Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Film School and Some Slowing

First, here's what was owed to you on Monday, but I failed to deliver:

Is film school important? 

There were a bunch of really great responses, several of which didn't end up in the comments, but emerged in private conversations over the next few days after I posted that question. 

Most people seem to agree about film school's potential usefulness. The predominating sentiment was: maybe you don't need it, but it certainly can't hurt, and there are a whole lot of advantages. 

I find myself in reasonable accord, with some qualifiers. Film school is, or at least should be if it's worth anything, a close prototype of actual filmmaking. In other words, you will get out of it only what you put in. Like all great opportunities for accomplishment in this life, film school should demand the best you can give it; it requires self starters, and rewards people who take on the work and responsibility of their own education. 

Many would argue that that very condition is what makes going to school for film a waste of time. If all that self-starting is needed, why not do it outside of the arbitrary demands and monetary cost of formal schooling? Why not just go do it on your own? 

I think of film school like a garden, of sorts. A plant can grow outside of a garden. A seed can find purchase in rough, dry dirt and somehow eke out a meager existence in blinding sunlight and the period deluge. The seed that finds itself surrounded by the careful cultivation of a garden, however, will have a much better opportunity to grow. Film school is that garden. Just as the soil and cultivation of a garden will not grow a seed--the seed must do it's own growing, and take advantage of the better conditions--film students cannot be made into great filmmakers or scholars. They must simply use the better resources that their school provides, so many of which were mentioned in the astute responses last week. 

I'm all for film school, but only for those who can manage to do their own growing. 

Speaking of growing, this blog is going to have to go through a bit of a transition. For over two months, I was good for my word, and posted every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. But it sort of burned me out. The quality of my posts was degenerating, and my will to continue was waning. In short, I got into a rut. It may not have been the most responsible move, but I decided to step away from it for a week. And then, when I came back, I realized I couldn't really continue as I had been. It was sapping too much of my life. 

So, I will promise weekly posts. There may be more, but at this moment, I'll make no guarantees. If you're following this blog in any way (Facebook, Twitter, Google Reader, obsessive daily visits to the actual website...), you'll know when I post, and hopefully rejoice profoundly when I do. 

In the meantime, I'm going to devote more of my time and energy to writing. After all, I'm going to be working on a screenwriting MFA soon, and I figure I'd better get into the habit of...well, screenwriting. Storytelling in general. Also, I'm leaving Provo in a month, and an inestimably important stage of my life will be over. I figure it would be tragic to waste what little time I have left here drowning this blog's tiny audience in too many posts. 

Bear with me. 2190 isn't dying, just dropping its heartbeat a little to outlast the insanity of the next few weeks of my life. 

For the sake of keeping the conversation alive, though, here's a parting, and very sincere question: What is or is not, has or has not been valuable about this blog? If you read 2190 regularly, what do you hope to see? What do you hope not to hear more about? What's helpful? What's not? I think you get the idea. I'm not really doing 2190 for me, so how can I make it better for you?

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Friday 'Stache

In an effort to apologize for the missing weekly Friday 'Stache, I present Yanni's luscious locks and seductive 'stache.

First, I am immensely proud of the latest from Quiet Dignity. We got permission from Spencer Russell to use a song from his former band, Mudbison, called "Promise Cutie." It fits perfectly. Enjoy:

Next, here's a thing I saw the other day that I think is pretty swell. I've always really loved kinetic text ("always," of course, just means "since I became aware of it," which was relatively recent), and to see it used to promote some basic tenets of my own religion was, well, neat.

And now for something disastrously wonderful:

My friend Josh Gibson made this a while ago, but he only recently showed it to me. I can't decide which is funnier: the clever (and obvious) humor that motivated it, or the avalanche of negative responses it elicited (really, go to the YouTube page and read the comments):

I was going to dive into a recent incident involving a friend of mine and a soulless, lying, trash-peddling corporation, complete with two short videos as evidence, but instead, I'll leave that for Monday, because I think the entire situation inspires an interesting and important question. So look forward to that, and be prepared to share your thoughts. 

For all you Utahns, enjoy the long weekend. I certainly will. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Is Film School Important?

First of all, my apologies for the week-long break. I needed it, though, to stay enthusiastic about this here blog.

Let's go ahead and just pick up where we left off. It's Monday, and that means I'd like to pose a question that I think will be pertinent to many if not all of you.

First, though, I need to thank DJB for being the sole contributor last week. He shared some good thoughts, and I would encourage you to go back and read what he has to say. I myself would like to add one thing to one part of his comment:

Be literate. You cannot create anything new without knowing what has come before. Read, watch, listen.

While I agree absolutely with this principle (along with the rest of what you had to say), I would also say that there is no way anyone can be literate enough to know all of what has come before, and when it comes to telling stories, there really is nothing absolutely "new," in the strictest and most literal sense of the word, to say. However, one can never be too literate. It's vital to fill your eyes, ears, and brains with great artistic works, whatever their form. In that way, it is possible to then synthesize the best of what has been done and make it your own, contributing in your unique way to the body of human expression.

