So today in class, we came to the climax of this assessment. Presentation to our peers of our film journey in third year. We watched as our peers briefly introduced their blogs and websites and then went through and gave them several comments and a mark out of ten. One of the comments I got came with the comment (among the things I did well) "maybe you should try being a bit more positive and uplifting. Just a thought for employability purposes."
Now, this post isn't a hissy-fit at that person. Merely a response that they'll probably never see. But I was never writing this blog to get a job or to get any exposure, and after university, I will probably very rarely write in it, if at all. I'll probably even end up deleting it. This blog was only EVER for uni. However, in response to the person's comment, I'd just like to look back on the year as I've experienced.
The first blow was dealt when I couldn't get any crew for the film I'd spent about 3-5 months in pre-production for, coming to uni ready to shoot. I honestly could have had the film finished and ready for submission in the first semester. But no-one was interested. I did my pitch, I asked around, it was a good pitch and got positive responses. But no-one wanted to crew on it. So I was screwed from the outset. Then I get offered a role as a Producer which honestly I only took because I was getting scared that if I didn't take it I'd have been left without a project. Between these two events (which happened roughly 4-5 months apart) I had an emotional breakdown and found...well...life, difficult to cope with. My holidays were taken up working for a film I didn't believe in. My father had a heart-attack, the film I had spent the majority of the year working on became unbearable to work on any longer, and now in the final weeks of uni I'm shooting a film which was improvised in the space of a month or so.
Considering that this blog was supposed to be about our film and university experience this year, I'd say to hell with positivity and call it as it is. This has been a really mentally and physically difficult year for me, and had it not been for my family I'm not sure how good a condition I'd be in right now. However, it has been an entire year, and it hasn't been ALL bad.
My girlfriend and I have come out of the hardships presented to both of us stronger and more in love than ever. Hell, she was my primary support through all of this. I made a new friend, who is a really awesome guy and a great composer. My passion for music has been re-ignited, and through the hardships I faced in the year I've developed a stylistic philosophy when it comes to film work. The end of the year is bringing with it the first time in years that I will be able to finally realize my ambition of doing National Novel Writing Month, and I will FINALLY be able to go back to what I love most, comic book writing. I'll have the time to send out scripts, re-join martial arts training, realize my life-long desire to join/start a band as a vocalist. Despite the hardships, things are falling into place, and I got through it all. I guess that says a lot about my character. I can stand up to adversity, I can roll with the punches and I can take it. Things have to reach a certain threshold before I have to leave, but that threshold really needs to either border on or just flat out be abusive. But until things reach that point, hell I can take anything as long as it's good for me.
So, there's your positivity mate. It's been a shit year, but I've learned a lot about myself, and I've come out of it stronger, more experienced and enthusiastic to get working. Can't get more positive than that eh?
The world's success hinges on the successful use of language to communicate. Without communication human's wouldn't be here today. So, it stands to reason that some of the most influential works of fiction ever created have featured one or more fictional languages to build the world that those stories take place in. These languages are called "Conlangs" or "Constructed Language(s)". But what is a Conlang? And how is it relevant to film and television and therefore will not take down my grade for this blog assessment?
Well to answer the second question (for the purposes of allowing the lecturer marking this assessment to see my logic and relax), conlangs-as a fictional element-have just as much a place in film and television as in novels, comics etc. In fact, the film Avatar gave rise to the Conlang Na'vi. Yes, Na'vi is actually a full language, with multiple thousand words, a grammar system, and thousands of speakers around the world.
Now answering the first question, a Conlang is not just an alternative system or coding of your native language. For example, if my sister and I decided to develop a Conlang, but merely switched what letters in our current language made what sounds (e.g we decided "th" was spelled with a "d"), and utilised the same grammar, word order etc, this is just a code. A Conlang differs in that it is a full system, with different sounds, word order, word meanings/suggestions, grammatical systems, accents, marks, particles, glyphs, numerical system etc. It is literally a full language.
So why am I writing about this? As a dark fantasy/sci fi writer conlangs are an interesting study for me, and having written a successful (albeit basic) conlang of my own, Yurakian (yoo-rah-kee-en), I thought it'd be an interesting post to teach you guys how to write one!
Step 1-Gibberish to Sentences:
The first step in a conlang is to think of a common sentence in your native language, and as you think of it, just say sounds. Basic greetings serve as a good starter for this. So for English, a good starting sentence would be:
Hello, how are you?
Now as I look at/think of that sentence I'm going to say some random sounds and transliterate them as best I can here.
