Monday, July 29, 2013

Straight Up Gate Poppin' ...

My dogs have started Gate Poppin'.

They lean on or head-butt their way past a safety gate or other barrier to get to things they want, but aren't supposed to have.

Things like access to a human's bed (because their muddy paws didn't get clean enough on the floor as they walked through the entire house).

They wait until I'm asleep. Or out of the house. Then they start poppin'.

I've decided, to minimize my rage at this recent behavior, at some point, I'm going to write a rap parody video, "Gate Poppin'", featuring my dogs.

(NSFW Warning. It will use the word "bitches". A lot.)

Here's a possible sample:
Walkin' my domain, my home where I'm the king
trying ta get to bed, but here's the thing
Gotta item blocking my reg'lar path
gotta knock it down -- It's gonna feel my wrath 
Put my head low, then hear some scritchin'
somewhere down south, I start to itchin'
Look up see a bitch on the other side
she don't look calm -- she looks ready to ride 
Heat drivin' me wild, like I'm a junkyard cur
Maybe it's the summer weather, or maybe it's just her
Put my head down with nothin' stoppin'
Me as I lunge forward and start ta poppin'....
Tha's right, it's time to get poppin' -- Straight up Gate Poppin' 
Poppin'. Puh-Puh-Puh-Pop-Poppin'
Poppin'. Pop-Pop-Pop-Poppin'
Poppin'. Pop-Pop-Pop-Poppin'
Pop-Pop-Pop. Pope-puh-pop-pop-pop-POP!
(Straight up Gate Poppin')
(Admittedly, it probably needs more than thirty seconds of workshopping to get the flow.)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Didn't get the gig? That's your fault.

My personal bias?

Resumes and candidates have gotten crappier across the board over the years.

(And, yes, I do mean "candidates have gotten crappier", not "candidates behavior has gotten crappier". The latter abstracts accountability from the infractor, and the former let's it land where it belongs -- Behavior doesn't define a person, but is a reflection of who that person already is.)

I've found all of this to be far, far worse in the acting and video game worlds.

So, while I don't agree with all of the points in this slide deck (some are distinctly legacy), there are some good tips here -- Even if you're not a recent college grad. And probably especially if you think none of this applies to you.

Part of the glut of sub-par submissions is an overall societal decline in personal accountability, and a correlative increase in a sense of entitlement & arrogance (which is invalid anyway, but especially for new entrants who haven't earned anything, and for long-time, experienced folks who who are lazy and don't bust their ass daily to stay relevant).

I know these industries -- I'm a professional actor and a video game studio owner.

At times, I get so blindingly frustrated with the amateur behavior of things like assistants to casting directors, agents, and managers who can't manage people or events to a clock, or non-experience folks who want to get into the game industry, but have done no research, or passionately chased their own development projects.

A while ago, I sat across the table from a guy who I'd coached for an entry level position interview at another company. He didn't get the gig, didn't do any of the things I suggested as prep, and he blamed not getting the job on "nepotism", "unfair bias", and "them not seeing how great I am".

"I see the problem," I said. "You're a lazy, self-absorbed jerk who doesn't want to contribute positively to people outside of yourself. That's on you."

(His response was I have unreasonable expectations for people. I really wish I could say this was a unique sit-down event.)

Anyway, as a bonus, these slides' retro-50s visual juxtaposition and tongue-in-cheekedness is fun, too.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Film Industry Needs the vFX Industry (and Everyone Else)

So, there's a recent current kerfluffle about the role of visual effects studios in successful films, problems with the viability of vFX studios due to hyper-competitiveness, and multiple other related and tangential issues.

I had planned to start (what I hoped was) a balanced, transparent discussion of just how complicated this thing really is, dig into the usury business model that contributes to it (not limited just to film), the pros and perils of unionizing, and so on.

But then I thought, "Well, this isn't just about visual effects -- We actually need everyone involved in making films."


(Remember the writer's strike? That was painful, and 6 years later, as just one side effect, we're still saddled with the overabundance of reality TV that is not reality, but is very much a bulk of our TV.)

