Filmmaking

The Passing of A Friend - Things w/ Amir Motlagh Ep10

Was not going to do one of these this week, but then I figured that, knowing Chris, he would have been like, "fuck you dude, do one of these on me!" 

I just pulled up our last text message, in which he states that I owe him a Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles dinner. I can't seem to recall why?

Still working out some audio drop-outs, but I think I figured that out. If you're interested in getting your weekly (bi-weekly) dose of these, please subscribe. 

Christopher Ad Castillo: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1779820/?ref_=nv_sr_2

Celso Ad. Castillo: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0145036/?ref_=nv_sr_1

MIRS video we co-directed on the set of his film LosAngeles7: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_lyA...

RIP Christopher Ad. Castillo

MAN + THREE WORLDS + CANYON = THREE MARKS, TOO MANY SIGNALS

Currently wrapping up the final post production on two long-form projects, both set for release in 2017, of which are titled MAN & THREE WORLDS respectively.

These works file under the umbrella of THREE MARKS, TOO MANY SIGNALS and include the 2016 MIRS visual album CANYON, released in Sept of 2016

They are grouped together for multiple reasons, most of which are not important for me to state on paper, though, I believe, will be somewhat self-evident upon inspection. Even maybe an ah-ha moment at a later date. As Ozu was once heard remarking, "The end of a film is its beginning". I stand firm on his statement, at this time.

This body of work is somewhat hard to define in the current media space as it exists today. MAN and THREE WORLDS are closely related to feature films, but, share some space with the concepts of internet defined new media, and also, classic single channel works. The division of labor hierarchy, a stalwart of fiction filmmaking was not really present, and nothing in the process was ever too familiar. Simply put, it was a bottom-up effort (of course, with ample help, without which, all three, non-existent). With that said, all three were created with different methodology, defined by their own individual worlds, under a larger, unified universe.

But, I am at the state where I do need to raise a bit of capital to see this through completely into a shippable, or at least, releasable product. Very little $$ comparatively, but enough so that I am seriously considering a CROWD FUNDING CAMPAIGN. In fact, unless someone comes along this week and puts up used car money, I'll go that route, not so begrudgingly anymore, because I think the urge to share overrides my conditioned response to crowd sourcing fiction. On second thought,  I hardly call these works fiction in the common language sense ( language is never 1 to 1) so most importantly betweeen the two parties involved, you need to see them, but first I must finish.

Also, to really ride #skininthegame to its conclusion, here is some prototype artwork for the projects. I have never shared this early in the art direction process, as art is historically done when presented in its final form. But, art is now software, as art is a product of its time and software has eaten the whole, entire fucking world in its time. Also, software is always beta.

So, here is my beta version artwork posters for the collective of THREE MARKS TOO MANY SIGNALS projects. These are again another collaborative effort with my long time friend, artist Ali Sabet who puts up with my art direction barking, which often gets reversed by better instincts. Note that CANYON is already released, but will be updated with a film poster as well to go along with the album art.   

 NOTE: Everything in this post is temporary. Except, the fact that the projects are releasing.

leaving projects behind or always finishing.....

I recently picked up footage from a shoot we did over a year ago. We had some hiccups immediately during post, mostly because the world we were going to build in the box was a bit too complicated and time consuming without a larger team. This was an in-house production, so we aimed high, but the cost analysis did not add up.  A little after that realization we actually continued forward with some progress, but life got busy and other important priorities took over.

Now, this happens now and again. Personally, I just move forward without the burden of the past. If the ship is moving, why hit the brakes?

However, deep down, I'm often bothered by projects left to burn in their own ashes. Mostly because other people put in the time.

This is different than long term projects that are continuous and take time because of aesthetics, strategies or just out of necessities. I'm specifically talking about projects abandoned. Nine times out of ten, these are just scripts, treatments or half baked ideas that get pushed aside for newer scripts; but every once in awhile, its actually raw footage being tossed. You took the time to write something, got people together, and you shot the damn thing, and without any hesitation, you just threw it away. 

But here is where everything gets tricky. We are in the throes of "content world" now. Everything counts. The golden goose, and the piles of trash. They all have utility, serving the purpose of fulfilling the highs and lows of our culture. The stream of life is not historical. The origin story is now. Do you have enough material to feed this voracious monster?

With that in mind, I just salvaged some visuals locked away in harddrive hell.  Conceptually, the idea has changed, I'll be honest. But, the adjustment actually makes more sense now, since it's more in line with a certain creative process I'm dealing with, NOW.

Here is a still from the upcoming MIRS TAKE AWAY visual. The record is two years old and the footage, recently rescued from the depths of a harddrive in Burbank California, is over a year old. Who the fuck would know if I didn't say anything anyways.

Visuals from MIRS TAKE AWAY

Visuals from MIRS TAKE AWAY



The Argo Prequel as experiment, not directed by Ben Affleck

I released KHOOBI in 2011 as my only effort under a Creative Commons banner (this is a whole other discussion).  It is a fiction.  Watch it because it was formed by humans.  Also, to ease that confirmation bias about THOSE people, because, not everybody are THOSE people.  

