Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Start a Story Super Linking Fun Times!

Celebrate the weirdness with me! Go see some new fiction made by me with the help of the fabulous www.startastory.com. To see the rest of my Heart Story (see pic) click here. To see my comic genius in Family Rivalry (there is a grammatical boo boo I didn't fix in it, but humor me), click here. Nonetheless, go to startastory and join a project - get your creative mojo flowin,' suckas! Or just look around, you studly voyeur, you.

As promised, I am also posting more info about the new Michel Gondry flick, The Science of Sleep. If you want to see the trailer, click here to check out my last post.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Fire and Ice: Not a new mint, but some sweet eye candy

The animated progeny of Ralph Bakshi and Frank Frazetta has recently been released on DVD by Blue Underground. (Relatively recently: at the end of last year, fall-ish). And is it worth the bite? Definitely.

First, you need to excuse the story...heavily. After a lengthy exposition in the beginning, there is virtually no interesting plot remaining: Ice guys hate Fire guys, Ice guys kidnap fire girl, scene. There are, seriously, approximately fifteen lines of dialogue after this; I'm not kidding. But be lenient, 'cause there are a lot of other delights hidden within the film.

First of all, there's the amazing rotoscoping. "What is rotoscoping?" you may ask. Well, when you rotoscope you shoot, on film or video, footage of flesh and blood actors performing the required action for a scene. Then, an animator somehow traces the image to use as a reference for their animation - occasionally exaggerating or emphasizing the action according to the desired product. In Fire and Ice, they rotoscoped with photocopied images that they traced with paper. Some people trace over a projected image. In the upcoming film A Scanner Darkly animators digitally painted over the image in their computers. (This also happened in Waking Life).

Okay, so now that you know what rotoscoping is, know that rotoscoped films look GREAT! There is a realism, particularly when characters perform turn-arounds or 360 degree movements, that is fascinating to watch. Fire and Ice is rotoscoped, then had a Frank Frazetta stylization applied to the character design which made the images extra tasty.

If you don't know who Frank Frazetta is, he is the wonderful realistic-style fantasy illustrator that was responsible for the Conan the Barbarian films being made - without his inspiring book covers the series wouldn't have sold, and the craze for sword and sandals wouldn't have come about (again, before fading) during the eighties. That's just one of his accomplishments. Go google the man. He's, well, the man.

But back to Fire and Ice.

To sum up, in this film you will see:

Man ass. Lots of it. Don't be scared, though, you homophobic guys, 'cause there is plenty of lady booty and booby lying around, too. Even a brief wet T-shirt contest-type scene. Essentially, the female protagonist was made to get captured, and flash her charms all across the jungle. Be prepared to be disappointed in her: despite her early claims of wanting to kick some ass, she is far from being an ass-kicker.

Apart from the booty, it gets bloody! Witness violence, also lots of it. The action is constant in this film, and decently graphic, but not gory for the faint of heart. Look out for a Batman-type guy with a jaguar hat - he's the strong, silent type willing to go up against fifty baddies without breaking a sweat. Intimidated? You should be! He's wearing a jaguar hat!

All the female characters will disappoint you, including the interesting witch in the hut. Her acting is bizarre, and she saddened me in all sorts of ways: namely, I wanted to see at least ONE bad ass chica, to no avail.

Neat fact: Thomas Kincade, the "painter of light," painted some of the backgrounds in this violent, panty-flashing epic. Good for you, Tommy!

So go out and rent it or buy it before, like the jaguars, this film is extinct (this Blue Underground release was a limited run). The artistry and technique of the film make it cinematic artwork at its finest. The violence and sexy anatomy make it easy to watch - despite the lack of an interesting story.

This post was previously published at campushopper.com.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Don't Deliver Us From Evil, Deliver Us Some Pizza Already!

Mondo Macabro has decided to release yet another horror flick that has yet to work its way into the filmic consciousness - namely, Don't Deliver Us From Evil. If you want to read an in-depth synopsis of it, go to International Walnut for the scoop (no walnuts on mine, please - extra cherries will do). I am here merely to offer the problems I had with it.

