Friday, August 04, 2006

Rebels and Hard Drives and Children, Oh My!

The data recovery service now has custody of my twin 500GB hard drives and will try to grab what they can of my work materials. Dell promptly sent out a replacement for the defective drive, but that doesn't really help me right now, as I have to wait for the good drive to come back from data recovery with the bad drive. The hazard of a RAID 0 stripe array is that, while it's fast, if one of the drives should become corrupted or damaged, the data is split between both drives. When I get them back, I will configure the system for RAID 1 mirrored, which will create a second backup copy of my data automatically. Should one drive fail, I will still have the data on the second drive as a failsafe.

The tape & mud has started on the house.

Tyler is being really excellent. Today he woke up and offered to cook everyone breakfast. He made scrambled eggs, which were quite tasty! Kayleigh is having some nighttime issues. Now that Tyler is sleeping on the sofa in the living room, she's feeling a bit lonely. We're working on it. For pizza/movie night tonight, we watched Men in Black 2, and a couple episodes of "Futurama". Kayleigh spent some quiet time doing problems in a math workbook she keeps in her bedside drawer. I just tucked her in, and Wiley is asleep by her bed.

I finished reading Rebel Without a Crew, Robert Rodriguez' book. You know, the guy who made the Mexico trilogy (El Mariachi, Desperado, Once Upon a Time in Mexico), the Spy Kids movies, and most recently Sin City. It's pretty much his production journal of making El Mariachi and the craziness that followed. This dude became a human guinea pig for a pharma lab in Texas to raise money for shooting a feature he hoped to sell to Mexican home video. With a borrowed 16mm camera and $7,000 he went to a little town in northern Mexico and shot a really inventive and compelling action film. When he took it to LA to sell to the Mexican video distributors, he ended up with an agent, and then a bidding war erupted, landing him at Columbia. It's inspiring stuff, especially given Rodriguez and I are the same age.

The book made me think back to what I was doing in 1991. Newly married, Samantha and I had made the decision to move north to Seattle. I was writing 14 hours a day. Short stories, novels (I finished three), screenplays... always feeling the urge to get back behind a camera. It had been 3 years since we'd shot Sam's directorial project for her San Francisco State film course. She'd been shifting back toward stage, and I'd gone to DeAnza College in Cupertino to take advantage of some of their film production curriculum. Made several shorts. I was also at Mission College in Santa Clara doing a 2-year animation stint. Made several shorts there too. But in '91, we heeded the call of the north and ended up in an apartment in Renton and then a shared 1913 craftsman above a nail salon on the main drag in West Seattle.

I think Rodriguez and I had very similar backgrounds, creatively speaking. Where we diverged was while he was actively pursuing a very clear goal, I was trying to do too much. I had intellectual properties bursting out of my skull, and I wrote like mad to try to get everything down on paper. Affordable pro-level video was still a few years off; I kept the rust away by writing and directing a sci-fi comedy pilot for TCI cable in '94, using late '70s era 3/4" U-Matic gear. Then I got sidetracked by the videogame industry and made good bank while my soul was prison-raped for the better part of a decade. Kinda took a detour to have a career (I was still doing art, even if it was pushing pixels for the Man), raise a family (not one second of which I regret), that kind of thing. At least publishing RPGs was something creative Sam & I could do together, but that industry has its own set of crosses to bear.

I went back to the drawing board - literally. In 2000 and 2001, I brought back my old comic strip, Zingo, as a weekly 6-panel full color webcomic. It ran on the late, great Big Bad Hammer site. That was fun, but ultimately unsatisfying. I needed to be doing something else entirely.

Before Samantha died, she really tried to push me back to doing film. That was always my first love - creating something visually alive and engaging and entertaining. I had a bunch of stories in my back catalogue, many already in screenplay format. We chose DUO, a romantic comedy based loosely on two of my close buddies from the comic book industry. It was a feature, but we'd done 2 features before (1 of them was actually finished and broadcast on TV), so I knew we could handle it. I got two producers who were each great in a different area. Samantha used her casting prowess and cast the film with a talented group of Seattle actors. We went into rehearsals. We got set to shoot. The weekend of our first scheduled shoot - Samantha crashed. She'd be dead a couple weeks later. There's no way I can make DUO on a shoestring. Not now. Not without Sam. When I make it, it will be with a proper budget and everything in place. And hopefully I can call up Sam's cast and get the majority of them to do it.

So now I feel like I'm getting all these clues and bits of inspiration. The Angels script just kind of wrote itself, I happened to fall in with a group of Seattle indie film people whose work I respect, and the story is attracting a bunch of professionals who want to work on it. It's also under 30mins, so it's not quite the headache of a feature. It seemed like before, I would constantly be leaping over the hurdles strewn in our way. Now, it seems like everything is falling into place on its own. Maybe it's just my change in perception since Sam's death. Maybe I'm going about things differently now. Maybe I'm just older and wiser. Or maybe it's just time to do what I was put here to do.

I'd love to meet Robert Rodriguez someday. I've already met Ray Harryhausen and worked for Richard Edlund. Why not a film icon my own age, who does things the way I do?

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