Archive for July, 2012
It was about 30 minutes after I woke up on Friday, after two-hours of sleep, that I heard about the in-f***ing-sanity in Aurora, Colorado. Some crazy dude dons a gasmask and shoots up a midnight screening of Dark Knight Rises, 59 injured, 12 dead. Everyone has to have heard about this by now, 5 days after the fact. Since then I’ve heard a lot of gun control sound bytes, a lot of “what made him do it” questions, a lot of rote “our heart goes out to them” politicking, but only one guy has really been saying what I’ve been feeling: Kevin Smith. He spent the days which followed on his Hulu show Spoilers! and on his podcasts empathizing with the folks in that theater as a fellow film-buff. They were us, man. I was at a 3:30 a.m. screening of the same movie in a different state because I couldn’t wait to see that movie either. I’ve attended 6 midnight (or later) screenings since March this year: Hunger Games, Cabin in the Woods, The Avengers, Prometheus, The Amazing Spider-man, and The Dark Knight Rises.
Movie theaters are sacred places for a lot of us. We go there to get excited. We go there to be taken away from ourselves and the world we see everyday. As soon as I learned how to dial a phone I knew two telephone numbers by heart, my home phone number and the number for Lakehurst Movie Theater. Between the ages of 7 and 13, I woke up every Saturday morning, went to the phone in the kitchen, dialed the number, and listened to all the movies and all the times they were playing that weekend. All those possibilities. All those pretty people doing fascinating and adventurous things. The General Cinemas logo made my heart skip a beat before the previews would start and I would know that for at least an hour and a half I could stop worrying about everything and just have a good time. I got movie theater coupons for birthdays and holidays, every single first date I’ve ever been on and at least 90 percent of every other subsequent date in those relationships took place in a movie theater, and every birthday I go to a movie with my wife and parents. I remember every family trip and major life event around what movie I saw in which theater and with whom I saw it. I realize that for some people movie theaters are just a place to pass the time with their giggling friends, but for me they’re the place I went to learn how to dream. They showed me what we can be, what we aspire to, and what we can feel. They still show me all of those things. Since I first sat behind an electric typewriter when I was 12 years old, the movie theater feeling is something I’ve been working to create with words on paper, a video camera, and a group of like-minded dreamers at my side. Movie theaters are responsible not only for many of the events that have shaped my life, but for the person that I am today.
My heart goes out to the people in Aurora not only because they were innocent human beings caught up in the nightmare of one psychotic who felt powerless, but especially because they’re my midnight screening brethren. There’s no logic in what happened. No amount of social change can balance the scales on bullshit like this. But even if reality’s villains decide to take to the movie theaters, you’ll still find me there at every opportunity, because that’s where I’ve always found my heroes. And I wouldn’t want to live without them.
So I’m going to be heading to the 3:30 a.m. IMAX screening of The Dark Knight Rises on Thursday night/Friday morning. I never would have done this if it was just me making my own decisions. When I thought up the question of the week in the last video update I had been sitting in the office doing effects for several hours and—deep in the clutches of stir craziness—thought that it would be funny to see if the audience would make me do it. And they did. They wanted me to do something exciting and unusual. It was really close actually. 3:30 had 155 votes and Friday night at a regular time had 140 votes. But it’ll be interesting to see what kind of toll this takes on me. I’m going to document the whole thing for next week’s update. It’s going to be like a very low-key endurance trial when I have to follow it up with going to work the next day.
It’s crazy that we’ve even come to a point in opening weekend numbers madness where there’s a 3:30 a.m. screening for a movie. Not only that though, A 3:30 a.m. screening SELLS OUT so that I have to drive slightly farther to make good on my promise to the PoPS updates community. Although, it is really cool that movies are bigger event entertainment than ever.
As for the update-ish portion of today’s post, I’m still hunkering down in the office every day after work for at least a couple hours working on visual effects. It’s become like a low-key endurance trial. I get more time with them on the weekend, but at least I feel like we’re actually making some progress now. It’s exciting to realize that there will be a time when Ep6 is actually finished. It’s been starting to feel like the monster that just won’t die. I’ve been checking in with other people working on their pieces of the puzzle and it sounds like everyone’s trying to buckle down and get this thing finished. So I’d like to get it done within the next month. No promises. Don’t tell the YouTube commenters I said that, because they’ll take it as a rock solid completion date and then drag me across the comments-coals if I don’t make it. Remember that. Anything you say to your audience, you better be ready to deliver. Said the guy going to the 3:30 a.m. IMAX flick.
We’re also getting back into production mode on Sunday night for one of the last two shoot nights of episode 7. We just keep on working. Talk to you next week.
Thanks for reading.
This last week has been a blur of VFX work and True Blood season 4 episodes. It’s been: Get home from work, work on effects for a couple of hours, and eat dinner while humans commiserate about how bad vampires are and vampires commiserate about how doggone adorbs Sookie Stackhouse is. That’s a great show.
Pre-production and production blogging are always a lot more action oriented. During all stages of post production I tend to get a little more theory driven and blog about what I’ve been pondering while desk-bound. This week’s personal revelation revolves around how creating The Platoon of Power Squadron and self releasing it online has given me an extraordinary opportunity to do exactly the kind of storytelling I’m interested in. Sounds pretty self explanatory, right? But I’m working on a passion project in front of an audience without ever having had to work my way up. The conventional industry proving ground is rife with entertainers working their way up. Actors especially have to work in projects of questionable quality just to get some credits on their resume. And a guy like me? Forget about it. When I was auditioning in L.A., I basically got called in for three character types: Stoners, geeks, or pedophiles on cop shows. The third one only happened a few times, but the fact that it happened more than once was an eyebrow raiser. I started acting because I wanted to be a plucky hero or a dangerous antihero. Nobody gets into acting because they’re dying to be a pedophile brought in for questioning on the way toward meeting a more interesting criminal. But I cheated. I started my own internet series. Terrible quality at first, but better by leaps and bounds with every episode. It became good enough to get a really kickass audience going. Now, I’m my own antihero, the kind of character I’ve always wanted to play, a sarcastic wise guy with unspeakable power and a dark past. Ten years ago I probably never would have gotten to play this part to an audience. I just don’t look the part. Actually, ten years ago I DID play this part as a wisecracking serial killer living in suburbia with two girls in a show I made called Mr. Massacre and the Debutantes. We even had an audience and everything. It ran on our local cable access channel to an audience of about 15 people: Our parents, some people from my church, some of the girls’ friends from school, and one guy I’d never seen before who dropped by the video store I worked at to tell me he liked the show. Cable access, man. We used to sit there and watch the TV Guide channel scroll by to see the title of our show next to ACTUAL TV SHOWS. It’s a whole different ball game now. Now we’ve got a much larger audience that cares about us enough to give us an actual budget. I’m finally getting the chance to see myself be an antihero in style, with a filmic depth of field and a whole bunch of strangers all over the world willing to talk to me about it. Thanks, internet. You’re the badassest.
On the flip side of working-your-way-up, I always thought it would have been fun to have a shot at making a Roger Corman-style first feature. I would have really liked to have a Piranha II: The Spawning of my very own. I guess Mr. Massacre is my cable access Piranha II. Speaking of the man who would be Cameron, let’s take a look at the trailer for the film he brought us before he was the box office king of the world with Terminators, Titanics, and T… Avatars. [Apparently, this copy was ripped off a Swedish VHS, which explains the subtitles and the alternate subtitle, Flying Killers. Doesn’t make it any less fun though.]
Thanks for reading.