ahead of it. Anticipation gives the power to deflect and control force." -- Marshall McLuhan
Yes, yes I do.
If you aren't naturally good at seeing the tetrad, then with a little practice soon enough you can do it as muscle memory. And even if you are good at naturally identifying the changes and implications, it's nice to have a vocabulary, put it all down in a specific way and identify a concrete technique as a foundation for your own evolutions. This is true for writing, sports, acting and predicting social effects of technology.
Example: Girl number one can hit a home run, naturally. Without having any lessons or perhaps even understanding how it comes to be herself. She just does it. You've seen this happen with individuals and some talents, yes? Girl number two can hit a home run, tell you exactly how she did it, break it down into it's parts and teach the technique to anyone.
There is no less poetry in either manner, but the latter is the master between the two.
Most people are neither.
(I just realized that's pretty much the plot to Drumline. Not that you should ever watch that movie.)
C.Sto and The Viking are getting married in a few weeks! I have to say, planning the bachelorette party, shower and wedding is much easier than producing a film.
It will be a small ceremony during which I will perform a monologue. I suggested Braveheart, but M.Sto says it's likely to be Corinthians. Of course C.Sto is a huge fan of Independence Day so I should probably just surprise everyone.
Not that they've actually requested a monologue or need to: Factually speaking, it's the Maid of Honor's job to get everyone pumped about honor because it's in her title--"Honor." And besides, from the above, latest snapshot of us (and others you have seen) you can tell that C.Sto is always thrilled by my antics.
After hearing numerous obnoxious, “this drink will make you a badass!--pAArty!” type radio ads featuring hot girls and further annoying tactics that energy drinks and other companies employ in marketing, my sister, C.Sto, was getting annoyed. These adverts promote a new energy drink called Syke and they are on constant rotation in DC/VA.
This week, Syke launched a new leg of ads that made C.Sto pause: The voice on the radio said that Syke has low levels of cyanide, and chalked this atrocious fact up to being a natural part of some process of normal drink making, or something. What? She asked her coworkers and they were also all, “Yes, WTF? We heard this too!” So C.Sto looked it up on The Internets.
Now play the video again, and this time watch along. Obviously, in terms of parody, it plays more "straight" via radio sans video. It turns out that Syke is advertising an energy drink composed of the same ingredients as cigarettes, and yet stores which carry cigarettes with the same exact ingredients are refusing to carry Syke because these venders are all, ew no way that’s disgusting are you crazy?
The website for Syke says it is a joke. Have you caught on to the message yet? It’s culture jamming. A self-styled movement. Which is why today C.Sto reported this all to me, since this is naturally the sort of thing I find interesting and relevant. The site says that the Syke drinks handed out at concerts and events are fruit juice. In the doing of this “liquid revolution,” Syke supports the local independent music scene.
“Syke will continue to support the local music scene in VA by sponsoring shows featuring awesome local bands.”
“Above all, Syke will continue to expose and make fun of corporate giants that seek to take your money, addict you, or even make you sick.”
The amount of regional brand awareness they’ve drummed up is notable. I can find no news outlet that has reported on the matter and yet everyone in the area is wondering, “Yeah, what is that?” It’s a curious idea, and they certainly have enough funding to produce and distribute multiple ads across different platforms, but I wonder about the organization.
“If industries like big music, big fashion and big tobacco can get away with polluting their products and people’s images of them then screw it, why can’t we?”
Who is “we”? And who is authoring these blogs on their site? I’m unsure who the leadership is or where the funding comes from. Arguably, this lack of transparency may be required for their long-term success. (Cite: CZECH DREAM.) However, without an “about us” or “contact us” or anything informative about the orchestrators and orchestration that looks legitimate, Syke forces me to consider the possibility that the marketing is actually owned or controlled by a corporation or individual(s) concerned with undisclosed special interests and/or is an instance of The Spectacle needing to be in control, embrace the threat, make it safe, and sell it back to you.
Of course the latter can come to pass inadvertently, too. There is a fine line related to this that you will walk in anything to do with culture jamming, subvertisement, and detournement: you risk an entity that you are against recuperating your message to their own benefit. Ironic promotional campaigns work; and then you become complicit.
For what it’s worth to those of you who are Wingmen, these are ideas, philosophies and case study that I mull on the daily, and certainly when making the related decisions about our project.
And if you didn’t click that CZECH DREAM link, then try it out now. It’s a modern story for the ages.
Deeper than the hallowed puddle-waters, from beyond the reflective surfaces in your best bronzed dining room mirror… This is a barking 0-dark 30, a state when vigilance pounds—something you cannot quite touch breaches your shores in heated waves through the silence… Drum beats. A rhythm bold that in familiar times we cease to see. Fleet Virgo will find a way! Crack the distaff, calm the spinning, re-bind the mutable threads of this human life whole with wood, rope and skin, blacken the eyes with knowing, smash the false city scents and dreams and crush the booms into tam-tam-tambourines and lilac blooms, cymbals of honey suckle, lily of the valley shimmering metallic in thine ear and on thy tongue and thump thump! the tastes of rust—and all the weathered membranes bust! ‘til, clearer now; not the marchings of infantry, no! not the conforms of the band—instead come the vibrations of a tiny percussion violating the old tempo with a new grip on the sticks: and she click-click-clicks flashing smoke signals, torch globes and unicode; a light brigade of one!
I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us — don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know.
About one year ago I participated in an interview with a journalist in Alaska. As a personal metric, I found myself skimming the work this week. Oh really it feels like years have passed since I began talking about Artemis publically, but it has all been very recent: Even my first video appearance about the project (CU@USC) was one year ago. (And that one feels ages old.) The writer of the afore mentioned interview; well, her site is now private. Originally I pointed to her instead of also publishing the dialogue here. That’s all fine and good and of no consequence to me. When I visited the interview last week, however, I happened to grab the final question and answer...
Theresa: Somewhere on your website you delve into a list of your favorites as long as the dead sea scrolls, including such items as acoustic covers and hardwood floors, knee high socks and long sleeve tees. If you truly had to pick one FAVORITE thing in the world, not a person or a website or a philosophy or a place, but a thing, what would it be?
Jess: Simple instruments of fate. The musician has her guitar; the graffiti artist, her can of spray paint; the fencer, her sabre… The less you require in order to practice your craft, the easier the walk. I am at the point where I want to throw everything I own away.
How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!
*Italics are from 'I'm Nobody! Who Are You?' by Emily Dickinson
TheProfessor: Did you see the LED sheep art?
TheProfessor: Some Welsh or Scottish shepherds went to town with their crooks and lights.
TheProfessor: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2FX9rviEhw TheProfessor: You may have already seen it. I just saw it this morning.
TheProfessor: I'd like to know if Samsung had that idea, or if some sheep dude pitched it around.
Jessica: I hadn't seen this
TheProfessor: I like that one of the dudes has a no-bullshit shepherd's crook.
TheProfessor: That's actually been used to crook the sheep.
Jessica: I feel bad for the sheep
Jessica: That's a lot of running.
TheProfessor: They're sheep. I think that's all they do.
TheProfessor: That and eat.
Jessica: Yes, but do they typically run that much?
TheProfessor: Maybe not all at once.
TheProfessor: But they do get herded all day.
Jessica: maybe we should move to new zealand and become shepherds
Jessica: so we can get crooks
TheProfessor: I have one already.
Jessica: Jessica: why the f do you have one of those?!
TheProfessor: Why wouldn't I.
TheProfessor: I got it in middle school.
TheProfessor: It's awesome.
TheProfessor: Why DON'T you have one?
Jessica: Yes but what do you use it for?
Jessica: A walking stick?
Jessica: I don’t have one because I am a pauper film artist. Otherwise that is the kind of thing I would have custom made.
Jessica: As you know I employ walking sticks from time to time
TheProfessor: I don't use it for anything. I have no sheep.
Jessica: and also it would make me feel like a wizard.
Jessica: Dude, the main function of crook is a walking stick. Secondary is grabbing sheep that stray
Jessica: or also just appearing shepherdly to your masses
Jessica: such as in the case of pharaohs
Jessica: or jesus christ
Jessica: maybe you should start working with kids
Jessica: so that you could employ your crook
TheProfessor: My crook is 9 feet tall.
Jessica: wtf is it so tall?
Jessica: your crook is too tall for me.
TheProfessor: I used to poke kids with a bo when I taught karate.
Jessica: I need a shorter one.
TheProfessor: Maybe it's not that tall.
TheProfessor: I just remember it being tall when I was 11.
Jessica: That's too tall.
Jessica: It would be hard to maneuver, no?
TheProfessor: Also, I have a saw.
TheProfessor: For shortenage.
Jessica: I see.
TheProfessor: Anyway, I felt the need to be able to crook at length.
TheProfessor: Distance-crooking is better.
Jessica: well yes I can see that being useful
Jessica: but if your crook is too tall for you to walk under branches and through doorways
Jessica: that could be annoying
TheProfessor: There are no doorways in pastures.
TheProfessor: And you can angle it.
TheProfessor: A crook does not have to be perpendicular to the ground.
Jessica: I don't know about that, Professor. I do not want a too-tall crook.
Jessica: I feel there are disadvantages
Jessica: in maneuvering.
Jessica: what if it messes up your equilibrium
Jessica: while you are leaping over a tall potted plant?
TheProfessor: One has a crook so that one does not have to leap or upset one's equilibrium, obviously.
TheProfessor: Maybe they all come tall. Maybe it's a cut-to-fit.
Jessica: what if there's a big ditch in a field and you have to jump it to get to your sheep
TheProfessor: Contact a Scotsman at once to inquire.
Jessica: I think the burden of proof is on you, old man.
TheProfessor: Definitely not. I already have an authentic crook.
Jessica: that's too big for you
Jessica: or that you've failed to measure accurately.
TheProfessor: How do you know it's too big. Have you shepherded before?
TheProfessor: You don't even have the tools.
Jessica: I shepherd everyday
Jessica: hello my people
Jessica: all 600 of them who have watched our video
Jessica: my tools are metaphorical
TheProfessor: Better not metacrook me then, if that's what you're implying you do.
Jessica: whatever, I don't need a crook because we the people aren't sheeple
Jessica: I just want one for hiking
Jessica: and pole vaulting.
TheProfessor: Oh yeah, because pole vaulting poles are short and stuff.
Jessica: they are the way I do it
TheProfessor: Your crook-related desires are contradictory.
I researched and The Internets say that a crook is typically five feet tall (or smaller). If there are any professional shepherds or pharaohs reading this, then please do confirm. And also let me know if there is some sort of mocking industry jargon term thing for shepherds or pharaohs or professors who have too-tall crooks.
The short is now featured on YouTube Film and has shot up to 26k views! YouTube traffic is random and unfocused so it doesn't transfer as meaningfully in terms of new Wingmen, but the point is we made something high quality and since we released it on our web platform I'm glad people now have the opportunity to view and think about the ideas introduced.
Please share around, comment ("I'm a Wingman."), rate and go wild! We've been spotlighted here before and it takes community support in order to be useful in the ways we desire.
In unrelated news, I'm going to return to writing more regularly here beginning this weekend. I'm looking forward to setting aside more creative time in the face of all the promoting and so forth. I can only do that with your help, so thank you for being awesome and supporting on all fronts.
This is my last episode: Next week I believe Smashface brings in new faces, which is great! Mixing it up is a smart and enjoyable choice. I saw that one of the upcoming episodes is about The Dark Knight. Obvious potential for that one to be amusing.
We are The Wingmen: An army of techies and nerds, gymnasts and fighters, archers and pilots, ninjas and writers. We come from all worlds, from every coast and country to lend our voice to a single artistic project that rejects the standard order, however established and comforting that order may be.
And while we may have a leader, we follow an ideal: that films should be a covenant between filmmaker and audience in which the message is pure, direct, and unfiltered. The specter of commercialism has long hung over the film industry, but of late it has evolved into a fog of bureaucracy and materialism, of plastic cups and bad advertisements. The artist is obscured, and the audience is force-fed cheap ideas devoid of any purpose. There is no truth, no depth, in something so manufactured, and it must end.
We want to see film taken to the streets and engendered by the passion of a community, not puppeted by the strings of a select few studios wealthy enough to pull them. Our ideas, our time, our talents—we’re prepared to give all to support the creation of art on our own terms. We don’t expect this battle to be quick or easy, and we demand the best from the artists we’ve chosen to lead the charge. So call us irrational. Taunt us with history, mock us with dogma and tradition, and scoff as you will. We will raise our Aurums as one and press on.
We are The Wingmen. Among us there can be no wimps.
*Composed by Wingman Clint "The Professor" Fralick
"I couldn't do that. Could you do that? Why can they do it? Who are those guys?" --Butch Cassidy
This week was a post-production marathon. Saturday, Sunday and Monday Greg Martin finished up the EFX on The WINGMEN short, and editor Collin Selders and I worked Monday through Wednesday on polishing the edit from opening through end titles. Thursday Collin received the EFX footage and organized the audio tracks for delivery to the mixing engineer while I spent a full day with composer Fred Kron working on the score. Fred scored four minutes of wall-to-wall video in under nine hours, which is incredible. Friday I was back in Santa Monica with Collin, where we synched the score and locked the picture for the audio mix. Accordingly, I spent Saturday with Wingman James Musshorn, a stellar mixing engineer who mixed the sound for us at a cool, privately owned, backyard garage studio in NoHo. King of the Hill is one of the many music and TV projects mixed in that space. The owner, Craig Stall, and his wife are tremendous folks from Kentucky and Texas respectively, and during breaks you could find me sitting in their back garden under the fruit trees playing with their fluffy brown Chow dog, Hannah. I felt far removed from Los Angeles (in the good way). It was a beautiful kind of work day; listening to the fountain, finishing up the project and conversing about the state of media, movies and music with good company.
Greg and Collin got a call from me during the mix about something that James and I noticed needed to be EFX-ed out. You see, when you mix humans and cold temperatures there is a strong chance of cloudy weather, and by "cloudy weather" I mean "snot." Throw a bunch of HD close-ups into that equation and it's possible that you're going to get a view of the blockage up someone's nose.
It has been taken care of however. Let it be known that we have your backs, and will never air you out on camera with accidental snot visible in your nostrils.
The WINGMEN short has been produced professionally coast-to-coast by 100% volunteers, with Wingmen on camera taking on the role of storyteller. Like most of what we do here, this is extraordinary. Also extraordinary is that we did it for what I'm guestimating is under 2k. (I have yet to sit and crunch the numbers.) You can judge for yourself how amazing a feat this is once you watch our creation yourself. The 2k was spent on craft services during the shoots and post, coffees, tiny thank you gifts to the amazing professionals who gifted us with their time and expertise, a hard drive for footage, equipment rentals, props... standard costs. My parents also pocketed some of our expenses by putting on craft services for the DC shoot and The Grizz used his electrician skills to wire some props for us, for which he supplied the parts. I should probably mention at this time that, on the conservative side, I calculate the video would have cost us at least 16k if we had paid out for full rentals and crew, locations, and the many other things contributed by the overall team of renegade artists, craftsmen, venders and WINGMEN. Even if you weren't there with us physically, you made this possible.
Although I am short on time as I write to you, I want to pause to share how much fun I've had with the crew. It's been a long year and these are the circumstances I look forward to, and in which I thrive. The DP, Brad, and I are buds and he's a real deal film soldier who I really like to be on set with. We'd worked together before. Over the years we've also consumed inhuman amounts of tequila during our off time. Wingman Carly referred me to Collin, and it turns out we were very quickly on the same page. Despite having everyone else locked in as donating their time, I didn't think it was possible to get a professional editor under this agreement and was prepared to pay a low indie rate. (Editors spend loads of time on a project so this makes sense.) I met with Collin, he viewed some of the footage, leaned back in his chair in that badass "fuck it" kind of way that suits this movement and said "Let's do it!" With that, he was the final piece of the puzzle and we had succeeded in going 100% volunteer. For weeks we've been working together and if you follow me on Twitter you can tell we're always having a laugh while we do. I'm hoping to work with him again in the future. James, who I call "Mushy," is a Wingman and a friend, and someone who I've worked with in the past as well. He helped me problem solve the final hurdle of this video. I don't know if you'd enjoy sitting around for eight hours watching these guys spin the dials on the various software and arrays that affect the end product so profoundly in filmmaking, but I actually enjoy the postproduction process. Unlike math, filmmaking is a problem that I know how to solve.
Sitting with Fred, the composer, is nothing short of revelation. This is the third time we've worked together, the other times being smaller projects. He flat out has skills. Few filmmakers get to create original score - it's something I'm still developing a vocabulary for - so watching him layer the music and observing how keen his instincts are in terms of accents and so forth was very cool as well as enlightening. We were in great hands.
I don't mean to romanticize how exhausting production and postproduction has been. Brad gifted us with one of his few vacation days in DC where he had flown to visit his family, I've been working non-stop, Fred and Mushy fit us in on a day off between solid workweek sessions and Collin has been cutting full time on another project at nights after spending days editing with me. I'd also be remiss to leave out The Professor, who came down to DC from Boston to fill in multiple positions during preproduction and production.
There's also Greg, who worked all weekend (again) and sacrificed one of his vacation days to the cause, and who you know by now as we have been working closely for years; he designed the UI, layout and art of the site you are currently experiencing. These guys are good, just like Greg; like "Who are those guys?" Butch Cassidy/Sundance good. Together we can do more in a day than most people can accomplish in a month, and we do it original, representative of ourselves and the project. I encourage all artists to pursue those goals just as much as I encourage independent thought, standards in art (just as there are related standards in educational fair use and journalism), and standing up for yourself even when it may be unpopular, among other ideals. Getting to work with other artists who excel at the art of creating art to such insightful and weighty ends is the type of filmmaking that's as much a privilege to me as a walk on the moon is to an astronaut. When I watch the short I see the personality of each artisan working in harmony throughout the arc of the piece.
Today Collin and I will finish up the edit and later in the week I will have the video encoded for distribution. In the meantime, I'll be planning the online release. These will be an exciting few weeks, and I'll be very glad to have you be a part of the launch. This is about your role in this project and story.
We've made a professionally produced piece of art+commentary together. Part of my dream was to have a community like this (ballsy, team players united by individuality) and to be able to share the ideals present.
I will send you information about the virtual event launch as soon as all is prepared. On your end, please prepare to support the launch (assuming you dig the short, of course) and to send the short to your network of family, friends and press in order to help the project and also share the spirit of the work. We fired our publicist, after all, and rightly so: Thus it's up to us now.
