Friday, October 30, 2009

Quick Update

I haven't had much opportunity to update this week so I'm going to do that quickly and write a bit about what's going on now with me.

1.) Recently I've finished my Ham Radio documentary and screened with for Sam Pollard, who I always screen for because I trust him to tell me the complete truth, most importantly what he has issues with, and I really respect and appreciate that he does that for me. He told me what he has issues with but said at this point not to worry about it. I'll reserve his critiques until later because I don't want anyone to have a bias when seeing the film. I've filled out the online application for Tribeca Film Festival and will be sending DVD screeners soon. If you haven't checked out the trailer yet, it's here, go check it out.

2.) In early to mid September, in an effort to stay active I decided to practice my doc treatment writing and wrote a treatment on a documentary on Nyle Emerson. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned him before so I'm not going to go much into detail on him here.

Anyway, I showed the proposal to Sam Pollard and he said it sounded pretty good and to go do a preliminary shoot. Of course, upon hearing that I was like "yes! it's good, let's do a prelim. shoot!... wait, crap, how do I do that?"

Long story short I figured out how to do the preliminary shoot for very little money and that's what I'm doing now until Saturday night/Sunday morning. I'll be sure to give a further update on that as it happens, maybe I'll even post a clip or two up here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Commercials and Walk it Out

This past weekend (meaning Friday) I worked on a commercial for Bowlmor Lanes directed by fellow recent NYU graduate Todd Wiseman, shot by also fellow recent NYU graduate Milos Silber and produced/AD'd by last fellow recent NYU graduate Richard Gionotti. Together they make Hayden 5 Media Productions, a company they put together themselves and through which they, among many other things, take on clients and do commercials. For this particular production I was PA-ing. It was a last minute spur-of-the-moment decision that was made partially in part because I was doing nothing else with my time, partially in part because it paid a little bit (which was better than nothing), but mostly because I thought it would be a good opportunity to meet and get to know these guys. Networking is always an important thing to do (especially now that our greatest social lubricant i.e. college is done and over with) and if you have the opportunity to network with people while demonstrating your competency on set, all the better.

On Friday we were shooting at previously mentioned friend and rapper Nyle Emerson's apartment in Brooklyn. There I also seized the opportunity to talk with him about the upcoming preliminary shoot for the doc on him we had talked about earlier last month as well as took the chance to show him a little of what I've been doing since I last saw him for any significant amount of time.

Among what I showed him [my two trailers and a bunch of pencil/animation tests I had done] was my 3-D walk cycle from this summer, to which he was thoroughly entertained and insisted that I put it to Unk's "Walk it Out" so I could get a million hits on Youtube. Anyway, below is the result. Perhaps I'll go back and make some changes one of these days to make it a little more interesting, but eh, at the moment I am without the means to do so.

Walk It Out from Matthew Chao on Vimeo.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Impending Changes

Oddly enough, this seems to have been the topic of conversation between myself and my friend Jessica as well as with my grandparents and parents. In case you're too lazy to read the article, it's about the rapid change in Manhattan's Chinatown in language of Cantonese speakers to Mandarin speakers.

This is a significant change because, not too many people know this, but Mandarin (the official dialect of China) and Cantonese (the dialect spoken most frequently in southern China and Hong Kong [as well as Macau]) are not mutually intelligible, meaning that most of the elderly population that does not speak Mandarin and only speaks Cantonese, are becoming increasingly isolated. Additionally, this comes as sort of a blow to me, albeit a much less severe blow to me, because I was raised in a Cantonese speaking household around Cantonese speaking relatives whom frequented a Cantonese speaking Chinatown.

Upon realizing and finally acknowledging the fact that Cantonese is a dying dialect, my first reaction is to fight the change. However, that's a losing battle and a pointless one at that. Those whom refuse to change with the times tend only to get swept up in them and lost. The greatest strength a human can possess is the ability to adapt and change to his or her environment. The tendency for many of us to resist change only harms us in the end. Provided, some changes are frivolous, harmful even, but that is why attention must be paid to what is being changed.

