When Isn’t It About the Money?

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Money. The single biggest factor that motivates almost every action undertaken by people. Also one of the biggest enemies of many artistic endeavors on a small scale – either there isn’t enough and the artist has to take on a side gig as a beggar, or there’s too much of it and the art becomes an extension of money. Either way, one of the biggest struggles for the art community is obtaining money. As a result most of the help in a creative project isn’t quite compensated enough monetarily.

I’ve had my hand in trying to get projects going for the longest time. However instead of trying to get qualified professionals for any of them, I sought the cheaper route to benefit me. My strategy was just to find people with too much time on their hand  (regardless of skill) and employ them to my endeavors so I wouldn’t have to worry about paying them. Throughout several of my propositions, I have attempted this and it has had the same outcome – people are initially interested (“What a cool idea!) but that soon turns to apathy because in the end there’s nothing for them to gain. In each of these projects, I was just thinking of what I would gain from this. Exposure, experience, tangible marketable product for my own reel. However, there are always people who also want these same sets of outcomes. If I just stepped back and looked at the idea of aiding other people while aiding myself I could of actually had something up and running, with the potential of getting money in the future to also repay their help. Now this may sound like basic knowledge (get an actor for an acting position), but there was always the fear of adding to the stack of nonpayment. The dreaded stack of opportunities that encapsulate the arts world and cause the field to be considered a hobby pursuit.

The reality is even though I don’t want to add to this pile, I should at least take into consideration that I still should try and help other artists display their work. People who don’t have a reel to market themselves with, people who don’t have displays that show what they are capable of (much like me). Instead of trying to find people who were in the same boat as me and can use the experience and had the time, I was just going after the people who just had the time, but didn’t need the experience. Which leads to people who are put into roles they may not actually feel right with, causing them to become disinterested in the actual project.

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Existential Musings pt. Finish It Already

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A while ago, I remember reading an article about Johannes Haushofer (This one in fact), who as you can read from the article has two PhDs with honors and does a whole bunch of other great stuff. Anyway, in an attempt to show he’s human as the rest of us, he created a failure resume that listed everything he was rejected for. Since I was in the middle of the ever popular game show “Millennial minded angst” I decided to connect the concept to my own life. I’ve started a fair amount of projects that have usually ended up in the dreaded pile of failure, but since I am massively unsure of what I actually want to pursue in life I thought why not write them down and find some sort of common denominator.

Without going into all the extended detail, the basic break down of list in the simplest fashion, my projects roughly translated to:

  • 4 comic books
  • 1 radio show
  • 5 web series
  • 1 book club
  • 1 entrepreneurship
  • 1 short film
  • 6 Miscellaneous art-centric projects

First and foremost was the role of a producer – however I also had to wonder if I was cut out for the role of producer. Sure you can practice and build skills in a talent normally seen as a gift, but then you always need to be aware of your own personality and limitations and how to translate that to a job. At what point do you realize that what you want to pursue is unnaturally what you’re capable of? As an introvert who thrives off indirectly working with people, maybe not. But as someone who loves making schedules, lists, and generally organizing, maybe yes (seriously when the Film Festival came into town one of the most exciting moments was looking at the proposed schedule and planning out the itinerary). Now a producer requires someone who can get all up with people and enjoy that whole networking thing. Then it also requires having organized plans and setting them forth.

Now with all of those ideas, you would think one of them would stick longer than the conception process; but sadly none of them quite got to the finish line. Or really into the race. Or really in the contending rounds (the farthest I’ve actually gotten was with the short film in that I at least had auditions and a (failed) IndieGogo campaign). It made me wonder if I was at least trudging in the right path. Me, like any other person who was tasked with the responsibility of choosing a (lifelong) career at an age when the prefrontal cortex wasn’t even fully developed, that maybe we still don’t know exactly what we want to do. So what’s a solution? I thought back to one slightly successful endeavor that I undertook, which was the “Blind Date” with a Book event I held at the library. One major factor with this event was that I had help from a librarian who was just as excited about seeing the event through as I was. Without the help of her pulling in more books, advertising the event, and pulling in patrons around the library the event could have been me sitting there with eight boxes of books that I would have to carry out afterwards.

That’s the one major aspect that I forgot was most careers don’t exist in a bubble. As much as I wish I can just do all the roles myself and churn out what I want when I want, it’s also just not the most practical means. I have one set of skills, and when I find that other magical person with the skills I’m lacking, we can just fuse together into some grotesque super enigma that can overtake anything. Then once we find some other person and harness their abilities, and keep continuing it until we make one of those giant robots made up of smaller parts with people behind the controller. Most importantly of all, actively realizing your fluctuating role of a student helps at this stage. I just needed to take a step back and realize that there’s still do much for me to learn before taking on a role I’m unsure of. Unless that role is the President of the U.S, since apparently anyone can somehow take on that role with no pertinent knowledge of the field (with the appropriate privilege applied).

The Academy goes to….change?