I want to be that girl, pausing to run her foot through stratospheres of the shallow section at dusk; like I haven’t just been in all day—one last taste, the 20 minutes before closing. Clothes dripping from my clinging suit underneath, light hair matted back with wet ponytail, waning pinks blues and greys as the day goes all faint and dim and watercolors. The public pool is emptier now; there is less background splash and squeal, quieter and cooler. I have on a long sleeved t-shirt and mesh boy shorts that pass my knees. Oversized suits me. The bleached friendship bracelet around my ankle limp, soaked and faded by time—it’s not from anyone in this place: A chain from the past. The wild sting of chlorine as my eyes wrestle with the residue of sterile and chemical and unnatural. I’m tan. The life guard passes behind me, a flash of red crossing my background as, trotting by, I stop at the corner of the pool, glide my foot through the water's forces, dripping, look up to you on the deck to see what you said from the cater-corner as we both move to approach the point where the corner of the pool, and we, meet, laugh. I am eight, I am skinny and scrawny but athletic, I swim like a fish but don’t much care for 100% perfect technique or if my instructor frowns because I’m having a laugh in class. My only worry is my friends being catty or dramatic and cliquey at a sleepover or misunderstanding something I say or maybe my mom not letting me do what I want to do or go where I want to go because I am actively avoiding chores. These are the limited politics of the time, and already this amount of politics bothers me. I spend hours with headphones on and music playing thinking about these tragedies. You are one of my newer friends. I only see you at the pool for swim lessons but we come early or swim after with one of the other girls or whoever wants to play. The boys don’t cheat at any of the games and no one’s a gossip. We say what we want to say. Think what we want to think. Disagreements aren’t disagreements at all. Misinterpretations don’t exist even though we talk underwater and have upside down tea parties. If we're wronged in some way we just go our own way swimming away to the deeper places. The pool is a huge sea with room for everyone. We defy all the ropes and boundaries. There is no clique. I am in no clique. I don’t need to mind angling it up so that we are all in the same group for our Social Studies project. I don’t need to mind if you sit by someone else at lunch. We don’t need bracelets or matching lunchboxes or keeping people out to say something about how it is. If you don’t like what I say that’s fine, if you want to hang out with someone else, that’s fine: I’ll just float on my back or hit the slides until it comes that we’re both doing the same thing again, together, diving board, deep end, gravity defying handstands! We don’t go to the same school. I can’t even remember school. We are who we are. The smell of chlorine is there, but it’s faint. There is still water. There’s still time. The bracelet is wearing away. I am eight and this feels like freedom. I hang on to it and never look back.
In the past our BSG discussions have been epic, so I'm starting a new comments string for Season 4.5 and will refresh it as we go (and perhaps bump it to the top now and again).
The Face of the Enemy
Sometimes a Great Notion
A Disquiet Follows My Soul
Blood on the Scales
Someone to Watch Over Me
Islanded in a Stream of Stars
Daybreak Part 1
Daybreak Part 2
You might have seen the previous episode featured on YouTube today. Coincidentally, Rob and I were both on-air Teens talent for AOL, so when I saw him pop up in the first episode it totally threw me for a loop. Despite the connection, this is the first time we've ever appeared in the same video.
At the end of the summer a Wingman tipped Epic Fu off to Artemis Eternal. I went from not knowing Steve and Zadi, to being interviewed as "The Fu of the Week." Consequently they became Wingmen and were a part of the LA Wingmen shoot. When they asked if I was interested to participate in Hacking Hollywood I was, of course, stoked to give it a go and see what they would create.
I'll also be on the next two episodes, which will air Tuesdays.
We've just launched "Operation Woodchuck": An evolution in the Artemis Eternal Experience. Give it a spin and let us know what you think!
The name Woodchuck is simply a random inside joke. Unfortunately operation Iraqi Freedom was already taken, so we had to resort to relying on words from cliché tongue twisters in order to mock the random names media companies assign to their project rollouts. I told Greg he can name our next operation since I named this one. It's only fair.
One of the benefits of having a Wingman on our side named The Professor is that when we require an epic, Jeffersonian "So Say We All" mission statement for our Declaration of Film Independence, we know who to call. He can also take apart the engine in your car and put it back together again whilst complaining to you about poor quality beers and teas. (So don't try any of that bullshit wimp grocery store Earl Grey around here, got it?)
Please enjoy this draft of The WINGMEN Manifesto authored by The Professor and then offer your feedback. I'd like to know your initial response, ideas and criticisms as well as what you think a few days from now once you've had more time to mull the construction over. We will then, with your assistance, re-draft our common purpose. Please know that no comment is too large or small, and please comment by Wednesday.
And with that, I call into session the 2nd Wingman Continental Congress.
We are the Wingmen: An army of techies and nerds, gymnasts and fighters, archers and pirates, ninjas and writers. We come from all worlds, all walks, from every coast and country to lend our voice to a single artistic project that rejects the standard order, however established and comforting that order may be.
And while we may have a leader, we follow an ideal: that films should be a covenant between filmmaker and audience in which the message is pure, direct, and unfiltered. The specter of commercialism has long hung over the film industry, but of late it has evolved into a fog of bureaucracy and materialism, of plastic cups and bad advertisements. The artist is obscured, and the audience is force-fed cheap ideas devoid of any purpose. There is no truth, no depth, in something so manufactured, and it must end.
We want to see film taken to the streets engendered with the passion of a community, not puppeted by the strings and fingers of a select few studios wealthy enough to pull them. Our ideas, our time, our talents—we’re prepared to give all to support the creation of art on our own terms. We don’t expect this battle to be quick or easy, and we demand the best from the artists we’ve chosen to lead the charge. So call us irrational. Taunt us with history, mock us with dogma and tradition, and scoff as you will. We will raise our Aurums as one and press on.
We are the Wingmen. Among us there can be no wimps.
Update: Thanks for all of the feedback! We're currently revising.
Yes, we fired our publicist for not performing. Yes, in one week you have already done more than, and better than, she or the firm did over the course of months. Yes, I have an example of Wingman publicity pitch superiority:
February 13, 2009
The Colbert Report
I’d like to propose a guest for The Colbert Report, Jessica Mae Stover. Ms. Stover
is a filmmaker and writer, and her film Artemis Eternal and its radical development
process will make for the perfect interview with Mr. Colbert. I’d like to briefly
outline the project and its ingeniously simple and noteworthy development premise.
Artemis Eternal is an original science-fiction live action fantasy, professionally
led and of studio quality, conceived and written by Ms. Stover and currently in
preproduction stages. While it has minor vendor support from Kodak and Fortune 500
companies such as JetBlue, its development funding is audience generated.
Filmmaking is an extremely expensive technologically driven enterprise; no one
before has gambled like this and asked the film-going community to man up in this
way. Artemis Eternal has a huge web presence helping grow this grassroots approach
to film. The primary website is award winning and has been profiled on numerous
other news media sites; it serves as an all-encompassing experience for the
I am the person everyone in entertainment is supposedly trying to reach; Hollywood
scrambles for my money, my time, and my demographic ratings. Yet time and again
they mock me by throwing The Love Guru and its ilk in my face. Ms. Stover allows us
all to be Medici’s and commission the entertainment we want, rather than being
force-fed “entertainment” like Beverly Hills Chihuahua . She has taken aims to
change this system, and as such, she will always have the support of the film-loving
As you said during the July 2008 Aspen Ideas Festival regarding new media and the
campaign: if Jon Stewart is “shooting pellets at politicians and the main stream
media… Stephen is the pellet.” In this instance, Ms. Stover is the pellet being
shot at corporate conglomerate controlled film. We, the fed-up fans, are pulling
Grabbed TS aside during the Artemis Eternal Hollywood Wingman Shoot and on the fly we shot a few stand ups for the site. Yes, stand ups for a website. I also made a trailer for my book. (You loved it.)
Click through for HD and download for iPod.
Of course you're obviously not on the "official experience." You must click the link to, you know, experience that.
"All 12 chapters of the story are here nearly 5 hours spanning everything from the mysterious demise of the Comedian to the crisscrossed destinies of loosely allied superheroes to their fateful impact on the world..."
Warner Premiere has given me four of the new WATCHMEN: The Complete Motion Comic DVD to give away. Since Dave Gibbons oversaw this project, I know there's a good chance fans of the novel (including myself) will want to watch.
I just received the DVDs today and since I'm in post on The WINGMEN short related to ARTEMIS ETERNAL, I haven't had a chance to view. Regardless, I want to get them to you before they are released on March 3rd. And there's also this: I'm going to screen the actual live action movie tomorrow, so I guess you could say I'm in the spirit of the franchise.
Like I said I have four DVDs to giveaway. I'm not a fan of wacky contests and some such that require you to make a video or go on some kind of virtual scavenger hunt, thus, if you'd like one, all you do is simply,
- comment a few lines (save time/keep it succinct) on your thoughts about the themes in WATCHMEN and why you think the story resonates with so many people. It's fine if you haven't read the novel yet. I just read it for the first time last month. This is open to current and potential fans.
- then link to something neat art/culture/movie you've found on the Internet lately
- include an e-mail address where you can be reached
When I return from the screening tomorrow afternoon I'll pick the comments I like best as winners. And hey, even if you don't win, we'll have some interesting gems to share via the URLs you curate and your thoughts on the story. In that way everyone's a winner! /afterschoolspecial
I plan to mail these to the (actual) winners on Saturday. I will admit that I'm a sucker for haiku. Good luck.
GIVEAWAY PERIOD IS NOW CLOSED Winners can be found in comments.
So fun, so tired; what a night! That's a wrap on the LA shoot. Thank you to LA & DC WINGMEN and all WINGMEN worldwide for contributing your skills to the shoot, being generous in sharing your personality and for saying "yes" to making this extraordinary piece of our story happen. Production on The WINGMEN short has been a remarkable feat - something that WINGMEN worldwide have made happen together - and something I'm so pleased to have had the opportunity to collaborate on with you specifically. It's a rare thing for a filmmaker to be able to work with their friends, family and larger audience in this way and I appreciate your time, patience, ability and energy both on the set and throughout the overall journey of this project; wherever you may be. Thank you for trusting me.
As I write this, it's 2AM. @cselders (editor) is transferring the tapes and says the footage is excellent and Greg just sent me secret files for the 1.1 evolution of The Artemis Eternal Experience. We are in full motion, people. And somehow we managed to get our DP @bradskiles out of here by midnight, which was the goal (and some sort of production record).
Meet some, but not nearly all, of your LA-metro area rebel WINGMEN, crew for The WINGMEN short and cast of Artemis Eternal. If you'd like to join us in creating sci-fi/fantasy film and confronting media politics, then man-up for movies by visiting the official site for the film! (No wimps.)
Funny night featuring loads of LA pals I adore. Leah, Dan and Kent pictured here. We took part in raising money for a global clean water initiative and in the same swoop got to hang out and misbehave in the balconies of an interesting old theater downtown. Glad that someone was responsible and had a camera ready! Also glad that Dan is not so good at betting on who may or may not be a Cylon on Battlestar Galactica. (The result of this was win for me, of course.)
I saw my apartment; I was a camera above the light fixture over the two-seater table, I was a camera level with the two-seater table, I was a camera, floating over the loft railing to the living area below… except it wasn’t my apartment. In my dreams my apartment is always better, although in life this is not important to me.
For being new and modern on the inside, this apartment of mine had aspects that spoke the contrary. An old mudroom led to a country-esque backyard space revealing that the exterior of the building was a muted blue and as old as a picturesque country barn.
Around the back of this structure, where I exited through the mudroom to the yard, which can only be described as rural, was a narrow back area lined on both sides with chain link fences. To the right existed two gates leading to adjoining properties. An unseen but heard dog behind gate number two was barking at a couple of rather large, aggressive squirrels, which opened the door to the apartment mudroom next to mine, to the right—on my right, and entered casually. The owner was used to this sort of thing, and skirted them out. I however found this behavior in squirrels far more unusual and unwanted.
I continued past the pale English grasses curving to my left around the side of my building where there ran a deep, milk chocolate-like mud that filled the side yard between wall and fence. Jeans already rolled up to my knees, I was innately prepared and waded in on impulse, the building now fully on my left, but this mud—it grew deeper than I had judged. Past my knees, really. I’m sorry to report that my jeans were muddied and I did not mind.
Nearby my landlady, a younger version of herself from the '70s that I have never known, sat a foot above the slow mudflow on a narrow side patio with deep steps. Sitting profile on the lowest un-muddied step, legs bent in front of her, back leant against the wall, she was talking on her cordless. She raised an eyebrow, but said nothing to me as I passed; one slow, exaggerated, wading step at time. Then another. Pressing onward. The present moved at a regular pace; it’s simply that given the consistency of the space I was maneuvering, I could not.
Then as I turned to wade back toward my mudroom origin, then came the Rottweiler. He joined me and, recognizing him, I veered us right, going closer toward the building where the mud was not quite so deep, next to the foundation, my dog-friend on my left.
I put my hand under his collar because there were leash laws in those parts and I thought this would suffice. Of course he isn’t the sort of dog that requires a leash but one must keep up appearances. He didn’t like this, that was clear, but he didn’t stop me as he could have easily done. A steady hand on his great neck also helped me to get through, him having a less difficult time of it because of his weight or paws or gentle step or some other dream science
So we walked toward the back in what was to be the final shot of this sequence; mud slicking the foreground, a thick molasses-like mud, the mottled blue walls of the building to our right, paint peeling from the wood underneath, a chain link fence to our left and ahead our vision filled with evening grasses and, down slope, a willow tree.
We walked in silence. Why did I live there? I cannot tell. But the dog—no matter the dream, no matter the form—he is always my friend.
After the Summer update you guys sent in a bunch of lo-fi footage. As a prelude to our hi-fi, Winter HD project, here is a look back on The Story so Far (or, further) up through Autumn featuring your images and voices!
When Greg and I collaborate, we typically do so remote. Fortune would have it, however, that he has family in Los Angeles and is sometimes in town for other work. In that way prior to a project we typically get a few hours in the same geographical location to brainstorm and sketch. Or maybe it’s that we come up with new, more ambitious projects whenever we are together. In truth it is probably a combination of those forces, and more. What’s important here is that we always finish and deliver what we set out to do, from JSDC redesign and logo to concept art to, well, whatever visions may come.
Until a week or so ago I hadn’t seen Greg since last year. At that time I told him my initial ideas for what needed to happen with ARTEMIS ETERNAL, and how I had an idea for a tree-type thing (now a map) that would illuminate the process. I was broken down at the time, ground down to dregs and shadow, and spent half the night explaining how hard it would be to approach the project that way and laying down the fact that I doubted I had the strength to take on something so spirit-driven. In fact I was certain that I did not.
Greg sparked to my initial idea. In fact he never does anything that doesn’t interest him. He drove me to the grocery store, we shopped, made dinner and talked about the idea more and more and then decided to go forward. Then we bypassed a roof and on the spur of the moment arranged a photo.
Launching the ARTEMIS site last winter was an incredible challenge and a strain. We did it over a month’s time, over the winter holiday. Wireframes, repeated late-night phone calls as we both traveled, carving light out of darkness... that process was stressful enough that it very nearly broke our creative fellowship.
Then I ended up with a black eye. No, not from G, but I’m sure if at that time I were positioned in one of those dunking booths or the like, he would have gladly taken a go.
Even though there are huge amounts of geographical space between us and in reality Greg and I have spent less than a few full days in one another’s physical presence, we’ve been through a lot together. What I’ve essentially done – and rightly so – is trusted him with the keys to all the portals of my life.
I simply don’t think I would exist anymore if I hadn’t had the opportunity to work and grow with Greg.
Greg was just here in Los Angeles and we spent a whole day together drinking coffee, doodling, catching up and thinking of things you will love and weighing whether or not we have the resources to create those works and evolutions. Some are necessary; all are beautiful. Greg is of course (among all the other things he’s party to) working on his personal projects. Currently his focus is his interactive space opus, Experience the Planets. I will be sure to link that here again once it is published online. I mean, it says “planets” in the title so all nerds everywhere will rejoice. I know this about us.
In the meantime, as I mentioned, Greg was here. He took a few a photos of me. From the rooftops last winter and being crushed by the city, to pulling the fragments back together and reflecting on the past year… yes, we have been through it; some parts thick and some thin. Our journey started years before that, too; with TSL development.
It is possible to pull away from something dark,
Even if that dance is slow at the start.
Although the plot has been a long time in the execution, the ARTEMIS ETERNAL project site has not even been live one full year. Already much has come to pass that I could not have foreseen. The road remains difficult, but also lovely, and the potential is endless. I'll do everything in my power and fall short of a goal, then turn around to find myself suddenly presenting at Comic-Con. I'll lay a great, fool-proof leg of the plan only to be thwarted by something like (exactly like) the unprofessionalism and foolishness of a rather notable publicity firm. (Let us FACE! them hardcore by achieving unheard levels of awareness for our The WINGMEN short.) Things remain fluid. We revel and commiserate, we celebrate, we roll up our sleeves and we evolve. Yesterday I shot off arrows and talked ARTEMIS with Leah and Mahalo Daily, who we met at Comic-Con thanks to some WINGMEN. Tomorrow, our plan is solid, but the nuances change within that framework. In this universe you control the tides and equip us to do things that others cannot, or will not. Before Barack Obama was running for President we were singing songs here about possibility and change and backing it with fresh attempts and vision, and unprecedented blueprints. It has been hugely affirming to watch those ideals play out high profile on the American political stage.
What we’ve accomplished together is already extraordinary. I was telling Greg on the phone this weekend that The WINGMEN community has just crossed the threshold where we have high enough numbers and enough diversity that we can actually get things done, together.
At this point I’m able to announce that from start to finish everyone, including all of the talented film professionals, working on the The WINGMEN HD short have been and will be (as we finish) 100% volunteer. These are “the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things." They are to be celebrated.
Everyone involved should be proud of that, but particularly Greg: Beyond myself, he is the person who has the greatest hand in every facet of ARTEMIS ETERNAL.
Universe be wary of the day we have the funding to have the time and resources to put into motion something so gorgeous it will wreck your soul. Until then, we’ll settle for melting your face with The Awesome whenever possible and with ARTEMIS ETERNAL in particular.
If you’d like to review progress via the last year in Scrolls, then visit the Recent Entries and start bottom to top.
Later that evening we recorded a bit of song in picture. In truth it was a late decision. I wrote the lyrics and it was recorded in the room with two lav mics (or perhaps a lav and a boom). Regardless, typically professionals record music and vocals in a recording studio, so what follows here, next, is very raw and when I planned things I did not intend to ever air the associated sound this way. In fact if we used any portion of the song, I planned to re-record and mix it in studio when we did the inevitable voice over. The track is also incomplete and unmixed. Unless you work in the industry, you probably don’t hear unmixed takes, much less unmixed takes that were captured in a huge room without appropriate microphones and acoustics. The sound exceeds these circumstances. Our vocalist is beauty queen Jacquelynne Fontaine and the guitarist is Joseph Spoelstra.
This is an untouched take of 1/4 of the verses recorded, lovely mistakes and all. Those familiar with ye olde original version of this song will perhaps recall the kind of riddle involved.
I like Jacque’s vocal take here; in the nuances on my stellar headphones, she sounds brave and yet occasionally admits sadness. And Joe is an interesting soul. Maybe you don’t know that all classical guitarists have long, sharp fingernails—like vampires, or Catwoman—but they do and I find that infinitely amusing, especially when Joe can’t button up his own coat. Beyond that, he has a quirky-cool sense of style. Technical ability is a necessity, but beyond skill what I’m always looking for in artist and crewmember is personality and individuality.
The latter part of the full day of shooting I spent representing the magical reality of what I had begun to envision for the ethos of ARTEMIS ETERNAL: where my mindset was, how I viewed the artistry and camaraderie of the existing team and, in a conversational interview-esque portion with Sean Bonner, building up my courage to think up concretely what I hadn’t yet thought up, what was to come next. I didn’t fully understand it at the time, but in hindsight I was skirting the edge of what would become the restructured project as it exists currently: far more ambitious and bold, and stronger in foundation with endless possibility built into every aspect of the construction.
When this shoot occurred it was early for us and I hadn’t begun doing press. Thus was there a void waiting to be filled in terms of sharing the message and information behind the approach to the film. I simply wanted to proceed with this non-fiction shoot creatively, as that’s really the only take on non-fiction that interests me. Shortly after this day CU@USC called and I suddenly had 30 minutes of produced and edited interview footage to run with. So instead of paying out to post what we’d shot, I ran the CU edit on The Internets and decided to wait for the time when it made sense to begin to work with our footage.