So, now that I have some gibberish to work with, I think about what the sounds might indicate about the people speaking it. Being quite harsh sounding, I think that the language this greeting belongs to fits some kind of warrior race, obsessed with hunting and brutish strength. Now having that, I take those sounds and separate them into words/grammar with glyphs in english's alphabet that I feel give a good romanization of my language:
Now, knowing that I'm writing for a warrior race, I decide what those words may mean in that culture, and how those words fit together to form the greeting "Hello, how are you?":
Kooky = Blades
Ran = Well
Ah = A particle denoting a question inquiring as to the wellness of something.
So, as a warrior race I decided to let the language denote that these people think of each other in terms of their weaponry, so I made the first word mean "blade". From there I chose "Ran" to mean well, and "Ah" to be a verbal indicator to the listener that tells them the speaker is inquiring as to the wellness of something. Therefore:
Kooky Ran'ah = Are your blades sharp? = Hello, how are you?
(Note: Already in step 1, you have created words, some grammar rules, an accent, various sounds, a culture that determines what else your language can do and the beginnings of a slight romanization system. That's a lot of the hard work, done! And it took less than 10 minutes!)
Step 2-An Alphabet:
After Step 1, you should have a decent familiarity with the sounds of your language. Now is the time to go a little crazy. You worked out the basics of what you want your language to sound like, so, make more sounds. Make as many sounds as you can, and then in those sounds pick out the ones you like most. Write them down in your native language as best you can, and then draw a symbol (called a "glyph) that represents that sound. This is the method that the real-world language of Mandarin used, where they took into account how many sounds can be made (taking into account tonality and context) and drew different symbols for each of those sounds. Alternatively, you can go with a more western-based system of alphabet, where there are a limited amount of glyphs, and those glyphs have sounds assigned to them.
Step 3-Basic Sentences and Grammar:
After you've given yourself and alphabet to play around with, you can start to form more words to translate into your conlang. Speak some more gibberish, use the sounds and glyphs you created in your alphabet, and write out some basic conversational phrases in your native language and translate them into your conlang. Such sentences could be:
I am well, how are you?
How is the weather?
What hobbies to you enjoy?
I don't like...
My name is...
What is your name?
Etcetera. As you write these out, you will discover things with your romanization and conlang alphabet that give way to new words, new sounds as a result of certain combinations (such as the "th" sound in english when the letters "T" and "H" are together). You will also discover that you think certain sounds should have accents or have a certain grammar mark with them (like I did in step 1 with "ran'ah"). Think of what these grammar marks mean, why you placed them there, and what that says about the people, and the language they're speaking.
This is one of the easier steps in writing a conlang, simply because you've done most of the hard work. When writing numerals numbers 1 through 9 are quite simple, because they are singular in both appearance and sound. After 10, there are several ways things can go.
You can either go with the same route as english, and establish prefixes/suffixes to denote a number's place in the numerical system. For example to denote any number after "20", english has developed the prefix "twenty", which is places that the beginning of a number within the "twenties". The same can be said for the "teens", which is any number after ten but before twenty.
The other way you can go is something more like Japanese and Chinese, where you say the the number in the "tens" and then the number after it. So for example in Chinese they would say twenty five by literally saying the words for "two", "ten" and "five" all at once.
Or, make a rule of your own! When I wrote Yurakian, my numeral system was based on possessives. So to say 25, the word literally translated in Yurakian was "five, belonging to ten, belonging to two." The "ten belonging to two" meant "twenty", so "five belonging to ten belonging to two" made twenty five. Complicated right!? But that's okay! The Yurakian people were dicks anyway!
This is where I leave you, really there's not much more to say. After this, it's up to you. You've developed the basic form, structure and grammar of your language, and as you write more and more sentences and phrases in it, you'll soon have a plethora of words and a whole set of grammatical rules denoting what word goes where, what kind of connotations words have, etiquette and more! It all begins with a single phrase: "Hello, how are you." And from there, your language will practically write itself. The more you use and create it, the more it will grow.
Hope you found this post interesting and informative! Good luck with writing your languages!
Walking – stuck on escalators between
walkers and standers.
Repetitive pattern of leaders,
Ripping dusty pages from their gullet, and forcing them down mine.
My stomach churns and twists and tries to reject,
Every dusty sheet.
“I didn't sleep well” say I,
As fist and paper descends down my neck.
I remember the faces of cherished people,
I cry because I miss them.
I'm scared because I miss myself.
This is a poem I wrote while I was alone with my thoughts and some horrible music for a couple of hours at uni, and as you might have guessed, it's about my previous post.
