Sunday, March 18, 2018

When Finishing a Damn Book Takes Forever

 My duct-taped copy of Atlas Shrugged in my blue backpack

I have been carrying around the same blue Lowepro camera backpack since 2012. It has traveled with me to many different places - India, Greece, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, all over the USA, England, Japan, Korea, etc. It has been a solid backpack but it currently holds a sort of emblem of shame: a tattered copy of of Ayn Rand's classic, Atlas Shrugged.

Late last year, I had to go to a Dr.'s appointment and apparently I had brought along this book. A few weeks ago, I was there again for a follow-up visit and the Dr. mentioned that I was reading it the last time I was there. It reminded me that I have been trudging through this novel for quite some time. It is rather lengthy at nearly 1,100 pages with fairly fine print, but that's not really the point. There are a couple of issues that this situation highlights that are worth pointing out:

1. It takes a certain measure of restraint to pull ourselves away from screens, social media, etc., in order to engage in activities that take much more focus but also offer the potential for a deeper level of thought.

2. My focus (and most everyone else's) is very fragmented most of the time. I work a full-time job, am finishing up the edit of a short film, have several other edits backlogged, am trying to write somewhat consistently, am reading at least one other book, just started a company, etc. We don't live simple lives.

3. If we don't keep up with the important things, they fall to the wayside. This is true for so many things: relationships, websites, blogs, companies, and of course, books.

 Werner Herzog, in his earlier days

When asked what advice he would give to other filmmakers, one of my favorite directors, Werner Herzog said, "Read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read." I have been an avid reader my whole life and this is a good reminder to make sure that I'm taking the time to do so.

I say that having this copy of Atlas Shrugged in my bag is shameful not because of its content. The novel is well written and contains valid and timely ideas that are worth engaging with. But the shame comes in because I haven't taken the time to finish the book as quickly as I would have liked and at least one other person has noticed. Now, I keep the book in plain view on purpose. It drives me toward a goal that will be satisfying to achieve.

Time to go finish that damn book.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Film Screening - New Orleans, Louisiana

“A Storm Is Coming”
@Zeitgeist Multidisciplinary Arts Center
1618 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., New Orleans, LA 70113
Friday, 12/22 - 7:00pm
w/ Live Musical Performance by Coney Island Pete Collins after the film

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Film Screening - Davenport, Iowa

“A Storm Is Coming”
@Alternating Currents
Sat, 8/26 - 3:30pm
Bucktown - Davenport, IA

Monday, March 7, 2016

This is Filmmaking

The first light

My dad always says that my mom is "driven." This generality applies to myself as well. Perhaps I got it from her.

It relates to how I view my usage of time. If I have something to show for myself after a certain period of time, then I view that period of time as having been successful. Lately though, I have seen that there is a fundamental flaw in that point of view.

Mark and I in front of our homemade light 'Megatron'

About 6 months ago, my good friend Mark Farag (who is a filmmaker as well) quit his job and moved into my dining room. We had grand designs of getting several films made, including older projects that may have gone stale and new and exciting projects that were just developing. And, while we did work on some of those projects here and there, the time was overwhelmingly spent playing Call of Duty on PS3, eating Hunan Chicken from Great Wall Chinese, and carving pathways through our apartment while ranting about any number of topics.

Needless to say, neither of us finished a film project.

We scored some 1K Babies

And a couple of weeks ago, Mark moved out. But, as I look back, I realize that this time was filmmaking itself. It is similar to any other artistic medium, in that the experiences that we have are what we draw on to do our work. So, as we were playing video games into the wee hours of the morning, we were discussing ideas and experiencing images and simply living life. Zooming out further, I see that we both had an incredible amount of experiences during this time. I spent a couple of weeks in Europe. I met a lovely British woman that I'm currently seeing. Mark met me in Europe and then continued to travel there for almost 2 months. He laid an old project to rest that had no life left in it (RIP 'Dead Smoke'). I wrote a screenplay for a short film. He wrote treatments for 2 or 3 short projects. We went clubbing in downtown Orlando. Mark drove down a horse path while location scouting and got his car stuck for several hours until Miguel pulled it out in pitch black with his tow truck. We played tennis. We found some old Mole Richardson lights for sale in a warehouse and bought 2 1K babies each. We built some 4x4 diffusion frames that we nicknamed Minions. We built Megatron, a halogen light that is supposed to output the equivalent of a 5K while only drawing the power of a 1K. I could go on and on. And I wouldn't take back how we spent that time.

One of our homemade 4x4 diffusion frames at work

The raw materials that became 'Megatron'

Hinged and Unhinged

The point is, even though I haven't completed a personal film in over a year, I am gaining experiences that are ever pushing me toward my next film.

The time has not been wasted. This is filmmaking.