Cultivating a Relationship with the Natural World

The biggest mistake in the plight for the preservation of the natural world was to create an ideology around it. The well-being of our planet is not a political issue; it is a human one.

I have long theorized that people don’t care about the natural world because they don’t have a relationship with it.  Planting native species at your home is a great step that you can take to develop one. By simply planting species native to your area, you invite all sorts of wildlife to visit.

Green Anole
Carolina Anole (Anolis carolinensis)
eastern tent caterpillar
Eastern Tent Caterpillar (Malacosoma americanum)

Baby birds

Volunteering with citizen science projects is a great way to help in a meaningful way and learn from seasoned professionals. A lot of conservation work is done entirely by volunteers so they need your help!

Indigo Bunting
Bird Banding

Balancing Act

“As a human being the artist may have many moods and a will and personal aims, but as an artist he is ‘man’ in a higher sense – he is ‘collective man’ – one who carries and shapes the unconscious, psychic life of mankind.”

-Carl G. Jung

I’ve been trying to more flexible with my work. I tend to over prepare for everything I embark on. It is the way I cope with anxiety about uncertainty. Unfortunately, I talk myself out doing things and I remain rigid.

The best things I have ever made, writing, film, or anything else, have come from fluid spontaneity. However, if I become too spontaneous the piece turns into garbage.

I find it very interesting that any good pieces exist and that any artists have any degree of sanity. In order to make something worth while, your consciousness and unconsciousness have to communicate with each other simultaneous and at the right time. It is a sleight of hand maneuver that fools both the audience and yourself at once.

If you are lucky enough to pull this magic trick off, the stiff, shallow feeling starts to appear in your heart. It is doubt, the doubt that you can replicate such a feat a second time. You spent all your time anticipating failure and once thing start going well, you panic. You never considered such an outcome. When someone fails they hang their head and go on their way, but when someone succeeds, that’s basically uncharted territory.

Fear is what ultimately stops me from creating anything. My head spins with millions of ideas for projects, but I just I lay in bed staring at the ceiling. Fear is useful in most respects. It colors my projects both negatively and positively. I’m not one to take irrational risks, but I’m not one to take rational ones either.

I am glad to report that I am getting better. I am creating things more regularly. The dull color of fear has left my vision and merely accents my frames. My consciousness and unconsciousness have been talking and have become friends. I can look myself in the eye and truly see.

The Making of ‘Weeb’

The idea behind Weeb was to make “Kung Fu with a weeaboo,” but having the brain that I have, it became this video.

Production went pretty well, considering what we were making. It is often difficult to direct people in a project like this because of its over-the-top style. The hardest scene to explain was the opening. Luckily, Sean and I had gone to school together and even if he didn’t understand the purpose of the opening, he did trust me enough to know it would make sense in the edit.

Something I have discovered while doing these type of little projects is that you can’t always articulate your vision completely to everyone involved. What I mean by that is that you explain it differently to each person involved. To the DP it is how the image makes you feel, and to the actor it is how the character feels in the scene.

I played with the color in this video more than with previous projects because I wanted to to make the viewer feel like they were in a different world. Also, when I think of Anime, I think of vibrant colors both within the character’s dress and the background.

My Neighbor Totoro (1988) 

I wanted to add a sense of child-like wonder to the way that Sean’s character perceived the world, so I thought a super saturated achieved that.

Outtakes from the video:

The New Blacklist

“The blacklist was a time of evil…no one on either side who survived it came through untouched by evil…[Looking] back on this time…it will do no good to search for villains or heroes or saints or devils because there were none; there were only victims.”

-Dalton Trumbo

The Academy Awards have been viewed for many years as a sham by many people, but this year I feel insulted as a lover of cinema. I love Film, I hope by now that has been made clear, but I think Hollywood has out lived its usefulness.

I don’t think you should make a film to win awards. You should make a film because you have a story to tell. If you do win an award, it should be because you earned it. It shouldn’t matter who you are, what you look like, or what set of genitals you have.

Art is about appealing to the human soul. It transcends the flesh., crosses barriers, and brings us together. Art does not pander. 

Out of the 20+ films I saw in 2017,  it irritates me that Get Out is nominated for Best Picture, a genre film with forced social commentary over something like A Ghost Story, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, or even Blade Runner 2049 (though I didn’t care for it). Those films were something slightly different than the exciting, annual racism-is-bad romp that we are accustomed to seeing.

