Wednesday, May 16, 2007

End of a Chapter

I’m a sucker for Cinderella Stories and if you read this bullshit on a regular basis, then you know I have a taste for the over dramatics sometimes but this is a story I want to tell.

Back in the summer of 2003, Mandi and I took some time apart. I had reached an all time low with where I was in life. I had decided to pass on going back to LA in fear of yet again having to start over and well, I had fallen for a girl that wasn’t ready for LA. I was working at a shit restaurant with no prospects and I had become rather depressed. I began to mope and stayed rather disgruntled all the time. Subconsciously, I had blamed Mandi for keeping me in North Carolina and making me make that choice. We pushed each other away and there was no going back.

I then had another opportunity to move back to LA but chose to stay. The thought of borrowing more money from my parents for something, they thought was a bad idea at my age, weighted heavily on my shoulders.

I had secured a real job where I worked 8-5 and was bored to death. I missed Mandi. Within months, my position had been phased out and I found myself, desperate and almost suicidal. I knew I had to get out of Hickory fast. I had to get inspired again. I had to find what I had lost or I knew I would be dead. Scratch that… Everything I was would be dead. Scott and Stephanie offered me a place on their couch. I jumped on it. POOF! I was gone. Scott and Steph lived in Asheville. I had never been real fond, but at that point in time I would be OK with a cave in Afghanistan watching the boob tube with Osama. Three weeks in, I was still miserable,. I had been given a second chance at The Texas Roadhouse up there but where as the one in Hickory really helped one forget the hole I was in, the Asheville one did not. The people were different. The culture was different and I just didn’t fit in. Night after night I would take a couple of shots of Cuervo and sit on the bed with a pad and pencil and DO NOTHING, but look. Not one word would be put on paper.

Stephanie and Scott were getting married in New Jersey that October and of course asked me for my services. I hated doing weddings but of course, I have to earn my rent so I agreed. The more I thought about it, the more I thought, not only could I shoot their wedding but I could do sort of a road trip documentary. The boys and I were getting to the age where we were all going to have to grow up and this was sort of our last hooray so to speak. We left for New Jersey and I began filming. A sudden twist in the itinerary would change everything. The day after the wedding we decided not to go home. We went to New York, WTC and back down to DC and this was right after the Iraq War began so we captured a lot of cool footage. I could not wait to get home and start cutting. Everything opened up and I was inspired again. I found myself on off time sitting on a bench in downtown Asheville writing scripts and stories. I sat in our local quiet bar up there and churned out scene after scene of a feature I had planned one day to shoot.

Immediately following, I was hired on as a Production Manager at an advertising agency. The job sent me to shoot B Roll for Kenny Chesney’s ’I Go Back,’ video. I found myself in Chicago sinking a car and all over doing what I loved to do. I was laid off shortly after leaving Asheville and returning to Hickory. Mandi and I’s paths collided again and we were back together. We ventured to Florida where my skills and creativity would blossom. I was promised a job at Fox down there and through a bunch of BS lost it, so I was down there in holed up in our apartment for a month looking for a job and as I waited and waited after interview upon interview, I was honing my craft…. Reading books, learning to do the things I hadn’t had time to learn. Then finally I scored a job at a small time television company that produced a late night show. It was grueling. I was a one man crew with too much to do. I would have to shoot, update, cut, write and sometimes direct the shows on top of all the marketing promos, (flyers, banners, DVD’s etc.) Mike, my boss, burnt me out, but the job ended up being the boot camp of my creativity. My analogy to this experience is, I was like Christian Bale in Batman Begins. I traveled far and found a teacher that would work the shit out of me but when it was all over, I had become Batman. We returned to North Carolina and every wedding, commercial, or just stupid ass video were 500% better than they ever were and in between all that I had taught my self about building websites. I was a creative tick ready to pop.

The balls and the tools finally came for ’Meter’. Mark came to me through Freddy and within a sit down with him, I knew it was go time. This film was just a little six page script I had written after having a conversation with a very disgruntled man at Sergeant Peppers. The stuff he said overwhelmed me and when I got home I wrote it all down and thought, that would be a hell of a small short film that wouldn’t cost any money what so ever. I had just planned on grabbing a couple of my friends and shooting it in our driveway of the place we lived, but it fell through. Then I spent almost a year trying to find a lead, never being quite satisfied. The more I thought about the movie, the more I thought shooting it with a half ass actor and just shooting it half assed for kicks would be yet another waste of time.