For a shoot day that was about the implications of creative and aspirational dreams and dreaming (as Bonner perfectly described it when he blogged his year in review) it was a dark and cool sort of shoot. The weather was overcast and there was a Londontown chill in the California air, and we were a small group in a rather large, empty Hollywood castle. Even then I found many of the metaphors appropriate. As I mentioned in my previous entry, we were tight on time. Furthermore, The Universe delighted in confronting me with the impossible task of last-minute conjuring an insurance certificate out of thin air. I succeeded, but I haven’t forgotten about that, The Universe.
* Untreated stills from first winter WINGMEN shoot.
You may recall the day and a half of shooting we did last winter. I understood that we had a need and desire to create this short ancillary to the actual film itself, but it was only this fall, late fall, that it became clear to me exactly when, what and why.
As I do the EDL for The WINGMEN short I of course have need to pull the footage from last winter alongside the footage from a few weeks ago. Here are a few stills from the half day, which I spent more documentary-style as a half day in my life in terms of ARTEMIS ETERNAL and where my thoughts were. This was before we had conceptualized or launched the project site linked in the previous sentence.
You won't be able to tell from these grabs but this is the highest quality footage we've shot to date. DP Chad Wilson handled the shoot. We first met when he shot one of my AOL shows. That particular show ended up being my favorite show, and Chad was so good (in fact too good to have been shooting for AOL) that I hung onto his card for a couple of years. Whenever I've been fortunate enough to work with him, I've been short on time and underfunded. He's an excellent professional and I'd really like the opportunity to free him up more if we work together again.
At this stage in our journey, I'm sure from the setting you can likely guess that the blur in the second still is Matt, stunt choreographer.
Maybe I will post here every single day this week. You don't know.
* Untreated stills from first winter WINGMEN shoot.
Subject: 42 West Client
From: "Jessica Mae Stover"
Date: Sat, January 10, 2009 1:00 pm
To: "Cynthia Swartz"
Read receipt: requested
Jessica Mae Stover here; filmmaker in Los Angeles. Over the course of the
fall I have been a client at 42 West for the film project ARTEMIS ETERNAL,
working with Rene Ridinger out of your firm's LA office.
I'm sure Susan has already informed you of how deeply 42 West has
mishandled our project and failed us, but as you were the partner who sent
me a welcome letter; I want to make sure that you understand how the
mishandling of our publicity has crippled myself, the film project and the
I'm attaching some of the e-mailed information sent to the firm over the
past week. Susan has expressed intent to make things as well as possible
and I am currently awaiting her recommendations.
This marks the latest correspondence I've had with our publicity firm, 42 West. I plan to reconstruct the facts on the ground for you; what has occurred from Comic-Con until now. Some of this information may be WINGMEN only. Allow me to make it clear that after months and over 12k billed they have delivered zero press as well as none of the pitches, tip sheets or other materials that were supposed to be submitted for approval. Any press that has occurred we have booked ourselves without any assistance from the firm.
In the least, this start illuminates some of my tweets you may have read over the past month.
Otherwise, I am working on the WINGMAN propaganda video. Plus (and awesomely), Greg was here this week and we began brainstorming an evolution for the ARTEMIS site. I'm sure you can imagine the work involved, which makes that a long term project. In any regard when Greg and I work together interesting and extraordinary things happen, so I'm glad for the possibility to do some new things with the online nexus of the project down the line.
Update: 42 West has messed up so royally that they have, as I requested, returned all of our funds to us. Our business with them is officially closed.
WINGMEN: Thanks to all of you who were there (so good to see you) and who watched live. I'll post the media (video/photos) from SMCLA once they are up on the Internets. Comments open below. Anyone get wasted off the "like"? I probably should have said "you know" a few more thousand times. You know, in the interest of your emptying your flask and all.
As foretold I've not much time on my end, but pausing to write that if you don't follow Twitter (what!?) then you'd like to know Wingman Central has a few photos from the DC shoot.
We're hitting the '09 ground running.
Tuesday night I'm sitting a film panel in Los Angeles. I believe it's streamed live if you can't attend. Details/RSVP here. I've received the talking points: Discussion will be robust and interesting. I cannot promise to behave myself (for reals).
We are looking for an editor for the renegade Wingman short/propaganda. E-mail me if interested: I'll be taking those inquiries and meetings ASAP.
WINGMEN, you will get a mailer from me (maybe a couple) as soon as I have what I need in order to send it and do it proper justice. Mostly I am lacking time and few informational points.
Yes, I am now in Virginia. You love it, Virginia loves it, lovers love it.
I am very, very slammed this season, mostly because of the renegade WINGMAN HD shoot we are putting on in nine days. What's neat about that is I will be seeing local WINGMEN soon! What's not so neat is that I'm not sure how much time I'll have to write in this space. My plan to do a wiley year in review multi-media entry has been supplanted by the epicness of our HD project. Thus there exists no beginning or end for me as the calendar appoints there should be; there is, instead, only so much to do, such things to be and forward motion with no time to stop. That’s a good thing, and please do feel free to join me.
And know that I will be tweeting like a mofo throughout the arc.
Monday I am doing a radio tour for ARTEMIS. If I ever get more information about that, then I’ll let you know. They are all pre-tapes so they should air Tuesday. Of course I could be wrong about that since I have little information at this point.
Here are links of things to know about and get going about exciting connect woo woo and all that is awesome here it comes BAM!--
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all readers, to all WINGMEN and to all who have assisted in ARTEMIS ETERNAL and my work over the course of this adventure. Extra special cheers to Greg Martin and Iain Edminster, the two gentlemen who help keep AAE.com and JSDC healthy. I am so fortunate and happy to have a kickass website / webcrew that enables me to share and connect with you in an independent, meaningful way.
This past weekend I unlearned important things by attending Glen E. Friedman's Idealist Propaganda opening at Shepard Fairey's Subliminal Projects gallery. (Those guys are wicked with titles.) Jason DeFillippo photographed the event and thus may you witness how rad the evening was even though you totally weren't there standing in the same room with Zach de la Rocha and failing to say something introductory to him such as, "Hi nice to meet you" or "Lights out! Guerilla radio! Turn that shit up!". You'll see Sean Bonner in the mix: of course I would not have been there if it weren't for Sean Bonner. In fact if you are ever fortunate enough to pass Sean Bonner on the street, in that moment you should do your best to inconspicuously touch him by knocking into him or tripping him or something just in case a smidge of his culture skills rub off on you.
James: hello deer
James: howdy do?
Jessica: I am very excited
James: do tell
Jessica: to see a photo
Jessica: of you with beers taped to your hands
Jessica: where was that photo when I wrote about it on JSDC! Jessica: oh man OBX Facebook photos
James: yes! it was such a great trip!
Jessica: I would have been v. upset if Funk and I's hard work re: hand taping went undocumented
Jessica: so guess what Facebook tried to buy Twitter and Twitter was all NO WAY
Jessica: so you should probably get on it already it's the future
James: I am not concerned with the future, unless it is zombie survival preparation
James: or getting rid of strangelets
Jessica: um have you even been on Twitter
Jessica: we talk about zombies ALL THE TIME
James: no I haven’t
Jessica: yeah well when the zombies come out
Jessica: Twitter will be the place to coordinate tactics
Jessica: this i promise u
James: you Twitterers will be on your own, while you have been blogging, I have been stockpiling guns and ammo
Jessica: um all of my blogger friends use blogs and Twitter to coordinate stockpiling guns and ammo
Jessica: and guns and roses
Jessica: so what are you even talking about JimmyYass
Jessica: anyway can I put that Beerssorhands pic on my site or what?
James: you can post whatever you like deerie
Yes, this past summer in NC I discovered a random roll of tape atop a dumpster and used it to tape beers to my friend’s hands with the help of our high school math teacher. So what I’m from Virginia deal with it.
The best is when I ordered a tequila shot for all of those people pictured and maybe me you don’t know and anyway how can you hold a shot if you’re Jimmy Beerssorhands? This is all part of his emotional life story and hurdles.
Then I met that guy in the background on the right and he's like, "Hey." And I was all, "Hey." And he says to me, all random and aside, "I stole some coasters from the bar. beat You want one?" And I was like, "Yes." Then we played tetherball over 'The Promise' while credits rolled the end.
I really have been all over lately. Pix don't lie.
This recent meet up was at The Roosevelt, a dark, Spanish-style hotel in Hollywood that for some reason I overlooked in the past despite its history (the first Academy Awards were held here). Just like any place, however, it's not The Fancy, but instead who you're with that makes the evening fun and thus was a strong start to what proved a rather chill night overall.
Wishing peace and joy in the new year, your friends at 42 West
I’m a member of FIND, Tisch’s acting department works through The Atlantic, which had a hand in my training and technique, and although I don’t know much about amfAR or Stand Up from personal experience, anything to do with legitimately treating, eliminating and coping with those diseases I’m all for. 42 West’s decisions chalk up to a healthy mix of arts, filmmaking (related) and support for solving global disease (crucial).
I’m also happy that 42 West sent this via e-mail and not hardcopy fanciness so that they didn’t waste paper and money on notifying clients. I don’t care about gifts and elaborateness and such; I care about the results from their services and the ethics behind the work.
I know many of your personal stories; I know that the issues related to the charities above strike close to many of our hearts and since we pay 42 West for services in elevating something else we care about (ARTEMIS), and they donated a portion of their income, I wanted you to know of the further realms that your money and goodness can reach through the lens of the work we chose to do together here.
We're all doing our best, with the best of intentions and the craft, tenacity and talent to back the ideals, restrained by the accountability to adjust when the occasion calls and an acute mindfulness of our growing role as influencers. Onward and upward we go.
If you follow me on Twitter, then you know I've been dashing around town every night networking and talking about ARTEMIS ETERNAL. This could be tedious if not for also getting to hang out with friends, crew and WINGMEN along the way (and of course getting to screen films much of the time, too). Last night was unusually new-media centric: Todd and I attended Tubefilter's meet up, passed up a magazine holiday party because the outside of The Roxy was a zoo and followed a trail of text messages that lead to Leah. It all ended with us standing on a corner in Hollywood at 1 AM debating the merits of The Fountain (Todd, you will come to love that movie) and quoting Napoleon Dynamite (yes, still, GOSH). Also, Kent Nichols impressed me by drinking more water than any person I have ever met. Something to do with him being very tall. And Ninjas.
I’m afraid this entry isn’t very well edited, mostly because I’m overscheduled, busy and behind, and the energy wasted on untangling entanglements is always a horrible drain, but just so you know: I had a secret boyfriend and he broke up with me while he was out of town on Thanksgiving via text message. Yes, VIA TEXT MESSAGE.
ON A HOLIDAY.
Then, 12 hours later, I boarded a plane to San Francisco for the first time ever because I have great friends who last-minute fished me the heck out of a recipe for sad holiday stew.
Then, the secret ex-boyfriend called and undid it all the next day and just assumed that we were together without even asking me. But I did feel a little better. Because I liked him. Or at least what was presented to me as him at the time.
Then, he pretty much didn’t text or communicate with me normally after that: A strange way to behave after a colossal fuckup.
Then secret ex-boyfriend and I small talked long distance and he talked about talking face to face when he returned so he could un-do the meanness in person because apparently it is possible to do a complete 180 twice over the course of a few days and want to get back together even though he isn’t that into me and that has something to do with his “logic.”
Six months is the point where I think you’re really in deep enough to get doused hardcore, depending on the relationship of course, and I wasn’t that far in; at least there is that.
But yes, VIA TEXT MESSAGE.
And if I had let it go on, I might have gotten that far in. I think most girls would have.
Guess what? He made me be the one to finally say, when we both got back to town Sunday night, you’ve left me no choice I’m walking away from this blah blah blah, tears, exit, he really ought to be ashamed I can now see why people are afraid to invest in other people but I’m not afraid of anything, really.
Even when it stings.
And it was young, but this one stings.
Of course I said all that in person to his face even though I had been treated poorly--which is tough on anyone's pride--and it was incredibly difficult for me to even stand there, in public, and break off what he had technically already kinda broken off (but had just told me he hadn’t). Mostly I did it to his face and not via text message or phone or fake-in-hindsight poem he wrote me two weeks ago on a postcard or via any other screen because I am not a ridiculous coward.
Oh and I’m pretty sure he first un-friended me on Facebook before calling me a few hours ago at midnight to apologize about the whole ordeal in order to make himself feel better while explaining, not in person, that he never wants to not be friends with me.
All tongue-in-cheek aside, obviously this saddens me and I feel incredibly duped. I’ve been so sad that I haven’t been able to help but Twitter the whole thing in bursts, but just in case you’ve missed all that along with this week’s episode of ‘The Hills’ and want a reminder of what it’s like to date someone with the emotional intelligence of Spencer Pratt; well then there’s this entry.
I’ve been through a long-term relationship, so I’ve rather experienced a good run of the mill: From being in love to having my heart smashed and all the lovely and challenging nuances between. I was young, but I lived it well and am so fortunate to have had a good, first serious boyfriend who set the bar high and everything after (except this) has followed suit. I’m also proud of myself for not being afraid to go through that and for making good choices in general. I’ve never been truly broken up with, though, nor have I ever had someone change so quickly, lie so easily or treat me disrespectfully not to mention end something this way. It’s been shocking. I go back and forth between missing the friend/secret boyfriend I lost to just being rather sad that anyone would ever care so little as to treat someone that way. The latter always makes me feel like it’s hard simply to be alive in a world like that, and then it all sticks in the chest and burns pretty deep to the point you can’t even cry. Thus, no new lessons learned; for the first time this marks a step back for me in the relationship department.
C.Sto says you learn something from all things, and wisdom says I have to agree because I’m pretty sure I said that to her when she bravely broke off a relationship years back, so I’d say what I really took away was a true appreciation for my non-Virginia friends (as well as my Virginia friends who I’ve known since grade school). I’ve been in LA for a few years now and the majority of the time I feel absolutely alone. From the pollution to the lack of humanity, this city literally kills people. If you live here and you have family or a significant other or anyone who you can fully trust unconditionally and rely on, then hang on tight as you are fortunate.
As opposed to artist’s angst, career setbacks and the general beating the dreamer takes in the world - a.k.a. the things that cut me even more deeply - even minor broken hearts are something all people understand. Like I said, my friends, comrades and WINGMEN have been wonderful. Thank you to everyone who reached out to me, fished me out and hung out. I’ve also noticed that I’m much more open now and less of a private sufferer in this department, and I think that has something to do with the writing and community on this website (and probably a little to do with performance maturity) that has occurred since the last go.
I am assuming that there is an anger phase, one that I’ve skipped by avoiding this situation previously by only associating with the chivalrous types, and if so, I am in that phase. This phase is slightly more acceptable than the feeling-like-someone-died phase.
The useful thing about not writing about some aspects of your personal life is that no one knows your secret boyfriend. Maybe that does make it easier. My family doesn’t even know his name. And, for once I can write about something close that has to do with someone else and have it remain anonymous. I simply wouldn’t if anyone knew who he was since I don’t much like to do that to other people as it is entirely inappropriate; no matter how much you agree or disagree with their actions. ...Or how much they adore you and tell you how much they care about you a mere week ago only to turn around and do, well, this.
Thank you for all the notes. I hear you. I hear you. And I feel I ought to apologize for the distraction. I promise to only fraternize with heroes and Ninjas from this point forward, as is typical.
Let me just put it on the table that I’m totally out of his league.
Plus I can beat him at every sport ever.
Sometimes the guy does get the girl, and sometimes he has no idea what to do when he does.
The Grizz: How’d everything turn out?
Jessica: It sucks. I’m sad.
The Grizz: Well, maybe he's dating someone else.
Jessica: (pause) Dad— (tears) …Dad you can’t say that. That was 100% not the problem. Why would you say that to me?
The Grizz: Well he might have been—
Jessica: I mean this shit happened like less than 12 hours ago, ok? You can’t say that; it’s terrible and mean.
The Grizz: Ah you’ll be ok, pick up your nunchucks and practice.
Jessica: What?—You have to speak up on cell to cell—What about chicken nuggets?
The Grizz: NUNCHUCKS! I SAID YOU’LL BE OK PICK UP YOUR NUNCHUCKS AND PRACTICE
The Grizz: Invite him over for a nunchuck faceoff.
The Grizz: Then sit down with a good book and a bottle of Jack Daniel’s. Make it happen, man. You’ll be fine. You’re a champ.
Jessica: Hi. I just talked to Dad and he’s all, “maybe he is dating someone else”, and I cried. Then he said something about chicken nuggets.
C.Sto: (giggling) Dad really can’t talk about that stuff. He doesn’t know what to say—He probably just said the first thing that came into his head
Jessica: Well, at least he can throw a football. If you’re going to be outwardly insensitive, you should at least be awesome at sports and stuff.
C.Sto: Yeah. Dad’s special.
Jessica: I don’t know why I always cry when talking about serious shit with Dad. (giggling) When Jake and I broke up after high school I told Dad in tears and he goes, “Well, young guys, they just don’t know what they want.” In hindsight that was actually pretty advanced for a The Grizz.
C.Sto: (giggling) Shockingly so.
Jessica: (giggling) He may have also offered me some Wild Turkey.
C.Sto: (giggling) From the "electrical parts" bag?
If you’re not familiar, TechCrunch is a weblog about technology and companies. Their Technorati rank is consistently #2, they have over a million feed subscribers and, thanks to a tip sent in by WINGMAN John, they were also one of the first influential sources to report on ARTEMIS ETERNAL. During said tip-off John coined the term “crowd-funding” in regards to ARTEMIS, and the word has been making the rounds ever since. The Crunchies are TechCrunch’s awards show and competition celebrating “technology and tenacity.”
I'm not obsessive about awards, but they are good for the project and I do like to see our team and community recognized for their hard work and extraordinary vision when fitting. So thanks to WINGMAN KL for the badge links above and please nominate happily before December 10th!
Professionally I like Fu-founders Steve and Zadi. They’re like-minded, and I’ve been a fan of EpicFu since the beginning of summer when I first began watching. In fact I happen to think that EpicFu is way better than things that are supposed to be edgy and cool like, oh say, MTV News. Plus, Zadi has a unique, calm energy about her that I’ve enjoyed watching in past interviews. Really nice to roll up in a sweatshirt and do something casual at the end of the day in a place that is a part of our story.
Lo-fi footage from the setup of our first press day. (The Facebook version is far better.)
(recommended: click through to watch in higher quality)
- The archer in camo shooting the compound I don’t know, but I’ve seen him on the field before at dusk
- Ron, the archer with the fancy recurve, is ranked #2 in the state
- Rene Ridinger, our publicist from 42 West
- The fellow hanging with me is Coach Rob Hanson, colleague of Coach Don Rabska (our Archery Master) at Easton Foundation, and now our additional archery consultant
It’s snowing ash at dusk in November. It was 92 degrees daytime, so today’s is a summer nightfall mixed with the excitement and relaxation of an unexpected snow day; the cause of both: heat. On the phone my sister announces that she’s purchased a townhouse. “Hold on,” I say, for there’s now a roar rising in my ears and the approaching sound of horns. Marching with anti-8 signs and bearing chants about civil rights come protestors down Sunset at sunset crossing Gower through the grey ashen eve. I whisper encouragements.
