The Art of Distraction

It's very humbling as a first-time producer because I don't yet have a name that warrants an immediate call-back or reply. I could contact people on the talent or funding trail, and not hear back from them for months. In this interim period, I've taken a kosher kitchen job at a retirement home up the street - and it's a long day. In cased you haven't slogged through my few blog posts this past year when I was driving a pink bakery bus - there's a lot of waiting in Development Traffic.

I'm therefore trying a new tactic - I'm trying to engage myself by finding the "Creative Distraction" in all of this waiting. Rather than roll my eyes and moan about how I'd rather be in production on my film than fetching bibs for irate 94 year-olds, I'm looking at every interaction as a chance to mine some wonderful character material. I'm trying to visualize my four hours of serving as some kind of video game, where I try to break my previous record for how long it takes before someone complains. The point is - I'm trying to do anything to keep my mind from watching the clock in my head.

When I'm home, I've decided to play around with digital sculpting again. Here's a quick goblin bust I did in the free program Sculptris. I'm really enjoying it quite a bit, and there are times where I don't feel like I'm working on a computer - more like I'm sculpting with some supernaturally regenerative clay. Fun stuff.






"Steal Like an Artist"

I love Austin, TX. I spent four years at the University of Texas, where I threw myself into the city's kaleidoscopic whirlpool of cultures. I worked for two years as a barista at the original "Captain Quakenbush's Intergalctic Coffee Shop & Espresso Cafe" (my espresso machine was featured in the movie "Slacker"), while simultaneously discovering Jewish mysticism at the Chabad House a block away. Although I have my own love affair with Pittsburgh, the city I call home, I still try to keep up with the latest fanboy screenings at the Alamo Drafthouse, read "Aint it Cool News," and study the music of Stevie Ray Vaughan. To this day, I avoid corporate coffee shops  - but succomb to corporate culture by shopping at Whole Foods (not the local co-op) because it reminds me of Austin.

That is one reason that I decided to try reading "Steal Like an Artist," by Austin Kleon, a writer-artist-thinker who not only shares a name with the city he lives, but has a genuine appreciation for one of the most fascinating places I've ever lived.

The other is that I'm always looking for the perfect remedy for overcoming the "creative yetzer hara" - the self-defeating, self-destructive voice that keeps us from the only proven recipe for success as an artist: making things.

Mr. Kleon doesn't waist words. He just wants to tell you what he does to stay juiced and productive. And he does so quite generously - with short, pithy statements and simple, graphic doodles. Like Scott McCloud, he likes to give just enough visual information for the reader to connect their own dots, and have their own "Eureka" light-bulb moments. It's one of those books that my wife and I take turns reading, and makes its way around the house. Forgive me for being coarse, but it's a perfect bathroom read. Quick pearls of wisdom that may actually get you to sit down somewhere and make something (besides in the bathroom).

Like writing a blog post/review after taking an extended hiatus.



Producing a Television Special

I've really wanted to keep a blog journal about my experiences producing this animated television special, but I've run into a very big problem. At this point in the game, there's really not much to say. We're getting funding and attaching talent - which means we're waiting. And waiting. And waiting some more.

It may take six weeks to get a meeting with an agent, another two months for the agent to speak to their client, and it may take another two months to hear back from the agent, "come back when you've got funding."

The good news is that we're not sitting around, twiddling our thumbs. We're continuing to get more materials together, put more hard numbers together. We're making appointments and waiting for them. In the meantime, I'm continuing to keep busy by driving a fuschia bakery truck.

Hopefully, it won't be long before I have fresh news to deliver, too.




Nachshon taking a Leap

There's this great story in the book of Exodus, when the Israelites are completely stuck. In front of them is the Red Sea, and behind them is the Egyptian army - out for blood. Some of the Israelites want to pray, some want to fight, some want to go back to Egypt. The Voice calls out to Moses, "What are you waiting for, dive in!" Taking his cue from Moses, a man named Nachshon leaps into the sea. He trudges inward, the water level rising from his knees . . . to his waist . . . to his shoulders . . . until his nose and mouth are completely submerged. Then the miracle happens. The Red Sea splits.

I love this narrative because it's about taking risks when it looks like all is lost.

Living in a time with the economy the way it is, where it's hard to find good, solid jobs - a story like this really needs to be considered. Not everyone believes in a Higher Power, but there's no doubt that taking risks and believing in a positive outcome go a very long way in splitting the sea of stagnation. Here's to thinking good, so it will be good.


Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Here's the short film I recently contributed to for Zoetifex, a Pittsburgh-based animation studio that's on the up and up. My shot (3) starts with "forthcoming lecture" up until ,"our good friends." Check it out, spread it around, and leave comments on You Tube!