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.
Sometimes you just have to do nothing. I know that’s sounds quite silly considering I’m sitting here blogging about doing nothing and in the process blogging about doing nothing I’m doing something but I’m sure any artist who reads this post deep in their gut they know exactly what I mean. We live in a world where everyone goes and goes, and rarely stops to breathe and realize where they are, where they’ve come from and we’re they’re going. I’m a rather introspective kid when it comes down to it so I spend much of my life thinking, and a lot of the time thinking about thinking. Sometimes we need to stop thinking, we need stop problem solving and we need to stop having 4 hour phone conversations with Directors in LA at 2 in the morning. Sometimes we just need to be still and well, be.
I found myself up at 3:30 AM this morning dozing while skyping concept art and promo ideas for my newest project, a feature film entitled FRUITION HARD LINE (http://www.facebook.com/FruitionHardLineFilm) and it was around 3:36 after failing respond to my Director Timi Brennan’s question I realized emotionally and physically I was wiped out. A lot of unpleasantness had gone down that night going as far as confronting a friend on some very serious issues that were greatly effecting her life and I didn’t even have it in me to get off the floor and crawl into bed. Along with co-writing and producing a feature film, I’m producing a stage play, rewriting a feature length script for the ATL Film Fest screenplay competition and I generally rock a 30 hour work week to pay the bills and continue to move my current projects forward. Its all a little insane and I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’ve been driving myself into the ground. Working so hard to keep banging away at my vision and going above and beyond even what my fellow collaborators require of me, but not taking time to just relax.
Its the dead hottest part of August where I live in the southeast right now and my backyard pool has been calling invitingly for several weeks now. I finally gave in today, pulled on my suit and flopped out in the water for a good hour or so. Needlees to say it was glorious and exactly what I needed. I let my mind rest, my body loosen up and my soul find solace in the warmth of the sun and the peace of country living. I’ve always been one who struggles with balance. I hold the somewhat complicated opinion that no one ever gets anything worth getting by doing the “safe” thing, I say “Let the best crazy person win.” Its all very tongue and cheek and don’t get me wrong I believe every letter of it but again, balance.
I wrote an article for Student Filmmaker magazine this past week about how filmmakers need to have a little bit of crazy, crazy passionate about their projects and crazy purposeful on how they make those dreams come about. I now what to add to that, be crazy respectful of you own mind and your body and it needs. If you body is telling you to rest, then you sure as hell should listen. You’re cheating yourself and the others around by not being balanced. There is a way to be full of passion, tenacity, and go-get-em while still making time to eat three solid meals a day and getting more then 4 hours of sleep. Something a friend of mine on twitter said recently really stood out to be me, Devin Watson (@dklon) being the brilliant experienced guy that he is said “Work smarter, not harder.”
So I’m gonna lay it down right here. I’m gonna go to bed before two. I’m not gonna drink more then two cups of coffee a day, I’m gonna read something besides my emails, and film/marketing books (hello Sandman), I’m gonna go back to doodling on concrete with charcoal from our fire pit, I’m gonna dress up in suits and go to random dance parties with friends, I’m gonna go back to taking long walks in the rain with my black lab, AND I’m going co-write/produce a feature film, produce a stage play and write a damn good sci-fi period thriller. Because I know I can and I have to. Ultimately, doing a little bit of nothing isn’t betraying yourself as artist, its making sure you can remain one.