O.K., so two young girls with too much time on their hands and too much Satan on the brain - I know, I know, there can never be enough Satan on the brain, can there? - decide to dedicate their lives to sin. And do so by tormenting people (fine) and then tormenting animals (hey!) - namely, poisoning/torturing some caged birds. If the filmmakers had really killed the birds, I would be totally hating the film at this point. Luckily, they only drugged the lil' critters. But still, the scene made me absolutely loathe the protagonists, and wish for their subsequent rapes and disembowelments - which, alas, failed to pass. As a feminist, I rarely wish rape on a character in a film. What disappointed me about these wicked children is the fact that they were so very, well, stupid. They were rich, bored children who claimed that their parents didn't love them and spent their time alternately pouting and riding their bicycles through the streets (if they'd been older they would have been in sportscars). Smart evil I can appreciate. I love a good serial killer with a highly developed intelligence that gives me the shivers in a cine flick, but I dislike it when we are left to follow the tales of the kids who constantly giggle in the back of the class and somehow end up armed. Uck. Why do I dislike it so? Because that is, unfortunately, what reality is composed of. The intelligent people never end up exacting violent revenge on the idiots of the globe, nope, instead it's always the dingleberry who gets tossed a loaded gun and a can of Cheez Whiz. So in essence, I failed to escape to anywhere fun in this film. Instead, my constant anxieties about the injustices and stupidity of society waxed in my brain while I prayed for violence to at least come about and distract me for a good five minutes or so. Well, violence not directed towards animals, at least. But lo! Disappointment abounded while Joel Seria made the girls do the evil things that children quite often do in the real world, and threw in a few rounds of Hit-the-Catholic just for good measure (as he explains in his interview, he had bad experiences with the church, so makes sure to enact a few Catholic-specific blasphemies of a mundane sort - namely a made-up Black Mass and some host-tossing in a lake).

The sexuality of the girls was ambiguous - no buxom Vampire Lovers a la Hammer in this one - but plenty of cockteasing fodder for men who love the prepubescent/underage crowd. Which is a fetish that I can't even understand. Underage boys inspire my need to nurture and lecture (depending on whether they're hungry or tracking mud in the house), not to hump. Underage girls should do the same for men, but instead society loves to emphasize the taboo for God-only-knows (well, maybe some sociologists might care to expound, too) what reason.

So I left this film feeling: A: bored - the first 40 minutes really made me want to sleep, but the cheesy music kept me awake. And B: annoyed - must we keep Catholic-bashing, animal torturing, and arming the people who would normally have been eliminated through natural selection if it weren't for hospitals and electricity?

The one cool thing: the girls reading Maldoror in bed. I loved that book.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Michel Gondry's latest flick

Wanna see it? The stop motion animation is pretty fun. When I know more I'll let you know - enjoy!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Pitching Technique

Well, finals are over. I (along with my fellow Imagineer classmates at UCLA) pitched in front of the big kids - Marty Sklar et. al....you know, the Disney people that make everything beautiful, exciting, and dreamlike at all the Disneylands. And wow, did we rock. The only negative comments we recieved on the pitch had to do with personal preferences (we used a sort of symbolic technology - in the shape of a key - that one Imagineer disliked, but stated that, at the end of our pitch, we had "sold him on it"). After the long weekend I pulled churning out drawings right and left (backgrounds for my film, illustrations for the pitch) I felt so blissful and content. I hugged any of my group members within arm's reach and drank a glass of red wine the foolish Disneyites provided us with - along with a scoopful of quite possibly the most amazing guacamole I've ever tasted. So, yes, it was a good day. In particular we received comments such as: we told a great story/we stuck with our metaphors and really told the story well, our tone was even (despite the fact that five different people were pitching), the colors in our palette really "woke up" someone's eyes...I felt so very, very happy. The library I have always fantasized about making (with a few alterations, innovations, and great ideas tacked on - this was after all a group project) was approved by Imagineers.

Needless to say, this Disneyland-addicted ex-librarian was in some type of otherworldly state afterwards. The wine was just a sackful of sprinkles on top of the ice cream of my delight.

The most important thing, of course, (which they reminded us of) is that I have pitched in front of the best of the best - the elite. Nothing else will ever be harder to do than that. Things may definitely be on par with this, yes (and hopefully will be), but they will never be a tougher audience, or a more intimidating one.

So the pic is one of my favourites from the pitch - it's a garden (obviously) - and I'm pretty much the chica ex librus (my Latin is horrible, so I have no idea what I just wrote. Go public education!). I would be very content to be in that garden right now, needless to say.

In case you ever get the chance, I would highly recommend the class that led to my pitch-nirvana - it's a UCLA course called the "Art of Entertainment Design" or something like that, and is in the 400s in the Theater section. It's also offered through the Film department, but I can't recall even vaguely what the course number was. Maybe the 100s? I have no idea.

