Loss, Grief and Manchester by the Sea

One of my favorite exchanges I’ve had with my cousin goes like this, “Hey David, you look sad.”  I go, ” Really? My bad”. We both look at each other and laugh. Anyways this is gonna be sad. My bad.

Earlier in the week I recommended Manchester by the Sea, but now I wanted to elaborate on why I’m recommending it. First, I want to talk about loss. Loss is something that we all have to go through in life. While it’s an incredibly terrible feeling, it’s one we have to carry and learn from. Loss, in this context, doesn’t just include death, but emotional loss. I think in life we lose people we want to hold close, be it our own fault or not. Losing contact with a friend, breaking up with someone and even losing yourself is a kind of loss that is hard to swallow. Losing a friend, losing a partner, losing a family member, is not only physically but emotional and that isn’t easy to describe.

From here, I want to talk about grief. As someone who has dealt with loss, both emotional and physically, I can tell you grief is something else. I’m no good at describing the feeling of grief, the best I can do is compare it to losing at boxing match. I’ve never boxed but when you’re being hit with powerful blows to the head and body, you try to dodge them but then you start to feel dizzy and slow down your movements. All those blows accumulate and the knock out punch leads you to the floor. You lie there, tired, emotionless and in pain. You wake up the next day, in the peace of your home or a nice hospital bed. You look at the ceiling. You realize the only thing you can do is get stronger and move forward. The blows to the body and head is the pain you feel from grief. Dodging the punches is denial of loss. The knock out punch is usually anger or frustration that gets released from grief. This is usually punching walls, starting a fight, breaking things, etc. It’s like rock bottom. Lying on the floor tired and beaten, is the sadness and depression that comes after the anger. Finally your home or hospital is your place of reconstruction. You start to heal. Finally, the realization is hope. Hope that you can move forward.

So what does this have to do with Manchester by the Sea? Everything. Manchester by the Sea is probably the most accurate and realistic portrayal of grief and loss I have ever seen. In film, there are certain aspects that we have to dramatize in order to appeal to the viewer. Maybe the protagonist loses their mother. You would probably see the protagonist crying their eyes out in a hospital room, calling out for their mom. This maybe true for some people but in reality emotions take time to process.  There is a lot of contemplation and silence that usually is not shown in loss. A lot of human moments that are lost in the over dramatic. In this film, characters are given time to fully process their emotions, and take action on how they should feel or what they should do. In the story, a father loses his wife and kids and a son loses his father. How those events happen are completely different and their way of dealing with that is also very different but that the end of the day, they both go through their grief.

This film shows that there is two sides to every coin but the pain is the same. We are human beings not actors, we don’t live in a soap opera. Emotions are hard to control and sometimes they get the best of us. Sometimes we take a beat and ponder how to express our grief, if we do at all. That realism is something that brings me comfort. I find some solace in the fact that others go through the same loss and grief that I’ve been though. I mentioned earlier that in the end of grief is hope, which is a bittersweet conclusion. Much like after recovering from a boxing match, you get the realization that there is an opportunity to get better but not the guarantee it will. Personally, that’s all I need. The hope that things can get better.

Producer?

To be completely honest, I did not inspire to be a producer. It’s kind of something that I fell into. It’s a pretty hard job to be honest. Finding locations is difficult. For our 16 lines project, we were looking for hospitals to shoot at. I spent a couple hours calling a bunch of hospitals to see if they had available room to shoot in. No one allowed us entry. Finally, a group member spoke up and said his father had a doctors office we could use. Kinda wish he had spoken up sooner.

I’ve had luck with actors. Kat Thomas is great. David Obar is great. Zoie Ellis is great. Kinda wish I had the experience with working with a bad actor just to experience and learn how to handle them. Equipment is easy thanks to Kelvin. Knowing someone with a RED camera makes life easier. Also since I work in the equipment room at 4381 offices, gear is all I ever work with.

So far, it’s be pretty good. Although it’s important to not burn out. You have to know your limits. If you don’t take a break, you’ll wear yourself thin and break. It’s really not a pretty sight. Trust me.

