18 August 2009

(slight) always returning

still marooned in KS.

very very tired.

no additional movement on script, but i figured out how to work the dialogue in the scene i'm on. i figured it out while i was in the shower.

i've now seen the first three series of "MI-5", which is a bloody amazing bbc show.

volume three of the library of congress' ongoing collection of philip k. dick novels is out. all three volumes were edited by jonathan lethem.

half-price books, located in KS, is also bloody amazing...they've been getting a lot of my business lately.

currently reading "inherent vice" by thomas pynchon...very interesting...it feels a lot like the coen brothers.

i'm on a british avant garde music kick lately, particularly the stylings of soft machine and egg.

this week is h.p. lovecraft's birthday, so go out to your local bookstore and pick up one of the plethora of his collections.

"inglourious basterds" opens this weekend...i hope that the local drive-in will be getting it, but i'm not holding my breath.

october can't get here soon enough.

14 July 2009

haunted house script update

just finished prologue scene 1 of the script.

celtx is an amazing piece of software that takes care of all the screenplay formatting. it really helps a neophyte screenwriter, such as myself, stay on task.

next, i'll tackle prologue scene 2.

ever onward.

08 July 2009

Beautiful Decay II

Ten years ago, I read Crash by J.G. Ballard. Published in 1973, Crash is the story of two characters named Ballard and Vaughan. They have been desensitized by the world around them. In order to feel, Ballard and Vaughan begin studying car crashes and car crash victims. In the midst of their studies, Ballard and Vaughan find themselves aroused by what they see. The book follows them as they begin to experiment.

I can't say that this is my favourite book. However, it did leave an impression on me. My favourite passage is from Chapter 13. Ballard and Vaughan attend a crash test research lab symposium. The purpose of the symposium is to simulate an auto accident, using crash test dummies in a car and on a motorcycle. The scientists record the simulation for later study. Ballard (the author) describes the accident as the audience watches the video playback in slow motion. It is a dance...a haunting, mesmerizing and brutal dance.

I immediately thought that this would make an amazing music video. At the time, I heard the Adrian Belew song "Fly" as slow-motion images of crash test dummies flying through the air played. However, I couldn't afford any film equipment as a broke college student. Creating crash test simulations was also out of the question. The images that were in my imagination had to remain there.

Cut to ten years later. Jamie, Chris and I are sitting at Amer's Deli in Ann Arbor at the beginning of June, discussing our film production company. In the interest of expanding our horizons, we decided to start our own little book club for just the three of us. The first book: Crash by J.G. Ballard. I re-read the book and get to Chapter 13. It still effects me in the same way that it did ten years ago. And then it hits me:

I can make this music video now.

Because I have no way of simulating crash tests, I start scrounging on the internet.

You'd be surprised what you can find on Google with the right search pattern.

When I sat down to start editing, I queued Adrian Belew's "Fly" in i-movie with footage ready to be cut. And then I froze. I had the film editor's equivalent of writer's block. I sat for almost an hour trying to edit and nothing was working. As I sat there frustrated, I realized that the reason nothing was happening was because I was cutting the images in my head to a song that wasn't mine.

So, I scrolled through the tracks on my album. Once Beautiful Decay II came up, I knew I had something.

All of this is a very long introduction for my second film short.

A few caveats before we begin:

1/ All of the footage that you will see is simulated. These are crash tests. No human beings were involved.

2/ I make no ownership claims of the raw footage. The footage was borrowed from different sources. I am operating strictly under the guidelines of copyleft. In the interest of full disclosure, a list of my sources can be found at the bottom of this post.

3/ The footage is very low quality. However, that adds to the aesthetic of the piece.

And so, without further ado, I give you "Beautiful Decay II":



A direct link to the video can be found here.

As usual, please leave comments (regardless of whether they're good, bad, constructive, etc.).

Video Sources

1/ http://www.autoblog.com/2009/05/28/video-gm-crash-test-footage-from-the-60s-proves-weve-come-a-l/

2/ http://www.break.com/index/failed-chinese-crash-test.html

3/ http://www.archive.org/details/crashdummies1

4/ http://www.alexisparkinn.com/test_flying_videos.htm

5/ http://lisar.larc.nasa.gov/BROWSE/crashes.html

07 July 2009

film short #2 update

i have finished editing the new film short.

as i approached the finish, i became more anxious/excited. this is a good thing.

as i watched the finished product, i also became more anxious/excited. this is an even better thing.

i want to sleep on it and watch it again tomorrow before i release it into the wild.

bottom line: this is a good one.

more later.

