Monday, August 31, 2015

Breathe - Under the Breath

A couple of weeks ago I released my latest movie, Breathe. And I mentioned how it was a bit of an experimental film, so I wanted to discuss it a bit more, and give you a little bit of a peek behind the making of this movie, a look "under the breath", if you will, and share with you some insight, as well some pictures provided by our on-set photographer, the awesome Suzette.

To begin, let's start with this story's inception. The idea for this movie came to me in a dream, a dream that was so vivid that it actually sprang me from my sleep, where I instantly awoke and had to write it down right then and there. I know of some people who write down their dreams on the regular, but honestly, this is a very rare occurrence for me, and especially for an idea to sneak up on me that not only was so vivid and so different, a bit ambitious (but not too ambitious), but most importantly, particularly at my stage of the game, was also realistically filmable.

Our amazing makeup artist Cheyenne hard at work roughing Jason up good.

As I wrote the screenplay, I knew that this one was going to have its own challenges, the most notable among them being sound. Now, this is admittedly my weakest aspect as a filmmaker, and was the one universal complaint everyone had about my first movie, The Red Scarf, that the sound quality wasn't all that good. And so I proceeded to address this discrepancy of mine in two forms.

El Mariachi and Robert Rodriguez

The first was for my next film, Dream Girl, to be a silent film and just do away with sound entirely, so there was nothing to worry about in that regard. And while that certainly worked in that film's favor, I also didn't really learn anything as a filmmaker as it regards the actual use of sound. And so, my next challenge was to do away not with sound, but rather, the music that I had quite possibly been relying on a little too much up until this point.

That's right, Breathe was always intended to be a music-less project, with the focus being on sound from the get-go. Now, there actually was one scene, the scene with the brothers in the car, where I originally intended for Charlie to turn on the radio and play some music to drown out the awkwardness, but honestly, even this one single use stood out so much that it just didn't fit within the rest of the movie, and so silent it remained!

Don't let that brush fool you, she really just punched me in the face between shots to achieve this look!

But yeah, where normally I'd use music to set the mood that fits the scene, here, it was the sounds of the night, the rumbling of the cars, these elements became my soundtrack instead. And the heavy breathing that prevails over the course of the movie, this became the movie's score, adding an overlooming sense of tension throughout. And, well, this certainly was quite a test for me as a filmmaker. And as to whether or not I passed that test I suppose comes down to personal judgement on the matter, but for me personally, I was satisfied with the results at least.

Hooty says, "You think that's a sword?"

"This is a sword!"

Narratively I also had concerns as to how well this would play out, if I was being too vague with certain aspects (or perhaps even too on the nose with some of the hints), since the story doesn't play out in a typical straightforward manner and there's a lot of things that are "implied", if not stated outright, so that was another balancing act I had to contend with going into this thing. But while not everyone who's seen the movie necessarily understood everything, enough people have to where I feel we did a good enough job conveying what's really happening, without having to resort to dumbing things down, so I'm happy with that.

They attempt to take my direction seriously whilst wearing this makeup...

… it did not work!

I also personally viewed this film as an experimental exercise with the way many of the scenes were shot, particularly inside the cop car and in regards to certain aspects of my character's identity, and there was quite a bit of trial and error that went into testing things out before shooting began, to make sure we could capture everything as intended. And gladly, a lot of it ended up working out pretty well, so again, I was pleased with how that all turned out.

Michael rockin' the 'stache!

And I've really got to hand it to my cast and crew for making things such a smooth shoot, as this was definitely a great group of people to work with, which made my job a lot easier. I'm not exaggerating when I say that this was seriously one of the smoothest shoots I've been a part of, and that can be attributed to everyone involved bringing their A-game. And despite how tense things may get on screen, we all had fun all throughout the whole shoot, so it was nice to film in such an enjoyable and relatively stress-free environment, and I look forward to working with this group of people again on future projects.

Well they all took that scene pretty well!

So that's pretty much all I had for now. This project was a growing experience for all involved, and I know I certainly came away learning quite a bit as a filmmaker. And I hope that all comes across in the final product. So if you haven't seen it yet, please, I would love it if you would give it a look and experience for yourself the sights, sounds, and atmosphere that is Breathe.

