Things I Say

A forum for creative people.
User avatar
Garrett Gilchrist
Site Admin
Posts: 6778
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:23 am

Re: Things I Say

Post: # 10167Post Garrett Gilchrist
Sun Sep 01, 2019 9:30 am

anonymous asked:

Do you have any advice for aspiring filmmakers without an actual cast and crew and (as of right now) no ability to get a formal education? Tips on what to practice or challenges so when I actually start involving people, I'll have a decent grasp on what I'm doing?


This is a big topic to discuss. I’m gonna write a long one here and reminisce a bit about movies I made a long time ago. Hope you’re into that sort of thing.

Shoot some footage on your own, record some sound and learn how to edit! I was on a Mac so I used the now very outdated Final Cut Pro 7 for many years. Adobe Premiere Pro is more standard. I used that when I started out, and I use it more now, along with After Effects. I originally trained on an ancient version of Avid as well.

Try to get a single friend to help you! That will help. But you can also do animation, or film yourself, or film scenery, or voiceover. There's plenty you can do on your own.

I started in the 90s, when camera technology was terrible. The cameras now are amazing! The economy is not. I started to have trouble making movies because I need to pay bills! It's a cliche but people's phones are better than anything we had then.

Currently I have a Panasonic Lumix G7 DSLR which shoots 4K, and cost maybe $450. I used to know every feature of my camcorders and be in complete control, but I honestly don't understand this one as well as I should. It's nice though.

Before that, in 2007, I had a half-broken Panasonic MiniDV camcorder which must have cost $4500 or so. I was still using it for some things until recently, when it started eating my tapes.

I have a Sennheiser cardioid XLR mic (from 2007), and a Tascam audio recorder hooked up to it (from 2019). Maybe $150 altogether. I've somehow had the same microphone stand since 1993, maybe longer.

I also have a Parrot teleprompter mirror, for when I need to record web videos and read text off a screen.

We bought a heavy expensive tripod in 2007 and I found it difficult to use. I probably broke the damn thing. It wasn't working well. I was used to much lighter, cheaper tripods, and kept using my old one. Then I ended up buying two tripods cheaply. I think both were Goodwill finds!

I still have an enormous greenscreen setup we bought in 2007, very wrinkly now and rarely used.

With the old MiniDV cameras (or before that Hi8, 8mm and VHS) you needed a lot of light to get any kind of decent picture. I'd buy a $20 shop light from Home Depot and point it at the wall. It was very hard light, but bouncing it off something would diffuse it and light up the room. It was also very yellow and we'd put a blue theatrical gel over it to change that. It was also very hot and would make the room tough to film in! We also had little clamp lights with regular light bulbs in them as needed. You can get that stuff at Home Depot or similar for cheap.

Cameras today are a lot better, and even if the footage is grainy you can noise reduce in post with plugins like Neatvideo. You'll want to be more subtle with your lighting than I had to be back then. But a lot of times you'll still want a powerful light that will light up the room in a clean-looking way. Even then I'd often work with cinematographers for a more subtle feel. They would put diffusion material over the lights, or black foil to concentrate a more powerful light into a single beam. It's worth experimenting.

I guess I'll get very personal with this and talk about my whole history, because I'm like that.

I started out making movies as a kid in the 90s. I started out doing little animations on my own, which grew into a 90-minute sketch comedy feature (I was 15-17). I attempted to involve my friends from high school, but it was hard to get them to commit and show up, so a lot of that film was just me doing animation and puppets to fill the gaps. Once I premiered it, everyone got very excited at what I had accomplished without much help and wanted to be involved. I worked with them to figure out what they were interested in filming, and they contributed to the scripts and concepts and production.

We shot four more comedy features in the first half of that year, before I left for college (USC Film School in Los Angeles, 1999), often with a big cast and in all kinds of locations. I was also writing a satirical musical play at the time, and was starting to try to be a screenwriter (I eventually wrote about twelve unproduced screenplays). The main feature we shot that summer was a 2-hr parody of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace which would have been my first “real” screenplay, and which was based partly on the ideas of others in my friend group. There was some improv to the comedy. We also shot a 5-hour improv piece which was a comedy-drama (and then cut down to feature length) and which aged better.

I came back the next summer and shot two more similar features (which were in the same style as the Phantom Menace spoof and the improv piece respectively). I also ended up collaborating with other filmmakers on some stuff, which I ended up regretting due to the people involved. And I made student films, and a big, overlong drama feature while I was in college called Gods of Los Angeles (which took about three years). Later in 2007-9 (ages 25-28 or so) I directed Shamelessly She-Hulk, a superhero feature which is on Youtube. I also did more animation, and some quick, low effort webseries and web video stuff on my own, and I continue to do so. I’m currently working on some Unannounced Projects.

I often think that moving to Los Angeles and attending USC Film School was a mistake. It's an easy town to get lost in and just sort of fade away and disappear, even before the economy crashed and things got a lot more expensive over the past 20 years. At any rate, my film education at USC was similar to my film education outside of it- The teachers would just tell us to pick up a camera and go, and do our best with it. It wasn't very formal. What film school did provide was an audience- Your fellow students would all give notes tearing your student films apart, and I had to get a lot better very fast to keep up and deliver quality filmmaking.

