Monday, June 21, 2010


I really like the new job. In fact, I daresay I love it. I'm working in the warehouse at Paizo Publishing, a game publishing company that creates and sells products to the adventure gaming community -- the very community that buys my films. Yes, I am literally stocking my own movies.

I quite like owning a home. Strange how quickly it fills up. This last weekend, we emptied our storage locker, into which we had shoehorned half an apartment's worth of miscellany when we pulled up stakes for California five years ago. On Sunday we picked up a number of inherited heirlooms -- mostly dishes, things to put the dishes in, and things off of which to eat off of said dishes -- from Camille's father while we still had the truck. And in a month, my grandmother's giving us at least three pieces of furniture. Five if you count ottomans.

I'm very tired. It's a good tired. The routine of the days are rise, drive, work, drive, sleep. We eat somewhere in there. I also fail to write pretty much every day. And for the first time in as long as I can remember, I'm okay with that. I'm okay with not writing.

In fact, I love it. I love not writing. I love not feeling like I have to write, like I'm failing at the one thing that justifies my existence as a human being, that justifies the space I've rented in this hirsute sack of organs and unauthored farts. Because I don't have to write it any more. Not if I don't want to, if I don't choose too. I have pretty much everything I've wanted and been working towards since undergraduate -- a home, a marriage, and work I enjoy and (key thing, here) am compensated for.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Disc One, Track 8

It's not often that I'm surprised by something I already know. So it was a matter of minor shock when The Proclaimers reached out, mid-playlist, and punched me in the ear with a song I'd listened to for years, but never really heard.
A minor digression. The Proclaimers are -- apart from my favorite band, and the subject of my very first blog post -- identical twin Scottish folk singers who belt the hell out of whatever passes their lips. When you can understand them through the brogue, and even when you can't, they weave tight harmonies of loss and longing, the joys and woes of marriage and drink, Scottish nationalism, and struggles with faith -- my bread and butter, minus the Scottish nationalism.
Anyway, so the twins are balladeering their way through their second-most recent album, Life With You -- not my personal favorite but near the top -- and they launch into Track 8 on Disc One -- also not my favorite, and a song I've never paid much attention to. And I continued not paying much attention to it until the final two verses, when Craig and Charlie interrupted my day of webseries-editing and box-packing with familiar lyrics that somehow, this time, drilled their way through my passive listening and rang bells in my brain:
So you need to take your hate and doubt and fear
Distill them through your work til they run clear
Till they run right through your art like highland rain
If you want to hold the flame
You harness pain, you harness pain
I set down the handful of CDs, perked my ears. You know how sometimes you vaguely know something, but aren't able to put it to words until someone else articulates it in front of you, at which point you blurt out "Yes, that's it exactly!"? It was kind of like that, except I knew what words were coming next. I braced myself, and let them wash over me.
Do you want to be the best or be well known?
Do you want to repeat lines or write your own?
Do you want to follow paths or blaze a trail?
When you try to succeed you'll mostly fail
And you're gonna lose and lose and lose again
If you want to hold the flame
You harness pain, you harness pain
I sat at the computer and replayed those verses a handful of times, and after that I wrote this. Such moments, unplanned and unassuming, have a tendency to jump out and punch you straight through the bullshit, leaving you "huh"-ing and sucking at the grains of wisdom stuck in your teeth.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

An Indefinite Hiatus

Well, we got the house. We're officially homeowners. Our move date is tentatively set for June 11, and with all the frenzied packing and away-squaring surrounding that, I'm taking an indefinite hiatus from updating the blog. I don't know when I'll start posting (pseudo-) regularly again, but I expect it to be when we're in the new place, and at least squared enough away that we have internet again.

On a work note, I'm happy to say that I've got a few strong leads on jobs in Washington, and with luck I'll be starting one the Monday after we arrive. No, none of the leads have anything to do with writing or filmmaking, and frankly, I have no problem with that.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Return to PLU

