Exhaustion

Yesterday was hell. I packed, slept for an hour, and got up at 3:30 in the morning to go to the airport. The flight was nearly an hour late and then I got to stand out in the cold while I waited for my bus (which was also late). Then I had to go to drawing and do a portrait. It turned out poorly.

But I DID have a magnificent portrait drawn OF me, when it was my turn to sit and model. Modeling is tougher than drawing, especially when you haven’t slept in a very long time. I kept falling asleep while I was sitting there, and Allegra captured my exhaustion beautifully:

Andrew Exhausted Portrait

Almost made the whole thing worth it. Then it was back to my apartment to write a 1200-word essay before I could finally get to sleep.

Anyway, this is just a roundabout way of saying that the vodcast is delayed, and more information on the Thanksgiving shoot and a review of The Fountain are forthcoming, but probably not today.

Before you complain, just take another look at that picture.

Quickie reviews: Inside Man, The Great New Wonderful, Mirror Mask

Hey everyone! I’m in my scriptwriting group right now, and I’m posting three quick (exactly) 100-word reviews of three movies I rented this weekend. Also coming soon is a review for the fantastic movie The Fountain. Anyway, here goes:

Inside Man

Spike Lee’s bank heist thriller starring Denzel Washington is a decent movie. It’s a bit predictable and Denzel Washington is… well… Denzel Washington. I like him, but he doesn’t offer much in the way of character interpretation.

Two things: first, the soundtrack was unexpected and great. Also, the film is a visual feast, orchestrated by my favorite DP in the whole wide world, Matthew Libatique (Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain).

I wanted something more scandalous and earth-shaking to finish the movie with; the ending as it stands is rather anticlimactic.

Final verdict: Not great, but worth watching.

[rate 3]

The Great New Wonderful

It’s a film about New Yorkers one year after September 11th, starring some of my favorite actors (Stephen Colbert, Tony Shaloub, Jim Gaffigan) and some wonderful actors I’ve never heard of (Naseeruddin Shah), but the premise is flimsy for a feature. Still, the writing is good and the acting pulls it through.

Faults: a musical montage that doesn’t lead anywhere and a couple story lines that just trail off. Still, Shaloub and Gaffigan have great chemistry—I could have watched just their story for ninety minutes—and all the characters are so wonderfully and horribly human.

Final verdict: a keeper.

[rate 4]

Mirror Mask

The visuals blew me away. The most visually imaginative film I’ve seen in years. A postmodern Alice In Wonderland.

Complaints: an overextended metaphor about how in every bad girl there’s a good girl trying to get out, and flickering throughout the fantasy sequences. The music is too jazzy.

What’s good: Great, stream-of-consciousness plot elements, innovative style, and breathtaking scenery. The creature designs are catchy (I just can’t stop picturing the cat-people and the monkeybirds)

Final verdict: If there were a better connection between fantasy and reality, this would be in my Pantheon. A great film for all ages.

[rate 4]

Calling all cars: we need extras to be dead people

HEY EVERYONE:

We’re looking for extras to appear in a pick-up scene we’re shooting for Terminal Philosophy today (Friday the 24th) from 10:00 AM to sundown. It doesn’t matter if you’ve appeared elsewhere in the film, and the more people we get, the more striking the scene will be. You will be playing corpses piling up around the Grim Reaper.

We can’t tell you where we’ll be shooting the scene until you meet us (we’re trying to fly under the radar on this one), but we’ll be meeting at Parker’s house at 10:00 AM for makeup and prep before we head off to shoot. Feel free to just show up if you want to help out. If you don’t know where Parker’s house is, e-mail me and I will send you directions.

What to wear: Drab colors. Warm earth tones. No text or fine patterns. No graphic images. No bright greens or blues.

What you get out of it: You get to be a corpse in a movie. What more do you want? OK, if we get done fast enough, you’ll also be able to star in a quick zombie movie. Happy?

Soon I will be back in Fort Collins

In two hours I catch my bus out to the airport! I’m so excited!

We want YOU to be death personified!

The road to shooting (even pickups) (especially pickups) is fraught with potholes. The one major scene we need to shoot while I am in town over Thanksgiving is a scene in which Leo meets the Grim Reaper. Unfortunately, the actor lined up to play the Grim Reaper has canceled on us and we are now looking for new talent.

We need someone with a dark soul, a cutting sense of irony, and the ability to strike fear into the hearts of men with a single glance. Previous stage and/or film acting experience is preferred but not required. The scene (especially the Grim Reaper’s dialogue) is written in a very theatrical manner, and we have always wanted to have someone with a theatrical background (or at least a theatrical persona) to play the part.