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Four years ago, I remember watching the Oscars ceremony with the hopeful inspiration that fills many filmmakers as they watch the awards show. However, there was one disappointing fact staring me in the face the entire time of the show – only one black woman was nominated for an award, and it happened to be that of a maid (Octavia Spencer for Best Supporting Actress in The Help). After the ceremony ended, I also found out that there have only been two black females who have won for Best Lead Actress, and only four black women have won Best Supporting Actress. On the other side of gender, only two black men have won Best Actor, while three black actors have won Best Supporting Actor (Denzel being in both categories, which brings the total actually to four). These depressing statistics gave me the motivation to try and become a writer/director/producer who will create movies with more diverse roles that are taken more seriously and considered for an Oscar nomination and potential win. Continue reading

How to become a Production Assistant

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Everyone knows the formula: you enter a film set as a young, unrespected servant to the whims of a film set, where you’re able to soak up everything you need to know about working on a set.

So the first step is getting on the film set which has got to be easy right? I mean it’s not like there’s secure sets – anyone can just walk on there right?

But if you want to get paid and not potentially kicked off the set, there’s a whole other set of protocols. First you need to find out what productions are coming to a town near you. This information is usually on a state sponsored page focused on the arts. If you live in one of the ever increasing states that offer films tax incentives they usually have an entire website dedicated to the productions coming into town (and if you’re not why are you even reading this. Get up and find a state that does and put your other foot in the ground there. Seriously you’re not going to get any chances if you don’t have a ton of opportunities coming into your area)

Once you find out what productions are coming near you, take a look at the emails that are next to each listing. Now completely ignore them because that’s what the actual production officies do with those same emails. So you don’t have to waste your time trying to come up with some nice witty paragraph about your “skills” and “experience” so the reader can think you’re halfway competent for their job.

But the film industry cares none for that. Notice how almost anyone can get experience in the film industry by starting off as a P.A. So remember that as you look at these listings. They will literally take anyone who can at least take direction and then manage to carry out those same directions. I was just talking to a location manager about becoming a P.A. and she mentioned how during one production, one of her friends was a P.A. who suddenly had to find 4 other P.A.s for that day. Her methodology in finding these potential candidates? Making a post on Facebook and recruiting anyone who answered. Literally all these people had to do to find work on a set was to do the exact opposite of working.

So what do you do instead? First you have to find out where the production offices are for each film being made. It’s best to focus more on the films that are in pre-production first since these are the ones that will more likely be hiring. Films already in production may need additional people down the line so definitely still check up on them also.

So after you find one office, the good news is usually different production companies rent out offices in the same building. So if just find the location of one office, you’ll most likely find a little cluster of other ones huddled together in the same vicinity.

Before you head to these officies, make sure you have some form of paper with your name and phone number on it since that’s literally all they need. And a flexible schedule. So you get into those offices, find someone who will at least make eye contact with you, and offer your information for them to hold on file.

Next step is to repeat this process at as many offices that you can find until you finally find one that is desperate enough to take you. And kiddo once you are in, you hopefully will get the network connections you need to actually continue in the industry.

So go forth and try these handy little steps! Or if that doesn’t quite work out, you can always try and be an extra instead.

Revamp!

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I realize that I’ve been absent from the blog scene for a fairly decent amount of time (not that my many doting imaginary fans seem to mind – hopefully), and I have decided that I should go ahead and change that little problem. So as of now I  will focus more on steadily keeping content coming out to help make people believe this is an actual functioning blog instead of some random blocks of thoughts I decided to put together because there isn’t much else to occupy my time.

Rare picture of typing process

One of the major issues that comes with running a blog is trying to figure out what exactly it is that people actually want to take time out of their presumably busy lives to read. Thinking along those lines, there’s not really much that I can come up with . There’s already so much out there that it’s hard to say what can possibly be new and inventive enough to draw in a decent enough crowd of interested readers? The answer is that there is none. There is nothing I can possibly say to keep you here.

Don’t know what you were expecting here folks

Getting that out of the way, time to focus on what my purpose with this blog. There are many budding filmmakers out there who have no idea where exactly to start and maintain both an passion and employment in this field. Or maybe I’m the only incredibly clueless one, in which case you can just sit there and watch me flop around this field, trying to figure out where exactly everything is.

So I hope to share not only what I learned, but also spread some of that knowledge with you beautiful people. Or just watch me fail gracefully.

 

Lost Souls on a Lost Highway

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When watching Lost Highway, I noticed there are a few echoes between this movie and Eraserhead, the most notable one that they both feature a protagonist who wishes to escape realities of his responsibilities. However, instead of trying to reach a form of his ego ideal (inner image of oneself as one wants to become), Fred tries to embody his ego ideal by creating a persona that is able to accomplish the feats he could not. In this case it was trying to overcome the idea that his wife sees him as inferior in his self-worth. Much as Hiegal felt there was a fundamental need for recognition from supposed conquered subjects, Fred in this case does not feel that he has accomplished that. Although his wife is with him physically, she was more mentally and sexually involved with Dick (no pun intended). At the climax of his fantasy, the image of her gaining satisfaction from sexual intimacy with another man is repeatedly projected to him. Her face in the projection greatly contrasts to the facial expressions when they were intimate, which shows that he has not quite gained recognition from her in being a man. She also clearly states that he will never have her, which seems to jar him back to the reality of the situation where he is unable to fulfill her, which causes unfulfillment in his perception of his self worth.

