Tag Archives: Beginings

Henceblog Expose: THE FUTURE

  1. An Introduction

This is more for me than for any of you out there, but I think that applies to a lot of what I write here. But I’m beginning with an introduction, as one does, a means of letting you know what the deal is with this piece.  So here’s the deal:

I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING.

I know that I need to get away from the lowly part-time jobs I’ve been working for the past few years, but I don’t know what.  So I’m figuring that out here.  And maybe you’ll read about it.  Otherwise, there are lots of great shows on television.

 

             2. The Past

This isn’t the first time I’ve been here.  I’ve had a lot of these experiences.  Crossroads.  “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood/and sorry that I could not take both/I decided just to walk in the middle of them and make a new road” something like that. Somehow , though, these decisions keep getting harder. Maybe that’s experience. Maybe that’s neuroses. Probably its both.  In the past these decisions have seemed clear.  I was going to work hard through high school so I could get into a good college.  I would go into film school because that was my dream and I needed to learn about film production if I wanted to pursue it. I wouldn’t look into graduate schools right out of my undergraduate degree so I could learn to freelance as my own filmmaker outside of school. I would move out of Santa Fe to Chicago because Chicago was a larger city with a lot of big productions coming through and a good independent film foundation so I would have no problem getting into the Union and working my way up.

These were all extensions of the central belief I’ve had that if I maintained a laser-focused goal of “Cinema Production” then I would be able to gradually achieve my dream of writing and directing film.  What, exactly, was “Cinema Production”?  That I kept open-ended: Grip, Art Department, Script Supervision, assistant directing, I could do anything so long as they needed it.  The problem is that I honestly don’t know how to get into those positions without Union representation or internships.

There are a lot of things I don’t know.  This is why I will no longer pursue “Cinema Production”

 

             3. Cinema

When I was in film school one thing became abundantly clear: I was an oddball.  The people around me had been making movies since they were three, they lived and worshipped in movie theaters, they had already seen a thousand movies and written critiques for all of them.  I was a theater kid who started making movies so that I could act more.

At least that’s the story I tell.

In truth, maybe I was meant for it.  For one thing, in a market so drenched in cinephelia it was nice to be the person who has still never seen “Jaws” and doesn’t really mind it all that much.  “I’d rather make a movie than watch a movie” was my mantra throughout film school. And film does hold a special place in my heart: I have a fond memory of my mother picking up my sister and I up from school early.
“We’re doing something special today, kids.  Today we’re seeing Star Wars!
It was incredible.  Even more so because we didn’t see movies, especially “new” movies int he theater, all that often.  But we saw all three of the Star Wars re-releases.

When I first began making movies it was also a joyous experience.  Back then it was gathering a bunch of friends together and making something silly.  Back then I didn’t have to worry about script themes, color schemes, character POV, 180 degree rule, 30 degree rule, canted angles, J-cuts, S-cuts, piece length, story flow, sound quality, mic positioning, color grade, and roughly one thousand and fifty-six other things.  It’s not that this greater understanding detracts from my enjoyment of creating a film or from my ideas on film.  In fact, I still very much enjoy making a movie and playing with a lot of these rules.  However all of these worries makes the process much longer, much more complicated, and much more defendant on other people.

But I still want to make movies.

At least that’s the story I tell.

             4. Writing

Before I was a filmmaker, before I was an actor, before I was a depressed waiter, I was a writer.  I was a writer and a storyteller.  I now wonder if I should have stuck with it longer.  For some reason, even in college when most of my friends were in the Creative Writing Program, I didn’t think to pursue writing.  Or rather, all my writing was done in script form.  Now – and for the past five years- I’ve only been able to write, and I’ve expanded beyond scripts.  Now pursuing writing short fiction and novels seems like something at least on par with my other wackadoo plans like continuing to make movies or go into voice acting.  To be clear: I do not expect to be a great author or really any sort of author, but I feel it’s something I should try.

What then of writing?  What then of telling stories?  Answering the second question first: I’ll still tell stories. That’s something that can’t be taken away.  So then that leaves us with writing and Plan B: Teaching.  If I enjoy reading and writing so much, why not teach it?  I was never very good at English during my school days, but what I’ve learned in my limited time as an unlicensed teacher is that not having been good in a subject may help you be a good teacher.  The real question is: Is being an English Teacher something I would be passionate about?  I don’t think so.  Creative writing, and even word and sentence structure is something I’d be interested in.  But reading through countless essays and reports?  That seems like something initially tolerable – fun even- that would get very old very fast.  So writing- my writing- I believe it’s time to expand outward and look for new outlets for publishing and distribution.  Teaching English, though, is a “no”.