Visual effects isn't just about Life of Pi or Star Trek. It's Amour and Lincoln (and Lincoln (and Lincoln)) and Django Unchained and Silver Linings Playbook and ...

... and ...

... and, well, all of them.

Visual effects are there in so many movies to more or less "obviousness", and outside of the "vFX CGI blockbusters" (and I'd argue, even within them), good effects are like good voice acting and good music and good acting and good everything that's solid and well-implemented and if you choose to step back and take the time you say, "That's amazing" but if you don't step back you don't notice their teh awesumz because well-done stuff doesn't get in the way.

But this is already going long, so to make the point, I offer you Exhibit A:

This was my attempt at an explosion. But it looks like a misshapen starfish. Or radiating sperm. Or an exploding misshapen starfish radiating sperm.

I need the professionals who do this ****. I don't want that art missing from The Art. (And I don't want untrained uninitiates like me breaking the fourth wall with our awful.)

Need more? I offer Exhibit B:

Zomigosh, I need vFX and wardrobe and makeup and writers and directors and grips and gaffers and composers and audio designers and editors and producers and DPs and ADs and casting agents and set decorators and storyboard artists and art directors and craft services and audiences and the dozens of other disciplines that are probably going to get a hold me for leaving them out of this knowingly abbreviated list.

Hey, despite my love of and belief and participation in independent film, that doesn't mean I'm ever out there solo without other passionate, talented folks who mesh with my passion and talent as we all drive to something greater than I can do by myself. In a vacuum. Without visual effects.

(You do not want that.)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Problematic Comic Book Costumes

(From left-field.)

4-year-old: Black Widow sure can do a lot in high heels.

7-year-old: Yeah, a lot a lot.

9-year-old: Yeah.

4-year-old: Like Kicking and shooting.

7-year-old: And Running and jumping.

9-year-old: And it's not even good for your feet to wear high heels all of the time and never take them off.

(Totally girls. Totally comic book fans.)

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

The Anniversary of Ongoing Grief

I've had a lotta angry dreams the past few nights.

It's a stage of grief I'm all too familiar with; I really don't like it.

Today marks one year since losing my mom-in-law, seventeen days after she was diagnosed with cancer.

In some ways, the anniversary is harder than the actual death. There's not the shock and numbness that in some ways lessen the pain. During the event, there is sometimes a flock of present, similarly grieving family and friends who help carry the burden. There's administrivia and to-dos for funeral arrangement and estate details. There's sometimes the muddiness of dealing with the fractured relationships of the living, the regret of things not done, things not said (though we were blessed with very little of any of that).

A year later, the reminder, the pain, is there -- but not the layers of distraction that blunted it before.

"It's not better yet, why won't this pain go away" is fighting against the "I don't want ever to stop missing her".

I have this reverse entitlement of feeling like I don't have as much right to grieve, because it's not my mom I lost. There's a feeling of hopeless helplessness of my being wired to fix things, but I'm not able to fix this for my beloved wife, or for my best friend brother-in-law.

I'm frustrated wondering if the only reason I'm feeling all of this is purely psychological. I know the date, and preemptively I know remembering is going to suck. Maybe I'm just getting myself spun up  "unnecessarily."

Maybe it's just trigger events that remind me of the grief. Last year, we watched snippets of the Superbowl from a cramped hospital room during our final watch, and that's really changed what the game means to me for now, and I was dreading it this year.

Maybe it's just some big cyclical physical rhythm that needs to work itself out in human beings.

Or maybe we're all innately spiritual creatures, and our souls have elastic memories that pull toward each other for these kinds out losses.


Today is a day I remember a neat, neat woman. An example for me, for the daughter and wonderful wife she helped raise, and for the grandchildren who were the light of her recent times with us.

She was a giving, service-oriented woman.

So today was about staying home, not doing day job stuff, and doing what I could for my wife, with the kids and me telling each other stories about Grandma.

Which included, among other things, tales of swimming and Tic-Tacs, dog training and movie nights.

She is a neat, neat woman.