The opening line reflects the monotony of the university setting. Everyone is the same, and everyone co-exists. The escalators are a place where frequently, unstoppable forces meet immovable objects.
Every class seems to be the same experience. A teacher lecturing us on how to do things to meet the university standard. We can try to ignore this teaching, but the success of our time at university relies on it, and so we are forced to comply.
Personally this leaves me upset to the point where I'm not sure what I want to do, but as everyone else goes along with the normality of it, I blame my low spirits on a lack of sleep and force myself to allow the process.
I think of home, of getting out and going home because that's where I can be myself and let my creation exist the way I want it to and it'll be okay there. It makes me sad that I'm not at home with my loved ones, and it makes me scared that I seem to have been stuck in this place so long that I feel like I'm losing myself to it.
University, or rather, tertiary education (counting two years at TAFE and this as my third year in my degree I've been in the tertiary education system for 5 years, which is only one year off the full primary and secondary education timeframes), has provided me more chance for self-reflection and the formation life views than did the oppression of the education and teaching system of the primary and secondary.
There is a certain freedom within the tertiary. Being an equal to the teachers, having a say, not putting up with the bullies and the idiots of the class room, being free to leave a class when you want/need to. Being your own person.
And yet as the year draws hastily to a close and I feel the grip of uni slipping on me, I realize that it is an illusion, a farce set up by the powers that be so that rather than having expectations of ourselves, we have expectations placed on us so that in order to truly form our own style, our own ways of being, our own creative methods, we have to endure years of unsatisfying results until we can finally create what we want to create.
On voicing my opinions to my mother she pointed out that my views were not unlike a story in a book entitled The Getting Of Wisdom, which I am yet to read-but mother told me that it is about a talented, vibrant young girl who is full of life and energy. Then one day she is sent to boarding school where her spirit, her inner-self, her talent and vibrancy is suppressed by the authorities of the school. The girl gives in and acquiesces to the wishes of the system, yet on her graduation day, she runs from the school, skipping away and tossing her hat into the air, showing that she has retained who she is deep inside, despite the oppression of the system. She has worked out how to both be herself, and satisfy the expectations of others.
I applaud this story, however there is one critical commonality missing from the premise. The girl was not in a tertiary education system, studying a course designed to encourage creativity.
All throughout the year, the students in my course are told that "We (the lecturers) want to see the film you want to make.", and yet, if the film we want to make doesn't adhere to a set of guidelines, or doesn't try to "do something different", then during screenings students are criticized and encouraged to change their film to suit the lecturer's vision. I have seen it happen where a student will show their film in three different screenings, with three different lecturers, and receive three different sets of criteria for what the film "could" be.
Some lecturer's are more logical about this situation than others, and regard the student's vision with respect and at times even affection, merely saying what the student could do to assist that student in achieving his/her vision. However there are many lecturers who just seem to quote Frank from Father of the Bride:
"Oh it's nice, it's very nice, we change it all though."
Now on hearing all this you may wonder "Why is this an academic's conundrum?". Purely because of this simple fact that I became aware of through my 5 years in the education system.
Creativity is burdened with the false superiority of the educated artist.
Frequently I have seen those who either can't see or outright refuse to acknowledge the artistic worth in a creative work, purely because it doesn't adhere to a set of guidelines or some kind of theory outlined by some "genius", critic or academic way back when. And yet, the same geniuses, critics and academics will criticize a work that "doesn't do anything new". The creative world is one where knowledge is a waste - where success is dictated by those who spent their times waist-deep in books rather than face-caked with sleep from their eyes observing, thinking and learning by doing.
I've learned a lot in my course, and I love theoretical studies. But I rarely try to apply it to my work. The path of the artist is much like the path of the martial artist as outlined in a simple quote by Jet Li in the film The Forbidden Kingdom:
"Learn it all, then forget it all. Find the way, then make your own way."
I am interested in artistic theory and find the academic and historic study interesting. But when it comes to the practical application of such things, I leave it in the books and I carve my own art from my own feelings. If I want to do a work inspired by a theory then that's fine, new experience is new experience. But ultimately the work is mine, and if it doesn't work for me then I will do it my way.
To anyone who wants to study something creative in your tertiary education, that's fine. I understand that want and university is a great platform for learning history and theory, and even some great techniques which may improve and influence your creative process. However, be forewarned. You will constantly have things to change, and at times you may need to scrap your work and start all over again. You will be constantly at odds with lecturers and you will be continuously forced into a box.
