Monday, June 29, 2009

Hollywood Chinese

So Saturday I sat around and watched a bunch of movies. Naturally I get into movie watching AFTER film school (go figure). This is interesting because, and yes, I will take the time to digress and talk about this because it's important, but yea, anyway, I was never really THAT into watching movies, the experience of going to a theater was something I rarely got to experience as a kid and not really captivating in and of itself anyway. Going to the movies was expensive and a pain since my parents would have to take me to them and I had no friends to go with anyway. As I told many of my friends at NYU; I enjoy making films a lot more than watching them... it's kind of that way with sports too. I'm never one to be a spectator, my attention span won't allow for it, I want to get in there and get involved. So even when I had movies at home or in college when people would ask me if I wanted to see a movie I'd be kinda hesitant about it and suggest doing something else.

Despite all that, recently I've been finding myself more interested in actually watching the movies I've bought. I don't know if its the boredom or the fact that I'd rather not look at the pitiful script that I'm writing and thinking about my own uncompleted films just makes me depressed, but I've been watching about a movie a night, if not more.

This is relevant because recently I've sat down and watched Hollywood Chinese, which I got from my internship a while back. I found this production, for some reason, rather inspiring. It was one of those rare moments where I felt really motivated to get up and make something great. Naturally, this feeling faded within the hour and I popped in a new movie to watch. I don't know what it was exactly that got me excited, maybe it was this notion that others out there are making films about something that I could really relate to, but I was riled up, riled up enough to get a decent enough amount of faith back in my own film, which I shot this past year.

Its easy to lose faith in your project, easy to lose heart and become unmotivated. However, after looking at Hollywood Chinese, as well as all my dailies, I felt really motivated to work on my project and I hope this motivation lasts.

Another thing about my film. I've made decent progress with it so far in the editing room... maybe once I finish a rough cut I'll cut a trailer and post it up here.

Friday, June 26, 2009

School's Out Forever

Last night I officially ended the beginning chapter of my life. I had postponed my official graduation until the end of the summer so that I could take this one class; intro to 3-D animation. As the class came to an end and I exited the building nothing special happened. I didn't feel any sort of profound wisdom, I didn't feel anymore motivated to take on the world, I didn't feel anything. I left I as though I would only be appearing in class again in a couple of days.

I feel as though I'm at an age where I should have learned not to expect these kinds of things but despite that I always do.

At any rate, as I was sitting in the classroom talking with my professor I got a very sobering view of just what this industry is like. He described for us the difficulty of his situation, which isn't an uncommon situation for freelancers, especially in the area of animation and I couldn't help but feel helpless.

I think about Nyle and how he's starting to blow up on the hip-hop scene and I have no trouble telling friends that I fully believe and have believed that Nyle will become a famous rapper, there is no doubt in my mind. However, I think about it and I figure there must have been some doubt in his mind, there must have been some hesitance, what with all these business plans he used to come up with. However, I remember the last time I talked with him he had scrapped all those plans and decided to go all or nothing at this rapping thing and its doing wonders for him.

I sit and think and wonder, is there a way for me to do that? Can I go ahead and go all or nothing and see if I can make it? Is there a way for me to go all or nothing? I'm immediately thinking of 2 ways that may be possible but they're still not very likely to work, are they? Should I try? I don't want to be stuck in a situation where I hate what I'm doing, but thinking about it there's no avoiding it is there?

Thursday, June 25, 2009


So suddenly I got the urge to draw something so I went to Youtube and turned on a Michael Jackson video; "Black or White". When I figure draw I try to look for dynamic poses so one place I can always count on to find these kinds of poses is anything Michael Jackson. The man has his issues (as do the rest of us... although not quite like his) but he can sing and dance, I'll give him that.

At any rate, after drawing a few figure drawings I came to a very sobering and immediate conclusion that I had been avoiding for some time now: my drafting skills have gone to shit.

