Stop Trying to Make Art

“Say who you are, really say it in your life and in your work. Tell someone out there who is lost, someone not yet born, someone who won’t be born for 500 years. Your writing will be a record of your time. It can’t help but be that. But more importantly, if you’re honest about who you are, you’ll help that person be less lonely in their world because that person will recognise him or herself in you and that will give them hope.”

– Charlie Kaufman, BAFTA Screenwriters’ Lecture 2011

I’ve been working on this screenplay to try to get in the Sundance Screenwriters Lab. It was dark, sad, and a lot different from the stuff I usually do. It felt like I was imitating filmmakers that were popular at Sundance, although I didn’t want to admit it.

Eventually, I had to scrap the script because it just wasn’t me. I started to dig deep to see why I would try to abandon writing the things that I am normally interested in.

I realized that I was “trying to make art” instead of being vulnerable and actually doing the work. As silly as it sounds, writing a gritty familiy drama is less traumatic to me than showing someone a video of me running around in a chicken suit. 

The family drama will ring hollow because I don’t really care about it, but I put my heart and soul into every one of my dumb, no budget shorts. They are personal without trying to be, they are my art without any of the pretension of award ceremonies.

Art doesn’t become art because an external force bestows the title on it. A work is rises to that level when you love it enough to keep making it, even though no one else cares.  Art isn’t made for an audience, you make it because you are burning to tell that story.

 

“This is the other secret that real artists know and wannabe writers don’t. When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us. The Muse takes note of our dedication. She approves. We have earned favor in her sight. When we sit down and work, we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete.”

– Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

 

The Chronicles of Weeaboo

Last week, I released the first episode of a web series that I created with my friend, Jack Kujo.

The Chronicles of Weeaboo follows Wally Smith on his quest to save his waifu. The whole series is an absurdist romp through Otaku culture and self ignorance.

Loosely inspired by a video we made together a few months ago, we aim to make something new by combing elements from disparate forms of media and our own warped sense of humor.

We are filming the series as our schedule allows, so please be patient with us!

Subscribe to Dysfunctional Films to keep up to date!

 

 

 

 

Loving Vincent

Loving Vincent, is the first feature film to be entirely painted. While this achievement is momentous enough to receive attention, the underlying story of the film and its production is even more magnificent!

Loving Vincent Review

The film started out as a simple idea in the mind of co-director Dorota Kobiela. She had been reading the letters of Vincent van Gogh and fell in love with them. She decided that she should make a short film about the famous artist, hand painting each frame herself.

After receiving a grant for the short,  Kobiela started working for BreakThru Studios as an animator and a concept artist. There she met the other co-director of the film, Hugh Welchman who thought her short might have more potential as a feature film. 

The film is an interesting combination of CGI and oil-paintings that bring the world of Van Gogh’s paintings to life.

Loving Vincent Review

To achieve this stunning look, the filmmakers separated the animation process from the painting process. They would shoot reference footage of the actors against a green screen, then the artists would paint the actors and the background into the scene frame by frame.

The distortion of Van Gogh’s original paintings proved to become an issue for film translation. A post production team was on set throughout principal photography to ensure that the footage shot would actually be usable.

Aside from the spectacle of the visuals, the story of Loving Vincent, is what distinguishes the film from other biopics like it. The film follows the aftermath a year after Vincent van Gogh’s suicide. We only get glimpses at the artists through the eyes of other people, but doesn’t make him any less sympathetic or what he did any less sad.

Loving Vincent Review

We see how it affected the residents of the artist’s final destination and the people who were closest to him. Whoever they were, his death affected them greatly.

The most valuable thing about Loving Vincent, is not the dazzling visuals; it is the added dimension we receive the a great man like Vincent van Gogh. Throughout the film, the viewer witnesses pivotal moments in the artist’s life that shaped him and perhaps destroyed him.

What did you think of the film? Do you have any suggestions for what film I should watch next?

Let me know in the comments!

