Saturday, January 21, 2006

Coppola, Scorsese...Heckman?

Actually, probably more like Wood, Smithee, Heckman.

I am now enrolled in the Northwest Film School class "Art of Filmmaking."

The weapon of choice: a Canon Super 8mm camera. I can't look at one of these things without remembering all the vacations my family used to take together in the days of my yoot. Dad was a private pilot, so sometimes rather than travel in our mighty AMC Rambler Ambassador (how we fit two adults and five kids in that thing, I'll never know), we would pile instead into a small airplane and fly somewhere. Cozumel Mexico was the trip that has most insidiously lodged itself in my brain -- mark ye, this was not the tourist trap Cozumel of today, but rather the half-jungle, up-and-coming backwater Cozumel of 1974). Because we flew there in a small plane (in this instance, an Aero Commander, known affectionately as the "Pregnant Guppy"), we had to make several stops. Dad had a Super 8 movie camera, and he seemed to take endless pleasure in taking long, circular pans of the tarmac whenever we touched down. Like Terrence Malick , my Dad had a singular style all his own. One could recognize one of his loving tarmac pans instantly.

Anyway. My first assignment is to record an activity I do every day. We are allowed only one film canister for the first assignment, which is good because they cost something like $14 each, for 3 minutes and 20 seconds of film. No wonder movie making is so expensive!

I'm not sure yet what I'm going to try to record, but I do know that our film is developed and transferred to a digital medium for editing. If so, perhaps I can post my opuses (opusi? opuscenti?) on my web site.

Let's hope I can turn in better results than Dad's mighty "tarmac pans."

Monday, January 09, 2006

Net Effect

Last year, I posted about how I used to get so much more done and be so much more creative. In the "old days," I had a full-time job, yet I still managed to be in two regularly gigging bands (writing all the music for one of them and a fair amount for the other). When I went part-time at my job, I took piano lessons and played in a band, in addition to cycling a few dozen miles every week and working out at a local health club.

In that long ago post, I conjectured that my decline in creativity was tied to the fact that I was drinking more frequently than I used to, so I adopted a straight-edge lifestyle for a while. While that experiment was beneficial in a lot of ways, it didn't necessarily help boost my creativity. Even though I don't have to try to fit time in around a full time job now, I'm still not being as productive as I was when I was racing with the rats.

Like many folks, I try to come up with some useful resolutions at the coming of each new year, and one of mine for 2006 was to figure out how to be more creatively productive -- write more, compose more, read more -- and identify obstacles to those aims.

And then it hit me. The reason, I believe, that I was more productive in my younger days is simple. I had no computer! In fact, for some of the period that I reflected back on, the Internet itself did not exist, at least not as people think of it now.

It is absolutely amazing how much time I spend in front of this damn thing. And the "net effect," as it were, leads to scenes like this:

I won't go into what I spend my time futzing around with, because it's not important. And I mean that in every way. It's not important to relate, and the things I occupy myself with aren't important, either. Okay, I'll give you one example, to illustrate how mindless my computing time is: I spend a lot of time playing "Spider solitaire." The medium level, which is just enough to be challenging, but not so hard as to be frustrating. Folks, that's just pathetic.

So, this is my resolution: one hour of mindless computing per day. Beyond that, when I spend time in front of the computer, I must have a productive purpose for doing so -- checking e-mail, firing up the home studio, researching a writing topic. (I would include blog updates in the "productive purpose" category.) Because all work and no play makes Jack a bat-shit-insane son-of-a-bitch, I will allow myself one hour a day to go on-line and play -- mostly because I'd DIE without being able to watch Homestar every Monday or "The Daily Show" clips. But one hour a day is it.

This, I hope, will force me to fill my time in better ways -- exercise, composing, hell even taking the dog for additional walks would be a better use of time.

It'll be hard at first, I know. I'm probably as accustomed to reading articles about the Chicago Bears as I am to drinking coffee, and that's saying something. But like many artists, I must fool myself into working. That, or be threatened with starvation, bodily harm or a deadline.

Anyway, wish me luck!