When I was 12 I wrote that phrase in one of my numerous notebooks rather offhandedly. The notebook was college lined cause I just thought I was so legit. Now I work in XLG unlined Moleskines. It was only when my best friend noted it in my scribbled scrawl that I sorta realized its significance. Little did I know how it would quickly become my mantra. I won’t begin to offer a commentary on the healthy and less healthy angles of the statement but I will say this, for me, its true.
I’ve been working without ceasing on the feature version of THOSE LIGHTER FLUID DAYS since mid February. When I’m not actually writing it, I’m thinking about it and kinda forcing other people think about it too. Spent so many nights without sleep, days without going outside, long cold walks in the rain barefoot. Sobbed in corners of neon lit hallways, and deserted clearings, forgotten to eat, ignored my laundry, went to work and only realized halfway through the day that I don’t actually remember driving there. Lived for people-watching and eavesdropping behind mirrored Lennon glasses, my creeper status in downtown Greenville/Simpsonville and Fountain Inn is pretty much carved in old coffee mugs and empty sidewalks. I mentally inhabit two worlds at once, shed an equal amount of tears for the characters on the page as those here in reality. They have quickly become dear old friends, with all their flaws and idiosyncrasies. I could get into the whole idea “what is reality anyhow?” but safe to say, that’s a whole different blog post.
I’ve been ridiculously blessed with the privilege to collaborate with those who have come to love these characters and the world created as much as I have. I’m very more privileged to have their full support, their hearts and minds invested in bringing those people to life. Its both terrifying, incredibly humbling, and exhilarating.
I honestly have no idea if everything I’ve put myself through and those around me has made the story better or if I’m simply being self-indulgent, playing into some unspoken and spoken lifestyle that people just expect of writers. Truth be told, most of the time I don’t even think about it. Probably because I’m thinking about that thing I’m supposed to be writing.
Final day of the year. Looking back, its been an awesome one, best year of my life, it was rough, it was crazy, it was stressful and I’m so happy everything went down the way it did.
So here goes nothing.
2. Discovered a side to my writing I never thought existed, the comedic side. And continued to deepen my willingness to be vulnerable and honest in my writing and that desire just keeps growing stronger.
3. I learned that my passion for creating doesn’t stop on the page. New passions/obsessions include: Graphic design, DIY sewing projects, letterpress and screenprinting + I happen to be falling back in love with the camera(both video and stills)
4. I may actually be more of a Director then I thought. The idea has been planted. Lets see where 2013 takes that revelation
5. Thankful for the continued support of non-filmmaking friends/fam in my life. Your understanding and willingness to take me as I am has been such an encouragement! Thank you!
7. I’m addicted to typography anything, and designing my own t-shirts.
8. I’ve never worked harder in my life pursuing the things that I love with everything that I have. And it paid off.
9. Choosing to live by this truth. People > Projects. Its way more important/valuable to invest in people then put tasks or projects at the forefront.
10. Burnt bridges can be mended but they require humility. Lots of it.
11. In the last 6 months of 2012 I wrote more successful content then I ever have before and I’m actually proud of most of it. Completed 4 shorts and two feature length screenplays, not to mention drafted at least 3 other features and outlined 2 more shorts.
12. I work with some of the most talented, caring, awesome, hilarious, and batsh*t crazy people on the planet. I love you guys all like it ain’t nobodies business. Follow cohorts in #IndieFilmWorldDomination, you rock mah socks.
There we have it. 2012, you’ve been good to me. 2013, we got some scheming to tackle. Full speed ahead.
“We’re Making A Movie Yo”
I’m a writer, among other things, I produce, direct, even “act” but when it comes down to it, I’m a writer. I’ve been giving that declaration a lot of thought these past few days. What does that even mean anyhow, to be a writer? You sit down and pen stuff, doesn’t matter the medium, Field Notes or keyboard, forming thoughts, worlds, emotions on the page. I’ve been writing daily for over a decade now.