Then that fateful night nearly two years later, I met Mark. Within a month we were rehearsing. Within two months we were shooting. Post production came where it was apparent that this film had become much bigger than I had ever planned. After the big premiere, my creative tick had mutated into a Godzilla type monster. I left the theatre after the premiere thinking, I hadn’t done a real movie in over eight years and I did this one without batting an eye. Not to say it was easy because it was tough as nails to get rolling on and then in post, the sound was a little out of my league, BUT technically and creatively, I nailed out with little sacrifice of my vision. I knew I had made it and after that moment, I could actually say I was a filmmaker.

Three months later, Mark and I found ourselves at the first film festival we had submitted to and had won second in the short drama category and sixth overall with our small film. The films that had placed higher had anywhere from 20,000 dollar budgets to even the ones placing below us of 5000. Mandi, Mark and I walked out of the downtown theatre satisfied and excited about the film festivals to come. I stopped on the sidewalk on Walnut Avenue and realized where I was. Across the street sat the bench I used to get away from everything and do some writing on. I then looked to my left to see the old quiet bar where I hashed out my feature. I had to smile. The place where I had become inspired again years before was the host of the place I had finally, after years of work, been recognized at.

I was done with that chapter of my life.

American Idol.... Ruined!!!!

I am going to say this only once and be done with it. I do not hold grudges nor do I exile people out of my little world if they fuck me over, but some things cannot be forgiven. Mandi got me into this American Idol shit a couple years back. I got hooked on the Season that found Carrie Underwood win the final. I watched that whole season through it all and with the exception of a couple of eye catching cuts from the show it went as it should have. Carrie was by far the best singer as Bo had the best personality. Two seasons ago it was a singing compeitition and it shows. Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood are Grammy winners. Carrie Underwood’s first album is still in the Top 100 as it should be.

Last year, American Idol showed it’s age and forecasted it’s own demise. Maybe as its popularity grows, it brings out even the compulsive, psycho, slumming people that wouldn’t know a good singer from their next bag of smack. But as last year unfolded you couldn’t help but week after week cringe at which less talented singer would stay as a great singer would go. OK, Taylor Hicks was good. Sure, he had the personality. He sang the old school, I grew up on but.... Was he really the best out there? No. Elliot Yamin... Maybe. Kathryn McPhee... Yes. Chris Daughtery... Very Good and very marketable. If you include the whole package... If the moronic American people would really watch, listen, and think, Chris probably should have taken home the crowd--- Maybe. If parents would influence their kids in what real talent is and tell them that just because he has a trendy blond mohawk it does not mean the guy is talented. Yet they continue to let their two fourteen year old girls hike their cell phone bills up with 70 text votes a piece on somebody that completely sucks, musically. Daughtery last year was voted off fourth. Yes, were the real people, the people that knew what American Idol was looking for, upset? Of course they were, but I was sure and said that, "he’s got nothing to worry about. Somebody will produce his album and he’ll have the best selling album of any of the other three." Was I right? Of course I was. I’m one of those guys that really looks and votes for the cream of the crop. Where are Taylor and Kathryn? Kathryn’s album tanked. Taylor’s... Well it didn’t sell the superstar units that past winners, Kelly and Carrie did, but I think he did alright even with that suckhead ’Are You Proud of Me’ song. He’ll fall into that ’Easy Listening’ category like Rueben did in Gospel and sooner than later be an obscure name kind of like you and I’s. I wasn’t completely disappointed though. I liked Taylor. He was an entertainer and with Daughtery out I was able to swallow Taylor beating out Elliot and Kathryn.

This season came and when the final 12 were picked I was already unenthused. San-Fucko beat out Sundance which was the first miscarriage of justice of the season and it set the pace for the rest of the season. As more musically inclined singers were voted off and San Fucko stayed I grew more pissed. Not to say that Gina, Hayley, or Brandon had any chance to win the Idol Prize, but the weeks they were voted off, they lost to San-Fucko who had no talent at all stayed. Why? I mean it got to the point where Simon literally said, "well let’s try another way... It was great," in a sarcastic tone. Why was he immune to the proverbial ’see ya?’ It must of been his ’good looks.’ There’s another show on the CW for that kind of talent... It’s called ’America’s Next Top Model.’ Again, Gina, Brandon and the others may not have been the best, but the week they lost out, had Sanjaya been voted off, might would have given them another week to turn it all around and may have lasted longer in the compeitition. Sanjaya’s good looks finally caught up with him and he was voted off. What nobody realized is that the time he spent on the show caused a lot of Collateral Damage, and the show suffered from it, meaning that the rest of the season would be altered because of the unjustified text votes. This situation would set up too late in the game, the men’s beauty pageant between Chris and Blake, who both should have been gone in weeks 5 & 6. A couple of weeks went without incident. Phil should’ve have been gone much sooner than Gina or Brandon for that matter, but he were ousted nonetheless. Then LaKisha was voted off fourth to last. The lucky number four that Daughtery had been just a mere year earlier. I hope, (since she should have been in that covenant and fateful third slot from last night,) that her career will take off. She along with Melinda and Jordan were the only talented singers left when the smoke cleared in the final six. The 311 beatboxing Backstreet Boy should have well probably never escaped the Top 8. Which brings me to the whole reason I had to Rant about this.

