Friday, June 18, 2010

Love & Desperation

We’re down to our last meal... Chicken and Mac N Cheese. I would have to rely on Carrie to provide breakfast and lunch for the kids and a small family dinner at Mimi and Papaw’s would fulfill the days nutrition for the kids. I felt ashamed as ate. 

May had been a bad month-- Two business loans and three cancelled jobs due to a schedule that doesn’t work had put me in a spot I hadn’t been in since November of last year. I hadn’t worked since May 3rd and dished out more than 75% of my income on keeping the business afloat. This is my fault. My line of work would be best utilized if I lived somewhere “big,” but would live in a box before I left my kids and my responsibility to them. Sure the business is picking up but the location mixed with the economy makes consistency as unsure as the Mac N Cheese I just made.  When a good paying job that would give me an excuse to travel to The Big Apple for a couple days came up, I thought it fitting to pick up as many jobs as I could while I was there so I took on three others. There was only one problem. The original job was the only one that covered my food and lodging meaning the other 5 days, I would be on my own. I knew the risks. The pay was minimal so for me not to spend my entire day’s paycheck on expenses I would have to test my skills of survival. 

This had burdened me for a few days now. I was good at this sort of thing. I had never needed much and was always up for a challenge, but had really wondered if I had bitten off more than I could chew on this one. If the plan works, I will return with minimal money, but will be out of debt and have enough left over to buy groceries and pay the bills. If it doesn’t work, the job becomes an exercise and I return with little to nothing as I wait for the steady work that begins in August. It was my last option and for it to work, I would have to cut meals, lodging, and my normal “per diem,” from my budget. Worse, there was a chance as dramatic as it sounds that something could happen to me when cutting the little things like shelter and food out of the normality of my day. Furthermore, locking $10,000 worth of gear in the trunk of a car and sleeping in a subway wasn’t the smartest thing to do for a guy with two kids and a lot of responsibility.

I looked up from my Mickey Mouse plate to see my son smiling at me and remembered that the outcome didn’t matter, as long as I came home. They had not caught on to my mood the past couple of days. I had done a good job of hiding it. They still didn’t know their father was planning to drive to one of the biggest cities in the world, put $10,000 worth of camera equipment on his back, eat out of trash cans and sleep in subways for five of the next ten days to make sure their livelihood would not change and thank goodness, had not figured out that he had also sacrificed their annual beach trip to do so. 

Dinner was quiet. I just watched them. Being a parent there are only two emotions that are utilized daily: Love and Desperation. Love is the obvious, but it’s not the love you show your wife or husband. It’s the burning unconditional, relentless love that rushes over you every minute they touch your hand, smile at you or cry for you. It’s the love that not even Satan himself could falter. The Desperation is the constant thought process of what to do next, how to do it and the underlying worry that something could happen to them at any minute if you as a flawed human relent at your job. I struggle severely from OCD so I am in constant fear of their life. I worry about things that keep me up at night. This world is cruel and SOME of the people in it make matters worse. I trust little when it comes to the care of my children. Every time they leave my sight, I worry I’ll never see them again. It’s a terrible way to live but it’s my job to make sure they live a long and happy life and I fear my mental capacity for forgiveness or restrain if somebody were to take that job away from me. 

Dinner’s half way done and I fight with myself because for the first time, I’m making a selfish choice to inadvertently put myself in harm’s way to see that they have a roof over their head. My selfishness of my career and quest for gold leaves me abandoning my post for longer than I ever have before. I’m only alive because I was given the miracle of them and now I will tempt fate again trying to protect them. This trip could be an epic failure. The room for error is insurmountable and yet, I greet it despite it’s heavy uncertainty. 

I snap out of my mindless ramble as Payton looks at me and smiles, “Whatcha’ thinking about Dad?”

I break a tear. My mind unforgiving of the fear I have for this excursion. I look at them for a moment. River has cheese from his forehead to his chin. I can’t help but laugh remembering my promise to them that everything will be alright no matter what. I cherish every moment with my children. Even the bad ones. The worried ones. The Desperation of Parenting I invite in like a family member.