I joke I probably bleed ink at this point, but what does it all really mean? I honestly believe its created a systematic rewiring of the way my brain filters through experiences and emotions. I find myself cataloging everything, conversations, facial expressions, the peculiar way someone may say something without actually speaking anything. I eavesdrop and try to take everything in, it probably leads to a lot of over-analyzing on my part and annoyance on the part of friends and family but I suppose that simply comes with the territory.
I won’t deny there’s this constant nagging sensation deep in my gut that all this cataloging is creating a sense of detachment within my person that is inhibiting me from legitimately connecting with others. But then I catch myself, if anything writing has made me more keenly aware of how ones’ actions can and will have a profound affect on those around oneself. Shakespeare declared that “All the World’s a Stage and all Men and Women merely players.” Everyone, in one way, shape, or form plays into the grand scheme of things. As someone whose job is, in essence, to create worlds for people to enter, places and individuals that feel tangible enough that one does not find oneself questioning the (for lack of a better word) “realness” of the environment and the emotions that drive the protagonist and antagonist to do what they do, I can’t help but feel a incredible sense of responsibility. That’s a scary amount of authority. I have absolutely no desire to make my occupation sound more important then it actually is, I don’t hold a candle as far as courage/power to say a Firefighter or member of the Armed Forces. With that said, one cannot deny the power that is given when we put words to use.
I wield a vastly different kind of weapon then the military, dangerous in its own right. Ideas, thoughts, and concepts. Tools of my trade. I’m entirely fascinated with how the Human Mind stores and processes information, how/why things gain a certain level of importance to me while they don’t mean anything at all to someone else. And vise-versa. In this day and age where everything is summarized by the amount of data it requires to function where does Humanity, our needs/desires, and the Soul factor into all that? Does what we know solely define who we are?
These are questions that don’t really have straight answers, hence the reason I wrote EXTRACT: The Ghost Complex. Questions I have found myself pondering over with a Torey Byrne, a 19 year old insanely talented actress (And Director) who I suspect had no earthly idea what she was signing up for when I simply asked, “You want drama or high-concept sci-fi?”
We’ve gone and built the most legitimate world we can with the resources that we have on hand. Extract’s ‘Verse, if you will (Firefly fans will get it.) Employed the power of the Imagination and lots of crazy talented people. Created brands, companies, social structure, drugs, lingo, culture, subculture, and counterculture. Formed from the unsettling context of familiarity.
ExtractTGC is in the can and the footage is in the hands of our brilliant Editor Bryan Capri, we should have a rough cut within the week. While the producing side of my brain is occupied by smoothing out our Post Production workflow and prepping for Fest submissions my Writer’s brain and heart win out most of the time. They’ve latched onto the project in a way that only Science Fiction can for me. Allowing me to ask the big “WHAT IFs?” Filtering all these aching questions through the lens of a camera and witnessing Torey put flesh and blood to my words.
I don’t really know how or why I started writing. I know why I do now, its a integral part of who I am. Part of me has letmy words define who I am. Who knows if that’s healthy or not. But, lets just say, it always makes for an interesting story.
I broke myself today.
4 massive rewrites for my latest short film THOSE LIGHTER FLUID DAYS in less then a 2 weeks, all on vastly different emotional planes. My heart and mind are drained. Its like writers back lash. I gave everything away to my characters and forgot to leave anything for myself. Sitting here, I feel limp, expended, like I’ve got nothing else to offer. I’ve already had a good cry and downed way too many cups of coffee. Maybe its because its pouring rain outside or what not, I don’t know. I tweeted about 20 minutes ago “When stuff gets tough, I write. Its that simple.” And honestly it is. That’s what I’m doing right now.
The process of writing THOSE LIGHTER FLUID DAYS has been like nothing else I’ve experienced of late. I’m not directing the film, but clearly I am writing the damn thing. And writing, and rewriting, and then rewriting some more. I don’t want this to come off sounding like I’m simply bitching cause honestly I’ve LOVED every minute of it, even the sucky parts. As worthless as I feel, its also been an incredibly empowering past couple of days. All the various takes on the characters and their lives and actions (and let me tell you they have been HUGELY different) has displayed to myself and others that I can buckle down and tell a story from so many sides. Its pretty mind-blowing. I can’t begin to fully thank the people who have come along side me during the process (its not even close to being over and done with just yet.) For their willingness to give feedback and try to get me to rest my mind (HA! That’s a funny one Matt, try again.)
