Tag Archives: Marc Maron

The Videoblogs: Why We’re Doing It (10 Reasons)

It's on.

It’s on.

My first film was a crime drama about a thug whose past mistakes catch up to him. My second? A crime drama about a two detectives and a confessed murderess who go up against a corrupt district attorney. Multiverse is as much scifi as it is drama — although as you can hopefully see there’s a lot more going on under the surface than what is presupposed by constraints of genre.

My point is that, if I wanted to, I could go out tomorrow and make something that pulses and thrills. But I don’t want to do that. Not yet. Very soon, I may want to do that, but not now.

Here’s why I want to do something else. In ten reasons, boiled down.

Here’s why we’re making a tiny, quiet film about mental health and reaching out through The Screen — about starting off painfully alone and ending up surrounded by friends — instead:

  1. This is how we feel. Feeling is everything. I used to be someone who professed this, a bit pretentiously, but I never actually believed it before now. There is what we do, and then there are the feelings behind what we do — which, for better or worse, dictate the whys of our life. Why we are who we are. Why we are where we are (and, to circle back, why we do what we do). Sometimes, in reflecting on all this, we view what we are and, dissatisfied, we seek change.
  2. We seek change. We face challenges of racism, sexism, faithlessness, hopelessness, and institutionalized injustice, here and now, today, in contemporary America. These challenges, in my opinion, are rooted half in denial or despair (on the part of the populace) and half in apathy or willful subjugation (on the part of those in control).
  3. We seek clarity. Despite all this, we believe people are inherently good — or at least inherently neutral on a moral scale. We believe much of the collective pain that blocks us from progress is obstructing paths to awareness.
  4. We seek awareness. There is no point to yelling into the crowd. The crowd is not listening. Instead, we must engage. We must dialogue. We must share our fear, our anger, and our pain.
  5. We seek a dialogue. There can be no progress without understanding. Everyone must feel heard, and all expressions exhausted, so that the paths to redemption may be cleared of obstruction, confusion, or deceit.
  6. We seek redemption. Raymond Chandler once wrote: “In everything that can be called art, there is a quality of redemption”. We believe art, and particularly the medium of the moving image, via it’s dominant position in cultural communications — is the vehicle by which redemption can be sought.
  7. We seek to make art. This is, in all honesty, all we know how to do. To quote the inimitable Marc Marc: “There is no Plan B“.
  8. We seek your patronage. This is a fact of the artist-audience arrangement. Ours is an interdependent relationship. We make films so that we can share them with you. This takes a great deal of hard work and sacrifice. We’re asking that, based on past results, you trust us enough to pre-purchase advanced access to a copy of our film so that we can get it made and then get it to you, as quickly as possible. Just contributing at all guarantees that you can watch it eventually on Seed and Spark. For $10, you can own a copy. We appreciate any and all contributions.
  9. We seek your help in growing our message. No large undertaking of note can be undertaken without participation in large numbers. If you like what we’re doing, and especially if you’re interested enough to pay for advanced access to our artistic product — we ask that you tell any friends and family who you think may be interested.
  10. We seek the grail. Partially, this last note is a test to see who lasted all the way to the bottom of the list. But, in all honesty — no matter how brazen or stupid the aspiration may sound — we do seek the grail. We believe in the possibility of an America where artist and audience remain in direct contact first and foremost, beholden only to each other, with few middlemen in between to dilute or corrupt messaging. We aspire to be able to participate in such a relationship in a sustainable way, wherein we may someday soon be able to make a living from doing our job, which is, again — making movies for you.

And that’s the story of this story. Hopefully this is all the beginning. Regardless, we do appreciate your time, your contributions, and your help in letting the world know that we aren’t completely satisfied with the status quo.

But we do have hope for change. Don’t we?

Thanks for being you. Please help us make our movie if you can.

liam_sscamp

Ride The Wave: Balancing Life + Creative Productivity

Multiverse Production Still

This is what the production of my last film did to my living room.

It’s remained quieter here than in recent months (but — look! — new site!), and by now I want to dive a little deeper into the reasons why.

Life’s been full.