On to the new question:

Is film school important?

Is it necessary? This probably isn't a black and white question by any stretch, so I expect any answers to take some pains to explain their own context and justification. Of course my own hand is relatively obvious--for heaven's sake, I call myself an "expert film student." However, my opinions on the subject are certainly not cut and dried, so I'm very interested to hear what others think.

Comment away!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


As you've likely noticed, I've taken a bit of a break from this blog. Just a week. I promise to be back with a fresh post on Monday.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Friday 'Stache

Best. Emoticon. Ever.

Perhaps it was the rock I was under, but I'd never seen it before a friend of mine.

I won't tell you how long this week's Quiet Dignity took me to edit. Suffice it to say there was a LOT of unusable footage, and color correction, and...anyway. I hope it's at least kind of funny.

This whole YouTube comedy channel thing is...not easy.

So, if you're going to make a travelogue slideshow, do it like this:

A friend of mine, Jesse Moore, shared that on Google+ recently. Do you have Google+ yet? Get on it. It's awesome. It might kill Facebook. (Let's cross all of our most hopeful fingers.)

Here's a trailer I love:

And here's a thing I said about it last week:
M:I 2 was wretched. It was directed by John Woo and written by, apparently, a confused but overconfident 15-year-old. Then the third film came out, and lots of people didn't see it, because they didn't want to be punished by anything similar to the previous installment. But it was actually the best of the three, directed by J.J. Abrams, who is an astonishingly good filmmaker. 
Enter number 4, which was written by Abrams, and directed by Brad Bird, who has never done a live-action film, but who HAS directed films like The Incredibles, Iron Giant, and Ratatouille, and took iron-fisted control over all of them, being something of an auteur.

I'll also note that the cast has changed pretty dramatically from film to film. This film will introduce Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker), and give Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Star Trek) a bigger role, not to mention the other strong, lesser-known names.

Conclusion: never assume anything about a film until you know who's behind it. The greatest determinant of whether a film will be any good is its writers and director.
Rant concluded.

And this post as well.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Interviews - Byron Kirkland

Byron is one of the nicest, most easygoing guys I've ever known. He's one of those people who just immediately puts you at ease, which is an effect that is dramatically enhanced when you have the opportunity to work with him and see first hand how talented and capable he is behind a camera.

Everyone knows, though, that a person's attitude and professionalism is at least as important as their level of talent, and now that you've seen the latter, take 14 minutes to be edified by the former.

Byron Kirkland, everyone...

Download this episode (right click and save)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Actors & The Creative Process

Thank you to everyone who responded to last week's open question. Many of your thoughts echoed my own, but there were also a number of ideas that caused me to think more deeply about certain aspects of this subject. If you haven't, I encourage you to take a look at all the insight before continuing through this post.

I've worked with some actors, not many, but enough to have been confronted with the agony of a talentless and/or utterly inexperienced lead, and the dream of working with someone who has the chops to give you exactly what you need for every scene. Acting, as it turns out, is something very few people can do well, despite how many people try. It's an art, and a hard one, and it's tough to underestimate the value of the craft. A bad or even so-so performance will ruin a film, and a great one can elevate it in kind.

It's also true that actors are the face of a film. They represent, more than any other element, a film's "brand," so to speak. It's actually pretty easy to put a price tag on that, since there's always some idea as to what kind of profit the film might bring in. If you cast Will Smith, you can guarantee that your film will make over a hundred million dollars. So, from a strictly business perspective, how much would you be willing to pay for that particular actor?

So there's the case for an actor's paycheck, but this doesn't take into consideration the moral ramifications of overpaying a person. Is it right for anyone to make twenty million dollars for a month of work? Or, how about the point Asia brought up in the comments: perhaps we should consider the fact that an abundance of money and fame often ruins people's lives, and this seems to be especially true with our movie stars.


Here's this week's question, aimed directly at all the creatives: What is the best way to be consistently, dependably creative? What do you do to get the pump primed, and keep it flowing? How do you get yourself to produce on a regular basis?

If you're like me, you're always looking for new insight in this area, so share what you've discovered, and pay close attention to what everyone else has to say.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Friday 'Stache

Today's classic 'stache is from my friend Arthur's tumblr, which, I'll add, brings delight into my heart every day of the week.

First, a thing from London:

This is a classic YouTube video. Someone pulled out their camera phone to record something they thought was cool, and 7 minutes later, they had a short film on their hands. It's one shot, of course, and basically an unchanging frame. There is one actor, and a bunch of "extras" in the audience. I think this accidental short film works extremely well for a whole lot of reasons, but instead of babbling about it, I'll just encourage you to pay close attention to all the stuff that's going on here--artistically, culturally, socially, etc. 

Next, a thing from Quiet Dignity (no explanation necessary):

Lastly, here's a really spectacular (literally) tribute to the looming holiday, courtesy of Mr. Graham:

It's a long weekend, so go party hard, everyone.

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