Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Generation Reboot

Generation Reboot

This year’s top five grossing films include three sequels, a spinoff, and one original story. The lack of imagination in modern American cinema is becoming more self-evident every weekend at the box office. This fact has had no negative effect on revenue, but are we giving birth to Generation Reboot? What will the studios have left to remake 20 years from now? What will our cinema say about us 50 – 100 years from now? Stories shape who we are as we grow up and preserve moments for future generations to better understand us. Stories have a way of capturing the human experience like no history book can.  As long as Hollywood remakes the greatest films from past generations we are slowly choking out the new voices of our time and that is not acceptable.

Let look at a Hitchcock’s, Psycho, written by Joseph Stefano based off of the novel by Robert Bloch. This is a post-World War II horror film that suggests that evil is not a monster like a Vampire or Werewolf anymore. It can be the man living next door to you. This original story seen in historical context not only shifts the way we look at the film but also the way we look at the world.

That one original story in the top five box office hits of 2015 is the animated film, Inside Out, written by Pete Docter. He saw adults and children laugh for no reason or have a big emotional outburst and wanted to explore why that could be happening. The end result was a screenplay produced by Pixar. The story enables us to easily draw parallels to the over medicating of a generation of children due to emotional outbursts. History can only tell the greater meaning that will inevitably unfold from a film like, Inside Out.

When I was a child I honestly believed there was a time in our history when color did not exist. I thought the whole world was in black and white and somehow, one day everything just burst into color.  I believed this because of black and white movies and TV shows. It is incredible what the imagination of a child can believe to be true. I don’t believe I was a unique child in this regard. I feel that it is a safe bet to say that almost all children have a limitless imagination because they are born not knowing a thing.  They learn most of what they know through the use of story. It is probably the most rudimental education tool a parent or teacher possesses. Everything you tell a child who is experiencing the world for the first time is a story. The word story means history in Latin. All of our first stories were seen as truths passed down from generation to generation.

Original stories are a part of us. They shape who we are and we sleep easier at night hearing them told to us. They remind us of who we once were and the challenges we have overcome. They enable us to dream of new worlds that don’t exist yet or at least in our conscious minds. They enable us to leave our mark on this world and say, “Hey, we were here, and we were not rebooted.” 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Truth Behind MINDPLATE.tv - An origin story

In the spirit of, Straight Out of Compton, an origin story that matches the magnitude of the Summer time super hero blockbusters, I thought it would be best to talk about the origin of MINDPLATE.tv. I have been getting a lot of questions concerning finance and distribution of independent film, and I will be covering that kind of information on this blog. But, before I can talk about all of the business stuff, I want to talk about “why.” Why am I doing this in the first place? Why did I take a distribution deal from Lionsgate and use the profits of the film to launch a website that helps indie filmmakers make money and find an audience for their movies? Why do I even make independent films? The answers to these questions have informed my entire approach to the industry, as a whole. I also attribute much of my success to the answer of this question, “why.”

I was a young musician living in Tempe, Arizona, under a bush in a park that is now known as Tempe Beach Park. The park was often visited by other traveling folk who would bring food, beverage and drugs to share. One night, I was gifted some Chinese food from a beautiful girl with dreadlocks. As I finished up, I cracked open my fortune cookie and found a quote said by Pablo Picasso. It read, “Art is a lie that makes us see the truth.” I still have it to this day, stored away in an old suitcase my Grandma Gene gave me. This idea has guided me through my career and it’s advice came in handy more than once.

I have been on a journey looking for the truth ever since that night. It is a tricky thing to find, but there is no mistaking it when you do. It feels different. It is undeniable and when it happens everyone in the room is aware of its presence. I first felt it on stage as a guitar player and singer in a band. When you are standing in front of a crowd of people and you are stripped down to your most vulnerable state, honesty is the only saving grace you have. As a director of cinema, I am constantly searching for the truth. It is your job to articulate this truth to your cast and crew. Inspire them to know when they are seeing it and feeling it. Like I said, it is undeniable when it happens.

As a film professor, I got the opportunity to explore the pursuit of the truth through cinema in a very collaborative learning environment. I would always say, we first need to know why we are telling this story or making a decision before we need to know how are we going to capture it in a camera or what specific film technique will we employ. I called this the “why” before the “how.” It was a way to force the students into telling the truth rather than just do cool shit with the camera. But what I discovered was how many different “truths” there are in the world. The most valuable aspect to every filmmaker on the planet is their unique perspective and original voice. My one problem I had with being a film production teacher was that I knew I was sending my students into an industry that did not value truth as much as profit. But let me take this moment and say I do not blame the studios for prioritizing the profits of their business. That is their job and they do it well. No one can fault them for that. But, it does make for a tough environment to find truth.

This was the inspiration behind MINDPLATE.tv. Bertolt Brecht said, “ Art is not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it.” I knew I had to take out a hammer and shape a new reality, a reality where value was placed on a film’s originality and told from a unique perspective.  I cannot shape this on my own because it is not mine to shape. This place needs films and those films need to be watched. I attribute my success to date to my dedication to telling the truth with my work. I believe if MINDPLATE.tv supports a community of filmmakers that are dedicated to the same pursuit, than we will all benefit.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Account error fixed

We just fixed the problem for anyone who has received this error while creating an account.

Go ahead and try again. Thanks you very much.

Facebook issue

Hello everyone,

I have been temporarily removed from Facebook due to having a single name. For the time being please email me at mindplate@mindplate.tv.

I hope to return to to FB very soon.

Tip of the morning to you

I am thrilled with the response for our new tipping feature on MINDPLATE.tv. We are dedicated to helping indie filmmakers find their audience and make a living at something they love doing. We are already trying to make the process easier for filmmakers to collect tips and donations for their short films. You will find the easy set by step instructions to connect your Pay Pal account to your MINDPLATE.tv account under the edit tab on your account page. Filmmakers are already making money on the site and it has only been up for less than 24 hours. Please let us know how we can make this process even easier. We are open to your suggestions.