So my advice is that you don't really need a formal education in film to make movies, at least if you're starting out and doing your own stuff. What you really need is to be young and have a certain amount of financial support on your side. Once I got older and had to work and pay my own rent during an economic recession, it was a lot harder to make films. If you're still living with your parents, great! Or if you're in an okay financial situation, great! Use whatever resources you've got.

Mainly you need free time, and people to help you. There's a lot you can do on your own. As I said, my early experiments as a kid filmmaker were pretty much done on my own, and I sometimes had to create scenes on my own for every movie that followed. I might do a quick pickup shot, or re-record some voiceover. Making movies on your own isn't an ideal way to work, of course, but a lot of people on Youtube are doing it!

I learned a lot about filmmaking by simply doing it. I'd made something like twelve features by the time I was out of college. Nothing I would still want to watch today, but I learned a ton by doing them. I expected I'd become a Hollywood filmmaker, but making that happen takes money and resources and connections I didn't have (and still don't). People don't want to admit it, but it takes money to get noticed at all in Los Angeles. And when you're older and need to pay bills, time is also money, so it's very hard to find the time to work on projects unless you have some money in your bank account. If you have money and time in Los Angeles, you can go to more events, meet more people, pay to enter your scripts into contests and things, and there's not much of a chance you'll get noticed by doing that either. But money and time allow you to make more art and try again.

At any rate, if you're just starting out and learning, there's plenty you can do on your own, but ideally you want to have a partner who is just as interested as you are, at least during the shooting. I have often spent years editing feature film footage on my own. WhoSprites, Shamelessly She-Hulk, The Thief and the Cobbler Recobbled Cut and Gods of Los Angeles all took years to edit. But the actual shooting of She-Hulk and Gods of Los Angeles and all my earlier features was usually done very quickly.

If you're young and working with friends and collaborators to create a feature, like I did many times in my teens and twenties, there's a certain momentum which is key, and very easy to lose. You can get a group of young people together to film a feature for a week or a month, and they'll work very hard. All the features I ever shot were like that, where I had one or two main collaborators who were there every day for a week or a month or a few months, and we just worked and worked and worked, while other people came in and out.

The movie I did in college, Gods of Los Angeles, I flew my friend Dave in to star in it. That was summer 2002 and we had maybe a month to shoot with him, as well as do a road trip to South Dakota for an amateur film festival where we shot some other stuff as well. We worked on the movie every day. Other actors would come and go but I only had Dave as an actor for that period. Sometimes we were sleeping on the floor at a friend's place before filming there - we were all over town. Dave lost weight in the desert on the road trip. But we had that momentum to get as much of the film done as we could. It was this ridiculous long script, like four hours worth of story. We ran out of time and I ended up cutting a whole act out and shooting a rewritten ending the morning Dave had to get on the plane back to Connecticut.

We had that momentum to work and get the feature done. We were young and in college, and it was summer. We had no bills to pay. We had free time. We shot most of the feature during that month. We worked around every other actor's schedule but Dave and I were there every day.

After that, and when the school year began again, production was a lot slower. Trying to get any actor to show up for a shoot was tough. We went months inbetween shoots and it took a long time to finish the last few scenes.

I did notice I'd gotten a lot better as a filmmaker during that shoot. We had filmed Dave's stuff during this crazed rush, and all the later stuff I was able to shoot in a much more controlled way. No-budget filmmaking, in my experience, is always a disaster. Everything goes wrong and you prove your worth as a filmmaker by rolling with it and still getting the scene done even if you don't have that actor or that location or whatnot.

You learn a lot by just doing it, as a filmmaker, and it helps to be young and without bills to pay. If you have one good collaborator who is willing to really join you on this journey for awhile, for a week or a month or parts of a few months, you have a movie. All of my movies were like that.

Los Angeles never agreed with me, physically or in any way. I moved to Los Angeles 20 years ago, and left ten years later. I spent that whole first ten years wanting to leave. I knew immediately when I stepped off the plane that I'd made a big mistake. I did leave, for five and a half years, and then ended up back here. I had big dreams, but everyone in this business has big dreams. I expected Hollywood, but it felt more like tripping and falling into a white-walled room which locks behind you and sinks down into the ocean, and nothing else happened for twenty years.

So I'd often leave Los Angeles for awhile to make a movie with friends elsewhere. I went back to Connecticut one summer, and I went to the Midwest twice (a mistake), and roadtripped to South Dakota. I had just unsuccessfully tried to move back to Connecticut one Christmas in 2006, and ended up in some shitty apartment with two people who were trying to kill each other. Pretty typical for my Los Angeles experiences. It's just a dangerous town when you don't have money. You always feel like a criminal, and I can no longer count the situations I lived through where my life was threatened. That was almost a constant.

I needed to get out of there, and someone I'd met while doing stand-up comedy called me. He had a rich mother, and he was bored and wanted to learn how to make a horror film. For the hell of it I'd written this script about Marvel's She-Hulk character. I'd written it in a week. My scripts usually took a year but this was an easy write. He read it, and he decided we should film that script.

I did warn him that it was a fanfilm, so we could never really make money from it, or release it on video, or show it at festivals, especially back then. I don't think he fully understood that until we were four months into production and had shot most of the film, at which point he shut things down.