We walk along many fine, intersecting lines, as we seek to find and maintain the right balance in life, between work and play and leisure and purpose. Sometimes, life looms over all these constituent parts with a largeness greater than the sum of its parts. Because, sometimes — often — life surprises us. Therein lies much of the beauty and the frightfulness of being alive.

I’ve been quiet because I’ve been busied by life, in ways that have sometimes been difficult. Generally, I’ve been okay with this — even in times of anxiety and concern — because, as they say, not many things of worth are necessarily easy to manage or attain.

The difference has been my shifting response to difficulty. I’m not fighting it as much, because I’m starting to see that my default modes of fighting were exhausting me, with little to show for my efforts. This isn’t to say I’ve begun capitulating, instead of fighting. It only feels like I am getting better at following my own advice, and am lately fighting smarter.

What I mean to say is that I’ve been taking better care of myself, while at the same time working to strengthen my resolve to keep up with efforts aimed at self-care as well as creative growth. Rather than push everything out to the page (or screen), I’m giving my thoughts and feelings some time and some room.

It’s been working. I’ve always said that I wanted (needed) to live my life directly, instead of, say, placing a monomaniacal focus only on producing — but today I’m not ashamed to say that I often haven’t done a great job of actually doing this. Invariably, I have lived — increasingly so, since I met my wife — but I haven’t often gone all-in on the full experience of living. By this, I mean that, in constantly fighting off that which I decided I didn’t like or want in my life, by defaulting to this reaction rather than a fuller experiential reaction, by living in constant fear of imminent death — I was regularly missing out on a part of reality.

I’m not exactly censuring myself for this, but I bring it up because I’m not sure it’s a necessarily unique experience.

The difficulties of life are just as real as its pleasures. Both need to be experienced, if we’re to interact and react with others and the outside world in a true, honest way. That is another thing I’ve often said I’ve wanted. I’ve said it to myself and I’ve said it to others, who often claim to want Truth as well. But you have to look at something first, have to touch it and listen to it, before that can really begin to happen.

Related to all this, I’ve also been locked on a rich vein of productivity lately. I don’t remember ever being this productive. I’ve been churning out pages like a champ. Some of the writing has been hard, and has taken a toll on me emotionally, but overall I cannot and will not question this development past the point of making sure I take my health and happiness into account while I ride the wave.

Last month, in particular, was mostly chaotic — in my head. Many were the days when I got plenty of sleep, ate well and took care of myself, but woke up the following day exhausted. To quote my wife, who at points could only watch and attempt to help: “Your mind is exhausting you.”

She was right, about that and the fact that something had to be done — but I think I was also right to let things ride for a bit, in an attempt to give myself the time and space to identify what was going on and attempt to channel the energy.

A lot of that process involved asking myself personal questions about personal matters that required careful, thoughtful, heartfelt attention. But I have, thankfully, throughout a life that has been frequently jolted towards chaos for long stretches of time by an “exhausting mind” — I’ve learned how to balance myself out at such times by abandoning myself to my need to keep writing and creating.

My point is that I now have more clarity and experience than I used to have, in terms of having patience with myself as the complicated dance between life and art plays out in the way it must.

So, finally, I want to share some insights into what I have specifically learned through all this, in terms of how to press forward, not only in times of upheaval and growth but most of the time. Many, if not all of these lessons, can be found in many others places on the web, in some form or another. Because many appear to be universal truths of self-care and creative productivity.

That isn’t to say I’m writing this only for creatives, or that productivity itself is the goal. As I have mentioned once or twice before, I believe we as human beings are fundamentally creative. It’s damaging to all of us to reserve sole use of the word as a descriptor of artists and art and art-like-things only. For better or worse, we all create — and/or share in creation — every day. Every imagined circumstance, every hope and fear, owes its existence to an intrinsic creative impulse. Creativity is fundamentally human.

Similarly, regarding productivity — we are all of us, always, producing. We just don’t always exercise much judgement in deciding what to produce, or take as much responsibility for what we’re already producing, as we otherwise might. Many times, we react more than we act. We produce new and wider roads away from our fears, rather than seek the tools we need to turn around and face them. These lessons essentially reflect some of what I have learned (and am seeking to remind myself) in my own eternal battle between fear and action.

