05 December 2013

Living Life to my List

As this blog is mostly a thing of the past, I figured why not post my musings here. 

In 2007, in what would have been my Junior year of college, I joined 43things.com. I honestly don't remember much other than I made a list of goals that I wanted to accomplish by the time I got my BA. It has sent me a reminder every so often since then, long after I stopped caring, and even after I asked them to stop. It was painful - my #1 thing to do I never did. 

So every so often (I honestly delete them out of habit by this point), either every week or month, I get this email: 

Dear future self,

I'm reminding you about your stated goal on 43 things, to"Study in Scandinavia!".
How's it going?
Sincerely,Your past self

So Today I finally went to the site to see what my things to do were. I'm not sure if I am not getting a full list or if I only listed five things (probably just the five - I don't see myself listing 43 things to do). Either way, here they are: 

1. Loose weight 

2. Believe more in myself 
3. Live life to it's MAX
4. Stop buying unnecessary things

Well, let's see how I did... I've lost about 10lbs since 2007, so I guess I did that. Though I could still use to "shape up" quite a bit more. 

I DO believe in myself a little bit more. My biggest road-block in life is still certainly myself, and with every step I take ten more erupt. Though I'm notably stronger than I used to be, so... check, I guess. 

Live life to it's MAX? Hmm. Not sure. I'm certainly living it stronger than I used to. I don't know if I stop to climb a rock or smell the flowers more, but I certainly appreciate it more when I do. And I always try to say "yes" to any opportunity that comes my way. Already ready for an adventure! 

Er, stop buying unnecessary things? I don't know if that will ever happen. Though I have cut down on what I own, what I use, and (partly because I am just plain broke) what new toys I buy. YouTube and Netflix has replaced buying weekly DVDs since 2007, and I've been moving around enough that much more than my suitcase at this point seems unnecessary. 

STUDY IN SCANDINAVIA. Nope. Failed there. I instead spent a week doing and "old mans" version of the classic Spring Break in Mexico. Though, for myself at least - I spent a good portion of this summer on the East Coast. For me, in spirit at least, that experience did a nice job of filling that little hole where "Study in Scandinavia" always left open for me. 

Of course, there's a note at the bottom. One I just can't disagree with (and hopefully never will - as I hope I'm always feeling there is room for growth): 

I feel as if I let so many things slip away. Opportunities that go unused because of one “logical” reason or another. Screw that! I need to take a few risks, put a few things on the line, and hopefully get a few things back in return! I need to live my life day by day, week by week, year by year, instead of dwelling on my past failures and stumbles. I NEED TO LIVE MY LIFE TO IT’SFULLEST POTENTIAL! I NEED TO LIVE LIVE TO IT’S MAX!


31 March 2013

Battle of the Stars

Leaving WonderCon 2013, with Star Trek Into Darkness coming out and Star Trek VII in the works, what better time to write about the infamous Star Wars vs. Star Trek debate. I’ll tell you where I’m going to end – there shouldn’t really be a debate. They are both different things with different purposes (until JJ Abrams that is). Care to read on? Ok…

My analogy is this – if Star Trek is your fruits & vegetables, then Star Wars is a desert. For that reason, Star Trek can be a bit trying at times – it is often a little bland, there are many courses of it (twelve movies and five TV shows), but it has some nutrients that a desert doesn’t have. And continuing with the analogy, Star Wars often serves up something amazingly tasty. And sometimes it’s a little thing- too much sugar with not enough base substance.

Star Trek’s biggest difference from Star Wars is that it presented us with a future to look up to. Much like a good parent or idealistic thinker, Star Trek challenges it’s viewers to look boldly into the future with the possibilities it possesses. Needless to say, many of Star Trek’s technology has inspired, led to, or organically come to be in our current technology…

We’ve already had the original series’ communicators (cell phones), PADDS (iPads), and of course with those voice activation, and GPS (I have taken notes on my phone and e-mailed them to myself and thought “should I start by saying Captain’s Log?). Now we have developed tractor beams, phasers, and cell phones are becoming able to, with the right apps and extensions, become mini-tricorders.

Star Wars has possesses nothing that tries to lead us to greater future. There isn’t much technology in Star Wars that isn’t generalized technology that any sci-fi movies posses. There is nothing specific that leads us to want to build a better society. Star Wars presents us with a gritty world at war. It’s not about where society can go – it’s about good vs evil.

