52 Weeks of Creative: Week 1

This was a very weird way to start my 52 weeks.  Firstly, I have an eye-infection that brought me a lot of pain the last few days.  Had to go to a doctor and everything.  That was very unexpected.  Never had one of those before.

Don’t start copying me, ya’ll.  It’s not as fun as I’m sure I made it sound.

Secondly, I picked a creative project that I have never done before.  The goal was to write and illustrate a children’s picture book.  This required the conceptualizing and drawing of over 19 pictures, partially colored.

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At the end of all this madness, I realized that designing a complete children’s PRINTABLE book was beyond my ability and software ability at the moment.  So I settled for a sorta comic-book, internet-illustrated story approach.  Some people may have a lot of experience with photoshop for this kind of thing, but I didn’t.  I didn’t even know how to import a picture into a separate project file.

But I finished the story and the pictures and the importing and combining and cleaning up and…well, I finished my first week of 52 creative projects.  And I guess it’s time to lay some ground rules:

1.  Must finish by 12am on Sunday of the week.

2.  Must accept a CHALLENGING project, not something like “draw one picture of a dude.”

3.  Must post by the following Monday.

4.  May work with others on any project.

5.  May work in area of expertise, as long as the project still offers a degree of complexity.

And here is my finished project of Week 1:  (View as a gallery.  The single-file version won’t upload at a high enough level.)

Inspired by and dedicated to my cousin, Sarah.  Thank you for Markus.

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Writing in Public

Was sitting in that coffee place yesterday, working on a screenplay.  After a little while, my director dude, producer of all, man-in-charge showed up.  We proceeded to speak in-depth about the screenplay: story problems, actors, special effects, shooting time, budget and other things I might not remember at this moment.

We segued into an animated discussion of space travel and ship design and how long it takes to get to Venus.  With two such scifi nerds as us, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  I think we only heatedly disagreed on the age of the characters.

While we were talking, loudly and in public, the guy at the table next to us piped in.  He explained that he was retired military.  He informed us that the government never denied the existence of alien spacecraft and that way back when he was in the military they had things like iPads, except they were more advanced.  He concluded that there was advanced alien technology here on earth.

Okay, thanks.

I looked at my director/big cheese to gauge his reaction to all this.  He just smiled good-naturedly and thanked the man for his input.

It made me wonder, how many cultures in the world would allow perfect strangers the opportunity to converse about government conspiracies?  I happen to be writing a script about aliens.  He happens to be ex-military and know about aliens and UFOs.  What are the odds that we would sit next to each other in that coffee place?

This is another great reason to write in public.  You never know who you might meet.  They may make a better story than the one you’re slaving over.

48 Hours

The 48 Hour Film Project (48hourfilm.com).  Some might call us crazy, others might call us genius.  We are the people who write, film and edit a movie in 48 hours.

This past weekend the Kansas City 48 boasted 300 participants filming all across the city.  That sounds like a high number, but I think it was well under the real amount.  21 teams were signed up for the project.  My team had 5o people, counting actors.  If every team had 50 people (many might have had more or less) that’s 1,050 people involved in films this weekend.

My team drew sci-fi.  I cheered and ran around the room.  I promise I’m a reasonable adult.

Every team draws a different genre.  Every team is given the same character, prop and line of dialog.  All of these things are unknown until 6:30pm, Friday.  They have until 7:30pm on Sunday to create a movie that is between 4 and 7 minutes long.

You learn to write fast and have ideas ahead of time.

I co-wrote a sci-fi script with a playwright, which was weird and slightly advantageous.  If screenwriters are supposed to be good at writing images, playwrights should’ve mastered the art of dialog.  Together, we formed a slightly eccentric writing team that was able to produce a 5 page script before midnight.

An alien script, too.

Shooting commenced at 10am on Saturday and ended by 9pm.  This is actually an average day for filmmaking, but that night was anything but average.  The editors worked through the darkness.  I went home and slept.  When I returned on Sunday morning to our H.Q., I found that the majority of the film was done.  Some touch-ups and tweaking would improve it, but it didn’t look like 7:30pm would be an issue.

Then I discovered how much we had to go on special effects.

Sunday became a very long day of waiting.  I was a writer for this project.  What could I do to help speed up the editing?  6pm rolled around and we were still exporting.  6:30.  Still exporting.  7pm.  The director and producers ran out the door and sped to the drop-off point, burning a DVD in the car on the way, no time to double-check the film.

They made it with 3 minutes to spare.

Then they watched the film.  I was gone at this point.  I couldn’t take the waiting anymore.  I was safely at home, ready for some Olympics.  That’s when I got the texts.  “The sound is messed up and they forgot the subtitles.”  “Some of the scenes were cut off oddly and they cut out the line.”

They cut out the line.  That meant we were disqualified from winning.  You have to have all the elements to win.  Our dreams of Filmapalooza were dashed.  Dead.

48 hours of little sleep, little food, little down time and we were left with…what?  No chance for the prize?  I guess so.  But we did make a movie.  And with some corrections it’s pretty kick-butt.  Not to mention it’s still being shown with all the other finished films from this weekend.

Thinking back to the moment when we were given sci-fi, I have to smile.  All that cheering and excitement.  All that planning and writing and filming and editing and chatting and laughing and racing…48 hours of film.

I wouldn’t miss it for anything.