Finally, you’ll notice many lessons appear to contradict each other, when taken in pairs. Exactly.

Here we go:

  • Get healthy. This lesson is first on the list for a reason. It’s the most important one, and perhaps the hardest to implement and maintain over the long term. Getting truly healthy takes work, dedication, and perseverance. For me, it took a series of fits and starts before I finally got on a real, sustainable path to healthfulness. Unsurprisingly, this lesson also brings the biggest, most life-changing results, once you learn it and apply it. Where to start? I can’t really tell you that. Before we can get healthy, we need to arrive at an accurate, realistic, perhaps unsparing (but not necessarily judgmental) assessment of how we are faring — physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally. It takes testing, reflection, introspection. It’s not an overnight process. It’s a lifelong process. But major changes can be made over the course of months and years. Some parts of healthiness are simple. Many Americans are overweight and out of shape. I have been both, many times, for long stretches. Currently, I am neither, and being fit has not only boosted my confidence and self-esteem (significant pluses), it has left me more energetic and more equipped to fight off sickness and fatigue. I also stopped drinking alcohol entirely, except for Saturdays and special occasions. I cut my caffeine intake by 70%, as an experiment, to see if doing so would reduce daily anxiety (it did). You don’t have to do any or all of these things, but dedicating yourself, perhaps one step at a time, to areas of your life that you know in your heart could use some attention in terms of healthiness, or to similarly test changes — the results begin to cascade through everything you feel and do. Finally, note that I mentioned mental and spiritual health as well. Excluding the introduction of some sick, horrific scientific experiment, and/or divine intervention, to the process — we aren’t able to see our hearts and souls. That doesn’t mean an idea of both shouldn’t be sought after, and similarly assessed. The pursuit of these sort of deepest personal truths are essential to pure creativity. We can’t produce true happiness in our life when starting from a hurt or damaged place. I’d argue we can’t completely produce genuine, heartfelt contributions to society from such a starting place either.
  • Always be doing something — and actually do things. This is definitely one of those lessons that’s already out there, in many forms, but it’s been worth it for me to constantly remind myself of its importance. I tend to brood. I used to think it was just part of being me, part of being a writer. It’s not. Brooding, often, isn’t very different from doing nothing. And doing nothing, in such a way, is not only of no real use (to anyone) — it’s also paralyzing. The mind fills the space created by do-nothingness without your permission — and it doesn’t always choose what you would want it to choose if you were taking any control over the process. Staying active, and focusing as often as possible, time after time, on one task (or experience) that we sincerely want to do (or have accepted we must do), keeps us aimed in the right direction. Starting small, and breaking tasks up, helps immensely. Starting early helps immensely — it sets a tone of relaxed accomplishment that can last a whole day. Don’t have enough time? That’s a lie. Give up something that’s really not important to your life or happiness. Cut TV time in half, or by an hour (to start). Or stay off social media for a predetermined stretch of time. But you have to actually do things. Repeatedly. That’s why it’s good to start small and simple. Set up manageable patterns that make you feel good and learn to love being active. Find a system you love, that made to work for you.
  • Plan, at least once per day, to do nothing. Nothing. For at least a few minutes. I’ve been meditating, as a means of accomplishing this. It’s not as hard or as confusing as it seems. There are free podcasts on iTunes that include guided meditations. I’ve been using this one. It truly helps to jolt the mind out of less-than-helpful, unproductive patterns. For a quick video about the value of doing nothing for a few minutes per day, click here.
  • Go out into the world and stay in it. About a year ago, I started to realize that I was hiding myself from much of my own life. I was spending too much time alone in my apartment. If not for the incremental presence of my wife on certain nights (we were working opposite schedules at the time), and the necessity of getting up and going to work (which was truly a struggle on most days), I’m not sure I would have left the apartment except to get food and essentials. When I did leave the apartment, it hurt, and it exhausted me. The story of how I got to this place is complicated and multi-layered and I’m still working some of it out. However, with some help from my therapist, some more help from other resources (including Marc Maron’s podcast, which I’ve written about before), and a personal dedication to battle the unhealthy pattern — I was able to accept my condition at that time and make some changes. I don’t think what happened was necessarily uncommon for a writer (and I did come out of the stretch with a ton of pages). But, thankfully, I am a filmmaker as well. So I wrote Multiverse, one day, around the time when I was working on this particular issue. Making the film proved to be a means of not only coming to terms with this exact lesson but owning it. So began a long, ongoing journey to get myself — as myself — out into the world physically (New York City presents an opportunity to this about a hundred times every second) that has changed my life. I’m happier, now that I get out more. I feel more connected to people and to life. These two developments, taken together, have contributed greatly to increases in the quality and quantity of the work I’ve been producing. This blog is evidence of the shift (and has helped me bridge the process). In a few months, it will be a year old. And I’m enjoying the existence of this ongoing connection with you, even if it’s not exactly the same or as good as interacting in person.