29 June 2009

brief update

i'm finally starting to settle in my temporary home at overland park, KS.

a few minor updates:

1/ in my spare time, i've been watching a LOT of films. my main focus has been on french new wave cinema, particularly the works of godard and melville. i hope to write in more detail about this later.

2/ i have less than 100 pages left to read in j.g. ballard's crash. this is my second time reading it. the first time was over ten years ago during the spring term of my senior year at michigan tech. i'm liking it a lot better the second time around.

3/ i've finally started work on my second short film. it's another music video and even more esoteric than the first one. (aside to jamie and chris: i'm not using the adrian belew track, i'm using one of my own songs...it makes the film more personal and, best of all, it fits better with what we discussed at our last meeting.) i hope to finish the rough cut by the end of the week.

4/ i start writing my part of the haunted house script this weekend.

5/ neil marshall's doomsday is fucking amazing. it's insane and you need to put it at the top of your list of must see movies.

6/ i also finally watched master and commander. expect to hear more from me about this film. it is a delight to watch. also, it is absolutely criminal that it didn't do better at the box office.

well, dinner is on.

more later.

25 June 2009

bottom feeders: a new rant

from the satellite office in overland park, KS:

i'm sitting here alone in the apartment that my employers have provided for me during my stay. i am watching CNN. i'm not a big fan of CNN, but it's late in KS and i needed some background noise while scrounging around on google, gathering tidbits for my latest top secret project.

they have been reporting about michael jackson's death non-stop for the past three hours. at first, it was just a bunch of talking heads over archival footage of MJ.

at 8pm central, larry king came on. he started with the same talking head style, interviewing the likes of cher and celine dion. again, nothing too earth-shattering.

then, at about half-past, a reporter from ET (that bastion of banal infotainment "news") came on and said that ET had obtained an "exclusive" photo. this photo, which larry king put on screen for the world to see, showed a medium shot of MJ on a stretcher as the EMTS are trying to resuscitate him.

a few minutes later, CNN showed live footage of the helicopter that was transporting MJ's remains to the coroner.

let's think about this: a news agency took the time to find out which helicopter was providing transport, scrambled their own helicopter and followed it.

gentle readers, we have reached a new low.

you want to know why the world is in its current situation?

i believe that the issues that i raised above give us a clue.

the actions of ET don't surprise me. those twisted fuckers have always been bottom feeders.

however, i have a personal message that i would like to give to CNN:

we are fighting two wars, on the verge of economic collapse, in the midst of conflicts with north korea and iran, and, on top of all of that, our health care system is imploding. you have spent the past FOUR hours reporting on an ONE hour's worth of information.

you need to get your fucking priorities straight.

understand, i take absolutely nothing away from the contributions that michael jackson made to music. his work with motown and the jackson 5 alone justifies all of the accolades.

however, the past few hours have reinforced something that i've been feeling for awhile now:

agencies such as CNN, Fox News and ET need to go. they aren't helping the world, they're part of the problem.

and don't even get me started about jon and kate.

23 May 2009

advice about the weight of "originality"

a recurring topic that comes up between jamie and me is "originality". jamie's opinion (and i'm paraphrasing from memory, so if i got this wrong jamie, feel free to set me straight in the comments) is that everything has been done, so take what you need from your influences and put your own spin on them.

i tend to agree with jamie on this. during my internet travels today, i went to bill bruford's blog and he had this to say.

putting the idea of originality in this perspective actually takes a load off of my shoulders. everything's already been done? great! i can just get on with telling my story and not worry about whether or not it's original.

17 May 2009

"The Last Haunted House" Update

we are now finished with the 3rd draft of the scene-by-scene breakdown.

unless we find something wrong with the breakdown at the last minute, we are finally moving to the script stage. jamie, chris and i have been building towards this for the past five years. we are going to briefly pause at this point for the following reasons:

1. we haven't shown any of this to chris yet and still need to get his blessing on what we've come up with.

