Monday, June 29, 2009

Alluded to Show Pitch

Here is a little video that Jonathan (D.P.) put together as a test of a style he's working on. It looks really good in my opinion!

25 Was A Good Year

I tend to think of years, not New Years to New Years, but my birthday to my birthday. I don't think this is solely egotistical, I think it has to do more with the programming of my brain by elementary school summer vacation. You see, my birthday is in early June, nearly perfectly coinciding with the start of summer. It also meant that school was always out before my birthday, so there was never any mention of my special day in class. This has nothing to do with anything other than me wanting to vent about the injustice of never being celebrated for being born whilst in school. It made me a more humble person. Thank God for that.

I'm currently working with a collaborating partner on a new television concept. Can we agree that TV has taken a turn for the worse in the last decade? Do you remember Mister Wizard, Jaques Costeau, nature documentaries without a sensationalist agenda? Where has this programming gone? While there are obvious exceptions - Planet Earth, LOST, Arrested Development; there are good shows being made, but there are hundreds of new channels streaming worthless moving images with tinny audio. We have a strong concept for a classic kind of show, a global show. And we have interest!

We shot a movie and it is being edited. It's a short film, but it's epic in scale. The hope is to take the short and use it to sell the feature-length script. And then to be given the opportunity to direct it.

I'm writing, short-stories, essays and screenplays. I'm editing the hours and hours of footage from around the world that I've accrued over the past few years of traveling. I'm learning how to be a better filmmaker. And I'm working with clients who I enjoy, who challenge me and who provide me with an income.

I'm also working out, running, tanning, watching movies and informative videos and reading, a lot. I hate to be too positive here, but it feels great to be human!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Fascinating Documentary On Japanese High-school Baseball

Three years ago, I wrote about a documentary called Kokoyakyu, the story of hundreds of Japanese High school baseball teams competing against each other in a national tournament. It is a beautiful and well-crafted documentary and I've never been able to see if in it's entirety, until now! It's currently streaming for free on Hulu.com. If you love documentary films and you have time, check it out, it's fantastic.




If you watch nothing else, forward to the last five minutes, it's beautiful.

Well, I'm Going To Barcelona

Last month, my older brother got married in Barcelona. My parents went, but I was in New Zealand, so I didn't get to attend the wedding. His wife is Catalonian, so he will eventually become a citizen and is getting a Spanish work-Visa. Before he starts work, he wants me to come and visit him since right now, he just sits at home or rides his bike aimlessly around the city during the day. So, using 80,000 airline miles, I booked a 10-day trip, July 27 - August 5, to Barcelona. I'm excited to go see my brother and get a peak into his new life as a Spaniard.

I hope that LonelyPlanet.tv will accept my video pitch and commission me to make a fabulous video while I'm there *wink-wink*.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Rock Paper Scissors Competition In New Zealand

It's far too late on a Friday to write anything, or for me to expect you to read anything. So here is a story that tells itself. When we were in New Zealand in May, we went to a Rock Paper Scissors competition at a pub called "The Bog" in Christchurch. I thought this was a swell idea until all of us lost in the first round.
Not on did I get beaten, she rubbed it in my face. Ah sweet humiliation.

(Special thanks to the referee, Andy Farmer for letting us use his house as a location on More Than It Is.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Joining Infinite Summer

For some reason, I made a snap decision to purchase David Foster Wallace's "Infinite Jest" on my Kindle tonight. I was going through some posts on Kottke.org and I came across a reminder that an online book club had just begun called Infinite Summer. Here is the mission statement of the website:

THE CHALLENGE

Join endurance bibliophiles from around the world in reading Infinite Jest over the summer of 2009, June 21st to September 22nd. A thousand pages1 ÷ 92 days = 75 pages a week. No sweat.

I'm a notoriously slow reader, but I'm diving in headfirst.

Are We Doomed?

The leading climate scientist in the world (NASA’s chief climate scientist), James Hansen, claims that it's almost already too late to do anything to curb the devastation to come from climate change. He's the leading scientist on the matter and he says we're doomed if we don't shut down all coal power plants in the world within two decades. I assure you, this is not the plan (immediate shut-downs of these plants) of our government, nor many other governments who use coal-fired plants to generate their electricity. James Hansen is supposed to be our authority on this matter and he's saying the next few generations are doomed if we don't make immediate drastic changes. And yet very little is being done.