Then the barista says, “Jess, what are you going to do the rest of the weekend,” and smartly I say (without winking, because some faux-maverick has ruined winking forevermore—or at least for a good few months), “I’m going to enjoy this free latte.” And I pause to answer seriously, and falter because I don’t know what else I will do; really… “This is my weekend, you see” I clarify. “Your weekend?” “Yes I only get one a year and I pick this one, it's mine, and it isn’t at all what I expected it to be.“ Well congratulations on your weekend, then,” his grin is wide. “More like congratulations on YOUR weekend!” and mine is wider as I snigger nonsensically leaving the hot barista behind, twirling off into the falling twilight where there are rising lights and the darkening neighborhood smells like a woodstove. A regular outside the Gulch tips his cowboy hat in my direction so’s we can share a nod and everyone on the portal to another dimension’s patio is speaking about flames and tongues and burnouts as two lovers share a kiss on the threshold. There’s fire all around us, as this vampire drinks it in; the day in its beginnings.
One of my friends is a member of Cinefamily, and Cinefamily has programmed a series called “Space Junk” this month, and thus last night it came to pass that he took me to see a 35mm print of a Star Wars rip-off flick from ’79 called STARCRASH. This is the most hilarious movie I have ever seen in a theater ever. Do you know about the existence of this thing? I didn’t. We are talking a world where David Hasselhoff is Simon, the Emperor’s lost son, and “galactic troubleshooter” is an actual job. Also there’s something about a doom machine that emits imaginary monsters that make men go crazy(!). Still not exactly sure what that’s all about, but the visual effects consisted of compositing a picture of a phony star field with footage of a hot pink lava lamp in order to create the psychological effect of “the most powerful weapon in the galaxy(!)” making men go crazy(!), or something(!).
Anyway, Hasselhoff was an attractive youth. I know because I watched him fight interplanetary cavemen whilst wearing an energy mask. And then at one point some other guy is all like oh yeah so what you have robots I have a RIPOFF BRIGHT GREEN LIGHTSABER! Then he duels some robots.
Then he loses the will to live.
Then George Lucas gets them back a few decades later by ripping-off that nonsensical, unmotivated lost-the-will-to-live thing in Episode III.
Also, did you know you could jump out the window of any spaceship and do the breaststroke through outer space?
Tonight I showed up to demonstrate that I am not in favor of discrimination. You wouldn’t think you’d have to show up somewhere to do that, but apparently you do.
Here are some quick, late-night thoughts and images from the event.
The rally was powered by a serious, positive quality of energy. An orderly crowd listened intently; most looking for some hope, something that might help them rebound from the harsh reality that so many people across this state somehow view them as less-than. Strangers helped me to climb walls so that I could get a better view and coverage and, although it was hugely crowded, everyone was mindful and polite. The fact that this community of people has been put on the defense; has been forced to spend time and money urging the state of CA to vote “no” against someone taking away their rights constitutionally vs. “yes” to officially acknowledging those rights; has outraged me from the start.
The portion of the speech you are hearing is the only portion I witnessed that garnered boos. Statistically (depending on which resources you cite) over half of the funding for the discriminatory Proposition 8 campaign came from The Mormon Church. We’re talking millions and millions of dollars and a public campaign preached congregation to congregation. We’re talking propaganda full of lies and an instance of heavy influence. No matter how good an organization’s intentions are or the quality of their global congregation (many of whom are not at all pleased with these hateful shenanigans), at some point that organization is likely to become overzealous. Historically this has been an issue in many religions and The Mormon Church has clearly overstepped its bounds in this case. We live in a country that has a separation of church and state, period. Denying consenting adults the right to marry as their peers do is unconstitutional. The courts here have already ruled so, and will rule so again. In the future we will look back on this as we do the time when blacks and whites were prohibited from using the same water fountain, and the time when women were not allowed to vote. In the meantime, we wait for the poison of sexism, racism and other forms of persecution and discrimination to die out and fade in favor of what this country was founded on: ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL.
It’s a constant battle to live up to that ideal, even our founders struggled. But it’s a great ideal; one worth striving for everyday. And anyway I’m sorry to report that a church organization who has had some scandalous polygamy issues that were compared to “legalized slavery” as recent as the 20th century in such a way reminiscent of old skool Medieval Dark Ages might not go around wagging its moral tongue and undermining all the wonderful, legal, non-hateful qualities it’s modern members have to share and have shared, thankyouverymuch.
Hey also guess what homosexuality is way older than our constitution, so get over yourselves. Your ancestors were probably all homosexual with some other people’s ancestors. People have been gay and loving it for ages just like people have been non-gay and loving it for ages. You can’t own love just like you can’t own Jesus or marriage or whatever other ideal you want to own. Life really is unfair that way, but take it on the chin: I'm pretty sure you'll be fine.
And seriously bros, after all this time, after all these historical lessons; this entry should not be required. The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter how you feel about gays, gay sex or gay marriage just like it doesn’t matter how you feel about Catholics or Jews or strippers or divorcees or interracial couples or blondes or Eagles fans or people who are professional bakers and paint their fingernails blue: Just because you don’t agree with someone’s harmless opinion, innate qualities or personal lifestyle choices does not give you the authority to take their rights away. And just because someone else has the right to do something, well that doesn’t mean that you have to do it, or that it affects your pursuit of happiness. You are not being denied rights: You are the denier. Allowing fear to so overcome you that you would vote against love is a lot ridiculous. It’s unwise. It’s evil. I have yet to hear a worthy argument in favor of preventing gay marriage. (That’s because there isn’t one, really. No really; there isn’t.)
As a side note to those who typically do not care for the moments when I write political on JSDC: We have WINGMEN from the gay community. If anyone has a problem with that, then feel free to tap me on the shoulder and we can step outside.
So yeah, man, put it in the book: JSto; not a fan of discrimination.
The revolution is all around, happening now; where were you?
Headline: "World reaction to Obama victory: elation"
Headline: "California stops gay marriage amid Obama victory"
Headline: "Russia Warns of Missile Deployment"
Headline: "Markets fall sharply, erasing election day gains"
A note from M.Sto on Stover family news:
"Your Aunt A & Uncle J are moving back to VA. They are living with your cousin right
now. J lost his job. He's working at an autobody shop now and
A was able to transfer to a Cracker Barrel out here. They
will probably take a loss on their home in TN."
I should note that they are in their 60s and my aunt suffered a stroke a couple of years back.
"Uncle Sonny just got a job driving a school bus
because the auto glass shop went bankrupt back in August. A huge
contractor went bankrupt owing them $200,000 and that forced them
into Chapter 7."
I can't imagine my uncle driving a school bus. He and my aunt have always done well enough for themselves via the shop he worked for. They had a beautiful country house with a load of acres, swimming pool; everything. He's also older and is a Vietnam veteran. I know there are similar stories and personal setbacks all over the country; it's hard news to hear.
Most of that side of my family probably voted McCain. Prior to Obama winning the Democratic candidacy, one of my cousins told me rather forcefully that Barack Obama was a Muslim terrorist and then went on to accuse me of being anti-American for stating that, factually, that actually isn't true.
Regardless, we're all in this together. Families, communities (IRL and virtual), the nation and the world...
It's a glorious day, yet still much work to be done. Roll up your sleeves.
My friend Sean Bonner(aka Sean-Ra) was married today. There might have been a Transformer involved. I was too busy attempting to not mess up the video footage of their wedding to capture photographical evidence of possible robots in disguise, but I do have a few snapshots from beforehand.
The best weddings are those that suit and share the couple’s personality and story and all of Sean & Tara's Hallowedding events have done just that. Congrats, twitluvahs!
Updates: - More photos from the Hallowedding on @fejsez's flickr. Oops--Bits and pieces of me everywhere video-ing. I'm sure that was fun for everyone who was trying to capture a clean shot of the wedding superstars.
After you work on camera for a certain amount of time, you develop a sense for when a lens is trained on you. Or perhaps it has to do with acting or sports or martial arts; all of which make you sensitive to someone pointing their intention in your direction. Humans have this sensibility innately, anyway: It’s related to survival. You simply must be still enough to react to the impulse.
Just shy of midnight a few nights ago I was sitting at Starbucks with one of my friends when, without thinking, I looked over to my right on impulse subconsciously searching for—yep, a professional lens aimed at me from the sidewalk on the other side of the storefront glass; I knew there had been something. I slid my hand over my face and hunched subtly so that my friend never suspected that there was an alternate storyline occurring underneath the narrative he was verbally recounting. I didn’t particularly think the photag was paparazzi because I wasn’t with anyone insanely famous, however I didn’t particularly care to find out or have my photo taken. You see - or you will see, I should say - that I had no makeup on and was already hiding behind my wardrobe. A moment later I glanced back over, which begins the story of how I will show you the photo in the first place. At that point I saw the photographer was not alone: He had a female companion who was laughing kindly as he rose from the outside tables to come inside. Of course this all indicated that it was an amusing misunderstanding that he intended to clarify.
He apologized for disturbing me, gave me his card, showed me the photo on his camera and offered to delete what he had captured. The thumbnail looked fine and, even if it wasn’t; most of my face was obscured. I wearily told him it was no problem and that I was of course always glad to meet artistic photographers and fine artists, and that I understood very well why he was looking for natural street subjects. I do like photography that is truthful, after all. And I do I hope I wasn’t unfriendly: I was so very tired at the time.
My friend was processing what had come to pass in that brief, non-verbal, through-glass-and-lens exchange, but by then it was all over and I was so day-worn and my hands were aching so much from a sports injury that I can hardly remember what we talked about next, much less what happened after we left.
I did, however, e-mail photographer Oleg Volovik to thank him for introducing himself that night. He replied,
“Here is the photograph of you, it turned to be a bit funny at the end point, something like wearing a mask against paparazzi :) Of course, I'm not going to use it anywhere, it's just for you.
I looked at your sites ... Well, I'm speechless ... The only thing I can tell you right away is if for any reason I could be helpful in your projects that would be just a pleasure for me.
Snap! Despite my defenses he did get me, but I'm not sorry about it.
I recognize that it is cool when an artist thinks you interesting enough to attempt to form some moment out of your natural clay, and of course anytime another artist e-mails me about ARTEMIS I’m rejuvenated. There is a shared Hollywood counter-culture here that excites me.
Jessica: Did you send me your Wingman clips yet?
Jessica: (annoyed snort) C.Sto: (whining) I don’t feel like putting on makeup to do it.
Jessica: Well I hope you never run for office because every time you need me to show up at one of your little political rallies I’m going to be all, “No, I don’t feel like putting on makeup to attend because I’m a huge wimp-sissy-girl.”
C.Sto: Have you ever seen ‘Black Sheep’?
Jessica: That Chris Farley movie? Yeah...
C.Sto: OK so you see where I’m going with this.
C.Sto: (hysterical laughter) Jessica: You are so lucky I'm not within arm's reach of you right now.
"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root, and it may be that he who bestows the largest amount of time and money on the needy is doing the most by his mode of life to produce that misery which he strives in vain to relieve." - Henry David Thoreau
From my Inbox, because, well, who doesn't like honest moments and kind words?:
“I saw you accidentally on Friday late in the morning outside of Starbucks. You had on a sweatshirt, skirt, leg-warmers and ballet slippers and looked like you were in a bit of a hurry, so I’m certain it was you.
I stopped for a split-second because I thought I knew you personally before it quickly dawned on me that I knew you from your work. Then I hurried on because I didn’t want to look like nutcase.
Someone dropped their change on the sidewalk and you had stopped, crouched and picked it all up for him and handed it to them, and you looked up a minute which was just the second I was passing and also the second when I was processing why you were familiar. Exactly then you looked up right at me - probably because I was staring - and grinned really wide - it was authentic.
I might be wrong, but it looked like you had no makeup on and you have very pretty blue eyes. It struck me as the most beautiful thing I’ve seen recently. As I walked away I could hear the stranger thank you and you laughed. As I unlocked the door to my car, I heard you in passing greet about four to five old men sitting outside. I’m assuming they are neighborhood regulars. One of them said after you went in, “She’s a smart gal, so I always hold the door for her.”
You were much lighter in step than I would have expected from some of my lurking here. I should have said hi but it happened fast and the world seemed to be your element. Plus, I’m a bit shy. Even this e-mail was hard for me to write because it probably sounds silly, but consider me no longer the shade but a Wingman. Sorry it took me so long. I know that none of us are perfect and I would never expect that, but I am convinced you are an extraordinary artist. JSDC seems to frame you well.”
. . .
Last night someone made me laugh so hard I couldn’t speak (not an easy thing to do, mind you). It reminded me of every dear friend I’ve had, and my sister. My eyes were shut, for the laughter, but everything I saw was soul-splitting gorgeous stars and color for a few moments—I couldn’t even really laugh audibly I was shaking for the hilarity. I thought just then, for I always think of work, if I could film that moment as a piece of story; the whole world would be a better place. There have been many clear moments like that, for me. It's why I haven't quit. It's why I still listen to music.
It's why I still work at making new friends.
It's why I still refuse to build art that is high-minded, progressive and pure with money or partners that undermine everything to do with beauty and improvement.
I have reported in the past that lux is a state of being that glows inside-out, not a cosmetic that can be bought and applied outside-in. I am not a great example, I'm afraid. But I do try. Everyone I like to be around has that characteristic in some unique measure; they likely have no idea, but they do. It's a quality of light that I enjoy watching unfold; even if only in quick bursts. I know for sure that this quality can be innate, and, it can fade away.
We may not always, or ever, be able to be all things to all people, but sometimes we can be something to someone.
I will try to smile more.
What’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?
(If you say a plastic bag, you will be criticized.) ;-)
Chief Tyrol first recommended The Lucifer Effect to C.Sto and I last year while we were in Seattle. Tonight I discovered a free essay on 'Resisting Influence' published via the book's official site. The essay is applicable to what we are doing with ARTEMIS ETERNAL and is also timely in thought given moments like these (via HuffPo) this election year. The book itself I've been meaning to look at for some time now; the subject interests me greatly. On the topic of influence, I also recommend 'Propaganda' by Edward Bernays (Freud's nephew) who was skilled at manipulating the public and engineering consent.
With the ARTEMIS project, I'm constantly asking myself how I can rally and organize a community around ideas of decentralization and independent thought without inadvertently creating a situation that is exactly what I'm against (blind conformity, group think, etc.).
What philosophical questions do you battle with? What questions capture your imagination?
This week we’ve officially begun to work with 42 West on publicity for ARTEMIS ETERNAL!
In a previous Wingman mailer I illustrated the nuances and strategies to seeking such an alliance (first mentioned in the end-of-summer vid), so of course I won’t go into it here just in case any wimps are lurking about in hopes of unearthing our illegal movie secrets that aid us in being awesome, much less SO AWESOME.
After I have something to report, Wingmen will get a breakdown from me much like the one from Comic-Con, except totally different.
As of now the relationship is new and there is much to be done. I’m excited and looking forward to both the work involved and the results in terms of elevating our story. Thank you for your ongoing, active support, and for making the relationship possible in the first place. All Wingmen are active partners in this extraordinary adventure and this is an important and interesting mile-marker for us; an opportunity that (as you can tell by the map) was not in the original plan.
I'd like to point out that you don't have to be privileged to go to Europe. You simply have to be smart and/or make your education or travel and exploration a priority.
The only time I didn’t work during school was the time I spent studying in Europe. I came back from it pretty much flat broke. I was a better person for it; it’s one of the most important things I’ve done.
With all the jumping school-to-school Palin did during her weaksauce faux-pursuit of higher education, she could have studied abroad or gone abroad.
I know comparatively Americans are privileged and that it is all relative, but in comparison to Sarah Palin I was not privileged at all and I am especially not now.
The mere fact that she even is allowed air time that might reach and sway anyone infuriates me so much that I can’t help but be nitpicky about all her various levels of fail.
Not that I feel having gone to Europe or abroad is some indication of a person’s wisdom: There is a great wisdom to traveling locally and exploring the cultures and worlds so often overlooked in your own backyard. And heck, I'd view travel as one of the benefits to the VP job if I were up for it.
But these are not the things that Sarah Palin is made of. Her mind is small and ethnocentric.
These are the things that dangerous and ruin are made of.
And it does change you; traveling. Exploring. Experiencing. It evolves your humanity in valuable ways. I think John McCain could attest to that as would Barack Obama, in both similar and different ways. This world is made up of both big and small, near and far and even being a avid reader is not a substitute for going there yourself. Not that I think Palin is a avid reader; her vocabulary and limited knowledge indicate the opposite. She's an avid repeater. And she's not even that good at that.
To the chase: She says the stupidest shit ever to the point that I literally feel sorry for John McCain in that he has to talk to her so frequently and suffer the shame of her public interviews. Then I remember HE IS THE ONE WHO PICKED HER and how serious the implications of this bit of theater are and I worry very deeply.
I know some of my BFFs have never voted and I really urge you guys to register and vote this year. In fact I think it will say a great deal about how you view yourself, your neighbors and the world if you don’t. I can’t say it any plainer. Step it up, friends.
I took some of my awesome, growing, posse of boys to a launch party for a show put on at a museum last night. It's becoming a running joke that everywhere I go now it's me + 4 of my guy friends. Or maybe it's them +1 J.Sto tomboy. Anyway all girls everywhere owe me one for bringing that crew around. If you're curious of how a Hollywood night such as this goes, one of them (B.S.) just sent me the following e-mail. I should probably preface by noting that these events are open bar.
Here's a quick recap:
Arrived at party.
Did tequila shots.
Drank beer and Sake martini.
Drank another beer.
Ate a tiny bit of food.
Drank another beer.
Watched Todd pickup gift bags.
Watched Todd pickup up Table Cloth.
Went to Irish bar.
Watched Todd go home with Table Cloth.
Stole Todd's gift bag swag.
Ate dinner/breakfast with Jsto.
Urinated in the shower.
Tried to make Jsto sleep on the couch.
Space brain cells are totally canceled. All other thoughts are pending."
Historically, if you roll out with me you might be up against some kind of adventure. I cannot say what. And it might keep you out late. ...And hey don't blame me if there is free top tier alcohol pouring from every corner of the places we attend. I am merely an innocent bystander. Also I'm pretty sure the idea for those guys to take tequila shots did not come from me. Except it did, but it totally didn't.
In comparison I am feeling very well today. But my personal recap doesn't involve all that beer, sake and such, and more so involves much eating of Sushi, talking my brains out about ARTEMIS and media politics, ignoring the gift bags, observing some random blabby publicist who was drunk off her rocker, texting people "omg" for no reason, DJ-ing via the juke box, shooting the breeze with an Irish lad, being an unwilling participant in a Krav Maga demonstration, consuming cheese fries and waffles, arriving home, worrying about work, laughing at BS' feeble attempts to convince me to sleep on the couch so that he could sleep on my bed (which is Queen size, a.k.a. one size fits J.Sto only, fool), arranging for him to get home, whittling down my inbox and accidentally causing a ruckus by moving furniture around at 2AM (and dropping it).
So that is that: I remain your extremely well-behaved, rabble-rousing, vampire-hours, mission-focused, non-French-but-french-fry-loving (when cheese topping is involved) Le J.Sto.
Wait. Waitwaitwait. ...I just realized from the chronology in this e-mail that that fool means he urinated in one of my showers.
It is a good thing that I am the sort of person who finds that mostly hilarious.
In my hands lay four keys; the keys to all the various aspects to my flat.
Two kids from Virginia out tell stories and entertain… my flatmate and I have been living together in Los Angeles now for four years.
It’s midnight on the dot, as it happens, and he just moved out. The keys are his. Were his. Now, they’ll belong to the new flatmate.
