Film 23: "Leave With Us"

When I was doing a bit of research for this film, I went right to the Heaven's Gate website.  For those who don't know or don't remember Heaven's Gate, they were a religious cult that believed that there was a UFO traveling directly behind the Hale-Bopp comet that was going to fly very close to the Earth sometime in late March/early April of 1997.  According to their teacher/leader, they all needed to evacuate the Earth before it became "recycled" and catching the UFO behind the Hale-Bopp comet was their best chance.  A mass suicide ensued...in shifts.  On March 26, 1997, all 39 members of Heaven's Gate were found in a San Diego mansion, all neatly lying face up in beds (mostly bunk beds) dressed in black track suits and black Nike "Decades".  A death uniform, if you will.  They ate a concoction of phenobarbital and vodka mixed in applesauce.  Then they tied plastic bags around their heads so they would suffocate after they went into a drug induced coma.  They then laid a shroud over the top half of their bodies...and evacuated.  15 members died on the 24th of March.  Another 15 on the 25th.  And the remaining 9 on the 26th.

Like so:

What's most interesting to me were all of the thoughtful, almost cute, things these folks did leading up to this horrifying event.  They had patches made to add to the left arm of their track suits that read "Heaven's Gate Away Team".  They were all found with $5.75 in their pockets because they "needed bus fare"...an inside joke.  The most interesting thing about all of this, for me, is the videotaped goodbyes these people did before committing suicide.  They were so...happy.  So very ready to welcome their end.  So appreciative that this is what they chose, or what was chosen for them.  They are examples of people who don't have a single care in the world, have full faith in their own particular God, and are 100% ready to die for it.

In hindsight, it's particularly haunting to see on their website that they have recruitment videotapes (free of charge) with them urging the viewer to "Leave With Us".

Leave.  With.  Us.  Those are pretty dangerous words.  They got me thinking of every single religious fanatic who killed other people while killing themselves...including Heaven's Gate.  It's nothing new that humans have been killing each other in the name of God for thousands of years.  So, the point of this film isn't really to state that people are stupidly murdering each other because of God. It's more a film I made for God...to show it/him/her what they've done.  That people are willing to fly airliners into the world's tallest buildings for you.  They are willing to veer cars off the road and run over unsuspecting pedestrians completely by surprise for you.  They are willing to carry a bomb in a backpack and walk into a restaurant and blow themselves and 50 other people to bits.  Or cowardly leave a bag with a bomb in it on the sidewalk during a marathon and blow people's entire legs off.  They are willing to hang people from trees while burning a cross.  All that, for you.  It's a testament to your greatness!

One of the many tapes showing the first plane flying into the World Trade Center features someone screaming "Holy Shit!" moments before it hit the first tower.  Holy.  Shit.  Truer words have never been spoken.

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Nothing much to say about the making of this except that I wish I had more time.  This film was done in one really long day (about 16 hours).  Life and other work are getting in the way of making these, but I really want to get back to giving myself time to step back, then come back and look at it fresh.  Rushing a film out the door is never what I intended with this project.  It's ok to be over ambitious but I do feel like it was at this film's detriment.  I think maybe after this whole project is said and done, I'll go back to touch the films that didn't get all of the proper attention they deserved.  This one, so far, is at the top of the list.

Some stills from the film:

Film 22: "Glossolalia"

Glossolalia is one of those vocabulary words barely anyone knows the meaning of.  I had to be reminded of what it was.  It basically means "speaking in tongues".  A constant stream of verbal sounds that are incomprehensible and lacking in syntax.

We see this mostly on TV with some schlock pastor or preacher or televangelist bringing someone up to the stage who, at that specific lucky moment, has suddenly been stricken with the Holy Spirit and is "involuntarily" babbling in some language only they understand.  And since people can't explain what it means or where it comes from, it is determined that this stream of esoteric communication must have come from God.  A gift, actually.

Are they wrong?

It's interesting to think that you could be so overwhelmed (or stricken, as some folks describe it) that you fall to the ground, babble in an incomprehensible language, sometimes shake violently while having to have people hold you up and call that a gift!  But they do.  In fact, people who pray in tongues generally cry right afterwards.  Regardless of how you or I feel about that, it must be a feeling of tremendous relief to experience that.

If you look back at very early human history, probably when we still were living in the African canopy, glossolalia was a common event.  We had a very complex set of verbal sounds that, over time, started to mean something.  It's how we developed language.  But in the time before language, they were just noises.  We did, in fact, speak in tongues.  And as it turns out it's one of the most primal traits of a being human.  That's probably why it feels good to scream at the top of your lungs or make strange noises.

Glossolalia isn't necessarily always a kooky and strange thing that only people who go to arena prayer services do.  And, as far as necessity goes, it's not restricted to ancient peoples.  Glossolalia shows up everywhere.  The sobbing widow.  Orgasmic moans.  The screaming drunk.  Also, the babbling drunk.  The babbling baby.  An actress doing vocal warm up exercises.  The yogi in meditation (ohhmmmmmm).  It's just one of those things that we've never really evolved away from, fully.  It's a primal, overwhelming feeling that is expressed through verbal noises and this film tries to visually depict that feeling.

A last note: YES, there are some asshole televangelists who spout something that sounds like speaking in tongues and then proceed to ask you for $58 to "plant your seed with the Lord".  *giant eye roll*

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Given the nature of glossolalia, I tried to let the making of this film flow as well.  It's not an easy undertaking to literally make it up as you go along.  There still needs to be some kind of a cohesive thread.  At least for me and the films I like to make.  I suppose you could just riff on something and call it art.  I did have a backbone of audio (some really awesome stuff out there of people speaking in tongues) that cut together pretty well, I think.

The mouths ended up becoming the main visual thread for this.  I did some rotoscoping of my own mouth in several contorted positions:

In making this film I think I have a clearer understanding of the Dada movement.  I never really quite got it, other than the fact that it's just rebellious, absurd art.  But now I think I get it.  It's a stream of consciousness that doesn't speak any defined language.  It's the visual form of speaking in tongues:

Some finished artwork from the film:

Lamekona sadavu panmeechee "GLOSSOLALIA"!

Film 21: "Dreams I Don't Remember"

I never remember my dreams.  Ever.  There are a few recurring ones like that one where I go back to the same small house and I have to walk around hunched over and a fight always breaks out in the backyard but everyone is still chill because pizza was just delivered.  They didn't have regular toppings though, so they put gummy mushrooms on top.  Gummy mushrooms.  Mmmmmm...