O.K., so this entry, (though highly parenthetical, in case you had somehow failed to notice) had very little to no conflict and would never sell in Hollywood - not even as the random scrawling on the walls at Starbucks. But wait, there's more yet to come! Stay tuned, kiddles, and I will (briefly) write about Mondo Macabro's new release Don't Deliver Us From Evil. If that doesn't sell you, just take a look back at Mr. Grapes. He's friggin' adorable, man.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Meet Mr. Grapes

Mr. Grapes would like to wish you a Happy St. Patrick's Day, even if you're not Irish. In fact, if you're not Irish, he would like to buy you a beer and commiserate, because he's not Irish either. He's Dutch.

He's not a big fan of "The King of Beers," though. If I were you I'd order a really expensive stout 'cause if Mr. Grapes is buying, you should be flying.

Mr. Grapes wanted me to tell you that he likes your hat. He wouldn't tell me which one, he just pointed out that I should write it down, so I am.

Mr. Grapes would also like to point out that he's going to be debuting in the next issue of eyeline-->/<--fracture, which is available for sale in two locations in Los Angeles: namely Hi-De-Ho comics in Santa Monica at 525 Santa Monica Blvd., zip code 90401, AND the Village Center Newstand at 10902 Kinross Ave., zip code 90024, in Westwood. Or you could send an email to eyelinefracture@yahoo.com. Either way.

He also wants to know where you got your shoes from. He thinks they're snappy.

Let's Learn About Herzog!

"It is not a significant bullet." - Werner Herzog

The link above will lead you to an article about an incident that happened in February. Why am I posting it now? It still makes me laugh so, so hard.

And who is Werner Herzog, you may ask - well, he is probably one of the most honestly biased documentarians out there. Unlike many documentarians, who attempt to hide their opinions and prejudices behind a facade of "truth," Herzog's opinions flow like water in just about every documentary he's ever made. Nature, to him, is not something cuddly and anthropomorphic, but cruel, mindless, and violent. Unfazed by much of life's hazards, he has tried to move a ship over an extremely muddy and steep mountain, rescued a famous actor from a wrecked car, and eaten his own shoe, as well as dealt with the tempestuous and diva-esque Klaus Kinski. He has also directed feature fiction titles as well (hence the Klaus Kinski in most respects). What I love most about this man is the fact that he is not a slacker, he is an ass-kicker. If you are one of those people who bury yourself in excuses when it comes to why you're not making a film or being creative, he has no time for you. Because, my friend, if you love something - like creation - so incredibly much, there is no excuse. You're merely stalling, afraid of failing, and so trying to protect yourself from criticism. You can be an amazing filmmaker if you've never made a film, but once you've made a film, you are open to scorn and critique. In short, you could quickly discover that you are, in fact, a terrible filmmaker (or artist, or writer, etcetera), and that you should probably stick to dealing out paper bags at the grocery store for the rest of your life.

In brief, most people are cowards. Herzog is not, but he's not being elitist about it - he wants everyone to stop being cowards, and start being human.

Or at least that's my spin on things.

The pic is from a pitch I did today for my Imagineering class, concerning a "library of the (near) future." I actually went to the Imagineering building today to pitch it, and my group was extremely successful! My next post will share more enticing tidbits about the day there. Enjoy.

(On a side note, I know it's not a very polished image, but I sort of adopted a very loose, sketchy style for this project that's pretty reminiscent of my rough story boards) Enough excuses. You like it. ;P

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Attack of the Book People!

The image above is the first page from a comic I illustrated, but did not write, from my zine eyeline-->/<---fracture. Want a copy? Email me at eyelinefracture@yahoo.com. It's $3.75, plus shipping (which'll be what? A buck? A buck fifty?). That's my shameless self-promotion of the day. So here is something that I actually wrote in another blog a while ago (at Campushopper.com). Two things struck me as wildly appropriate about this entry. One: I still don't spend much time away from my bedroom or the animation lab, the exception being the weekends, and two: I really wish people were this way.

"Finally, I return from the dead! Or something!

Lately, all my days have been oddly similar: wake up, stare at a computer and make with the creative business, eat something hideous from the vending machine or a local crap food place, go to class and attempt to learn new stuff about computers, and go to sleep (hopefully waiting until I get home, not just crashing in the middle of a lecture). My email time/free time has depleted mightily, but I am devouring books as my time spent on the bus increases exponentially. What is psychotic about my days, however, is that most of them are spent in the same two rooms: the animation lab, and my bedroom. Needless to say, this is incredibly monotonous. Fear not, however, I am easily retreating inside my wee brain a lot, which is incredibly spacious and prime real estate - the market values are astonishing! Good thing I bought the lots out years ago and had the sense to develop.