But for four months we worked together every day. Our She-Hulk actress came in pretty much every day for a few weeks to film on greenscreen. A lot of times we were shooting one actor at a time because of scheduling, and we pretty much shot the whole thing in that apartment in Santa Monica. I'd put sticky paper up to turn the walls green or black. We just kept at it, getting through a huge amount of material every day. It's not great to shoot a big superhero feature one actor at a time. That was tricky to edit together later. But working with one actor, or two actors, at a time, is very controllable. You're not wasting anyone's time. You don't have scenes where one of the actors doesn't have much to do. They're always working. Sometimes we had a bunch of people onset at once, and sometimes that was more chaotic. It did mean we had more people to work the lights and sound and effects. It can be tricky to get Los Angeles actors to commit to this sort of thing. You're never sure who you can really rely on and who is going to flake out on you. We ended up shooting with fewer actors and less crew, and doing our best with it.

And when you're not paying people, sometimes actors will quit on you. We lost one of our two lead actresses on She-Hulk, and by the time I'd recast her months later we didn't even have money anymore, or most of the original actors. I was shooting on my own for no money. We had auditioned 400 people for the film. It was a huge, long process where I called in anyone in Los Angeles who would work for no money. But some of my first choices didn't want to actually do the film in the end. I got my first choice for She-Hulk, and got the best people for the parts. But I recall that original actress saying she'd rather be waitressing and making money.

It was always easier to find great actresses who weren't working. Finding guys who were any good was always tougher. On my college movie Gods of Los Angeles in 2002, I kept losing the male actors I originally cast in every single part, after a day of filming. They weren't willing to spend that much time on such a ramshackle, no-budget feature where I was learning as I went. The women were all cast from the start, and stayed put.

I shouldn't admit this, but on both Gods of Los Angeles and Shamelessly She-Hulk I eventually had to cut scenes and edit around some male actors, who hadn't quite completed their entire parts, but had come close.

The people who stayed, stayed because they believed in the project. We didn't have much money, but I was always a good dialogue writer, and was writing very meaty parts that actors enjoyed playing, even under the circumstances. And the circumstances were messy. (Screenplay structure was more of a weak point, though I got better at that too in my unproduced work.)

She-Hulk was a big role - she had tons of dialogue to get through - and we often shot her alone. We just kept working, and we had that momentum, and we wrapped her part in a couple weeks. Finishing the rest of the film later was a slower process.

But it's about working within people's schedules. That gets harder the older you get, because people have bills to pay and things to do.

On She-Hulk, one older actor usually had a beard for other roles. I wanted him to shave it for the part. One day he told me he'd shaved his beard and would want me to shoot his whole part in the next three days or so. We were already booked up for those days with lots of shooting with other actors. But we brought him in at night, and shot most of his part alone. Or in the morning, when he was already starting to grow the beard back.

I once shot a comedy feature in a week, where we all became horribly sick and injured in a dozen different ways. The director was depressed and not in the mood, and in retrospect was bullying me the whole time I knew him. It was horrible, but we still shot the feature in a week.

The Phantom Menace parody was filmed over a month or two, as was the one we did the next year. In both cases I was working every day with Dave, and other people would come in and out depending on their availability. So we had that momentum.

We also found time to shoot a comedy/drama improv feature. I had two collaborators on that first one, and we rehearsed for a couple of weeks while shooting the other movie, then shot the whole damn thing in one night. We tried to do it again the next year but everyone was too tired. We hadn't really had a break, and Dave had barely slept all month.

Looking at the footage from those (summer 2000) movies later was a turning point for me. I was a dumb kid of about nineteen making dumb movies on low quality video cameras, but I was also a perfectionist. And I lost my temper a lot on that shoot, while trying to get my friends to take the shoot seriously and get the footage I needed.

As a director, if you lose your temper you've lost control of your film. You've lost the respect of those around you. It's not going to get them to take you seriously. A director needs to be the nicest guy onset. You've got to make people comfortable, and feel like their contributions are valued. They should feel safe, and comfortable enough to give their best work to you. You need to earn their respect. If you have the right collaborators, they will do brilliant work for you, if you let them be themselves.

I was tough, as a director. I would shoot a lot of takes, until I knew I'd gotten the footage I needed in the edit. With enough preparation, four takes should be enough, but it's not unusual for me to see 16 takes in the edit for more complex scenes. We wouldn't do a ton of rehearsing. We'd shoot and fix problems on the fly.

I wouldn't lose my temper. I'd just ask them to do it again, until we had a version where nothing went wrong technically, or with the performance. If an actor isn't playing the scene right, it's usually a bad idea to tell them how to read the line. It's unprofessional but it's also not how actors work. Fixing the exterior performance is phony. They need to feel and understand the scene inwardly. If they're not playing the scene right, you haven't explained it right, and you need to talk to them for a bit about what their character is feeling.

Or maybe it's just a dumb scene and the actor isn't feeling it. While looking back at the She-Hulk movie, there are a few lines which make me cringe, which I wish I'd rewritten. Easy jokes, which border on offensive or vulgar and don't suit the character or the film.