He’s going on a more rigorous tour and both of our lives are changing and growing. He is due down south tomorrow for a shoot, so he had to hurry up and get on his way and didn’t stay out the month as would be typical. We’ve had a funny relationship for flatmates: perhaps we don't know each other as well as expected. We’re both rather business-minded and driven and very busy, sometimes we go weeks without seeing one another or months even--sometimes with simply hello goodbye how are you? and we move on--constantly working, improving and giving it all we've got. When I moved I was incredibly nervous about finding a roommate, but from the moment I met him I trusted him, and rightly so. LA is a hard world; harder still for the artist. Knowing that your home situation is secure allows you to go out into that world and meet things head on without hesitation, and that's something I've valued. I’ll miss our existential talks that occurred when we were both home from travel and the hilarious way he tells a story (particularly his recounts of dating exploits). Or the way he makes fun of my complicated Starbucks drink, and then goes and orders a complicated Starbucks drink. Or! how he was always trying his act out on me in the kitchen over pasta and telling me how ridiculous girls are except for me because he thinks I have a Y chromosome.
It’s the end of an era.
But, you know, also the beginning of two new ones.
Not that either of us has the time to contemplate it: Onward!
Good luck, KT! You're so funny, talented and dedicated, and you deserve all the success that's coming to you.
"Wingman Central was created collaboratively by four Wingmen: Dave G, Sean Stubblefield, Katie Durham, and High Lord Captain Curt Sawyer (yes, he requested that title, and no, I don't think he expected me to actually use it). Although these four started WC, it does not belong to them; it belongs to all of us..."
I am so looking forward to watching this grow alongside AAE and JSDC. Great job, everyone!
...What are you still doing here? Get over there and explore your new community already!
M.Sto: Today The Grizz and I have been married for 30 years!
Jessica: Oh really! I guess that’s the sort of thing I should have in my calendar on repeat, except I don’t—people’s anniversaries. I keep up with birthdays, though. Sometimes.
M.Sto: Well it’s not like you need to do anything.
Jessica: I know, I do so much already by just being alive. So are you guys going to do anything special?
M.Sto: Yes. I made chicken soup. Your father likes chicken soup so I made chicken soup.
Jessica: Well what’s he going to do for you?
M.Sto: I got two wire compost bins.
M.Sto: I have so much compost now! I get excited every time I take vegetables out to the compost pile. I know it sounds mundane but I’m jazzed about it!
Jessica: (increased laughter)
M.Sto: Well that’s not all. We are going to go out this weekend, you know.
Only The Grizz can get away with essentially giving his wife shit for a gift, and being thanked for it!
Recently I mentioned that I had exchanged a few e-mails with one of the first serious creative writing teachers I worked under. At the time he was a grad student and I was a teen. You won’t know about this unless you follow me on Twitter.
I searched up his e-mail address cold and wrote to him saying that I had found my creative writing portfolio from his workshop. I’ll preface by mentioning that this is a notebook I’ve wondered about a few times over the past couple years, but never have gotten around to finding. It happened two weeks ago that M.Sto was dragging boxes out of the depths of Stover Mancha on her way to finding some wicker furniture for a patio party and she pulled a few J.Sto file boxes. You can guess what I found inside.
After spending an evening with that portfolio, I instantly came to appreciate the quality of his notes and the positive professional influence he had on my work. His workshop prepared me to engage in the professional screenwriting workshop I started upon hitting the ground in LA and to not be intimidated in doing so because I had experience. I thanked him for his influence, wrote a little about what I was up to and wished him well. He wrote back to me that I had made a beautiful pitch and he had thus become a Wingman. Blushing, I wrote back that his recruitment hadn’t been my intention and that I earnestly wanted to thank him (you’ve observed I have a history of gratefully acknowledging mentorship) and just let him know that I was up to interesting things that drew upon the skill I developed under his tutelage.
In truth I hadn’t stood out in his workshop at all as I typically do in groups--if not in talent then from sheer personality or… loudness--no, I hadn’t stood out. I was busy in life, focused on the AOL gig and focused on not letting that intervene with my presence in a workshop wherein most the writers were at least 15 years older than me and I was in danger of being viewed as a teenybopper without the knowledge that I was helming a teen pop culture show, much less if anyone knew about that + my SECRET HOLLYWOOD AMBITIONS (pursuing acting is never regarded with respect, unfortunately). I was overworked, hustling and kept my head down and wrote as often as possible. I was also very shy about sharing my literary work with strangers. This teacher, however, did not let me get away with that: He pushed and required me to show him my entire personal creative writing journal, which was not a part of the final portfolio and something I thought no one else would see.
As I thumbed through my portfolio, I knew I wouldn’t have been able to create JSDC at that time if he hadn’t shaken me out of my comfort zone via assignments and the general structure of peer feedback in workshop. My last thought to him in my response e-mail was that the feedback should have come a few years sooner, right after the workshop, but I had failed in that regard. I was spread very thin, dreaming big and on a path to moving across the country. It is also possible that I hadn’t come to recognize the influence of intellectual and creative coaches as I had athletic coaches.
As I said, you’ve noticed I typically inform friends, mentors, colleagues and coaches in a timely manner, when I feel the time is right, of how thankful I am for their existence in my life, career and network in general. It’s simply important to me to do so because I value those relationships and what I learn from them.
Do you guys know Sean Bonner? Bonner vetted me in the blogosphere. Did you know that? I doubt I would have appeared on Wil Wheaton dot Net or anywhere else where you probably heard of me over the years if Sean Bonner hadn’t had a public IM that he actually answered. I pinged him my Star Wars adventure since he had been up to his own epic and he was like, “hey! this is pretty good!” And then suddenly it was on blogging.la. Then, it was everywhere else! I went from reading one blog to reading many and suddenly people knew I was alive in the online space in a more meaningful, not teen-tastic way. They read my archives and became my new stranger-friend-readers. Then Bonner and I dressed up Ninja-style and stole some cookies from some nerds at 3AM in the morning and stayed there playing LOTR trivia and watching scenes from TRON until some inappropriate jock nerd tried to convince me to wear a Leia bikini the next time I visited and I was all yeah time to leave this piece.
Bonner’s also a formal WINGMAN which is rather significant given that I can’t even get him to do a WINGMAN video because he is so in demand to be famous in everyone’s Internet videos such as in the time he played Wesley Crusher on Galacticast or his cameo in BoingBoing’s CompuBeaver. Informally, since I force him to be my friend, he’s given me much advice over coffee and Pink’s hotdogs and even was part of the HD shoot we did last Winter wherein we depicted the status and hopes of ARTEMIS at that time. I’m saving that footage (you’ll see it on the future of the ARTEMIS map) as I believe it will be best served edited against the context of whatever is to come. Bonner was there all day for that: He was there early, half asleep sitting on the steps during the most boring set-up process ever and cutting the strings off my freshly sown wardrobe with his handy and slightly alarming pocketknife. And he remained my buddy when I was super-gloomy last winter and spring and thought the whole world was ending and there was nothing I could do about it at all and was surprised I had any friends at all.
Sean is very skilled at the Internets and fortunately pushes me to do all kinds of things I refuse to do like join Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook and I’ve found he’s usually right and that argument wherein I’m a stubborn asshole who doesn’t want 50 online profiles because that would just be uncomfortable and annoying and whaa whaa turns out to be ineffective when it comes to sharing stories and projects like ARTEMIS ETERNAL. He has been known to say he’s not a nice person, but I’ve observed that he gives a lot of himself to his community, the Internet community, being generous with his expertise and presence and is an active part of key dialogues both online and at conferences. He also knows anyone who has ever done anything cool and/or useful on the Internet which is why he’s so busy despite his always claiming that he only hangs out with like three people. Meanwhile all his Twitters are like, “I’m @SeanBonner and I’m hanging with @infinity people so popular!” And hey didn’t he design the cover to Wheaton’s latest book?
I don’t mean to lionize the people I hang out with: none of us are perfect beings after all, but the people who wander in and out of my sphere are excellent, really; including you.
A thought Bonner touched on briefly in his most recent post, a post I’d consider this a response to in the “Being Influential” department, was a habit of using Twitter in place of posting actual entries.
I’ve been guilty of that as well. I find that if I want to write and do more creatively in a larger, professional sense then I have to scale back on posting here and view JSDC more as a warm up portfolio and draft space. If I want to return to posting more creatively here then it is likely I need to scale back on Twitter.
So I will scale back a little on Twitter, still remain scaled back on writing here but do it more so than of late (due to the Twitter scale-back), and work just as hard as always at carving out creative time for myself so that I’m producing professional projects that can be published and/or filmed; what have you.
Anyway, I’m not your babysitter Sean Bonner, but if you need a kick in the pants feel free to bookmark this entry and refer to it and it will re-energize and make you over like She-Ra calling on the power of the Grayskull. Also, I’m pretty sure it will turn your bike into a Pegasus.
PS: I don't think it would be wrong for anyone to Photoshop Sean Bonner into She-Ra atop a rainbow Pegasus and send it to me. Just saying.
When Navy got back from war he and The Professor came to stay at the Mancha and I flew home to meet them
then it was like 3 AM and I was like let's go on a walk
because I really like walking around at night and with them it's pretty safe because The Prof is like The Karate Kid and Navy is a SEAL
they were like ok because sometimes they do what I say
but Navy was smart and got his backpack and took some Sam Adams from the Mancha beer refrigerator in the garage.
We didn't drink any of it. At first.
anyway we go on a walk down the historic W&OD trail which passes at one part across the street from the Mancha
my uncle runs the trail and later reminded me that it is supposed to be closed at night
but I don't care about things like that, really
we are just walking down it and it's May so it's good out and a little wet-dewy and the moon was pretty full making it weird like everyone might be watching us but the trail is pitch black (no lights) and walled by trees on all sides pretty much
we just walked for a while
and I grew up there of course so I know those parts well
then we got to this one part
and the trail is raised there
and there's this hill and downhill is this field
and I used to always want to run across it
it always looked fantastically smooth and the trees in it looked like little midget pine trees
and in the moonlight it looks really good, but I figure there are probably wolves and foxes down there so I don't want to do it
so I make up this story about how when we were little we called it The Field of Respect
and how everyone had to run across it and it was like this big-deal rite of passage and so forth (in reality we had a bridge called the party bridge but we weren’t there now).
so it was the field of respect and it was a very detailed story
and The Professor is kind of tired but I know if I dare him at this point he will probably run across it and I can find out once and for all what the field is really about
Navy is like I'm not running across it because I have on flip flops
but The Prof has on running shoes so clearly he is ready
and I bait him and he takes the dare
and there's a clear line about 100 yards away downhill that would mark the edge of the field
I don't really know what creates the line, there just is one and obviously
that is the marker for respect
The Professor goes fine! and runs off down hill and immediately we learn that the field looks so smooth and the trees look like midgets because it is made of really really really tall brown grass that deceives the eye
The Professor springs through the grass and he is like how much further because now he can't see the line that clearly marks the edge of respect
and I am like further further and we’re out in the middle of nowhere
he runs across and tags the line and I am like phew inside and turn to Navy to say "for a moment there I thought that line might have been a fence and he was going to ram into it or something. I mean the moon is out but it's still pretty dark"
and Navy is like "mmm" because now he is drinking a Sam Adams. But he takes care not to litter the cap.
The Prof is coming back and I am like way to go you got mad respect
and he is all like you’re damn right I di--SMACK
he has run into a practically invisible wire fence
that clotheslined his lower body
and he flips into the side of the hill
and we are like oh shit!
and so he comes up the hill and he is all disoriented
and he is SOAKED FROM HEAD TO TOE
because The Field of Respect is all wet grass that is like a jungle
and I mean it looks like he went swimming
so he has to take his shoes off since they are like way wet
and the whole thing is retarded and it's 4 AM but we walk further to Smith’s Switch Station, then we find out we have walked six miles and have to walk all the way back and The Prof is walking barefoot and he's tired and sober
and he falls asleep while walking and nearly eats it off the hill but Navy is quick and grabs him
overall I am laughing so hysterically that I am nearly crying
it is like one continuous block comedy that gets funnier and funnier
anyway you know I respect him more than most people I know
"if the American artist will study with hope and love the precise thing to be done by him, considering the climate, the soil... he will create a house in which all these will find themselves fitted." – Emerson, Self-Reliance
"What Thoreau did, however, was to take Emerson literally: to become the 'American artist,' he actually 'created' the 'house' in which to become self-reliant. Seen in this way, it becomes apparent that much of the contradiction and inconsistency of Walden lies in the fact that it is the physical enacting of a symbolic idea." – Sam Gilpin, Afterword
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” – Thoreau, Walden
*Excerpts extracted from the B&N Collector's Library edition of 'Walden'
As requested, here is the order option for ARTEMIS ETERNAL WINGMEN Comic-Con t-shirts. You have a week to place your order complete with your specific size. Then it will take about a week to turn the orders around and a few more days for me to pack and ship them priority mail straight to your doorstep. No returns. I will not be ordering extra t-shirts so you must order yours now.
Size options are adult unisex S, M, L, XL ← YOU MUST ADD THIS IN THE NOTES SECTION of your PayPal order form.
Sizing Recommendations: In the Comic-Con photos on www.ArtemisEternal.com I am wearing a small, but in reality I would wear an XS if they were available. Unisex essentially means men’s sizes. The Wingmen pictured above (Sus, Rach, SarahYass & C.Sto) are also sporting size small. Todd has on a size large.
The shirts are American Apparel organic cotton (soft!). Made in the USA (downtown LA, actually). My crest on the front & badass WINGMEN+no wimps on the back.
IMPORTANT: WINGMEN ONLY
If you are not a Wingman, you may not order or wear a shirt including ordering for someone else. Thus, you know if you see someone in this shirt they are definitely your brethren (and not some wimp so don’t even try to mug them or anything).
Any profit from this will of course go to ARTEMIS ETERNAL and help us break even on costs associated with Comic-Con.
"So I've had this idea knocking around inside my empty noggin for a while.
My brain sometimes works past my ability to deliver, so bear with me.
I've found that what is missing in the Wingman community is the "community"
aspect. Right now it seems like a number of individuals trying to support
the project rather than as a collective whole. I am struck with the image
of a bed of nails. It will hold you up...but a nice mesh hammock would
probably serve better. And won't rust.
I was struck with the thought to set up some kind of community "blog",
hopefully in partnership with a few of the other more vocal Wingmen, which
would hopefully grow and perhaps add a Forum, etc. Draw upon each other's
skills and abilities to make it better (i.e. Wingmen with a knack for web
design). Content would focus on Artemis news, promotional
strategies,perhaps print interviews with AAE project members (i.e. you,
Todd, DP) new media news, spotlights/reviews of Wingmen's favourite other
projects/films/media (with the intent of drawing like-minded individuals to
the site), etc. I wasn't thinking a "fan" site, because that is just a
reactive group, where I see the Wingmen as (hopefully) a proactive community
(and not wimpy at all).
With my new job, I probably won't have a lot of time to invest, so while I'm
interested in trying to get something like this get started and certainly
remaining a part of it, it would require others to get involved and help
carry it forward for it to work. I don't want a situation where it's just
Sawyer and I waving our noodles at each other. Which is why I'm bringing
this to you. I know the Shade runs deep, but you are in the best position
to know who the Wingmen are and whether they'd be willing to get behind
something like this. Also, I didn't want to go ahead and start anything
that you might see as working against anything you were trying to do or
impacting the project negatively.
Dave is right, and the community dilemma is something that has been bothering me, too. The Facebook group doesn't cut it across the board. The trouble is that I'm spread way too thin to handle this dimension (I've barely been able to update anything much less as much as I like on the JSDC front). I've been thinking that at the least a project wiki might be worth considering. So what do you guys think overall? Please comment. This portion would really be up to you to run as connected to the project. It could be awesome. However, like a garden, websites require constant upkeep. What's the best way to tackle this?
I am traveling again tomorrow (everything/everyone is so dang spread out). Hopefully when I get in front of a computer again by evening the dialogue is going and we can start to shape an idea. I'll be as supportive as possible/help however I can.
My Comic-Con badge is a badge of honor; amazing honor that represents the universe throwing curveballs at us left and right and our hitting homeruns every time. Or maybe the universe untied those knots. Anyway, it was all solvable!
The first two days of Comic-Con I was pretty much recovering from preparing for Comic-Con and, in addition, figuring out what to do and how to do it best. We had a mere week and a half to prepare a campaign, get to San Diego and execute The Awesome, plus we accomplished our presence independently and on a budget.
Everyone who helped us is a champ. Thank you thank you thank you thank you. Seriously. There was someone there for me at every turn.
I met so many people who deserve to have their part of the story told and I have quite a bit of media to sift through, not to mention business follow-ups to perform immediately. Obviously we are planning to add things to ArtemisEternal.com and I’m looking forward to going through it all. If you have Comic-Con photos, links et cetera of anything ARTEMIS, then please e-mail them to me so that I may include them.
The 5 sucked today and I haven’t had much sleep. My voice is at about 60% and I should probably eat something...
COME FIND US AT COMIC-CON 2008!
We’ll be staging out of a table in Artists’ Alley ALL DAYS. In addition, Friday through Sunday actor Todd Soley (ARTEMIS male lead) will be there as well. Location: KK-07
Night of Friday 7/25 we are scheduled to attend Sideshow Collectibles' party.
Our goal is to share our story and contribute positively to the community of the Con, and recruit the rest of the Wingmen we're seeking in order to push into production together. I'm looking forward to conversing about filmmaking, media politics and everything scifi/fantasy.
We'll be easy to spot in these amazing t-shirts: Ta-dow! (You know, just in case you aren't sure who is allowed to be a Wingman and who is not.)
And now, some thanks: First to Wingman Jay Bushman for loaning us his spare MacBook so that we have an additional for exhibition at the table. Also want to thank Wingmen, Dave, Melissa, Byron, PatMan, McDuck, Sawyer, and Adam for helping with e-mails.
I want to mention that Comic-Con has been awesome to us (Thanks, team Clydene!). They squeezed ARTEMIS in a mere two weeks out from the convention. I know they are swamped and I really appreciate the attention. And thank the universe for M.Sto, who did a week’s worth of design in 48 hours so that we’d be prepared with materials.
This is my first go at Comic-Con. I thought I wouldn’t be exhibiting there until next year, and I’m really, really excited to be taking such a rare project in for promotion. I wish I had known sooner out so that more of you could have planned to meet us. Next year we’ll be Sophomores, and will plan well ahead. For now, please support, be active and spread the word however possible so that we can make the most of our appearance there.
I am officially no longer the last person in LA to not have pre-screened THE DARK KNIGHT. It’s late-early here, so let’s do spoiler-free notes over sweeping narrative:
Not only is Mr. Ledger terrific (obvious) but the way they filmed and edited the Joker, and directed and styled the actor was the highlight of the film. I’ve never seen anything like that in a Comic film: The production actually used the tools of cinema and flexed artistry to create the character and explore context, for a change. The effect was extraordinary.
It’s too bad WB hasn’t figured out how to shoot a fully compelling Batman/Bruce to match, or that they haven’t written the character so that he fully lends himself to a riskier and even more cinematic creation (as well as more “show don’t tell” opportunities where the story’s lessons are concerned).
The situation reminds me very much of the first Pirates flick. On first viewing, I was pleasantly surprised and thought it was fun. On the second viewing, anytime Johnny Depp wasn’t onscreen it was so terribly boring that I left halfway through. The Joker has the same effect: Beyond scene stealing, he is what makes the film unique and watchable. Although, one major difference is that the new Batman is (thankfully) a much more interesting and adult take on a blockbuster, as opposed to Pirates. This installment improves upon the last, yet there is still work to be done and a troubled franchise past to fully shed.
One terrific, great thing about the Henry series (you know, by Shakespeare) was that the people loved, LOVED Falstaff, but the rest of the series and its various characters (and hero) were also up to the task. So I wish, in that vein, that all parts Batman were equal to the Joker. THE LORD OF THE RINGS comes to mind as an example of a cinematic, BIG genre movie that is even in all its above-average parts.
