Sunday, August 28, 2005

Creative Projects

I haven't posted here in a while, and the main reason for that is that I haven't had the chance to watch that many movies or read anything lately, and that's because I've been spending almost all my time working on my own creative projects.

Last week I was spending all day editing Extracurricular Activities, the film I made with the summer workshop I ran for LMC. So, I had an odd relationship to this film, because I didn't have much to do with the creation of the story, or the physical shooting of it, that was done by the kids in the workshop. But at the same time, I was in charge of the whole thing directing how things were going and helping the kids get good shots. And then Jordan and I edited the whole film and put it to music, so I did a lot on the film.

So we finished that movie Monday and screened it twice, first for the parents of the kids in the workshop and then later in Jordan's backyard for our friends. It went over quite well, and a lot of people were calling it the best movie we've ever done. I'm not sure about that, but I found it interesting that people responded so well to a film that I really like, but find a bit impersonal. There are some artistic bits, but it's much less artsy than the movie we made last year in the workshop, A Cold Summer. Extracurricular actually has a pretty tight narrative, and with a few exceptions, sticks pretty strongly to the Hollywood rules, about goal-oriented characters driving the plot forward.

I'm not necessarily opposed to this, but I guess I'm unsure how I feel about making something so conventional. But, the important thing to keep in mind is that this workshop was about showing kids how to make a movie, not my personal expression, so getting paid a lot of money to make a film that turned out well isn't bad at all.

Once this was finished, I started editing Ricky Frost, the film Jordan and I shot over winter break back in January. It had lain dormant for a long time, but I'm glad to bring it back. The thing about Ricky Frost is we never quite finished shooting, we ran out of time, so some scenes were never filmed. This leaves me with some holes in the story I have to fill in during editing. And then we've got these massive dialogue scenes with no cutaways, which are very tough to make sense of and to make interesting. However, I was on camera for the vast majority of this movie, and it looks great. So, I'm trying to sculpt the raw material into a unified film. It's not so much narrative as just a look into some characters' lives at a point in time. I don't think people are going to respond to this film in the same way as they did 'Extracurricular Activities,' because its primary concern isn't telling a story.

As I mentioned a while back, this summer I came to realize that the mainstream moviegoer really does look for the traditional Hollywood narrative. They view film exclusively as a storytelling medium, and taking time to show things that are just beautiful is considered a waste of time. And in that case, this film will have some wasted moments, but I think they're beautiful, and it's my movie so I'm editing it in a way that pleases me first, and the viewer second. But, at the same time, there's some very relatable dilemmas in there, so people may respond, especially people my age. I know both Jordan and I wrote a lot from what we'd experienced, so it should be pretty real.

That editing goes on, and at the same time the first issue of my comic, Division Shadow is almost finished. We've got 21 of 24 pages drawn, about 12 inked, and I'm still working on securing a letterer, but once he's in place, the thing will be basically good to go. I've set up a site for the comic over at, definitely check out the gallery section, where you can see some finished pages.

This project is something I'm really proud of. It's been dominating my thoughts ever since the artists started on it, and my greatest problem is I keep coming up with new scenes for an already bloated project. And each new page costs me more money, but if it helps the work, it's worth it. I've been so busy with this film stuff, I haven't had a chance to work on new material in a while, which means that the artists are almost catching up with me. For a long time, I'd just had three scripts sitting there, and no rush to finish things, so now having to hurry is a bit annoying in the short run, but good in the long term. I'd really like to get at least a rough version of everything finished, so I know how long the book will be.

So, that's what's up with me now. Once I finish Ricky Frost, I'll have a lot more time, hopefully by Monday that project will be in the bag, and I'll have some time to do some writing on the comic before I go back to school.

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