2. we need to figure out how we're going to actually write it (i.e. one of us does a complete draft and passes off to the other for polishing, or we split up the scenes between us and then stitch them together at the end, etc.).

make no mistake about it, though:

this is a BIG moment.

during this pause in the action, i'm going to take the opportunity to write the smaller pieces that we'll need for the film. these are what i'm calling "sub-scripts" that are scenes unto themselves. they involve TV and radio newscasts that appear briefly throughout the film. they will be filmed separately and then woven into the fabric of the main film. these sub-scripts will keep me busy and allow me to get practical experience writing screenplays.

ever onward.

14 May 2009

a general update on varied things

once again, i've been neglecting this place. here are a few random updates:

1/ the season five finale of lost did not disappoint. it's going to be a LONG wait until january 2010, which is when the sixth and final season premieres.

2/ i am nine episodes into j.j. abrams' new series fringe. this is a terrific show. abrams and his co-conspirators alex kurtzman and roberto orci have taken the best aspects of the x-files and created something fresh.

3/ i recently finished reading the forever war by joe haldeman. this is one of those classic science fiction novels that i hadn't had the chance to get to until now. it is labeled "classic" for good reason. the novel is a metaphor of haldeman's experiences serving in the vietnam war. st. martin's press recently reprinted the forever war and can be found at any reputable book seller.

4/ i haven't made any further progress with the scene-by-scene due to lack of time and exhaustion. however, i plan to rectify this tomorrow. it's my day off and i plan to use it productively.

that's it for now.

04 May 2009

the tarantino mixtape

this is truly a sight to behold:

Eclectic Method - The Tarantino Mixtape from Eclectic Method on Vimeo.



please treat yourself and watch this. whoever did this is a mad mad genius. this video really opens up the possibilities of video as art.

watch and comment below...i wanna get a discussion going about this.

18 April 2009

"the last haunted house" scene-by-scene breakdown 1st draft...

...is finally finished and in jamie's capable hands.

anxiously awaiting discussing it with jamie tomorrow (or, rather, later today as it's past 1am).

and now, off to bed to read a bit and fall into a hopefully peaceful slumber.

g'night john-boy.

04 April 2009

The Dardos Awards

“The Dardos Award is given for recognition of cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing. These stamps were created with the intention of promoting fraternization between bloggers, a way of showing affection and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web.”



I was given this award by my good friend Chick Young over at Trash Aesthetics. It is very humbling to be recognized by one of my peers. It is also very gratifying, because Chick Young always inspires me to be at the top of my game. I graciously accept this award in the spirit in which it was given.

As is usually the case with awards such as these, it now falls upon me to give out this award to five peers whom I feel embody its spirit. And the winners are:

Moneyeyes at Postcards From Ironyville - Moneyeyes (aka Jamie) is one of my closest friends and a kindred spirit. He is also, beyond a shadow of a doubt, one of the finest writers that I have ever met. Moneyeyes is a true artist who always challenges himself and those around him. Finally, he is also a great collaborator. Without him, there would be no film project (more on this below).

Sarah at She Speaks...And Then She Went Mad. - Sarah is another dear friend and a talented writer. She has this uncanny ability of finding the beauty or horror of every day life. This is why I have tasked Sarah with the responsibility of writing the liner notes of my first album, "Beautiful Decay". (Personal Note to Sarah: it has been too long since we've seen each other...we need to rectify that sooner rather than later.)

The Merry Band of Pranksters at We Read Comics - The entire crew at Vault of Midnight have one mission: to get everyone in the world to read comics. Make no mistake about it: this is a noble goal. Not only should you be reading this blog, you should also make it a point to visit the Vault of Midnight at 219 S. Main St in Ann Arbor, MI 48104. Go there...strike up a conversation with anyone that is working there...peruse their bountiful selection of books...drink one of their organic colas. It is well worth your time.

Chris at Slightly Affected - Chris is another of my closest friends. He is also a master photographer. You may recognize this...it's the cover of "Beautiful Decay". He is also responsible for my profile photo. He has the ability to see the beauty in EVERYTHING. Chris, Jamie and I are creating a film-making collective. We have a LOT of projects that are percolating.