Anyway...since I'm told that I definitely dream every night multiple times, but never remember them, I've decided to keep a scrapbook of the dreams I don't remember.  That means, I can completely make up these bizarre situations and claim them as dreams that I've had but that never stuck with me.  I've been kicking around the idea of making a haphazard film of very random and completely unrelated images but never had the conceptual thread until now.  So there may be more of these types of films.

It's also a really great excuse to experiment with editing, specifically the cadence in which the juicy sections are delivered.  The space in between sections became important for this one.  That static/synapse thing.  Typically, I'd want to fill the entire film with as much cool stuff as possible but I've been wanting to experiment with dead air.  Cinematic negative space.  Long portions of "padding".  It turned out to be a really important device in this film.  It makes sense, too, because animation relies on anticipation as a key device and those buffers added some respite as well as anticipation.  Otherwise, it would have been an annoying stream of intensity.  A tour-de-force in the worst kind of way.  Dreams don't roll like that.  They come in fragments.  Like playing peek-a-boo with your subconscious.

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It was really freeing to not have to stick to a script or outline or anything here.  Literally had a blank stack of paper and let it all flow.  I didn't think.  I just drew things.  Some made it into the film.  Some didn't:

I have a cool art book called "STREET SKETCH BOOK" that had lots of really great inspiration:

One regret: I wish had time to walk away from this film and come back fresh to do a final polish.  I literally finished this film 14 minutes before it had to go up.  In hindsight, little things are bothering me to the point where I can't just chalk it up to "not fussing with it".  A few things needed a little fuss.  Oh well.  Next time.

Thanks for reading!  Now go watch "DREAMS I DON'T REMEMBER"!

Film 20: "Dicks"

I can't write an intro better than this.  George Carlin from one of his HBO specials about "dick fear".

We see this shit all...the...time.  Somebody's fucking with your power position?  Drop a giant dick on them!  There is no better display of this cock-strutting arrogance as when the good ol' U.S. of A. televised the "shock and awe" campaign on Baghdad in 2003.  Git yer popcorn, sit back and feel the dominance coursing through your veins!

You can probably bet your entire life savings that this will ultimately be our demise.  Sounds morbid?  Think about it!  If this constant show of force has to continue in order to keep things at bay, we're literally gonna blow our own selves to smithereens.  And the bigger their dick gets, the bigger our dick has to get.  Bigger bombs, bigger missiles, bigger fuckin' bullets baby!

YEEEEEEEEEEEE HAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWW!!!!

One last thought:

According to the United Nations, it is estimated that $30 billion a year is what it would take to end world hunger.  $30 billion a year.  The United States alone spends close to $600 billion a year. On defense.

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Some stills from the film:

 

Go take a look at some "DICKS".

Film 19: "Crosstalk"

It's hard to boil down language.  We've got a pretty complex set of mouth noises to communicate how we feel, what we want, what we don't want.  The human lexicon is so vast and so intricate, we should never be at a loss in getting our point across.

I find, though, that language is useless if barely anyone is listening.  We do way less listening than we should.  Why?  Because everyone's fuckin' talking!  Ever been in a conversation where the other person is posing as a listener and just waiting for their turn to talk?  I mean...what's the point of formulating an intelligent, understandable and respectful idea into words if the other person is just waiting to talk right back to you?  They're actually internally talking to themselves while you're talking to them.  This is why signals get crossed.  When we communicate with each other on a mass scale, it would probably look something like this:

There are two definitions for the word crosstalk.

1. unwanted transfer of signals between communication channels.

2. casual conversation.

It really makes a ton of sense that, according to this definition, a conversation could be equated to an unwanted transfer of signals.  

Another interesting analogy:  When telephone systems were entirely analog, crosstalk happened pretty often.  That meant that you heard several other callers on the same line yapping away along with various signals within the system.  But an interesting part of this phenomenon is that the person you're calling wouldn't hear any of this interference.  They'd hear you loud and clear without interruption as if you were alone with that person.  Meanwhile you're hearing them as part of a crowd.  Do I need to hammer home the metaphor there?

Here's an actual recording of what I mean.  There is no editing or sound design done here.  This is actual crosstalk from a landline from September of 1980.

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Before I get into a little bit of how this was made, I have to thank a man named Evan Doorbell.  I do not know this man, but I stumbled up on his YouTube clips with hours of analog bell system recordings.  It's a treasure trove of real physical sounds made from the old bell system in the US.  His recordings are mainly from New York and New Jersey.  He narrates these audio recordings, is extremely knowledgeable about the semantics of all of these wonderful tones and what they mean and explains them in a pleasant way.  So if you're into this kind of stuff, definitely check out his recordings on YouTube.

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This film set a land speed record thus far.  I started working on this the morning of it's release and finished it two hours before release.  So about 12 hours in total, start to finish.  I figure that's about as fast as I can complete these things while not producing a total piece of shit.  Admittedly, this film is not one of my personal favorites, but I do like the prospect of pulling off a quickie in roughly 12 hours time.

I borrowed footage of a string from another film I did and used it for the "lines of communication".  I stole a bunch of skull X-rays from Google too.  So between those two things and Evan Doorbell's recordings, not much is totally original here.  Gotta do what you gotta do, I guess.  I'm not always going to have 3-4 days to leisurely work on these.

One point of interest was getting the translucent X-ray look.  I didn't have time to mess around with filters in After Effects and I typically gravitate towards using real elements anyway so I achieved this look the best and fastest way I know.  I played the film on a TV screen and filmed it:

I also got up close and personal with some static clips I have laying around:

So, you're actually watching two takes of footage of my monitor playing the film that I then edited together along with a few shaky shots I took for transitions.

Thanks for reading!  Now go WATCH "CROSSTALK"!

Film 18: "Nice Things"

Don't it always seem to go,
That you don't know what you've got
Til its gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot...

I've been reading the last few years about humans eventually colonizing Mars.  As great and brave and astonishing of an achievement as that would be, I really hope, for Mars' sake, that doesn't happen.

Because, seriously, we've ruined everything else. Just take a look at the mainland U.S. A gorgeous sprawling land that was mostly excavated and made into a giant shopping mall. Let's take away that beautiful forest and build a Waffle House right there. Put a Chic-Fil-A next to it. And an As Seen on TV shop next to that.  Throw on some discount price tags and a Coca-Cola ad.  Garnish it with some porn and you've got yourself a good 'ol fashioned Western world special!

On the other hand, some smut is important to making a place feel...genuine.  As a native New Yorker, I've seen Times Square go from the seedy old friend it once was to the urban Disneyland.