Ledger should get a nomination for this.
Whoever did the mix on Batman’s voice should not.
Otherwise, the opening was strong. Looked good on IMAX. Enjoyed some of the more subtle moments of the score. The pacing quickly becomes oddly formulaic with crosscutting between characters in a similar manner to the point where the over used-technique signals the start of the next sequence, which begins to feel contrived and mathematical.
No interesting female roles – not even bit parts – in this film whatsoever. (And yes, minorities, I feel your pain.) Can’t think of any reason a girl would go to see this unless, like me, you tend to skew more boys club in interests and often tend to identify with male characters. (Boys club has gotten old, incidentally, because nearly every film to speak of is just that; especially in genre.) ...But you know, there is something rad about tearing around the city at night after watching Batman, I’ll concede that much. So I won't pretend I don't understand the appeal. In fact, I’ll go as far as to admit two things to you that I always underplay: 1. I am a good driver (when I care to pay attention). 2. I actually enjoy driving (it’s just all the rules and city traffic that bother me, along with pollution). I've had a go on a Speedway. And I don’t have to drive like a dude to tear it up, so there. In fact you have no idea what I drive like, because I am completely underrepresented and have no inclination toward urban tank-mobiles that garner attention. And I still would prefer to have a horse. Parallel parking is bullshit. Anyway,
It was cool to see once. Ledger’s performance and the production around the Joker were iconic: there is real filmmaking you can sink your teeth into there. The rest of it tried, which was nice. I’m hot for the production quality. Why was the mayor wearing eyeliner? Universal City Walk sucks. Larry King was there in his suspenders. Have fun, kids. The end.
PaulyD: Oh Sto
PaulyD: No No NO
PaulyD: Can't stub your toe
PaulyD: or else you'll cry like Mo
Jessica: it's a little poem
PaulyD: It's a new thing I'm doing
PaulyD: a rhyming poem for all IM's
PaulyD: at the start
PaulyD: it'll be different each time
PaulyD: sort of like Burget King collectible Indiana Jones mugs
PaulyD: but poems
PaulyD: "Collect them all!" **
PaulyD: **in text
Jessica: I see.
Jessica: so wassup
PaulyD: nm, you?
Jessica: more like "boooring"
PaulyD: oh COME ON
PaulyD: you have got to be kidding me
PaulyD: you are a Wikiperson
PaulyD: you love to know EVERYTHING
PaulyD: (that reminds me of an original poem called J.Sto In The Know)
Jessica: (I would like to read that poem)
PaulyD: J.Sto In The Know
PaulyD: by PaulyD PaulyD: You think you know, but you don't.
PaulyD: But she sure knows, but she won't
PaulyD: impart the wisdom upon your ass
PaulyD: because she's got just too much class
PaulyD: a Wikiperson from the heart within
PaulyD: makes J. Sto a pro right up to the skin
PaulyD: she surfs the web and makes da' calls
PaulyD: she won't tumble in a rumble, cause she knows all the falls
PaulyD: So next time you're wonderin'
PaulyD: or needin' an answer
PaulyD: J. Sto is the one, with the fun
PaulyD: fun in other languages means "knowledge"
PaulyD: The End.
Jessica: haha wikiperson
PaulyD: i was pretty proud of that this morning at 3am
Jessica: I am putting this on JSDC
PaulyD: you can give me credit if you want, or attribute it to Stacey Plufferin
Jessica: wtf is a stacey plufferin
PaulyD: my pen name
PaulyD: for IM poems
PaulyD: it sounds more literate
PaulyD: and people often don't criticize Staceys
I've received a good share of mail asking if there are short films that I can recommend to you. It appears you'd like to be more familiar with the story format, and I can't blame you. Music video (which are essentially commercials for the most part) and actual commercials are the only exposure we have to short subject with high-production quality, with the exception of SNL Digital Shorts and the rare, well-done funny short posted to the web every now and again.
Paris Je T'aime would be my strongest recommendation: 5-minute cinema stories about love and Paris make this collection unique for having an overarching theme. The DVD is available on Netflix.
Please don't watch the trailer: it gives way too much away.
While typically I prefer long form storytelling; a feature, a novel, a trilogy (especially compared to episodic television, which I usually do not like at all); while I feel that way, it must be said:
Short film is incredible, wonderful and underutilized.
Just like the power short story can have when well executed, so is short film. Many shorts tend to suck because they are the tool of the new filmmaker, the student and the amateur. Plus, it can be challenging to be concise and tell a compelling story in a shorter amount of time, and most filmmakers can't write in the first place. Add a lack of high production quality to the list and you get loads of shorts that are not very interesting bombarding festival submissions each cycle. I do not doubt, however, that there are numerous shorts out there that are astonishing. To have them retired to, and viewed on, a YouTube or the Internets or not at all over DVD or the large screen doesn't do them justice.
If you have suggestions for shorts and collections of shorts, then comment and over time I'll find them/view them in the best possible quality in attempts to come up with a list of the best and how you can access each one. I don't think I need to again suggest Hotel Chevalier; most of you have seen it already.
Update: Watching Kurosawa's DREAMS collection. The mastering is fuckity (especially for a WB release), but it's really only noticeable during the second short. This is unfortunate as it's one of the best. You can get this via Netflix. I ran upon the poster accidentally while doing some reference research for a screenplay. I put the film in my queue without knowing it was a series of shorts. Thank the universe for small surprises and delights!
Most of this is from earlier in the week and taken on Rach’s digital cam. Somehow I was able to come up with this rough vid-let despite the fact that we had hardly any footage. (I was busy giving a presentation to orphans on the importance of abstaining from alcohol and the top 10 reasons why Erich sucks at beer pong and therefore did not capture full coverage.) …Or, maybe all of these people are actors; very, very finely trained classical performers, and all the shots were planned this way to make it look amateur. All the beverages were well-orchestrated props and the cinematography is American nouveau avant-garde. You don’t know. That’s the ILLUSION of motion picture. Thus, this is a little masterpiece I like to call,
Two Handles of Smirnoff, Two Handles of Old Crow, Two Cases of Beer, Half a Mountain Dew and a Michael Jackson Thriller Tape
PS: Cloverfield is so jealous right now.
Amazing Transcript [OBX]
Are you recording us?
Of course not
I would put you on my website, but not if you’re being boring like now
[Sarah & Larry’s Wedding]
Wh-Wh-Wait--What do you mean “boring”?
Wait, Jimmy, what did you bring?
Two handles of Smirnoff, two handles of Old Crow, two cases of beer, half a Mountain Dew and a Michael Jackson Thriller tape
We are not boring
First of all, you shared a beer instead of doing your own
Uh, ‘cuz we’re like legends, that’s what legends do
Because we have already done one, and we were, this is like—
We’re, no—We’re the only muthafuckas up in this joint that’s actually shotgunning beers!
Wait ‘til what?
Wait ‘til you’re married
Wait ‘til 2 o’clock when I wrestle you in the yard!
You know how people do unity candles? We did a unity beer
Wait, what happened?
Larry jumped into the pool with all his clothes on
There’s no cutting; you can’t fade to black
I want to rock with you
I want to rock with you
I tricked Larry into marrying me to have a great weekend with Rachael
‘k now you’re, like, you’re like, um, a dinosaur who’s extinct and you’re, you’re so mad! And you just want to like, you just want to destroy everything!
And now you’re like, you’re like a lemur whose life is almost at an end and you’re old—
What the fuck’s a lemur?
You know what’s the greatest thing about this camera?
Feel that beat
Is Jessica using it, Jessica can pretend like she was never drunk!
[Just say no to drinking!]
Because she’s behind the camera
I want to rock with you
And I’m sitting at the sweetheart table; nobody knows
This hits the floor; the editing room floor
I hope ‘Beat It’ is on here
You think there’s two seats at the sweetheart table? Uh-uh, no—
And I’m in the middle
And even if there’s two, guess who’s getting bumped? Larry—Boom—out of there! Let’s GO!
[Footage of Dancing at the Reception Here (I don’t have any of that.)]
[(If you have some; send it to me.)]
[Congrats Larah & Sarry!]
[I may not have any footage of dancing at the wedding…]
[But I do have…]
Haha—Good thing you got that on camera!
PPS: Does anyone remember how we taped Jimmy’s beers to his hands? He was like, Jimmy Beerssorhands, or something.
You can decide and create who you want to be; we all have that ability. We also have an ability to create an illusion of our ideal. Usually the latter is easier. Of course it's also easier to be critical of those actually doing something vs. those not (as they often remain unknown), and philosophy and psychology are not typically black and white explorations. So this entry is really a question in earnest; not a wholly critical statement.
"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root, and it may be that he who bestows the largest amount of time and money on the needy is doing the most by his mode of life to produce that misery which he strives in vain to relieve." -Henry David Thoreau
"We need to be the change we wish to see in the world." -Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
"On the plane to Portland today, I finished reading Aidmheil. Thanks
for that burst of fire. Your writing voice rockets off the page and
dances around the readers head, refusing to be pinned down, pivoting
and pirouetting like a dervish.
Don’t recall if we’ve talked about (or if I’ve babbled at you about)
Moby-Dick, but the one thought I kept having, especially while reading
'Dust, Wind and Stone', was that you’re what I would imagine Ishmael’s
sister would be like. Sis-mael. The same questing, restlessness,
sardonic observations and bursts of madcap cra-zee. But where Ishmael
is driven by a dour rootlessness that drives him towards depression
and loss of self, I could imagine you smacking him upside the head and
telling him to lighten up, then suggesting that the two of you go get
ice cream, or play mini-golf. If, y’know, they had mini-golf in the
Here are all the deeper production-notebook style updates:
After trading another e-mail with a news producer at Channel 4 London, I haven’t heard back yet about anything definite. So for you two Wingmen in London who e-mailed me about taking on this interview: I’m still planning to let you know as soon as I hear something. Promise.
This Tuesday, May 27th I’ll be a guest on the Girls Gone Geek to talk about Artemis Eternal. You can listen live at 11AM PT (2PM ET). I’ll be on around 11:15. Later in the week the broadcast should be available on iTunes. Wingman Servies tipped them off to the project and connected the hosts to myself (nice going!). Looking forward to this: Should be cool.
Behind-the-scenes I’m pursuing sponsorship opportunities, which is a lot of work. I don’t have time to do that and promote the project at the same time on top of everything else, so that’s up to you right now a little more than it has been all along. (You are a pro by now, surely.) If anyone has any ideas or needs help, or if you need me to follow up with someone, then please use the comments on this entry.
Right now, given the way I’m working, you are likely to find more creative bits on my Twitter, as well as nano-moments and needs related to ARTEMIS.
In case I need to reiterate it, the project hinges on 1. your being an awesome Wingman (check!) 2. reaching people so that they know about the project and also have that opportunity. That’s all press, promotions and community, and that is the way you absolutely can help right now: By submitting to places that cover this type of story (tech/lifestyle/film/arts/features/etc.). It could be anyone from a notable blogger to a large newspaper to a TV program. Again, please use the comments if you need ideas and keep on your toes like you have been when you see a relevant opportunity. There have been so many Wingman successes over the course so far and if you’re open to it by now you’re aware of the amount of stamina a project like this (and most films) require. Prepping a film can really be a hellacious process; mostly due to funding and setting up the deals and not the actual pre-production film work itself. It’s one thing to hear about that, it’s another to walk with a director going through it; it’s quite another to be a part of it and, on top of that, to do it on our terms.
Did I Twitter-mention that my coach told me that I need to get off the computer? “Too young to have wrist problem!” he says. But you know; it took a lot of mouse clicks to get things where they are at this point. :-)
Update: Booyah! The lady at the bank gave us no fees for another year.
I hate that there's a $29 monthly fee to keep the production business account open. When I signed up I specifically asked about fees and they said no fees ever if I sign up for this one deal (so I signed up). Turns out that only lasted six months as a part of the deal I signed up for. Nevermind that I asked my bank contact three times to make sure.
All I can think is, "$29? That's like, a whole Wingman!"
I am calling them again tomorrow. There has to be a better plan than that.
I have yet to do business with a bank that I actually like.
Jessica: greatly dislike this part of the process: the non-filmmaking part of filmmaking
CC: did you ever read Orson Welles’ eulogy to Jean Renoir?
Jessica: no, I haven't
CC: he said that Renoir had told him
CC: that his biggest regret was that he spent so much of his life
CC: raising money
CC: to make films that the money people wanted him to make
Jessica: I see.
Of course I immediately read the tribute, and think you will find it as relevant as I do.
I only regret that I have yet to find a better-formatted copy.
5/16 Update: $1120 total raised via RevMoney from 32 people. ;-)
Rad!: we have two days to game with the system to make some serious scratch for Artemis Eternal. From Wingman Jay Bushman:
"I found a way we can all pump some more into AE:There's a new Paypal competitor called Revolution Money Exchange. They're still in Beta, and as a promotion they're giving away a $25 credit if you sign up before May 15th. I signed up today and am gonna send that $25 to AE. You can all do the same. Also, if you sign up by clicking the button/link I'm going to try embedding below, my account will get an extra $10. I'll send all of these referral bonuses to AE as well."
1. CLICK THIS BUTTON (you must use our link)
[button removed because promo opportunity has expired] 2. REGISTER (it's fast I swear)
3. TRANSFER the money to my JSDC e-mail address. It goes right to the film and when you transfer the $25 you'll get your Wingman movie credit. And we will win the genius prize for being geniuses.
Everyone who reads this, please do it: It's free! And please spread it around! You know what would be amazing? If we got like 5,000 people to do this. But we have to move now: The window is short. Twitters tweet it forward (find me @JSto). Everyone wins!
Note that the sign-up button always links to a Wingman who is collecting the referral funds and will transfer to the film. So if you see a name you don't recognize it is indeed one of your brethren and the right link.
1. I’m not here to judge. I don’t judge movies anymore; I typically refer people to the few that are great, and that’s that. Writing about poor movies makes me tired because it’s unexciting, and therefore is tedious. Like someone making you show all the work for an advanced math problem that you can calculate in your mind in a split second. The matter with this one is that by the trailer we all know it’s not a good film, despite anything that may be momentarily interesting, and I didn’t find that it merits a review beyond a comment on its Wachowski lesson.
2. I did like the fucked-up-Tokyo-pop-Mario-Kart-rainbow-road design of the thing, though. I like that aesthetically it had a strong point of view.
3. This is a movie about small business vs. large business, about independents vs. conglomerates. About selling out. …Or not. About what happens when the symbiotic balance between large and small is off hugely in the favor of the former and needs to be reset. The races are fixed, trophies can be bought and what should be an art form is pure no more.
4. It’s Wachowski 101 for kids.
Poor Speed, he can’t race in the big races unless he has a sponsor. And those big conglomerate sponsors want to own him and his family’s indie company. But the indie companies can't really compete. Speed just wants to drive. Racing is an art to him. Of course I can identify.
People may say that this is what makes the film, “it has a story.” As if Speed Racer means something.
The Wachowski brothers have been mass broadcasting their independent hero, damn the man, wake up from the propaganda lessons via story for a decade now. At what point will they begin to put into practice what they preach?
The Wachowskis are in bed with the villain in the film: It’s how they make their movies; binding themselves to Joel Silver and the largest media conglomerate in the world. The stakes get high and the situations are impossible. If you love to race (make movies), and you can’t do it without a “sponsor” then what do you do? Maybe they aren’t sure either, and so they’re asking. But if you build a church off a loan from the devil and give him a cut of the collection plate, then is it worth it? In so doing you become the opposite of any positive parable you might teach. That devil will only build more churches and strike more deals until he owns ever congregation in existence. It’s cancerous. It’s also a universal, cyclical problem. Even RDM knows that all this has happened before and will again. We don't have the answers yet, but at least it can be said for the WGA that they were willing to confront people with the question.
Thinking you’re progressive and awake when in fact you are asleep and powering that mechanism is the definition of being asleep in the Matrix yet thinking you are awake. So don’t get defensive and disagree; that will make you wrong (and yet another tiny human battery). Now let's get META.
I don’t mind if you go to ‘Speed Racer’ and like it, I understand if it makes you feel good and I don’t mind if you don’t get involved in ARTEMIS ETERNAL. I don’t care if you get it, or if you don’t or if you think you get it and most certainly don’t. Six months from now everyone could be citing us as the new case study or we might still be fundraising. It will be one of the other. I can only do what I do and stick to my guns.
“This will change everything”: The little guy beating them at their own game. Except of course it doesn’t in this case, it just reinforces more of the same. Both inside the movie's world and without. Because when Speed races in their big race in the end, even though he wins what was supposed to be a fixed race; he makes money for them and perpetuates their system. He makes the audience think that the cues have shifted. Cheaters never prosper (except all the money the televised race just made them). And on our turf, in real life, when you pay to see this film you back it’s villain by doing the only thing that registers: Giving him your money. It works to convince you it’s not all flash and has a heart but the work lacks a soul. They will raise the rabble to make us feel like we are aware and supporting change and positive morals when in fact, literally, we are paying to support the opposite of our best interests and the opposite of the lesson in the film. Like all things, this is another addition to the list of media that slowly deflates the balloon a little when it gets too full, so that it feels like progress has been made and things never stretch to a violent pop. Hypocritical stories like these are, in my opinion, the most dangerous. It’s a drug to pacify. It’s a mock education.
What point of the cycle do you think we’ve arrived at? This theme is prevalent in punk rock, Harry Potter and Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. It’s becoming the issue in every business vertical from war and politics to media. It's why Benjamin Hoff and JD Salinger abandoned book writing. It's why Charlie Chaplin and SIMPP initiated the Paramount anti-trust case in 1942. Enron. Stop Big Media. The Harry Potter Alliance has gone after WalMart as VoldeMart, so has South Park (alas, they're a Viacom property, who does business with WalMart). It’s why guilds and labor unions exist; it’s why we have another pending strike. If all of us are thinking the same thing, saying the same thing, dreaming the same dream, thrilled by the same dream; then let’s do something about it and change the cues. There are other leaders providing opportunities in their areas of specialty like the one we’ve provided with ARTEMIS in film.
I’ll post some numbers and information about how some promos are meaningful and some aren’t (and why) as soon as I have time to breathe. If you’re a Wingman, you already received some of that information via e-mail from me. Also, Monday updates are complete/new Wingmen added! Alsox2, Wingman Sloss: Your e-mail doesn't work. Send me a different one?
Last night that I was coming home and my street was blocked off by a security guard. Other traffic went to turn around but I pressed on.
“There’s an event up the hill tonight you can’t drive up there.”
“I LIVE up there.”
It was the only way in, so he let me pass.
Then, when I arrived to my flat there was a lady with a clipboard and walkie and she was all, “this is event parking only.” Are you kidding me? Our lame building rented out our parking deck to an event?
So I’m all, “I LIVE HERE AND THAT’S OUR PARKING DECK WHERE I PAY FOR A SPACE!”
I drove past her little cones into the garage and she looked rather helpless: I was making sense, after all. The garage wasn’t crowded so the cars were parked all over the place at random. What were the valets thinking? And there were two cars in my space! I got out of my car to explain…
Just as I did, my neighbors came up waiving their lease contract whilst riding on the back of a towtruck ready to tow out all the cars that didn’t belong. Hells yes. And the woman with the walkie looked extremely helpless again as they busted into the garage and the valets hurried to move cars.
Things got cleaned up and cars started to go into their proper spaces. This guy had come along and started to direct things. For some reason we all vaguely knew him, like we had all worked for him or he had been our highschool math teacher or something. He knew everyone, I mean. And they listened so it started to get done. My neighbors were relieved and trickled out along with the strangers who had parked there. Others stayed around, remarking over the absurdity. I didn’t know them and the final car was being removed from my spot so I went to get my car--That’s when I realized, “Where’s my car?”