 

Going back tot he parallel between Lost Highway and Eraserhead, Lynch seems to make these movies similar in filming techniques. In both cases there is similarly acted dialogue and similar use of murdering the object seen as standing in the way of the protagonist’s happiness. The woman on the stage in Eraserhead almost mirrors Alice in appearance and their role to the character as their objet petit a; one they strive for throughout the movie and almost close to obtaining at the end.  This forms the idea that there is meant to some other connections drawn between these two movies. They are both striving for a fantasy that they feel is reachable if they are able to move a roadblock in their path. In Henry’s case it was the offspring and in Fred’s case it was Dick. In Henry’s case, it’s ambiguous as to whether or not he managed to fulfill that desire. However in Fred’s case, it seems that although he managed to kill the object in his path, he was still not able to obtain happiness (this could be taken from the fact that he is still on the lost highway at the very end of the movie). One factor that could account for the difference is the embodiment of their “consciousness”. Henry’s was more innocent in appearance and almost represents a more angelic figure, whereas Fred’s resembled more of a demonic like figure. Henry never directly met his until the end, whereas Fred’s directly appeared to him towards the beginning. This could present the idea that by having the ego ideal too close to one’s own psychical being, that this could the person to escape from their problems, yet not the consequences. By placing the ideal father from the person (like in Henry’s case) there is a sense that the person can more easily escape to their ideal world. But in Fred’s case he was unable to escape the consequences of his action, resulting in him literally being chased by his responsibilities. 

All images are from Google. I retain no rights.

Foreigners in BIGBANG Solo Videos

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Being a BIG fan of BIGBANG (ha) I of course have watched most of the member’s solo videos. Something odd I repeatedly notice is their use of non-Asians in their videos and how they are usually objectified.

Let’s take TOP for example. In all of his solo videos, he has a white woman somewhere. But what’s interesting is how the women seem to be used more as accessories to the set rather than interactive beings.

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Even when there is some level of interaction, there still seems to be

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Even when there is some level of interaction, there still seems to be a sort of objectification seen. Here as he interacts with the woman on his lap, he makes the motion of playing her as a keyboard, which turns her more into an object than an human.

Moving on to G-Dragon, in his video “One of a Kind”, there are three black children (note the use of children instead of adults). This particular video seems the most influenced by black culture, and the presence of black children seem to be to add more credibility and make the video seem more “hip”

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Interesting use of chains and a background that resembles a police lineup.

So you may say what about “Crooked” which was filled with white and black people. Then again this video was filmed in London so it would be pretty hard to not have people who are not East Asian in the video.

But then again at least these people are actually seen for a good amount of time, unlike in Taeyang’s new video “Ringa Linga”

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If you watch the video, you may not even notice these two black men since they are on screen for less than a quarter of a second. But there is a subsequent video that shows the dance performance of Ringa Linga and surprisingly enough there’s black men. Because everyone knows if you want a good dance video, you need black people because we are so naturally able to move our bodies in such a rhythmic manner.

But maybe I’m just over reading the presence of minorities in music videos. But let’s not forget a comment made by Seungri, where he mentioned that following an argument, he was glad the person was white instead of black because had the person been black, he would have been shot. The reasoning of course being that all black people carry guns and are willing to shoot anyone at a drop of a second.

Further examining portrayals of race in South Korean TV shows, there have been a number of missteps along the way that typically involve blackface. Although there was a past questionable occurrence of G-Dragon in blackface (that later turned out to be a misunderstanding of sorts), there is still the question of race portrayals in Korean media.

Comparing this to another idea, one should also examine Korean dramas. Personally I have watched many Korean dramas (and by many I mean like ten). However, the only time I have seen a black person in a drama was One Fine Day, and this character was waving around a gun and demanding money from the title character. But don’t worry, it wasn’t for his own personal gain; he was just a henchman for a gang that was headed by a white man. So to recap the only image of a black person I’ve personally seen was as a gun-waving thug who was not even in a position of power. It’s also interesting to examine why they chose to use a black male in this role instead of a white male. Does a black male present a more threatening presence?

There are also white people included in dramas, but they are usually business people. Oddly enough, they are also involved in shady activity and brought in by a Korean character (Save the Last Dance for Me, Something happened in Bali) to help bring down a major Korean organization. So there is still a sense of these people being used in a manner of sorts, whether it be to seen as a threatening or shady presence.

Also all of this is personal speculation and definitely up for discussion.