I was looking at the raw footage from one of those scenes recently. I knew the line was bad at the time, and clearly I feel awkward directing the actress to say it. I ask if she can say it with a little more feeling, since she was playing it off very flatly, as if embarrassed of the line. She said "No, because it's a stupid line!" The footage cuts off there. She wasn't wrong. We should have rewritten the line, and she gave the best performance she could under the circumstances, because she needed to communicate that her character was embarrassed of the line too.

When I was making movies in college, I was still embarrassed that I'd lost my temper during the shoot in summer 2000. I was trying to be nicer as a director while still pushing hard enough to get the shot. I overcorrected. I have wavy hair which gets unmanageable unless it's cut very short. I would let my hair grow longer than that, and I'd really look like a mess. A scruffy kid with glasses and mad scientist hair, wearing a red windbreaker jacket and scuffed-up jeans. I looked like a slob! I thought it helped the actors relax and not have to take things as seriously. I grew up in Connecticut as this gifted overachiever, always pushing very hard and being very intense about things. In California I was learning to slow down, and calm down, and go with the flow. I think it helped me, but I went with the flow so much that nothing ever happened in my career for twenty years!

But some of that was just that I wasn't presenting a serious image to the world. I was presenting the image of a guy who really hated himself. I thought of myself as a clown. I felt bad that I was making my actors work so hard and do so many takes, and I thought I had to be the guy onset who was making things seem much more relaxed and casual, but also pushing them very hard to do brilliant performances and shoot a lot of takes. I should have loved myself more, enough to clean myself up and look professional onset. My appearance was at odds with the high-level filmmaking I wanted to do, because my self-esteem and self-image wasn't there.

As a creative in Los Angeles, at least to an extent, you are who you pretend to be. The industry is full of pretenders. The industry is biased toward people with money and connections, but people with money and connections are also just more presentable. I had very high standards for the filmmaking I was doing, but I looked and acted like a weird kid! It's amazing that anyone took me seriously enough to work with me. To an extent I had trouble making friends and felt very isolated, especially among people who really wanted to work in the industry. My friends tended to be people who didn't fit in either, and who wanted to leave Los Angeles at the first opportunity. I took myself very seriously as an artist, but a lot of people at USC took me at face value instead, and seemed to hate me instantly! Young people can be very cruel. Well, all people can be very cruel.

I used to do stand-up and improv as an idiot character called Radio Man. When I'd perform him live on campus, people would treat me like I actually was this ridiculous character. I was thrown offstage by security several times! Maybe I should have pretended to be cool!

I feel like that was partly my problem with networking and trying to make friends in the industry and get work that way. This is an oversimplification, but I felt like the mindset in Los Angeles was very different. Not better or worse than New York and Connecticut, but upside-down. New Yorkers can be gruff until they get to know you, and they're more open with how they're really feeling. People in Los Angeles tend to wear a mask at first. They want to smile and seem pleasant and impress people in a non threatening way, and it's a front. You find out what they're really like later, if they like you. You see their dark side. I'm generalizing of course, but I was never a very social person, and this was all backward from what I was used to. People were being very guarded and false when I was trying to be open and truthful, and vice versa even! I was zigging, they were zagging. I felt like people hated me immediately wherever I went! Or at least couldn't figure me out and weren't impressed. I wasn't great at putting up a front and impressing people. And in Los Angeles it's hard to impress people anyway. You're talking to creators, who are all boasting about what they're doing as a multi hyphenate. At that point I'd made a bunch of features as a writer/director/editor, but I was still a dumb kid with few resources and no connections.

Youtube has changed everything, but it's also not a filmmaker's medium. Most of the people who are getting successful on Youtube are doing video essays as themselves, straight to the camera. People aren't really getting known for making short films and features like we used to do. I still remaster material from the 2007 She-Hulk production for Youtube, and it feels very out of place with everything else that Youtube is.

That can be a positive, I suppose. It's not a big deal for a filmmaker to record themselves doing video essays and reactions, and Contrapoints for example has stepped up that game with her colored lighting and aesthetics, bring a feature-film quality to Youtube.

I'd like to think there's room for lots of different kinds of content on Youtube, and as a small creator it's unfortunately very hard to get seen, so you might as well create what you like, and what really matters to you. The algorithm seems to push certain kinds of content (including some gross political content which is definitely helping cause the end of the world). The algorithm is also impossible to predict.

I had barely touched my main Youtube channel in eight years until recently. That was a mistake. I was sort of grandfathered in as an older channel, and once I put up new content in 2018, sometimes the algorithm would smile on me and give me millions of views. But it's impossible to predict. One or two popular videos and the rest go thud.

I considered that a channel for the She-Hulk movie and my Doctor Who animations, and other filmmakery stuff. But I'd stopped editing that film, and was doing some very dumb web videos on my own instead for awhile, which I uploaded on another channel. I started other channels for my film restoration work. I hadn't considered Youtube as a career. It was simply an outlet for the various things I was doing.

If I was starting a new channel now, I wouldn't be getting the views I get on the old channel. It's probably best to do everything in one place, do it well and make it easy to find.

As for the other stuff, the filmmaker stuff - actually learning how to make a film - just do it. You'll learn as you go.

In my high school movies, these early comedies, I barely knew where to put the camera at all. At first I was shooting long wide shots, then some closeups. All very basic stuff. I was leaning heavily on the dialogue. Without dialogue I didn't have a movie. There were only a few sequences I storyboarded or even shot a lot of angles for. Usually it was when we were parodying an existing movie, and recreating their shots. That was always fun- recreating a famous big-budget Hollywood movie on a budget of zero, and making it work somehow.

