Thursday, September 21, 2017

Let Sleeping Blogs Lie?

Well, hello again... sooo much happening, and it's hard to get it all straight in my head. So one possible solution is to blog about it, eh?

Check out this sequence of recent events (all since June):

  1. Slab leak in my house, which took 2 solid months (June and July) to fix, while my house was in complete uproar.
  2. Mother-in-law died on my birthday (Aug 16), just days before my brother John was to get married... I was in his wedding, then we left to go back to Albuquerque for the funeral. Drove out in one shot (12 hour drive) and then drove back again in another one-shot a three days later.
  3. Got home and received word that the owner of our house (which we've been renting for 12 years) passed away, and the heirs were going to sell the house. We got a 60-day vacate notice. We have to move by November 14, which is...
  4. ...three days after my Middle Daughter's wedding. 

Weddings, funerals, and forced moving. Plus, all my writing/acting/directing projects I have to focus on... Two screenplays, and a large Christmas project... Honestly, I hope that is the final "big shoe" to drop this year... not sure I can take another Life Wallop...

Speaking of the Christmas project, I've written a pair of scripts. The production is part-film (called The Laborers) and part-live play (called The Deliverer). Same characters in both. Picture "Act 1 and Act 2" being a film, which will be shown on the Big Screen at church, and then "Act 3" will be acted out live onstage... It's quite ambitious, and I hope we can pull it off.

I love live theater - but I've also been learning film making (see the previous post for a short film I recently made as a test), so I thought, "why not combine both"?

So, yeah! My world is all a'swirl at the moment. The part about having to move is unnerving me. I don't know whether to find another place to rent, or try to buy something. Rents are OUTRAGEOUS at the moment in San Diego. But so are home prices. I don't want to sink $500K into a mediocre house in some skanky neighborhood... but to buy a nice home in a nice neighborhood will likely run me far more than I'm able to spend... *tremble* So I'm looking out for rentals, and I'll also apply for a loan to see what I can qualify for. Maybe we can sneak into a decent condo somewhere. With Middle Daughter getting married and moving out, it means we can get a smaller place, since it will be just me, the Mrs., and Youngest Daughter...

We'll see! *tremble again*

Here's something else that happened within the past 24 hours...

So, I mentioned I'm focused on not 1 but 2 screenplays, on seriously huge projects, as well as the aforementioned Christmas project... and yet... I had an idea for a full-length play just fall into my head last night, and it rapidly became fully-formed and alive in my head... so I felt compelled to just sit down and write the thing. I've had things like this happen before - if I don't strike while the iron is hot (so to speak) then I'll default to merely taking detailed notes and then burying it in my archives, with the hope that "someday" I'll actually write it...

So, yeah, stop the important projects that I should be working on every free minute, and instead write down a play that is burning a hole in my heart...

Good thing I have my A.D.D. to help me out in times like this!

I have songs I want to record. I have audio dramas I want to record/edit. I have Wagnervana comics I want to draw. I have two web series ideas that I want to film and edit (which I've already written scripts for). I have soooo much I want to do. I wish I could get paid for some of it, lol... that would help me pay for a higher rent, at least! Sheesh!

I wish there was some way I could demonstrate to "someone of means" that I had creative talents that could be utilized for mutual gain. You know? Like, "hey Dave, write this screenplay for me, and I'll pay you X amount of dollars!" God, how amazing would that be? To get paid for doing something I love, and that I'm good at... I don't know how to brand myself like that... I have to hope someone "discovers" me and decides to use me to benefit him/herself... sort of a win-win... But hey, I know that type of thing doesn't just fall out of the sky... I need to try to make that happen... I just don't know how...

What else?

Good grief, haven't you had enough?

Life is an uproar for me, but oddly, I'm ok with it, for the most part. Flashes of panic here and there, but for the most part, I'm holding course. Wish I had someone to walk with me through this. Wife is in her own world since her mother died. I certainly can't fault her for that. And yeah, I feel selfish for hoping that she'd somehow be by my side with all this (she doesn't seem to want me by her side in her path)... but hey, no one ever died of loneliness, right?