 

 

Why Make Films?

Film is a popular industry. People pay billions of dollars every year to essentially sit in front of a large piece of fabric and watch images flicker by quickly. Why is that?

In this rational, scientific age Film seems the be the only form of magic left in the world. It entrances, inspires, and even bewilders us. The Federal government even archives these mystical images for future generations to behold.

Why people watch films varies from person to person. Some people enjoy a spectacle, some want to learn something, and others simply want to past the time.

Stranger still, some people dedicate their entire lives to creating images for other people to watch. Do they do it for the money? Why else would they do it?

The art of Filmmaking has seduced geniuses, idiots, saints, and the some of the most evil people in history to its siren song. This is why.

Creating New A World

“If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed.”

-Stanley Kubrick

Fictional world-building has existed long before the invention of the camera, but it has never been so real and awe-inspiring.

Why Film?

A film can transport you across time and space in a way that no other medium of art can. You experience the world of the film as you experience the majority of the real world; through dynamic sight and sound.

Simple lighting tricks or a different lens can make you totally engrossed into the world of the film/

Even lines drawn by a pen, are perceived as living creatures through the power of Film. Nothing is impossible when it comes to Filmmaking.

Strong Reactions

“Where film is infinitely superior to any other medium is emotion and story and character. ”

-Peter Jackson

I love music, literature, theater, and various visual arts, but nothing has a stronger effect on me than Film.

Images that cause you to feel real emotion and sounds to reinforce that emotion. Unlike literature or theater, you see,  hear, and feel the story unfold in the way that will have the most impact on you.
Why Film?

Film is all about the audience’s reaction. It is specially crafted to get the desired response. It requires a sort of empathy with the moviegoer that the other arts don’t require.

To be the person that makes the audience laugh, think, or be emotional is a very gratifying position to hold.

Uncovering the Truth

“Photography is truth. The cinema is truth twenty-four times per second.”

-Jean-Luc Godard

I originally wanted to be an ornithologist. I spend hundreds of hours birding and volunteering for bird banding projects. When I made the decision to become a filmmaker instead, I didn’t want to give all that up.

I made my first documentary short about bird banding on Jekyll Island. In my  mind, it was the perfect way the combine both of interests with the added benefit of exposing more people to the awesome work they do.

Why Film?

Documentaries have been some of the most visceral films I have ever seen. They expose the secret world (good and bad) that we live in and let us know what is happening.

Film has the power to expose great causes and information to millions of people. Simply by recording and editing images, you can change the world.

Thanks for stopping by! Why do you think Film is important? Let me know in the comments and don’t forget to follow this blog for weekly updates!

Why I Love The Greasy Strangler- A Video Essay

In this episode of Pulling Focus with Ethan Hatchett, I discuss The Greasy Strangler.

The film is a personal of favorite of mine for various reasons explored in the video. It has influenced a lot of my more bizarre work and I generally hold the film in high esteem for existing at at all.

I hope you all enjoy the video and give The Greasy Stranger a chance!

Sustaining Creativity

I have learned not to wait for inspiration to come to me, but to get up and chase after it! Here are some tips on sustaining your spark of creativity.

Explore Other Mediums of Art

Exploring different mediums of art  help me stay fresh with ideas. I believe that it helps with the creative process to look at something that is unrelated from the work I am doing, but is still artsy. I often get hyper focused on whatever project I am working and it is nice to take a break in an inspiring way.

Rest from Work by Vincent van Gogh

I often look at paintings for inspiration when I am stuck on Film problems. Paintings have some of the most exquisite compositions and use of color in any medium of art.

The best way to keep other mediums in my world has been through social media. If we are constantly going to be checking our phones, we might as well make it useful.

The History of Painting‘s Twitter account is my personal favorite for inspirational art, but there are many others like it for poetry, music, and film.

Express Excess Emotions and Thoughts

I have started journaling before writing anything that is seen by the public. I have found that clears my mind of excess chatter and helps me focus on writing concisely and on topic.