I learned a little more each time for sure, but in film school we had to do these little short films with no dialogue. I was leaning on the same style I'd had in my high school comedies. My first couple of shorts had the same goofy feel. One of them used pop culture references instead of having characters and story. And without dialogue that didn't work. It was about some friends of mine as an action-hero fighting team (and not a very impressive one). It was pretty dumb.

This was for a class (in 2001) which originally shot on 8mm film, so it had to be silent. We were shooting on MiniDV instead, so we could have shot dialogue, but that's not what the class was about.

I couldn't use any of the tricks I'd had in my comedies. I had to tell a story without dialogue- something that people could take seriously. I didn't even know how to get a performance out of someone without dialogue, which became immediately apparent. I couldn't use any of my strengths, and that was great because I had to learn quickly.

My third short was vastly better. It really told a story without words. I shot a few more like that later, including four on 16mm film.

These were all supposed to be 5 minutes. I think short three was 16 minutes.

My fourth and fifth student-film shorts actually had heavy dialogue, but I was still learning very fast and challenging myself to do something different.

I scripted the fourth short without dialogue. It was about a dying cartoonist, and was intended as a very personal, serious drama. Writing it without dialogue forced me to come up with visual ideas to keep it interesting. I then rewrote it with dialogue but kept most of those ideas. I'd already been writing serious screenplays for awhile but this was my first serious film- a big step for a goofy kid like me! It was 18 minutes long.

As I recall, I got in trouble for using dialogue so heavily, and my grade was taken down a few notches. That happened a lot at USC, always on the films I was most proud of!

My fifth was an animated adaptation of the Terry Pratchett novel, MORT. It was crazy over-ambitious for a five-minute short at the end of the semester. I'd written a 45-minute script, and I had to shoot it in a weekend and edit it in about as long. I got my friends together and we recorded the voices in one long night. I played Death and I certainly sounded like Death by that point. For the animation I made some clay figures with drawn cutout faces, in real-world locations. It was nothing fancy, but I really did shoot it in a weekend, and made it work in the edit as best I could. I was new to Avid and digital editing generally. I released a 25-minute animated film, having cut out anything I didn't absolutely need to tell the story.

I was proud. I'm sure I got in trouble for it! I wasn't alone either- Someone else in the class had shot a dialogue-heavy adaptation of The Catcher In the Rye.

In another class, when shooting on 16mm film, the films really did have to be 5 minutes long, and not a second longer. We only got one or two takes because film stock was limited, and you really had to tell the story visually.

Due to shenanigans I was forced to take the class twice, and did better work the second time. With a partner I shot a fantasy film The Journey of Truesong (with thrift-store costumes), and a time-travel musical with CGI and splitscreen effects, all done in-camera. We also got in trouble for both, because both involved dialogue and were against the rules. We'd made the most exciting films in the class, and got punished for it. That sort of thing happened a lot.

I remember on The Journey of Truesong, our actress was vegan, and I didn't know. I'd brought ham sandwiches for lunch. She was too polite to say anything and starved the whole shoot. When we opened up the fruit (and I think trail mix) her eyes went wide and she chowed down. Ask your actors about food restrictions and make sure you have a way to feed them! We were in Griffith Park, miles from anywhere!

A few years later I filmed a scene for She-Hulk, again in Griffith Park, with four actors. They were supposed to barbecue hamburgers in the scene itself, so I bought a grill and figured that would be our meal for the day as well. I wanted to wrap an actor playing a bad guy so he could go home, so we shot his scenes first. The sun was going down by the time we grilled the hamburgers. The scene was grainy since we were losing the light, and getting the grill running was taking time. The actors had to get a little silly and improv around it, and I reshot some of it later in a different location (obviously so). By that point the hamburgers and other food had been sitting out in the sun for hours and were absolutely inedible. Everyone was starving!

Today you could maybe use a food delivery app. Maybe not, because we were still in the park in a very remote location. It was a disaster of planning on my part, and I think an actor quit after that. When you have no budget, going out on location means going out on a limb and hoping it works. In this case I wasn't able to feed my cast. The actresses rolled with it and forgave me. An actor didn't.

Food is very important, and easy to overlook! If you're shooting in your own home, or a very controllable location, you can keep food in the fridge. On location in the park, in the heat, the food had a very limited shelf life, and so did the actors.

If we weren't out in the middle of nowhere, we might all drive to a fast food restaurant to eat. That can take up hours in the middle of a shoot if you're not careful. Having enough food onset certainly helps.

I had very high standards for the sort of actors I'd cast. In high school I was just casting friends, but I grew out of that. Even so, I think that someone who will really stick with you and is willing to put in the work with you is just as important as raw talent. If someone can't act, maybe they can run the camera, or hold the microphone, or just generally help out onset and with the production. They can drive around, get the food, set things up that need to be set up. They can be an extra, or a costumed character. There's so much that needs to be done, and no-budget shoots immediately become a trashfire of problems because it's hard to get it all done in time. Things will always go wrong, and you prove yourself by how you deal with all of that.

I know that got very personal, and very long.