Most people have this misconception that drawing is something that you're either born with or you're not, so most people that can't draw just leave it at that and live with it... I was never one of those people. Since childhood I was always baffled by people who could draw and immensely jealous of people with that particular skill, especially since I did not possess it. However, where most people would shrug and move on, I, being the stubborn person I am, never quite learned to deal with it, so in middle school I made attempts at drawing; they were all terrible.

However, despite being told that you're either born with it or you're not, I kept at it and slowly got better, determined to do what I thought then as the impossible. (I must thank several friends for the continued encouragement). Recently, as I reached college, I learned that what I had been previously told was a lie. Drawing is a craft, you can learn it. Sure, natural ability helps, but drawing is like a muscle, in order for it to be of any use you must use it and exercise it for it to get stronger, much like anything else we're expected to do. Exercising your drafting abilities, much like exercising anything else, is a painful and often unrewarding process, being forced to look at your own flaws and shortcommings constantly is something that tires easily and so, even though I love drawing, my drawing has fallen by the wayside these past few months.

So earlier, when I picked up my steadily filling notebook and did some figure drawings I was surprised and pained by just how much my drafting skills had slipped. This was clearly a sign, I need to draw more.

Maybe if I'm feeling up to it I'll scan in my figure drawings in later for all to see and laugh at.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Production and Doodles

Saturday and Sunday I finished production on Laszlo Santha's and Sam Pollard's doc. It was an interesting experience with lots of interesting subjects... as well as a crazy one or two.

At any rate, I had a good experience sound mixing, which doesn't happen that often, but yea. I recruited an underclassmen friend of mine, Ming Hu to be the DP for this project and I'm glad that I did. Ming is a Beijing native who went to high school in Queens and is now going into his Senior year at Tisch. I knew him since my Sophomore year, meeting him on the set of a previously mentioned film Bohemibot and have worked with him one other time my Junior year where I was DP-ing my friend Andrew Roehm's colorsync film.

Ming had recently returned from the also previously mentioned shoot in Georgia; the one that left one dead and others in not-so-great shape. At first I felt hesitant about asking Ming; considering the situation, but he agreed to it and I rationalized that he needed to do something to get his mind off the past shoot down south.

I am extremely glad to have had Ming as a DP on this film. Ming made the film look great and was a pleasure for me to get to know better. My only other experience with Ming was his working for me as an AC on Roehm's first film but this time I felt like we were partners and we kept each other sane... or at least he kept me sane, and the outcome was good too so I'm glad that he was there and I would love to work with him again... which I hope to in September.

In other news, I have a doodle or two to post, so here they are:

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Fire Drill

I had a fire drill at work today. In all honesty, I think that has so far been the most excitement I've had all day. Also, I love how I'm saying "work" as though I'm getting paid to be here. Fine, I'll go by internship. I had a fire drill at my internship today. While we were outside it was decided by someone to take a great big picture of all the people that work here at PBS. I don't know whose idea it was, but it took a while and I was tempted several times to just jump up in the air a bunch of times while they were taking it, but I decided that it wouldn't be professional of me to do so so I passed on the notion.

I bring this up because, well, one, every time a fire drill happens I can't seem to stop thinking about the episode of The Simpsons where the nuclear power plant has a fire drill and everyone races for the door as they fight each other, and Homer gets out first and locks everyone else in, but also because one of my initial reactions to the fire drill was "I thought I was done with fire drills when I graduated,". But of course, this thought just reminds me that one, I'm not REALLY graduated, two, oh shit, I'm, more or less, graduated and three, I'm graduated and still working for free. What's up with that?

I keep reassuring myself that I will find a job. Eventually a position somewhere has to open up that I'm qualified for. At the same time, I guess I still need to actually search and apply for a job in order for me to get one, so that is the next step. Mostly I think that this is telling me that I have to be more active, and I don't mean more active in that I have to work harder or make myself busier, but more active in that I have to stop spending so much time preparing myself for a job and go out and actually find one. Of course, my commitment next month to RA-ing the summer high school program is something this, in my mind, is preventing me from actually following up with those job searches, especially since they all seem to conflict with that program, so no point in going for a job that I'll end up having to turn down anyway.