Here is some sample dialogue:

LEO
Who are you to decide who lives and who dies?

REAPER
(tired, but mildly amused)
I am the Angel of Death. That is my job.

LEO
But why then?! I had a life to live.

REAPER
You would have died the same way old as you did young. Lonely, depressed, godless.

Leo shakes his head for he does not want to believe.

REAPER
You know, Leo, hell is no fairy tale, Leo. It is a very real, very terrible place.

The reaper beckons Leo to him. Leo comes, and the reaper places his mouth up to Leo’s ear.

REAPER
Atheists go to hell, Leo.

What do you think? Can you pull it off? Do you know someone who can? E-mail me and let me know. Be sure to provide your name and phone number, and if available, a résumé is appreciated.

The Shoot will take place either Wednesday, November 22nd, Friday the 24th, Saturday the 25th, or Sunday the 26th.

Filmmaker Deathmatch: The fruits of our labor

Well, the films are in and encoded and uploaded and all that goodness, so without further ado I give you:

Monica’s Film (untitled)
Andrew’s Film: Anti-Film (a triptych)

For the next vodcast (I swear it’s coming soon-ish) I think I’ll include a little of the feedback that was given here after the first showing. Please feel free to leave your comments here should you wish.

Also, what do you want to see in the next vodcast? I’m kind of out of ideas, working on things like this (which was done with ordinary ballpoint pens and has in my considered estimation approximately sixteen billion strokes). Thoughts?

Encoding delay

The movies for the filmmaker deathmatch are finished (and were finished on time, by the way), but due to an encoding delay I’ll be posting them tomorrow morning rather than tonight.

In the meantime, here’s one movie: a music video for the Ghosts of Verona’s song “The Sound of Impending Doom,” entitled Mr. Evil Goes to Washington. This was done as a color theory project in my 2D class. It still has some rough edges and pacing issues, but I would really love to develop this into a full, finished video. Here it is.

In Which I Lose My Soul

It’s theatre gigs like this that makes you wish you were licensed to use building squibs.

For the last two months, Parker and I have been exercising our positions as masters of illusion and sabre saws to piece together a set for Poudre High School’s fall theatre production of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical Oklahoma! (I am not being enthusiastic. That punctuation is part of the title.) I am now…proud…I suppose…to announce that we are now one week from presenting this classic tale of life, love, marriage, death, death threats, perversion and packed lunches on the American frontier.

That’s the plug. Now for the meat of this post.

Fun Fact: Oklahoma! was a favorite presentation of USO shows during World War 2 (Gasp! No numerals?). It depicted, in no small terms, all the great, wholesome things that ‘our boys’ were fighting for back home (like hot meals and singing), while forgiving all the not-so-wholesome things that ‘our boys’ were doing while away from said home (like killing people, and purchasing pornographic postcards from Arabs).

Oklahoma! is almost certainly the worst musical ever written, down to the imperative exclamation in the title, and is quite certainly the worst musical ever performed. It is, essentially, three hours of borderline misogyny and hicks singing atonally. The songs are poorly written (which is all the worse because they’re so catchy); there are so many lewd jokes the show could be an episode of Chappelle’s show, if not for the lack of a bald black man throughout; and the entire affair is bisected by a ballet sequence brought on by the inhalation of a ‘special kind of smelling salts’, coincidentally also purchased from an Arab. The climax in this farce is a bidding war over a lunch hamper between an arsonist and an idiot.

And that’s just the script.

The casting for Poudre’s rendition of Oklahoma! is fitting, if not questionable: we have actually attracted a handful of ranchers – real, live ranchers! – into the fold who are willing to sing, two-step, shoot things, threaten to shoot things if they don’t marry their daughters, and make themselves look like asses to all of their friends. I suppose they rationalize this as a sacrifice for art.

I’ve been trying to avoid this, but I suppose I have to bear scrutiny about the technical activity for this trainwreck. (A metaphorical trainwreck, of course. Our last real trainwreck got every one of the techs cursed out, and nearly killed a third of the chorus and all of our pit orchestra.)
Technical theatre for Oklahoma (screw it. I’m not punctuating that blasted word anymore) didn’t meet until after cast auditions were held, because we didn’t have a technical director. Actually, we did, but a ‘Mystery Director’ is pretty much useless when you can’t do shit. Eventually, some of us learned that the TD was Ms. Cindy Eby (and the rest of us already knew, because she did tech for Shakespeare in the Summer), and we had TECH! Hooray!