But I hope that helps!

User avatar
Garrett Gilchrist
Site Admin
Posts: 6778
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:23 am

Re: Things I Say

Post: # 10239Post Garrett Gilchrist
Tue Sep 24, 2019 5:37 pm

Someone said, Trump is a cat with 9 lives, and they should have impeached him 9 times before now. His luck in that regard has run out.

I don't trust Pelosi; she's been opposing impeachment hard for ages and is now running the process, apparently. She presumably will continue to stand in the way of actually doing anything.

It does change the narrative though. It already has. Now is the time to hammer Trump for all his bullshit.

The media has generally been pretending that nothing is wrong and everything is fine, which has allowed Trump (and FOX) to pretend that he's a God-King Emperor and that any unflattering (true) reporting about his disaster of an administration is just "fake news."

The media now are going to be temporarily forced to admit that the trump administation is criminal and a shitshow.

This is also true for Pelosi and other useless mainstream Dems, whose job is mainly to bow to corporate power and pretend everything is fine.

They will get back to that status quo as soon as they possibly can though. Don't trust them for a second, or anyone in power, whose job is more or less to maintain the corporate-capitalist status quo.

Right now, this is a big chance to resist Trump. It's a big step in changing the narrative, which will hopefully get people (even people in power) to treat the Trump administration as the sinking ship it's always been.

We've always known that the GOP will distance itself from Trump the minute he's out of office (as they did with George W Bush) but it's increasingly possible that the whole 2020 election is going to be a burning trash fire on Trump's end, and I'm here for that.

User avatar
Garrett Gilchrist
Site Admin
Posts: 6778
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:23 am

Re: Things I Say

Post: # 10263Post Garrett Gilchrist
Fri Oct 04, 2019 11:18 pm

My Patreon account has been flagged as adult content for no reason, becoming the third of my social media to get struck by algorithms pretending they can spot adult content by simply flagging everyone at once.

Also my Youtube channel is still promoting only one of my videos.

User avatar
Garrett Gilchrist
Site Admin
Posts: 6778
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:23 am

Re: Things I Say

Post: # 10274Post Garrett Gilchrist
Thu Oct 10, 2019 1:10 am

DC, 1992: So this is a movie about Batman fighting The Penguin

Catwoman: No it's not

DC, 2019: So this is a movie about the Birds of Prey, the female hero team usually led by Batgirl, Black Canary and Huntress

Harley Quinn: No it's not

User avatar
Garrett Gilchrist
Site Admin
Posts: 6778
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:23 am

Re: Things I Say

Post: # 10283Post Garrett Gilchrist
Sat Oct 19, 2019 4:15 pm

A Hong Kong martial arts film, starring The Muppets. Mainly Miss Piggy in a sort of Cynthia Rothrock role. Short human doubles and CGI used for the fighting. Jackie Chan appearance.

User avatar
Garrett Gilchrist
Site Admin
Posts: 6778
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:23 am

Re: Things I Say

Post: # 10284Post Garrett Gilchrist
Sun Oct 20, 2019 7:45 am

"Happytime Murders" was an "offensive adult humor" detective spoof starring Muppets. It flopped.

Dog City was a family-friendly detective spoof starring Muppets. It won an Emmy and spawned an animated series.

Letting Muppets be Muppets is the way.

User avatar
Garrett Gilchrist
Site Admin
Posts: 6778
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:23 am

Re: Things I Say

Post: # 10289Post Garrett Gilchrist
Wed Oct 23, 2019 4:50 pm

No one in Hollywood is looking to Youtube and low budget filmmaking to find the next filmmaker/writer. America has been in a recession since the mid-2000s and filmmakers don't just have a million dollars lying around to make a film someone would see, or even ten thousand.

Hollywood is a world of social connections, which effectively gates it off to anyone who isn't already wealthy or with enough social connections to fake it. There are ways to break in, and none of them come cheap and without lots of free time. Remember that time is money too.

If I had a dollar for every successful out-of-touch filmmaker who said "Just make your own movie" I'd be able to make my own movie with it.

(Anyway, back to working on my own movie.)

User avatar
Garrett Gilchrist
Site Admin
Posts: 6778
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:23 am

Re: Things I Say

Post: # 10298Post Garrett Gilchrist
Sat Oct 26, 2019 12:41 am

ANONYMOUS ASKED:

"Thoughts on transgender headcanons? This isn't bait, I'm just curious if you mind them for your own work. Hope you're having a great day!"
This does sound exactly like bait, but I'll take that bait. It sounds like something you're copy-pasting anonymously to various accounts.

I can tell because although I've created countless original characters in my writing, very little of that original work is public and none of it has a fanbase who would have headcanons about it.

I've semi-secretly written a lot of screenplays I'm proud of, both produced and unproduced, and a few unfinished novels and graphic novels.

I'm reasonably sure that no one reading this will have read them.

I would love to be writing original work all the time and posting it publicly, but currently I'm not making much money from Patreon and Youtube, and so I have to focus on paid work as an artist, for the most part, including my current animated feature. (Support me on Patreon!)

Maybe you're talking about my "unoriginal work." I restored The Thief and the Cobbler (created by Richard Williams), wrote and directed Shamelessly She-Hulk (characters created by Stan Lee and others), and wrote Cratchit & Company (characters created by Charles Dickens).