Movie Recommendation- Manchester by the Sea

Anime Recommendation- Demon Slayer

Song Recommendation-Autumn In New York-Billie Holiday

Melancholy and then the Urge to Stop

Recently at 4381 Productions, the team was tasked to make one minute films. The restrictions? One shot, no editing. Not a crazy task by any stretch of the imagination but a great way to get creative. Immediately, my mind when to work. What story did I want to tell my peers? Do I want it to be serious or funny? How weird do I want it to be? I was filled with so many ideas, I didn’t know were to start.

One of my original ideas was based on a true story. The shot would be me standing next to a phone in a place that looks like a restaurant. The phone would then ring and I would pick up. I would greet them properly. The customer on the other line would then start yelling at be about a missing item in their order that cost .40 cents. They would yell at me for a while, then I would say  in a monotone voice” Sorry about that, would you like to speak to a manager?” The customer would then re-continue their rant, becoming more violence with their threats, much like Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder. After they finish, I would say in a monotone voice again,” Sorry about that, have a good day” then hang up slowly. It would end with me taking a mental reset then helping a customer.

That idea seemed too crazy, so I went with “Melancholy and then the Urge to Stop”

Usually a filmmaker won’t tell you what you are looking at so you can make your own judgements and opinions but I am personally a really big fan of when directors or producers give up information on why or how they get a shot so I thought I would do that here.

In general, this film showcases what I do a lot, sit and think. While these past few months have kept me busy with films, I usually spend my free time at home sitting around. When I’m at work, I’m sitting around waiting for someone to give me something to do. While I’m sitting down, I think. I think about life, death, friends, family, choices I regret, decisions I’ve made etc. According to one therapist, this is not very healthy for me but I do it anyway. Usually my thoughts are interrupted by me not wanting to think anymore and actually do something.

In this particular sit down, I wanted to show that I was in thought but the thoughts were upsetting. I wanted to convey that I was having a hard time with in my thoughts. In reality, I have been suffering from a serious case of having a broken heart and wanted to show how that looked like in my life.

The music plays in to that as well. The music starts with water crashing in, much like the thoughts, then the music just drops suddenly to show how I rush to stop the upsetting thoughts. I also played the song backwards to give it more of a surreal feeling. Here it is in full.

One thing I hope to accomplish in film is to leave people with a feeling. I wanted people to be a little sad like me in the film. I look for reactions because I enjoy making people feeling something, and it doesn’t have to be a good feeling. That is also why the film is in black and white. Just to give it that feeling.

Thanks for reading! Here is a reward!

Thoughts from Home September Edition

Hello, I am David Rubio. I’ve been working with HRK and the 4381 productions crew for a while now and I thought it would be cool to look around the blog. I also had a weird impulse to write something. So here goes I guess.

Working on The 8th Day was great. I was late most of the time but we pulled though thanks to my awesome crew. Hopefully I can get the data to my editor soon. Hannah was great as well. It was awesome to see everyone work there ass off for Matty. Really glad he got his film made. I hope he can look back at his complete project and know that he created something amazing.

One of my favorite films currently is Spirited Away. I recently watched during quarantine and wow did I cry like a baby. It was such a beautiful story from beginning to end. The art was amazing. The music was amazing. Miyazaki is the great animator to touch paper. It is streaming on HBO Max (or talk to me, I can let you borrow my DVD or Blu-Ray copy)

I’ve recently bought Super Mario 3D All-Stars, a remaster collection of Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy. I used to play these as a child, so I’ve beaten the first two fairly easily. The games do have slight input lag but you get used to it. Really should have been 30 bucks since I’m pretty close to finishing all the games but oh well.

If you read all this, Thanks! Here is a reward.

Quarantine and Spes

Hello,

It’s been a while. Hopefully you’ve been well in these incredibly trying times. I’ve been okay. When quarantine started, I unwisely started to invest my time in anime. This lead to me not really doing much film-wise and going down a rabbit hole of really bad anime. So after sometime away from that, I had a talk with Micheal Grossman. He inspired me to explore in the environment where I will be filming Spes.

