#CoffeeDate No. 2, Video Village

It’s a little over a year to the day since our last #coffeedate. And oh my, it’s been a year.

If we were having coffee…

We’d be sitting at video village, in the parking lot of an apartment complex in northeast Atlanta. It’s 7:00PM, and there’s something very comforting about being on set.

We’re surrounded by dozens of people, and tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment, a lot of which I have no idea how it works. Everyone is working away – like a hive, each job different but no less important to the final product – a terabyte or so of digital information, sent away to another group of equally important worker bees.

Controlled chaos. And we’re sitting in the center.

I’m right in the middle of a move to the Big Peach – for work – and while I’ve been dragging my feet about it for a few years, now it’s all happening as if to make up for the lost time. But sitting here, right now, I’m at peace. My budget is taking quite a hit – cost of living is going up quite a bit. But sitting here, in a director’s chair under a tent in a parking lot at 7:00PM with a cup of coffee – I’m exactly where I want to be.

Let’s go.

 

TF

Story of My Life

We should go ahead and just relabel this series an ‘About the Author’. The Liebster Award has long left me behind, nodding on to other writers much more prolific (and timely) than I.

For anyone who’s still following:

1) Thanks! I appreciate you.

2) We know by now that my career is my first priority. Always. For that reason, I’ve knowingly put some parts of my life on hold. The debate about the pros and cons of that is for another post, but I ask that you don’t give up on me! Writing sits always at the back of my mind, constantly brewing. One day sharing my thoughts and ideas with the world will be my job.

One day.

Right now, everything I do is to make me a better storyteller. That often means prioritizing my time – to work, learn, and have some semblance of a life so I don’t turn into a zombie. Which leads me to the next question in our series:

Liebster Award Question #3: What are your favorite pastimes besides blogging?

My life can easily get consumed by The Work*, so I put a lot of effort into keeping up with the things that are important to me. This blog is one of them. But besides that-

  • I like to read the news every morning. It makes me feel accomplished. And I think it’s important to stay informed about what’s going on in the world – what’s real – when you make fake shit for a living. (Also good for striking up conversations at the coffee shop.)
  • I enjoy getting my fitness on. Working long and odd hours can do a lot to your body; I feel better and healthier when I can exercise regularly. It’s a most effective stress-reliever.
  • Though it continues to go down in priority as I learn and grow in my career, I make a point of playing my cello at least once a week. There was a point in time where I was pursuing a career as a musician…to play movie music. Funny, innit?

If I’m not working, chances are I’m doing one of these. As much as #ilovemyjob, it feels wonderful to have things in my life that are not directly related to The Biz. Maintaining a work-life balance is the key to staying successful AND sane, in this dreamer’s humble opinion.

__________

*That reference is what you think it is.

Why Change is Coming and That’s OK: A Conversation Between Fans about Diversity

Written by: flicksandpieces & girl_dreaming

Back in 2010, breaking news in the comic book franchise world was that Sam Raimi’s SPIDER-MAN was getting a reboot, despite the last installment coming only three years before.

The Interwebs were abuzz, and along with many others came a campaign to place Donald Glover (a.k.a. Childish Gambino / of COMMUNITY fame) as our new Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man.

And while we’ve come to know and love Andrew Garfield’s take on the iconic character, the response among fans when Glover appeared on a tongue-in-cheek episode of COMMUNITY in Spidey gear varied widely – from outpourings of delight to overtly racist derision.

Likewise, Jason Momoa’s casting and upcoming cameo as everyone’s favorite JL character, Aquaman, gave rise to a long-running discussion this past year with friends, co-workers, and now *co-bloggers* about diversity in the comic book/superhero movie genre. And with the release of official images for DAWN OF JUSTICE, SUICIDE SQUAD, etc – a conversation between we the fans is long overdue.

Diversity. It sounds so college-orientation-cliche. But here’s my take on it, as a fan who happens to work in The Biz:

The increasing minorities of the world are hungry for a superhero that looks Ike them.

That can be a role model to their kids, and an example of an intelligent, strong, successful human being to the rest of the world.

That can serve as an entry-point into non-Western cultures, and can shine a light on wider social/economic/environmental/political problems that aren’t as sexy when it’s not in IMAX.

This is near and dear to my heart because it’s one of my goals as a filmmaker and storyteller. The total viewing audience of your average Hollywood summer release is undeniably bigger than the most lauded documentary. These movies are created to be popular and easily understood across cultural and linguistic boundaries – making them an incredibly powerful vehicle for messages, morals, and yes, propaganda.

For flicksandpieces, the increasing diversity we’ve seen in summer action flicks (like the FAST & FURIOUS franchise, STAR TREK, THE LOSERS, THE MATRIX, etc.) in the past fifteen years or so is a step in the right direction. Warner Brother’s efforts to find a female director for WONDER WOMAN leaves me hopeful. But is the box-office-conquering superhero movie genre doing its part for cause? Is the X-Men franchise, for example, leading the way in diversity as it does so often in comic form?

To revert back to Spider-Man – in the same span of time, there’s been two different versions of the character on the big screen. Both were hugely successful at first, but each subsequent film was less and less popular with the fans.

What can we say is responsible for the failures that led Sony to sell one of their most lucrative properties back to the Marvel umbrella in a bid to restore its credibility? Was it the storylines? Too much studio intervention? A lack of franchise stewardship? …Casting?

