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

Monday, November 14, 2016

I Have A Couple of Friends That Call Me "Whiskers"...

Wow, where to begin?

I tell ya, this year. Talk about highs and lows. In many ways, never been higher, never been lower. But it's my own fault, really. I recalled today that for the bulk of 2015, a constant prayer of mine had been "Please, Lord, help me to grow up."

I'm an introspective, socially-isolated type of person. I've sifted my personality and over-analyzed the findings so thoroughly over the past two decades, it must be counter-productive in the extreme by now. It's in my wiring - I need to understand things. Everything needs to make sense or it drives me crazy. I can't rest on an issue until I know which mental shelf to put it on and why.

It's as exhausting as it sounds.

That having been said, here are the highlights and lowlights of the past two months.

First, the positives...

I finished the first draft of Momentum, the feature script I've been working on for the past year or so, with the illustrious Rob Dey. We're going to meet this week to begin discussing rewrites. The draft is over 200 pages long. We're going to tweak it into two versions. One feature version that will be rather drastically pared down. And a series version, breaking this script into episodes, and keeping more of the content. We've actually renamed the project, but I can't divulge that info yet.

In fact, I can't really share anything else about it at this time. But it is a huge, great feeling to be done with the first draft. I've written short scripts, and tons of plays, but this is my first full-length script. Can't wait to see how this project evolves.

There is a second big positive, relating to writing, but I can't talk about that at all yet, lol. And two other possibly big developments, also under wraps.

Man, I thought I'd have more positives to share!

Before I ever-so-briefly hit the lowlights, here's some fun stuff for you...

Here's a classic from SNL with Will Ferrell doing his Harry Carey impression for the skit Space: The Infinite Frontier...


And here's a recent Conan segment with incomparable John Cleese and Eric Idle...

There, that should take the edge off.

The first lowlight was an intensely personal one, which seemingly cost me two friendships. I don't make friends easily. I have a reasonable amount of acquaintances, but very few people I would call friends - as in, when things are rough, I call and/or go see him, and talk things out, etc. I had two, and both were radically affected simultaneously. It was, as one might imagine, very disillusioning. I've never been one to claim to understand people very well. I thought I had a good enough handle on it to at least maintain a select few friendships. I learned the folly of that mis-assessment.


During the course of dealing with that (a very ugly time), I learned some very positive things about myself and about people.

In other words, God seems to be answering my prayer from last year, about growing up.

I will be writing all of the lessons I learned in this journey down at some point. I may even share some of it here, since it might be of interest to you.

The second lowlight was, of course, the election. I'm not going to get my political ramble on, fear not! I will limit myself to a few easily-skimmable sentences only!

I was not a Hillary fan, but I thought Donald Trump was a joke. Now he's our President. I lost my composure on Facebook and stomped on toes on Election night (and E-Day +1), and cut loose. Then I realized the futility of it all, and deleted my posts (and all the replies), with some embarrassment. My stance at this very moment is that of (I believe) everyone else that voted for him (which I did not). We have absolutely no idea what he's going to do. That means, there's a possibility (no matter how slim) that he'll be ok as President, and not a complete, unmitigated disaster. So for my own sanity's sake, I am clinging to that impossibly slim hope, bolstered by two things... first, the knowledge I gained about myself and people from my personal crisis (referenced earlier), and the 60 Minutes interview Trump gave, where it seemed he presented himself quite well.

I'm not a fan, but I'm not flabbergasted any longer. We shall see.

Wow, the lengths I could go to, in elaborating on both of those topics! I shall spare you. And by "you", I mean my mother, who is likely the only person who still reads this blog...

Hi mom! I love you!

The Christmas Play at Mt Zion is on the razor-edge of having the plug pulled. I wrote the script, cast it, and had the read-through. Then a cast member dropped out and another expressed concerns about finding time to rehearse, and now we're about 5 weeks from performance. Christmas is on a Sunday this year, so we need to put the play on the Sunday before (December 18)... I don't know if we can do it.

Here's a question I've been pondering lately. Is it possible to tell whether an author is male or female, by the writing itself? I think I can tell. It's a gut thing... what the author decides to say and how...

Dude, I keep writing more and then deleting it, because what I'm trying to say isn't coming out right. It keeps sounding like I'm taking a shot at female authors. I'm not. I guess I won't elaborate on this, then. Bottom Line: I think I can tell author gender by the storytelling choices.

Lol... man, that was like opening the door to a room, seeing something frightening, and then slowly backing out, and closing the door again... I should just delete the topic altogether... *shudder*

Oh,man, do I have a bunch of great ideas for time travel stories... just saying...

What else..?

Just filmed more for BTI this weekend. And THAT is all I can/should say about THAT. I will provide a more robust BTI update as soon as I feel bold enough to attempt to navigate that minefield again...

I think I'll end with this compelling (to me) video essay from the YouTube channel Lessons from the Screenplay...

Great insights for a writer, me thinks...

So, how to wrap up this post?