I urge you, for the sake of your creative soul, don't fight. Do what the system dictates, and in all your spare time, rebel. In your spare time read your books, do your homework and while you create do what your feelings, your mind and your heart dictate you have to do, and while you do it think of the people at uni. They can't box you in at home.
For an alternative method of learning your art, it's simple. Do it. The creative peoples in the world are blessed in that what we can achieve is dampened only by our passion and pro activity. I believe I'd have learned more about film in the last three years if I'd spent those three years making films rather than studying them. Someone who is truly passionate about something does/thinks about that thing all the time. They spend their time either making, doing or studying it. With the internet we can easily learn anything we set our minds to, so there's no reason that we should feel the need to enroll and adhere to the criteria of creative degrees when we can do exactly what we'd do there, and learn it all from the internet which is accessible all the time, and from books which are easily pirated or borrowed from a library.
If you're a creative person, create. Create and learn from that creation, and if you want deeper knowledge or a starting point of study then go to uni and study your creative passion. But always, always fight against it where you can, and retain your inner most self.
Now I don't claim for this to be a universal truth. Indeed some of the best film makers in the world have learned their craft at university. However, I feel that at the time there was more freedom for experimentation, as during this period of time, the boundaries of what film could do was still a young idea and barely formed. If the academic system works for you, then great. That's a really good thing and you should cherish it. For those like me where you find the hypocrisy of it unbearable, just remember. Rebel in your spare time, those who would box you in can never take away your creative desires and needs.
I don't really want to write about this, but I have to for university. I am officially off the film I've been working on for the entire year and it feels great. Long story short, stuff got cluster fucked, the director and I kept butting heads, one day the director went too far with it and I left, now I have permission to make my own film, on my own.
I'm not bothered, like at all. To be honest I'm relieved. I'd been wanting to leave that film for a long time, it just seemed cursed.
The director proudly told me that our friendship was non-existent and never will be. As a person who makes a point of not getting particularly close to anybody and enjoys as little company as possible this is no skin off my nose.
If anything, I'm just happy for the post-uni time it's freed up. After uni I'm going to realize several ambitions of mine that I haven't been able to fulfill because of uni.
1) I'm going to join/start a band.
2) I'm going to start working full time.
3) I'm going to write comics, every, single, day.
4) I'm going to start a series of websites reviewing books, comics, music, films and television series.
5) I'm going to return to studying martial arts. (I used to do Shotokan Karate but uni drained all my energy so I couldn't give 100% during classes)
So yeah...not having a film to have to put through festivals is awesome for me. Cheers.
The picture above, of a stick figure with a single arm, a disproportionately large head and disproportionately short legs and feet next to the phrase "I am not here and this is not really happening" has come to mean a lot to me this year.
The picture was drawn by Radiohead lead singer Thom Yorke. He stuck it on his hotel room window during the promotional tour of their third album Ok Computer. Yorke suffered a mental breakdown during this tour, overwhelmed by the amount of shows, the demands of the record company, the constant interviews and dissociation with his music.
Earlier this year I started a little personal project. I decided I would listen to the entire discographies of bands I had "neglected" (I like them but don't know much, or want to listen but haven't gotten round to it yet) over the years. Radiohead was the first of these bands to be checked off this list. The first album Pablo Honey was great. Kind of like a stripped-down Nirvana, it was really good. I loved it. Without hesitation I moved onto The Bends which I loved even more than Pablo Honey. Eager to listen to the album that cemented their place in the music industry, I immediately moved on to Ok Computer...and that's when things started to get weird.
I had read about Ok Computer being one of the best albums of all time. On my first listen, I didn't really get it. But as I listened to it again and again, it began to weed it's way into my mind. I couldn't get it out of my head. The sound, the themes, the concepts within the album, they all bled into me.
This was a bad thing, because for the past x amount of years I have been carrying around the doubt in my head that I'm sane. I mean people that are insane believe themselves perfectly normal, what's to say that us, the "orderlies" of the world aren't the crazy ones. Not only that, but I seem to remember things differently to how they actually happened, and I also think several concepts that have been deemed "weird" by the only people I've had the courage to talk to them about.
So with Ok Computer largely dealing with themes of insanity, of not belonging to the current world and of being weighed down by a career and social hierarchies, the album brought all of my emotional instability to the forefront, and before long I was falling.
What followed was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. Every morning as I woke up, I felt that I was somehow smaller. Throughout the day I would question whether anything was real, whether I was real, if we were reflections of some bygone era or some kind of perverse digital simulation. I felt like I was constantly being watched, I was stressed about everything, I was afraid that I was going crazy. One particular incident had me crying into my girlfriend's neck and shoulder in the middle of a city train station saying "I can feel my mind slipping". This isn't the worst of it.