We checked every level of the garages.
It was gone. Stolen. And since I was coming home from the gym everything was in my gym bag… which I had left in the car.
That made me break down into tears (which I never do when a problem is solvable) and the guy looked at me like I was ridiculous, and said, “Why are you crying. It’s really not important.”
But it was very important to me apparently, because that stung a great deal. All I could think was, “You don’t understand! Everything is gone and no one is helping. Everyone is just… standing around.”
And it was true. I looked up and we were all standing around in clumps looking perfectly confused and sympathetic. Meanwhile my car and wallet was stolen along with my phone. I had no phone and no good friend around to borrow a phone from and after the man had told me that I was ridiculous, I was too shy to ask to borrow his cell phone to call the police or my mom or SOMEONE so that everything could get done. And I was definitely too shy to ask him what I should do. I felt incredibly stupid. It was like slow motion and being unable to speak.
I seriously woke up laughing, because I knew exactly what all those little metaphors added up to. Nothing Freudian at all to deal with here, nope: Very basic for a J.Sto dream, actually.
4/27 Update: So we're still on MySpace.com! Looks like that spot gets more than one day, which is great because it rotates vs. being a static promo and thus does lower numbers. Use it people, use it!
4/26 Update: We're up on MySpace.com front page! Here's a screenshot since the promo rotates. By now if you're a Wingman you should have gotten an e-mail about this from me. We have 24 hours to leverage this (ends at midnight just like Cinderella). Use comments to brainstorm. Wingman already added to Digg: LINK.
Just got word that MySpace is featuring our Wingman vid tomorrow! The editorial team are our new heroes. Thanks to Kay Lee & Adrian. Heroes get the job done together. Crucial.
We're also currently featured on YouTube FILM (hurrah!) and were in the CurrentTV.com top 10 (savvy but fairly useless), but are far more curious about being front page MySpace, frankly. Kay received my e-mail just before I went to lunch. By the time I had returned he had helped us out. JetBlue was the same way. I sent them an inquiry (way before the film site was live) and based on the merits of the story and creative of ARTEMIS ETERNAL the founder set us up with free airfare. The turn around was thirty minutes after I sent my mail.
The major points being: 1. If you need help, do your best to make it easy for people to help you. 2. There are all kinds of glorious people in the world, some of them are both able to recognize and get shit done. They see it all in an instant and say "YES" instead of "but..." or "no." We should aspire to that: it's an exciting, useful and a wise way to be.
So if you're new here, go experience the official site http://www.artemiseternal.com, be a Wingman and help us counteract the existence of Brett Ratner and Uwe Bowell by taking the first viable step toward artist and audience competing with their overlords.
And if you're someone who is editorial or a community leader, give yourself the opportunity to say "YES." Contact me if you're unsure how: I'll make it easy.
And if you're about to start complaining about the ridiculous state of film and media (again), then STFU and do something about it or else move on: We'll have none of that bitch-ass-ness here.
It’s midnight on Saturday and I’ve just returned from the most delightful home that played setting to the most delightful party in honor of Mr. Will Shakespeare’s birthday. This has been a tradition of Geoffrey Owens’ since I was still a schoolgirl, way before I knew him, back when and he and his family still lived in New York City. Geoffrey is the casting director for Artemis Eternal and my go-to acting coach. He also works with me on rehearsal direction for Artemis and is a friend. You might recognize him because he was on The Cosby Show for nearly a decade, although that barely scratches the surface of his expertise and work.
Ever since Geoffrey has been in Los Angeles, producer/actor Kristin Stone has hosted the birthday party at her home. Kristin produced a play in NoHo in which I was a cast member, Geoffrey knew Kristin from New York, attended the play closing night, I met him at the reception and that is how I know this wonderful group of people. I missed the birthday party last year because I was location scouting, the first year prior I missed but can’t remember why. Thus, I was stoked that this year I was finally able to make it out to Kristin's.
Among others, I caught up with Kathy Harmening of Life From the Inside. Kathy and I were in a play together wherein we had a 10-minute scene that was just the two of us. We played sisters, and we got on well from the start. I also hung out with Sandy, the owner of RipRap Studio Theater. She does a mean Queen Margaret.
The most interesting part of the birthday party is the glass tapping. You see, each time Geoffrey taps his glass with his spoon everyone pauses their imbibing, comest-ing and conversation and, in place of a toast; he calls someone’s name. That person then draws forward and reads from Shakespeare. You don’t have to be prepared, and you can refrain if you so wish, so it’s all in good fun. It can be a little nerve-wracking, however. Rather like a game of musical chairs stretched out over a long evening.
Arturo was there (who I just met) and conspired with Geoffrey to record digi-style his calling me out. So thanks to Arturo, here’s some off-the-cuff footage which, in accordance with this press release, I’d like to dedicate to you, Wingman:
Always interesting and strange for me to see footage this way. It looks awful to me because I’m not used to the quality. Low, yellow lighting; funny angle; poor sound—In my mind I see a storyboard with close-ups and all kinds of things proper. But you know; this really isn’t about production value. It was about being there, and this is the closest I can get you to the night, its moments and the incredible players that walked its stage.
The moon was full on my way out to the ‘dena. And golden against a hazy midnight-blue background with blue mists of clouds mixing against that fair, perfect hue. Upon my return, there were few cars on the 110 so I sailed on over the hill and suddenly the whole city rose up before me - downtown; with all its drama and skyscraper honeycombs - like I was headed right into the heart of something big just before swooping right toward the Westside down the 101 Hollywood… where the hill swells with its peeking, warm lights; waiting in a softer way. The only way it could have been better is if I was riding a horse.
Now that I’ve put La Pucelle on her feet, I’m going to actually play with that passage and rehearse it more intensely. She feels right to me at this point.
At the party there was also a Shakespeare contest: Name all 38 plays. I came in third. (a.k.a. the place that receives no sweet prize). Damn thee; honorable mention! Thou doust taunt me. I did, however, get cake.
Day after day after day I am listening to people, regular people not industry professionals, but people-people complain and wax on about the terrible state of film, the news, media.
Where are they when we actually get serious and try to do something about it? All that energy spent complaining is worth far, far more than $1. And where would the colonies have been if no one had anti-ed-up and signed their name on The Declaration of Independence? What I like about those guys is they were crazy dreamers who also did something to create a foundation and back up their ideas. The way people look at things is incredibly interesting to me. Most people will never really understand the systems they are a part of and perpetuate. You and I know more than they ever will. Not because we have some super ability, but because we make that choice for whatever reason. That of course makes me wonder what I’m looking at everyday and not understanding.
Anyway, we are trying to make it easy for people. But people are such assholes!
Saturday night I told some stranger I was in conversation with to shut-up about movies if he wasn’t going to do anything about it but complain. I’m pretty sure that looked insane. Felt great, though.
Update: From Dave Grant
"This post made me think about a thought I had a couple of days ago. I was
going to do a big involved blog about it, but these days both time and
energy are fleeting.
JSto is Morpheus.......the Wingmen are Neo.
Once awakened....once you've taken the red pill.......you can't go back.
You can't sit in a theatre and appreciate Transformers anymore.....because
you realize it's just the cineworld that's been pulled over your eyes.
People are stuck in that cineworld and don't know any better. They need
someone to give them a choice. Just hard for a lot of people to accept
because it's all they know.....and they can't fathom anything else."
On Saturday? Yeah, I totally went into this mini-rant using The Matrix as a metaphor. It was kind of like that part in Franny & Zooey--Franny's part that begins, "I’m sorry. It isn’t just Wally Campbell... ."
PS: One time I told C.Sto that "one" spelled backward was "Neo" and that that was awesome about The Matrix. And she was all (pause) NO IT'S NOT!!
It turns out that what I meant to say was that Neo is an anagram for "One." So now (still--five years later!!) sometimes she sees me and will stop and go, all dramatic, "Eno, you are THE ONE." Then she laughs and walks away leaving me to plot my many revenges.
Today I received an e-mail from a new contributor that said, “I think what you are doing is outstanding and totally ahead of the curve, yet the way is not clearly laid out and those in front need a brave heart and big machetes.”
What's that? You say you'd prefer a Hollywood Reporter link? Bam! Oh wait, now you want Yahoo Finance? How about Yahoo Finance UK & Ireland--Bam! Or how about Africa? BAM! (It has a lion!)
Marketwire gave us a $275 discount which made this possible (thanks Michelle). Since releases are pricey, this was targeted solely to the LA entertainment vertical, so please do spread it around internationally to your local/favorite outlets and journalists.
Commenting where you've sent it helps us coordinate/come up with ideas.
Also for anyone in Canada (or International/non-US) please take a look at your press outlets and send them the info. Canada/Australia/Europe have been the quickest to pick up on the various levels of Artemis. If this grows it may come to pass that all Americans everywhere will have to admit that Canada is more awesome and forward thinking when it comes to media and film. I suggest e-mailing and calling news lines to share the story, like Kevin did with NPR.
Alsox2, nice job, champs! This just in from YouTube, regarding the 'The Story So Far' vid: "We will spotlight in the Film & Animation category in the next couple weeks." (Thanks Sara!)
See? It adds up. A lot of people doing micro contributions under good leadership equals a Commonwealth of Awesome. As slang that doesn't really do all the levels and mechanics of the project justice, and I don't mean to make light, but I know you know what I mean. With anything like this, it's just hard to get the ball rolling. Keep doing what you're doing. I've been suffering through this, too. It's an incredibly frustrating process.
From Slice of SciFi: "We are doing a piece about Artemis Eternal on our next Slice of SciFi show (#156) which we record on this Thursday night and airs online Saturdays and from XM-Satellite on Monday a week later."
I'm insanely busy trying to promote this project.
More as soon as I have some time to write.
Comments open on YouTube. Here is what you can do to help right now:
1. Get serious and e-mail the YouTube editors (they take video tip-offs here: firstname.lastname@example.org ) and ask them to please feature this video on www.youtube.com. Tell them who you are, that you are involved and why, and why they should feature it. Rock them.
http://www.google.com/support/youtube/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=55751 Everyone should e-mail them one time. No more, no less. We need their help. Congrats! YouTube will be spotlighting this in the film & animation category over the next couple of weeks.
2. Send the video to everyone you know. Blog it on your blog as "AAE - The Story So Far." And if you made a Wingman video (they were all good even before my edit), then include yours in your mail as a personal message to your peoples inviting them to the project. You could also add it to your social sites, et cetera. Tell them all you are involved. Tell them why. Rock them.
Jar Jar Binks is the most annoying shit I have ever seen in a movie. I love when people who patronize George-Lucas-boring prequels x 3, Fox News, TMZ and MTV suddenly get all thinky about contributing to Artemis. Note to people: You need to reevaluate your risk assessment.
Seriously though, until Saturday I hadn't seen a frame of Episode I since it was released, because even then I knew it was bad. What were they thinking? Comfort: Even if I epic fail at some point, will still be better than Jar Jar Binks debacle. And holy shit is that movie racist. And holy shitx2 is it unoriginal, from costuming to shots to Asian aliens!
Mongolia and Russia? What the hell kind of costume arc is that?! Weaksauce/all over the place. 2nd largest private research library in the world and all they could come up with was exact, large, loud outfits from disconnected portions of regal wardrobe history? Limitations are sometimes good,
And details are what world building is all about.
Anyway, when Phantom Menace was released and was A HUGE GREAT BIG DEAL and I went with all my friends to see it opening day (and we left sort of... confused), I never thought in the future I'd be using it as an example to illustrate what I want to avoid in the costuming of my own film, only to have the art department go, "Oh thank God! I know what you mean. The costuming in those films is terrible!!"
If you had suggested it to me I would have thought it was totally possible that all of this would come to pass, but I wouldn't have been able to understand what you meant about the costuming: Phantom seemed complex, unfathomable and magnified in all ways, when in fact it is a very pathetic and ostentatious waste of resources.
That research library is gorgeous, by the way (as is much of the Ranch). I could have spent hours there and would really love the chance to research there at some point. I'd like to suggest that George Lucas is a better world-builder in the real world rather than in a film space. But who can get him to use his powers for good?
Guess what? BSG is back and the media got a nice catch up a while back. Cut and paste just in case they actually care that the public is watching this version. I highly doubt they mind since it's already all over the place and a promo, but you know, just in case they prefer you to go to scifi's official site instead. Industry link:
Plus, if you want to watch the file from your desktop you should be able to grab the flash. Window > Activity hold down your option key and double click the file.
Pretty well done, no? This company did a good job of simplifying the story and adopting a VO tone that fits the BSG audience. That's not easy to do. Nice and tight EDL. Serious but amusing.
If you haven't watched BSG I recommend catching up on DVD (Netflix it) because skimming the series sucks compared to watching it all full out. But if you want to jump in on the new, final season tonight at 10PM, then use the catch up linked above. (And still go back and watch the DVDs.) They're also (finally!) running BSG reruns all day on SciFi.
So say we all, fools.
Comments on for post-show discussion. Warning: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS
Jessica: Dude, WTF!! George Bush is at our middle school.
Jessica: Photo Sarah: are you serious????
Jessica: Yeah M.Sto got that pic.
Sarah: how did M.Sto hear that he was there????
Sarah: what the hell is he doing there? reading to the children?
Jessica: she happened to be driving by
Jessica: haha that's what I said
Jessica: I love how they've secured the perimeter with buses.
Sunday: Rehearsed a new Shakespearean monologue on its feet for the first time. It is my favorite classical piece I’ve ever performed. It suited me so well that it was magic. Am invincible for the afternoon.
Monday: Talked to Navy for over an hour. I can’t print much about it save he is coming home soon. Hopefully this is his last time to the Middle East. (We say that every time.) I can’t believe we got so much phone time. I now feel better about paying my taxes.
Tuesday: My stunt coach (Matt) is leaving the gym I attend. But it might turn out for the best. We are basically a part of a posse, anyway. Now we can all just drop in at an open gym, which costs less and involves less distraction and annoyances and more freedom.
Wednesday: Artemis costume fittings. Things are coming along, although we’re a week behind and the garment district has apparently thwarted us on additional fabric that matches what we’ve already bought. Anastasia will now have the delight of hunting down same-color fabric for one of the doubles.
Thursday: Went to the mall in Glendale with Bonner. He has a TV putter-outer, so we went around knocking out all the TVs that were playing ghey music videos in the tween areas of the department stores. Malls make me tired. But I got my sweet vengeance. Glendale will never forget the day that all the non-monitor TVs in the mall went out just before closing time.
Friday: Long hours filled with thoughts about the existential crisis I have been in since age four. It’s about 1 AM and I just heard from Navy. He is going on a “trip.” I’m pretty sure that when you're in a military that doesn’t mean yachting or skiing or anything leisurely.
“She became a market gardener and avoided all contact with the music scene. When Bert Lloyd died in 1990 she was persuaded to sing in a memorial concert. Despite coaxing from some of the brightest names in British folk music, she refuses to return to the studio.” –Wikipedia.org
“Hoff has recently published an essay online denouncing the publishing industry and announcing his resignation from book-writing.” –Wikipedia.org
“The truth is: All the great publishers are gone; only their names remain. Don’t be fooled by the presence of those names on today’s books and corporate bragging lists -- they are names of the dead. The spirit of independent enterprise that once animated those names -- the spirit that joined creativity, communication, and commerce to form the great publishing houses -- is no more. And America is much the worse for its loss.” –benjaminhoffauthor.com
“According to Lao-tse, the more man interfered with the natural balance produced and governed by the universal laws, the further away the harmony retreated into the distance.” –The Tao of Pooh
“On September 15, 1961, Time magazine devoted its cover to Salinger, in an article that profiled his 'life of recluse'; Time reported that the Glass family series 'is nowhere near completion…Salinger intends to write a Glass trilogy.' However, Salinger has only published one other story since.” –Wikipedia.org
“It's everybody, I mean. Everything everybody does is so — I don't know — not wrong, or even mean, or even stupid necessarily. But just so tiny and meaningless and — sad-making. And the worst part is, if you go bohemian or something crazy like that, you're conforming just as much only in a different way.” –Franny and Zooey
“People never notice anything.” –Catcher in the Rye
In preparation for the show next Wednesday, CU@USC wanted a little b-roll.
Last night I headed downtown to their main campus with Matt and King. You know Matt: He’s my tumbling coach/the AAE stunt choreographer. As for King, this is the first JSDC vid he’s appeared in. You will soon come to understand his sweet skills as I do.
The station (via the school) had us confined to a specific location. There wasn’t a monitor, so I have no idea what the footage they shot looks like and will probably see it the same time you do if you watch live. I’ll be curious to see what they cut together.
I thought you’d be curious to see what happened afterward, whilst we were walking toward the car to leave. Just looking around, trying stuff… . We captured a bit of low-quality footage along the way.
So, you know; walk with us. I’ll post a few of these clips leading into Wednesday and I won’t edit them up much so that you can get a feel for real time.
And yes; some people see a wall and are compelled to climb.
I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us — don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know.
How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!
As a part of The Great Interview Experiment I was interviewed by Theresa Bakker. Fate laid out the sequence so that I was paired with her and I consider myself lucky: She’s terrific and I believe we have much in common.
Being the interviewee I’m supposed to publish the interview here, but since Theresa already has the text up (and I’m an amazing rebel), you can go visit her for the sweet reads.
And no, she didn’t ask about the black eye. I’m pretty sure she avoided it so as to thwart you, suckers!
*Italics from 'I’m nobody! Who are you?' by Emily Dickinson
> Good looking art! Very cool.
> But a little hazy, did someone pass me along your information for the
> acting, the writing, or the art? Youre a bit of a jack of all
xxxx, I'm not sure I understand your question or what you are writing to me about.
Let me know if you have a specific inquiry.
>Good call, that's my bad. I work at xxxxx Entertainment a
>management/production company in Beverly Hills--we received a
>query letter that was passed from interns to my asst and then on
>to me--and I will throttle my chain of tired followers for not
>tagging this and letting me know why it was passed on.
>They are a good group of kids, but they work hard, not smart ;)
>It's a good sight, you have put a lot of work into it and it
Maybe you should train them up and pay them more. I get a little tired of people in this industry complaining about young people. You're likely wasting one of the best assets in your office. They probably got onto what we are doing quickly and sent it up the chain b/c they are ahead of you in terms of the new media curve.
Anyway, I didn't send you a query and I still don't understand your question! No idea what you do, either. Mnger/prdct. could mean anything. I'd love to hear from you interns, though!
Somewhere in LA it’s raining. Oil and fuel rainbows bleed into parking lot puddles and stain the soles of passerby. Some are shoppers. Some are picketers. Some are out of work for other reasons. There are no children on the streets. Somewhere in LA a girl feels big in the world; her heart swollen out like an invisible balloon surrounding her, touching every hand she passes, wondering when it will end. The rain is like fire: Clean. LA struggles against both. Meanwhile Tom Cruise tries to count his super powers but he doesn’t have enough fingers, a reporter for the Times figures the US is skirting the edge of a recession and, across the great flyover, in the twin media city, Heath Ledger is dead. Somewhere in LA Britney Spears laughs manically in her Joker-esque way, thinking in a twisted southern accent; And you thought it’d be me, ya’ll! while all Owen Wilson can do is let out a low whistle as gossip rags scramble past their prepared obits to write the one that came like the black swan. The smog is pinned, the stuffy air rushes out to sea with the clouds… but the reprieve lasts only a moment. We are all dying from cancer. And it rains, and it rains, and it rains and by 2 AM the tangerine lights of Wilshire will twinkle in the wet and the roads of Beverly Hills will shine like silver; washed and abandoned for a few hours. Everyone, everywhere wondering; what can be done? …Except, a man at Warner Brothers—no, no, it’s wrong, I shouldn’t—but he can’t help but imagine it: WB is about to make some serious rev on Batman. And he smiles all alone in his office as he calculates how to position the press campaign. Someone in LA is talking about a soul-crushing existence that we’ve engineered. Someone in LA is talking about a community of isolationists in this period of globalization, new media and social networking. Sundance will mourn. The widow Michelle will be stalked. Please send whoever drew these blueprints to my office: I am having difficulty locating where we built the emergency escape route.