Highs and Lows, just like everyone else. Thanks for your patience and understanding mom! And to any non-mom readers wading through this morass, thank you as well. Here is something I'm learning, as I grow up...

Take care.

Dave the Tedious

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A Quick Word

I've done it. I've broken through it. Man, it's been tough. I was cruising along, firing on all cylinders, for most of the year. Then it all collapsed.

It's like having arms full of packages and walking into a closed door, which you thought was open. Wham! Drop everything, sitting dazed on the floor, feeling like an idiot... What can you do, but gather your senses, stand up, shake off the embarrassment, collect yourself and your belongings, and try again. What's the alternative? Give up?

Being cut off from my usual sources of advice and conversation has had the odd benefit of forcing me to figure it out on my own. And I'm happy to reveal, I've done it. I have to give God the credit, even though I felt cut off from Him as well. I'm sure He was involved (probably on both ends), which is cool, but annoying of Him.

I need to percolate on it all for a bit longer before dumping some/all of it into this blog, but it boils down to the importance, value and purpose of words (spoken and written), and the nature of truth. If that sounds esoteric and hopelessly cerebral, that's only because I have no better way to summarize it at the moment. Trust me, there's meat in there that anyone can benefit from.

But since the insights keep presenting themselves to me, even as recently as an hour ago, I think it would be premature of me to try and vocalize it right now. I want to let it come together. But on a personal note, let me say it is a series of revelations that have helped me make sense not only of my current predicament, but also of recent history and other issues dating back decades. It's a gift that has fully shifted the way I view life and people, in a profound, still-unfolding way.

Never, never, never would I have imagined such a thing happening to me at this stage of my life. It is humbling, and I am so grateful. Granted, the road getting here sucked, but hey, ultimately, it may result in fruit on many levels. Heck, it's already given me ideas for new plays/characters...

Adios for now,

Dave, Evolving

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Not All Who Wonder Are Lost....

Man, look at that... I love it. A hundred stories come to mind, just looking at that photo. Wow.

Hello again, y'all. It's Dave the On-Again-Off-Again Recluse, with a drive-by blast of hot air, if for no other reason than to bump my last post down a notch, so I don't have to look at it or think about it again... so life's a teeter-totter, ups and downs, highs and lows... gee, big revelation. It's not like I haven't been there before (both the highs and the lows). But honestly, it does really help to talk about it... and also honestly, I really don't have anyone to talk to about it. I am a man, alone...

No man is an island? Well, perhaps I should change my name to "no man"...

So, have things settled down for me? Yes and no. It's odd. You know how when you get a new vehicle, suddenly you see that vehicle everywhere? Or if you or your wife is pregnant, suddenly you see pregnant women everywhere? Well, a similar phenomenon is occurring with me, whereby it "seems" that I'm being ignored/avoided on every front. In one part of my brain, I know people are just busy with their own stuff, and hey, it's not like I haven't always been sensitive to being ignored... that's why I enjoy my invisible audience so much... they love me!

But I think the difference is that, whereas I normally have lots of things to keep me occupied in my isolation, lately I really could use some good news and/or someone to talk to... so that makes each instance of delayed response, ignored inquiry, unreturned message, etc. that much more acute... like getting poked in a bruised area... the poke normally would be a mild annoyance, but getting poked on a wound? Ouch...

So, yeah, it's getting hard to want to care anymore. I know the grown-up response is to look life in the eye and show a little back-bone, and ride it out.

That's me, on the left...

Still, it's uncomfortable being in a position of feeling so clueless... if I knew what it was I'd done wrong (probably a collection of little things), then perhaps I could do something to rectify it, or at least understand it all. Or more likely, as I mentioned at the outset, it isn't anything of the kind. Nothing personal, just people being people, doing their people things... without reference to me whatsoever. Probably just my own insecurities teaming up with my inherent self-centeredness (byproduct, no doubt, of my life of solitude) to freak me out...

I doubt much of this makes sense, but I feel like riffing, and that's what this blog is for...

I won't beat it into the ground. Feeling detached from life. It will pass.

Speaking of "detached," this video is incredible...

Man, I wish I could have seen that in person... stunning. That seems like an event that would permanently mark the person who saw it. So friggin majestic and breath-taking.

Here's another video of the same event, from higher-up...


Shifting gears...

The holidays approach. A lot of writing on my plate: Momentum; Best Dressed Guest; the Mt. Zion Christmas play; a pastor's appreciation skit. All of these ideas are well-developed in my head, but I've yet to actually write them (except for Momentum, which is almost finished). Writing is my safe corner. I can do it in my aloneness... acting and directing? That involves people, lol... I'll need to steel myself to go that route again... but writing? Bring it on! Let me put my wings on and fly!

Halloween... every year, I threaten to dress up for Halloween, and every year, I don't... Youngest Daughter usually has a birthday party around Halloween, and it's a costume party. I'm always the only one not in a costume (which inspired, in part, the plot of Best Dressed Guest, actually)... this year will, no doubt, prove to be the same. I'd love to dress up! I'm an actor! Costume me! Let me be someone/something else for a few hours! You'd think I'd be all over that! Not sure what keeps me from doing it... embarrassment and laziness, I guess...