Dave the Wanderer

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Stay Close: A Short Film By David Wagner

Here's a short film I shot in August with two of my daughters and a friend of the family, called Stay Close.

I made it as an experiment, trying to see if I could do a short film myself from concept to finish. All things considered, I'm very pleased with it, though the handful of people I've shown it to have had very little positive to say about it. So be it.

Filmed it on my iPhone 7, got all the footage in about 3 hours in one afternoon (from 5:15 pm to 7:45 pm), did the edit and color corrections in Premiere Pro. The music is too loud, I know... and the sound is inconsistent. The audio-gathering and crafting aspects of film making are hard for me still, but I'm learning.

And hey, if I don't try, I'll never learn, right? I had a lot of theory in my head going into this. Every shot, everything I put in it, I had a good reason for. I think a lot of it worked (in spite of the feedback I'm getting), and I have a plan moving forward, as far as what I'll do differently next time.

And there will be a next time. And many times after that.

First film, done.


Dave the Mildly Disillusioned

Monday, July 10, 2017

Still Breathing


Well, see, initially I was saying "surprise" to you, if you happened to stumble in here, fully expecting the December post to be sitting atop the dormant page here, and hey, a new post from Dave the Absentee (and Possibly Deceased, who knows?)!

But actually, it's probably more apt to say "surprise" in reference to myself, as in I'd be surprised if anyone ever bothered to check in here ever again...

You know, there's a strange sense of freedom and liberation in such a position... I could say or do anything here now, and no one would ever know! MUAHAHAH!!! I could strip down to my zebra-print speedo, wear a toilet seat around my neck and race around the blog without restraint, pulling tissues out of a box and flinging them everywhere! I could sing at the top of my lungs, and dance like no one's watching... because... you know why...

Or I could simply sit calmly and stoically in the directors chair here, and explain what I've been up to, lo, these 7 months... or explain why I let my blog die in the first place... or why my feet smell strangely of turned cheese...

But first...

Honestly, my blog had evolved so thoroughly into "more of the exact same thing every time" that I ultimately decided a swift and unannounced sword to the head was the only way to address the situation. I was either whining about life's little problems, or talking about whatever film/play/writing projects I was either currently working on, or hoping to somehow usher into fruition, or posting random odd photos/video's... and fart jokes... and occasional tedious theological meanderings... Frankly, I was getting sick of me, and, since I'm a narcissist, I projected that onto my meager audience, and assumed y'all were sick of me as well...

And so... yeah...

And I had every intention of letting things continue that way. But hey, tonight, I felt the long-believed-dead feeling to fire up a blank post and get my ramble on. Do I have anything stellar, or enlightening, or educational, or life-altering to relay? Nope, lol... I wanted... to.. uh... [Dave glances around, embarrassed]... to share what I've been doing this year, as far as film/plays/writing...

Maybe that's just what I'm supposed to do/be. Do I just accept that? Screw it, I'll leave that to the philosophers to figure out...

So this year, I've basically been putting myself through film school online, by watching YouTube videos on film production, and by hunting down and absorbing the best film and TV I can find. It's funny... while I was heavy into learning screenwriting, it got to where I would watch a film or show, and I could see the script ghosted over the screen as I watched, sort of scrolling past... I could see the dialog text scrolling by as it was being spoken... it was a weird sensation... Now that I've been learning about shot composition, scene structure, editing, composing, special effects, pacing, etc., I've gotten to where I can observe the craft of what I'm watching as I'm watching it... why did the director choose that shot? Why did they open that scene on a close-up instead of a long shot? Why use a wide lens there instead of a long one? Why did they hold on that shot for two extra seconds instead of cutting away? I can enjoy watching the film/show, but simultaneously study the craft...

So, yeah, I'm discovering the art of film making.

I've obtained more tools of the trade as well. Cameras, sound gear, lighting, editing software, special effects software... I'm becoming a one-man film studio...

I've always been a writer, since my childhood. I know my way around a page, in any number of genres/disciplines.