All I can think of is how I can make my next project or what is my next project going to be. Never mind the fact that I still haven't finished my last projects and that I don't have the funding to continue making another film, my mind wants to be in constant production; I think it's the only way I really feel like I'm doing something with my education. I get out of college and I look at all I learned and all I know and I don't see myself using it nearly as much as I want to nor do I feel prepared to work professionally, I just don't feel that capable, and that's probably why I want to stay in school.

I don't think I talked about this in a previous post, but if I did, I'm sorry, but I'm going to talk about it anyway.

After the third to last night of Andrew Roehm's past shoot I went out with some of the crew members. Ivaylo, a mutual friend of mine and our first AC Fletcher Wolfe, was having his birthday that day and we insisted on celebrating with him by at least buying him a drink or two. Afterwords we went to get some food and from there we all went home. Fletcher, whom I meet working on Bohemibot, and whom intimidated me on said project. Three weeks ago I was given the opportunity to get to know Fletcher a lot better while working with her on Matthew Troy's previously mentioned film in Connecticut, where I learned Fletcher speaks some Mandarin and is a really cool person and not intimidating at all. At any rate, I digress because this post isn't about how I got to know these people.

Anyway, as I made my way back to Nick Feitel's apartment for the night, Fletcher talked to me about even the lower positions or say grip or boom op in what she referred to as "the big leagues," AKA professional union studio shoots that we often simultaneously make fun of and cry about for existing. She described those crews as a "well oiled machine," one that even she has not become a permanent component of, and she's two years older than me with tons more experience in G&E than I even come close to. It's intimidating because even at our level, a level I thought would be good enough to at least do a job such as boom op or gripping, we're not yet close to professional yet.

The realization was shocking at first, terrifying. Thoughts of "why, after four years of film school, am I still not prepared for even the simplest of tasks in the great big machine?" easily floated through my mind. However, as my mind settled a moment later, I came to realize something, "this is a good thing,".

I'm glad that I watched Randy Pausch's Last Lecture because if I learned anything from it, it is that "walls exist to show you how much you want things, they're meant to keep everyone else out,". I think if I exited college and the world was already ready to give me everything that I wanted I would be very disappointed and easily bored with the world and my field. It's become clear to me that I'm going to have to work for what I want; my goal is far from within reach; and I think that's how I would like it to be, at least for now.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Film Shooting and Couch Surfing

So this past week was spent diligently shooting, interning, home working, class attending and, when time allowed for it, crashing on couches that did not belong to me.

Three weeks ago I spent 11 days with 17 to 20 other people cramped in a small house in rural Connecticut shooting a film for my good friend Matthew Troy. I distinctly remember the creation of the idea for this film; it started in Sophomore year and finally came to fruition this summer. For more information, although the site is outdated, please click here , I was sound mixing for that shoot. Anyway, It was a great shoot with many great stories but I'm going to go ahead and steer us away from that story because this post isn't about that shoot. This post is about the shoot that I was contacted to be on while I was on that shoot.

Andrew Roehm is a friend of mine whom I've known since high school. No, I did not go to the same high school or live in the same town, quite the contrary, Andy is a native Californian who spent his time playing Baseball as well as many other sports. I, on the other hand, have spent my life up until now... or college... living in New Jersey. Also, I've only been to California once, and no, I did not meet Andy there.

Andy and I were part of a decently large group of kids in my year that attended NYU's Tisch's Summer High School program and actually got into NYU afterwards. At any rate, while we were in the summer high school program, Andy was in my group two of the three times we formed/reformed groups and we worked on each other's projects in that program. Fast forward 3-ish years and we're Juniors in NYU. Once again we're in the same class and same group making films for our Color Sync class. For Andy's film I took on the role of Cinematographer, which I'm told looks pretty good, despite the fact that I still haven't seen the final film, but that's fine.

This all comes up because while I was in Connecticut I was called to work on Andy's senior film, this time wearing the hat of an AD. I was in, without a question. Andy had stepped in and helped me out on my film this past spring; the least I could do was help him out with his.