             5. Art

My mother is an Artist: Fine arts (always a strange distinction to make) and my Sister and I grew up with a whole bunch of Art projects.  I myself wanted to be a cartoonist for a long time, and why I never pursued it is a whole other story, but now I no longer draw or paint, though I’ve done design work (as is witnessed on this very website) and some multi-media gallery work as well.  So it is that I still consider myself an artist, and like being a storyteller this is something ingrained.  At some point in my life I may have been able to have been swayed away, but that point would have been before I spent 4 years and a lot of heartbreak in Art School.

If I still consider myself an artist, then why don’t I become an Art Teacher?  It’d be K-12, but that’s the [massive] range that I have experience in (OK, K-3 for teaching Minecraft and Lego robotics and 6-8 for teaching math, but….).  Also, once I get a certification I’ll more likely than not be teaching in Chicago, and although it’s a lie that every school in Chicago is full of violence and crime, I’ve heard plenty of horror stories of schools in the far west side to fuel my mother’s concern for me going into urban education.  But these horror stories are what keeps me interested in teaching Art, because after all Art is a way to channel energy and communicate ideas and come into self-discovery.  This is something all kids need, in good schools and very much so in bad schools.  And, yes, it will be difficult.  Life is difficult.  I believe this would make the difficulty worth it.  Plus, with a Bachelor’s in Film and a teaching certification in Art I would still be plenty qualified if ever I came across any K-12 classes film classes, and maybe even some Community Colleges.  So, all in all, I’d say that this sounds like a good plan.  For now.

             6. Conclusion

Lot’s has been said and many stories have been written.  That’s why we have conclusions, though, to conclude.  So here it is:

-The best course of action is to go and get my teacher’s certification in Art.  Is it what I thought I’d be doing when I went to film school?  Oh, God no.  But I don’t mind it.  In fact, I think it’ll be a good career.  A trying one, a difficult one, an underfunded one, but a good one.

-I am not quitting making movie.  Nor am I quitting writing, or improv, or voice acting.  I will continue to do my art on the side as I have these past five/six years.  But neither of those options are going to be paying my rent any time soon and it’s due at the first of every month.

– In another 5 years I will be wondering what I’m doing with my life. Again.  After that?  Maybe I’ll start selling used cars.  Or open a Bead and Breakfast in the Upper Michigan Peninsula.

This is the story I tell.

Introduction and A for Atlas

As part of a writing warm-up/rabbit hole/new years project/idea machine I’ve decided to begin working on writing an Encyclopedia.  Not just any encyclopedia, but an encyclopedia on things that do not, nor ever will, exist.  The plan is from now until the end of the year, every two weeks I’ll come up with a new entry.  For now, here is the introduction and the “A” entry.  Enjoy.

 

Introduction

 

So I’ve decided on a bit of a “House of Leaves” set-up for this, mostly to explore options of what I can do after finishing it all this year.  We’ll see how it all turns out, but let me know (as always) of any ideas or thoughts you have regarding it.

 

A for Atlas

Top 100 Movies

People  walk up to me in the street and scream in my face “What’s your favorite movie” at least once,  and so to be prepared for this again here is a current list of top 100 movies. Perhaps come next year this list will change, but here’s something hastily scrambled together for now.

Top 10 Science Fiction Films

  1. The Day the Earth Stood Still (Wise, 1951)
  2. Brother From Another Planet (Sayles, 1984)
  3. Stalker (Tarkovsky, 1979)
  4. Alphaville (Godard, 1965)
  5. Gojira (Honda, 1954)
  6. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Spielberg, 1977)
  7. Fiend Without a Face (Crabtree, 1958)
  8. Blade Runner (Scott, 1982)
  9. Brazil (Gilliam, 1985)
  10. City of Lost Children (Jeunet, 1995)