I may have talked to you guys about the short film Spes, that was written by David Obar. He set it in his camp out spot in Dansbury. Located in a beautiful spot of Texas, I fell in love with the location. Anyways, I was having trouble doing a storyboard and shot list for the script (I’m a terrible sketcher), when Mike told me to explore the space with the actors. The next week, I took my Canon Power Shot and had the actors block the whole film. Wow was that tough but incredibly productive. I mean we worked out a lot of issues that would have arose if we hadn’t done the blocking. Spes really took a huge step into being made. Below is a rough photo board I’ve been working on.

rough photoboard

Hopefully we can get Spes shot this August.

Also, If you have a couple hours, watch Freaked. It’s free and pretty funny. You won’t find it in the Criterion collection anytime soon, but I feel like we can learn from films that don’t try to be masterpieces. We all can’t be Tarkovsky or Kubrick, we just have to be ourselves.

Step Into The Wonderful World of Pepperland

Probably around 2009, I was a huge video game fanatic. I would mostly stick to Nintendo games as they were family friendly and all-around fun. I would go to “work” with my dad and he would give me a nice five dollars. I would save up and buy the newer Nintendo titles that I could afford. Another thing I would do is wait for E3,  an electronics show in LA. On top of electronics, video game companies would show of their new consoles and video games to accompany them. They would upload all their new game trailers onto YouTube, where my brother and I would gleefully watch them all. One trailer that caught my eye was from Activison. They showed off their newest installment of the Rock Band franchise, The Beatles Rock Band. For some reason, the music caught my attention and I had to know more about The Beatles. This is pretty much how I became a huge fan of The Beatles.

In my deep dive into all things Beatles, I would come across their films. A Hard Day’s Night, Help!, Yellow Submarine, Magical Mystery Tour, and Let it Be were all for free on YouTube (at the time YouTube was lax on uploading full movies). I watched a couple of them, but Yellow Submarine has stuck with me forever.

Yellow Submarine is based on a song of the same name, sung by Ringo Starr, from their LP Revolver. The lyrics and movie diverge a lot, they almost have no correlation. The only thing connecting the song and movie is the submarine. The movie itself is a psychedelic animated children’s movie with the worst dry British humor you will ever hear. The Beatles don’t really have a personality in the film and the Blue Meanies are just ridiculous. You don’t really watch it for the dialogue, it’s more about the animation and music that really get you invested.

In terms of music, obviously the movie is composed by Beatles’ songs, but it is also anchored down by the orchestral scores done by Sir George Martin. The soundtrack is a part of The Beatles discography. The album itself is half new Beatles’ songs and half Sir George Martin songs. I highly recommend a listen, mainly for the song “Hey Bulldog”, a hidden gem in this album. In the movie, there is a nice balance of songs motivating scenes and scenes motivating songs. All in all, the music is fantastic and already a great excuse to watch this film.

Another part of the movie to look forward to is the animation itself. Visually, it is vastly different than anything made before. The animation team was not afraid to use colors in anyway. Not only does the film work with light colors but it also can transition into dark colors flawlessly. While this film makes use of limited animations, it’s influence can be seen in shows like Sesame Street, the Electric Company and School House Rock. The movement in the animation is also something to look for. While it is not the smoothest animation, whenever a character moves, there personality and emotions are shown. For example, the character of Jeremy Hilary Boob PhD (yes that is his name) is always busy and very erratic. So when he walks, he is always walking on his toes and is always shown in a different pose or position. The emotions are shown to the audience instead of just being told to them.

I was lucky to find this movie at a young age but looking at it now, I can really appreciate this film more. I recommend a watch if you are into great color palettes, psychedelic visuals and great music. Yellow Submarine is available for purchase or rent in the iTunes movie section.

What Godzilla Is and What It Can Be

I’ve talked a lot about different art forms in the past but now I would like to turn my attention back to cinema. Like most of my peers, cinema is something that I have fell in love with and have tried to look deeper into. Today I want to talk about a few things. All of it revolving around the King of Monsters, Godzilla. 

Inspired by the 1953 film “The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms” and The Lucky Dragon 5 incident, producer Tomoyuki Tanaka wrote the outline for what would become Godzilla. In 1954, it would be produced by Studio Toho (known for Akira Kurosawa films, Studio Ghibli films, and other famous Japanese films). Hundreds of Godzilla films were produced by Studio Toho, some of them brought to America and some better left in a Japanese vault. Before we investigate the future of the Godzilla series, let’s take a dive into the very first Godzilla. 