(Personal Note to Jamie and Chris: Losing the South Africa gig might very well have been for the best. We can now focus our efforts on the important matters at hand.)

Finally, Chick Young at Trash Aesthetics - Is it possible to give someone the award who has already received it? Well, it is now. Chick (aka Nick) is another kindred spirit who constantly challenges me to do my best work. It is very fitting to me that he receives this award for a second time. (Personal Note to Chick: I look forward to reading your dissertation when it is completed. I also look forward to your notes on "Word Virus (Fever Freaks)", so call/write/email/post them when you're ready.)

And now, let's all get out there and do what all artists do: create.

29 March 2009

Advice from Eno

"Slow preparation, fast execution."
-Brian Eno, Oblique Strategies

advice worth following for our film making adventure.

23 March 2009

A Beginning

finally started the scene-by-scene breakdown of the haunted house project today. didn't get far, but that's okay. the intent was to start as soon as i got home from work. however, the weather was amazing, so i took advantage of it and went for a nice cleansing walk. i'm glad i did, because i figured out what to do in the opening credits scene. it's not earth-shattering, but it's a great way into the story (personal note to jamie: i'll explain the specifics when next we meet). by the time i got back from my walk, fixed a light supper and got down to writing, it was about quarter to eight.

getting tired, so i've decided to knock off until tomorrow.

in other news, i met with chris last week and he's fully on board with what we're doing. he made some helpful suggestions that tweak a few scenes.

jamie, chris and i figure that, barring unforeseen events (acts of God, etc), we'll be ready to start principle photography during summer of 2010. the reason that we're waiting a year (just over, actually) is that we really want to make sure that we know our stuff. in addition to getting the script right, we need to learn the camera. (aside: it turns out that the camera i spoke of in the last post is the EXACT camera that chris has, which is what we used to shoot "word virus (fever freaks)".) we'll be shooting a LOT of short films over the course of the year.

miles to go, but it's worth the trip.

12 March 2009

various stuff

so, my south africa gig fell through. long story, won't go into big details here. the short of it: the position ended up going to a co-worker who claimed he was keeping it at arms length. and i'm angry.

now that we got that out of the way, i'm moving on.

i'm using my forthcoming tax returns to buy a digital camcorder. specifically, this one. i think it's similar to what chris has. i'll get complete control over the depth of field. and, it shoots in 24fps. (this is the cinema mode that simulates 24 frames per second...it makes it look like film stock.)

getting the camera will mean that i can start film projects at will. i have a few other ideas for shorts that i'll be discussing with jamie over the weekend.

jamie and i are getting closer to script-writing time. we need to start the scene-by-scene breakdown (hopefully this weekend).

i was disappointed with how small the "word virus (fever freaks)" video ended up turning out. so, i started a you tube account. here's the link to a larger version of the video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AiL1AZAr3kk

in other news, the lovely sarah is working on liner notes for my album. to say that i'm geeked for this is a bit of an understatement. oh, and speaking of sarah, you really should visit her blog here. an excellent writer, that one.

and now, i'm off to watch more episodes of house.

07 March 2009

Word Virus (Fever Freaks)

i am very pleased to finally unveil our first film short. it's a music video for one of the tracks off of the album that i recorded a few years ago (called "beautiful decay"). the track is called "word virus (fever freaks)".

this is the footage that chris shot back in october. i edited it in january.

so, without further ado:



Word Virus (Fever Freaks)
Music by Root Mean Squared
Directed by Christopher Beal
Edited by Joseph M. Rozner

in other news, jamie came over earlier today. we finalized the haunted house outline and are now moving into the scene-by-scene breakdown. i think we're onto something.

04 March 2009

new project update

it seems that moneyeyes' burst of creativity is rubbing off on me. remember that project that i've been talking about?

well, i've finally started shaking phase I of it loose. phase I isn't done yet...but i have a rough sketch of it.

no time table on completion...that all depends on that pesky fickle muse of mine.

hopefully, i'll have enough of it roughed out to show to moneyeyes for a consult on saturday.

01 March 2009

Yet Another Update

apologies for the lack of updates around here. lots of stuff going on:

*one of my best friends jamie (aka moneyeyes) has a new blog that can be found here. treat yourself and check it out.