This year, I'd like to dress up as the lead singer of the band Avatar...

Actually, I'm only partly kidding... I know he's a bit creepy looking, but he always wears such cool costumes, and the face paint is fun... and the whole band looks like they have so much fun. Their videos are a hoot. They're actually kinda campy and silly. They remind me of a harder-edged version of Oingo Boingo...

Masks in general are fascinating to me... hide who you are, be a version of yourself that you'd like to be, or wish you were, or heck, even be someone completely different! Oddly, that concept also inspired/informed the plot of Best Dressed Guest... there's a lot to play with in that concept...

No, I won't dress up this year. But if I did, it would be as something far more tame than that guy... wouldn't want to freak people out and have them think I'd lost my religion or something, lol... I don't spook easily, but others do...

What else?

Not much of note. Mostly writing. If anything changes, I'll mention it here. Or maybe I won't, who knows? It seems lately, the more I say (regardless of how careful I try to be), the more trouble I get myself into. Perhaps "Dave the Silent" would be a good mask to wear for the time being!

Adios for now,

Dave the Meanderthal

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Meow! (You Were Supposed To Meow Back...)

Sing us a song, you're the Piano Man...

OK, one song, coming up...

*GROAN* *sigh*

O great, here we go again. David in his "alone in the world" mood again... "For crying out loud, Dave, learn a new song already! We've heard this one from you way too often! It's over-played!"

OK, fine. Let me find my happy face to put on for you... gimme a sec...

There it is...


There, how's that? Better?

"No. Look, Dave, we come here to read your goofy nonsense, to cheer us up from our own raft of crap! If you're in the dumps as well, it's counter-productive, eh! Try harder!"

OK, fine... here, let me try again...

"No, no, no! We still see through you!"

Hey, look... first of all, I'm an actor, ok? I never said I was a particularly skilled one. I try my best, on set or off, to play the happy, together guy. I think I pull it off well most of the time. But dangit, the more I learn of people, the less I think I like them.

I pretty much spent the first 40 years of my life squirreled away in a safe place, sheltering myself from The Real World(TM), and crafting my own little goofy version of the world to live in. Made my own rules, crafted people the way I wanted them to be, and moseyed my way through life, willfully ignorant. Well, for the past few years, I've tried to break free of that self-induced, self-crafted little utopia and see what life is like on the outside, with real people, trying to make a legitimate impact out there.

The results have been decidedly mixed.

I'm realizing not everyone is like me. In fact, no one is like me, that I've found. And I don't say that to flatter myself - just the opposite. I am, in many ways, quite socially retarded. I suppose that's logical - not sure why I should be so surprised. I mean, a tree that grows up outside is much more resilient than one that grows up inside a greenhouse... Exposure to the elements toughens one up, I suppose... so why should I be surprised that I'm stunted inside in many ways?

Still, the disappointment is palpable. My experience of the past few years seems to show me that most people are like my Wife... suspicious of everyone. Everybody is up to something, everybody is angling for something, some advantage over me/you. Everyone is out for himself. Honestly, it sucks to have that put on me, when it isn't a coat that fits. I don't have an agenda. I'm just me. I want to tell great stories, and involve great people. I'm not angling for anything, I'm not looking out for myself and my own best interests. I'm not trying to make a name for myself, at anyone's expense (much less everyone's). I'm just trying to enjoy life and leave a positive mark.

Having my actions mis-interpreted by people (who then react accordingly) is frustrating, because how do you fight it? Try to defend/explain myself? That only comes across as justification and guilt-dodging. And the thing is, if it was one isolated case, I could shrug it off. But it seems to be coming from every direction at once. Hence, the pervading, foundational sense of dread and depression I'm back wrestling with. Hello dorkness, my old friend...

My decision(s) now revolve around whether to retreat back into my safe little protected world again, cutting myself off again, or to "man up" and keep hitting it out there in The Real World(TM). Honestly, on paper, the answer is obvious. But the temptation is strong....

Bad grammar, but apt.

So what to do when I have no one to talk to? About this, or anything else?

I blog.

Like the previous post, where I reviewed the films I saw in the Best of San Diego screening for the 48. That post rubbed some people the wrong way. Some of the films I loved, some I liked, some I didn't really like. I suppose I should have seen it coming that voicing a less-than-stellar review of someone else's creative work would step on some toes. In my head, I had no intention of toe-stepping. I thought an honest critique would be appreciated, rather than shamelessly (falsely) gushing over every film, in some effort to avoid rocking the boat... so why post reviews at all then, you may ask?

I just told you! I have no one to talk to about these things! I went to the screening alone, came home alone, and wished I had someone to discuss the films with. So I blogged about it. Put a lot of work into that post, it may not seem like it. Talked about each film in some detail, got it all out, shared it. Good, right? Well, no, ungood. Turns out people are suspicious. They think everyone has an agenda, remember? It couldn't just be that someone wanted to chat without malice or ill intent about something as benign as a film screening...