  • Respect the solitary impulse, then embrace it when it comes. I did say there would be contradictions. What I mean by advocating solitude, immediately after admitting a struggle to escape it, is to point out the importance of being comfortable with ourselves, and taking the time to feel and to think deeply about our own lives (more of that part later). The differences between falling to isolationism and embracing solitude only when the desire for it comes naturally — are many. First, while we think and feel all day, we don’t always (or often) do so actively. Many times, we’re reacting to outside circumstances and stimuli. This is okay, and perhaps even necessary when out in the world — but there are many other worlds inside the human imagination as well. These inner worlds are just as complex as the outside world (if not more so) but frequently more elusive in terms of seeing them clearly (if at all). They are also in a constant state of interplay with the outside world, and the people in it. To strike a proper balance, as this interplay continues in perpetuity, I believe it’s essential to take time, when you need it, for yourself only. I have to do this on a daily basis, at this point. I need to be alone, for long stretches, at several points throughout the day, on most days. I can’t be a writer without solitude. I can’t figure out what I’m feeling, or why I’m feeling what I’m feeling (which affects what we do and how we do it) without taking many moments to pause. I’d argue, similarly, that none of us can be full, complete, healthy and productive versions of ourselves unless we constantly take time the amounts of time we need alone — and no longer — to get comfortable with, feel compassion for, and better understand ourselves.
  • Reach out and be vulnerable. This lesson comes from smashing the previous two together. It’s not enough to put yourself out there, and to also spend time alone figuring out what’s inside that person you are launching into the world. As far as you are comfortable, which can perhaps be figured out by taking small steps — as a means of protecting your core self to the degree you feel you must on a case by case basis — it helps to begin introducing some of what you learned and observed about yourself, in quiet moments alone, to the people around you. First, obviously, it helps to surround yourself with those with whom you feel comfortable but who also excite you — people with whom you share interests and/or experience. For some people, this is very easy. For others, it’s hard. For me, it’s both. However, I have come to believe that reaching out and being more honest and open (sometimes even to the discomfort of others, within the realm of respectfulness) is essential to well-being and productivity. Being open about your feelings, wants and needs — it halves the available arsenal of Fear and Doubt. Fear and Doubt are normal elements of life with their own part to play in how we act and interact with others. But, oftentimes, to me at least, they seem to be dominate too many of the considerations and decisions of the average American. Think of how and when you came to love and to trust those people in your life who became your closest friends and family. Shared experience and common interest and chance all probably played a part in each story of each relationship. But what do you remember about each story? I bet it’s the feeling of sharing, of a true and special connection being formed as you traded “secrets” over a drink, or shared some adventure that can never be duplicated, etc. Such stories don’t happen if we don’t offer a part of ourselves. Often, this must be done in spite of fear of rejection or judgment.
  • Lean on your defenses, when you absolutely must. But then get back on your feet, when the threatening moment passes. This is a tricky lesson. For me, it took (continues to take) a lot of patience. Defensiveness has a reputation for being “a bad thing”, and to a great extent that reputation is earned. However, at the end of the day, despite everything that has happened to us both in and out of our control, we have to deal with the lingering consequences. With limits set at the threshold of rudeness, disrespect, and reactive antagonism, I’ve found it can be healthy to defend myself against people who have no real idea or concern for what I need or am going through at any given moment. Again, I believe this is a useful lesson, on average, for many people. So many of us frequently default to absorbing blows rather than deflecting them — even as we are bombarded daily by the attacks or encroaching needs of others. This has a very large impact on what we are able to accomplish during a given day. It can have an even larger effect on what we believe we can accomplish on a given day (or at all). Leaning on defenses, in instances wherein we are doing so to protect our own intentions, can help get us from those intentions to the completion of a goal. In the past, I’ve made the mistake of swinging too fully from total defensiveness (which is isolating and unhelpful) and total immersion and vulnerability (which cannot be sustained over any long term in a healthy way). It’s been helpful to realize that short breaks from a total commitment to say, putting yourself out there, reaching out and being vulnerable, constant motion — they can help keep you inoculated against a reversion to unhappiness and poor productivity by introducing a bit of the old poison back into your blood now and again. What I’m saying is: don’t be afraid to return to old coping mechanisms and “vices” that have served you well in the past — so long as they aren’t harmful in moderation or addictive. If you don’t know the difference, err on the side of caution and fall back on defenses you know you can safely lower when you’re done with them.
  • Think, and be discerning and forgiving. This final lesson is somewhat of a broad catch-all for wrapping up all the rest. But it’s almost as important as the first one, if not more so. As contextualized at the top of this post — life is messy, unpredictable, and complicated. Much of the above is about managing the conditions of life while at the same time attempting to impose a touch of order in places where such order can help. Honestly, none of what I have shared has worked for me perfectly, all the time. Sometimes I fail to stay true to my own advice, sometimes life gets too overwhelming for it to be possible to manage anything other than “eat and drink and sleep and fulfill only your core commitments”. To be able to weigh and differentiate between good choices and bad, to know what is healthy or helpful or what isn’t, to figure out how to adjust what and how, it takes not only a desire to be well and to produce but a commitment to discerning thoughtfulness. I used to be very frightened of making decisions. Luckily, seven years as an independent filmmaker has mostly cured me of that fear. Forgiving myself, say, for lapses in dedication to my own well-being, or for a “failure” to realize that it’s time to “just chill” — this I am still working on. But it’s going okay. The point is to aim the brain at what really matters, which is probably a mix of productivity and simply…living.