I've been an actor since high school. Combine the two, and I believe I can write well for an actor. I can write parts that actors will read and smile and get excited about playing, since I thoroughly understand the actors' mindset, and what appeals to them most. Being an actor helped my writing...

And now that I'm learning all the steps involved in bringing a script to life on the screen, it has also helped my writing to evolve. I've since gone back and re-read short screenplays I've written in the past years, and now I can see how impractical some of it is... if I'd understood better the craft of film-making, it would have made a difference at the early writing stages, where I'm coming up with the story elements... now I can write with craft in mind...

So that's what I've been doing with my time away from the blog. Learning. Experimenting. Coming up with ideas for things I can film by myself (or with my daughter(s)), here at the house... short films and series ideas... I have scripts written. When I have something to post, I will post it here. I'm super excited.

I haven't only been isolated these months. I was involved heavily in the Easter play we did at church in April, which was incredible fun. I worked with Ryan E. on the 48 Hour Film Festival again in May. I'm working on a short film (as an A.D.) with another friend of mine, Shawn J. And I'm working on a spiritual short film with another friend of mine, Andrew K.

Plus, I'm still occasionally filming for BTI, and still meeting with Rob D. about the feature script we wrote together.

Other things in the works as well.

So, now that I've typed it all out, how do I feel? Was it worth it? A new blog post, ultimately full of the same old stuff?

I don't know. Maybe I won't post this at all. Let it languish in the "Drafts" section. Nah, I might as well publish it. But I won't announce it on FB, I'll just let it lie here.

But basically, I'm still alive. Still learning, planning, growing... still writing, drawing, acting, filming... still breathing, exercising, drinking coffee, treading water... one Dave at a time...

Will I post again any time soon? I don't know. Maybe. I've been feeling the itch to create more Wagnervana comics. And when I film and edit something worth sharing, I'd like to be able to post it somewhere. So yeah, I don't know. We'll see.

I guess that's that.


Friday, December 16, 2016

All's Whale that Ends Whale

December is half-way done... which means several things.

First, it means that today is my anniversary. 26 years of challenging road. I look back on the first two decades of my marriage from a distance now, like I've been climbing a mountain and have stopped to look back at the path I've taken to get here, stretching and winding all the way back down into the valley. From way up here, it doesn't look that bad. At the time, it nearly killed me... but from here, that path looks so small and peaceful and easy! Funny thing, perspective...

Next, it means that Christmas is almost here. Not having a Christmas play to wrestle through to frantic completion for Mt. Zion has meant my December has been mellow, for the first time since the mid-nineties. We're doing a fun little Christmas presentation with the kids of the church. I'm sure no matter how it turns out, the parents will love it. Bottom line, the Christmas-related stress levels are at record lows.

Finally, it means that 2016 is almost over. It has been a crazy year personally, with record highs and lows. Yet I continue to have a huge list of things to be thankful for.

My blogging frequency hit an all-time low - for that, I apologize. My reasons are varied: too busy; sinking my creative energy into other projects; too hurt to talk openly about my life; occupying myself with escapist time-killers to avoid thinking; and thinking I've said everything I have to say about life. I mean, if you scan the blog entries for the past year, they're all the same anymore. I recap projects I'm doing, and apologize for blogging so infrequently. If this year was a record album, that would be the theme tying my songs together.

Anyways, my custom is usually to run down my favorite entertainment-related items of the year. You know, games, books, films, etc.

2016 Entertainment Highlights

BOOKS: I read only a fraction of the books I usually read in a year. Usually, I get in around 30 to 35 titles per year. In 2016, it was only 16 - and a good number of those meager few were re-reads. I revisited the Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson, as well as The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie (my second-favorite book of all time, by my favorite author). I feel odd including re-reads in the Best of Running, so I will exclude them. That leaves precious few to consider.

Best Book of 2016: Beyond Redemption by Michael R. Fletcher
Honorable Mention: Academic Exercises by KJ Parker

A quick note about KJ Parker. This year, he has solidified himself in my List of Favorite Authors. As it stands at this moment, my top 5 goes: Joe Abercrombie, Steven Pressfield, KJ Parker, Mark Lawrence and Pat Rothfuss.