This continued for a month, maybe more? Then suddenly the thoughts started to get smaller and I became more...me. Whatever was going on in my head didn't bother me as much as it used to, and a few weeks after this period of time, I finally mustered up the courage to listen to Radiohead's next album Kid A.
Now I'm not saying that Radiohead caused me to experience a nervous breakdown. But what I am saying is that their music caused me to look inwards, to toy with my views of...well...everything, and on looking in and comparing it with what I saw outside of myself, I was ill-equipped at the time to handle it.
Anyway, during this period, this image and it's words "I am not here and this is not really happening." became something of a catch-phrase for me. It summed up everything I was feeling in a single sentence and whenever I needed to feel confirmed I would repeat it to myself. It a lot of ways, it made what was happening worse, but the main thing is that it served as an anchor, and when my mind was chaos, it focused me.
Since I got better, this image has helped me creatively a lot. It serves as a constant source of inspiration, and I've managed to conceive and start writing a comic trilogy based on the aforementioned events.
I'm not sure why I'm writing this. I guess because for some reason, at this point in time, I wish I could kind of go back and talk to my breaking-down self. To make a record of everything that was happening. I was keeping a journal where I was writing about the things getting into my head, but it doesn't even explain half of what I was feeling.
Anyway, this is why the image in this post means a lot. It represents a mental fall and rise for me. One day I want to get a tattoo of it.
Anyone who knows me well knows that I love nothing so well as hating stuff. Not really hating stuff so much as the fun rants that ensue when you tell people what boils your blood and why. So I was very happy to find out that in the merry old land of Oz we have a television show all about what famous people hate!
The show is called Room 101, and is hosted by Australian comedian Paul McDermott. McDermott spends an evening with an Australian celebrity, and the celebrity tells him what 5 things they hate, and McDermott then determines if it goes into room 101.
The title of the show is a reference to George Orwell's novel 1984. One of the government agencies in the novel is infamous for it's use of a place called "Room 101", which reputedly houses "The worst thing in the world.". By the end of the novel, "the worst thing in the world" is revealed to be a person's worst fear, which the government knows of because of their extensive surveillance systems in place.
So, as someone who enjoys telling people what I hate and why, here are the 5 things I want to put in Room 101.
1: Musical Purists: What I mean by this is people who love a band, then suddenly the band tries out a new musical direction, and suddenly every fan the band ever had deserts because they "sold out". Do these people even know what "selling out" means? It means accepting money to do something that is specifically uncharacteristic of you. An example of selling out, is a pro-gay advocate, supporting an anti-gay movement because they were paid for it. What selling out is not, is when a band decides they want to try a new sound, so they try something a little more mainstream and the fans all claim they're "selling out". If the band tries something more experimental, they're a huge success. If you look at KoRn, they started to experiment with more mainstream styles and now the metal community hates them for it. If you look at Radiohead, they started out a guitar band, but their album "Kid A" and afterwards, they were showered with more worship than they ever got. Why was Korn berated while Radiohead was worshiped? Fracking musical purists who think that bands should only ever be one thing and never move from there.
2: News. The news is supposed to update us on current affairs and the happenings on the world. Yet all we get are half-baked sensationalist stories about issues which have been present for years, intermingled with irrelevant celebrity drama which affects the world in no way shape or form. This really needs to change. I understand that we need escapism, but ultimately that escapism does nothing to change the world, or to educate younger people about it's problems. Not only this, but a news program reports on an issue. If that issue gets good ratings, it's all they follow for months, making it appear more prevalent and severe than it actually is. Sinkholes was a big thing in the news in Australia a few months ago. Just about everyday in the news there was something about a sinkhole somewhere in the world, when in actual fact, the occurrence of sinkholes hadn't increased at all. The news just did a report on them one day and everyone was scared, so they marketed on that fear. The same thing happened with racist police in America. One new report got a huge hit, and suddenly every copper in America was a racist, when in actual fact, racist police have neither increased nor decreased in the past few years (this fact was confirmed by an American friend). If there's ever to be any progress, we need to get celebrity drama, ratings-grabbing sensationalist crap out of mainstream media.