And now I want to give a little shout out that Star Wars, like any good desert, is well prepared. It presents a compelling age-old storyline, top-notch special effects, and is something almost anybody wants to return to again and again. How often does anybody, especially a child, really really really want that broccoli – um, never. Star Wars was influenced by the great masters of film-making and has returned that same favor.

 I haven’t ever heard a filmmaker say that they went into the business because of Star Trek. Though I have heard many scientists say that…

One of my favorite moments of Star Trek is from the film Star Trek: First Contact. Often Star Trek is best represented in is ideals through the TV shows and not the movies, but there is a moment when Captain Picard is on board the Enterprise showing a person from the past around the starship. She asks “How could you afford all of this?” He explains that in the future money doesn’t exist (at least not on Earth). We all live to better ourselves and our society. As much fun as Star Wars is, as much as I love Yoda and Luke (probably 10x more than any singular Star Trek character), that is something to live and strive for.

It’s inspired actual scientists and technology innovators. It’s first two shows are about exploring and understanding the universe around you (and the choices you face doing so).

Most people like Star Wars better. Of course they do. How often do you hear, at the end of a (sometimes fulfilling, sometimes a little bland) meal, someone go “oh, and now you’ve GOT to try this desert.” We love desert. And 95% of the time, that’s what our entertainment is – desert. It’s TV shows after work, or a movie on the weekend. You’d never take a date to get broccoli.

The Star Trek fans are the people looking for a bit something more. Who wanted a bit more than just entertainment.

This wouldn’t be complete, of course, without looking at the 2009 Star Trek. Often joked about as being more Wars than Trek (and director JJ Abrams now moving onto Wars itself), it takes the substance out of Trek and replaces it with frosting. Tasty, tasty, frosting.

I can’t hate the 2009 Star Trek. I was taken back and a little unsure when I first saw it, but ultimately grew to love it as a fine desert. And I understand why classic Trek fans are upset - they want a new serving of their favorite meal.

But you know what, Star Trek fans – the movies were almost always desert. Movies are desert. Almost always. Wrath of Khan – nothing there but revenge and a dish best served cold. The two most proactive thought-provoking films are The Voyage Home (or Greenpeace: The Movie), and The Undiscovered Country (my favorite in message –racism, and the length people will go when they are politically scared). And while they kept a bit of that idealism that is Star Trek (though 2009’s was wavering and I’m not sure about Into Darkness), it wasn’t ever 100% there. So JJ’s Trek isn’t a 100% departure from what many of Trek’s fans loved, but then again it has just that much less nutrition than the other meals.

Many people don’t - or don’t want to -think with any depth while being entertained. They don’t want to be presented with conflicts of society or lessons in getting along on a global, er, planetary sense. Star Wars is far more entertaining than Star Trek will ever be (ok, I haven’t seen Into Darkness but I don’t see it beating Empire Strikes Back). But that doesn’t mean that it’s better.

It’s just a different part of your dining experience. 

24 January 2013

2 to Rain

Less than a day away from filming the final couple days of The Magician's Pen, my thesis production, has me sitting to the sounds of rainfall in my director's Los Angeles apartment.This is the second time this month where I have been faced with an issue I thought I'd been able to stay away from during my time in school.

Films usually have to happen when they are scheduled - the talent, the crew, everybody involved often cannot easily re-arrange their schedules to fit weather or time. That's why so many TV shows film on stages (even if they look out into the wide open "outside"), and often you hear horror stories of the odd hours people have to bounce back from (even the Muppets talk about it in the making of The Muppets).

For the motion capture film I directed a couple weeks ago, we had to have a 2am to 2pm shooting schedule due to filming in a bar (during it's off hours). It's something I had to do as a 2nd AC when I first started at this school, but (un)fortunately had to miss that day due to re-shoots with a prior and frankly more important commitment.

I thought I'd made it out of those bad hours... until now.

Ok, wow... So, um... Same production as the 2-2 schedule I pulled off my first full overnight. In the rain. It was a fairly miserable experience (if not exciting at time as we got some odd-for-the-area lightning to go with it) and I had since been forever happy that I never had to try and act as cinematographer during pouring rain... until now.

It's raining. Hard.

I guess this is those little things I missed in my education catching up to me. The world sometimes works out that way, so I'm sure there's a lesson in this somewhere. Though all I know at the moment is... I plan to place all my lights outside, and as we are doing pick-ups, need to match what we shot when we had brighter lights and the great sun shining down on us.