Monday, August 24, 2015

My Top 5 Fictional Character Crushes

So a little while back while on set with the film team, one of the ladies on set mentioned how guys got it easy because they don't form crushes on fictional characters the way that girls do. This caused every guy in the room, myself included, to vehemently disagree, and spurned on a conversation where we all discussed our own personal fictional character crushes. And now, I figured I'd share my own Top 5 Fictional Character Crushes list with you all today!

Now, forewarning for those of you playing along, but when referring to fictional characters, particularly those of the live action variety, we're specifically speaking on the character itself and not the actor who plays them. So, for instance, while originally forming my list I had to debate whether or not Hermione Granger should make it, but ultimately had to cut her, as my crush there lies not with the character, but rather, the actor playing her, the lovely Emma Watson.

So yeah, other than that, pretty straightforward enough, though I do also need to warn that my list does get pretty weird as it goes along, and I also discovered a thing or two about myself that I wasn't entirely aware of beforehand, but we'll get to that as we get to that. Anyways, enough stalling, let's get to the list! But first, some...

Honorable Mentions

Claire Bennet (Heroes)
Haruko Haruhara (FLCL)
Samus Aran (Metroid)
Selene (Underworld)

Okay, now onto the main list!


Android 18
(Dragon Ball Z)

I'll admit that this is the only entry that's based almost entirely on looks moreso than personality, but god damn. Dragon Ball's not exactly a series known for its hot ladies the way a lot of anime series out there are, but then Android 18 showed up on the scene and put an end to all of that. Hell, I pretty much fell for her much the same way that Krillin himself did in the show, and really, can you blame a guy? There's just something about the way she brushes her beautiful blonde hair from her gorgeous, striking eyes that just does it for me every time.

Not to say that she's not a cool girl as well, as a poor personality would definitely kill the attraction. But yeah, for the most part, she's definitely my superficial pick here, and with looks that could kill, Android 18 is certainly a deadly opener to the list.


Sakura Haruno

This one got some shocked responses, and rightfully so. After all, I rant so damn much about the way this character is written all of the time. And yet, even so, there's just something about her that's just compelling. Let me try to explain. No matter how frustrated I get with her, how much reason I'm given to just loathe her as a character, there's just something there, something deeper, that keeps me from being able to actually hate her. In fact, quite the opposite. She's just such a trainwreck of a character with so much depth hiding deep down inside that there's something about her that I can't help but find sort of intriguing.

It's sorta like the old series mantra used to go in the beginning, with finding the underneath behind the underneath, and how Sakura used to have her "Inner Sakura" moments presented to us in part 1. But as the series progressed, those inner moments became more repressed from the reader, as she became more and more tortured by inner turmoil. And, well, I dunno what it says about me, but there's just something about that hidden depth to her, something about her stubborn conviction, that's always sorta secretly drawn me to her as well.

I will also say that her character design was one of the more standout designs that initially caught my eye, as I recognized her instantly when I first picked up the show and was like, "Oh, here's where that pink haired girl's from!" And while I could quite possibly populate an entire draft of this list with nothing but Naruto characters, I guess that initial attraction towards Sakura sorta grew from there, in its weird yet appropriate roller coaster of a way, and made her stand out from the rest. But yeah, I told you all the list was gonna get weird, and it only picks from here, as we move onto my next choice.


Sally Acorn
(Sonic the Hedgehog)

Yeah yeah, I know, this is entering into anthropomorphic territory, but where someone like Android 18 may have been chosen for looks, Sally here is sorta the opposite, as it's her strong personality that wins out here. When people name their typical list of tough, "strong female characters", you usually wind up with names like Ripley or Sarah Connor, but my first go-to girl in such discussions has always been Sally Acorn.