House of Paradise...(can you find the Coca-Cola ad?)

House of "Paradise"...(can you find the Coca-Cola ad?)

Also this before and after...

Pretty soon, the whole planet is going to be this way. Hectares of beautiful, genuine things are going to be replaced with corporate smut.  By that time, this place might not even be habitable.  God help Mars if humans decide to inhabit and bring their Whoopee Cushions, Potty Putters and Super Bowl commercials there.  Maybe they should open a New Jersey turnpike service station in the middle of the Sahara desert as a test run.  Cinnabon anyone?

Just be sure of this: If we do end up on Mars, your corporate masters will await you.  And they might look a little something like this...

Thanks for reading!  Now go WATCH "NICE THINGS"!

FILM 17: "Face Value"

"I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man's envy of his neighbor." - Ecclesiastes 4:4

Cultural guidelines and money always seem to go hand in hand.  This film is very simply a comment on how culture puts forth the ideal of how you should look, and then capitalism sells you the thing you need in order to look that way.  And it's our own fault!  You know why? Because we have a thing fetish and we want to buy ALL the things.

Like, if the Kardashians are constantly showing their giant, perfectly round asses to everyone:

Then that means you'll want to do it too!  Therefore, you should buy some Padded Panties™.  Available at Walmart™ and other fine capitalist™ warehouses!

The bottom line (pun intended) is: When you buy a product, you become a product.  Do you really need headphones shaped like cat ears?  Do you need Snuggies™?, Shake-Weights™? Fake Hair in a Spray Can™?

You need them as much as this dog needs a duck-billed muzzle.

Cut it out.  Seriously.  Cut it out.

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This film gave me an opportunity to get back to some fine art roots. Up until now, my films have sometimes featured shittily drawn things. It was nice to sit with a drawing and spend a good chunk of time refining it instead of hurrying together a bunch of drawings.

Usually, I'd have gotten rid of the seams that result from scanning artwork in sections. But I really liked how these looked when roughly stitched together:

The film goes by so fast, it's hard to appreciate some of the combinations of this collage technique.  Here are some of my favorite micro-moments in "Face Value":

Click here to WATCH "FACE VALUE".

FILM 16: "Snakes"

I read a book a few years ago called The Chalice and The Blade by Riane Eisler.  In it, she introduces a theory about cultural and social models called the Dominator model and the Partnership model.  She believes and offers evidence that in the very beginnings of human history, human beings were under a Partnership social construct. Men were not seen as lesser or better than women. Women were not seen as lesser nor better than men. Women had roles such as gathering foods, agriculture, raising the young.  Men were the hunters and travelers.  But no job was more important than the other.  One needed the other.  One tribe or group often helped other tribes or groups because, as we are collective beings, they knew that the more people to help out the better chance they all had of surviving.

But then there was a shift. Tribes and groups realized that you could dominate (usually kill) other groups and take their resources for themselves. This is the Dominator model.  And so along came the conquerors and dynasties. Genghis Khan and the like. And it was firmly planted in our general way of living that as long as you had power, you were in control. Power became the most important goal and cooperation fell by the wayside.

Here's an excerpt:

“All over the ancient world, populations were now set against populations, as men were set against women and against other men. Wandering over the width and breadth of this disintegrating world, masses of refugees were everywhere fleeing their homelands, desperately searching for a haven, for a safe place to go.

But there was no such place left in their new world. For this was now a world where, having violently deprived the Goddess and the female half of humanity of all power, gods and men of war ruled. It was a world in which the Blade, and not the Chalice, would henceforth be supreme, a world in which peace and harmony would be found only in the myths and legends of a long lost past.” 

Fast forward to now and things aren't much different.  Certainly more complicated but not different at all. There is an established group that holds power.  And those who aren't in power (or privileged) are generally marginalized, weakened, oppressed, suppressed and sometimes destroyed.  All in the name of maintaining and expanding control.

This film is an attempt to express this concept. The one thing I really made sure to include here is that even though some groups are inherently void of power, they still have the natural propensity to need power. If anything "is what it is", it's the basic human need for power and control. To take, take, take until there's nothing left.

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I did this film completely CGI so there's not much to talk about as far as unconventional ways to make an animated film.

But I will talk about my main reference for this film, Lotte Reiniger.  She is one of my favorite filmmakers and a big influence on me.  She made the very first animated feature film called "The Adventures of Prince Achmed".  This film came out in 1926.  That's ELEVEN years before 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs'. She made lots of wonderful films by animating paper cutouts and using them as silhouettes. If you aren't familiar with her work, you should check out this clip from Prince Achmed:

Click here to WATCH "SNAKES"

FILM 15: "Brain Stereo"

We've all heard this thing about left-brain and right-brain thinking.  Right-brain supposedly is in charge of the creative and more abstract thinking we do.  Left-brain is the more logical side in charge of reasoning and facts.  It's kinda like your brain works in stereo.  With all of the logical, mathematical stuff panned to the Left.  And all the weird, abstract, dreamy stuff panned to the Right.

Once the idea of "stereo" was brought into play, it became something tangible to filmmaking that I could toy with.  I thought if there were very mechanical images on the left side of a split screen contrasted with child-like, bizarre images on the right, that it would make for an interesting piece.

Naturally, the sound was split in this way too.  The obvious, logical sound design was all pushed to the left ear.  The accompanying surreal version of this audio on the right side.

Here is just the left channel audio in the film:

And here's the right:

It becomes really bizarre when you just listen to the right side by itself.  It's just pure nonsense.  But balanced with the logical left side audio, it makes sense out of that right side surreal audio.  Our brain actually wants to make sense out of it.

Also a known brain oddity is that the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body and the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body.  So it's important to note that I drew all of the right-brain, child-like drawings with my left hand.  And I did the mechanical, blueprint-style drawings with my right hand.  If animators are truly actors, this is as close to method acting as it gets for an animator.

Left hand, for right brain:

Right hand, for left brain:

All these drawings are kind of whatever on their own.  But juxtaposed with each other side by side made for some interesting things to happen.

This quote says it better than I just did:

"A wonderful harmony arises from joining together the seemingly unconnected." - Heraclitus

"Brain Stereo" also marks the first time I've used text in a film.  The "no text" rule was hard and fast until now.  I had no thread for this film other than random scenes of transportation cut against each other.  So I thought title cards were a good device to thread it together...but only if they were as interesting as the rest of the film.  And if the voice over was robotic or disembodied, then it would be more interesting than just a regular voice.