So, yeah.

Pretend all is well? Pretend people are awesome? OK, fine... let's pretend...

Meow! How's things? Oh, peachy friggin keen!


Brief Summary of Things Still In Progress:

BTI filming this month. Momentum script closing in on 200 pages (waaaaay way too long for a feature... gonna be an interesting editing session). Script for Best Dressed Guest having trouble moving past the "detailed notes" stage. The Christmas play for Mt. Zion is alive in concept form in my head, but yet to be written. Another test film set to be filmed with Ryan in the next month or two. He has a strong concept; gonna let him run with the script, and help where I can.

That's it.


Of course, that's not it. Other facets of my life all seem to be vying for my attention by spiraling downward all at once. But you don't need/want to hear about that! I'll save all that for my Invisible Friend! Lucky Him!

So to cheer myself up, I've been watching tons of tsunami videos from the Japan 2011 quake.

Plus, random landslide videos. Those are always cool.

Here's a great song I'm digging a lot lately... "My Name is Human" by Highly Suspect...

And, because great acting always cheers me up, here's the best scene from the film Flight, with Denzel Washington, Kelly Reilly and the magnificent James Badge Dale...

Warning, some foul language, but incredible dialog and acting...

Man, a scene like that does wonders for me... I love that....

So, yeah, all that to say, venting. As in, I needed to vent. So vent I did.

For starters.

Trust me, you don't want me to uncork.

Then again... you're all kinda like my Invisible Friends too, in a way... I don't know who reads this... I can imagine you any way I want. And the version of you that I imagine? That version likes me as I am. And knows I'm not angling for something from you. That version of you sees that I have something valuable to offer, and is willing to put up with my idiosyncrasies in order to make use of it. That I'm just me, trying to slide through life and leave something of substance behind for you to remember me by.

Who knows how much longer I have? 46 years is a lot longer than some people get to live...

We shall see.

Adios for now,

Dave, Vented.

Friday, September 16, 2016

48 Hour Film Festival - Best Of San Diego Screening

This year's 48 Hour Film Festival has come and gone. For the most part, I enjoyed the heck out of it. You can read about my personal experience, as far as the film our little team made, in the previous blog post. I will, however, post the film here for you to watch if you have any interest. It isn't the "director's cut" version I mentioned in the previous post - this is the version we submitted, which the people saw in our screening group.

Props to our cast, especially Kate Schott, for such great performances. I look forward to working with her -- and the rest of the cast -- on future projects. Ryan and I have big plans for future films, including shorts and features. Hopefully we will be involving a substantial number of San Diego acting talent.

So, the Best of San Diego Screening took place 9/15/2016, and it was a buffet of awesome films. I thought I would take the opportunity to review the films, and embed them here (as they are uploaded by the teams) for your enjoyment. Please keep in mind - I am nobody. My opinion, in my little corner of the world, counts for exactly squat. I stress this indelible truth because, in the mood I'm in, I might not limit myself to only positive commentary on each of the submissions... if you happen to be here from one of the teams, and you happen to disagree with a meaningless nitpick I have toward your film, please know that I am no one of any substance. Just a man with a blog who likes films... that's all... I suppose the flip-side of that is that the positives and accolades from me are just as empty, right? ;P

I might as well go in order of appearance... I found artwork where I could, but not every film had poster art...

Again, check back often! I hope to embed all of these films here, once they are available. A few are available now...

by IntelleXual Entertainment

This is a science fiction piece about a man who has family problems, who is then abducted by aliens. The lead actor -- Shane Allen -- had some good moments early on, but when Randy Davison paired with Shane late in the film, it provided the highlight of the film, in a fun scene at a bar toward the end, with some nice banter between them. They work well together. There were little technical quirks here and there (mostly with sound), and the story structure suffered from the "7 minutes or less" rule - it really needed to be ten minutes to make more sense. But there were enough great moments to make it worth the watch.

by The Joelsons

This one received a lot of awards attention, and rightfully so. Great cinematography, especially the opening sequence in the rowboat, and the sequence in the snowfall. The ending sequence in the ambulance was also nice. Great editing. Honestly, the lead actress wasn't consistently convincing, in my opinion. And there were awkward moments where she voiced thoughts that would have been better left unsaid ("I couldn't have only been sleeping that long" "I couldn't have been here for four weeks" etc).... But tons of great visuals, and a nice soundtrack. One little quirk; the background generator noise (AC noise?) when she was in the hotel room was distracting...

by GrooveKo

I loved this one. Very creative. I can't wait until they upload this one online so I can share it with you. Very funny, crisp pacing, solidly acted by the lead actress, great supporting cast. Definitely one of my favorites. A woman tries to find love in a series of virtual reality sessions...  Check it out!

Very creative, well-shot, nice production value. Great performances by the cast (Steve Murawka, Adrianna Glade and Isabella Cuda). I loved the final moment (the mirror shot)... One of my favorite films of the evening. Here is the trailer, until they upload the full film, after which time I will swap them out...

