Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A couple of links

Been on the phone all day - talking with colleagues, a potential investor and a good friend, a potential distributor, a guy who owes me a bucket of money, etc, while still trying to finish transcribing all the interviews I've done over the past few weeks for Sirens. Seems something has been glued to my ear in one way or another all day.

But it feels like we're getting our ducks in a row to really make 2006 something special. We'll be shooting brand new short and a new feature within the next two months, and I'm getting pretty excited. It's fun to remember what you really want to do and then find the resolve and opportunity to do it.

So, as my last completely-selfish act of my calendar-year, here are a couple of links to peruse: first is Kriscinda's all-zombies-all-the-time blog, Zombie-A-Go-Go. Because I'm in a zombie kinda mood.

The second is my year-end wrap-up that popped up on Wherein I talk about which movies I liked best about 2005. It isn't a long article. If you had a laptop, it would be the perfect piece to read on the john. Apologies if I already posted this. I lose track sometimes...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The last days of being my current age

Soooo... Thursday, I age a little bit more. Yes, we age every day, but I'll be celebrating the beginning of another calendar year. And while, on occassion, Amy and Bill and I all gleefully point at each other and accuse "You're old!" and then dance in a circle, I don't usually fret too much about the "one step closer to death" factor of getting older.

The only thing birthdays make me do, though, is take stock of what has come before and wonder if I'm as far along as I should be.

When I was sixteen, I was convinced that I'd be a published novelist by the time I'd graduated high school. That didn't happen. In fact, it would be another five years before I published my first short story in a professional magazine (earning me the princely sum of "one contributor's copy"), and another year before I would actually get paid for any of my writing, fiction or non.

By 24, I was having serious doubts as to whether filmmaking was really my forte. But I perservered, with Amy's, Bill's, and my good friend Bill Fuller's help, and we pulled out Tenants, a haunted house story that enabled me to graduate from film school. And, miraculously enough, less than six months later, was sold to SRC Video (although then it was Salt City Video, just before it became Sub Rosa) for international distribution. This launched our careers in the indie scene and made me the only one in my graduating class to sell their senior film for any amount of money. And thanks to its presence on the Campfire Tales DVD, we still get royalty checks for it!

At 25, the three of us decided to throw sanity to the wind and shoot our first feature. On film. And we're still shopping that one around! Leading me back to where I was in film school, wondering if I'm really cut out for filmmaking.

When I question this out loud, as I did at New Year's dinner with Mike and Carolyn, Carolyn questioned me as to what I thought I'd be doing all this time. And I returned to my original high school goal. I really did think I'd be a published novelist by now.

So, recently, I've been pursuing my fiction - or even non-fiction in book form - a little more rigorously, with the help of my friend, Paula Guran, who runs the terrific horror-fiction site Dark Echo, but she's been telling me something I think I've known all this time: the climate is terrible for the publishing industry. Like the film industry--or, actually, worse--the big publishers only want names and formula novels. The smaller houses don't have the resources to promote anything with a unique vision. And in neither case can you possibly make a living at it. Which simply echoes my current situation in the film realm, only I'm more intimately equated with this world and know more of the best people to deal with here.

So, ultimately, there's no sense in playing this game any longer. I am where I need to be, I suppose. Whether I should be further along, well, that's just speculation and hindsight-playing, innit? I got to where I am now through the help of a great many people, Amy in particular, and via the choices I made.

But no one gave us anything. We never waited around for someone to hand us the keys to the city. We worked for it. And this is as far as we are right now. And not to get all Muppety, but the view from here looks pretty good. Sure there are mountains left to climb that are blocking one direction, but I can look back and see what we've achieved so far, and, dammit, we haven't done too badly.

I haven't done too badly.

So now, at a year older, heavier than I was in college, with Reed Richards hair, I can look out at the year ahead of me. We've been hired to shoot a short by the end of March, and we have at least two new movies we're going to try and shoot before we undertake Genghis Con, PA, yet again. And I'll continue to buck the odds and try and get something book-length published, with no help from my agent. I'll continue to make Sirens of Cinema the best magazine I can. I'll continue to cover and profile indie movies that I believe in made by people I care about.

And I'll continue to write odd, "Chicken Soup for the Psychotic" blogs like this, no doubt. (Because it seems like there are more than a few people who actually pay attention when I talk, which is more than what I used to have - so maybe I actually have something to say every now and then.)