This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list. It is, however, a representation of what has definitely been working for me, lately. If any ideas tickle you, give them a try. It can’t hurt.

Well, it can hurt. But life ain’t a daydream written on a cloud. It’s not a horror show either, most of the time.

Life is real and tactile and yet elusive and mysterious. For myself, I guess I’m trying to settle more comfortably into this greatest of paradoxes. There’s not much any of us can do to actually affect the balance in either direction, anyway,

We can only ride the waves as they come, and do what we can with what we have and with what’s around us.

What I Liked This Week: 3/30/13

Hello, Furyans — not to be confused with Furrians, which is very different thing. Hello also to any Furyan Furrians — The Furious Romantic Returns is an all-inclusive place.

Apologies for not slapping you with a longer post earlier this week. The Furious Romantic was furiously sick. That sort of Please God Make It Stop kind of sick. You catch my imagery? Put that imagery down! What’s wrong with you?! OMG wash your hands.

A word before we move on to WILTW.

There may be some changes around here, in terms of how these type of posts are populated. In short, I am limiting my time spent: reading the news, scouring the internet for signs of life and death (including Twitter and Facebook), emailing. I am making a concerted effort to free my mind from anxieties that are originating from someplace else. Partially this is because THERE IS ALREADY ENOUGH ANXIETY IN MY MIND. Also, I have a lot of work to do. And a lot of thinking to do, if Sophia The Great is going to live up to her name. Wish me luck. I will report in on my progress down the line, if people are interested. As an aside, I’m also cutting my coffee intake down from 5-6 cups a day to 1 cup on weekdays and 2 cups on weekends. This step alone has left me MUCH less anxious and much more productive.