Does anyone else have trouble listening to Carry on Wayward Son without having visions of yellow, red and green faux-chords flowing toward you coupled with the strong feeling that you ought to be doing something?
I’m getting over a terrible head cold and literally have no voice at all. That is not hyperbole. I have no sound. The timing is ill as I had a location meeting with the property master Sunday that had to be postponed since I couldn’t communicate. I can’t take phone calls. I can’t talk to anyone who is not immediately in front of me. I sucked it up and flew back, anyway. I’ll be on vocal rest for at least four more days.
I haven’t been on vocal rest for a long time and the last time I was, it was short. I also cheated. I used to have a problem with losing my voice from sports (yelling from the outfield, yelling from downfield, yelling at the ref…) so my singing coach cracked the whip and put me on vocal lock down. I learned to breathe properly, drink a lot of water and haven’t lost my voice since, until now.
In addition there is, of course, the hilariousness of someone like me losing my voice. I am like a flood, a fast river with rapids... a rush of strong wind: There is no stopping the conversation.
I have quickly learned who can read my lips and expressions, and who cannot. Interestingly, this skill has not much to do with who knows me best. My friend KayBee, really good; my roommate, surprisingly good; C.Sto, so-so; my mother, terrible; customer-service girl at Barnes & Noble, the fastest of all.
Recently I had a shoot wherein I had to work with a masked character. The actor tends to be low-key and quiet in real life, and it was maddening: What was he thinking under there? There was no audio or visual response to anything I was saying. I quieted. My friends and family were like this. Finally! They had license to talk without my excited interruptions! …But they weren’t getting feedback, and all I got was companionable silence.
My last night in VA, I furiously typed out the antics of the previous night to C.Sto via the computer, filling her in as much as I could, as she stood over my shoulder firing off follow-up questions. Luckily I have a vicious WPM. But you cannot carry a laptop everywhere.
Next time that you fly, try not talking for the duration of your trip. Don’t cheat. I dare you. Order your complicated drink at the Starbucks, try to take a cab or indicate that you are sorry for having knocked into someone… See how fast you can scribble on a notepad. Best of all, watch the reactions when you gesture toward the general area of your neck to indicate that you cannot speak. The majority of people will immediately assume that you are deaf and apologize. Except the guy at the taxi stand who, after you pass him a note saying that you cannot speak and therefore need a driver who can read English, says rather bluntly, “Can you hear?” I nod yes, and he is one of few that, because he asked, does not suddenly shift into talking-with-a-deaf-person” mode. Options for this technique are, apparently:
- Talking loudly, you know, because that helps deaf people to hear you.
- Slowly, over-gesturing while mouthing words and/or whispering strangely.
- Taking my notepad so that they can write back to me, which is incredibly frustrating.
You learn who is listening because, without missing a beat, they realize that you can hear perfectly and continue to talk to you and watch you for your response. They converse. They don’t jump to conclusions on what you are trying to communicate. They must have noticed that you answered them before, a reaction to sounds, so clearly yours is solely a vocal issue. They are natural and don’t respond in a weird way, such as the person who knows you and knows that you can hear and must have just lost your voice, yet begins whispering and gesturing back to you as if they’ve suddenly lost theirs; sort of like how my Dad picks up the accent of the Chinese food delivery man during their brief exchange.
All of these understandings happen in an instant.
I am walking through a universe of sounds and am unable to contribute.
Best of all, I finally reach the Gulch Starbucks. "Jess, haven't seen you in a while!" I gesture that I cannot speak, the cashier just hands me over his Sharpie, catching me up. I grab a cup and write my own order.
As it turns out, fun is not a myth. I remembered it, sort of: Fun, lighter days, random evenings, revelry, friends, luckily getting the best parking space ever, running to the front door through the 30-degree air so that you don’t have to bring your coat in, fake IDs (although, no longer needed), spontaneous Bama-slammer toasts that actually mean something, people you know so well that you can read their faces, shouting over music, running into friends of friends and more friends… everyone home on break, everyone off for break, everyone wanting a break,
I've been away from LA for exactly one month.
I didn’t get to see everyone (friends and family), or everyone as much as I’d like, or do everything I planned and wanted to plan both work and social wise, but we did a lot. I saw everyone a lot more than usual.
Now send me some photos, you fools. Send me some photos so that I can see how terrible you are at framing, and how awesome badly-lit areas become when we rabble-rouse together.
I have been meaning to share this letter for some time now:
Everything ok? I saw the latest blog, about no more blogging, and turning off comments. Not that you know me (other than I'm this Mom, engineer lady who loves your books and writing and all), but I thought I'd let you spill, if you've a mind to spill that is.
Otherwise, take this as a bit of support. I cannot imagine what it takes to make it all happen yourself. To bang your head against god knows what with no payoff in sight of the reason for doing it.
I guess, I can. I have spent my entire career working on getting a human presence on Mars. It's not going to happen in my lifetime. Definitely not in my career, but now I think I am not actually going to see it. I hope I see us getting to the moon. So I bust my chops, doing the best I can, in spite of loads of stupid government politics and such, and just hope that maybe what I did made a difference in the "after" of it all.
Want to pull up a Starbucks coffee (I am a fan of the fall Pumpkin Spice Lattes myself) and talk?
If not, and if this is too forward, then just hang in there. Keep your chin up and all that stuff. We mid-westerners (or do you consider yourself east coast?) are hearty stock.
You will survive.
I have faith.
And even if the worst happens, and nothing happens, I have (and I can tell many others have) enjoyed what we've read, seen, purchased from you. You have touched us, and impressed us, and delighted us.
I have been away from Los Angeles for the holidays and for work for two weeks now. I’m afraid there isn’t much to report… called 911 about a brush fire which may or may not have existed, got freaked out by Stepford-like suburban community, admired “tabloid-free” grocery lines created at behest of parents… Not as typical-exciting as usual. But I am more snowed under than is typically usual. It’s been a hard a year.
Mostly Greg and I have been working intensely. We’re working remote, and with the time difference that keeps me up until 3 or 4 AM. Iain and I finally finished up troubleshooting all the bugs (I hope) from when we switched hosts for JSDC. Yes, it does take months to do that. This is by no means the typical “look at all we accomplished this year!” post. We’ve accomplished a lot. I simply don’t feel like it’s done yet, with basically three parts of a larger project in some stage of production.
This is in reality a thank you entry, since I want to take a moment to thank and recognize you for supporting and patronizing our work, or the work of other viable artists. And for taking the time to become informed about why your support and intervention is actually important and impactful, especially against the current landscape of consolidated media, copyright issues and so forth. When I get tired, I’m sure you can sense it in the tone and mood set here. I look back at entries over the last year and I feel very exhausted. But, also hopeful, because we wouldn’t and won’t be making a film without you. Naturally via work that forces us to break new ground and dare to explore new models, things become easier for other artists bothered with the same battles. The more the web community bands together and supports like-minded independent initiatives, the better off we all are across the board, as our collective burdens are eased as we work together to overcome the root of so many human-realm problems. This is called non-zero-sum.
All things to us, good and bad, begin with a story.
First it must be allowed to be told.
And then, more difficult, it must be possible to hear.
"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." –Aristotle
I'm not linking this to say that I disagree or agree, or that you have to either. It is, at the least, interesting to entertain (and interesting that I felt the need to provide a disclaimer): Watch Part One | See More
Having read The Hobbit more times than I can count, I doubt that two films are the best way to tell what is in reality a single-film story. And I'm not sold on there being enough related material otherwise to make sense for two films. If the outstanding job done on The Lord of the Rings is compromised by franchisey-ness and a need for cash flow on the parts of all parties involved, then I’m going to be pissed.
Note that the director for these films has not yet been assigned. I realized that after reading the release twice.
I wonder if the rush on the films is rights related (like the sudden rush on the deal)? I haven't had time to find out. Wouldn't we rather wait for a great film than settle for... well, what we are likely to get out of this current setup? A rush job along with Peter Jackson's divided attention will not be good for these works.
In film, things rarely happen on the originally planned timeline, which often turns out to improve the project. I am thus hoping that these plans (and some of the initial ideas for the films that PJ expressed) evolve and improve as their teams begin conception and development. Usually the brainstorming and draft work isn't subject to public consumption, after all. And that is a good thing. In this case there's no use reacting to ideas that will be tossed as things progress and the filmmakers sort out what works and what doesn't.
We'll just have to wait to see what happens. There's no other thing for it.
Update: Ah, here is a little of what I was looking for.
EW also mentions the fact that New Line only has the production rights for The Hobbit for a limited length of time. “Most insiders guess it’s 2010. To make the movie then, New Line would have to renegotiate—assuming Zaentz would want to do business with them again—on much more expensive terms and with plenty of competition from other studios. And there might be another deadline: Shaye and studio co-chair Michael Lynne reportedly have only until late 2008, when their contracts with New Line are said to expire.” I’ve also seen 2009 listed as a time when the rights might revert to Zaentz.LINK
As a WGA member and currently on-strike writer, my mind often turns
back to the rosier days of navigating the film industry. The days of
studio parties with open bars, promotional screenings with a free
drink (of your choice) and a bag of popcorn. Starlets, writing
assignments, and above all...the lottery of the writer's world...
As I am unable to pitch during these negotiating times, I thought what
better way to reminisce about the glory that IS pitching projects to
producers and studios, than to think back to my favorite Top 3 moments
in the world of pitching.
Ironically, being a successful writer in Hollywood is one-part writing
talent, one-part access and one-part salesmanship. If you can write,
that's a great start -- but if you have the access to get to the right
people and the ability to sell a movie about a talking tree to Scott
Rudin, then you will have a long and prosperous career as a
screenwriter. The following 3 moments in my history, all involving
pitching a project, were not foreshadowing a successful future. And
yet, despite these bumps in the road, I seem to still be doing ok.
#3: In the middle of a pitch to an Executive at a well-known
Producer's shingle, the woman stopped me with an important question.
I was pleased, since most executives would rather say nothing, smile
at the end, and see you on your merry way. But she, it appeared was
different. I paused in the pitch, and allowed her the question.
"Would you mind if we finished this pitch in my car...on the way to
the shop? I need an oil change." I looked around for the hidden
cameras, but there were none. So I finished my pitch in her car, on
the way to a Pep Boys. Did it sell? Eh, not so much.
#2: One year I found myself pitching the unscripted version of one of
my humor books to one of the major three networks. Just before going
into the pitch my agent said to me, "This Executive never laughs. I
have a standing offer on the table for all my clients -- if you can
get her to laugh, I'll give you fifty bucks. And if you CAN get her
to laugh, your bound to sell this project." I took the offer with an
excitement that I had not rivaled before in any previous pitch as it
was now a game set up before me. In the pitch, I tried my hardest --
eventually turning my random comments in the pitch into a lucrative
outcome. The Executive laughed numerous times. My agent paid me
fifty bucks. And the project? Didn't sell.
#1: The Producers behind ELF are a fun group of people. Great sense
of humor, great instincts, and great animal lovers. That's why, when
I happened upon their offices, I wasn't surprised to see that the head
of the company allows his dog to be a part of all pitches. Not
because he's like the monkey from that classic old Disney movie where
the monkey picks successful TV shows, but just because they love their
dog so much. He sticks close. As I sat down on a fluffy couch
opposite two of the Executives, the lumbering dog settled in next to
me for what appeared to be a bit of a nap. "Are you okay with him
next to you?" they asked. "Of course," I replied. For what negative
situation could come out of ME, pitching next to a DOG. About five
minutes into my pitch there was a deafening SNORING sound coming from,
yes you guessed it -- the dog. I was assured the dog's snoring habits
had nothing to do with the entertainment value of my pitch. But
still. Didn't sell.
The odds are against you, it seems. But if you keep trying, and keep
rolling with the punches, you'll eventually (like I did with a network
TV pilot) sell something in the room. Eventually, if you swing at a
hundred balls, you'll hit one.
Or you'll get hit by one.
Either way, there's some kind of good odds hidden in the mix.
You might remember my ghost town obsession from over the summer. Well, I've
found the pinnacle: The Ukraine offers guided tours of Chernobyl. The tour
company picks you up in Kiev in the morning, drives you to the town of
Chernobyl, and gets you ready (gieger counter, instructions, other
precautions). Then you go into the exclusion zone and go right up to the
exploded reactor (about 350 feet away from it).
Next they take you through the abandoned city of Pripyat--originally built
to house plant workers. You get to wander around (a little), go inside
buildings, etc. All the USSR shit is still there.
Depending upon the time of year and road conditions, they'll also take you
to the "mechanical graveyard"--parking lots full of trucks and other
machinery that are still fairly dangerous to approach.
Then you go back to the town of Chernobyl and talk to residents that have
refused to leave despite the danger. After that, it's back to Kiev. The tour
takes a full day.
I can't imagine a tour that's creepier or more unsettling.
Damn, I've seen a lot of Chernobyl photos, but I hadn't seen those before.
The idea of the whole thing--the explosion, the cleanup, the government
deception, the disease and death, the abandoned towns--has always made my
Same. I shudder that Chernobyl gets into your DNA, and doesn't let go.
The Sacred Cat of Burma The Birman cat is the companion cat of the Kittah priests. Originally, the guardians of the Temple of LaoTsun were yellow-eyed white cats with long hair. The golden goddess of the temple, Tsun-Kyan-Kse, had deep blue eyes. The head priest, Mun-Ha, had as his companion a beautiful cat named Sinh. One day the temple was attacked and Mun-Ha was killed. At the moment of his death, Sinh placed his feet on his master and faced the goddess. The cat’s white fur took on a golden cast, his eyes turned as blue as the eyes of the goddess, and his face, legs and tail became the color of earth. However, his paws, where they touched the priest, remained white as a symbol of purity. All the other temple cats became similarly colored. Seven days later, Sinh died, taking the soul of Mun-Ha to paradise. Thus it is known that when a Kittah dies, he is reincarnated as a Birman cat before attaining Nirvana.
The Lion Dog The Tibetan Spaniel originated in ”the rooftop of the world." They have been bred in the villages and monasteries of Tibet for many hundreds of years and existed in a similar form as long ago as 200 BC. The eyesight of the Tibbie is keen: They can see over a very long distance. Thus, they like to perch as high as possible so that they can survey the surrounding country and watch for the approach of strangers. This was the custom of their ancestors, who sat on the Tibetan Buddhist monastery walls and barked to give the alarm when anything unusual happened. Their barking would, in turn, call the Mastiffs to the scene to defend the monastery. Tibetan Spaniels were also trained to turn the prayer wheels of the Buddhists, sending the prayers of the whole family up to heaven.
*Mythology revised in pieces from various sources who quote the same legend / Photos by The Grizz & C.Sto
I know you have a favorites page, but I was wondering more specifically what some of your artistic influences are?
Usually I answer smartly, “people, places, things… nouns in general…” The question can be a challenge: People are made up of so many things. I won’t be a wiseacre today, however, because,
I know I am, very, very much, who I was at age four, five, six… Most of learning who I am has been unlearning; going back to who I was before societal things got in the way: A girl with long curly hair sitting quietly amidst the rabbit hutches and sunset while my parents called me futilely for dinner.
In that regard, not only some of the most influential art in my life at that point, but specific parts of that influence are as follows.
“…and start to know there’s more out there than just getting more, and taking more…”
All I have to say is this shit hands down kicks Hannah Montana’s ass.
To say it as a filmmaker, I think there are excellent storytelling moments in these films. That was a time when movies actually made sense and challenged the viewer in at least some small way, if not more. Even the more simple, animated films that were created in line with licensing products, such as Care Bears II, have good visual transitions and so forth.
1. If you mix them all together, make it modern, age it up and make it le J.Sto, then you’ve got a lot of TSL, basically.
2. My other thought is this: That if we really believe there is a good way to the world, and we tell our kids that; and that anything is possible: What is that, theater? Like Santa? Or is it a spirit we’re ready to commit to in our own behavior and something we are ready to make quite real.
You see, when everyone told me that; grownups, my parents, Disney, the Care Bears… When they told me anything was possible, I believed them, and have come to understand that someone made a very big mistake. Everything to do with my projects is a hope that that someone is not me.
Because what I know is that the world can be anything we want it to be. What I don’t understand is why the collective chooses what we’ve got, and tricks themselves into accepting it for what was promised, and what they promised.
Is it a question of what you become when you grow up,
Or of what you were when you were little?
Or of what you can imagine?
Creative Collaboration Or, why am I still working with Jess two years later?
A Guest Entry by Greg Martin
I was talking with Jess one evening when she asked me if I was interested in writing a guest blog on JSDC. "Sure", I said, "What about?" "Write about why you're here," she replied. “That’s a retarded title for a blog” I responded. But after the sarcasm the idea is worth thinking about. I mean, we’ve been working together for over two years now. It’s worth examining why our creative collaboration is working, and why we’re able to plan and produce pieces we’re proud of.
First off, we’re both crazy. That’s helpful. It means we speak the same language.
Secondly, we’re both in it for the results. I’m an extreme creative, meaning I exist almost entirely to create and craft experiences—and I’m damn particular about how they turn out. It’s a prickly point of view, and it won’t really pay well (in the cashy money sense) for quite some time. That is, until I control my own creative organization or become world famous. Jess is just as particular as I am about producing quality. There’s a certain “do it right” frame of mind that seems to be rare in the world (or extremely quiet). That’s what drives us both to work our asses off on a project that won’t earn either of us a dime—at least not for years and years. When I’m looking at her scripts, I see some really kickass creative ideas… the sort of stuff you get all fired up about. What’s more, she doesn’t have all the ideas sorted out yet. That means (gasp) I can contribute. Which leads to the third reason we’re still working together.
Constructive Bickering. There’s a fantastic give-and-take between us when we’re cranking on a project. For the concept art pieces we’ve produced so far there’s been a solid investment of hours and ideas from both of us, even though I’m the one drawing. I’ve gotten off the phone from a critique/brainstorm session that started at 9PM and thought, “what the hell? When did it become midnight?” Three straight hours going back and forth over details, composition, theme, overall concepts, and generally hammering out her initial ideas into something we both agree represents the scene well…. And we’re both still alive. And we do this constantly.
Hey now, that’s something.
People have asked me the same question Jess asked. Why do I do it? Why am I here? I’m not getting paid for this, what’s it doing for me? I always respond “…Well gosh, she’s pretty.” But that’s not it. We all know Jess is a unique and beautiful snowflake, but I’m here because we’re creating some crazy good stuff. And we’re doing it because we’re both firmly invested in the other. It is a rare, precious thing to find such excellent vehicles to shine through as the scripts and ideas I’m working with now. And it’s exponentially more rare to find someone you can work with to bring them to life—someone who cares as deeply about the quality of the product as you do.
Anyhow, that’s why I’m here. The next question is, why are you here? Are you here to be entertained? Or are you here to be a part of something amazing?
Just asking. Think about it… That’s how it all starts.