Godzilla, in a nutshell, is an anti-nuclear movie disguised as a monster movie. Japan was still under close eye by the American government, so they had to be discreet about their messageThe movie takes place in the present (that is 1954) when Japan had just come out of World War II, defeated and badly wounded by the two atomic bombs that were dropped. Godzilla itself is a visual representation of nuclear consequences. The monster was created because of hydrogen bomb testing, which was being tested in real life as well. Instead of humans learning their lesson of how horrible nuclear weapons are, they continue to test the waters. As a result, they create a terrifying force of nature. It is nature taking it’s anger out on humanity for producing such dangerous tools and for causing destruction within the planet. It is putting a face on nuclear holocaust and showing how brutal it is. Godzilla was a symbol for human error and how costly an error can be. 

Sadly though, when Godzilla was brought to America, it was re-edited to play more to the American audience. The brutality of the monster and message were toned down and an American actor was added in. The film was renamed “Godzilla: The King of Monsters” and shown as just a normal monster movie. You can find the original Japanese version on the Criterion Collection. The Americanized version is on there too but it’s best to leave that one alone. 

Godzilla exploded in Japan and became a pop culture icon. Slowly, Godzilla would turn in to a franchise much like the Marvel Universe or the Fast and Furious series. Godzilla would turn into a hero, destroying monster that dare attack it or its home, Earth. Gone were the days of a message, Godzilla was an action star. 

Godzilla has been around for almost 66 years and its timeline has been rebooted three times. The first timeline was called the Showa era, followed by the Heisei era, Millennium era, and Reiwa era, respectfully. The thing about these movies is that all the reboots keep the original 1954 film as the starting point, continuing the story from that point. The original story was not re-done. That is until 2016. 

One thing I have not mentioned yet is the American versions of Godzilla. The first American studio to try their hand at Godzilla was Tri Star Pictures. It was very bad as you may know. After the failure of the Tri-Star Picture version of Godzilla and the failure of the Millennium era Godzilla in Japan, Toho Studios decided to lay low on the monster. Eventually, Toho would give the rights to a Godzilla film to Legendary Pictures. With that came Godzilla (2014). This film did very well and inspired Toho to try again. Out of this came 2016’s Shin Godzilla. 

Shin Godzilla was the first Godzilla movie to re-do the origin story. Now instead of hydrogen bomb testing, Godzilla was created by chemical waste. Inspired by Japan’s waste problems and the Fukushima incident in 2011, this version of Godzilla has more personality in them. It starts of as a sea-based creature with gills, then transforms into an upright creature. Then finally a gigantic creature. This Godzilla visually represents how nuclear waste can and will come back to haunt us. The Japanese people are not being careful with their nuclear power again and Godzilla stands a powerful and hideous incarnation of the consequences Shin Godzilla was a return to form for the monster. The film not only gave a powerful demonstration of destruction and impressive visuals, like the original did in 1954, it gave us a message of caution. Consider picking up Shin Godzilla digitally or physically 

Monster fights are cool as hell, don’t get me wrong. I loved the fights between Godzilla and King Ghidorah. However, when it comes to storytelling there is not much there. I believe you can find a message in a film but when a film has a clear purpose, it makes it even more beautiful. A monster movie doesn’t have to be just monsters fight. It can be a message to audience. A message of cautiousness with what you create. A message of carefulness with what you play with. A message to take care of the Earth. A message to take care of each other. If not, who knows? Maybe we will have to take down our own Godzilla. 

A Couple of Budgets, A Shot List and A Funeral

First and foremost, I want to thank everyone for their kind words on my last post. I did not really think that my post would receive that much recognition. I’ll have to admit that following up with something new was a little nerve-racking. However, I’ve concluded that I should stop worrying and just write. Oh and thankfully my father has eased up on the chores.