*the new project that i spoke of in my last post hit a bit of a snag. the audio is the main hold-up (due to lack of inspiration and minor earaches). hopefully, i'll be able to shake this one loose soon.

*madtoad and i have made progress on the haunted house script. revisions to the outline have been handed in to madtoad and i'm awaiting his response. once we get the outline ironed out, we'll proceed to the scene-by-scene breakdown. then, finally, the script.

*for those of you who don't already know, there is a possibility that i'll be moving south africa for a year. there is a project opening for my current employers and i've applied for it. the project is interesting and the pay is substantial. i hope to find out whether or not i got the position this week.

*everyone within the sound of my voice needs to see "watchmen" when it comes out on friday. i can't see it in the theaters, so you need to see it for me. everything points to this one being a winner. gather your friends and see it during opening weekend. see it so that the movie studios get the message that we want to see more films like this.

more later.

02 February 2009

New Project

i am dreaming up a new project.

i'm keeping the specifics to myself for the time being.

however, i'll leave you a few photos to mull over. these aren't photos of the project itself...rather, they're photos depicting a start.





hint #1: the new project is multimedia.

hint #2: the new project is NOT another music video (although more of those will be in the works, too).

hint #3: the first volley ("coming soon") is what i'll be working on this week.

hint #4: the first volley is 30 seconds.

more later.

22 January 2009

more brain hijacking

my brain is continuing to be hijacked and rewired.

i'm still full on into my david lynch obsession. i've started watching twin peaks. i am very sad that i missed this when it was originally was on television.

i am also in the midst of another obsession:

the music of scott walker.

his music is sublime...i can see a lot of connections with musicians and songwriters that i have been in love with for many years (brian eno, roxy music, david bowie, david sylvian, etc.). i finally watched the documentary that david bowie produced about him called "30 century man"...AMAZING. if you've seen wes anderson's equally sublime "the life aquatic with steve zissou", then you've heard scott walker...his song "30 century man" is featured prominently on the soundtrack.

and now, time for medication, a bit of reading ("lynch on lynch") and bedtime.

14 January 2009

Number 6 Has Left The Village and Khan Has Spit His Last Breath At Thee

We in geekdom have lost two titans. Today, both Patrick McGoohan and Ricardo Montalban passed away.

Patrick McGoohan was perhaps best known for his role as Number Six on the British TV classic "The Prisoner", a show that he co-created. Viewers first saw him as secret agent John Drake when CBS imported the show "Danger Man" from Britain. He went on to write, direct and co-star in a few episodes of "Columbo", for which he won an Emmy. The last major role that he played was King Edward Longshanks in "Braveheart". On a more personal note, he portrayed Doctor Paul Ruth in David Cronenberg's "Scanners", a film that I've mentioned quite a few times in this blog. When I watched this again last week and McGoohan walked on stage, I couldn't help but think "When will someone have the good sense to cast him again?"

Ricardo Montalban is most famous for his role as Mr. Rourke on "Fantasy Island". However, for me, Ricardo Montleban will now and forever shall be Khan Noonian Singh, a product of twentieth century genetics and the best villain that the Star Trek universe has ever seen. I have rewatched Star Trek II recently and it still stands as the best of the Star Trek films. Montalban also played a key role in the "Planet of the Apes" sequels.

Farewell, gentlemen. You definitely made the world a better place.

11 January 2009

The Two Davids




During my prep work for editing our first short film, I determined that I needed to get inside Chris' headspace as much as possible. When I told Chris my plan, he stated that his headspace is, in fact, a trap. The plan was to read the work of Jorge Luis Borges (still a work in progress, as I've only read one of his stories thus far), read film criticism and see as many of Chris' favourite films as humanly possible. This would help me establish a common vocabulary between Chris and myself.

In regards to film criticism, I have a few books in my collection that I've been meaning to get to for awhile but just haven't found the time until now. One example is Dr. Mark Kermode's in-depth analysis on "The Exorcist", which was released through the British Film Institute. "The Exorcist" is a favourite of Chris' and mine. After reading the book, I watched the film and documentary on the making of the film (also written and hosted by Dr. Kermode).