Well strike the lights, and bring on the magic. Even if it is a little wet or oddly hour'd.

(Side note: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly - as well as Black Beauty- are great themes to wake up to in the rain.)

01 January 2013

New Years

New Years has left me in a daze.

My travel plans were all over the place - I swear I spent more time re-arranging plans due to weather or freak accidents than I did actually enjoying the people I tried so hard to see. This, of course, left me flying into Orange County on the evening of the 31st.

Upon arriving back home, I quickly re-grouped, grabbed my sleeping bag, and headed towards Los Angeles. After a GPS malfunction left me missing my crew, I parked at our final destination (a friends house) and raced to a club to meet up with everybody.

It was loud. Much too loud for comfort. I like having a great time on New Years, but I realized last night more than ever that it includes being able to talk to the people I'm with. To enjoy their company - not wake up with ringing ears and little hearing on one side. That's just... annoying.

Still, before my mind could fully catch up I went from being in Colorado, to being on a floor in Los Angeles with little hearing in my right ear and a headache from the floor where I crashed just that much harder than usual due to the travel. I drove home in a daze of sunlight.

And of course went back to sleep once I got home. I was very tired after all. And finally back in my own bed.

The up side of this all (and there is almost always an upside as there is a down)... is that I woke up, in a weird way... fresh.

I had traveled so much over the past few days, had so many moments of awe, caring or anger... that when I woke I found myself almost hitting a quick re-start button as everything leading up to that moment had sort of fallen into a mixed dream with a few stand-out performances.

What at first felt like the worst start to a New Year (no resolutions, no early morning let's-get-a-start-on-this-year moments - and no care to), ended up feeling like the human equivalent (forgive me for this) of re-starting your computer after it's been on a little to long. Those little quirks that weren't working are sometimes just fixed.

And now - 2013!

02 October 2012

Pure Magic

I've been in school on and off for longer than I can bare to think (or may even be healthy)... but the time has finally come, I'm currently working hard on my thesis... The Magician's Pen!

I don't have much time to explain, but please... check out our website here:


And if it so inclines you, please donate to our struggling cause (and my degree) here:


This blog has become a relic of a time when I had more, um, time. But I said I'd let it follow me through until I was done with school and so here I am...

19 September 2012

School Daze: Revisited

It's time for me to fall... back into school once again.


It's a weird thing.

No really, it is.

Here's the catch...

I'm currently entering the final year of my MFA in Film Production. It's a bit of a weird final year because I only have one class. One. That's it. Yet, I've been the busiest I've ever been while in school. Why? Because I'm in "film school."

It's something a lot of people don't quite get. A film school of the caliber of Chapman's new program's main goal is to get you (at least somewhat, hopefully) prepared to enter the real world, and you can't do that with books. It has to be long and painful hours, week after week, on set after set. Making films is hard, it really is. And if you're not ready for it, that can really knock you down. Heck, it can do that even under the canopy of  school.

Another thing people don't quite get (about this school specifically at least), is that our thesis.. is a film. We're not writing a detailed thesis on why Norwegian cinema of the 1950's is a height of modern filmmaking, no, we're making the films! And as a cinematography emphasis, that's what I'm doing. I've teamed up with a director, an editor, and a producer, and for all four of us - THIS is our thesis!

And what is this thesis you may ask...

It's called - The Magician's Pen!

11 July 2012

Under the Sand

Just wrapped on principle photography of a new short I directed (and puppeteered for) called Under the Sand. Written by Ed Valentine, the short should be completed in early September. I'm super excited about how this film may turn out, and owe a great thanks to everybody involved!

08 June 2012


I haven't been posting a lot. But I have been working really hard at Chapman University. Was Director of Photography on three shorts in the past year there, and am currently working as a director and puppeteer with Brain Meet Brain. Fun times. Ask me to tell you about it sometime.

23 February 2012

15 February 2012

Vasquez Rocks

  (I altered the color on this one a bit to see if it could pass for Mars)

Went location scouting for the upcoming short film Backyard Mars that I'm working on as Director of Photography. We are going to shoot a the rocks as if they were Mars, which might prove to be tricky at times. But I'm up for the challenge, and the privilege of filming on such great location - not to mention a spot with movie making history that spans almost all of filmmaking.