Friday, January 27, 2012

"Shamed" - A Promotion

In lieu of the standard Friday 'Stache, I feel the need to promote a documentary film my friend Jordan Harker is producing about pornography addiction. Rather than describing what he's trying to do in too much detail, I'll simply link to the Kickstarter account.

Here, also, is the first "trailer" for the film, which is mainly just an illustration of its purpose, since the Kickstarter is in place to try and raise the funds necessary to actually go into production.



As I said, I know Jordan Harker. He is a fine specimen of human, as well as a talented, generous, and hard working filmmaker. I know how hard it must be to try to carry the torch for this kind of project.

I hope that today's post doesn't disappoint too much. I promise that next week I'll deliver a nice long selection of entertaining and absurd videos. Today, though, I feel that the least I can do to support this film, and the people behind it, is to add my voice to theirs in speaking out about the significance of this issue. That said, I also hope you'll take a minute or two and donate to the cause.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Me, in Caricature

My friend Laura illustrated me:


I tell you this because she recently decided to start doing personal illustrations for $15 dollars, and I told her I thought that was a great idea, and requested one immediately. So there I am, in glorious caricature.

If you're interested, feel free to send her a message on Facebook, or leave a comment here, and I'll get you in touch with her. I've known Laura for quite a while, and I can vouch for both her professionalism and her skill.

As with many of my posts, you may be wondering what this has to do with being a film student. Well, nothing, directly. But I was very impressed by Laura's attitude. Why wait until some person tells you that you should be making money at what you do? You might as well start whenever you can. If you have a marketable skill, go market it!

*****

I am also to inform you that if you are willing to advertise her work, she'll drop the price to $10. Aren't you glad you kept reading?

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Friday 'Stache

What have you done with my mustache?

A friend of mine (not pictured) recently recommended this channel, and mentioned not-so-subtly that I could perhaps blog about it. Well, I watched a few of their videos, and the concepts were clever, and the production value was reasonably high. But in terms of writing and acting...well, they were YouTube videos. But I felt a little sad that these great ideas, and impressive resources of technical tallent were being somewhat cheapened by these fundamental weaknesses.

I'm probably being too harsh.

In any case, this one went viral, and for good reason. It's not all that impressive in terms of story, and the idea is so simple it seems almost obvious. But it works. It's funny. It's cool. You'll like it.



Probably we can all agree that it works because of Dave Ackerman, who you might recognize as Morgan the Tongue from Orabrush, or perhaps from his own channel, which hits a unique and uncommon key in comedy.

Speaking of Morgan the Tongue:



Mmm...

OK, here's something really wonderful:



Julian Smith is kind of the man. This becomes clearer to me as time goes on. And time does go on.

Lastly, here's a thing you may have no interest in seeing, unless you know Josh Gibson. Let me tell you--I know Josh Gibson, and if you don't, you have my pity. If you'd like, you can pretend to know him while you watch this kind of personal video blog about an important event in his life. Be warned, it is a video blog. There is not what they call "production value." But Josh has one of the pleasantest personalities of which I am aware, so I don't think you'll be unhappy if you make it all the way through.



This is a great use of a medium, I think. This is 11 minutes that he and his family will probably cherish forever. Way to be, Josh Gibson. And, of course, congratulations.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Student Film Purgatory

Once upon a time, I made a goal to write and direct four short films, each less than 2 minutes, in one semester. Each of them, I decided, would take approximately four hours to shoot, and they would all be ready to show by the end of the semester.

Here's what happened: I made one, and it took a year.



The irony is that Stage Fright really did only take a few hours to shoot. I put a crew together, got a location, and cast it in something like two weeks. Then it went into post production and...disappeared. The guy I had editing it was overcommitted, and this little side project was just about his last priority. Then, when it was finally cut, my sound guy (who had been expecting it months earlier) was busy getting married. And so on.

There are three kinds of student film:

  1. Those that get finished
  2. Those that don't get finished
  3. Those that are currently in purgatory, whose final state is unknown

The films in purgatory are sort of like Schrödinger's cat, existing in both states, progress (life) and termination (death), simultaneously. Unlike the poisoned animal, however, the student film cannot be observed in this state. The box, so to speak, is sealed shut. 

Remember Weighted? Well, it never went into purgatory, thank goodness, which is why it got finished about eight months after I started writing the script. That kind of thing is vanishingly rare for student films--in fact, I know of no other capstone project that finished so quickly. It was a charmed project, in many ways, and I'm grateful.

Other projects have not been so fortunate. For instance, the following is a trailer for a capstone project that got started more than two years ago. It's a short film adaptation of a couple of scenes from the book "Ender's Game." 




By Jacob Schwarz's account, it's...well, it's getting there. The CG effects in this thing have been his personal nightmare for what probably seems like an endless eternity to him now, but he's still working at it. That's saying something, since he graduated and moved on to getting paid for what he does over a year ago.