Last week, I got to fly up to Washington to participate in a special Dead Gentlemen event at our alma mater, Pacific Lutheran University. The university was having us, its only filmmaker graduates -- this being a school with to film program -- back to discuss how we made three features as undergraduates, and where that led us career-wise.
The band? The band!
I can't remember the last time Don, Ben, Stevie and I were in the same place. It wasn't on the set of Dorkness Rising (2005), because Ben was living in Ohio. And it wasn't the last time I performed with the DG Improv Troupe (2004), because Don was (I think) living in Bellingham. It may have been a GenCon, either 2006 or 2008, but I can't say for sure. It very well may have been the filming of the DH Orientation Video (2007 or 2008), which was still hundreds of days ago.
We began our day at PLU by giving an interview in Red Square, where we slipped right back into constant riffing mode, making each other (and our onlookers) laugh while talking over one another and stacking comments which may or may not have had anything to do with our current topic. The reporter commented on such in her article for The PLU Experience, which just went up on the university website. (Correction: I am Director of Development for Epic Level Entertainment, not Epic Films.)
That evening, we held our feature event -- a retrospective on our films, our process, and a sneak peak at new and unreleased footage. It was eerie being back where it all began, in the lecture hall where we premiered Demon Hunters over a decade ago. Watching our old stuff was so painful that I had to step out a couple of times. Which struck me as funny, since I used to do the same thing when our films were playing for the first time.
Ten years of Demon Hunters ... who'd have thunk it?
The event itself was pretty sparsely attended. Only twenty people showed up, and most of them were folks we personally invited. Even so, our audience was enthusiastic and very curious about what we'd been up to. And the rough cut of JourneyQuest was very well received, which was a relief -- I hadn't realized until that moment that I'd been pretty worried about how it would play.
As much fun as the retrospective was, and as grand as it was to catch up with the friends and fans who attended, the highlight of my day was grabbing a post-interview drink with my two most influential undergraduate profs: Eric Nelson of Languages & Literatures, who taught me Latin and Greek and organized the event, and David Seal of English, my faculty mentor and own personal Yoda. Our conversation meandered from nostalgic reminiscences to advances in digital filmmaking technology to the unusually high talent yield in the crop that was our year to future productions and positions.
On the last subject, Eric led with "Hey, have you emailed those folks I sent you?" I had queried him previously about the possibility of teaching screenwriting at the university. And why not? I have a rare and unique skill set to offer, what with the years of work in Hollywood, the film school pedigree, the cross-media experience and having actually been produced multiple times. And universities love it when successful graduates return as instructors. He agreed, and sent me a list of university folk to contact, which I'm doing the moment I finish this. He also humbly submitted some suggestions for The Odyssey: A Musical (a DG backburner project forever) which were quite good. I may steal them.
Just screaming for a kickass musical adaptation
All in all, our return to PLU was alternately bizarre, nostalgic, and encouraging. It's nice to be remembered, and to know that our university thought enough of the handmade movies we put together to showcase us as an example of what its graduates can achieve. And the prospect of teaching what I learned during my California odyssey at my alma mater is just an added bonus.
To Eric and Giovanna and David, to Barbara and Kirk and Susan, and everyone who attended: Thank you. I had a blast, and got to skip down Memory Lane with my best friends. Frankly, I can't think of a better way to spend a weekend.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dead Gentlemen at PLU

A week from Friday, four of us Dead Gentlemen will be returning to our alma mater to talk all about how we got where we are and where we went once we got there.
Yes, that's me in the green, in costume for JourneyQuest.
The panel will be hosted by Dr. Eric Nelson, the man who taught me Latin, which I mostly forgot. The Latin, not Eric. We'll be showing clips of our work, new and old, and probably give a sneak peek of the latest project. The panel will be open to the public.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Whither Must I Wander?

Home no more home to me, whither must I wander?
Hunger my driver, I go where I must.
Cold blows the winter wind over hill and heather;
Thick drives the rain, and my roof is in the dust.
Loved of wise men was the shade of my roof-tree.
The true word of welcome was spoken in the door -
Dear days of old, with the faces in the firelight,
Kind folks of old, you come again no more.
Home was home then, my dear, full of kindly faces,
Home was home then, my dear, happy for the child.
Fire and the windows bright glittered on the moorland;
Song, tuneful song, built a palace in the wild.
Now, when day dawn on the brow of the moorland,
Lone stands the house, and the chimney-stone is cold.
Lone let it stand, now the friends are all departed,
The kind hearts, the true hearts, that loved the place of old.
Spring shall come, come again, calling up the moorfowl,
Spring shall bring the sun and rain, bring the bees and flowers;
Red shall the heather bloom over hill and valley,
Soft flow the stream through the even-flowing hours;
Fair the day shine as it shone on my childhood -
Fair shine the day on the house with open door;
Birds come and cry there and twitter in the chimney -
But I go for ever and come again no more.
-- Robert Louis Stevenson, Songs of Travel, 1895

Monday, April 12, 2010

JourneyQuest promo pics

As promised, here are some promotional pictures from the set of JourneyQuest. You may have already seen these on ZOE or Dead Gentlemen's facebook pages. The images have been color corrected and are indicative of what the finished look of the series will be.

The costumes were designed by Dameon Willich and JoAnne Kirley. The prosthetics -- the elf ears; orc foreheads, noses, and ears; and orc facial tattoos -- were designed and created by Shawn Shelton.

Christian Doyle as Superfluous (Perf)

Anne Kennedy as Nara

Brian Lewis as Carrow

Kevin Pitman as Glorion

Emilie Rommel Shimkus as Wren

Kevin Inouye as Kurn

Jeremy Spray as Grellnock