Ahem.

Actually, we had design meetings. This was actually pretty cool, except we had no real commission from the other directors and no design concept. Instead of building, we listened to the soundtrack of Oklahoma while drawing, listened to the audio track of the movie adaptation of Oklahoma while drawing, and debated whether or not Sean Cummings’ concept for a dada-esque ‘Okla-horror’ show should be implemented while drawing airplanes dropping bombs on cornfields and curiously happy Santa Clauses.

My first suggestion for a set piece was a twelve-foot high cutout cow outfitted with building squibs that would be placed, without the cast’s previous knowledge, and detonated closing night. The idea was rejected, but talk of twelve-foot-tall cows, and building squibs especially, continued for weeks.

Once we had design plans for a set (notably still lacking a unifying design concept: we had everything from minimalism to kitsch), we set about building.

Ahem.

Actually, we were told by the school district that we would not be permitted to build. Recent technical mishaps, including the alleged crushing of one student underneath an electric lift, prompted some inconsiderate jackass in an admin position to approve a statute requiring all student techs to go through a “qualification training”, in which they would learn to use screwdrivers, before they would be permitted to dutchman a flat or rip plywood.*

Fuck.

Luckily, desperation won out. The fact that we had just over a month to create a show with only one certified student tech (e.g. me) persuaded the district to waive the restriction. Our valiant crew of noobs were given carte blanche, handed screw guns, and told to go to town.

We took the advise, and went to town. Then we came back from town, some of us sporting souvenirs, and started building.

Time passed. This is actually just a brief placeholder used in stead of about three pages I could have written, but won’t because I:
a. don’t want to take up the entire first page of this blog with a single post,
b. think this post is getting to be too damn long already, and
c. can’t specifically remember everything that transpired between whenever the hell that was and whenever the hell now is. I’m so tired.

In fact, I’m sick, and can’t sleep. When I do sleep, I dream light plots for Oklahoma.

Did I mention that I’m now the light designer? I can’t tell, I’m so tired.

I actually didn’t do jack shit with lighting until last monday – the first night of tech week – when I removed some gels, found out that a half-dozen of my instruments were entirely fucked, and discovered that I was sick. One week later, I am proud to announce that I am still sick. However, my lights are gelled and working, I have memorized virtually the entire musical, and have hung no less than two new curtains and a cyclorama, the latter by myself. I am now incredibly tired, sick, and sore. I am also repeating myself.

Ahem.

Oklahoma will be either a mediocre production or fail outright (to my knowledge, the cast have not even learned the finale yet). All of you that are able, willing, or required to should come to see it on November 16 (Thursday) and 17 (Friday) at 7 PM, or on November 20 (Saturday) at either 2 or 7 PM. You can mock our pain.

MOCK IT GOOD!

An Update

I realize that it has been a long time since I’ve posted anything, or since I’ve heard from many of you. My goal is to change at least 50% of those things, the rest I leave up to you.

In case you haven’t heard (I don’t know why you wouldn’t have), I am up in Oregon, doing a 10 week internship at a place called Aprovecho Research Center. Let me tell you a little bit about this place.

This place is pretty much an elaborate experiment in self sustainable living. We only eat food that we grow (However, we are allowed to buy things at the supermarket if we so wish), and let me tell you, there is not anything quite like going on an organic vegetarian diet to really clear all the junk out of your system. Our rule on meat is, if you want some, kill the animal yourself. (We raise about 15 chickens, 8 ducks, and 3 goats, but none of us has had a craving for meat great enough to slay a creature).

We also have a 3 mile long hiking trail in the nearby forest, which we leave open for public access, so long as they pay the small $2 per person fee. I am not making any money, and the facility is completely funded by donations and grants. It’s pretty much a small farm, with work to be done every day, whether it be Gardening, animal caretaking, forestry, or working on the new lodge we are building. I have become familiar with virtually every type of garden tool in existence, one in which I will describe. there is a tool here called the Polaski:

It comes up to my shoulder, weighs about 15 pounds, and can destroy anything in its path. I’m not sure how it got its name, but my roommate and I have a theory that it was named after the first man to be killed by one.

ALSO, we generate all our own electricity from massive solar panels throughout the complex. we have to keep an eye on our power gauge, something I’ve never had to do before. We use power-efficient light bulbs and such, and heat our house and cook our food with wood stoves. I never realized how fun it oculd be cooking on a wood stove. Also, the dorm has no foam insulation. Instead, it uses bales of straw, which is nearly as effective, although it can get a bit nippy at night.