3: Social Media. I have a facebook and a twitter account. I hate them both. I only use facebook to keep in touch with my girlfriend and classmates (being a film maker requires much communicates) and twitter I use to network with comics professionals. Once my girlfriend and I get married I will be deleting my facebook account. My Twitter account will remain open, but purely for business. Why do I hate social media? It promotes shallow social relationships. It takes away any "Social" aspect of the words "Social" and "Media". It is an avenue for addiction, which, let's face it. The world doesn't need something else people can become addicted to. It's given the ignorant a voice. Ever watched those news or current affair shows with a twitter or facebook live feed? It is impossible to keep track of how many of those comments are actually informed, not-biased and applicable to the discussion at hand.
4: No Baby Shaming. I mean seriously, wtf? No Baby Shaming is a relatively new phenomenon, having emerged only a few years ago. But now, apparently it's okay to accuse people of being "selfish" should a couple decide they don't want a child. If any of you shamers are out there, let's set the record frakking straight shall we? "Selfishness" is the act of denying one person something they desire, or that would be useful to them, because you determine your need/want greater, or their need/want irrelevant. Example, if I had been playing a game for several hours and my sister wanted to have a go but I denied her simply because I wanted to keep playing, that is selfishness. What is NOT selfish, is deciding against having children. What is selfish, is having children despite the fact that you don't have the means to support one, purely because you want one. I hate the phrase "I want a baby", because it implies that no other desire matters. Having a baby is a deep, deep commitment, and so many people are undertaking it without being truly ready, but they do it anyway because the pressure is so immense! Seriously people, it's none of your business whether people have kids or not. Get over it.
5: Post 90's Parenting Techniques. Honestly, did the year 2000 hit and everyone just took the same pill that turned them into an over-analytical, overly-sensitive pansy? During my childhood I was raised with love and affection. My parents spent a lot of time on me, making sure I grew up kind, mature, polite and intelligent. I was smacked, I was yelled at, I was disciplined. And you know what? I'm all the better for it! These days, we're getting all these rules dictating things we can't say to our kids like "you can't tell your child they're failing" or "you mustn't smack your children." Thing is, those people will always turn around and say "I don't know what's wrong with this generation today." Seriously? We pamper and adhere to the whims of little shits who are raised with gentle words that teach no boundaries. You count to three, the kid knows he can get away with anything. However if you count to three and then smack the little bastard, I swear to you that little shunt will not do whatever it was he was doing ever again. Rinse and repeat for a child that is raised knowing right from wrong, knowing respect, being well-mannered, being well-behaved and just generally a better person. And what's with this not telling kids they're failing in their studies BS? Here's some hard news people, life isn't fair. It's hard, it's full of disappointment and it's challenging, but if you raise your kids knowing disappointment, rearing them to handle it, to learn and get stronger from it, then you will never have to worry that one day when they are confronted with one of life's trials that they won't be able to handle it and take the easy way out. My parents raised me not getting everything I wanted, explaining things calmly, telling me that not everything can go my way all the time and encouraging me to dust myself off and move on. Nowadays we've got people throwing temper tantrums into their 20's and 30's and it's depressing.
Once again, too tired to edit. Grammatical errors be hanged.
So in class the other day we presented our blogs and websites that are an assessment. I was told that my blog and website was good, but that for the blog I should do a post regarding specifically my experiences in this film that I'm on now. So, that's what I'm doing.
The film I'm on is called "Gaia". It is a fantasy film which is about a girl called Gaia who is a princess. Gaia shares a spiritual romance with the sun, however the day of her betrothal has arrived and her abusive father and maternal nursemaid both wish to see her married off to the wealthiest man possible.
So that's as much of the film as I can give you. If you wanna know more then check out the website at www.gaiashortfilm.wix.com/gaia where you can see promo materials, developmental work etc.
So basically at the beginning of the year I had a producer and a cinematographer for a completely different project. I like to work see, and in second year we were told to be ready to pitch in the first week of third year. So taking the challenge upon myself, I was not only ready to pitch, I was ready to shoot. The script for the film I was working on (entitled Devilsong and about the legend surrounding blues music icon Robert Johnson) had undergone 5 drafts, the budget and equipment list was made, locations were scouted, forms being signed, actors cast. All that remained was crew, which I was hoping to get from uni.
Come uni and pitches I do my initial pitch. I'm met with some criticism. I am told that the script lacks sub-text and that some preparation was still required of me.