“Ol just stuff,” I reply. I eat another bite. It’s now cold and soggy, maybe a prequel to many dinners ahead of me on this trip. I relieve myself by remembering that this is what I chose. This was my desperation at the time I decided to take these jobs on. I knew what I was getting into. I knew it had to be done. I’ll put it all in God’s Hands and hopefully fulfill my commitment and come back with the income I said I had to. I was always good at that. I am not always smart about how I do it, but I always find a way and this trip was no different. Two weeks from today, I’ll be back at this table with these same two people with my vagabond style NYC trip and my debt behind me. If not, I will have to trust in others involved to protect my children. It may be my worst fear but it was my split second desperation filled decision that will lead me to the outcome that I will have to be OK with. For now, I’ll exodus the stress and enjoy the next 24 hours with them as if it were my last as I do everyday I’m with them. 

I flick a shell onto River’s face as a quiet dinner becomes a romper room. I nearly forget my worries, my desperation, letting love take over the moment as so many moments before. 

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Thursday, June 17, 2010


f 4.5 Shutter 60 ISO 200 (Custom Magenta Settings/ Slight Color Tone Adjust in camera) No Editing

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Cover Up Miss

f5.6 shutter 60 ISO 200 - (Custom Saturation Settings) No Editing

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Crest of Night

f 5.6 Shutter 60 ISO 1600

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Building Characters For a New Film

There are only THREE important aspects to writing a Good Film.

1- A Beginning
2- An Ending
3- And Most Importantly, GOOD CHARACTERS.

If one studies their characters and literally builds and molds them, the “in betweens” of the beginning and ending will come. I come from the Syd Field School of Scriptwriting. Even after taking his class years ago, I still didn’t believe in some of his methods. He taught you to literally write hours and hours of backstory for all of your characters even if one of them only showed up for one scene. When I say backstory, he would have us write if they were born from Natural Childbirth or not to what their favorite food was even if they never ate in the story. I had thought it to be very extraneous UNTIL I decided to practice the full discipline to write Meter. And just like he promised, the practice added so many more dimensions to my characters. I decided after Meter to take the time to do this practice even if I had a character who was deceased but talked about. I’ve only written two scripts since surrendering to Mr. Field’s disciplines and both scripts ended up basically writing themselves because of the heavy character development. In fact, the Plot Points kind of just fell into place without even having to think about them because, I knew the characters so much.

When I was approached about writing a “faith based film,” I thought, “well all those films are so one dimensional.” I being new to faith again, thought that this job would be an undertaking. BUT it would help me grow in my faith and help me really stretch my writing wings because if you have seen my films, then you know what kind of style I have. Of course the practice, will be tough because I will have to find a way to avoid “beating the film goers’ over the head with the theme” and writing characters that are so “thick” even the worst of actors could really make them believable. I also have to do this without a hint of grit, darkness, or vulnerability my main characters normally have. I have spent a month working on characters already and I can’t help but delve too deep. This is going to be a lot tougher than I think.

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Work Ritual

As I follow my OCD deterioration, I found a perfect example to share. In between renders for some heavy special efx, I began cleaning my house, setting up a work space in my dining room for a couple of days to work on a script and write checks and whatever. I did not notice as I was setting up as I do this all the time... But every now and again, I notice. Tonight being one of those times-- as I began to walk to my room for a good night's rest, it struck me how I had set placed everything. This was a ritual. This is how it has to be done and it's quite exhausting.

The blue pencils are all I'll write rough drafts with. The black pens are for sketching/coloring. The Cross Pens are for writing everything else with, (roller and ballpoint, each having their own purposes.) The Moleskins have to be black covered and different sizes for different things. The grey pencil with the dots is the one I chew one because I wouldn't dream of touching the blue ones with my mouth. That pencil too has to be new every time I sit down.

It's a wonder I get a single paragraph, check, invoice written with that kind of routine. 

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My Son's Trip Down Memory Lane

On Mother's Day, we went to my Grandparent's and Aunt's house in Valdese. Sadly, a couple years ago, my Grandparent's put their house on the market. My Grandparents moved into my Aunt's house right next door. I love that house. Not only was it a great looking house but I spent many days of my childhood there. They lived back in the woods and so when I was there I was surrounded by the thing I loved the most as a kid, "Indiana Jones Terrain." I fought off armies, monsters, and hid from Belloq all in and around that house. River has always been good at running off and doing his own thing. so when River began towards the house to "explore" I grabbed my camera and shot pictures of all the places that were significant for me as a kid.

I will truly miss that house. I wish I was in a situation to buy it myself. It is unlike any other house and stores so many memories that just being able to keep it to continue reliving those memories would be worth the price tag.

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