To categorize all change as either good or bad is a fool's move and one that will ultimately lead to failure, however, careful and knowledgeable discernment will allow for proper judgement when the need for change arises, or, inversely, the need to stay the same.

The point of this all being that upon reading the above article on which my friend posted on her facebook, I was reminded that some changes, even if for the better, are not changes we want to make. Personally, I hate the fact that the Cantonese speaking population in Chinatown New York, as well as elsewhere (even Hong Kong), is dwindling. If possible I would have Cantonese thrive as a dialect all over the world, because that's part of the culture in which I was raised as well as my heritage. However, that wish is not practical at all and resisting this particular change is neither going to benefit me nor is it something that will honor this piece of my cultural heritage. In actuality it does nothing to serve anyone. The best way, I believe I have realized, to keep this part of my culture alive is to pass it down, along with the changes that are occuring. Trying to keep something intangible in its original form, its original idea, is never something that can be done. The best we can do is pass it along and allow it to change how it will be changed and allow people to trace its lineage.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Lesson in Sound Design

I found something great that I think is worth sharing and looking at.

Here's a good lesson in the use of sound design to tell a story:

I think Valve is like the Pixar of gaming to me. They just make some great stuff and this series of advertisements are a good example that.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Ham Trailer!!

I finally finished my Ham Radio documentary and cut a trailer today. Here it is.

Ham Trailer from Matthew Chao on Vimeo.

Personally I think it can be about 5 seconds shorter but I can't figure out where I should take stuff out.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Old Pencil Test Pt. 1

I found an old pencil test I did in Action Analysis 2 this past spring and uploaded it to Vimeo and thought I'd post it here.

I'm considering making my way over to Tisch and sneaking into the Action Analysis classes to audit them and sharpen my dulling animation skills. If I do that, however, I have to make sure that I keep going and do all the work otherwise I'll just be disrespecting my teachers and I wouldn't wanna do that.

Anyway, here's an injured bird taking flight.

Flight Pencil Test from Matthew Chao on Vimeo.

Friday, October 16, 2009

To Infinity and Beyond!

I saw the Toy Story double feature in 3-D today with my friend Jessica. In short, they're both just as amazing now as when they first came out. On top of that, the fact that I now know a lot of the references that they make to other movies makes it even better. I think that this, as of now, goes to prove that Pixar films have a timelessness to them. The storytelling is impeccable as is the animation. They're truly masters of their craft.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

On More Free Work

The plan, originally, was to continue my internship with American Masters (PBS) until September, but as prospects of employment continued to look bleak I abandoned any ideas of leaving and stayed put, thinking it was better for me to stay at my internship and not get paid than sit at home doing nothing and not get paid.

The thinking i still support and plan to continue, yes, at PBS. On Wednesday I spent a bit of my free time surfing the classified ads on looking for some work that I was qualified for. I applied for about 4 or 5 positions and none have gotten back to me, except one, probably unpaid, post production internship.

The company's name is citybuzz and I was contacted by the editor/production associate for an interview on Monday at 11am. (I got this interview possibly only because I'm an NYU graduate and she is also an NYU alum, I mean the email went; "As a former NYU graduate, I would love to have my boss interview you for the Final Cut Pro internship at citybuzz.") I sought to take on this internship with the hopes of having something to put on my resume to make me look more legit as a post production person. Honestly, despite the fact that I know I know how to fluently use the editing systems Final Cut and Avid, my resume doesn't reflect that. I believe that on the entire resume I have one thing that's related to editing and that's my documentary on Ham Radio which is listed as director and editor. Additionally, if I get this, hopefully this is something that can lead to some paid work in the future.