What all this means for WILTW is that I may be bringing fewer links and more testimony to our weekly discussions and judgements. I think this may end up better for everyone. I will get to report in on Likes and/or Dislikes that are of a slightly more active nature, which seems to me a healthier and more useful thing.

And so, on to it. A few of these items are holdovers from The Days When We Still Read The News*.

  • The Trader Joe’s Lesson: How to Pay a Living Wage and Still Make Money in Retail, from Sophie Quinton at The Atlantic. I think we all know why I liked this.
  • Dick Van Dyke on WTF with Marc Maron. Just a delightful interview.
  • Slacker. Richard Linklater’s classic indie from 1991. Linklater is one of my favorite filmmakers, and Slacker is one of the titles I wrote down on my re-watch list as I begin thinking about how to shoot Sophia The Great. I think I liked it better when I watched it this week than I did several years ago when I watched for the first time. As many have pointed out over the years, sitting through Slacker, ironically, takes some work at points. But, overall, it’s such an original and challenging and engaging piece of art. As I hinted in a tweet after I watched, I came out of this recent viewing disappointed in current indies. That’s not a grumpy old man statement. It’s an honest assessment. There are many fine films being made these days. Fine films. Films that are fine. Good. Nice. Beautiful. But no one’s really arguing about them. I feel like if I gathered five or so friends in my living room and watched Slacker again — there would be a few arguments. A few legitimate discussions, at the very least. This used to be why we made independent films. Groundbreaking/thought-provoking films still pop up now and then, but I don’t know that they pop up often enough. I don’t know that the right ones are yet sparking the right dialogue. About our generation — all of it.
  • Strange moments of sudden inspiration. I was writhing (writhing, not writing) on the couch earlier this week, clutching my stomach and trying to keep my mind right despite the pain and some serious dehydration and some unpleasant flashbacks — when I was struck with an idea. The specific experience I was going through, strangely, sparked a sudden, clear thought, which led to an image, which became a sequence, which became a scene. The scene itself is only tangentially related to what I was going through at that moment, but it was built of genuine emotion from the moment, and I had to write it down. So I did. The scene wasn’t even for Sophia. It was for something that’s been living in the back of my brain for a while, that I’d like to take a shot at sometime in the near future, so I had to run with it. I liked this experience. I took a perverse joy in it. It made me feel powerful, for a few moments, at a time when I was feeling extremely powerless.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This is why we do it. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?! Too much news and coffee, probably.

Right?

Hah. Have a good week.

What I Liked This Week: 2/2/13

Hello, folks. WILTW is (obviously, at this point) the only juicy little nugget you’re getting this week — apologies, all my spare time has gone into the new script, more on that later — so let’s just get into it and start fresh on Monday. Argh. Monday’s awful. Monday puts ketchup on spaghetti. I won’t be writing anything on Monday. Monday hates writing. And babies. And puppies wrapped in sunshine.

Anyway. Nearly everything I liked this week was nominally entertainment based.