Top 10 Animated Films

  1. My Neighbor Totoro (Miyazaki, 1988)
  2. The Triplets of Belleville (Chomet, 2003)
  3. Spirited Away (Miyazaki, 2001)
  4. Grave of the Fireflies (Takahata, 1988)
  5. Finding Nemo (Stanton, 2003)
  6. The Brave Little Toaster (Rees, 1987)
  7. Dimensions of Dialogue (Svankmajer, 1983)
  8. It’s Such a Beautiful Day (Hertzfeldt, 2012)
  9. Aladdin (Clements, 1992)
  10. Castle in the Sky (Miyazaki, 1986)

Top 10 Films Noir

  1. Sunset Boulevard (Wilder, 1950)
  2. Chinatown (Polanski, 1974)
  3. Shock Corridor (Fuller, 1963)
  4. The Man Who Wasn’t There (Coen, 2001)
  5. Double Indemnity (Wilder, 1944)
  6. Scarlet Street (Lang, 1945)
  7. Kiss Me Deadly (Aldrich, 1955)
  8. The Lady From Shanghai (Welles, 1947)
  9. The Long Goodbye (Altman, 1973)
  10. Red Rock West (Dahl, 1993)

Top 10 Comedies

  1. Fargo (Coen, 1996)
  2. The Lost Skeleton of Cadavera (Blamire, 2001)
  3. Being John Malkovich (Jonze, 1999)
  4. Daisies (Chytilová, 1966)
  5. It’s a Disaster (Berger, 2012)
  6. The Brothers Bloom (Johnson, 2008)
  7. In Bruges (McDonagh, 2008)
  8. Survive Style 5+ (Sekiguchi, 2004)
  9. Raising Arizona (Coen, 1987)
  10. Sherlock Jr. (Keaton, 1924)

Top 10 Dramas

  1. Blood Simple (Coen, 1984)
  2. Melancholia (Von Trier, 2011)
  3. Oldboy (Park, 2003)
  4. 12 Angry Men (Lumet, 1957)
  5. L’Eclisse (Antonioni, 1962)
  6. The Phantom Carriage (Sjöström, 1921)
  7. Casablanca (Curtiz, 1942)
  8. What Time is it There? (Tsai, 2001)
  9. Oasis (Lee, 2002)
  10. Network (Lumet, 1976)

Top 10 Horror Films

  1. Videodrome (Cronenberg, 1983)
  2. Evil Dead II (Raimi, 1987)
  3. Woman in the Dunes (Teshigahara, 1964)
  4. Gremlins (Dante, 1984)
  5. Alien (Scott, 1979)
  6. The Exorcist (Friedkin, 1973)
  7. House (Ôbayashi, 1977)
  8. Shaun of the Dead (Wright, 2004)
  9. The Thing (Carpenter, 1982)
  10. Re-Animator (Gordon, 1985)

Top 10 Action/Adventure Films

  1. The Princess Bride (Reiner, 1987)
  2. Face/Off (Woo, 1997)
  3. Kung Fu Hustle (Chow, 2004)
  4. Once Upon a Time in the West (Leone, 1968)
  5. The Sword of Doom (Okamoto, 1966)
  6. The Fifth Element (Besson, 1997)
  7. Seven Psychopaths (McDonagh, 2012)
  8. Looper (Johnson, 2012)
  9. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Spielberg, 1989)
  10. Reservoir Dogs (Tarantino, 1992)

Top 10 Documentaries

  1. Stop Making Sense (Demme, 1984)
  2. Lost in La Mancha (Fulton/Pepe, 2002)
  3. Harlan County U.S.A (Kopple, 1976)
  4. Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy, 2010)
  5. Waltz with Bashir (Folman, 2008)
  6. A Brief History of Time (Morris, 1991)
  7. F for Fake (Welles, 1973)
  8. Best Worst Movie (Stephenson, 2009)
  9. Bowling for Columbine (Moore, 2002)
  10. The Thin Blue Line (Morris, 1988)

Top 10 History/Biography Films

  1. All The President’s Men (Pakula, 1976)
  2. Matewan (Sayles, 1987)
  3. The Informant! (Soderbergh, 2009)
  4. The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer, 1928)
  5. The Thin Red Line (Malick, 1998)
  6. Catch Me If You Can (Spielberg, 2002)
  7. Rome, Open City (Rosselini, 1945)
  8. Milk (Van Sant, 2008)
  9. The Scarlet Empress (Sternberg, 1934)
  10. Ashes and Diamonds (Wajda, 1958)