I think that's really the whole thing, for me.  It's not like I can't EVER use text or language or words.  The self-imposed rule is in place more to get me to think beyond just normal language in written or spoken word. Cinema is supposed to be pictures juxtaposed together to create a feeling or tell a story.  "Sound is half the picture", said Francis Ford Coppolla (or maybe George Lucas?)  So that, too, has to harmonize with the visuals.  And vice versa.  Much too often we see stuff that is just a picture of someone saying things.  Then the picture cuts to another person who looks like they're listening and then they retort.  Then cut to a two-shot of both of them in conversation.  Then cut back and forth again.  Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Thanks for reading!  Now go WATCH "BRAIN STEREO"! 

FILM 14: "Best Laid Plans"

Here's a famously true adage:

"The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry." - Robert Burns

Here's another, maybe lesser known, but just a true:

"Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans." - John Lennon

It's always amazed me how the universe just works.  It's like one big Rube Goldberg machine.  But unlike Rube's contraptions, if there is an mistake or an accident then the universe adjusts and resets.  And so do we, somehow.  You might plan a career move or some kind elaborate strategic plan to get something you want at work or at home.  And the one thing we never plan for is a surprise!  Which is completely insane because surprises always happen!  Things pretty much never ever go the way we imagine it.  Some kind of slight redirection, at very least, is bound to happen.

After 14 films, I've come to apply this to filmmaking.  Letting go of the plan, or even completely eliminating a plan, and letting accidents shape how the film is made.  Filmmakers can easily fall into this M.O. of having to have a strict, rigid plan.  And when things don't go according to that plan, it can be a disaster.  Which is really strange because, in live action filmmaking, you have to concede to the elements more often than not.

Here's a great video by Rocket Jump Film School about "Embracing Accidents":

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Most of the work on this one was, coincidentally enough, in the planning!  I spent two days working out a Rube Goldberg-type contraption.  The real challenge here was that I had to think of it in terms of lines and circles as opposed to real items.  That limitation proved to be helpful in keeping this simple:

I also challenged myself to make a film under the following conditions:

  • Use a color palette I never, or rarely, use.
  • Use simple elements in a complex set of events.
  • Create a dissatisfying ending.

I also pulled from a variety of sources for this film and mashed them together:

Thanks for reading!  Now go WATCH "BEST LAID PLANS!"

FILM 13: "Anxiety"

I personally haven't been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder but I definitely have had my fair share of extreme panic, near certain death feelings.  The feeling that the word "anxiety" describes is undeserving of just one word to describe it.  I think we'd be able get anxiety disorders the help it deserves if only we described it as what it is.  "Anxiety" is a sort of a euphemism for "I'm suddenly, intensely panicking for no good reason and truly believe that right now is when I'm going to die."  Sudden.  Intense.  Panic.  Death.  If they wanted your attention in a news headline, they'd certainly use those words.

BREAKING NEWS: INTENSE PANIC AND ABOUT IMPENDING DEATH

You'd stick around to watch that right?  I don't want to get to deep into euphemisms or distractive language but I really think that if the perspective was changed to describing it exactly how it feels, something might be done to help all mental health disorders.

George Carlin has a great bit about euphemisms and uses PTSD as the example.  First it was 'shell shock'.  "Almost sounds like the guns themselves", Carlin says.  Then it was softened to 'battle fatigue'.  Then 'operational exhaustion'.  Then, finally, 'post-traumatic stress disorder'.

The word becomes dehumanized, therefore the condition becomes dehumanized.  Like those voices on the Emergency Broadcast System.  Except this is not a test.

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I won't get into too much detail with how this was done.  I did get to a capture nice, simple analog texture to use for this film.  I made circles by adhering coins to sheets of acetate.  Then painted the acetate black and removed the coins, revealing some cool little textured circles:

Then I threw a light behind it and did a quick photo shoot with these backlit circles:

I really wanted these to express INTENSITY.  That was the guiding word.  INTENSE.  I kept thinking of the Star Gate sequence in '2001: A Space Odyssey':

Also, those nerve rattling Emergency Broadcast System interruptions:

Here are some images from the final film that mix all of the above together:

Click here to WATCH "ANXIETY".

FILM 12: "It's a Good Idea!"

I keep a list of random thoughts and ideas for this project.  One of the things on that list was to "make something intangible, tangible".  I had also wanted to make a film about "ideas" so I took both concepts and smashed them together.  This film is my version of the formation of an idea, from conception to birth.

All ideas begin in a very dark place.  They are crude and clumsy at first but can mature very quickly.  They can also be stubborn.  Or go off on tangents.  Ideas face obstacles and adversity.  They can also be dormant for long periods of time.  Sometimes, a random event of fate can be the magic spark an idea needs to set it off again.  Other times, the idea needs TLC and time to grow.

In any event, no matter how great your idea is, it's completely worthless unless it's shared and acted upon. Once it's out the world, that's when it's truly born.  Anything before that moment of birth is a strange, but necessary, incubation period and I really tried to paint a picture of what that incubation period looks like.

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I used Post-It notes to make the compartmentalized grid in the film:

I knew I wanted black squares on a black background but black Post-It notes aren't easy to come by.  After going to several art stores and office supply stores, it was clear that black Post-It notes are not an item that's in demand.  So I did the next best thing and got the urine-yellow kind that everyone has and stuck them to a sheet of similarly piss colored poster paper.  I could make it black on black later on and I only spent $21 in the process.

I did most of the Post-It animation with a fan and an air can:

When the "idea" first appears in the form of a crude circle, I wanted the reveal to feel like it was affected by the wind.  For that, I used a pile of salt on a black background and sucked the salt pile away with a vacuum cleaner nozzle:

A final note: I will probably never use China Markers again for animation.  I usually like to draw with them because they are ultra smooth, kind of like a crayon.  The lines can get really think and messy, which is great for rough drawings on large pieces of paper.  For smaller, more precise shapes, it was definitely the wrong choice.

FILM 11: "For The Birds"

I only joined Twitter because of this Area 52 project.  Man, going on Twitter is like stepping into Saturn from Beetlejuice!  Except it seems like 99% of it is about Donald Trump instead of Sandworms.  Same goes for Facebook.  And television news.  Newspapers.  Everybody.  All focused fervently on the man.  I thought only death and taxes were inevitable.  Hearing or seeing something about Donald Trump HAS TO BE added to that list.