  • Weekly Update

Well kind of. I may have missed a week. Anyway, I sent off the budget for The Wolf and Spes, unfortunately I missed out on some key details and have to re-do it. Thankfully, though, 4381 Productions has gotten some more professional and detailed budget sheets. I am grateful because these budget sheets have shown me how much more details a producer must take into account when shooting a film. This kind of knowledge is exactly what I’ve been looking for. I’ve always liked focusing on the minor details to have a smooth shoot. I am also still working on the Spes shot list. It has been difficult, trying to put the shots into words. Like most people, I have shots in my head but I find it hard to write down or even draw. I’ve decided to not sweat the details too much. I have full confidence in my DP and the fact that he will give us amazing shots(as soon as the virus goes away).

  • A Muppet Funeral

A lot of kids were raised on the street. Sesame Street that is. Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Cookie Monster, Elmo and friends have probably been in our lives in one was or another. I did not start watching, however, until my parents cut off the good cable. You see, in the early 2000’s, my parents did not want to pay so much for cable, so we dropped down to very basic cable, ending my mornings with Bugs Bunny, Tom and Jerry, Spongebob and Dora. Tragic, I know. I would beg and plead for them to get my cartoons back but they refused. So now I was stuck with Channel 8 Houston PBS. Fox, NBC, CBS and ABC would show cartoons but only on Saturdays morning, so Channel 8 was all I had for the rest of my childhood. I would really only watch it after school as I didn’t have time in the mornings on school days. However, when I did have a morning free, I would head over to Channel 8 to watch Sesame Street. I loved watching Elmo talk to Dorothy, Mr.Noodle and the babies. I loved when Cookie Monster destroyed his cookies. I loved the Count and his weird laugh. The one Muppet I looked forward to was Big Bird and his bear(Mainly because I had one as well and he still sits in my room).It gave me comfort knowing someone else found comfort in a bear. From there, an appreciation for the Muppets grew.

Fast forward to 2011. A new movie for the Muppets was playing in theaters(The Muppets 2011). Obviously, my family and I go out to watch it and wow was it great. Mind you, I was not raised on The Muppet Show (I think I was too late on that) but still this continuation of the Muppets was incredibly well done. The music was fantastic ( it won Best Original Music Written for Motion Picture), the story was nostalgic but fresh. I highly recommend a watch. Anyways, to promote the movie, Disney released Muppets: The Green Album. This was a compilation of hit Muppets songs, sung by modern pop and rock musicians at the time. I picked it up and found a beautiful new song, Bein’ Green. I found the original song on Youtube being sung by Kermit the Frog and it became my favorite song ever. Bein’ Green has been cover by Frank Sinatra(who did not do it justice) and Ray Charles but probably my favorite version of the song was sung by an old childhood friend, Big Bird at Jim Henson’s Funeral.

Jim Henson would pass away May 16th, 1990. In the wake of this, two funeral services were held, one in New York and one in London. Also the Muppet would hold a tribute show for Jim Henson. For a closer look at these two programs plus a look into Jim Henson’s final show, I’ll leave a link here. Jim Henson’s funeral in New York was incredibly beautiful and very emotional.The part that stood out to me however was Big Bird’s rendition of Bein’ Green. It starts with a beautiful piano playing the song as Big Bird walks towards the stage. As he sings, you can hear the emotion in the Caroll Spinney’s voice, trying his best to hold back tears. The song itself, is emotional enough with it message of self acceptance. It is truly a beautiful moment in time. Big Bird then says his goodbye to Kermit and walks away.

Bein’ Green is an important song that means a lot to me. Not only is Kermit the Frog expressing his discontent with being just green but he comes to terms with being green and what it can be. Much like us, we can hate the person we are and  think how unimportant or insignificant we may think we are. Just like Kermit, though, we have the opportunity  to understand that we can be fine with who we are and we can become something we like to see. We can be comfortable with ourselves. I like to think that Jim Henson knew this and wanted to create a work of art, a medium at that can express this sentiment. This along with the voice of a childhood friend singing these words makes this a impactful song and important lesson. Thank you Big Bird.

“I’m green, and it’ll do fine, it’s beautiful, and I thinks it’s what I want to be.”

