Sunday, December 8, 2013

An open letter to Adora Bull (or, The Top Five Reasons Paul Walker's Death is a Tragedy")

Ms. Bull,
I mentioned to a friend that I was shocked and upset to see the headline of your Modern Woman Digest article, The Top Five Reasons We're Glad Paul Walker Died.  My friend replied, “Nelson Mandela died this week, and all anyone is talking about is Paul Walker”.   Then I read that you were perplexed that you had received death threats, that your car had been vandalized, and that you had gone into hiding.  There seems to be some confusion as to why people are so troubled by Paul Walker's death (or why people are so angry with you for writing what you did) so please allow me explain.

Although there probably are a handful of celebrity worshipers that are saddened by Walker's death because they place him on some pedestal, that is not the case with all of us.  I don't follow celebrity gossip, I didn't know Paul Walker in private life, and I didn't particularly enjoy his films.  I will admit with cold honesty that although Mr. Walker shared the same job title as such shining talents as Lawrence Olivier and Marlon Brando, he didn't have even half their talent.  Can we agree the value of a man's life does not come from the quality of work he produced?  Paul Walker was not only an actor, he was also a philanthropist, a father, and a son.

Nelson Mandela lived to be ninety five years old; we should all be blessed with so long a life.   Paul Walker was barely forty years old.  His parents are burying their son.  The man's daughter no longer has a father.  My heart goes out to Paul Walker's family.  Nelson Mandela fulfilled his life's potential with noble dignity.  That is his legacy.  Any potential that Paul Walker's life had has evaporated.  His death is a tragedy.  The thought that his family members might have heard word of your article fills me with dread.

I'm not upset upset by your callousness towards Walker's death because I worship celebrities.  I didn't follow Walker's career, let alone his personal life.  The only details of his life that I know came from the news article announcing his death.  Again, the value of his life has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the films he made. I'm stunned that you don't understand this.

In a follow up story by Modern Woman Digest you told that people have sent you death threats and vandalized your car.  You said, “my car is completely destroyed because people have the poor taste to worship some of the worst movies ever made.”  No.  You misunderstand.  Those people might not have even known who Paul Walker was before reading your article.  They destroyed your car because they are outraged by your callous indifference to the death of another human being.  Your unfeeling attitude towards death clearly demonstrates inexperience with the subject.  Had you known what it is like to bury a child you wouldn't have written that article.  And that you described the men who vandalized your car as having poor taste plainly establishes that you have no sense of self.

Paul Walker, in all his mediocrity, was more successful at acting than you are at anything.  In the last decade Paul Walker paid more money in taxes than you will earn working your entire life.  I'm guessing that you hoped shock value would earn you fame in spite of your own lack of talent.  You aren't edgy.  You aren't Salman Rushdie, and you certainly aren't the poster child for free speech.  You're an embarrassment to Modern Woman's Digest and you are the literary equivalent of that bit of undigested peanut in a turd.

I sincerely wish you long life.  I sing praises that you have the freedom to express yourself in whatever degenerate manner you see fit.  I hope that the people who are calling for your death do not make good on their threats.  My dream for you is that your story is one of personal growth - that you come to understand the gravity of death without having to taste it yourself - and that you come to appreciate the need for sensitivity for those who are mourning without experiencing the suffering that comes from burying a loved one.

Hugs and kisses,
Danny G

Monday, April 22, 2013

Making movies is harder than watching them

People keep asking me, "hey, how's your film going?"  Or, "weren't you working on a movie a while back?"  The answer to those questions is more complicated than just "good", and "yes".  I'm a very private person, and I've been keeping the details of the production close to my chest (much to the displeasure of my co-producer).  People deserve to know what's going on.  When it's done, the completion of this film will be the most important thing I've done in my life.  This statement might seem sad to some of you, but hey, we can't all be Mahatma Gandhi.

My friends and I made the original Chronicles of Tre when we were 17.  For about two years I've been trying to make the new Chronicle of Tre as a tribute to my childhood friends.  I've started twice, and had all kinds of hiccups and technical problems that have kept me from completing it.  It's sort of a long story that basically shines a spotlight on my own incompetence.  Allow me to explain.