It is pretty obvious that Get Out was put there to meet some sort of of quota and that’s really sad. It shouldn’t matter who you are, it should matter what film you made. Enforcing this distorted “diversity” will turn the Academy Awards into the Not White Male Awards.

Isn’t this forced inclusion of “diverse” films simply shifting the prejudice to another group of people rather than giving more people exposure?

I find the idea of the censorship and maligning of the art of any artist based solely on what group they belong to alarming and disgusting. I firmly believe that everyone deserves a voice in art, even if popular opinion is that they have too much privilege. It has only been  50(ish) years since the infamous days of the Blacklist. Are we really going to repeat this petty political game this quickly?

Living vs Being Alive

“I have to die. If it is now, well then I die now; if later, then now I will take my lunch, since the hour for lunch has arrived – and dying I will tend to later.”

-Epictetus

I want to understand why people do things. I think that’s why I was drawn to the arts. Through film or writing, I can explore the thoughts of people that I have never met that live on another continent and sometimes they aren’t even real.

I think the central conflict that every person faces is the fact that one day we will die and there is nothing we can do to stop it.  We spend life trying to cope with that reality in different ways. Death stands in the corner of our eye each passing second and we either ignore it or accept it.

Up until relatively recently I was obsessed with death. Rather than standing in the corner of my eye, Death stood in the center blocking the view of everything else.  I spent every moment of the day terrified, and every dream was a nightmare. There were so many things I wanted to do before I died.

It occurred to me, after much thought and study, that I had to live. If you spend each second ruminating on death, then you are already dead.

I have found that the most courageous thing you can do as a human being is to live, not simply being alive. You need to experience everything you can. The world is as beautiful as it is ugly. To live you need to seek out new adventures.

A fun exercise is to take something familiar and create something new out of it. There are endless possibilities and you should try to explore as many as you can.

If you were to die right now, would you be satisfied with what you would leave behind?

Hi guys!  I was featured in Feedspot’s Top 100 Writing Blogs. I’m super excited to be included on a list with so many awesome bloggers!

Check it out: http://blog.feedspot.com/top-100-writing-blogs/

My First Screenplay

Hi guys! I’ve been dealing with a pretty rough migraine this week so I couldn’t really write anything too extensive this week.

However, I did find the first screenplay I ever wrote.

An Eye For An Eye is a Sin City-esque revenge film I wrote sometime in 2014 while I was in community college. It is approximately 16 pages and hopefully it isn’t too horrible to read.

An eye for an eye-page-001An eye for an eye-page-002An eye for an eye-page-003An eye for an eye-page-004An eye for an eye-page-005An eye for an eye-page-006An eye for an eye-page-007An eye for an eye-page-008An eye for an eye-page-009An eye for an eye-page-010An eye for an eye-page-011An eye for an eye-page-012An eye for an eye-page-013An eye for an eye-page-014An eye for an eye-page-015An eye for an eye-page-016

“The Analyst” – A Short Story

NOTE: I tried getting this story published in a few journals, but it was declined. This is probably because of one line in particular. However, I am completely open to the idea that it was simply terrible. I decided to share this story with you anyway, because I am fond of it and I thought you all might enjoy it.

This is not an overtly political tale because I do not believe the themes explored in this work are political. I view them as issues of philosophy rather than issues of government.

The Analyst

by Ethan J. Hatchett

Rain fell on his black coat, each drop numbing his shoulders further. He approached the door of the hulking, concrete fortress that was his workplace. He swiped his identification card through the reader and the door creaked open. “Morning, Analyst,” the nurse greeted him dryly. The Analyst nodded in passive acknowledgement and continued his march forward. He removed his coat and hung it up on the the rusty hook in his office. He shook his computer awake from its slumber and the monitor lit up at a creeping pace. He studied the file of James Thomas, the patient he would be seeing this morning. Thomas had been diagnosed with an Antisocial Personality Disorder and has been experiencing Manic Depressive episodes. The Analyst had not seen this patient, Thomas was transferred from  another facility last week, but he already had a sense of the issue. Thomas was raised in a rural area, far from the reach of the Community and was probably indoctrinated by that uneducated, Neo-Reliant philosophy.  The Analyst did not believe in insanity. Everything had a logical explanation that could be deduced with well phrased questions or the simple implementation of the Scientific Method.