She's just such an empowering and caring woman, surefire and confident, never straying from her post as leader of the Freedom Fighters, leading her people head on into battle and willingly sacrificing her own well being for the benefit of everyone else. But she's also not just a one-note action trope of a character, either, as throughout the pages of the Sonic the Hedgehog comic book, she is a fully realized, fully three dimensional individual. She has fears she has to face, weaknesses that she has to overcome. And even on the homefront away from war, she has very real and quite frankly human situations that she has to contend with. Hell, she's more well rounded a character than most of this particular brand of "strong female" characters, all while still maintaining the bad ass qualities that make the best of the best stand out.

Honestly, this character didn't do much for me in the early days of Sonic the Hedgehog, but as the series progressed and I grew up along with the character and saw her true self gradually unfold, there was an odd sort of attraction that started to brew, and I began to understand more and more just why so many guys in the series were willing to fight one another to try and win her heart.


(Marvel Cinematic Universe)

Nobody was ready for this one when I originally shared my list! But yup, those of you who've followed me for a while should already be well acquainted with my shameless crush on the God of Mischief. But what can I say, there wasn't a moment in The Avengers where this man was on screen and I wasn't simultaneously melting in my seat. He just oozes so much charisma, so much charm in his demeanor, and I just can't get enough of his lusciously long black locks.

And as with other characters on the list, he's similarly quite the complex character at that, and continues the trend of trainwreck crushes that I was gradually coming to grips with. I would say he's probably the most well written character in the MCU to date, with such a subtle amount of depth in his initial appearance in the first Thor, a depth that comes more and more to the forefront in his subsequent, more outgoing appearances. Loki is just such a fascinating character, brought to life by Tom Hiddleston's transcending performance that just absolutely slays me. But where this pick happened to catch some off guard, my #1 pick really shouldn't be all too surprising for anyone who's been paying attention up until now.



What else can I even say here that hasn't already been well documented in one of my many other Frozen-related posts? But just look at her, she's so stunning! And listen to her sing, how can you not fall in love with that voice when she belts her heart out the way she does?

And yes, this pick does round out that aforementioned trainwreck trend that I apparently have a thing for, which, who knew? But even so, I find her just so perfect in all of her imperfections, she's just so compelling and complex, yet so relatable to me on such a personal and emotional level as well. And people can talk all the trash they want about the movie, whatever (or, no, not whatever, quit hatin' on Frozen, dammit!), but I've actually found that whenever their attacks start being directed at Elsa specifically, yeah, it actually kinda stings a little, almost like they're attacking a part of me all of a sudden. Y'all need to quit hatin' on my girl, dammit!

But yeah, like I said, I don't even really know what all else I can say about her that I haven't said already, and I think I've embarrassed myself quite enough for the time being, so I think I'll stop here.

So there you have it, my Top 5 Fictional Character Crushes, and then some. So you see, guys do also fall for fictional characters like you ladies do. But in any event, I think you all learned a little too much about me for one day. Hell, I certainly learned something about myself while compiling this list. But hey, it was all in fun, so what the hell!

Monday, August 17, 2015


Here it is, my latest short film. As I mentioned before, this is my first crack at horror, and is a bit of an experimental film of sorts as well at that. And I do also need to mention that, unlike most of my prior work, this one does have some pretty adult language and some graphic imagery, so fair warning on that. But anyways, if you would, please just sit back, relax, take a deep breath, and enjoy my latest offering, Breathe.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F'

I recently watched the latest Dragon Ball Z movie, Resurrection 'F', which also marks my first time seeing one of these films in an actual theater, which was a pretty cool experience. And though the movie wasn't without a few minor discrepancies throughout, it didn't disappoint either, and even surprised me at times by its seemingly bizarre source of inspiration.

I've only recently watched all of the DBZ parody series, Dragon Ball Z Abridged, and it would appear that Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama has come across it fairly recently as well, as this movie feels like a direct response to that series spoofing his work. For instance, as Frieza is being revived, an eerily familiar metal musical cue hits, and I couldn't help but pause and question if I was really hearing what I thought I was hearing. But sure enough, as the chorus hit, repeating the name of "Frieza, Frieza, Frieza, Frie-za!", my curiosities were confirmed, as Frieza's ringtone from the Abridged series was being used in this official release.