After completing my "Exorcist" cycle, I read a book about the work of David Cronenberg, who has been a touchstone for me since the eighth grade (when my parents started to let me watch "R" rated movies). I started with "The Dead Zone" and "The Fly". These films were both very accessible and easy to grasp. As time passed, I began to see more of his films. My friend Jerry had copies of "Shivers", "Rabid", "Scanners" and "Videodrome". When I was in college, I rented "Dead Ringers", "Naked Lunch" and "eXistenZ". After I graduated and was gainfully employed, I added Cronenberg's films to my DVD library.



Over the past few weeks, I've been revisiting his work, starting with "The Brood", "Scanners" and "A History of Violence". Most of Cronenberg's films share an economy of storytelling. His films very rarely go over 90-100 minutes in length. Furthermore, all of his films have sophisticated narratives. However, he uses very simple methods to convey his ideas. A prime example of this is in "Scanners". As mentioned in my "12 Movies Meme" essay, telepaths are fighting in the streets of Toronto. Telepaths "read" other human beings (and each other) by joining their nervous systems with their subjects. A normal Hollywood blockbuster film would invest a lot of time and money in eye-popping special effects to convey this concept. Not Cronenberg, though. He uses a very simple crossfade editing technique. We start with a close-up on the telepath's face and slowly fade into a close-up on the face of the telepath's subject. He repeats this a few times to convey the idea that their minds are joining. This is simple, to the point and VERY effective.

That's not to say that Cronenberg is against using special effects. Many of his films are known for their ground breaking visual effects. However, he uses them only when appropriate. The most famous examples of his visual effects can be found in "Scanners" (the exploding head at the beginning of the movie), "Videodrome" (the bulging television and the stomach VCR), "Naked Lunch" (the bug typewriter and the Mugwumps) and "eXistenZ" (the bone gun). (Incidentally, CGI effects did not appear in a Cronenberg film until "eXistenZ". They were used for a brief scene that lasted a few seconds.) Cronenberg has been the subject of many discussions between Chris and I, a common obsession.

Another of Chris' obsessions is the work of David Lynch. If memory serves, this is one of our first topics of discussion when we met. Lynch is a filmmaker that, until recently, I have only had a brief experience with. My first exposure to Lynch was his adaptation of "Dune". His TV show "Twin Peaks" was popular when I was in high school, but I never watched it. My next Lynch experience was when I rented "Lost Highway" during college. I liked it. I was impressed with its nightmarish feel. I didn't really understand any of it, though. Finally, I rented "Mulholland Drive" a few years ago and fell in love with it.



I would describe my experience with and knowledge of David Lynch's work to be fleeting at best. I decided that I needed to change this if I was going to work with Chris. I asked his advice on where to start and he suggested "Blue Velvet". After work on one early December night, I turned off the lights and popped it into my DVD player. At first, I was impressed with the actors' performances, but not with the film itself. It felt dated to me, a derelict of the eighties. Then, I came upon the Dean Stockwell scene. This is where our hero Jeffrey Beaumont (played by Kyle Machlachlan), is kidnapped and forced to go on a nightmarish roadtrip with the deadly Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper) and his crew. They visit Frank's friend Ben (Dean Stockwell) and drink beer. Jeffrey is roughed up by Booth and company. The tension is palpable. Then, just when I think that Jeffrey is going to be murdered, Booth shouts the phrase "In dreams!". Ben puts a cassette in the stereo, picks up a construction lamp and starts lip-synching to "In Dreams" by Roy Orbison. I couldn't move. I was mesmerized and couldn't take my eyes off of the screen. I finished watching the movie. I liked it but couldn't put my finger on why, especially given my initial reaction before "In Dreams". That scene stuck with me for days.

Without giving it more thought, I decided to go with my gut and watch more Lynch. I dove into the deep end and watched his latest film, "Inland Empire". This is three hours of exposure to David Lynch's Id, his unfettered psyche. This took me a little longer to digest , about two days to sift through. I didn't understand it, but I liked it. Again, I couldn't put my finger on why. After "Inland Empire", I watched his documentary "Lynch One" (filmed during the making of "Inland Empire"). This is a peak into Lynch's film method, which heavily involves transcendental meditation.

