Tales of a Newbie Filmmaker.

So...twenty years ago or so I bought this computer which came with a "video capture card" in it. What the hell is that? I started reading about it...got on this newfangled internet thing and was amazed... You mean I can digitize my own video? And edit it with this weird software called Adobe Premiere? I think it was version 2.1 at the time. 4.2 quickly became my favorite.
There was 3D modeling and animation software and there was software that made movie "titles" and even a couple things that I learned so I could make that dreaded yellow scroll into the starry distance that George Lucas made famous.

Yeah, Suck it Abrams. I wrote and filmed Episode 7 in 1998.




I was hooked like a heroin addict. I wanted to film everything. I maxed out my Sears card on a couple of camcorders and an SVHS deck so I could output my masterpieces and watch them on TV. I even painted a wall in my own damn house chroma-key blue. Me and my buddy Jim filmed all sorts of outlandish shit with the worst possible lighting in that cramped dining room and made spaceship cockpits out of Christmas lights and pegboard. We learned how to rotoscope so we could make lightsabers and we even had this one scene where he smacked a digital robot in the face. It was brilliant--okay it was one step above Twilight.
My bride...or as she is known to the Sith, Darth Shmoopie. Salt waterfall is in the background.

Like I said, hooked. Then, I spent the next ten years and most of my free cash on a stack of books on film-making, script writing, photoshop, non-linear editing, 3D modeling, CG effects, camera tracking, character rigging, character animation,

This is Catdaddy Dribblefingers. He rules.
character design, lighting your scene, lighting for effects, compositing...then I read all about how to do these things on a budget...then I looked up forums and tutorials on the internet about all of the above...then I looked up some more. I bought DVD's just so I could watch "The Making Of" videos in the bonus features. I studied practical effects and horror films (my favorite) and watched scenes, paused frames, rewatched scenes until I knew every pixel. I even poured salt over a black piece of felt to make a CG waterfall just like I saw ILM do for Episode 1 (not my favorite) and you know what? It worked pretty well.
I pined for better equipment, better books, better tutorials...I was a sponge, full of information. Then I joined the navy and had to give up a lot of my creative time--I still snuck some stuff in, but for the most part it was swabbing and painting and learning weapons and radar stuff. Sailing, ya know?

If any of this sounds like you--seek help. It's out there. Then friend me on facebook, we need to chat.

Here's what I didn't do...
1. I didn't film anything. After a few years of acting goofy with my friend Jim, I just didn't film anything.

Dave Grohl put it best when he said something like: You have to get out there and just suck.

That's how you start. That's how you begin anything. You suck at it. Walking, talking, driving (although some people never get good at driving), anything. Sucking is how you learn. You have to suck and then see the suck for what it is and learn how not to suck. So now, at almost 42 years old, I'm itching to suck at making films so maybe I can make some that don't suck.
I'm impatient, so it might take a while. I did the same thing with writing stories...and I don't think my writing sucks, but I know quite often, my presentation has because I'm impatient. It was more important for me to get the story out there than it was to make sure it was polished. Lesson learned. Are my stories polished now? Well, let's just say they are better than they used to be.
One of many crappy droids I built and animated for Ep VII.

So, long story short...a few months back I was standing in my living room with another friend of mine, Brett...and he had a clapboard and a camera rig and we had some lights and a makeshift dolly and we were filming something and it was a blast. My dog was licking fake blood off the floor. The finished product? Well, Brett's images were beautiful. My editing? I got carried away with this ceramic frog thing...never mind. My story telling? I think it kinda sucked. Which was exactly what I intended it to do...unintentionally.
The frog that answers all questions.

The next project will be a little better. Maybe a whole lot better...and I'll let it simmer a bit longer before I thrust it upon YouTube.

Go out there and do it people. Even if it's just for viewing in your living room...and when your buddy says, "Why am I staring at a ceramic frog?" you can tell him with pride, "It's a metaphor for the state of the world." Who cares if he gets it.
A still from the proof-of-concept for my next short, Seventeen.

I'll keep you posted on the progress of my next film (teaser here). For now, you can watch the one with the frog and try and figure out the metaphor...
Keep it creepy, y'all.

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