From the great political activist and theorist, Thomas Paine:  "The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph."  That assumes that you already know who you're in conflict with.  I, personally, do not support Trump.  But there are many people that do.  At very least there are 62,984,825 Trump supporters.  That's not counting people who can't or don't vote.  That may or may not be counting the rest of the Republican Party.  Without those 62,984,825 people, Trump would be nothing.  A blip.

Trump is an icon for a much, MUCH, larger destructive force.  And I get it, you want to take down the snake you cut off it's head.  But I'm not totally convinced that's true in this case.  I think there's been a large, hibernating contingent of Americans who were told that their seat at the top of the totem poll was taken from them.  And they didn't get this idea just from Donald Trump.  They've been pounded by Republican talk radio that if things stay the way they are, they're never going to move ahead in the line.  That they'll stand there forever.  The folks ahead in line will remain there.  And people behind them will be able to cut the line.

Fear is a very powerful primal emotion.  And yes, the man publicized all of these fears but the hounds were released well before.  Like, before he was born.  Maybe I'm alone in thinking this, but if you look back at American history, all the way back to Plymouth Rock, the politics and power structure in this country haven't changed all that much.  Same bird, different eggs.

In "For The Birds", what I'm trying to say is that while you're so fervently focused on the man himself, the crowd is setting fires behind you.  He, in and of himself, is a diversion.  And while you're tweeting about his latest tweet, there is real evil happening behind your back.  There's a very dangerous organization at work and it's time for an about face...in more ways than one.

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There isn't all that much to report in the way this was done.  Compared to the rest of my films this was handled pretty traditionally.  Still not as traditional as traditional animation.  How many more times can I say traditional?

I made various body parts for these birds and put them all together later on in After Effects.  For those that don't know, I drew all of these parts multiple times so that I can give some kind of motion to the birds while they were sitting in one place.  You basically loop a few drawings of the same thing so it gives it a kind of jittery movement.

I did the same thing with the background art of the "leaves".  I drew those on index cards:

This time I used actual art pens instead of a ball point.  The production of these films don't always have to be ghetto.  And really, my only cost on this were the pens.  These Microns pens are good because they don't bleed and they don't clog.  They are more firm and mechanical than I usually like to draw with but they did the trick nicely on this film:

Here are some rough pencil drawings I did before designing the final birds:

Here are some storyboards I made for this.  These didn't act so much as a guide for story as they did for shots.  I guess it was more a pre-visualization than a storyboard:

Lastly, I recorded all of the birds voice over myself in my closet with the Voice Memos app for iPhone.  I wish I had a better microphone.  Sometimes "P"s can pop when you're recording.  I don't have a proper booth either but all the clothing and blankets make for good sound absorption.  Not so bad for guerrilla audio recording!

Thanks for reading :)  Now go WATCH "FOR THE BIRDS"! 

FILM 10: "Cacophony"

ca·coph·o·ny (kəˈkäfənē) noun:  a harsh, discordant mixture of sounds.

The above could also be the definition of television.  And the internet.  As per the usual, culture BOMBARDS us with so many distractions.  TV and internet video content are excellent vehicles for the dominator culture to sway your opinions, fill your head with garbage and completely suck you of your identity and your time.

But that's only if you tune in.  As I stated with my film "Freakquency", if you just learn to walk away and tune out from what you're being told to think, feel and believe, then you become completely independent from the clutches of culture.  You reclaim your identity.

A side effect of that is when you become confronted with these slavery mechanisms again (the news, mainly) it starts to sound like just a lot of noise.  Audio garbage.  A cacophony of information.  And misinformation. And it's not even interesting to look at.  It's pictures of people talking.  To the camera.  To each other. Sometimes they show a split screen of 3 or 4 people debating.  And sometimes they talk over each other. Definitely the most unentertaining content available.  I mean...just look at it!

Side Note: I really love Stephen A. Smith from ESPN.  You can spot him.  He was the only black person talking on TV at the time I flipped through the channels and took these photos.  Fringe benefit social commentary there.

As I've also stated before, I don't like speaking for other places outside of America.  But I could only imagine that people from other countries have had more than their fill of "America" on TV and the internet recently.  I know I've had a little too much America for my own good as of late.  But I live here.  I don't have a much of a choice.  Oh...wait...I do :)

As for most of America...

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Here are the ingredients I used to make this film (not pictured: an onion)

I specifically used Alka Seltzer because watching TV makes me proverbially sick to my stomach.  I thought it was a good little subtle joke.  Also, it made for some really great instant motion that looked like noise.

My setup for this was really ghetto.  Really trying to keep these films as cheap as possible so I have to use whatever I've got in the house to make it work.  Below is my table on top of a table contraption:

So I basically was shooting upwards, looking up at the bottom of the clear tray.  I placed a thick slice of an onion ring in there to wrangle the liquids.  I poured some corn oil and some wine into the ring and then plopped in an Alka Seltzer tablet:

One thing I didn't think about beforehand was how much this was going to smell.  Literally was like standing on a giant armpit.  Next time I'll use a rubber bracelet  Anyway...

I shot this with both an iPhone 6 and the regular camera.  Both with straight up video.  iPhone was slow motion (240fps, 720p).  None of the iPhone footage made it into this film.  It kept going in and out of focus as the Alka Seltzer tablet moved in front of and away from the light behind it. 

Since both cameras were pointing up, I couldn't see what was happening in the viewfinder.  So I bought this pretty large mirror ($4!) to reflect the viewfinder so I could see what I was shooting:

I also did a few takes with just water and no onion.  The spread of the bubbles was just too wide and the antacid tablet was sliding all over the place.  That's why I switched to the oil+wine mixture.  It was too thick for the bubbles to go crazy.  It really contained the spread.  Anyway, here's what the water stuff looked like:

I also made my own "talking" sound effects for this film using Garage Band on the iPhone.  I used sounds from a bunch of their synth instruments in both Glissando and Pitch settings.  Really weird shit ensued.  45 minutes of crazy sounds ended up being recorded for this which then had to be cut down to a little over 30 seconds.  I tried to make the audio sound like human talking sounds and not every instrument was conducive to that.

For the mouths, I really wanted them to seem child-like so I drew this bullshit with my left hand (I'm righty):

I think this film currently holds the record for fastest Area 52 film completed.  It took a little less than 3 days to do.  Thankfully, these shorts can't exceed 1 minute in length so it makes for annoying films like this to be made.  Could you imagine sitting through 5 to 7 minutes of this?  In a theatre?  At a film festival?  HAHAHAHSDJKFNLS:FHJGpouehcgp%#}hspidULKJ>FBDVcm!!!!!