You American Idol Junkie/Morons... You have ruined this SINGING COMPETITION with an obviously lack of knowledge of what real talent is. This show is not a talent, personality, looks compeitition. Sure there is the whole ’entertainer,’ ’showman’ and ’singer’ aspect needing to be considered, but when you are picking merely on how you feel or how ’good’ that contestant looked from week to week, you ruin a good thing. Of course, that is why America is so fucked up to begin with. We know how to ruin a good thing and you guys did it last night. You fuckin’ blew it and have ruined American Idol for me forever. I will not watch another minute of that debacle. You say Simon is an asshole. You want to know why he is an asshole? Because he can be. He apparently is the only one that really knows what he’s talking about and what the reality is. After last night and the whole Sanjaya thing, I will not be surprised if he does not return to AI next year if they even decide to do it again. (If they do they really need to reevaluate the voting process.) As Melinda Doolittle was voted out of the finale last night to an undeserving Blake Lewis, Simons hands went over his face and his eyes shifted back and forth because he like me knew, American Idol would never be the same show it was three years ago. He knew that his love child was now a convicted felon. The show would no longer be an accurate or pure way to find the undiscovered talented singers out there. Before last night, I actually could not wait to see the final duel between two great singers in Melinda and Jordan. I had picked Melinda as my favorite from all the way back to her audition and like the judges said, "you have been consistent each week. You are a pro and should already be making records." Paula on Tuesday night, said that one of her performances was the best of hers all season and Simon said, "Yet another brilliant performance." OK, so if she was the most consistent and by far was and even sang her best performance of the year the night before the final vote off, how the fuck did she get voted off? Some would say, nobody voted for her because she was a sure win. Others would say that Blake had every girl from 9-40 voting on him because "he is was so cute." Either way, yes Jordan belongs where she is and now, (if there is any justice or brains for that matter at all,) she should and will win AI. She’s seventeen and can belt with the best of them, but Melinda should be there with her sharing in the spotlight because, honestly she was the best. Sure she was older but thats how it goes. Melinda’s paid her dues and has grown with experience and training, but when Seacrest said it was the end of the road for her last night, I sat stunned as did Simon and I am sure many other true to form viewers in America did. I watched her montage with that gay ’Home’ song playing and immediately following the last frame cut the television off. That spark of AI was over for me. I remember not many moons ago when I couldn’t wait to get home from work, cook dinner and sit in front of the boob tube and watch some good looking, fantastically talented musicians belt it out for the biggest prize in the world today. Now with it’s oversaturated publicity and bandwagon schmucks out there voting for their favorite merely because of what kind of mood they were in that day, the fun is over. In the words of the one of the greatest songs ever recorded, "The Thrill is Gone."

I will never watch American Idol again. That is a fact. It is not like my past promises like, "I’m never smoking again." That is statement to me is exactly what it means. I will never watch that show again and do not be surprised to see Simon bowing out after this year. He obviously along with me is the only other one that sees the rotting trend happening. I am sure Melinda’s career will blossum and maybe, just maybe the third spot was the lucky number this year whereas in a year from now, Melinda’s album will be pumping out profits from her fourth number one song from her debut album while Blake, like his favorite band 311, will be the result in yet another ’alternative slash hip hop’ fatality. All I will say as I never speak of this show again, is when Melinda, Blake and Jordan’s albums come out, I am going to empty my savings and campaign, (in the streets if I have to,) to get Melinda’s album bought. I will buy thirty to forty albums myself and pass them out to the masses just to prove my point if needs be.

My point and believe me, I am the poster boy for this statement: It does not matter how good you are. It does not matter how hard you work. It doesn’t matter how much determination you have. If you don’t look as good as the other guy and don’t have as many friends. YOU WILL LOSE!!!!!

Fuck American Idol. Fuck it square in its ass. Simon, holla’. We’ll start a real show and not allow the American Public to taint it with their obvious delusions of what really makes a superstar.

Shooting 24/7

    follow me on Twitter

    About Me

    My photo
    I shoot stuff. I edit stuff. Period.

    The Junk Pile