SONGS: Lots of great new music this year, as far as my exposure. A lot of it is harder-edged stuff, which I like because it's cathartic. With my newly-realized perspective on the purpose and nature of music, I realize now that music impacts that part of a person where the meaning of words don't matter anywhere near as much as the way the words sound as they are being said/sung. And the energy I feel when listening to music by Avatar, Disturbed, The Offspring, Volbeat and others simply connects and resonates with me in a place I need such things, without reference to what the lyrics are actually saying.

That having been said...

Best Song of 2016: Night Never Ending by Avatar
Honorable Mentions: Live Forever by SIXX AM; My Name is Human by Highly Suspect; and The Calling by After the Fall.

MOVIES: I really should keep better track of the films I see throughout the year. I don't write them down anywhere. Books I track here in the blog margin, as well as on Good Reads, music I track on YouTube (when I find a song I like, I save the video to a playlist), TV I only watch online, so checking my history on NetFlix and Amazon Prime, I can easily review. But movies?

I saw only a couple of films in the theater that I can recall. Hateful Eight, Captain America Civil War, Kubo and the Two Strings, and half of Star Trek Beyond. That's it, I believe. I don't recall if I saw Spotlight in 2016 or 2015... There were many others I wanted to watch, but I never made it to the theater. So... I will open it up to include other films I saw on Blu-Ray or online for the first time. These other films included: Bridge of SpiesDeadpool, The Martian, The EquilizerThe Invitation, The Big Short, ARQ, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Predestination, and Ex Machina.

That's really not that many either. I watched tons of short films, a lot of stand-up comedy, and additional viewings of old favorites like In Bruges, Snatch, etc. as well as browsing the heck out of YouTube clips covering a wide variety of topics, plus watching TV series (or trying to find good ones... a lot of false starts)...

That having been said...

Best Film of 2016: Predestination
Honorable Mention: The Big Short

TV: I watched a number of great series' this year. Luke Cage Season 1, Goliath, Gotham Season 1, Daredevil Season 2, Broadchurch, and Justified Season 6. I started watching at least twice that many additional series, but gave up on them, often after only one episode. I'm trying to find good stuff to binge watch! I think that the best writing and acting at the moment are being done in TV. Way too much good stuff out there - it's just a question of finding it...

That having been said...

Best TV Series of 2016: Broadchurch
Honorable Mention: Daredevil Season 2

A word on Broadchurch. David Tennant and Olivia Coleman are so unbelievably good in this series, it boggles my mind. The entire cast is outstanding. There's something about British acting that sets it apart from Hollywood/American acting... this show is an acting clinic. The subject matter is hard to deal with, but the level of entertainment can't be beaten.

GAMES: As meager as the other categories were this year, this category is practically non-existent anymore. Serious, I did buy a smallish number of games this year, but I spent over 95% of my gaming time playing two games: Minecraft and Fallout 4. Both are games I've played and loved before 2016. I've dabbled with a few other 2016 titles, but nothing worth mentioning. And I don't think iPad apps and games count...

That having been said...

Best Game of 2016: Does not apply


So what else?

Still in an odd "No Man's Land" as far as entertainment-related news. Everything has either stalled out, or is perhaps simply in a holding pattern until after the holidays. Perhaps my first January blog post will hold some news.

On a more personal front, there will be two weddings in the next year, for people I love and are especially close to. My beloved Middle Daughter is officially engaged, as is my awesome Younger Brother. Two of the most important people in my life! That's super exciting. My brother and his fiance are planning an August wedding. Middle Daughter and her fiance haven't pinned down a date yet, but she mentioned fall in passing. That could change.

So, yeah, the year draws to a close, and yeah, it's been a rough one in many ways. But I'm still alive and kicking, so all I can do is hang tight and wait for 2017 to roll around. Hopefully I'll have lots of fun news to share soon.

Adios for now,

Dave the Yo-Yo