'HUSH' - trailer - FESTIVAL CITY FILMS from Sean Dejecacion on Vimeo.

by State of Flux

This one had some good ideas. For a 48 Hour Film, it's a solid effort. Some great shot choices, funny moments, and nice cars (yay, production value!) added to the viewing, but the performances struck me as a bit too forced for my tastes, and the casting and writing a bit shaky. But it played well in front of a big crowd - I had watched the upload ahead of time, and enjoyed it more on the big screen than on the little screen.

CHECK|MATES from Jake Segraves on Vimeo.

by Bad MF

I had seen the teasers for this one ahead of time, and my expectations were low... it looked super corny... but man, I was surprised at this one. It's a Sports film, about the National Beerpong League Championships, and it was very, very funny. Standouts for me included the announcer team, Team GILF and the two homeless dudes (Mike Brayden and John Allen). But honestly, the whole cast brought it. Great editing, great pacing, great make-up, and lots of laughs. I believe this is the same team that made one of my faves last year, Crowd Sorcery...

by Grudio Pictures

This one grew on me. At first I was off-put by the lighting issues (blown out shots, slipshod reflector use, etc.), but once the story settled into the La Jolla location and the older lady (Lisa Galer?) was introduced, it really took off. Very funny, didn't take itself too seriously, it had fun with the premise... Ultimately, I found it very enjoyable. Here's the trailer - again, when the film is uploaded, check it out here!

Airport Valets Trailer from Grudio Pictures on Vimeo.

by Team Groovy

These were the guys that won it all last year with Under New Management. It has my favorite local actor Joe Hurley in it. It's very well made - this team knows how to shoot a film and make it look great. Lots of great moments, and some cool special effects - but honestly, I think they were hamstrung a bit by the "Superhero" genre... it was a great location and a strong cast (for the most part)... another genre would have let them really stretch their wings. As it was, I think this is a good, solid effort, but not among the standouts for the evening.

Check for yourself!

48 Hour Film Project 2016 - SUPr from Tom Antl on Vimeo.

by 4th Hallway

This film... wow, what can I say about this film? It starts off like a goofy 80's sitcom, complete with bad humor and a laugh track... and it quickly plummets into the darkest of tones... I loved this film. It was so risky, and it paid off. Trying to describe the journey would be impossible... you really need to watch this film... when they upload it, it will be here, for those who dare. Exquisitely creative and ballsy. This was a highlight of the evening for me, big time. Terrific writing and editing - and the actors needed to bring it on several levels, and they friggin nailed it.


And here it is...

"Family in Progress" - 48 Hour Film from David Murakami on Vimeo.


by Satiated Sadists

There was so much to love about this police procedural film. The casting? Perfect. The writing? Outstanding. The acting? Wonderful. The locations, the pacing, the editing.... top notch. If there was an award for Best Supporting Actor, Luke Pensabene would have won it, hands down. He was fantastic. I would have put this film Top 3, easily, if I were judging. Very enjoyable, on just about every level. I cannot wait to watch this one again.

by Alloy

Another strong selection, the two female leads (Cristyn Chandler and Lisa Winans) were both outstanding, and complimented each other fantastically. A relatively-bleak tale about a woman recently released from prison, who finds out that while she's been incarcerated, her life has fallen apart. Some lighting quirks occasionally detracted, as well as occasional odd blocking choices, but overall, one of the best acting treats of the evening.

Here's a quick teaser. Check back soon for the full film.

by Kanari Storm

I was not expecting this... I loved this film. It was so well written, acted and filmed, I had a smile the entire time I watched it. It was sooo dark and funny. The entire cast brought it, and the director (John Freeman) did a terrific job. Top notch. Easily one of my faves. Here's the teaser, though it doesn't convey the comedic tone of the film in the least...

MUG-Teaser Trailer from Robin Martin on Vimeo.

Here is the link to the full version of MUG. Well worth a watching...


by Fallen Light Media

Not much story here - this film seemed to be primarily a showcase for some terrific hand-held camera work. Strong visuals makes the viewing worthwhile, but not much under the hood. Perhaps you'll have a different opinion? Check it out.

PASSED OVER from Ryan Kelly on Vimeo.

by A Focus Group

This is the film that won Best Film for 2016 (they also won back in 2014 for the wonderful Good Ol' Chap). It was certainly well-shot, and had solid acting performances, but I found the script to be a bit cliche and predictable. I certainly enjoyed it, and felt Jon Maxwell's award-winning performance was certainly worthy of acknowledgement, but I was a bit surprised to see it win. That having been said, I think director Ryan Casselman is a legitimate film-making force in San Diego. I look forward to seeing what he does next, whatever it is.

by City Band Productions

I really dig the lead actor in this film (Seth Marshall). He has a great look and seems extremely comfortable in front of the camera. That having been said, I think this film had enough going for it to be included among this group, but only barely. It just seemed undercooked to me, especially the ending. It had some good ideas, but the premise (writer's block) is sort of cliche... It had good moments, though, and it seemed to connect well with the audience. It just didn't really work for me.