Now, aside from something that can boost my resume, what I'm looking for in an internship is flexibility. Yes, I would like a stipend as well, but that's not as important to me as flexibility. Take, for example, PBS. I am still with American Masters (and will be staying with American Masters) because they're flexible with me. They understand that I may have freelance work or whatever going on so if I can't make a day or week or even as long as a month, as long as I provide notice ahead of time, they're fine with it. I can guarantee this internship with Citybuzz two full days a week; Monday and Friday. In order for me to work at this place as an intern I need for them to understand that my schedule is, while usually locked solidly in place, needs to have room for movement, especially if they aren't paying me, and if they can't do that, as unfortunate as it may sound, it just may be a place at which I can't be an intern.

I guess I'll provide updates on what's going on and how it all turns out.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Zombie Kill of the Week!

Zombie Land

A hilarious zombie movie about a loser kid who meets up with other more bad ass and interesting people and their journey together to learn that what they're looking for is really a family that they're already with.

This movie was hilarious. With non-stop laughter and zombie killing, what more can you ask for, there's even a pretty solid story arch in there to boot! This movie was a highly entertaining film, much like another zombie romantic comedy; Shaun of the Dead, except this one has a guy with a cowboy hat, and people that can shoot guns accurately.

I could go on a huge rant about how amazing this movie is, but I'm not going to bother, I'm just going to recommend that everyone see it and enjoy it. Seriously, how can you not find fake zombie Bill Murry hilarious. Even in death this man had me doubled over in laughter.

So once again, go watch this movie, this is yet another movie that has made my "look for on DVD" list.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Producing and Misplaced Voices

I woke up this morning feeling sicker than the past few days I had felt sick so I e-mailed in to PBS letting them know I wasn't feeling well and I should probably stay home so I don't get anyone else sick. I got an e-mail back telling me to get better, which was nice.

In all honesty I probably felt functional enough to get up and go into the city but, again, I don't think that the people at PBS needed me so desperately to do something that they wouldn't mind getting sick in the process.

Aside from that, I slept all day and tried to get better, although I was given dreams of pirate ships and zombies... I think...

The four days prior to today I was picking up equipment, shooting and then returning equipment. Somewhere in the middle of those four days I misplaced my voice and just now I've managed to find enough pieces of it to reassemble enough of it to not sound ridiculous.

All of this, however, means that we shot Aprile Ruha's film and now that's all finally done and in the can, which is a wonderful thing because I can now stop worrying about it.

The shoot, overall, went quite well and quite smoothly, despite my mad driving in a 15 Passenger Van at 70 to 90 mph to set when we were late. Yea, that was dangerous and quite scary, I've scared myself quite a few times, especially since the guy at the rental place told me to keep it at 50. Note, these cars are quite easy to flip over apparently, not that I experienced that myself, quite actually, despite the fear that I spread to the little freshmen PA's , I'd like to think that I actually drove quite well, considering the fact that we all got to set and back each day safe and sound.

The shoot itself, however, was really smooth, considering the rough time we had during preproduction, but then again, I guess a rough pre production should signal a smooth production, if not then you're doing something wrong.

On Friday, somewhere amist all the pick-ups and planning I managed to grab a few hours where I could take a friend with me to see the New York premier of PBS' Joan Baez film, "Joan Baez: How Sweet the Sound," which came out quite well. Afterwards my friend tagged along as I grabbed our cargo van and headed over to pick up more equipment and then handed off the filled cargo van to Aprile's uncle, who drove the van over to Long Island, where we were shooting.

Jessica, (my, until now unnamed friend) and I then grabbed some food and then I drove her home in the 15 Passenger van because the trains were being stupid. I found out she lives really close to my grandma.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Extra Work

On Sunday evening I sat online chatting with my friend Ashna, who is currently gallivanting through various cities and countries in Europe, about life and unemployment. She, unlike me, has this thing called common sense that I never seem to fully grasp, although I do often get bits and pieces of it.