Click here to WATCH "CACOPHONY".

FILM 09: "Gimme!"

I can't believe I'm quoting the Smashing Pumpkins, but it's true that "the world is a vampire."  No matter where you turn, someone is gonna try to suck you dry.  Everything costs something.  Don't even get me started on institutions of thievery like Sallie Mae.  And Uber.  And credit card companies.  But this isn't just about money.  Everybody wants a piece of you AND your money.  And your time.  And your skills.  And a bite of your food.  And bum a ride.  And bum your last cigarette.  And bum, bum, bum, bum, bum.  WITH INTEREST!

It's one thing to be giving to others.  It's another to be bled.  It's inescapable!

There's a law of equal exchange in nature.  Karma, ying & yang and all of that.  You give and you take.  You can't just take.  You spend money to make money.  You pay your dues before you get where you want to be in your chosen profession.  Your parents raise you and take care of you.  Then you take care of them when they get old.  Balance.  It runs the universe.  Ya know?

Maybe I'm an idealist, but I like to believe that what you get from something should be in exact proportion to what you put into it.  Right?  I don't know.  All this complaining is stressing me out.  Can I bum a smoke?

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This film cost less than $30 to make.  I like listing these final budgets because one of the many reasons I'm doing these films is to prove that you can make an animated short film for less the cost of one film festival submission.  Film festivals...yet another racket.  You don't need to beg strangers on crowd sourcing sites either.  Anyway...

The star of this film is my own mouth.  I put on some lipstick and imprinted the mouth movements onto the back of 3 x 5 index cards.  I did a few sets of these.  Some clean.  Some with smears.  And another set of random mouth positions.

Then I shot them one by one.  I could have scanned them in but the camera produced better quality images.

For the cigarette bit, I made a little stage in the kitchen using some black paper.  The thick kind you use for pastels.  I took a pin button that was laying around the house and used it to keep the cigarette suspended.  

I shot this once in stop motion and once in straight video.  I ended up using the regular video in the film.  Here's the raw result:

cig.gif

I went into making this film with no outline and no storyboards.  I set out to make a film that sort of made itself while I was animating.  It took a good amount of doing it, then walking away.  Then doing more, then walking away.  The process of making "Gimme!" was the closest I've come to the process of making fine art.  In painting and sculpting, especially abstract work, you kinda have to do it while you feel it and you can't force it.  Time away from it is just as important as time in front of it.  Gotta walk away.  I worked on this film over the course of a few months but total working time was roughly 5 or 6 days.

Thanks for reading!  Now go WATCH "GIMME!"

FILM 08: "Maker Of The Maze"

I (probably like you) am very good at talking about the things I want to do.  I'm good at making plans and charting a course to reach a goal.  I think most of us are if you do, in fact, set goals.  But then there's actually doing it.  This is where I get to the other thing I'm really good at: 

Procrastinating.

I'm the best.  Hands down.  No other.  The G.O.A.T.  I'm the Michael Jordan of procrastinating.  If there was ProcrastinationCenter instead of SportsCenter, they'd be comparing all other procrastinators to me.  I would be the measure of excellence.

There's a phrase from the Pink Floyd song 'Time' that often comes into my head when I'm busy not going after what I really want.  It goes:

Tired of lying in the sunshine, staying home to watch the rain.
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today.
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.

I could list all of the excuses I ever made but I wouldn't assume you have that much time.  I can tell you that the one thing that never made the list but REALLY prevented me from doing what I wanted to do...was me.  In the end, I was 100% percent responsible for where I was.  And where I am now.

Over the years, I've learned that I create the circumstances.  You can't wait for the circumstances to come to you.  You'll die waiting.  Or you'll live regretting.  And that might be worse.

I've since retired from procrastinating (hence why they are always comparing me to the other greats ;)  But seriously, I've really learned to just pull the trigger if I want to go after something.  Literally, just go and do it. Everything else is just semantics.  And it WILL work out.  As a matter of fact, there is no way it cannot.  And it's led me to doing literally anything I put my mind to just by constantly thinking about it, nurturing it and TAKING ACTION.  This Area 52 films project is a perfect "for instance".  I wouldn't even be here typing this if I didn't take a leap many months ago.  Because, believe me, I had a long list of reasons why I couldn't do it.

The moral of the story:  Get out of your own fuckin' way.  There is nothing else in your way but YOU.  I promise that if you eliminate excuses and get out of your own way, magic will happen.

I don't have an ending to this little thesis so I'll leave you with another pertinent quote:

“Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it's a feather bed.”

-Terence McKenna

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This film cost me $6 to make.  I bought a stamp pad and used it for my thumb print.   I already owned all other materials used for this film: 

Prior to that, I tried using a metallic paint marker.  It would have worked if it didn't dry so fast and unevenly.  It still looked cool but wasn't what I was going for:

The stamp pad was much cleaner for sure.  I picked the cleanest fingerprint I made and scanned it in at 1200 dpi.  For those that don't know, DPI means Dots Per Inch.  Images for television and web are 72 dpi.  Images for print are usually 300 dpi.  So 1200 dpi is pretty large.  I needed it to be big since most of the film was close up shots of the fingerprint and I didn't want to lose resolution when blown up.  The original scan was still too small so I blew it up and printed it out as large as I could on regular 8.5 x 11 paper.  Then scanned in the large print.

As you can see in the picture below, there was a lot of cleaning up that needed to happen to make a clear "path" in the maze.  Also the "walls" of the maze needed to be darker:

Here are some cleaned up shots:

I thought this little scribbly ball was a good metaphor for the way we think.  Our thoughts are usually pretty tangled up sometimes.  I just drew different variations of this scribbly ball on regular printer paper with a ball point pen (aka NO COST!)  You can still do good work without an expensive tablet or fancy pens and paper.  A tablet would have been nice though!

Here's a really rough animation of the scribble:

I recorded my own sound effects for this film using a bottle of Rubber Cement.  Our closet doubles as a voice over/sound recording room.  Michelle's clothes make for good sound absorbers.  I used the Voice Memos app on the iPhone to record the rubber cement bottle being rolled around on the floor in the closet and banging into things:

This film turned out to be one of my favorites so far.  It ticks every box of what a quintessential A52 film should be:

  • Commentary on the human condition.
  • Cheap to make but not cheaply made.
  • Utilized a fairly unconventional approach to animation.
  • No human figures/faces.  No dialogue/language/syntax/words.
  • BONUS! Only took 3 days to complete.

Thanks for reading!  Now go WATCH "MAKER OF THE MAZE"!