Watch it here:

by Four Lazy Guys

I'm still uncertain about this one. It got a lot of love last night - it received a slew of awards... It had a healthy amount of funny moments, but the "overacting for comedic effect" approach didn't click with me. And the story didn't make sense to me in the least... but maybe it wasn't supposed to. They were supposed to choose between "Slapstick" or "Western"... I guess they tried to blend them both, since it strikes me that the film just doesn't know what it wants to be...  I don't know... I realize film appeal is a subjective thing, based on the particular viewer, and it certainly had a legion of admirers last night. But all things considered, I enjoyed last year's Elephant In The Room much, much more... I know this film team is legit, but Bloodline missed me...

Here, see for yourself!

Bloodline from Four Lazy Guys on Vimeo.

That's all of them!

Again, keep in mind, I'm merely one man, a blatant nobody. Your viewing experience may vary - as it apparently varied for the judges...

The winning film last night was Con Boys, with Bloodline and Mug taking the First- and Second-runner-up spots... if I were to rank them, man, it would be tough... I would have voted Fletcher & Jenks, and then maybe Mug and Reality Bites... although Family In Progress, Hush and Loser were close as well...

But again, that was just among those that were chosen to be included in the Best Of screening... it would have been cool to watch all of the on-time films, and pick my own version of the 16 Best... I wonder how different my list would have been (if at all)?

I realize how hard it is to create a film at all in 48 hours, much less a great film. And I know how annoying it must be to have some random yahoo like myself subject your film to scrutiny... I try to mention the positives where possible - each of the films in the line-up had a lot going for them. And heck, I wouldn't mind working with any or all of these teams in the future, on either side of the camera... Kudos to everyone involved - and trust me, that's a ton of people. You should see the endless credits for most of these films... where do these teams find so many people to work on their films?! Sheesh! One team even had four people credited as "Dog Wranglers", lol.... that's awesome...

All that to say, I loved participating again this year. I think the whole 48 Hour Film Festival experience is terrific, and I hope to participate for many more years to come, either as writer, actor or director... we'll see, eh?

Next stop, the 4 Points Film Festival in November!

Again, I hope to ultimately have every film from the Best Of screening viewable here.

Take care,

Dave the Goof

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Post-Mortem: "Final Hour" and the 48 Hour Film Festival

"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, Chuck Windham here with the final few paragraphs of tonight's blog post..."


That's a photo taken during dress rehearsal for Final Hour, the play I've been bombarding you about for the past couple of months... well, we put in our 6 weeks of prep, and had our three shows!

From the day we cast the play (back at the tail end of June), I was in full Enjoyment Mode. I loved working with the cast. I told them from the outset that my focus was going to be on the journey to the stage that we all took together, not (necessarily) the final product that ended up on stage... and those first five weeks were thoroughly enjoyable... we played theater improv games, experimented with the text, had great times of discussion, etc...

But it ended up being a pretty tense final week leading up to our performance dates. There were technical details that were difficult and time-consuming to sort out - which caused my plans for the tech rehearsal and dress rehearsal to need modification on the fly - something I'm not very good at (it turns out, lol)... by the time we got the kinks and details worked out, it was time for opening night - and we still really hadn't had a solid complete run-through yet! Opening night ended up being the dress rehearsal that we really needed to have...

But the show was very well-received, and ultimately, I stressed out over nothing. The cast pulled through and delivered, and the crowd loved it (for the most part). Apparently, no one really knew what to expect from the evening, and were pleasantly surprised at what they saw.

The Saturday show was even better. We were able to make further adjustments based on notes and observations taken from the opening night performance, and it really showed on Saturday. Randy Davison (the lead) gave an outstanding performance, and the supporting cast (Megan Gunsorek, Bailey Shaine and Joe Hurley) were right there with him.

The Sunday show (our final performance) is where I really dropped the ball, as the director. We were riding high from the success of the Saturday performance, and so I decided against keeping the focus ratcheted up, and decided to ease into Sunday, assuming all would go well. I didn't take proper care to keep my cast in the zone before the show, and the performances suffered because of it. Again, my fault, not theirs. Lesson learned.

Overall, I'm really glad we did it. I loved the script and the cast, and the journey to the stage was just what I'd hoped it would be. Great fun and a learning experience. But honestly, I really wish we had been able to take an extra two weeks for additional preparation and polish. There were things about each of the characters that we didn't really have the proper time to explore, which I feel would have elevated the performances even further.

If we ever get a chance to stage it again, I'll know what to focus on!

Here are some more photos...

It was a fun, tense ride and I'm glad we took it. Many thanks to the Great Andrew Ian for making it all possible. Also many thanks to Lamplighter's Community Theater for letting us have access to the venue. We had between 50 and 60 people per night (the place seats 98, I believe). My first foray into professional theater was, I believe, I solid success.


We also did our film for the 48 Hour Film Festival this past weekend!