In other news, I love people. Well, I love friendly people. Chatting and getting to know people is amazing good times. I love hearing about problems, doubts, exclamations of joy, and secrets. I love being able to console someone or perk them up a bit, or laugh at a good joke. You know what sucks, though? Getting to that point. First you have to peel away the fears of rejection and bigamy, the prejudices and all the other social cagey crap. It takes so long, and I always want to jump into people as if they were books: first page, in the middle of the inciting incident, bam!

But people, alas, just aren't publishable."

I really do wish people were like books. A lot of times people talk to me, especially about the sadder things going on in their lives, and I really don't know what to say. I like to listen, but when it's my turn to give advice or consolation, I come up empty. I want to say this: "Cheer up! Let's just live in the now and have an excellent time being silly and nonsensical and ride the zeitgeist of happy good times!" ...Alas, most people don't seem to take too kindly to this sort of talk. They want more examination of their problems, further probing, greater amounts of sadness to sort of mush around in. I think this is because a lot of people don't sort out the bad things in their own heads very well. They want lots of affirmation that they're in the right and that type of thing. When I have crappy days, I'm always waiting for someone to laugh and say something along the lines of "Cheer up! Let's go wear silly hats at a really swank restaurant and order ice cream until we get sick!" But everyone seems to think I want sympathy. Not so. I am just looking for a fellow shaker...well, O.K., and maybe some hugs. But everybody likes hugs. Or at least liked hugs before something terribly tragic and traumatic altered their hug-loving ways.

If people were books, you could skip ahead to the good parts.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

On Deafness, BAND OF NINJA, the Monorail game, and Ten Dollar Words

I'd like to begin by saying that I don't intend to turn this blog into a diary. I already have a diary (sort of), and it's a notebook I write in about a dozen times a year or so and then sort of ignore as the work (imposed by both me and the need for a paycheck) overwhelms. But every once in a while the need to blab occurs, so here we go.

To start with, the pic is one of my creations. It's actually a Photoshop medley of four different photos I took, one of my nephew Dylan, two of the goldfish ponds in front of a sushi restaurant in Marina Del Rey, and one of a skeleton in front of a nifty lil' shop of dead things in New York (not Necromance, but similar to Necromance...I think. What the hell. It was about four years ago).

Last night I went out dancing at a trance club in Hollywood and today I am somewhat deaf. This saddens me pretty deeply. The ringing in my left ear represents all this hearing that I've lost just because I wanted to go shake my ass in a rhythmic way where it's publically acceptable. Think about that. I mean, you can't go shake your ass at Marie Callendar's or something. I've seen a guy do that at a bus stop once, but come on, it was pretty uncomfortable for all of us out there who had to wait for the bus. Plus I never got to say goodbye to the hearing that left. That sucked. I kind of need a ritual of some sort. Hmm.

I saw a film tonight called Band of Ninja, which is a filmed manga by Nagisa Oshima from 1967. The screening was special because the film is an absolute rarity - now, it's not an animated film, but photographed pages of a comic book shot in a dynamic way with sound effects and dialogue. It was really very effective, and reminiscent of animatics made for films today, which are of course generally filmed (or scanned, whatever) storyboard panels. The story itself was pretty interesting, but the structure of the film seemed a bit rough, and could have used some editing. Of course, it's already the condensation of a 16 volume manga, so who am I to say what needs to go, but still. Also, because the version I saw was not subtitled, or exactly dubbed, but instead had a sort of narrator explaining what went on, I missed out on some dialogue. All I could pick up from my bygone summer of studying Japanese were exclamations of "Nani!?!" and "Yokatta! Yokatta ne!" (roughly - What!?! and I'm so happy you're not dead!). If you ever get a chance to see it, I'd recommend it. The drawings are incredibly vivid and filled with lively caricature and effortless realism - a divine combination. Plus, although the revenge plot is a yawn, the story of how the family of Kage (don't quote me on that, I had a milkshake afterwards so everything got all fuzzy on me) got formed is incredibly humorous and fun, although weirdly positioned in the plot. If you're a fan of his films, or you just love weird stuff, don't forget to check out Realm of the Senses - it's a sexually explicit version of a legendary Japanese love story. It's live action, and hardcore, with "real" actors getting it on in front of the camera. But wait, there's also amazing good times to be had with a realistic castration scene a la Cannibal Holocaust.

On a different bent, I went to Disneyland and bought a re-release of The Monorail Game (assume that it's trademarked, kids)! Good times are to be had as I chase Casey Jr. around the track, in the hopes that I don't get beaten...well, essentially by myself. Hey, it'll be fun! I'm drinking appletinis!!!