Full disclosure, I thought Benny Affleck did well with Argo.  Aside from what my mother called, “continuous long face”, his directing was wicked shhmmarttt.  The film was everything you hope for from Hollywood these days, and it delivered.  It was “cute”, but in the best and sincere usage of the word.  

I get certain criticisms from people about the film not being “Oscar Caliber”, although I disagree.   Have we so soon forgotten the Oscar selections?  

Our collective expectations of Hollywood are relatively low, and it’s hard to find fault with a completely competent film.  Calling the film, this year’s CRASH, is uninformed and emotional.  But, then again, that's not a fair assessment of CRASH either.  

Of course, in the the cinephile world, it’s hard to compete with Michael Haneke.  The sheer breadth of emotionality, structure, and attention to form in Amour is breathtaking.  And, Lincoln, although a talk fest, is a damn good film.    

In the end though, who cares?  Really.  Are we hung up on a contest of subjectivity?  Only time dictates greatness.  That’s societies true measure.  And, unfortunately, that takes time.  

Biggie Arts vs Lil Arts - A fools paradise

(note: This was inspired by reading a piece of Hugh MacLeod’s new book in progress.  I have often thought about this and it’s been heavily discussed within my inner peer group, because, well, why the hell not)

I have a friend who draws mini cartoons everyday.  He puts them up on his instagram, or website and releases them out into the world, several times daily.  It's effective, he is fast and consistent and his fan's appreciate it.  They share it, link to it.  

At first, I advised him to not go crazy with supply.  You know, hold out a bit.  I think I was a bit off on that one.  But, I’ll still argue with consistency either way, as long as you keep em coming.  Too much too fast and burnout city man, like whoa, you dig.  Too little too slow, and you're a bum.  Or, a dinosaur of old art.  

Scarcity hardly works these days like it once did, unless you established that record a decade or so ago, because frankly, abundance and choice is out of control.  And waiting is not the name of the game anymore.  I WANT IT NOW!  That’s your little inner child yelling at you.  Or, your actual child screaming in your ear.  Either way, we are in the sphere of the NOW.  Eat a spoonful, and lay back down on your coach.  It’s not going away fatass (that was clearly a subconscious dig toward the “imaginary” mailman who hasn’t taken my outgoing mail in the new place I’m staying at for a few days). 

Going back to my friend, he does what can be labeled as “lil art”.  Edward Gorey (the recipient of a recent Google honoring), Charles Schultz, Hugh MacLeod and many many other people do lil art.   Of course, the term “lil” is subjective and based on context.  Alan Moore does “lil art” compared to Dostoevsky.  But, what the hell does that mean anyway?  I’d like to define it as somehow both related to length of time to produce, and production costs.

I have a directing friend who just wrapped principal photography on a 3 million dollar movie.  He does “biggie art” compared to a Sunday editorial cartoonist, but even his 3 million dollar movie doesn’t stack up to Kathryn Bigelow’s ZERO DARK THIRTY when we talk about biggie in terms of size.   Still,  we are familiar with tons of names of biggie art.  They are part of our folklore.

The real question however is, is there are a difference in what that piece of art ( or gift if we are being generous)  provides between these two places of the biggie and lil.  Between a Charles Schultz or an Orson Welles or a Leo Tolstoy?  

Aside from the medium, and its size, nothing.  This is not as simple as I'm making it out to be, but getting past the intellectual bullshitting, it all comes down to a FEELING.  And, quality.  It’s resonance to the individual.

How did that MAKE ME FEEL.  Was I moved?  Did it connect?  

And, when it comes to that, certainly lil art has affected me just as much as biggie art. 

These days, so much of biggie art is squeezed under pressure.  The zeitgeist, especially now treats everything on the same leveling field.  So, lovers of the biggie, don't forget to look into the lil once in awhile.

Even as far as filmmaking is concerned, look into your lil cousin, television to tell you times a changing.  “Small is the New big” as that luxurious nerd brain Seth Godin states.  He probably means something else, but this isn’t his space now, is it.

The Plans

With this newest website update, I made some commitments to myself.  One is that I will keep this journal section more active.  Before, I would only post promotional stuff, and with a bit of lazy infrequency.  I am putting an end to that by diversifying content.    

I want to keep it interesting, and document different things of interest.  However, it will never get political.  

Also, I'm starting the process of making another feature.  And my thoughts on this are that instead of keeping the whole process hidden, I'd also like to document it.  From this initial point of just finishing the screenplay, to all the other things involved in making it come to life.  Although, I am not sure where to stage it yet, but the most likely place is in the FILM section under CAMEL WEST.  That's probably a good place to start.  This CAMEL WEST journal will most likely be included in some form when the film gets released  as an ancillary addition.  On my journey, rest assured, no real names will be used in this ongoing journal until completion, and unless formally agreed upon, anonymity will remain a very important component of trust.  Coming from someone who's life is always described as "mysterious", this is a good time to change the habits, since, that type of methodology doesn't resonate with people in todays world of hyper sharing.

I also want to make these two journals separate from one another in content.  CAMEL WEST will only focus on the filmmaking process, and the one you are reading now will be more diverse in scope.  Although, I'm not sure that's the best way to go?  Got to ask around.  But, if you have a suggestion, I would love to hear from you.

Best
am