So, if I had to guess whether this film will be dead or alive when it finally emerges from purgatory, I'd guess it'll be kickin'. Jacob isn't the kind of person to let something with so much cool potential just fade away. But he's running out of time. One of the frightening truths of student filmmaking is that your projects have expiration dates. There is a point, and it changes from film to film, at which completing it becomes an abject impossibility.

Here's to hoping Jake can drag The Third out of purgatory, and soon.

Monday, January 9, 2012

...Quoth Ira Glass

I've been a fan of This American Life (no, not my American life--I'm talking about the show) for years now. It is one of the few works of media that remains undiminished in its capacity to enrich its audience, despite the sheer size and nature of that audience. Ira Glass, the show's creator, has managed to preserve its whole integrity. As an artist and a reporter, as a thinker and a contributor to the world of media, specifically to radio, he is unsurpassed.

You have to trust a man with a desk in the mountains.
I say all this by way of introduction, because what follows is a quote that has earned its trip around the Internet. I'm not much for quotes, typically. Too often they're mis-attributed, or you don't know enough about who said it to make any difference. But if anyone is qualified to make this case, it is Ira Glass:


A friend and fellow screenwriter (one of my peers at BU) shared this on Facebook, and I was sufficiently impressed to want to spend more than a follow-up comment on it. Perhaps I'll better remember it now that I've dedicated a whole blog post to it.

I've spent a good part of the last four months feeling crappy about my work. I decided after reading this that that's good enough. I've had my fill of humble pie. It's time to dig in and, as Ira suggests, "do a lot of work." I can look at my writing, at my efforts and sweat and blood, and I can say, "This isn't very good." And then, instead of whining about it, I can say OK, and push it aside, and get back to work.

I will end with this open letter to Ira Glass:

Ira,

Thou art the man.

Respectfully,

Jordan.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Office Nerd Party!

Today, I let my inner-office nerd have full reign.

To start, a really, really cool stop-motion advertisement:




Are you a pen person? Do you get unreasonably excited when you discover the next "perfect" writing utensil? It's OK. I've discovered that there are a lot of us. And I have good news: I recently discovered the perfect pen:


Of course, it depends on what kind of pen you prefer, but if you're all about ultra-fine tip gel pens that don't smear a split second after the ink hits the paper, then I can safely say I know of no better alternative. You can get 3 for 5 bucks on Amazon. You're welcome.

Speaking of best things, when I ordered my last set of business cards, I went a little psycho looking for the best place to get them. After a whole lot of research (and an embarrassing amount of time), I came to the conclusion that OvernightPrints was it. I should probably qualify that by acknowledging that there are much, much more expensive options that will probably deliver much sexier products, but when it comes to quality/price ratios, OvernightPrints wins. 

Here's why I've been thinking about business cards: I'm getting new ones! I spent a good portion of yesterday and today designing what will become the spine of my self-branding, and here is the sum of my work:

Option 1

Option 2

Option 3

As you can see, I'm struggling to decide how exactly to design the back. I need you. This is the moment you've been waiting for. Please vote on which option you think is most awesome. And feel free to elaborate if you'd like.

Also, is there a pen you adore, that you'd like to share abroad with songs of wonder and praise? Put that in the comments, too.

Monday, January 2, 2012

On Resolutions

Sorry about last week. Not REALLY sorry, but a little sorry.

I have ten minutes to write this post.

Also, here's a funny New Year's video:



I learned something about goals. There's a sweet spot, between too- and not ambitious enough. I set a goal to write for six hours every day of the three weeks I have in Utah. That has manifested itself thusly: I have written for an average of 2 to 3 hours every day since I got here.

That could be considered a disappointing failure, but how helpful would that be? Also, not accurate. So I haven't been writing for six hours. Guess what I have done--written a lot. I've made a lot of progress on two feature ideas. The act of writing has started to become habitual. I'm not there yet, but I'm getting close. The trick is that six hours sounded like a reasonable goal, so I got up every day with renewed determination to meet it. If I had set the goal higher, I would have ignored it completely. If I had set it lower, I would have procrastinated to the point that I got much less writing done.

This is helpful in considering resolutions. In 2012, I want to be better about managing my time and diligently working toward the eventual fulfillment of my dreams than I did in 2011. In short, 2011 was great, 2012 will be better.

That's the overarching theme of my life. In a consistant effort to make today better than yesterday, each year ends up being better than the last. It's sure I don't always succeed in making every single day better, but the effort is what counts, the never letting up. The specifics will change constantly, but the idea is always the same. It's about movement, progress, growth.

Onward and upward. 2012, despite what Roland Emmerich might say, is really nothing more or less than one more year. And that's...well, it's pretty great.

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