A year older, and I'll perservere. (Because I'll never be as old as Bill!)

Friday, January 20, 2006

THE RESURRECTION GAME news on Fangoria online

Thanks very much to Michael Gingold at Fangoria for posting news about The Resurrection Game. Now, if everyone takes a deep breath and thinks really good thoughts for us, we'll finally find a distributor for this wonderful albatross.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The New Me

As most people who know me know, 2005 was a series of ball-kicks, professionally-speaking. Two of the biggest coups of my writing career came with very similiar disasterous consequences (though the first case should have taught me to prepare for the second). On the other hand, both were opportunities I couldn't pass up, and, I hope, made me smarter and stronger. They certainly made me, and Amy, exceptionally motivated to get our own projects off the ground again, and take another step towards our goal of making Happy Cloud Pictures a successsful, professional filmmaking company.

But about a week into 2006, I was still feeling the claw-marks of the previous year. And I decided that a change had to be made. I read somewhere that the easiest way to spark an internal change is to make a change externally. So I did something I once vowed to never do: I cut my hair.

The choice was obvious. I've had the same hairstyle and trademark length for seventeen years and it would have been eighteen next week. A lot of the people in my life have never seen me with short hair - Amy's entire family for one - and most of my family has been begging me to cut it for nearly the same amount of time. Ultimately, though, I did it because I wanted to. It was time for a change.

(When Were-Grrl had its Pittsburgh premiere, it was at a monthly film review called "Film Kitchen" and the other film playing that evening was a documentary a young woman did during her work-study in Dublin, Ireland. She had every opportunity in the world to document her trip, the differences in cultures, etc., but, instead, she chose the narcissistic route and focussed on her decision to shave her head. The entire documentary was about this decision and the event itself. (Quite frankly, it was a waste of time and videotape.) My decision was not this radical, and I'm not trying to give it as much weight.)

Now, I've said on countless occassions, when people suggest that I dye my ever-increasing gray, or get my hair styled, or hand me bottles of facial moisturizer, etc., that "being me doesn't require my full attention". I don't like to spend hours blow-drying, primping, moisturizing, etc. I'm not Patrick Bateman. I don't skin-peel, I don't loufa, I don't use astringint, I can't do 1,000 sit-ups at four in the morning, nor would I attempt any of it.

Ultimately, the decision had little to do with the haircut itself. I needed to break out of the self-destructive cycle I'd been stuck in between 2003 and 2005. I need to stop seeing everyone I meet as a friend, trusting them implicitly. I'm in the wrong business to be that naive. And I need to stop seeing professional decisions as either attacks from their end or crucial lines-of-death on mine. I have to remind myself to be careful and not become one of those I dealth with in 2005: folks whose egos outweigh their talent and their experience. Art and commerce can co-exist on the productions I can control, and I have to - to quote the old Irish saying - "Have the strength to change the things that I can, and the grace to accept the things I can't. (And the wisdom to know the difference.)"

The positive aspects to come out of 2005 are: as disasterous as the business-dealings I had were, they weren't financially disasterous. They were only damaging to "Mike Watt the Artist", and unless you are a complete narcissist, the artist aspect can be the easiest one to repair. If I chose the battles wisely, and I believe that I have, I'll have closure - financial, at least, if not emotional (for either Amy or I) - with 2005 in a couple of days.

And, as always, I have a couple of irons in the fire for 2006, and we're waiting to see how they pan out. It's already been a banner year for Sirens of Cinema and we've only begun putting the issue together. 2006 will see at least two original productions from Happy Cloud Pictures, in addition to a work-for-hire project pitched to us from someone who has never steered us wrong in the past (but at the same time was smart enough to offer us a contract).

Of course, I'm not attributing any of this to the haircut. I didn't do anything mystical. But I know that I see a different-looking person every time I look in the mirror. And right now, that's enough to remind me that everything changes. In order to keep up with evolution, I should be changing too.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

My "end-o-year roundup"

Because Eric Campos over at Film Threat is an amazing human being, he got my end-o-year round up posted today, complete with pretty pictures. This piece details my adventures on the convention circuit from September to November of last year, complete with my Genghis Con, PA, overview.

Please let me know what you think. There's a lot of blood on those pages.

Visit said article here.