My question is why do most of us not feel very guilty?

Running Goal Update #3

Running is one of my favorite mind-clearing activities. Last year I was running up to twenty miles at a time and up to forty miles in a week. After a strange achilles injury in the early Spring of 2009, I shifted my workout focus and decided to put on as much muscle-mass as possible before acting in our movie in May of 2009. For two months, I stopped running and focused on weight-training. I ended up putting on about twenty pounds of muscle in two-months. Now that the movie is over and done with, I'm getting back on my running regimen, except that this time around, I'll be focusing on more speed work and less distance and endurance. So far, the longest I've run is two miles, coming in with a time of 15:58. My last five, first-mile times, were 7:35, 7:55, 7:30, 7:23 and 7:27. My goal is to run a 3.2 mile race in under eighteen minutes before 2010.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Japanese Hitchers

I'm going to keep posting still-frames from the movie until I get the teaser trailer edited. This sweet Japanese couple was hitchhiking their way across New Zealand, so we got in character, and shot a scene picking them up. They were awesome.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Speeding Up

As I said in the last post, I'm training again, running. It's a slow start, getting back in shape, but it's the one athletic activity in which I really have natural ability. I ran a 7:23 mile today. That's one step closer to my goal of 3.2 miles in under 18 minutes.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

3.2 Miles In Under 18 Minutes

I have a goal this year, to run a sub-eighteen minute 5k. I ran an 18 flat in high-school and that's my personal record. I'm going to beat that record before 2010.

So far, since returning from abroad two weeks ago, I've run three one-mile warm-up runs. My times so far have been 7:35, 7:55 and 7:30. I have a ways to go.

Friday, June 19, 2009

WNYC - Radiolab: Deception

If you've ever had a compulsive liar in your life, one who lied to you so convincingly that when the truth finally came out you were left not trusting or believing anyone, skeptical of all the subtle expressions flashing on friend's faces, this story is for you. It's a Radiolab podcast by Robert Krulwich, Jad Abumrad and Ellen Horne. The story is told in three parts, the final part going deep into the psychology and unique physiology, yes, the physical differences in the brains of liars.

Listen on a long drive, or somewhere quiet. And listen to the show in it's entirety. Let Radiolab explain everything, it just might set your world back on it's axis.

Companion To The Previous Picture


The great thing about this boat, and New Zealand in general in this regard, is that we were allowed to shoot, no questions asked, full scenes, slated, with multiple takes. We shot a scene, described in the script as "a pretty location with a nice view," on the top deck of this boat, while cruising through Milford Sound, one of the most dynamic fjords in the world.

Tickets for an hour and a half cruise were about $45NZ a person. We took a Red Boat cruise (sound will play) on The Spirit of Milford. Go on the last cruise of the day for their $2 sandwich and soup clearance, with the chance of seeing sea lions at play.

Monday, June 15, 2009

June 2009 Update - Happy Again

My depression lasted for about a week after I returned to the U.S. These feelings were amplified by my failure to overcome jet-lag and get back on the correct sleep-schedule. Every emotion feels exponentially worse at 3am. I also had a cold that lasted for an entire week, had to move all of my possessions in L.A. into storage and had to drive twenty hours back to Texas all in the same week.

In the past, I've either been paid for portions of my travels or I've had immediate work lined up upon my return. On the trip to New Zealand and Australia, not only was I paying out of pocket to finance most of the movie (Jonathan financed the camera dept.), I was also paying big bucks for the Australia leg, which comprised two-thirds of our time abroad. I came back to the states having spent most of my money, having put much of the expenses on credit cards and then to make matters worse, I lost my best client, who I'd planned on doing work for in Dallas shortly after returning. So not only was I broke, but I had no work lined up in the foreseeable future. Just like every major trip before it, the excitement and power I'd felt while surviving on the road turned into a feeling of worthlessness and uselessness immediately upon returning to normal life back in the U.S. This is to be expected, but when it's upon you, it's inescapable and overwhelming.