Its been nuts. Its been so tiring. Its been, well, clichely enough (yeah now I’m making up words) wordless, there aren’t words anymore. I’ve run out of words and it’ll be a few days before I get them back. Sitting here listening to The Flaming Lips sing about giant pink robots and having my mom call me from below to finish cleaning up the dishes, I’m oddly ok with being broken. I gave it my all. I’ll continue to do so.
There’s something poetic about the whole thing. And when the words come back, I’ll write about it. Until then *SHRUG* I’m still here.
For the last couple days I’ve had dreams on the brain. Watched a short vlog from a friend of mine and (Derps & Chortles Harlan Dicusses his Dreams and Dreams in general) and now my mind won’t stop thinking about those odd cobbled together situations you find yourself in when you’re passed out.
Several websites, books and science journals later + watching a Nova episode concerning the science and physiological make-up of dreams I went ahead and started a dream journal.
I don’t think there’s any denying that dreams are rather fascinating, while unlike Freud I don’t believe every single thing in your dreams are or have to be sexually driven I do believe they mean something.
It would be hard to argue that dreams don’t play a large part in society and the way the human mind processes the events of the day. My dream journal is proof of that. I’m currently stressing about my job and several employee transitions that are going on so yeah, guess what showed up in my dreams?
Not to mention a Halloween party with some long lost “friends” where I was operating two DSLR cameras both of which were broken with faulty sound equipment and a Director who didn’t know his lenses. I wonder what I do for a career? #ProducerMuch
Now what do I mean by “Of dreams and DREAMS”? There are the two types of dreams in my estimation, and no I’m not talking about REM and non-REM dreaming. I’m talking about dreams; the type you have when you’re unconscious and then DREAMS; aspirations you have for your life, places you wanna go, people you wanna see, things you want to accomplish. There are few things more depressing then talking to someone and discovering they really don’t have any DREAMS for their life. They’re ok with merely EXISTING. *gets on soap box* I’m gonna state it right now, my Generation cannot afford to just exist. Where society is today there is absolutely no room for apathy. Apathy will only allow those who do have really bad DREAMS to royally screw us all over. The World is a messed up place with a lot of problems, and its up to us to start caring, get some DREAMS and get a move on with this whole “Making a Difference in the World around us” thing. I put out this declaration specifically to people my age (late teens, early 20s), I truly believe there’s a general feeling of unrest brewing in the hearts and minds of young Americans. I honestly don’t think most of those without DREAMS are actually happy with the state they’re in. Secretly they want to be a part of something beyond themselves. Hence why KONY 2012 and OCCUPY WALLSTREET took off the way they did.
As an Indie Filmmaker, my platform to change the world is my work, the visual medium in which I tell stories, stories that provoke thought, start conversation, get people thinking. It took me a while to figure this out, esp how to go about it in a manner that wouldn’t hurt or ostracize people I care about. Tough questions are hard to ask but they are necessary.
I’ll be asking a lot of tough questions in my next short film THOSE LIGHTER FLUID DAYS, a 30 minute drama concerning a young woman fighting to find artistic inspiration and overcome the limitations of her broken family life in the heart of the Dirty South. Its gonna be a doozy. Addressing issues like Domestic Violence and Alcoholism, we’re hitting them hard and staying true. I’ve got a great team on board, people who both dream and DREAM big. Recently I realized I’ve been living by a motto of sorts, one that is certainlly supports the “DREAM big” idea.
Plain and simple. I want my films to embody this. No half-baked storylines, no settling for second best, cast, crew, locations. Work my hardest to tell the stories that need to be told, the ones my soul aches to release. Its this sort of passion and determination that I feel should drive projects. I’m not saying they’ll be perfect (because even perfect can be dull and unprovoking)but they will be honest. So be bold, be wise, be passionate, be wrong, be a DREAMER by every possible definition. Mentally wear the shirt I’m having made up.
“Oh don’t mind me. I’m just changing the World and stuff.” I dare you.