The aesthetic and what’s next?

So we’ve pre-released the sfx reel and shared a little history. Now what?

There are 4 sheets of newsprint in the backroom covered with to dos, here’s the jist. Two archival and non trivial projects are in the queue for closure. They’ll require a good chunk of the summer if not the whole shebang. An earlier strategy was to submit a short project to festivals while wrapping up the longer ones. The magic momentum generated by getting into festivals would help sustain energy through the long slog to completion. Some Almonds are Harder to Skin than Others is still a candidate for this approach. Patrick and I talked about the possibility of another super short interstitial, perhaps based on my sunset scenario. Anastasia is already on her way back to NYC as I write this, so the chance for her to star is gone.

The problem with diverting resources to a kick ass super short is that meanwhile the bigger projects languish. One thing leads to another and then 6 months go by. Faisal may still be available and willing to guide DOG to a finish, but I’ve got to get cracking or he’ll get so famous that he won’t take my calls.

I think DOG is the priority over ALM, if I can wrap DOG then there MIGHT still be a chance to get Hello World on the water in the fall, tho that’s really reaching. I also have an idea for a tighter focus on ALM, and that should be developed before I push hulls into the water again.

DOG certainly needs plenty of After Effects intervention to get airborne, and that’s where the reel SFX overlaps. I’m clear that motion graphics and SFX figure prominently in both archival and future projects and what exactly does that look like? What are the critical skills to master? What’s the guiding aesthetic?

Critical skills! Rotoscoping and tracking. Plugin fluency, especially the complete Sapphire set I’ve compiled. Color correction theory and practice with Colorista. Expressions. Keys and bluescreen. Workflow. Archiving. A comprehensive list would emerge by working through books like Creating Motion Graphics by the Meyers. Combing through project posts might be the first step.

The lads and I recently watched Monsters on the recommendation of JWS. We were struck by the SFX approach, which was elegantly subtle and aligned with our efforts on DOG. With the exception of the climactic monster courtship scene at the end, most of the effects did not draw attention to themselves. Overgrown buildings on a distant shore, flipped over rail cars glimpsed from a window, a missile truck passing on a bustling street…

Keep it Simple and Subtle has been a cornerstone of the Trickster Pictures SFX architecture. That’s both a pragmatic and an aesthetic choice. Pragmatic because we don’t (yet) have the chops or resources to pull off an effects tour de force.  Aesthetic because so many mainstream films are effect heavy and content light. Where’s the story?! Perhaps Simple and Subtle should be replaced with Serving Story. That’s what we want our SFX/VFX to do.

On a metaview, it’s a choice between awareness and delusion, we can either enhance or blunt perception. Engaging stories expand consciousness, right? On the other hand, prolonged exposure to mediocrity tends to narrow and limit understanding. Schlock art can be either unintentional or deliberate. The paranoid set (myself included) see most mainstream movies as mediocre by design, they are ignorance machines. Filmmakers in the studio system apparently are trained to make shitty choices. Whoops, talk about cliche –  here I am boiling everything down to an epic struggle between the powers of light and darkness!

It’s convenient to point to something and say, “no!” and maybe that’s a starting point for defining what’s worthy. Suffice to say I’d like to make art that awakens. It’s not enough to just flip what’s served up by oppressor culture, I don’t want to define myself in contrast but by discovery. There’s great hunks of the human experience missing, and my aim’s to reclaim ’em.

Nuff with the bluster, let get down to cases. God only takes the stage in disguise. The projector in Avenues is a lovely example. The changing colors of the slides spill onto the face of the executive. This creates a connection between the synthetic slide and the live action talent, they are in the same room. It is a relationship that is perfectly obvious once established, it’s not even recognized as an effect. To merge elements into a coherent unity, that’s a primary principle.

It’s hardly worth stating that less is more, a slight intervention is less work than a major intervention and creates fewer complications. Adding variables decreases predictability, slows digital processing and clogs human cognition. There’s a step beyond less is more though, let’s call it elegance. An elegant solution does much with little in a way that’s thrilling and even profound. It’s evidence of humans in tune, encouraging to anyone paying attention. Elegance reminds us of our higher natures, the wonder that we could be. Another principle – we practice less is more and aspire to elegance.

Perfection rejection is yet another principle which stated proactively would be the Quest for Good Enough! Constant application keeps the project moving forward.

An honest assessment of our current level of development isn’t influenced by either self consciousness or confidence. We’ve got to know not only what’s achievable but sustainable.

The primo principle is identifying what experiences and techniques intrigue. What kind of projects would be fun? The energy generated by following bliss is infinite, but in the past I’ve gotten confused and lost track of what really matters. The price of freedom is constant vigilance.

The trio convened and hammered out a summer collaboration plan. A slew of short scripts and treatments by June 7, concentrated creation for the next 3 months and then compilation into a feature length train wreck, with props to Kenneth Koch’s 1000 Avant-Garde plays.


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