Now, what I should have done regarding the comment about sub-text, is said that there was no sub-text because I didn't want there to be any sub-text. But, knowing that the powers-that-be within my course often require some kind of artsy-fartsy explanation for everything, I decided to lie my ass off and tell the lecturer that told me this, that the sub-text was about greed. Devilsong was-in the sub text-a story about a man who sold his soul because of what he wanted, and paid dearly for it. Saying that the script lacked even this sub-text (which I still don't see because that theme is like a happy meal toy - it comes by default with the rest of what you get) and that I needed to re-work it. Following multiple crew-calls, only to be rejected time and time again, as well as having my script shaped into something I didn't want it to be took it's toll and I suddenly found myself in the tenth of thirteen weeks in the first semester with no crew save a producer, a cinematographer and myself. This, was a dangerous position to be in.
Panicking, (I have never been in a situation this close in the three years of studying) I took Devilsong off production, planning to make it sometime after university, and e-mailed a lecturer asking if she knew anyone who needs crew. A few days later, the writer/director I'm currently working with, Linda, gave me a call and asked me to be Producer.
Now, I have a complicated history with Producing. I'm not good at it, but I can do it. At least, that's what I thought. You see, up till this point, all the films I've worked on I've either produced myself and had a crew of 3-5 people, or someone else has produced and I've edited so I'm no necessary till the very end. Knowing this about myself, I told Linda that "I'm not good at Producing. I can do it, but I'll need to know exactly what you want from me and when.". At this point, we had a co-producer, so I was only doing half the work as it was. So, just like that, I became the producer for Gaia.
After this me, Linda and the other co-producer had a meeting as the second round of pitches was in 2 weeks and we had to have something to present. We got together, discussed the project, developed a basic budget and the next week the day of pitches, we put it all into a power point presentation and gave our pitch. We did well considering we had only been together a week while others had had about 10-11 weeks with each other, and the teachers were impressed by how quickly we grouped together. Gaia was cleared for the next stage of development.
A week or so later, the co-producer left, claiming that the work he was doing on Gaia, was affecting his other studies. However, I'm not really sure how or why, as he literally did nothing. He put the power point together and spoke at the pitch. That's about it, Linda and I did the rest. So, Linda and I continued on our own.
We got several more crew. Some animators, a design team, a composer, etc. Already, this was a bigger project than I had anticipated. We were given a two-week extension by our lecturers on the final assessment for the semester, but Linda took severely ill. After she e-mailed me her sections of the production bible, I gathered everything, put it all together and e-mailed it to the lecturers. A process which took roughly a week due to people being slow to submit things, and the intense lag caused on LibreOffice by a large amount of pictures and pages. Nevertheless I did it and at 2:00am I e-mailed it to my teachers and had the best sleep of my life.
Things started to get crazy...er. Several of our animators left because they couldn't understand what it was Linda wanted to achieve with the animation. Our cinematographer (the person that does all the camera and lighting things) left because of paid work. We've had several drop-outs who just left without saying a word. All of this has absorbed further time in seeking replacements, and we now find ourselves several weeks overdue on our schedule.
Frustrations have been mounting, with work piling up I've been feeling a quite helpless, through no fault of the director or the current co-producer who we got on board not too long ago. Any overwhelming feelings I have are my own issue and most likely as a result of something I have overlooked. However it's not just me. All the key staff on this film are frustrated and anxious with each other, and it's caused some conflicts. To make matters worse, Linda is once again quite severely ill and functioning on pain-killers.
To make matters even worse, a couple of nights ago, a truck decided to do a 3-point turn in my street, and as it reversed, it caught my telephone line, taking out my landline and my internet. I'm currently writing this post from university's library. And also, my mobile phone company have informed me that I've reached 50% of my monthly allowance, so I have to restrict my mobile phone use, I can't use my landline, and I can't use my internet. Joy.
Still, things are moving along. Gladly. We're getting there, slowly, but we're getting there. And this week marks the final 9 weeks of my university education, which on it's own brings new challenges and fears.
Now I know my posts up to this point have been about stuff that shits me. I know I'm often dark and depressing and so far I've focused on the things that irritate me like the "individuals" in the world and that poem about how my current film is going. But we all have something that takes us away from the crap. Steven Universe is mine.
Steven Universe is a cartoon created by Cartoon Network artist Rebecca Sugar, who due to her efforts on Steven Universe is currently Cartoon Network's only female creator. Inspired by the events of her life and her little brother Steven Sugar, Steven Universe follows the adventures of a boy named Steven, who lives with three alien life-forms called "The Crystal Gems". The Crystal Gems are the guardians of earth and their late leader Rose Quartz is Steven's mother. The story follows Steven's growth as a human, development of his powers and quest for truth behind his mother and how the Crystal Gems came to be the guardians of earth.
Anyone who knows me well, knows that Steven Universe is currently my favorite show, and now I'm going to tell you all why.