I'm happy to report that life is back on track and I'm feeling happy, fulfilled and useful again, possibly more so than ever. Success in a career as a filmmaker is very dependent on relationships, on having friends in the business. In a panic, at three in the morning, the day before I left L.A., I began writing emails to everyone I knew, to inform them that I was back in the States and that I was looking for work immediately. One of my friends, a successful editor wrote me back soon after, saying that I sounded desperate. He was either genuinely concerned for my mental well-being or condescending, I couldn't tell. I wrote him back and said, "yes, I am desperate." I wasn't asking to borrow money, I was asking to work, there's no shame in that. While I was driving across the desert, I got a call from another friend who is a successful director of photography. I'd emailed him as well. I explained my situation and he offered me a favor. He said that he would pull some strings to get me into a union and then help get me a job on his next show. It's a gig that would start in September and continue for six months until February 2010. He needed my absolute commitment, but gave me two weeks to decide. The job is a slight detour from my current career path, but pays more money than I've ever made on anything, so I'd be honored to have the position. Six months seems like a lifetime, but with the money I will save, I will easily be able to finance my next movie. Just having the opportunity available has lifted my spirits a great deal. Knowing that I will be able pay off my credit card debt if I take the job, takes a huge burden off my shoulders.

Now I'm back at home, my parent's home, working on our movie, "More Than It Is - A backpacker love story in New Zealand," marrying the audio from the digital recorder to the video we shot on the Canon 5D Mark II and organizing all of the footage. Not having any paying work is actually a huge blessing. I haven't had time to focus on my personal projects in the last year and now I have at least a month before I have any job prospects, so I'm working feverishly to get this movie laid out in a way that it will be easy for our editor to cut. Having finally produced a movie is a very fulfilling feeling. I feel proud of what Jonathan and I have created (with a special thanks to Cherie Ditcham, Beth MacDonald and all of the backpackers we met along the way).

Making movies is hard, I love it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Lowest I Can Remember

For the past five years, I have lived the most fantastic life any adventure-loving man could ever hope to live. I've run a marathon in Sweden, gone canyoning in the Swiss Alps, visited long lost relatives in Norway, swam in the Amazon river, gone to La Tomatina in Spain, Oktoberfest in Germany, wandered for days through Amsterdam, gone on Safari in Kenya, given medical aid to victims of leprosy in India, visited the Taj Mahal, hiked to ancient monasteries in the Himalayas, fired a machine gun in Cambodia, visited the temples of Angkor Wat, taken the bullet train to Tokyo and SCUBA dove the Great Barrier reef. And that's just a portion of the traveling I've done. That's not even mentioning the wonderful people I've met along the way or the friends who've supported me or my family who I'm absolutely blessed by. I've lived exactly the life I've wanted to live I've been free and I've thrived and I've been happy.

There is a good chance that I'll be taking things more slowly this year. Some would say it was the choices I made, others might say it's fate or luck. I don't believe in any of that exactly, especially not luck. The word "luck" doesn't even make sense to me, it's illogical. I believe things happen the way they are meant to happen. If I round this corner and solve this current problem, having spent the last of my savings and dipped heavily into my credit. If some miracle bails me out, well then, that's the way it is and the way it was supposed to be. If not, if I have to take things slow for a while, I'm prepared to do it. I'm going to come out a better person next year.

I hope I get to continue to travel and live an adventurous life though, the excitement of survival in unfamiliar territory has become my equilibrium.

P.S. Traveling and making videos is my career. I took two months off to make a movie in New Zealand and shoot a pilot in Australia and it took a lot of money to do it, but it was an investment. I fully expect to be traveling for work again soon. This is a bit of a unique situation, but I tend to go into a bit of a depressed slump for about a week after returning from a high-intensity, long-term trip abroad.

Monday, June 08, 2009

The Red Center

Northern Territory, Central Outback Australia

After far too long in Sydney, rainy days that just would not stop, including a very wet and mild journey to the Blue Mountains, we took a sunny respite to Arlie Beach in the tropic of Capricorn and then on to a three-day SCUBA diving cruise around the Whitsunday islands and outer Great Barrier Reef. We flew back down to Brisbane, a city on a winding river, just inland from the East Coast and about halfway down the country. We spent one night, more concerned with finding a good, cheap dinner and a full night's sleep, than seeing the sights of the city.