These characters are what they are already, and since I didn't create them my opinion on them is about as good as anyone else's.

I understand that the transgender community are currently starved for positive representation in media. The British press is grossly biased against transgender people and the American press isn't much better.

I understand why they headcanon characters as various shades of trans and non-binary, even if it's not clearly and directly supported by the text.

I think that trans subtext is usually trickier to read into a text than gay subtext. Gay subtext is just more common. Trans subtext might take a little more of a leap. But I've heard good pitches for trans headcanons, at times.

If you're talking about a play, that's a living document which can be reinvented with each performance.

There are characters in my scripts and projects who are canonically gay, bisexual and trans. Sid in my unmade video game Esperia was a trans man, Otsana was a lesbian, and you could make a case for the other leading women (we never made the game so I hadn't quite decided). My webseries script has a bi woman as one of the leads, and another lead has an estranged parent who is a trans woman (but it's a very minor plot point TBH).

If you're a Thief and the Cobbler fan, Richard Williams was born in 1933 and was a product of his time, but Zigzag was played by Vincent Price, who was bisexual, and originally played by Kenneth Williams, who was gay, and who played two of Zigzag's courtiers, who are gay-coded. These are the bad guys, so it's not good representation, but Zigzag is also the best speaking character in the film.

Personally, I'm 38 years old and I grew up as a white guy in Connecticut. I was liberal but pretty sheltered. I wasn't hearing minority voices. The internet was barely a thing yet. When I was a teenager, and first started writing comedy scripts, I was inspired by Monty Python, and if I wrote a gay character (which was rare), it was as a stereotype, because I didn't know better. I didn't tackle race at all.

I had more gay friends in college, but didn't have transgender friends until about 2011 (when I was 30 or so). I knew nothing about the transgender community.

Teenagers today grow up so much freer in how they express gender. Honestly I'm a little jealous.

In retrospect, most of the screenplays I wrote in my twenties satirize gender, and gender expectations. Very bluntly in fact. The humor and drama came from how men and women are "expected to act." It was sometimes pretty juvenile stuff that I've grown out of, but some of it was interesting.

When I was in college, I made a no-budget drama feature called Gods of Los Angeles. It was a very long script which I had to cut down. The characters were very openly struggling with how men and women are expected to behave, in relationships and in general. The reactions to the characters really surprised me. The romantic lead is Bruce, who believes in love and isn't cynical about it, even though he's in a borderline abusive relationship. Maybe I had the wrong people watching the film, but they hated that character and that relationship. It was actually a much more optimistic version of a relationship I had. They saw Bruce as very weak and submissive and unmasculine in that relationship, and it was torture sitting through some of those scenes. They weren't rooting for those lovebirds.

I had another male character, Clifford, a sensitive comedian who hates himself. At first he acts like a nasty "comedy" character, a borderline predator like Bill Murray in Ghostbusters, because he thinks that's how a guy is supposed to act. We see more depth to him pretty quickly but he's really struggling with what women want and how to be a man, and he never quite figures it out. By the end he still can't see past his blind spots.

People liked Clifford, in spite of those flaws. They rooted for him. It helped that the actor was good, although he struggled with how much the character hates himself - something I definitely plucked from my own life (although I never acted like a predator!).

It was just a no-budget miniDV feature, but I felt that audiences really disliked the men for being emotional or weak at any point. They wanted to see men being stronger than that.

And I'm not. I found it easier in some ways to write women, because they're allowed to be weak and emotional and still figuring things out. It wasn't as interesting for me to write a man who's confident and powerful. Even my action film, Dream Before Dying, is about a macho criminal who hates himself and messes things up a lot.

Honestly, I'm an abuse survivor. I don't know what it's like to have solid ground underneath me, and have full confidence in myself as a person. I can write a character who believes in a lot of macho bullshit, but I can't fully understand him.

It's been pointed out to me that my no-budget feature Shamelessly She-Hulk (2007-9) can be read as an LGBT coming-out story. The whole story is structured that way.

It isn't, canonically. Jennifer Walters, The Sensational She-Hulk, is a straight cis woman in the comics.

But this is a story about an introvert who becomes an extrovert. At age 20, Jennifer Walters isn't confident in herself, or comfortable in her own body. She's awkward at parties. Her father is a macho cop, who becomes distant and full of unaddressed rage after his wife is killed. He's not genuinely abusive, but that subtext is there.

Jennifer isn't sexual at all, except when she's around her friend Jill Davis, with whom she's more comfortable. A sense of humor comes out in those scenes, albeit briefly.

When Jennifer becomes the She-Hulk, she becomes much more extroverted. She's powerful and funnier and very sure of herself. She's not exactly a whole different person, but her confident side has taken over. She understands who she was meant to be, and she doesn't go back to being Jennifer. She is a Woman with a capital W. Her interactions with Titania are even a little vulgar in a way that both the actress and I disliked, but I had no other ideas at the time.

I hadn't consciously written it as a coming-out story but it absolutely works that way, and I think the character's origin should be written that way. And that's the hero's journey, of becoming who you were meant to be.