  • The Perks of Being A Wallflower. Probably the best film I saw this year, if only because it accomplishes something that Django Unchained can’t  accomplish as fully, due to limitations of genre and other reasons I won’t get into now because I don’t feel like opening that can. What does Perks accomplish that many films these days, unfortunately, don’t? A few things. It exists in proximity to life-as-it-is. Even though it’s still “a movie.” How does Perks accomplish this? Through unfiltered, unflinching emotional honesty — regardless of costs of discomfort and sadness and pain (life is sometimes uncomfortable and sad and painful!) What else did I love about the flick? The central, crucial role that love, both communal and personal, played in the redemption of its damaged protagonist. Because a lot of us are damaged. We need love. Perks doesn’t dance around either this truth, or the necessity of facing it if you ever want to “feel better.”
  • This episode of WTF with Marc Maron, in which Marc interview Lucinda Williams. First, I just straight geeked out over this, because these are two of my favorite entertainers, talking to each other for an hour in a garage about life, music, personal demons and redemption. Also, as he is wont to do, Maron dug up some of the specific darkness in Lucinda’s backstory — which we all knew had to be there (such beautifully sad and soulful songs as she writes and performs don’t come out from nowhere), and it was enlightening and sobering to hear about some of her specific struggles. The best parts of Maron’s shows (not a secret) are when he and a guest bond, in “real time” in front of listeners, over the revelation of some painful memory or another. This is how part of how we climb back — by finding a place of empathy through mutual sharing of some of those things (no matter what they are, or how dramatic or “commonplace”) that personally haunt or drive us.
  • Treme. The wife and I are only on Season 2 of Treme at the moment (we don’t have cable), but it’s getting very good, and it’s a shame that so few people seem to be watching it outside of “The Wire Faithful.” David Simon is one of the most brilliant minds America has, and the messages he and his cohorts work hard to deliver through such carefully crafted docu-style narratives as The Wire and Treme are crucial ones that would serve us far better if more people paid attention to them and started talking. I go back and forth between feeling sad that more people (from all walks of life, everywhere in America) aren’t watching these shows and grateful that these sort of examples of “fringe popular culture” are at least out there. The thing is: this should be a more popular show. It shouldn’t be fringe (and I admittedly use the term loosely). Treme is a show that, much like The Wire, forces us to take a reasoned, compassionate look at the systemic injustices of the crumbling American bureaucracies that are failing and/or holding back entire communities of citizens — most often those most in need of more (reasoned and compassionate) help and support from the rest of us — even as those in power continue to view those same systems as ‘adequate’.
  • The feeling I had last night, after working for hours and hours to complete a hard-fought, new and better draft of a script that took me about three months to write (to date). Something about this one has me particularly excited. For better or worse, as I was telling my wonderful (and wonderfully supportive) wife-slash-partner-in-crime last night — this one, more than anything else I’ve written, feels like my best work. Even if nothing much changes, now that it’s “done for now,” the fact stands that I’ve changed as result of having written it.

And that’s why we do it. Have a good week.

What I Liked This Week: 1/5/13

Happy Saturday, everyboddy. Working on a lengthier post that I’ll publish soon, but in the meantime here’s a short list of what I liked this week.

The plan is to do this once a week, unless I end up hating everything on a given week, which is possible but I am trying to put that darkness in the past and/or into my scripts. We hope instead for sunshine and cheeseburgers.

So. What I (especially) liked this week.

  • This article, by Charles Eisenstein, about why “Everything We Tell Ourselves About America and the World is Wrong.” It’s compassionately written, non-confrontational, and not as cynical as it perhaps has a right to be. I may be projecting that last point. Either way, please read it.
  • This short film, MAN, by UK artist Steve Cutts, which is fantastic and only three minutes long so I am not going to describe it. Just watch it. Smart, (definitely) cynical, hilarious — pointed.
  • This “clip” from an ep of Inside the Actors Studio, wherein Dave Chappelle opens up about why he walked away from his successful show, what he was going through at the time, and his opinions on celebrity culture and the entertainment industry. I haven’t watched the whole interview but am going to go back and do so because I’ve always admired what Chappelle did and am interested in learning more about him as a person.
  • This episode of WTF with Marc Maron, where Marc interviews Michael Keaton. I grew up watching and rewatching Tim Burton’s Batman on VHS at my grandmother’s house, and have seen many if not most of Keaton’s movies. I have always been a big fan of his charisma and had been missing him on screen until he started showing up again lately. Also a very big fan of Maron and his show, which was a huge help to me this year as I began the work of re-engaging with my life (on a personal and creative level) after a few too many years spent chasing the darkness (in myself and on the page). Hint: you can’t chase the darkness — it’s unending. That’s why they call it darkness.

Found most of these through The Twitter. The article was posted by Ted Hope, Executive Director of The San Francisco Film Society. MAN was posted by Short of The Week, a site I started following recently that does some great work curating short films from solid talent. I can’t remember who posted the Chappelle clip but will do a better job about logging this sort of info moving forward.

Have a good weekend, people. Hit me up anytime at my own Twitter page.