The Analyst arrived in the plexiglass chamber where they held therapeutic sessions. On the other side of the glass was James Thomas. Nineteen at most, Thomas was barely a man. He had short hair, clean shaven, and his clothes were awash with bright,  garish colors. Thomas was a stereotypical Neo-Reliant in almost every way, the only thing that was distinct was his young age. That movement tended to appeal to old men who had nothing to lose and were, in essence, dead already. They grow up before the Restoration and had faint memories of a world gone.

The two men sat in silence for sometime. The Analyst had learned over the years to put the patient off balance.  The Analyst took meaningless notes and every so often glanced sternly at Thomas. Almost half an hour elapsed before Thomas finally spoke. “Can I go now?” The Analyst looked up from his notes.

“Why would you want to do that, James? Everything is provided for you. No one has hurt you.” Thomas rolled his eyes. “Why are you so disrespectful, James? You went to school, correct?” Thomas nodded. “Well, then you knows as well as I, that respect is the foundation of human interaction.”

“Is that why you people have no doors? Respect?” Thomas chuckled.

“Do you not value transparency, James?” Thomas leaned closer to the glass.

“I prefer to shit alone.” The Analyst smiled. He closed his eyes,  took a deep breath, and recentered himself.

“Why haven’t you been taking your medication, James?” Thomas had no answer. “You need to take your medicine in order to feel better,” The Analyst continued in his calm tone.

“No,” Thomas replied curtly. The Analyst was taken by surprise.

“No?”

“I refuse.” The Analyst leaned back in his chair.

“I’m afraid you do not have a choice. We are doctors, our authority supersedes yours in this matter. You are a danger to yourself and others.”

“How am I dangerous?” Thomas asked in a mocking tone.  The Analyst was losing his patience.

“Do you remember July 5th, Mr. Thomas?”

“This again? I’ve explained this a hundred times.” The Analyst had enough.

“Do you really think that anyone would believe that an officer of community assaulted you and withheld food from you?” The Analyst stood up. “Why did you kill him? He had a family. Have you no empathy for your fellow man?” Thomas stood up and they met eye to eye.

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” The Analyst stared in Thomas’ eyes. They were two brown balls of fiery emotion. There was no logic, no rational thought. He was hopeless.

“Where are you taking me?” Thomas asked, half curious, half scared. The Analyst did not answer. He held Thomas’ wrist and walked as fast as he could without bursting into a sprint. “I’m sorry.” The Analyst kept moving, barely acknowledging his admission of guilt.

“It’s too late for that now.”

The Analyst waited in the brightly lit room for some time. It was nearing midnight, but he was still restless. The metal door in front of the room swung open and the Physician approached him. “Congratulations. Another successful conversion, thanks to the Scientific Method.” The Analyst smirked.

“The praise belongs to you and yours,” The Analyst replied with anticipation. “May I see him?”

The two men entered the dimly lit ward. The Physician gestured towards a figure hunched on a bed. The Analyst rushed towards him. Thomas was bald with freshly made scars running down his skull, his eyes searching blankly for something. “James,” The Analyst began, “do want to take your medication?” Thomas nodded silently.

My Brother

*I’m digging through old writing and I have found some stuff that I think might be worth posting.  This was written sometime in 2015.*

This is not an easy topic for me to write about. I don’t want this to be a catalog of perceived wrongs or just the good things about my relationship with my brother. I want to give a fair portrait of my relationship with my brother.

I have an older brother. His name is John. John has Asperger’s Syndrome and epilepsy. He is adopted. John is six foot nine inches tall. He is the most gentle person with animals I have ever met. John is also the crassest person I have ever met. Our relationship is… complicated.

John is different than most older brothers. He is nineteen, but his sensibilities are that of a thirteen year old. John can’t be left alone. He could seize and really hurt himself. John is socially awkward and doesn’t always get social cues. He doesn’t know how to tell if someone is disinterested when he is telling a story, if someone got his joke, but doesn’t think it is funny. and other things like that. John has no filter. What a normal person knows not to say to their grandmother, John says on a regular basis.