Steven Universe's universal theme is that nobody is perfect. Steven and the Crystal Gems Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl are all essentially good, lovable people. But every single one of them has flaws, imperfections which at times get in the way of their better nature. This causes tremendous amount of unjustified hate towards certain characters within the fandom. Indeed I am guilty of this too, but the point of Steven Universe is that we are made to take the good with the bad, because ultimately, the characters reflect us. Through The Crystal Gems we are forced to look into a mirror of our own faults. We are made to see a side of us we might not know we have or something we don't want to see. However while we might be inclined to despise a character for something that we perceive as unforgivable, it never takes long for the innate humanity within that character to take over. To show us how and why and suddenly through understanding, we might not be able to forgive entirely, but we can still love that character, and through it, love ourselves. This is a kind of magic I've not seen with cartoons before. Not only that, but the character's personalities are so varied and diverse that there is literally something for everyone within.
Steven Universe is essentially a coming-of-age story, but it's the most truthful one I've ever seen. Normally protagonists are made to grow up through life lessons that are slowly introduced and then suddenly culminate in an impressive finale. However Steven Universe doesn't work that way. The story is a sequential series of events that all happened. It's not like Spongebob Squarepants (which is a great show in it's own right) where something irreversible happens and we are made to accept in the next episode that it has somehow fixed itself. No, the world is not so forgiving in Steven Universe. The events that happen, happen. Time is irreversible, characters must deal with the consequences of their actions, and there is no quick fix or easy way out. It's impressive because the writers need to take the continuity of the world into account when writing, and little references to past episodes round off the world and make it feel real and tangible. It builds a magical reality that the viewer can become a part of and it's beautiful. Not only that, but the fact that the world is like this means Steven's growth is real. Its something that can be watched, felt, admired and reflected on. Things happen that Steven isn't ready for yet, and he has to grow up to face them, time and time again. It's amazing that something so far-out can be so realistic.
As I said before, the main theme in Steven Universe is that no-one is perfect, and that's okay. Characters often screw up, do something wrong, or just blatantly act stupidly. And they often need to pay the price, but just as this happens, so too are others willing to accept and forgive the mistakes they make, appealing to the better nature of the offender. Through Steven's innocence and cheery nature, there is an overall suggestion of the world being a simpler place than we make it out to be, and the theme of no body being beyond redemption is a recurring concept. Love is heavily explored, with the nature of romantic attachment being blatantly and obviously explained as something that takes "work" and "time" to achieve. It's admirable in what it teaches children, and the way in which it teaches. Indeed, I'm 22 years old and I've learned more from Steven Universe than I've learned in all my 16.5 years in the education system (6 primary, 6 secondary, 1.5 TAFE, 3 tertiary).
The world of Steven Universe is huge, deceptively so. There is an entire back-history to the current series that goes back literally thousands of years, and like a diver with the bends, is slowly being brought to the surface through Steven's journey with the Crystal Gems. It's interesting, mythic and keeps the audience coming back for more.
Steven Universe often uses music to tell the story, with songs being a frequent occurrence. The music is often funky, emotional, catchy and really entertaining.
The show does something a lot of cartoons don't. It deals with the nature of multiple kinds of love. Close to your siblings? You're in Steven Universe. Got a love that will never die? You're in Steven Universe. In love with someone but too afraid to say? You're in Steven Universe. You a parent? You're in Steven Universe. There is no kind of love that the show doesn't cover. Unless you're into that freaky stuff, in which case the show doesn't cover that.
The show consists of two races. Humans and Gems. Humans are...well...human. Gems however, are female-appearing sentient gems that refract light to form a solid hologram of their desired form. All gems are gender neutral, but choose to form female bodies (which suggests that "male" gems exist but are merely a rarity). However because of this gender neutrality it gives the show freedom to explore the nature of sexuality, with the foremost romantic relationship in the show being between two gems who appear (and I use appear because they look like women, not because I refuse to recognize the romanticism of their relationship) to be in a lesbian relationship. Like I said, this show deals with some heavy stuff, but in a way that kids can understand and love. Not only that, but because they are gender neutral it means homophobic assholes can't beat down on it with their limited logic.
I could literally go on and on about the show for hours, but I've got stuff to do. The only downfall is that Cartoon Network releases it in these annoying little segments that last one-week called Steven Bombs. I can understand the usefulness of Steven Bombs but it's been three weeks since I've had a new Steven Universe episode and I'm finding it difficult to contain the ticks. Watch it. If you don't love it, I'm coming for you. *eye twitches*.