When I don’t express the extraneous thoughts and emotions from my day they show up in all sorts of weird ways in my project and take up editing time.

This principle can be applicable for all manner artists without the use of a journal, such as banging on a drum, doodling, or screaming at your cat.

Make Something Silly

Sometimes we take ourselves too seriously. When you spend your time looking through a camera, sometimes you end up with head in your rear end.

chicken man
Unrelated photo of man-child.

When I make something silly, I am able to cast off the shackles of perfectionism and pretension to actually make something. I often feel trapped by my own perception of my work and when I make something unapologetic-ally ridiculous, I feel as though I truly regain objectivity.

Take Care of Yourself

The most important  lesson I have learned is that to be creative you have to be functional as well. My personal vice is staying up late and sleeping in. I’m not as sharp when I haven’t slept and especially when I haven’t slept the correct hours.

Don’t stay up all night being angry at your clock.

To focus on your creative task, it is best to be free from distractions such as hunger, indigestion, or exhaustion. Sometimes this is unavoidable, but avoid it when you can.

Those are the tips I have for sustaining creativity, please let me know what you think!

 

Isle of Dogs

Isle of Dogs is worth driving to the single, secluded theater in your state to see it. People will move in front of the screen and switch seats 400 times, but you will still be engaged by the film.

Wes Anderson put lots of tiny details into the film that make it awesome to watch. I really enjoyed the “fight clouds” that appeared throughout the film. I have seen many stop-motion films, but I have never seen that classic cartoon gag used before. Anderson pays homage to Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai both visually and with the score) a few times throughout the film which is fun for Kurosawa fans.

Although it sags a bit in the middle, I found the story to be a clever and creative twist on the standard dog storyline. The characters are fun and have enough depth to be invested in (except a select few).

The visuals are awesome. The scenery perfectly melds real-world grit with the cartoon-y whimsy. This is definitely a film that you want to see in the theater because there are many tiny details and jokes you might miss.

Isle of Dogs is definitely going to be one of the best films of the year. Don’t miss it in theaters because of its terribly handled opening!

 

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:

 

Barry Lyndon

I just arrived home after seeing Kubrick’s period masterpiece, Barry Lyndon. It was my second time viewing the film and I enjoyed it even more re-watching it on the silver screen. The presentation of the film, the audience (there were Barry Lyndon cosplayers), and the interesting discussion after the film are the reasons why the Midtown Art Cinema is my favorite theater.

Barry Lyndon is the story of the misadventures of Redmond Barry. It is a tale of adventure, fortune, fate, and tragedy based on the novel The Luck of Barry Lyndon by William Makepeace Thackeray 1)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Luck_of_Barry_Lyndon . The film was praised technically upon release, receiving an Academy Award for Cinematography, Costume Design, and Art Direction 2)http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0072684/awards, but was a commercial failure and dismissed by many critics.

Time has been very kind to Barry Lyndon, with many people considering it to be Kubrick’s best film. While it is not my personal favorite, I really appreciate and enjoy the film. The visuals are awe inspiring, the story is darkly enchanting, and it has everything you would want in an historical epic.

This was the first Kubrick film I have seen in a theater and it was absolutely magnificent! If you can see this film on the big screen, do not hesitate to buy a ticket! They played a digitally remastered version of the film and it looked wonderful. An audience member who had been to the film’s original release in 1975 remarked that, “Barry Lyndon has never looked better!”

I would recommend this film to anyone that wants to learn about shot composition. Visually this film is perfect. Kubrick’s vision for the film was heavily inspired by the paintings of William Hogarth 3)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Hogarth, a contemporary of Thackeray. Not only is the cinematography in Barry Lyndon beautiful, but it tells the story well. Each frame tells its own story.

Go see Barry Lyndon!

barry lyndon

References   [ + ]

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Luck_of_Barry_Lyndon 
2. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0072684/awards
3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Hogarth