In 2005 I wrote a few screenplays of The Chosen Ones, intended to be an animated series. I adapted 70 pages of it into a comic book / webcomic in 2011. I had to stop at that point because I'd run out of money and barely scratched the surface of the actual story. Comic books require a much faster pace than I'd written in the screenplay. Oops.

I also ended up feeling that the script had aged badly since 2005, and that I was adding to it a lot and changing things but couldn't change the basic attitudes behind it. But still, it was basically satirizing gender roles. That's where the humor, such as it was, came from.

The male leads- Cody, Rex, Jefferson (an alien) and even Lionel (a robot)- are all straight white male nerds, who have gotten their ideas about what men and women are from video games and comic books. They're childish. Cody is lonely (and stuck in an abusive living situation with his aunt and uncle), and sensitive, but his attitudes about women are also kind of gross, and expressed as video game metaphors. And Rex has literally structured his life around trying to be like Batman. The three of them (Rex, Jefferson, Lionel) have a lot of opinions about what a man is supposed to be like, and are defensive about it, like high schoolers are. It's gross, and it's supposed to be.

The female leads are equally lost in their gender roles. Juliet, who I considered the series lead, hates herself a little too much. She's antisocial, and barely aware of other people and her own surroundings. She uses off-putting humor to annoy and push people away, and lets her friend Rowena insult her and push her around. And Rowena is awful - she's weaponized her femininity and tries to dominate everyone around her. She genuinely cares about Juliet and Rex but does a bad job of showing it.

That was the starting point for the characters, and I'd written two and a half screenplays with them, and was going to take them on a journey where they become better people. I never got to do that. I drew seventy pages of comic over the course of a year and then realized I'd barely even started the actual story. I was about 1/10th of the way through the first screenplay, storywise. And out of money, so I stopped.

The Chosen Ones 3 did have Barnaby, a gay mad scientist. Never got to that point. And Ragland (unpublished novel) had the Tom Cat, who is male in this life but by nature contains multitudes.

If I was launching a new project now, I'd leave the attitudes of 2005 behind. We've had enough stories about white male nerds who like Star Wars and superheroes, even if I am a white nerd who likes Star Wars and comic books. I'd almost certainly leave more room for LGBT content, and LGBT headcanons.

I'm not sure I've even answered your question.

User avatar
Garrett Gilchrist
Site Admin
Posts: 6778
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:23 am

Re: Things I Say

Post: # 10335Post Garrett Gilchrist
Thu Nov 07, 2019 11:40 pm

The Left, on Twitter, fighting bigotry by
(checks notes)

harassing the most popular trans anti-fascist Youtuber off of social media

calling her a bigot based on six degrees of separation / ship of Theseus fallacy

harassing anyone supporting her including many popular Leftubers

I get that some of her posts were ignorant and bad, but so was the response to her. It was intense, blew up my entire timeline, and out of proportion to what she'd provably done. I was still in "wait and see" mode. The Left eats itself and amplifies smear campaigns from the right.

Her behavior had been questionable, but no one was waiting for the answers to those questions. They were waiting for her to say anything at all that could be analyzed in the most bad-faith and negative way possible - including a private livestream about her fear of exactly that.

"She's a bigot because someone she has interacted with has been bigoted or interacted with bigots" is dangerous. The goalposts kept moving until any other big Leftuber who was friendly with NW was also "bigoted" and a suspect and getting harassed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ui-ArJRqEvU

https://twitter.com/TygerbugGarrett/sta ... 5702350849


I don't know if this was about NW, but Big Joel @biggestjoel writes:

"The fact that if you do something wrong, around one percent of the people mad at you will always take things too far to a ridiculous extent and do Bad Things, is a big and I think maybe intractable problem. I don’t say “intractable” lightly btw. I genuinely think maybe it’s time we accepted this as a premise of the internet, didn’t pretend there was some solution, and operated accordingly"



I am comfortable framing this as "The Left" because the people criticizing and attacking NW included a lot of people I follow and would defend under other circumstances. We are a goddamn mess as a community.

In isolation, people were making good points and standing up for their community. But the discourse treated NW as a caricature, as they'd already made up their mind about her based on aggressively connecting the dots. From her point of view, it was being hated by EVERYONE suddenly.

Isolating someone until their entire Twitter feed is just harassment and they're not allowed to have any friends or hear anything on social media other than death threats, sounds a lot like what the alt right does.

As The Left we ought to be better than that, but we can be awful.

And when someone is on The Left and has been marginalized and abused, it's hard for them to realize that they're ever being "kind of the bad guy" in a situation. Even when they'd been leading a harassment campaign for weeks or months.

NW's comedic persona on Youtube often required approaching a subject from a centrist, privileged perspective just to play devil's advocate, and then blunder her way to a more leftist perspective. To an extent she admitted her own flaws and blind spots, to be more inclusive to other points of view.

There was a layer of comedic irony to some of the Tweets that got her cancelled,which the critics missed entirely, and a nuance to what she was trying to say. Buck Angel is bad, any hate for NBs is bad, but NW's actual words were being interpreted in negative uncharitable fashion.

It's possible that she's crap, but she's produced a lot of good videos, enough to give her the benefit of the doubt for awhile.

Twitter is not capable of anything but an overreaction in this situation, to the extent it could absolutely destroy someone over something vague.

"If you really think that way, I know I can't trust you."

Well, you know what, ditto.

Post Reply