(Brisbane from the plane)

In the morning we flew to Alice Springs, the red, dead-center of the Australian Outback. The tourism pull for Alice Springs is a place called Uluru, the site of a giant, red, sandstone monolyth, the largest in the world, alone in the flat desert. We found upon landing that Uluru, or "the rock" as the locals called it, was a four hour drive South, pending safe travels at 90 mph, past suicidal Kangaroos, cattle, wild horses and giant, wild camels.

At the airport, a tall, kind, young African man working for one of the hostels in town, gave us the phone number for a car rental company called "Central," the only one in Alice Springs with unlimited kilometers. Clint tipped the African man five dollars for his altruism, Central picked us up from the airport for free and with warm hearts, having saved hundreds of dollars, we were off, into the heart of the outback.

(Camel that wandered across the road in front of us)

Driving at night is strongly cautioned against in the outback. There are no fences, dusk is the main feeding time for wombats, there are more than two million human sized kangaroos in the Northern territory, cattle wander unfenced, nine foot tall wild camels strut across the road, packs of wild horses run free and giant desert eagles munch on the roadkill, taking off over your hood like Pterodactyls. Then there are the road trains. In the U.S., eighteen wheeler tractor-trailers rule the interstates. In Central Australia, 700 horse-power super trucks, three times the size of their American cousins roar across the desert, pulling three double-decker trailers at 130 kph. Overtaking them is nothing short of exhilarating.

We arrived just after dusk, at the Ayer's Rock (Uluru) Resort, a hospitality monopoly within eye shot of the rock. Our overpriced beds in our 20 man dorm were the most comfortable on our trip so far. The resort was boring, but with it being the off-season and the only overcast days of the year, it was to be expected. We rose before dawn and drove into the park, paying twenty five dollars AUS for a three day pass. There are two parking areas, one for the sunset side and one for the sunrise. The rock was shrouded in a mid-rise cloud that never lifted.

(Uluru, shrouded in fog at dawn)

We drove back and took a nap before heading over to the other side of the park to see Kata Tjuta (formerly called "The Olgas"). We did the short hike into one of the canyons. The peaks of Kata Tjuta are actually higher than Uluru and walking between them made us feel tiny.

(The steep sandstone walls of Kata Tjuta (The Olgas))

We drove back over to Uluru and took our time walking the nine kilometer trail around the rock, almost missing sunset. It was still overcast, but our view of the rock was unobstructed and Jonathan shot a good time-lapse of still images on the RAW setting using his Canon 5D Mark II.

A group decision was made to check out the following morning, so that we could take a 350 km detour to hike Kings Canyon, petrified ancient sand dunes, split down the middle by shear 270 meter high cliff faces. As we drove in we were pleased to find the park to be free. The dense clouds broke revealing a blue sky and we slapped on sunscreen in the parking lot, elated by the vitamin D finally coursing through our veins. The hike was great fun and a unique landscape of barren red undulating sandstone.

(Photo by Jonathan Nicholas)

We spotted a large kangaroo and chased him off the track, having to lower ourselves down a small chasm and across a still pool to find our way back out of the park.

(Anton chasing a kangaroo, video still frames - click for larger image)

The clouds closed behind us as we drove through the arch of a rainbow on our way out of the park. Dusk turned into darkness and it was a harrowing three-hour drive to a desolate rest area called Erldunda. Our hostel room would be a fantastic setting for a horror movie; we were all happy to have each other’s company and we bought each other three rounds of beers to celebrate a safe end to the evening.

It was a smooth, fast drive back into Alice Springs, where we enjoyed a nice lunch at the café inside the Royal Flying Doctors museum, a little hidden gem in the city. Now we are flying back to Brisbane via Sydney; twelve hours of driving in two days before we fly from Sydney back to L.A. on June fifth. The plan is to turn the footage Jonathan has been shooting into a pilot, then to sell that pilot and turn this adventure into a lifestyle.

More pics from Anton's facebook here.