Personally, I enjoyed Tobey Maguire. He was the perfect Peter Parker, but not a great Spider-Man. As for Andrew Garfield, his Spidey was excellent, but his Peter Parker felt all wrong.

I’m ready for a different voice.

This is ultimately what our discussion of diversity is about. For both of us, the argument is not that the “look” of a character (especially the iconic ones like Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man) is unimportant, but rather that said image is not what makes the character who s/he is. Yes, there are certain costumes, props, and stylistic features like hair or eye color – but what builds a character has everything to do with their back story, personality, and the way they interact with the universe; and nothing to do with race, gender, or the color of their skin.

The Aquaman from the comics looked like this, and then this, and then this. But rather than cementing one “look”, don’t these updates prove the opposite? Change happens, and that’s OK.

No, Momoa does not have blonde hair and light eyes, and his skin is more caramel (oh yeah) than California-tan. He does not look like the Aquamen we’ve seen before. But the way this character looked in the 50’s is different from the way he looked in the 90’s, and will be different for the kid whose first interaction with Aquaman will be Jason Momoa’s Aquaman.

The same is true for all the superheroes through the ages. Regardless of how they’re drawn or who plays them, it is the characters themselves that remain the same. It’s why they’ve stayed with us, in the zeitgeist, throughout the decades. Nick Fury kicks a whole truckload of ass whether he’s white or black. As does Captain America, Green Lantern; and let’s not forget Heimdall.

Perhaps Donald Glover’s Spider-Man is everything we fans didn’t even know we were missing.

So, we issue this challenge to the directors, producers, and executives, all the way up there: Let’s try casting based on merit and performance, and not on looks. Maybe we could avoid the volatile fan fervor that seems to switch from love to hate on the wind.

We recognize the power you wield as decision-makers, and the intense pressure that must go into every one. We recognize the very valid desire to take the path of most assurance.

But, like someone’s Aunt said that one time, “With great power…”

We’re waiting.

#truefandom

Title Art

Liebster Award Question #1 and #2: How did you decide on the title of your blog? What is one word that sums up the heart of your blog and why?

(Yup, I’m mashing up the questions. Because I can. Take that society.)

I had been thinking about starting a blog for a while; someplace I could share the stories of things I’ve seen and done as a fan trying to live the dream. (I haven’t written them yet, but believe me, I’ve got stories.) 😉

I didn’t want to do film news and reviews – there are thousands of sites already dedicated to those things, and that seemed to narrow the scope of possible subjects too much for me. I wanted the blog to be both a reflection and a conversation about what my friends and I talk about – pop culture; The Biz; film theory and history; and the latest things that have inspired us. I wanted it to be a celebration of fandom that was positive, inclusive, and passionate. The closest I could come to capturing that idea was by making it “true”.

I wrote more extensively about this process in my About Page — Who?.

The First Day of the Rest of Your Life

I’ll be starting a new job soon.

Well, in The Biz, you’re always starting a new job soon. On the flip side (and much more accurately), you’re also always about to be unemployed. Always.

[Be warned! This post contains swearing.]

There, the truth behind the curtain revealed! Most of the film industry – from the biggest actor to the lowliest production assistant (se moi) – operates on a contractual basis. Each show is its own enclosed project, and each player negotiates (or has an agent to negotiate) his or her terms of employment. Depending on the project, this means looking for work roughly every three to six months, or up to a year.

It is the eternal hustle. For the right person (read: crazy), the true measure of success is when you no longer hustle for the job, but when the job hustles for you. One day…

And with each new job comes the First Day.

I imagine the feeling of starting somewhere new is the same across all industries, not just mine. In my experience, the primary emotion is fear. Ultimately, fear of fucking up.

My First Day on a show, my heart was in my throat. I was terrified I was going to be late. I was nervous I wouldn’t know what do. I was scared I’d violate some rule I didn’t know and everyone would hate me and I would never work again and fail as a human being and live forever on my Dad’s couch.

I left the house at 3:00A. So it would have taken an act of God for me to be late. And as I got out of my car that early, early morning, after spending fifteen minutes gearing up with everything I might need in the event that anyone asked me for anything, I was more than scared. I was also keen on succeeding.

That First Day was the first day of the rest of my life. It was too important to let my fear get in the way. I was more hungry than I was afraid.

It’s what got me through that Day. And every Day since. Better than that, I got another job. And another. Even better, I started getting bigger jobs. And bigger ones. And yup, like all struggling artists, I lived off ramen noodles and out of my car for about a year, but I also made friends (and connections), and learned more about this crazy business, and about what I might want to do in it once my metaphorical dues are paid to the unsparing film gods.

Every time I start on a new show, I still have those fears. I still think that *this* time will be when I finally get exposed as a gigantic fraud and my career will be over. I’ve actually fucked up more than a few times. But at the end of the Day I can’t give in to all those feels!

IMHO, it’s okay to be nervous, anxious, or scared on the First Day. It’s like, what separates us from the animals, man. Because every First Day is an opportunity; a chance; the big break – to take names, to make plays, to show everyone who didn’t hire you why they should have, and why they shouldn’t make the same mistake in the future. Every First Day is the first day of the rest of your life.

And that first day of unemployment? Someone I know also calls it the first day of the rest of your life. This is also true.

Welcome to The Biz. May we never not have the First Day jitters.

#truefandom


Written for the Daily Prompt: First!