FILM 07: "The Boogie" | Home #3

The Bronx has a really bad stigma.  When someone outside of New York thinks of The Bronx, typically it's gunshots, murder, fire, crack, bullet holes, knife fights, dirt, grime and poverty.  And maybe the Yankees.  Sure, The Bronx went through a bad time.  But that doesn't mean that it's stereotype is the ONLY way it can be portrayed.

Considering the bad rap, it's still proud of itself.  The obvious things: birth of hip-hop (and probably doo wop); championship baseball; toughness.  And no matter what ANYBODY says, The Bronx has the best pizza.  And bakeries.  And delis.

It's a borough that's not afraid to get it's hands dirty.  Matter of fact it's not afraid of anything.  We'll die before we back down.  And even though it's a mainly segregated place, there's something of a camaraderie. A brother and sisterhood.  No matter what it's still HOME.  To me, at least.

This film isn't offering a healing of the wounds.  It's merely a portrait.  Small bits of things pieced together to create a mosaic of The Boogie Down.  After making this film I was reminded that The Bronx wears it's scars pretty well.  And the people wear their scratches like a badge.

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Much like the other two films in this micro-series, I used a scratch texture I created...from scratch.  For more of an explanation on that, click HERE.

For "The Boogie", I had my clamp light on a dimmer and pointed it up through the glass table/green cellophane/scratched acetate.  Then I just randomly played with the dimmer and used this footage as a background plate.  Here's the raw footage of what I mean:

It yielded some really nice results.  I wanted it to feel like summer and this footage definitely added some "heat":

The building shots were taken in the South Bronx where the elevated train passes through.  I took slow motion footage on an iPhone 6.  Some raw stills from the footage below:

I did a little stop motion animation for the vinyl record bit:

I also did a bunch of very crude hand drawn animations with a ball-point pen.  I used a technique called "straight ahead animation" and the way I went about it was REALLY down and dirty.  I used my phone as a lightbox (mad guerrilla) and drew really small drawings.  It was a fast and cheap way to do what I wanted but I wouldn't recommend it if you're a perfectionist.  There's a lots of hoping and praying involved that it will work:

Here you can see these little pieces applied to the scene:

I've been shitting all over storyboards with this "HOME" series.  And this film was the final shit.  I really can't stress enough that pretty storyboards can be a giant waste of time.  I hastily scribble through storyboards.  About half way through production I got rid of them altogether:

Ripping up those boards was really freeing.  This isn't a narrative.  It's a portrait.  Not having to worry about what shot went after another gave me tons of latitude in the edit.  And I was able to paint a picture and present some kind of feeling while being mindful of the sense of place.

Simply put, I winged it.  And it felt really good to do that.  Filmmaking can be really structured and confining if you're not careful.  By the time you get to the edit, you can be very hesitant to try a different arrangement of shots and scenes because that's not the way you planned it in the beginning.  A film is a journey and an evolution.  And the act of making a film is no exception.  So, if the end result might not be exactly what you originally pictured but the feeling that was intended is holding true, what's really wrong with making it up as you go along?

This film might not be the best of the bunch in the end but it definitely opened a door to a new approach.

Click here to WATCH "THE BOOGIE".

FILM 06: "Caverns" | Home #2

I'm one of the few people living in New York City who actually enjoys taking the train. If I need a mojo recharge, I jump on the train. There's no denying there's a special vibe going on underground (and above). It's really fascinating to me that you can walk down a staircase, go underneath the street, and there's a vast world that connects the entire city. It's like a whole other place with it's own code of ethics...written and unwritten.

In this "Home" series, I'm trying to create an aesthetic for each of the three films using a particular shape. For "Caverns" it was the obvious choice (to me) to use circles. Amidst a sea of straight lines (tile squares, rails, tracks, steel beams, platform tiles, stairs, etc.), the bright colored circles that appear against black signage seem really prominent.

Some examples:

I thought it was important for the color palette to resemble the colors of each train line.  Otherwise, it wouldn't be distinctly New York's train lines. I'm pretty sure every train line color is covered in these two pics:

To get a circle with some real texture, I just took some photos and video of one of my clamp lights during the shoot for the entire "Home" series.  I had shot a bunch of textures all at once.  Here's the main element I worked with for "Caverns":

Personally, I think the star of this film is the audio track. These were all real sounds I recorded on an iPhone 6 using the Voice Memos app. I rode around the city for a few hours on various trains in 3 different boroughs to collect all the sounds I needed.

For the speaker announcements, I held my phone up to the speakers inside the train cars and at each station platform:

I also recorded sounds of every train entering and exiting the station. I made sure to go to a station that has local trains stopping there as well as express trains flying by:

I wanted to cut the audio so it sounded like choppy bits of a subway ride experience.  Like this:

And this:

I drew a very basic storyboard and used it as a guide for the audio edit.  The order really couldn't be random. It needed to feel like you embarked on a ride and had a destination. Once again, my boards aren't pretty. As long as the story flows and the energy is there, the drawings don't need to be beautiful.

Here are some stills of the final result:

FILM 05: "Manhattan" | Home #1

Thousands of films, books, poems, plays and songs have been made about New York City or, at very least, utilize it as the backdrop.  It's one of the truly great muses in contemporary art over the last 100+ years.  So many iconic movies and shows have been created that feature New York.  I mean...just look at a few:

This film is my (very) humble addition to the list.

I grew up in The Bronx and spent lots of time in Manhattan.  The older I got, the more I wanted to be there.  I'd jump on a train and be there by myself sometimes.  It's hard to encapsulate the vibe I get just by being there.  I'm definitely not the first and I certainly won't be the last to feel that way.  So it's only fitting that I return the favor and make a film about Manhattan.

I didn't want to make something we've seen before and it needed to be something unique to my native experiences.  So I wanted to show Manhattan when it's not really in it's full glory.  No makeup on.  No parades.  No Times Square on New Year's Eve.  No Rockettes.  Just the city and me.  I can remember many times walking down a rainy street at night.  The sounds.  The smell.  The grit.  The emptiness.  Something we rarely see in movies.  It's some of my best memories of one of my favorite places.

If you live in New York or have spent any significant amount of time here, you'll know that even at it's worst it's full of wonderful surprises.  I can't tell you how many impromptu fireworks shows I've witnessed.  And it definitely ain't the 4th of July.  Or crossing a bridge, usually by car, and seeing the sparks from a train floating into the East River while it's crossing a neighboring bridge.  Or suddenly 7 cop cars or fire trucks are darting down the block creating a light show.  To me, this is Manhattan.

