Learning More and Moving Forward

Date Written: 15-12-25

    I’m writing this 50 minutes after Christmas day started. It’s now 12:50am on December 25th, 2015. I don’t think it’s actually Christmas because, for me, that starts after I go to sleep and wake up again on the day the date tells me it is. For me, it’s still Christmas Eve.

    And that is the kind of logic specializing in existential philosophy got me. Things are what they are to me.

    But that’s a rabbit trail that is totally beside the point of why I’m writing this. So is the fact that I just ate a bowl of Maruchan instant ramen.

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    My now friend Paul Osborne made a movie called Cruel Hearts, and I helped him do it. I told him if he needed an extra hand when it came time to actually film, hit me up and I’d help as much as I could.

    For 11 1/2 days this month I was on set, listening and watching another director do his thing. It was a real learning experience. The lowest position on a movie set is a Production Assistant. It’s the person who does anything anyone else asks them to do. That’s what I was for Paul. I wasn’t interested in a title or credit. I just wanted to see how another person does it.

    I’d been on larger budget sets as a P.A. before. They’re kind of like cordoned-off regions of activity, with most of the people standing around most of the time and punctuated surges of movement and change.

    On Osborne’s set I never just sat around. There weren’t enough people for that, which is to say, there were exactly the right number of people on set to get the things done that needed to get done in order for Paul to make his movie.

    That was the way sets were on ALGORITHM too. It’s tight and efficient and way more fun and exciting and educational than spending most of the day sitting around.

    And, shucks howdy, did I learn a lot!

    Osborne’s an editor at CBS. He edits trailers for shows you probably watch, if you watch CBS. The fact that Osborne’s got a day job isn’t a bad thing. It’s way more common in indie-film (and every other art I’ve spent any time researching/doing) than most people would like to admit.

    The fact that he spends his day making fast-paced gripping content for the short-attention-span people who watch CBS shows gives him a very interesting set of skills: he understands pacing. What I mean by that is, he knows how fast something has to move to keep your attention. He has to be good at it. His livelihood depends on that skill.

    What this translated to for me was in how Osborne chose to shoot. He got coverage. A lot of coverage. He got every scene from at least 3 angles, per character, as well as 3 angles of the master-shot.

    Let me break that down a bit for you.

    A lot of the scenes in ALGORITHM were long shots, meaning, they were from a single angle, and the entire scene played out from that single angle. I like that kind of pacing, specifically for ALGORITHM because it lends itself to a more cerebral experience of the movie, where your emotions aren’t tied to what’s happening on screen, which is how the main character felt about the non-computer world. Essentially, I shot ALGORITHM as a series of master-shots.

    However, with coverage, you shoot the scene from multiple angles, wide, medium, and close-ups. You can then cut between them in the edit, allowing you to change the feel of the pacing based on the speed of the emotional intensity you want to create in the scene.

    While I feel ALGORITHM is perfectly paced for that I was trying to do, it might grab people more intensely if I had shot more coverage.

    That lesson alone made the 11.5 days I spent as a P.A. well worth it. It’s a lesson I’ll be using for Intelligent Design.

    That said, I didn’t just do P.A. work. I wasn’t on set for very long before people started figuring out I could do more than just get people water. And, because it was an indie film set, my job changed as needed. 

    I worked as a 1st Assistant Cameraman (ran the slate(that board that makes the clapping sound after the 1st Assistant Director says “Camera rolling!”)).

    I worked as a gaffer, helping to set up lights and point them where they should be.

    I worked again as a 1st AC, pulling focus on the day where the normal guy wasn’t available.

    I even spent the night in the hotel to make sure that no one took our stuff while the rest of the cast/crew went home.

    In all that time, doing all those different things, I was always asking people questions. I’m constantly curious and always learning because I don’t know what I don’t know, but I do know I don’t know everything. I love learning knew things because that makes me better at whatever I’m trying to do.

    When I was done on set, Osborne took me aside and said, “We need to talk about your credit on the movie.

    I told him, “I’d like to be a P.A.”

    “But you’ve done so much more than that.”

    “If you give me those credits, other people may try to hire me or ask me to help them and I don’t want to do that.” That may seem cold, but I have to stay very focused on what I’m doing. I had to learn that pacing thing before I could be good enough to direct a faster paced show like #IDShow.

    If I’m going to go ahead and try to actually make something as monumentally difficult as #IDShow the way I want to make it, then I’ve got to say “No,” to everything that doesn’t get me moving closer to that goal.

    All of that to say, thanks, Paul Osborne, for letting me help you out.

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    ALGORITHM’s kind of doing it’s own thing now. I have to do some maintenance, but very little of that is required and most of it can be done in my off/ADD time on my mobile.

    And then things like today (read: December 24th) happen.

    On Monday Tom Merritt invited me onto his Daily Tech News Show to talk about ALGORITHM. It was an amazing opportunity because Tom’s a big deal in the tech world and DTNS is a big deal for geek news. That interview went well. I got a few more followers on Twitter, and a few more sales through the web store.

    This afternoon, I checked Twitter and some really cool things happen. The Pirate Party International is a mostly European political group. They are awesome and have been fans of ALGORITHM since I wrote the post The Free Future Starts Now, which explains my primary motivation for posting ALGORITHM on YouTube.

    Today PPI mentioned me in a tweet and thanked me for the way I released ALGORITHM. That tweet was retweeted over 200 times. 

    More sales came in.

    More Twitter followers.

    And then something I hadn’t expected happened. YourAnonNews retweeted the PPI tweet. YourAnonNews has 1.6 million followers. That is easily the biggest news coverage I’ve gotten so far. My Twitter mentions feed lit up for over an hour. It was beautiful to watch.

    What was even cooler than just that was engaging with people I’d never met from around the world, and explaining why I did what I did and how I plan on doing more of it.

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    That previous section may have implied that the DTNS wasn’t a very big deal. In fact, with the goal of my current project in mind, the DTNS was profoundly pivotal and may end up making #IDShow that much more likely to become a reality.