Another interesting, and somewhat ironic thing is that the facility borders a clear cut: 20 acres of forest that has been completely cut down. The cut took place sometime this summer, and all the braches and smaller trees were stacked into piles. Last Friday, they began burning those piles. I decided to venture into this area and document it with my camera. You can see the video below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lclaM0OtQ4I

The interesting thing about the footage is this: I failed to realize that my camera had a low battery, and I also made the mistake of relying on the attached LED light for my sole source of navigation through the night. Needless to say, my battery died on me when I was in the middle of the burn area. And let me tell you, there is nothing like getting lost in the middle of a 20 acre burning forest in the middle of the night. I was lucky enough to see a car drive down the nearby road and I was able to get my bearings from there, but I still had to walk 300 yards through fire and smoke to get there, tripping over branches and potholes in the dark. It was truly a great experience.

The wind patterns here make it so the smoke blows directly to the facility, and the piles have been smoldering for the past week. We have all had trouble breathing, and are trying to contact the logging company to put out the fires, but they aren’t answering.

Moving on, I have a book and movie to reccomend to you that I have read/seen since I’ve gotten here. First off:

World War Z
By Max Brooks

This is a book that takes place in a world that has recently recovered from a plague of the undead. Nearly 1/4 of the world’s population had been infected, and humanity is struggling to return to a civilized form of living. The interesting thing about this book is that it is written like a documentary, taking the accounts of several dozen people who survived that time. The author takes many different details into account, such as the human response to such a disaster, the demographics behind the solutions and how the landscape and environment affected the spread of the plague. It is a very intriguing book and I would suggest it to all of you.

Secondly:

Dead Man
Directed by Jim Jarmusch

This is a very… well… interesting spin on a western. It follows the (mis)adventures of a man named William Blake(Johnny Depp), who is being hunted after killing the son of a prominent tycoon(Robert Mitchum) in self defense. His only ally is an outcast indian (Gary Farmer) who goes by the name of “Nobody”, and has confused Depp’s character with the british poet of the same name. He constantly quotes Blakes poetry, and is surprised that Depp’s character does not know or understand any of it. This movie is very well made and has many good uses of metaphors and foreshadowing. Also, the soundtrack was composed by Neil Young, and there are small cameo appearances by Billy Bob Thorton and Iggy Pop. A great movie to watch with a good group of friends.

A Confession: I never hitchiked before I came here. I just did it for the 4th time this morning. And if you ever wonder why you don’t see hitchikers in Colorado, It’s because they’ve all hitchiked their way to Oregon. I have seen more in the past month than I had in all my years back home. Also, it rains here. A lot. to the point where the ground is mud 24 hours a day.I will have many more stories to tell you guys when I get back, just remember to ask me.

Well, that about does it for me. I miss you all, and I will be home for thanksgiving in a little more than a week.

Cheerio!

~Arin

Recent goings-on

Hello all! It’s been a while since I last posted here or did a vodcast, so I’m just here to assure you all that I’m still alive and to update you on a few things:

FIRST: there will be several new films for you by next week, including the products of the filmmaker deathmatch. Stay tuned. Here’s something (not related to the deathmatch) to whet your appetite.

Unfortunately, I probably won’t be able to do a vodcast this weekend because I’ve got a crapload of drawing homework to do, but maybe next week.

I have noticed that NOTHING has been written so far for the You Explode Filmmaking project. Get on the ball, people, or you’re all fired as my collaborative producers! (You’ve never heard of a director firing his producers, have you? Well there’s a first for everything.)

Thanks to Micah and Mike, we are 20% of the way to our goal of raising $100 by January 1st to help cover the cost of switching to a more centralized server Keep ’em coming, folks! (and I’m sorry for the delay in your sonnet, Mike. I’ll get around to it eventually–iambic pentameter is HARD!)

Finally, I would just like to bask in the glory of two things:

Thing the first: The election. Sorry to be the stereotypical straight-ticket Democrat, but it was a thing of beauty. ‘Nuff said.
Thing the second: Next semester, I will be taking Intro to Filmmaking, officially making me a film student. I also will be taking a class on the career of David Lynch, and I WON’T HAVE TO TAKE DRAWING CLASS, and I’ll have Fridays off! (Is it possible that there is a God and he’s a fan of my work? …didn’t think so.)

That’s it for now because from where I’m standing it’s 3 AM and I’m going to bed.

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