Thursday, August 19, 2010

Back In Town, But Not For Long

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Back from Idaho, with a ton of work tying up in time for Fall. Here are a couple animatic sketches from my animation collaboration with Jordan Cash-Cooper entitled, "Duck, Duck, Goose". It's pretty bizarre, as I might have noted before--but for an animation, has definitely left a lot to Jordan's wild imagination. I'm really looking forward to seeing the final product. If you're interested in seeing some of his work, here's his last animation he produced for CalArts in San Fransisco, entitled "Applied Biotics":

In the meantime, I'm refining "Alone Together", and taking it in a much less plot-heavy direction. Should be interesting to see how it turns out. Details, in good time. Right now, I'm showing a first glimpse of the Teen & Youth Outreach promo to Hudson Guild and should have it finished by the end of this month.

In movie talks, I keep hearing a lot of buzz about "Cowboys & Aliens", and just recently discovered Harrison Ford will be showing up in the film (hell yes). I've also been wondering what people are thinking of "Scott Pilgrim VS The World". I've been and Edgar Wright fan since "Shaun Of The Dead", but I'm not entirely sure what to think of this new quasi-video game style he's hurling towards the audience. Though I've caught a couple looks at some scenes, I'm a little confined to my reservations for readied wit. I can complain and complain about something I've never seen, but I'd rather hear what other people have thought of it--that is, if anyone's seen it yet.

As for my fellow collegians, I hope you soak up what's rest of our summer vacations the best ways you know how--here, on the internet.

Take Care,
John Morgan

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Moving Forward... Fast!

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Hey There Folks,

I'm looking to make Dancing Zombie a legitimate corporation in the next few months. When Dancing Zombie Productions got its start in 2004, it was with short stop-motion animations, silly on-the-fly shorts and then on to some streamlined productions that actually showed some potential--enough to get me into film school. Now, six years since my days tinkering with action figures I'm on the path to turning Dancing Zombie Productions into something more. It's interesting to see this company start from literally nothing, and when I take a big step back and take a look at what I have... well, it's not much but it's definitely something.

In the meantime, I've finished my first solid draft of "Alone Together".  It's something I'm really looking forward to because of the highly developed characters. Their pasts are something I can't wait to delve into with the actors. Very demanding roles. But then I guess that will push me to be a little more demanding of myself; to start integrating the performances with the technical side in a more harmonious fashion.

For now, here are those photos from my trip to Idaho Falls...

Taylor Rd, just overlooking The Foothills.

Mom's Place.
Since I was taking these photos with a disposable camera, the flash kept resetting automatically every time I wound it up. I don't know why. I didn't' hold the flash button or anything. It was just working on it's own terms. It really sucked because I didn't want to blow out things in the foreground--especially during the day. So I thought, "Heh-heh. I know how to fix this," and whacked the camera against my palm to trigger the flash, just before I snapped a picture. Well, as I thought I was outsmarting this inferior device, the joke was on me. With every whack against the camera, the shutter was knocked out of place, exposing the film, and then *click*, *wind, wind, wind*... (double exposure).

The shed behind the house, by the wild raspberry patch.
Taylor Rd. at sunset.
A rainbow over The Foothills in the late evening.

The trees leaking sand down Taylor Rd.
These have to be my favorites. My mom's neighbors own a couple of horses and I befriended this black stallion who would hang out by the fence. Eventually I gathered the courage to introduce myself, and after a couple races down the fence with him, he let me take these shots. Of course, I didn't want the flash go off in his face, so I pointed the camera away towards the ground to trigger the flash just before grabbing the shots. Here's what I got.

When I got back the photos, I was so upset, but in a few minutes they began to grow on me. Some of them are very surreal, and though the images didn't come out the way I wanted, they came back with a creative edge I wish I could take credit for. I'll just remember my method and maybe experiment a little more in the future... But I'd rather have a camera of my own.

Luckily this shot came out without any sort of wacky double exposure. I'm surprised, but I suppose it was fate that I have this photo as unharmed as possible.

It's been a really great experience getting out of the city for as long as this, but soon enough I'll have to get back to New York, and then in a week it'll be back to school to make "Alone Together" jump off the page.

In the meantime, I'll be working on this and that, gearing up for my Junior year. I expect to show you guys some boards from the upcoming animation I'm producing with Jordan Cash-Cooper by next week--or perhaps, if they're ready by then, some animatics. I'll also be putting together a new blog, entitled "Poster Fanatic" which will be solely devoted to examining the somewhat neglected artform that film has inadvertently spawned. Talks of posters then, now, and where they're going. Keep a look-out. I'm really looking forward to it. >>>

Take care.

Keep On Truckin',
John Morgan


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

When Idaho Falls

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Hey There Folks,

Been longer than usual, but that's not without good reason. I've been hard at work with this Youth Outreach promo while visiting my mom in Idaho.