So Ryan Etzel and I formed a film team called Operation Kino for this year's 48. Ryan had created a film for last year's event, and I contacted him after I saw it, and we connected, and after a series of meetings earlier in the year, decided we'd combine our efforts and make a team. So I brought on my Eldest Daughter as our Assistant Director/Make-up artist, and Middle Daughter as our Director of Photography, and Middle Daughter's Significant Other as our Sound Guy. We then assembled a strong team of actors, and met at my mother's house in Ramona to make a movie!

Ryan and I hammered out the script Friday night, Ryan made some revisions Saturday morning, and we all convened on the Ramona location late morning to begin.

All things considered, the day on set was fantastic. Our cast consisted of Kate Schott, Laine O'Connor, Megan Gunsorek, Andrew Kearns and Ruslan Khanaferov. They were all fantastic, and watching them work was a real treat. We got all of the footage we needed within the space of 8 hours. We then sent the cast home, packed the gear up and headed home to begin the post-production part of the weekend (read: editing).

Ryan busted his butt to get the film finished in time, but we were faced with a series of unforeseen challenges that limited what the final film could have been. It was a great script - but we had only 7 minutes tops to tell it... the film we wanted to tell really needed closer to ten. A lot of good, important content had to be left out in order to try and tell the story in seven. As a result, there were some issues with the final result which really couldn't have been avoided. HOWEVER! We learned what we needed to about our team and where we are strong, and where we need to focus, as far as improving things. So that, in and of itself, made the whole endeavor worth the effort.

We turned the film in (calling it Lost and Found), and it will screen with the rest of the films in Screening Group C on September 7th. But for our own benefit and education, we will be re-cutting the film, without reference to the running time limits, so that we can have a version of the film that works better. And THAT VERSION is the one I will post here for you to watch, whenever that is.

But in the interim, again, I loved the experience. Working with my daughters was amazing. I'll remember it forever.

Here are some photos!

Our Cast: Megan, Kate, Ruslan, Laine, Ryan's arm, and just off the photo to the right, Andrew!

Ryan filming Kate in the blazing heat - a shot we ultimately couldn't use...

Andrew playing with weapons, while Megan looks wistful...

Some of my grandfather's WW2-era items we used as props in the film.

Ryan Etzel: Fearless Director

Andrew Kearns: Fantastic, endlessly-amusing actor.

Andrew conquered the back yard as well!

Ruslan and Kate working on the ending scene, with our 2-camera set-up in play...

Katie and Jon, enjoying their time on set. (I'm photobombing in the mirror...)

Again, I loved the experience, and I look forward to the next film we get to make together. We're working on new ideas already...

Now that the play and the 48 are behind me, I can re-focus on BTI-related filming, and finishing up the Momentum script with Rob Dey. Plus, the Christmas play at Mt. Zion looms!

Maybe we'll do a Christmas film instead...

All that to say, these are great (though busy) days! Can't wait to see what comes next!

Take care, y'all.

Dave the Dave

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Why Yes, My Mind is Like a Beehive! Thanks For Noticing!

Behold, the calm before the storm... or maybe its the clam... I don't know... Bah, I shouldn't have mentioned the clam... that's so shellfish of me...

Greetings, ladies and gentlemen...

As I write this, we're less than a week away from opening night on Final Hour, the play I'm staging with the Great Andrew Ian, and a wonderful cast. Am I nervous? Hard to say... it comes and goes, you know? Some days I think there's nothing I couldn't do... other days? Hide me under the bed, lol...

My focus with my cast has always been on the journey to the stage, rather than the final product... not that I don't care how the final product comes out, I do. I want it to be awesome, of course. But beyond that, my hope the whole time has been that we gel, as a group of artists, and enjoy the ride together, learning and having fun, so that we can take from the journey things that will help us out in future productions. Sounds hipsterish, I know (especially the part where I said "my cast", lol... how pretentious)... but nevertheless, it's what I feel. It's pretty remarkable what we've been able to put together in these 6 weeks between the first rehearsal and the opening performance. I'm proud of these people; I've certainly pushed them...

Anyways, if you're reading this in San Diego and I haven't talked to you in person about the details, you can get the info at my resurrected website Wagnervana. I brought it back and made it my main site for info on the play (and will switch it whenever a new play is in the works). Check it out, and come see us this next weekend in La Mesa! Tickets are cheap!


The rest of what has kept me occupied remains the same as the previous post in June. Ryan E. and I are officially a team for the 48 Hour Film Festival, all registered and entered and stuff. Our team name is Operation Kino (a reference that the Tarantino fans among you will recognize). We have some great equipment, an eager crew, a couple of great locations, and access to some strong acting talent. It's an ideal situation, actually, since we're on no one's radar... we may just sneak into the theater with our film and "blow it up", you know? lol... or not.. depends on the genre we pull... but Ryan is a strong writer (a strong film maker all the way around, actually...). Between the two of us, we should be able to generate a strong script. We'll see!