Oh, and here's something to bitch about: I absolutely loathe it when people try to put you down for having a large vocabulary. What are they trying to be? The poster children for illiteracy? Why call words that have, on average, more letters than say five or six "ten dollar words"? Education is free - there's a library down the street, and if you live in America, chances are you got through grade school. Please. Some people actually do read books and know words that, well, you just probably don't know. Deal with it by picking up a goddamn book and reading a little yourself. Don't be the whiny bitch that I want to slap. At the very least try and fake it by getting a copy of Word Power or something.

Of course, the random internet message boarders who should taste my ire probably won't read this, but that's the lonely burden I have to bear. 'Cause frankly, I don't believe in posting...maybe in time I'll get more irritated and I'll turn into a postwhore, but for the most part I just ain't a fan.

O.K. I'm done. You can move on now, you handsome devil.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Sound of One Mind Snapping

Work is remarkably dull - even creative work can quickly become routine. Especially animation. So here I am giving myself a little break in the five hour work-a-thon I've been holding at school. Where I'm still staring at a monitor. Possibly not the best idea for something that is supposed to supply variety...moving on. Because, yes, I'm just refusing to think about that right now. Since I'm working on backgrounds today, I thought I'd post one. I like it (of course). You may not. That's O.K. I got a fuzzy, squishy feeling after making it. Hmmm, I'm thinking the feeling wasn't supposed to be a squishy one. Uh, did I mention it's been a while since I've had a break? Well, at least I'm alone in the lab so the smell shouldn't bother anyone...

You know you're tired when potty humor makes a debut. Jeez.

Oh, and I'll post a poem since I've promised fiction and so far delivered exactly zippo (and that ain't a lighter). Ready to read some crappy poetry? Well, you're shit out of luck because I don't have any. Witness instead the poetry that is...written by me. So obviously not crappy. Dur.

Green is the curling, writhing thing
burn yourself, but the green thing grows
green is the color behind your eyes
though you tightly shut them closed

though flesh is weak, the green is strong
it cuts and strangles out its song
from throats of men in their knot-throng
(bubbles of blood patriotic and long)

Brown is the color the green thing fears
it cloys in prickles, and gusts like gashes
though green may fly, fright, and struggle
dun, apathetic, settles in the ashes.

Friday, March 03, 2006

the Good News (Lasseter, etcetera)

Far from Biblical, the announcement that Lasseter is attempting to reinstate a feature 2D animation department at Disney still struck me as something spiritual. Aah, the universe can now ring harmonious and yodel joyously at last. This isn't to say that I missed the sight of such atrocities as the vanilla Home on the Range or Treasure Planet at the box offices, but hopefully with the new Disney government good story shall triumph once again over evil banality. More Lion King than Hunchback, shall we say.

Personally, I am in the middle of correcting a scene in my (still untitled) animated monstrosity. The movement of a hand is bothering me by looking too noticeable. It's funny that the smallest details, how noticeable something is, etcetera - can seriously distract, and ultimately detract, from the story. If anything pulls the viewer/reader out of the story, and off on some unrelated mental path, then the storyteller has failed, no matter what the medium is. So I labor to correct the small things, in the hopes of making my tale all the more compelling.

The pic for today is actually from a previous film I've made that I'm extremely proud of, entitled Mora Bund. The name comes from the word 'moribund,' and I'll save you the trouble by saying that it means roughly to be in a dying state or condition. The film is a short experimental piece about a dead girl, old men playing kazoos, and probably the cutest dead fox's head to ever star on celluloid. Alas, I've only submitted that piece to one festival (which rejected it - boo), but I really need to get on the ball about that whole withoutabox.com thing. (Go there if you're a student filmmaker like me and you will find probably the easiest website in existence for submitting your short film to multiple festivals...or so I've been told.) Of course, to submit to festivals you need money, which is what I'm currently working on accumulating. Slowly. Agonizingly slowly.

Animation information for the uninitiated: in animation, a scene is actually one shot in filmmaking terms (a shot being defined as a length of film ended and begun by a cut or other film transition). So, when I say I'm working on a scene, I'm actually working on a four second shot. I learned live action filmmaking terms first, so when someone asked me about a scene, I used to describe all the series of shots that take place in one location...which is correct if you made The Godfather and not Bambi. The animator would look baffled and glazed over for a moment, then correct me, and say that they weren't talking about multiple shots, but the scene...this would continue for a while until they gave up. Eventually, I learned, but still haven't figured out what a scene (a bunch of shots taking place in one location) would be called by animators. Multiple scenes? An act is far too many scenes, so that can't be it. I'm not sure there really is a word for it. Personally, I think animators started calling shots "scenes" when they started feeling as if the animated path before them was too ominously long, and they wanted to feel like they'd actually accomplished something. Hard to say.