Top 10 Miscellaneous/Uncategorizable/Experimental Films

  1. Eraserhead (Lynch, 1977)
  2. Southland Tales (Kelly, 2006)
  3. 8 1/2 (Fellini, 1963)
  4. Man with a Movie Camera (Vertov, 1929)
  5. Naked Lunch (Cronenberg, 1991)
  6. Dancer in the Dark (Von Trier, 2000)
  7. A Movie (Conner, 1958)
  8. La Jetée (Marker, 1962)
  9. Ballet Mécanique (Léger, 1924)
  10. Wavelength (Snow, 1967)

Honorable Mentions:

 

So there they are.  You may now commence telling me why all of these lists are wrong.  You have one year: GO.

 

 

Paint Mines 8-2-12

This is a new experiment I’m trying out.  I’ve acquired some bits of video from vacations that I take, not a whole lot mind you, but when I come across something breathtaking I simply need to capture it.  Unfortunately the internet is littered with these, and also unfortunately the  video will never truly capture the experience, so instead I’ve decided to delve into the world of data bending in order to make these videos into something new and interesting (in theory).  So here’s the first one: taken from the Indian Paint Mines outside of Colorado Springs.  Enjoy, let me know what you think of these.

It Took Me Long Enough

Here’s another piece of Mail Art I sent to my aunt Debbie in Japan.  I believe it was around spooky Halloween times, hence the spooky nature of the card: Skulls, cookies, ghosts.

Skull eats cookies

This was the first piece of MailArt I sent to Debbie, but I think it works.  It acts as a bit of a Frankensteinian creation of words and images, although it does function more as art and less as mail (I think it was a bit greasy because I cooked it, and the actual contents of the letter were rather difficult to read thanks to all of the sewing and re-patching).  I long ago gave up trying to cook my letters (although it was an interesting idea, now I need all the cooking supplies I have), and I haven’t gone back to the patchwork idea (again. it kind of makes the letter unreadable).  But as a first go, and an exploration of Halloween, I think it works. Here ‘s the envelope it was sent in, just for fun:

It's not as spooky.

The New Mexico Octet

Believe it or not, I do occasionally send other strange packages to people besides Andrew.  Most of the strange things I send are to my Aunt Debbie Davidson, who is herself a very accomplished mail artist and Ainu translator.  This is a series of cards I sent to Debbie last July, right around the time I was leaving New Mexico.  I decided make these cards more concrete than some of the others I’ve sent her, as well as base them all off of animals found around the Santa Fe area, and finally to top off each card with a general feeling I had at the time of leaving.  They’re posted below in order, more or less, so let me know what you think.

The World Belongs to the Octopus

THe Bee was a King, The Squirrel doesn't care, and the Raven eats fear

The Lobster is alone and the Skink has a plan

The Chickadee will survive

The Sunflower is trying

Teh Cld Wr

Here’s another old Henceforth Classic, from my high-school/basement days: Teh Cld Wr.  Although, interesting fact, Teh Cld Wr (though shot my senior year of High School in 2007) wasn’t completed until I was in my second semester of College (winter of 2008).  Another interesting fact: Teh Cld Wr was the first film that I’m credited as directing on my IMdB Page (the film that got me my IMdB page was Andrew Gingrich’s Wholesale Souls, though).  So, Teh Cld Wr occupies an interesting place in the Henceforth mythology and chronology: A bridge between the years I discovered my craft and the years I honed it, and for the longest time throughout college I was known for making Teh Cld Wr.  That’s the preamble and history for the video, so now let’s take a look at the film itself:

Teh Cld Wr from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.

The early henceforth films were plagued by a number of problems, many of which are found in every film people have made with their friends in basements: Sound quality, a lack of expertise in editing, general low-quality.  So these are given problems, and even among those the only glaring issue is the sound (I was rather ambitious with editing, and I do think it’s a notch above most of the other films that my fellow high-schoolers were making).  The early henceforth films can also be marked as having a bizarre grasp on color correction.  Part of this was intentional, as was the choppy nature of the film, but even so… it gets a bit tiresome.  Also, because of the choppy nature of the project, many of the best gags are cut out (and because of general disorganization, an entire segment on the Vietnam War was cut out.  Oddly enough, the Vietnam War segment was the reason I decided to make this project).