At any rate, what I found myself doing was working on this film, which, in all fairness, was not bad at all (with the exception of everyone being too distracted by the Hispanic tranny porn used in one of the scenes of the film, which wasn't even that bad either.) What got bad was doing this film while doing my internship while taking a class in a 3-D animation program I am barely getting a grasp of the basics for all while I no longer have a place of residency in Manhattan.

I graduated about a month ago, meaning I had to pack all my things and hold tight to my possessions as NYU housing gave me the boot. This left me rather homeless for the duration of the shoot, the late night shoots making it quite impossible for me to return to Jersey because my particular NJ Transit line stops running after 12:30AM, so I was reduced to couch surfing, which, all in all, isn't really too bad.

I spent the first night on Andy's couch after drying off from the torrential downpour we got nailed with half way through packing up all our equipment. Once I was all changed I lay down for what was going to be a surprisingly chilly night without a blanket.

The next night I spent at Nick's place. For those of you who don't know him, Nick is my curly red-headed Jewish friend whom I've known since Freshmen year and have collaborated with since. Many people are put off by his brutally honest personality, but his heart is in the right place a good 95% of the time.

At any rate, I spent the second night at Nick's, which is a small (very small) street-level studio apartment in SoHo. I spent a comfortable night on his futon with his sleeping bag as a blanket. As a side note, I'm not sure how many people know this about me, but I find it a little more difficult/ less comfortable sleeping without a blanket or something like a blanket, be it a jacket or what have you, even when it's 80 degrees out.

The third night I was going to return to Nick's apartment, but I got there too late and he was already asleep so I went to Tisch and crashed on my favorite couch in the place, the green sofa in the back of the 8th floor's Animation Department. Again, I was without a blanket or blanket substitute, but I can't complain, my journey from Sullivan and Prince brought me past several homeless people sleeping on steps and I couldn't help but think of how fortunate I was to have even a place like Tisch to spend the night.

The rest of the shoot I spent comfortably at Nick's, but the night I spent at Tisch as well as another night I almost spent at Tisch made me realize how lucky I am to be able to have a place to go in case of emergencies and how it's going to be sad once I have to let it go. I'll worry about that when the time comes, right now I'm glad to be home, where there's an actual bed for me to sleep on.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Beginning

So I've been debating with myself about whether or not to open for myself a blogspot or not, or, more accurately, to open up a blog that I hoped people would read. I've seen many of my cohorts having had started blogs including those whose work I've greatly admired but I was hesitant to join in the fun because I had this fear that my blog would not match the professionalism that theirs did.

This isn't my first blog, not by a long shot. I've had a Xanga since highschool and very frequently posted in it for a time. However, over the years my frequenct in posting in said blog dwindled, as did everyone else who had a Xanga, but despite that I held onto it and made posts every now and then, many times wondering if anyone was even reading it, but not caring all the same because I was posting for me.

Recently, I found myself posting more frequently in my Xanga, or, to be more accurate, posting things or wanting to post more things that people could read. However, part of me is a little ashamed of my Xanga, it's messy, its oddly colored and its something that dates all the way back to my more juvenile and foolish days of high school and early college... not to say I'm that much less juvenile and foolish, but I guess even a little change goes a long way, but I digress.

So as I was saying, as of late have been wanting to write something that people would read and I was in much conflict; do I make a new blog? do I just clean up my Xanga and continue writing in that? if I make a new blog do I get rid of my Xanga? If not, what's the point of having two blogs? and so on. Ultimately, I've come to the conclusion to keep both blogs and I'll just write different things in each.

I hope to make posts about personal professional discoveries, pictures, photos, projects, and things I really hope people will read or look at in here, my Xanga will be more for myself, although if anyone cares to read that they're also welcome to as well.

At any rate, I have pictures I've doodled and such and hope to post them as soon as I scan them in, which won't be for a while since I still haven't unpacked my scanner and desktop since I've moved home, but rest assured, more will come.