Over Christmas break, I took the plunge and purchased the newly released box set collection of his work called "The Lime Green Box". A few nights ago, I watched his debut "Eraserhead" for the first time. My experience with this was the same as "Inland Empire" and "Lost Highway": I don't understand it, but I really like it. Last night, I watched "The Elephant Man", which is one of the most moving films that I've seen. I cried several times throughout. I texted Chris and finally declared "I LOVE David Lynch".

Lynch and Cronenberg both came up in films at around the same time. At one time, they both shared a surrealistic narrative style. Surrealism is very present in "Videodrome", "Scanners" and "Naked Lunch". Over the past few years, Cronenberg has gradually left surrealism in favour of a narrative that is more straightforward. His last two films, "A History of Violence" and "Eastern Promises", are prime examples of this straightforward narrative. It is important to note that he is using this to deal with the themes that he has spent his entire career exploring. In contrast, Lynch has delved even further into surrealism. "Lost Highway", "Mulholland Drive" and especially "Inland Empire" eschew straightforward storytelling. Lynch uses symbolism, metaphor and dream logic to convey his ideas. However, Lynch has also, on occasion, told very straightforward stories. Examples of this include "The Elephant Man" and "The Straight Story".

Another common thread between Lynch and Cronenberg is that they have influences outside of cinema. There are no obvious references to other filmmakers. Cronenberg pulls his inspiration from literature. Philip K. Dick can be seen in "Scanners" and "The Brood". (Cronenberg also worked for over a year developing the Dick short story "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale". Due to creative differences, he left the project. It eventually became "Total Recall".) William S. Burroughs is a writer that still heavily influences Cronenberg. "Naked Lunch" is an adaptation of Burroughs' seminal novel. Finally, Dostoyevsky was an influence on "Eastern Promises". In regards to Lynch, it is my belief that he is primarily influenced by art and music. Furthermore, Lynch has stated that he gets ideas from transcendental meditation, which he has practiced twice a day for the last 32 years.

This is in no way the last time that the Two Davids will be mentioned in this blog. I plan on revisiting more of Cronenberg's films and I still have a LOT of Lynch to watch.

Ever onward.

More later.

Brief Update

My analysis of "Apocalypse Now" is on indefinite hold. Not to worry, this is due to the fact that my brain has been hijacked by two master filmmakers. I'm currently working on an essay that will discuss this. Hopefully, it'll be ready to post within the next day or so (fingers crossed).

For now, I'll give you the essay title and let you ponder who I am referring to:

The Two Davids

In other news, still waiting for my chance to show Chris the rough-cut. In the meantime, I've started work on another short. This one will be shot and conceptualized by me. It's still in the early stages.

More later.

03 January 2009

big doings

i have finally completed a rough cut of the short film that chris and i shot back in october. it is 4min-20sec long. chris and i are tentatively scheduled to get together to go over the rough cut. once he has had the chance to see it and give me notes, i will refine the rough cut into a final cut. chris and i will then decide the best way to exhibit the film. most likely, we'll upload it to you tube or other similar sites. i wouldn't be opposed to starting our own website (i still need to discuss this with chris). once we get all that figured out, i'll post a link here so that everyone can see it.

the process of editing has been eye opening, to say the least. based on my first experience with i-movie, i think i'm ready to move onto the big behemoth of non-linear editing: final cut pro. that'll also be part of my discussion with chris.

chris has more footage for me that'll be the basis of another short. hopefully, he'll bring his camera so that we can shoot more. (i would really love to have a LOT of footage in the can...enough for a few short films.)

in other news, i am having a severe case of writer's block. i have been trying to start my essay about "apocalypse now" (emphasis on the word "trying"). all i have are random notes and an outline. after giving it careful thought, i think i've figured out what's causing the block. "apocalypse now" is a BIG film. i have a lot to say about it. the problem is that the film is so big, i don't know where to start. so, i'm going to write and post the essay in several installments, based on my outline. this way, i can focus on one thing at a time and stay on task. however, before writing, i need to watch the original cut of the film. i haven't seen it in over ten years and i want to be as thorough as possible. once that's done, i can finally start writing.

vacation has been a breath of fresh air so far and i still have a week to go. this doesn't happen often and i want to take advantage of it while i can.