Ashna reminded me that there are lots of small gigs that I can do, assuring me that I'm multi-talented and suggested I do anything from tutoring to headshots and then I came across an ad on craigslist for extras. I thought that it wouldn't be a bad thing to do, since any sort of incoming cashflow is a good thing, so I applied and disappeared to my basement for two hours to take my own headshot (thank you Nikon D200). The following is the result of my efforts:

You know, I'd like to think it came out pretty well. Anyway, I had a meeting with the people that placed the add today but before I got there I was feeling relatively apprehensive about the entire thing, something didn't seem right about them. However, I became relaxed as I realized that I was just meeting with them, I hadn't committed to anything, and honestly, what was the worse thing they could do to me? Offer me a bad deal?

Long story short, they didn't seem legit at all and the did offer me a bad deal, which I told them "I'd think about it,". Here's what they were offering: I pay them $75 (they offered to lower it to $50) to be put on their website for as long as I want (one time fee) and from there I could look at and apply for jobs. Then they would, I guess somewhere along the lines, put me in touch with an agent who, if I signed with, would find me jobs but take 10% commission. I was just looking for work as an extra, I don't want an agent.

Luckily I had talked to my friend and star of my movie "Big Brother," Carl Li before doing anything. He advised me not to bother with an agent since I don't need one to do background work. I should, instead, just pay like 5 dollars a month to put my name on and (yes, they're different sites) and one gig would more than pay for the subscription for the month. Then I don't have to go through an agent and then I have all the money for myself. It's not a bad idea and I might just do that. However, for the time being, I think I might sell my services as a headshot photographer. I offered the two stars of my films Carl Li and Steve Chan free headshots as a thank you since they acted for free and headshots can get expensive. I think that's not a bad trade off, honestly.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

"Let's go Steve, we have diem to carpe!"

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs:

I was extremely skeptical of this movie when my friend Iris said that she wanted to watch it. The thought that was running through my mind was "really? you wanna watch that?!" but it was a chance to hang out with friends I hadn't seen in a while and would like to spend more time with anyway, so I shut my mouth and tagged along. I was very pleasantly surprised.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is an endearing tale about Flint, an aspiring inventor who's dream in life is to prove to the world that he's not a dangerous hack and gain the love and adoration of those around him.

This heartwarming tale masterfully takes us through twists and turns, ups and downs, laughs, disappointment, anger and excitement all within an hour and twenty minutes. This is a film that was paced extremely well, an important quality that was missed in some of the other more highly anticipated films I had watched this past year.

While there may have been some minor issues, I felt the very beginning, (first 5 minutes) was rushed, it was something I didn't care about nor really even remember to be bothered by 5 minutes after the initial thought set in.

Although often toeing the line between breaking the 4th wall and, well, not, the humor gained from these moments masterfully added to the believability of character and the world in which we are introduced. This credibility and, in essence, reflexive extreme, all makes the slower moments that much more impacting. Additionally, Mr. T was amazing in his role as Earl Devereaux.

In short, this is a movie that I'll be looking for on DVD.

Oh yea, and just for fun; "I pitty the fool who doesn't go see 'Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs!'"

Monday, October 5, 2009

Giving Advice

I used to get pretty offended and frustrated when I gave advice and it wasn't followed or just ignored. The idea behind this was that I had just spent so much time thinking up and giving advice or a critique and it was just ignored. It, to a rather large degree, trivialized me and my opinion. However, that has changed for me. I now no longer care if people follow my advice or listen to my criticisms anymore. Ultimately, I've done what I was asked to do, whether it be because it was a duty of mine or I was feeling generous with my time, I did it and if it's not followed, who cares? Honestly, I've come to the conclusion that my advice is just that, advice and if whomever it was given to doesn't want to follow it, then they don't have to. For better or worse, it doesn't effect me.

Ultimately, the way I've broken it down in my mind is "I have nothing to gain from your following or not following my advice. My advice is for you, it's trying to help you, you can take it or leave it, it's no hair off my back what you decide to do,". I'm not sure, but this may be a sign that I'm starting to care a lot less of what people think of me, which is probably a good thing.