1st try:  My friends Brian and Anton started helping me with this thing back in 2011.  I quickly became aware that they are both better filmmakers than me.  I was under prepared, I was clean shaven and well groomed.  It didn't work.  I looked like a frat boy, not a refuge from the scorched Earth future.  I couldn't accept making another film just playing around on the weekends with my friends.  That's how I made every film up to this point since I was 14 (save for my college senior film).  That brand of filmmaking is tantamount to jerking off.  I need this thing to be special.  I needed to wait until I was fully prepared and scruffy as hell.

2nd try:  Fast forward a year later.  My hair and beard grew out.  I was fully prepared.  We filmed all summer long in 2012.  The equipment I was using was obsolete.  Old camera - old laptop - I didn't even own a tripod.  As we were filming my laptop died.  I didn't have a way to capture my footage, but we kept on filming anyways figuring I'd just edit it at the end.  Some of the shots we were filming were unbelievable.  Then at the very end when I got my laptop up and running I came to realize that we had filmed the entire summer long with the camera on the wrong setting.  No joke.  You can't imagine how this felt.  By this point the film meant so much not only to me, but a lot of the people helping me.  Some of my friends had done days and days of filming in tropical heat at filthy locations.  The failure felt like having my guts ripped out.  I was crushed.  I laid in bed for two days.

I'm not Steven Spielberg.  I'm not going to try to pretend to be.  I'm figuring this shit out as I go.  I'm also not a clydesdale.  Honestly, when I get home from the aquarium it takes a maximum effort to not plop down, open a beer, and just watch anime until I go to bed.  I know that's not very flattering, but it's the genuine truth.

3rd try:  So here we are.  A lot of the footage from round two is still usable (thank God for Brian and Anton).  For myself, I have new, state of the art gear.  My new camera literally has facial recognition software like in a sci-fi movie.  I completely rewrote the script from top to bottom.  My post apocalyptic beard is in full bloom.  My hair is long.  I have an army of of talented people ready to bathe in fake blood.  It's on like Khan.

The film itself is of little significance - we aren't making the The Sound of Music or The Shawshank Redemption - it's a post-apocalyptic samurai movie.  The act of completing it is of crucial importance.  On my life, Chronicles of Tre will be finished in July.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Making a movie (pre-production)

I just started working on a short film that I've wanted to make for about the last 15 years of my life.  It's a post apocalyptic samurai movie; sort of Road Warrior meets Yojimbo.  No matter what I was doing, it's always been there, like a worm in my brain, chewing and squirming around for over a decade.  I'm finally going to get in there with my fingers, dig it out, and share it with the world.

I'm making a 10 minute short film first, and if it's successful a feature length will follow.  After typing that it seems like I should put the "if" in bold capital letters, in a 50 point typeface.  That's a pretty big if.  I digress.  I'm submitting the short film to the Guam International Film Festival for starters.  The deadline for submissions is July 1st, so I've got to work fast.  I'm taking the first 2 weeks of June for production, and the the last 2 weeks for post-production.  I'm officially in pre-production.  "What does that mean?"  That means I'm pulling all of the elements together.  I've got to draw hundreds of storyboards, get props, make costumes, choreograph a sword fight, make about 20 gallons of fake blood, find a way to hang people without actually injuring them, and find a beautiful island woman willing to take her top off on camera.  And I need to do all of this before June 2nd.

I'm not a rich man.  Making movies costs a shit ton of money.  The only more expensive art form than filmmaking is architecture.  So in terms of architecture, how do you make an interesting building for less than $2,000?  I mean, that's maybe a tool shed at best.  No one would pay money to see a Tuff Shed.  "Hey man, give me $8 and you can check out where I keep my lawnmower."  Please.  But what if it's a tool shed on a tropical island next to a cascading waterfall, smeared in blood, with naked women inside?  Now that's something someone might pay money to see.  That's the posture I'll be taking with my films until the day I start using other people's money to make them.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Twilight sucks

Twilight sucks.  It worse than sucks, and it's bad for you.  I can't believe it's as popular as it is.  Are there that many insecure, teenage girls out there, bored with their lives?  Or as Bill Hicks would say, "is there that much babysitting money being passed around?"  I'm going to try to lay out why I hate it so much, and hopefully plant seeds of hate deep in the hearts of anyone who reads this.  Stephanie Meyer must be stopped at all costs.  And I mean why it sucks beyond the fact that Stephanie Meyer couldn't write herself out of a paper bag.  Her writing is adverb laden scat that has about as much literary value as toilet paper.  