But even beyond that moment, much of the writing also feels directly inspired by the DBZ Abridged series. There are jokes throughout that feel lifted almost directly from the series, such as Android 18 proclaiming, in all sincerity, just how cool a guy Krillin is, or Tien arriving on the scene and making a joke about leaving Yamcha behind due to his not being powerful enough for the approaching battle. And the pacing, too, feels less like a 90 minute movie and more like a full blown arc in the anime condensed down to a typical movie runtime, again, much like the Abridged series.

I just found this aspect sort of fascinating, and it's pretty cool to see the original creators themselves seemingly take inspiration from a fan-created parody of said series, and incorporate those elements on an official level, to the point where there would really be no need for the guys at Team Four Star to even tackle this movie for their series. But even beyond all that, what I really enjoyed quite a bit about this movie was how, in the end, it still remained true to its base source and maintained that classic Dragon Ball Z feel, and actually felt like the canonical entry that it's intended to be.

I was especially able to appreciate that aspect about it after having watched the previous canon movie, Battle of Gods. In comparison, Battle of Gods feels like something the filler writers woulda chalked up. With just about every single major character acting out of character throughout, and featuring an overly-goofy tone, even during times where such a tone just didn't feel appropriate, Battle of Gods wasn't terrible, but as a movie actually worked on by Toriyama himself, it is a bit of an embarrassment. Resurrection 'F' is the exact opposite, however, feeling like a genuine entry in the series, and bringing that classic Dragon Ball Z feel on a cinematic level.

Now, there are a few minor gripes I had with the movie, mostly concerning the handling of the side characters. For one, there are some major inconsistencies with the main series as it concerns power levels. Gohan and Piccolo are especially sidelined in this regard, which is a bit of a shame, as these two characters, Gohan especially, should definitely be at a place by this point where a threat such as Frieza (at least in his pre-Golden form) shouldn't prove nearly so overwhelming.

But on the other end of the spectrum, Master Roshi is actually brought in to take part in the battle against Frieza's forces, and while I realize the character was always intended to be far stronger than one would expect, for him to be keeping up against this caliber of foe (who I can only assume are at least around Raditz level of strength), then I must ask, just where in the fuck was Master Roshi during the Saiyan Saga way back when? And speaking on the battle against the Frieza Force, while there were some nice fun moments throughout, it did overstay its welcome a bit by about a good ten minutes.

And there was also a point during the main event against Frieza where, once it becomes apparent that Goku and Vegeta are essentially just toying with him and treating the fight as a training session, now that any real threat has essentially been eradicated and yet the fight is still continuing on regardless, I was left asking, at what point does this fight then become entirely pointless?

But honestly, those gripes really are fairly minor, and the movie did more good than bad, and was really enjoyable for the most part, with the actual fight against Frieza being quite entertaining throughout regardless. Visually, the animation is updated and definitely feels like an improvement upon the main series, and this especially shows during the fight scenes (though there are also times where it straight up looks like footage from one of the video games), as well as Frieza's endgame attack, which is just an awesome visual. And, while it was initially a bit odd to see such characters as Goten and Trunks be completely left out of the movie entirely, I also appreciated how the movie didn't feel the need to parade the entire extended cast on screen for their token cameo, and was content with scaling things down in that regard.

So yeah, all in all, I enjoyed this. I dug how it feels inspired by the Abridged series in its approach, yet still managed to mostly maintain the classic feel of the main series. And though I did come away with a few gripes, seeing how worse things could be with Battle of Gods really put things in perspective, and I found Resurrection 'F''s misgivings to be far more forgivable in comparison. But either way, it was just kinda cool seeing a Dragon Ball Z movie on the big screen, and especially one that features a classic villain's return such as here, making it feel like all that more genuine an experience. So if you're a fan of the series in any way, then this one is definitely worth checking out.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Breathe - Coming Soon

So I've been busy working with my film team on my latest short film over the summer, which happens to dabble a bit into horror, my first foray in the genre. The movie's coming along nicely, but in the meantime, if you would, please check out this teaser trailer for my next upcoming movie, Breathe.