I used to resent my brother. My parents would always make a big deal over his, in my childish perspective, tiny accomplishments. He would color in the lines once and there would be a celebration. I would always color in the lines and not even get a pat on the back. John couldn’t ride a bike, but he was congratulated for trying. I could ride a bike with no problem, but no one cared. I understand now why my parents did this, but at the time I did not. It was a massive injustice in my mind and it was all John’s fault.

When I was born my brother was unhappy. He pitched a fit, actually. He was jealous that his mother was holding a new baby. This wasn’t exactly unusual behavior from an infant, but this behavior continued all the way into adulthood. My brother was always jealous of me. Who could blame him? I could do things that he couldn’t. Things that he struggled with, I did with ease.

On my birthdays (in early childhood), my parents would often get my brother a gift too so he wouldn’t complain. John hated when I was the center of attention. He would pitch a fit and complain to the point where I was miserable.

When I got my learner’s permit my brother was extremely jealous. Because of his epilepsy he couldn’t drive even though he was older than me. He wouldn’t go anywhere with me (when I was driving) without criticizing any little mistake I made.

When I entered into a relationship with a girl from his horse riding classes, he was, once again, jealous. He called her “The Foul Blue-haired Temptress” and me “The Love Leech.” Luckily, she took this all in stride and laughed about it. This time he was concerned about losing me which was kind of nice. It showed that he cared in his own weird way.

In later years, our relationship has improved. I used to ask ‘What is wrong with John?’, but now I know there is nothing wrong with John. He is just different. I understand John now. I don’t expect him to be like everyone else’s older brother. I love my brother. I wouldn’t want to have any replacement. He is special to me. He may be crass, rude, and just plain mean sometimes, but so am I. I would do anything for my brother. When I look to the future, I know that I will have to take care of John and that’s okay. I wouldn’t want my brother to be left all alone without anyone to look after him. They say you can’t choose your family, but I think you do. You choose who you keep in contact with, who you associate with, and who you trust. I choose John. He is compassionate, funny, and his heart is in the right place. Despite our past, I value my relationship with my brother even though it isn’t conventional.

Novlr

I have been trying Novlr recently and I really enjoy using it. Novlr is a browser based program for novel writing. Many of us have tried writing on normal word processors, it can be done, but Novlr makes it a lot easier.

Novlr has constant saving so you don’t have to worry about having to interrupt your writing to save. They also have Google Drive integration, so you can back up your files to a reliable source. I really like the Focus Mode, which fades out the headers, toolbars, etc. so you can focus on the writing. and I like reading the statistics to keep me motivated.

If you interested in using Novlr, they were kind enough to set up my audience with a special discount and free trial.

If you go to: http://app.novlr.org/signup/ejhatchett and use promo code: EJHNOVLR

You will receive a third off an annual subscription to Novlr (normally $10/month) and all of November for free.

Check out Novlr, it’s great!

Anatomy of A Screenplay

The formatting of your screenplay will determine the fate of your screenplay, No one will take you seriously with a script that does not look professional.

Script1

On your title page, you should have a title, who wrote it, and which version of the draft it is currently. Additionally, if it is based on something else, you should put that under the authorship.

Note: Only state it is based on a book, comic, etc., if it is published.

Script2

The meat of the screenplay is the slugline, character, dialogue, and action.

The slugline is essentially a short description of the scene. INT (Interior) and/or EXT (Exterior), the location (i.e. THE MALL), and time (i.e. DAY or NIGHT) are mandatory for a complete slugline.

The character is the person in the scene. The character’s name is capitalized over the dialogue and it is also capitalized in the action line when the character first appears.

Dialogue is simply what character speaks in the scene. It is located under the character’s name.

The action line describes the action in the scene (i.e. The wind was blowing, John runs, etc.).

Here are some screenwriting resources that have helped me:

John August

Good in a Room

The Script Lab

ScreenCraft

Mastery by Robert Greene

The Art of Dramatic Wrting by Lajos Egri 

Internet Movie Screenplay Database (IMSD)

Formatting your screenplay can get complicated, but luckily you can use software to minimize to effort.

Final Draft is the industry standard software for screenwriting and, as I write this, Final Draft 10 is $249.

Celtx is a popular alternative to Final Draft. It is a free, browser-based program that a lot of people (including me), swear by.

Note: There are different subscription tiers you can get with Celtx that include shot lists, scheduling, and more, but the free version is great also.

I hope this was helpful!