First of all, vampires don't sparkle.  Period.  When Bram Stoker wrote Dracula, it was because there was an outbreak of syphilis and the book was a cautionary tale for young women to beware strange men with accents.  That's why vampirism is a disease of the blood, it leaves sores (bite marks), etc.  Vampires are supposed to be scary and gross.  It's a metaphor for sexually transmitted disease.  Vampirism is supposed to be something you want to avoid getting.  Like herpes.  Vampires that shimmer make about as much sense as a teenage girl saying, "I would love for my vag to turn black and rot off."  Not only that, but the glittering serves no purpose in the story.  If Bella had to use Edward's shine as a way to find him, it would be a plot point, and would serve the story.  But it doesn't.  It serves no purpose outside of making the vampires seem more beautiful.  

And you know what, Meyer?  You don't have to keep repeating how good looking Edward is on every single page.  I get it.  Once would've been enough.  Twice maybe, if you're really trying to drive the point home.  Over and over with the "dazzling porcelain God", and "perfectly toned chest".  If you cut out all of the descriptions of Edward's shocking good looks, the book would've been about 50 pages.  

Now imagine being perpetually in high school.  Seriously, close your eyes and visualize graduating and then registering for your sophomore year again right after you throw your cap.  It never ends.  I hated high school; it felt like prison.  Vampires that are over a hundred years old perpetually going to high school makes absolutely no sense.  Are they being punished for something?  I mean, if the vampires were going to school so they could make fun of all of the high school kids, that would be something.  Like they're just sitting in their chairs snickering with laughter the whole time.  That would make sense.  My friend's teenage daughter is on my facebook, and her overdramatic, teenage, soap-opera posts on her wall are hilarious.  They're seriously funnier than failblog.  But now that I'm an adult, the desire to go back to high school would sort of be like wanting to take a poop and then roll around in it for a while.  It makes no sense.  Twilight fans say it's so the vampires don't draw suspicion.  Yes, that makes perfect sense.  Nothing is less suspicious than a high school student who calls in sick every time the sun shines.  Why don't they just live in the woods and keep to themselves?  Then people would say, "the Cullens live in the woods, and keep to themselves."  But no, they have to hide in plain sight, despite the fact that they don't eat, never age, and shimmer when sunlight hits them.  Makes perfect sense.  

The main reason I hate Twilight is because it's misogyny written by a woman.  Bella can't do anything without Edward.  She's the protagonist, and she's completely useless.  Every third page is Bella almost dying and Edward swooping down to save the day (after we're told how beautiful he is, of course).  That's a perfect message to instill into the ripe young minds of adolescent girls.  Wait for a man to save you.  If I was a woman I'd be insulted.  Ellen Ripley and Sarah Connor, those are female protagonists.  Nausicca of the Valley of the Winds, that's a female protagonist.  They're protagonists because their actions propel the story forward.  Bella is a damsel in round-the-clock distress.  Remember the ending, how Bella gets to the warehouse or whatever, the bad vampire bites her, and then Edward swoops in to save the day?  Here's how it should've happened:  Edward gets there before Bella, and the bad vampire wrecks him.  Then Bella shows up - she's just a human, completely outmatched by the bad vampire - but she steels herself, and uses her sharp mind to turn the tables and saves the day.  That's an ending.  Everyone loves an underdog.  But no, Bella is the main character, and she spends the climax of her own story laying on the ground in the fetal position.

Women of the world, stop waiting for a man to save you.  Save yourselves.  I know you can do it.  The white knight's armor is so shiny because his mommy polishes it for him before doing his laundry for him.  Stop waiting for the fairy tale.  It isn't coming.  Stop waiting and live a sincere life.  You'll be better for it.  

Keep in mind that this is only the first book I'm talking about.  This is without going into the whole Jacob being in love with the vampire baby that's eating Bella from the inside out thing.  Twilight is awful.  It's the only book I've ever read that actually made me feel dumber when I put it down.