While I've been here I've also been writing my next film titled, "Along Together". When I looked up on IMDb to see if it was an original enough name, I discovered there are close to 10 films with the same title, which should make it somewhat difficult to find. So, for the time being, this might be just a working title because there hasn't been another "Alone Together" scheduled to come out this year or the next... Fingers crossed.

"Alone Together [Working Title]" is a tragic love story twisted within a tale of a mother's undying quest for revenge.

The screenplay is rather grim at the moment, but I like that. People I explain it to say there should be a happier ending, but I just don't think this story is meant to end well, considering the nature of everyone's work. But I can't say too much. You'll have to wait until I get some dailies online.

I'm also considering keeping a video journal throughout the production process to maybe add as a special feature for that theoretical DVD. But seeing as how this production is about to supercede the $600 budget limitations of my previous films, I'll be on the lookout for potential investors. A few of my colleagues from school have relied on kickstarter with some significant success. Who knows? I might actually get somewhere with this.

In the meantime, I'd be an idiot not to mention that I recently met Tony Gilroy who's best known for writing the Bourne films and more recently writing and directing "Michael Clayton". It was an interesting encounter. I'd given him a DVD with some of my films. He said the acting was weak in most of them. I defended my work respectfully and explained the circumstances under which everyone was working, but I don't think it made much of a difference. The one film he said he loved the most was "MEMO" which I had removed from my youtube channel because of its blatant intimacy, but it was its unfrogiving nature that Mr. Gilroy found so brilliant about the piece. I was touched, considering that of the work on my DVD it was one of the few pieces that was entirely my own writing--actually that was all it was, typos and all. He said he wanted to see more of that kind of work in my narrative films, which becomes the current challenge with "Alone Together".

I'm pretty pleased with my characters. Two intimate people who've made a living out of keeping their distance from society--from feeling. It's really something I can't wait to start casting once the schoolyear starts.

Sean Connery in "Zardoz": Dig those pants!

In other movie talks, I've been watching an eclectic selection while I've been away from home. Just last night I watched "Zardoz"... That was interesting. I remembered having watched it when I was a kid and it brought back some memories, mostly of why I hadn't seen it in so long (Sean Connery's attire, mostly).

Here's just an off the top of my head list of what I've been watching lately:
- Three Kings (David O. Russell)
- King Of New York (Abel Ferrara)
- The Bourne Identity (David Liman)
- The African Queen (John Huston)
- Good Night, And Good Luck (George Clooney)
- Catch Me If You Can (Steven Spielberg)
- The Asphault Jungle (John Huston)
- Cowboy Bebop [Sessions 1-26 & The Movie] (Shinichiro Watanabe)

Spike Spiegel from the series "Cowboy Bebop"
Cowboy Bebop is especially something that's gotten my attention this summer. Don't get no cooler than that. I really underestimated what people had told me about the series until my friend Chris Vella had shown me the pilot episode last semester. It blew me away. The writing is incredible. The animation is superb. I'd never really been a fan of anime, but this doesn't really change anything because Bebop remains in a league of its own. It's got a westernized spice to it. Something I've never seen in Japanese animation. Most other anime cartoons I'd seen that tried to play the super-cool American angle were merely aiming to immitate, whereas Bebop seeks to take off on an inspired interpretation of the Spaghetti Western, the classic Film Noir and classic Sci-Fis like Star Wars.

I'll admit, in an attempt to somewhat rip off Bebop, my brother and I, along with our friend Chris Vella, had developed a sci-fi in the same vain. It's really meant to borrow nothing more than a somewhat stylized backdrop, to allow us to take things to a live action level. While I was at school I'd considered a space pirate premise, but with lack of funds had to shelf it until I saw an opportunity. This project should develop over the next year, but for now remains something I'm doing in my off time.

Another project that's currently in production is an estranged surrealistic animated short I've been producing with help from my good friend Jordan Cash-Cooper. Can't wait to see what Jordan's been up to. Last I spoke to him, we'd finished storyboarding the sequences and I'd left him to do the animatics while I was away. Don't know whether I should be excited or worried at this point, but all the same, I know Jordan will create something pretty wonderful.

More directed towards the present, I've been in potato country for about a week now. It's spectacular out here. So beautiful. I wish I had my own camera, but unfortunately I've only been able to use an army of disposable cameras while I've been out here. I'll post some photos once they're developed.

This place is pretty rural. My mom's cabin is sandwiched between a neighboring horse ranch and a free-range chicken farm that's owned by an ex-mormon preacher named Don. He's a real character. I've spent my off time helping unpack my mom's boxes from their move here, from Arizona. I've also taken some driving lessons and picked wild raspberries that haven started cultivating behind my mom's shed. Really a vacation.

See You Space Cowboy,

Best of the Summer Blockblunders:
1. Inception (incredible)
2. Toy Story 3 (tough to beat)
3. Iron Man 2 (a little lacking, but still a sold actioner)