I've loved it the most at night.  Only the lights define it.

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Each film in this "Home" series will feature a shape that makes up the foundation of it's aesthetic.  For "Manhattan", it's squares. All three films were shot at once using a glass end table, aluminum foil, and some hardware store items.  Some pics of the setup below:

I wanted to make my own scratches and grit.  To get this gritty texture, I scrubbed acetate sheets with sandpaper, smeared black paint all over it, then wiped the paint off just leaving it in the crevices:

I placed the acetate textures I made on the table top.  Then I shot the light in various positions against different parts of the texture.  Other times, the lights were pointed at the crumbled aluminum foil and I moved the foil around to get different light patterns.  In some cases I did stop motion animation with the clamp light itself, as in the scene with the police sirens:

When it came time to animate, I basically cut these photos into squares and made all kinds of lights out of them.  Window lights, bridge lights, car lights, police sirens, etc.  Here's an example of making a bridge from one of these squares:

Here are my storyboards for "Manhattan".  By looking at these, you wouldn't think I went to art school for 6 years to learn how to draw.  I don't believe in doing pretty storyboards.  For me, a storyboard's primary purpose is to layout the flow and energy of the story.  Spending time making well drawn panels is, to me, a giant waste.  Especially if you're the only one who needs to look at them:

Another running theme through these three films is this overlay of film scratches.  I didn't want to just slap some scratchy film over top.  That would've been pretty fuckin' lame.  But I thought it would be cool to use the film scratches as the rain animation.  Surprisingly, it worked really well.

Here's the film texture I used:

And here is some finished art with the film scratches skewed to look like rain:

Thanks for reading :)  Now go WATCH "MANHATTAN"!

FILM 04: "Freedom From Fear"

In 1941, FDR did a State of the Union speech that we now know as "The Four Freedoms" speech.  He spewed the bullshit deftly as he spoke about "a world founded upon four essential freedoms." These are, according to ol' Frankie, the Freedoms of Speech & Worship and Freedoms from Want & Fear.  These were meant to either reinforce or expand upon the original bullshit story of Unalienable Rights we see in the Declaration of Independence.

But it's this fourth one that really speaks to me...Freedom from Fear.  FDR describes it as: "a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physicial aggression against any neighbor - anywhere in the world."  In layman's terms, take the guns and bombs away and no one can attack anyone.

If FDR were to peer into a crystal ball in 1941, to 2017, he would see no such reduction of armaments.  Actually he'd see a considerable growth.  Not just in numbers of actual weapons available to the masses, but a growth of the fetish for "bearing arms" as well.  And that's just in this country alone. (I don't dare speak for the rest of the world.  We haven't learned how to look after one another in this country yet.)

This speech's bottom line was that it was a pitch to go to war.  Maybe it's just me...but it seems pretty hypocritical when a call to arms includes a major point about a reduction of arms.  But it was certainly a call to arms and to get The People to back the idea, Uncle Sam employed good ol' beloved illustrator Norman Rockwell to help sell it.

Below are Rockwell's "Four Freedoms".  Some of which are his most recognizable works.  Look at all those white people who had the luxury of these freedoms!

They became some of the finest examples of weapons of mass communication.  Both "Freedom of Speech" and "Freedom of Worship" included this piece of advertising at the bottom:

 

Here's the "Freedom from Fear" piece as it appeared in the Saturday Evening Post:

"OURS...to fight for".  Yes, for sure.  No one wants themselves or their loved ones in harm's way.  They don't want to be sitting in a movie theatre, a high school library, a college classroom, a first-grade classroom, a nightclub, the workplace, a restaurant or the finish line at a marathon and have to worry about a COWARD showing up and surprising them with mass murder.

But in the world we live in, those things actually happen.  With every surprise mass murder I, for one, have become more and more leery of where I'm going...and will I be killed by surprise while I'm there?  I live in New York City, a major target.  Of course, I don't have high anxiety every time I step on the train or some other crowded place.  But it certainly is in the back of my mind how easy it would be for a COWARD to do away with unsuspecting folks with their guard down.  One thing I can't imagine is the terror those students, teachers, patrons, movie-goers, club-goers and spectators felt when the COWARD arrived.

Also, to be fair, no one wants their armaments taken away from them.  Especially folks who are responsible and respectful and private with said armaments.  There are many, many people in this country who own guns, have respect for their guns and treat them with care.  I respect that they respect it.  I respect that some families shoot guns as a means of family bonding.  Or just simply enjoy hunting as a hobby.  It's not my place to judge.  I grew up with guns in my house and learned to respect them.  And the reality is that everyone in this country has the right to have one.  And use it when necessary.  Like it or not, cemeteries like Arlington are packed with soldiers who lost their lives fighting for this right (amongst many others).

So with this film I offer a new "Freedom from Fear".  The point is that our carefree existence has been flushed down the proverbial toilet and has been replaced with mass murder by surprise as a normalcy.  And it's not like the threat is coming from an outside "neighbor", as FDR put it.  It's from the inside.  Inside neighbors.  Actual neighbors.  American neighbors.  Ones that have access to military grade assault weapons designed to remove the entire top of someone's skull.

If you disagree, I really wish I could have even a fraction of an ounce of your naiveté.

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Not so much to report here as far as HOW this was done.  It might be interesting (or laughable) to note to other animators that I did this with Ray Trace 3D in After Effects.  To those who don't know what the fuck that means, I drew shapes in an illustration software (Adobe Illustrator) and then added volume and lighting in an animation software typically not used for 3D animation (Adobe After Effects).

Since there were lots of elements to deal with (10 bullets, 1 hand gun, 1 revolver chamber, 1 spring and a scope) I went though several iterations in the design process to get a recognizable version of the Statue of Liberty.  All iterations are below in order:

After I figured out the design and camera angle, it took me 5 days to animate this.  3D animation is heavy on the computer.  On some occasions, I had to wait about 20-30 minutes just to see the animation at full resolution.  Then do a few tweaks.  Then wait another 20-30 minutes to see the tweak in it's full glory.

As far as style, I wanted this to be stark.  Originally I had this in a high contrast black and white:

Then I tried blood red but for some reason I wasn't feelin' it:

So I settled on Statue of Liberty green.  I thought this oxidized copper tone made the most sense:

A final note...I did not record the sound effects heard in the film.  They were all purchased from a sound effects site.  If I ever find out how they got those diarrhea sounds, I'll let you know here ;)

Click here to WATCH "FREEDOM FROM FEAR".