Still finishing up work on the Momentum script (which has been renamed, actually, but I won't say the new title yet!). I love it. Once I get on the other side of the play and the 48, we'll focus on it in full. Would love to share info with you on it now... but I can't. Soon!

BTI is still set to kick into high gear throughout Sept and Oct. Lots of great news on that front as well, which will have to wait to be relayed to you as well. Here's some new artwork, though, which I love... and a recent (partial) cast photo...

The way my black T-shirt is hanging forward, it makes it look like I've put on 50 lbs, lol... I'm not chubby, it's just the shirt... I'm actually in good shape...

I've had to bump production on my short film Head Hunter into next year.

Other stuff percolating in the background which I may unload on you soonish. Check back for updates!

I hope you're all doing well.

Come see Final Hour!

Adios for now,

Dave the Borderline-Frazzled

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A Raft of Updates - These Are "The Good Days."

Hello there...

June has passed by and I haven't been in here once... of course, that's mainly because I'm super busy! I shall avoid lamenting my absence, and instead update you on all the crazy things I've been doing...

First off, I have my cast set for FINAL HOUR, which is the play that the Great Andrew Ian and I are producing here in San Diego, for Lamplighter's Community Theater in La Mesa..

Here, check out a version of the poster art I've been tinkering with...

I'm trying different variations and different artwork... You're the first people to see it so far! You can't get tickets yet, which is why I haven't blasted this across Facebook yet... I don't want people to go to the Lamplighter's website until we're at least showing up on their calendar, and you can buy a ticket!

I love my cast. I'm super pleased with the rest of the people involved... I can't wait for rehearsals to start in earnest, right after 4th of July. We had our initial cast meeting and table read last weekend. I was all giddy!

Next update: Momentum

The full script is almost finished (the first draft, anyway), and there are things afoot that I probably shouldn't mention at this point (at least until I confer with the illustrious Rob Dey to see what I should and shouldn't talk about online), but I can say that I *may* have some exciting news to share about this project soon...

Next update: BTI

Filming continues on Beyond the Impact, and every new batch of footage gets better than the last... Jeff's plans are evolving and expanding in ways that will surprise many people, I guarantee it... I'm still going to the combat training classes each week - I'm probably in better shape now than I have been in my entire life. Just had Boxing and Conditioning classes today after work... I will sleep well tonight, I know... Anyways, I know BTI will be worth the wait. Trust me, it would be unwise to rush this... we need to get it right.

Next update: the 48 Hour Film Festival

So my good friend Ryan E. and I are assembling a film team, with an eye toward making short films and feature films locally. Part of that process is to set our sights on participating in the 48 Hour Film Festival in August. This past Sunday (after the table read for Final Hour) a couple of the actors stayed with us for an extra couple of hours, while we shot a short script that Ryan had written, which he is editing this week, as a test to see what we can accomplish with the tools and people we have at hand... the idea being that we can then find out where our weaknesses are and shore them up (if needed) over the next few weeks.

Megan, Jon, Katie and Ryan, on set last weekend...

My Eldest and Middle Daughters are part of the film team, as well as Katie's significant other Jon A. Katie is our Director of Photography, Chris is our Assistant Director and Jon is our sound guy. I can't tell you how happy I am that my sweeties want to participate. We'll make it a family business! Plus, we've secured a fabulous location to shoot the 48 at, and I've got WAAAY too many actors and actresses that want to work with us on it... Ryan wants to keep it smallish this time around, so it will be hard to decide who to use and who to save for other film projects we want to do next...

Next Update: Head Hunter

Actually, the hope is to use the team we're creating to film my first short film Head Hunter in the Fall sometime. I already have my cast set, and the script is ready to rock. When we get closer, I'll give y'all more info.

There are other things coming, including our next play (called Best Dressed Guest, in October), the Christmas play at Mt. Zion, and a potentially huge and exciting screenwriting project that I can't talk about yet. So wow... everything is firing on all cylinders for me, as far as entertainment stuff. It's very humbling. I feel ridiculously blessed. I want to hold it all in an open hand before God... hey, He gives, He takes away, right? I want to enjoy it all while it's here, but be ready for whatever He wants to do...

All that to say, these are The Good Days...

Here, watch this video of Bo Burnham, from his latest show Make Happy (on Netflix at the moment)... it has a little bit of language in it here and there, but try to ignore it if that bothers you... I don't want to spoil it for you, just watch it. Trust me, it goes from irreverent to powerful in a beautiful way...

Man, I must have watched that a hundred times... the full show has some cool stuff, but that ending - as well as the song he plays backstage after this segment here - is almost staggering to me. The honesty. I love it. I want to emulate that, with the stuff I do...

One thing I've been doing very little of lately is novel reading... my fiction intake has tapered off dramatically. I hope I'm not losing the reading bug! I still have like 400 more unread books in my digital library, and about 50 others I want to read again!

OK, I guess that's all for now. I hope you're all doing great. I'm riding high, it's a great feeling. I'd love to know y'all are riding high as well...

Adios for now,

Dave, from the Clouds