 

 

An Update and StoryTime or What David is Currently Doing and Why He Likes Anime

  • Update or What David is Currently Doing

4381 Productions is at a stand still and it’s driving me crazy. I went from coming home late working on Kelvin’s, Sofia’s, and my own video to sitting at home doing nothing. I’m trying to discipline myself to sit down and focus on work but family and my phone distracts me too much. It drives me crazy. “David, lets go, we have to mulch this garden.” “David, we have to clean the driveway.” ” David, we have to go to Tiki Island  at 9AM to shovel these rocks onto the back of the truck to take them home and throw them in the backyard.” We shouldn’t even be outside but arguing with my dad is pointless.Crazy, I tell you!(This got way too personal and specific but whatever)

Anyway, I finished the budget for The Wolf, a film written by Kelvin Kataria. It’s pretty great but kinda long. Probably a six day shoot. Also finished the budget for Spes, a film written by David Obar. Also pretty great but shorter at an estimated three day. Gonna work on a shot list for Spes now, hopefully I’ll start this weekend.

  • StoryTime or Why David Likes Anime

As I look at my anime posters, anime figures and (sigh) anime plushies, I can’t help but reminisce and wonder how I got here. My real first encounter with anime came during 5th grade.

In the summer, my mother would take my brother and I to Mexico to stay with my grandparents and take care of them for a month. The only thing we would do in the small town of Jose Maria Morelos is watch TV and go to the park in the afternoon. On channel 5, though, DragonBall Z and Sailor Moon would come on. One anime aimed for boys and another aimed for girls. Obviously, you know which one won my heart. That’s right, Sailor Moon. Irony aside, I actually loved watching Sailor Moon. The characters were cute and the visuals were bright and colorful. Don’t get me wrong, DragonBall fights were cool as hell but I loved the animation and colors in the transformation sequences in Sailor Moon. I wish I could have watched it more in my childhood, my cousin would make me change it as it was “a show for girls.” I used to avoid shows like that because of his comments but he can go kick rocks, I’m going to watch “a show for girls” if I want to. I refuse to let overs dictate what I can or can’t watch. However, I didn’t really fall in love with anime until I fell in love with a girl.

I believe it was 6th grade when I meet her. Let’s call her Julia, to protect the innocent or whatever. Julia was friends with a friend of mine, so we meet through that person. We would talk about random things like our different religions, music and cartoons. I slowly started to fall for her, talking to her as much as I could and listen to whatever she had to say. I just wanted to be around her. Anyway, one day Julia asks, “Do you watch anime?” To which I replied, “What’s that?” “Japanese animation!” Julia exclaimed. “Oh like Pokemon?”said clueless David. “No!” she said with force”that’s not anime!” (It is but Julia could have told me the moon was made of cheese and I would have absolutely believed her.) Julia would then recommend three (actual) animes: XXXholic, Ouran High School Host Club, and Clannad. I didn’t get into XXXholic but Ouran and Clannad were amazing. I would talk to her about the animes and she would recommend more to me. The genuine happiness on Julia’s face when I told her I loved Ouran is something I’ll never forget.

Sadly, we would part ways, I was moved to a different high school than Julia’s. We would lose contact and that was that. I would fall out of love with anime in high school. I didn’t watch anime until 2017 with me discovering Cowboy Bebop, my current favorite anime. From there, I found my love for anime again. Julia was and is an important part of my life. Hell, I used to have a recurring dream about her for an extended period of my life. As a friend once pointed out, anime maybe the thing that keeps me connected to her. Anime means a lot more to me than just animations on TV. It’s the joy I get from a good anime. It’s the nostalgia from a past life. It’s the feeling of being in love. It’s the memories I made, not only with the characters in these stories but with the person who opened this world to me. It’s the joy I get when I get a new poster, figure or even a plushie.

It’s all thanks to anime and Julia.

 

Thoughts from Home The Reboot

A little tired while writing this, so please forgive any mistakes.

Very happy with how the set turned out. Houk laid out the plan and we worked out butts off to make it great. Miranda dressed it well and Micheal Grossman created an amazing world around it. Oh yeah, we got to work with Micheal Grossman, whose done work with Disney, Nickelodeon and other big names. He is great at his job obviously, and honestly a great guy. Learned to make the set work with the camera, not the camera work with the set. Also apologies to Stalin. I didn’t think a director could work without a shot list or storyboard but Micheal does just that. Another mark on the loss column for me I guess. Wish I had more to say but I can’t put everything into words at the moment.

Houk doing the most Walls of Jericho