But there are also some good nuggets in here, and I don’t think it’s completely a waste like some of the other early films are.  The part about the arms race (1 apple, 2 apples, don’t use the apples) is still one of my favorite scenes ever, as is the part regarding the Berlin Wall (“I can’t until the late 80’s” is a gem).  I also think the acting is remarkably decent, given how old we were and how little experience I had with directing.  So, although this isn’t my best work, and I’ve grown by leaps and bounds since the creation of this (or at least I’ve gotten better at hiding my mistakes) this will forever be attached to me and for a good amount of people it will be the earliest film of mine they can see.  And I think it’s a fantastic film for that purpose.

VATAS: Epislode 1

I’ve been trying to come up with ways to not only use my YouTube Channel (which I originally created to get more viewership on the Cakelogs), but also distinguish it from my Vimeo channel.  I’ve decided that my Vimeo will still be the place where I put all of my completed and finished videos, but for bits and teasers (like the animation test from Life on Mars) I think YouTube will be a fine place to put them.  I’ve also decided to upload the entirety of my unsuccessful video-blog, Vvinni’s Adventures Through Art School, on to my YouTube Channel. The trek to get the full sixteen episode on to YouTube has just begun, and embedded below is the first episode:

Epislode 1 on HenceforthProduction’s YouTube

The first episode of VATAS is marred by the same problems that exist in many of the early episode (read: The first three episodes) which is that I really had no idea what to include with information, and how to structure each episode in a way that would be interesting to watch.  As such, it’s a bit meandering and slow, and I come off as a bit of a doofus.  But, oh well.

Stay tuned for Episoud 2, which is even longer and MORE pointless! (Or, you can just watch it here. Heck, you can watch every episode on the VATAS Channel on Vimeo).

Missing

All I want is the truth. That’s how “Missing” begins, and it greatly lives up to that hope: It’s one of the most honest and personal films I think Andrew has ever made, and I greatly appreciate that.

Let’s back up, then, because it’s been around three and a half years since the Tape was last sent.  In those years, I spent plenty of time thinking about how I’d next reply. I even had footage shot and ready (Fun Fact: Most of these failed ideas were later compiled into “No!”).  As the years dragged on (and this isn’t fair, but it happened) it would be harder and harder for Andrew to come up with a decent enough reply. And so what was I looking for?

  1. The next installment had to explain why I had waited for so long.
  2. It had to be worth the wait.

Despite not being a very long list, it was a tall order to live up on Andrew’s part. And “Missing” wholly delivers.  There is only one part of the film that directly references “Powerful Magics” (and, by extension, the rest of the Tape‘s complicated web) and that’s when we see Andrew’s reflected face in the television (and, yes, the part where his face syncs up to his face was a nice touch).  Besides this, “Missing” doesn’t go along the lines of other Tape replies.  It throws any cheeky meta-references to YouTube out the window, it doesn’t attempt to counterpoint or ape anything from the previous installment, instead “Missing” simply IS. And that’s something that, during these past few years, I haven’t been expecting.

There are plenty of ways that I can talk about how this film still fits into the ongoing narrative of the tape and how its a microcosm for the internet, and I could probably pick it apart bit-by-bit and tell you how it actually does mirror everything else in the tape, but I think that would only destroy part of “Missing”‘s power (also, I don’t I would actually be able to do that last part).

Now that it’s my turn again, I have much the same feeling as Andrew did after watching “Powerful Magics”: I’m not quite sure what to do or how to reply. One thing’s for sure, all of the thinking I was doing and all the digging into internet memes is now void.  “Missing” is too good to get a reply similar to anything I’ve sent before, and so it’s time for a new strategy.

So now the old tape is dead, and with it comes an end.  “Missing” signifies a new letter, still between the same two people, but the game has been changed and I think that’s for best.

Tracy McKnightly and the Case of the Dead Cat

Because most of the old posts were removed when the site went down, I’ll have to try and get some of the old posts back up.

This mostly means re-posting the links to all of my films on vimeo.  So, we begin with the earliest possible film that I currently have uploaded online: Tracy McKnightly and the Case of the Dead Cat, filmed in the winter of 2005 starring the recurring detective Tracy McKnightly.

Tracy McKnightly and the Case of the Dead Cat from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.

There are plenty of issues with The Case of the Dead Cat, from the clear technical issues to the scattered script, but in the end it’s okay.  Not the best of the earliest Henceforth work, but it’s still good to see where I began as a filmmaker.