Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Goodbye 2014

We close out another year and begin a new year fresh and clean.  I do like that our calendar resets itself every 365.25 days.  The phrase "There's Always Next Year" comes to mind.

This year has been one of many ups and downs.  As 2014 began I was not working, Melissa was just finishing up with "The Drowsy Chaperone" for the Jewish Women's Repertory company.  Kaylee was having a good year in second grade at Canfield Elementary with Ms. Knight as her teacher.  Shortly into the new year I found myself working with my buddy Haven again, helping him make cold-calls on a contractual basis, picking up where we had left off in November of 2013.

I really enjoyed working with Haven, as a successful entrepreneur he was able to teach me a lot about how to do business in the 21st century, that and his unceasing charisma was enough to keep me going for awhile.  Sadly his business model wasn't sustainable for the long term and we parted ways in early March, and at that time I started looking for a new career path.

Intentions were that I was going to finally finish my Science-Fiction book and get it ready for publishing.  Technically I did finish a first draft of the book, but I decided rather than to make it a trilogy of books, like George Lucas did with the first Star Wars film, I'd lump them all together into one.  So while the first "book" was finished, it was really only one third of the entire story.

Meanwhile we travelled a bit.  Our first trip was to San Diego for the weekend in late January.  My lovely bride had gone to the Dentist for a tooth that was really bothering her, so much so that the pain radiated up into her face.  When the Dentist took a look he discovered that the tooth in question did not, in fact, need a root canal since it had already had one, and that she most likely had <a href=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trigeminal_neuralgia>Trigeminal Neuralgia</a href> which is an insidious condition that can make life miserable for the patient.  We went to my former home town to see my friend Michelle who is a very smart lady, and also a holistic practitioner of massage and acupuncture.  Michelle helped Melissa out that weekend and gave her a good path of treatment.  We stayed at the Dana Inn where I worked for two years back in the early 90's, in a room that is in one of the "new" buildings, so it wasn't even there when I worked there.  Did discover that only one of my former colleagues is still there, unsurprisingly.  I actually keep in touch with several of my former colleagues on Facebook so it's not like I didn't know where they'd gone off to.

Still it was odd to be back in San Diego.  I miss the city of my youth, but it lives on in my memories if not in reality.  The reality is that the city has changed so much since I left in 1998 that it is unrecognizable to me now.  And that's OK.

We spent some time in the Bay Area with Kaylee's Godmother Robin and checked out the America's Cup venues.  Didn't get to see any actual racing, but just to be there was a lot of fun.  The event itself has to go down as one of the greatest comebacks in any sport, because for something like 9 races Team Oracle was facing elimination and came back to win.  I'm sad that the 2016 Cup won't be in the US, but hey, Bermuda's pretty nice too.

Summer vacation brought us back to Utah for yet another family reunion on Melissa's side.  Our little side of the family is simply a smaller unit of the huge whole that makes up Melissa's relatives, and boy did they all show up.  Still we had a good time, and that was when Mel got contacted to do <b>Where We Begin</b> and really that's all that matters.

After the shoot we slogged back home and life got back to normal, as normal as it could be.  I didn't start working again until the end of October, and that strained our lives quite a bit.  As our funds diminished our stresses increased and the arguments got worse.  Fortunately I was able to land my new job and we've been really happy with that circumstance.

Christmas Eve was my 2 month anniversary with Card.com.  The future looks bright.  2015 will see the release of <b>Where We Begin</b> and we're all looking forward to that.  I'm looking forward to the Stanley Cup Playoffs to see if my beloved Kings can defend their cup, and while I'm optimistic, I know that a successful defense is probably not in the cards.

I'm looking forward to Kaylee turning 9 in October, and entering 4th grade.  I'm excited to help Melissa grow her business, and I'm really happy to have a stable work environment where I can thrive and prove my worth.

So Happy New Year.  Goodbye 2014 and welcome 2015!  Let's have a blast!






A Day on the Set of WHERE WE BEGIN

Where We Begin is an upcoming short film written and directed by Mitsuyo Miyazaki, the highly acclaimed director of Tsuyako.  My lovely wife Melissa Pritchett went to Southern Utah University home of the Utah Shakespeare Festival with Mitsuyo and they were recently reunited after about a decade of being apart.  In fact, it was on our recent trip to the Festival that Mel and Mitsuyo ran into each other and Mel was asked to be the costume designer on the new film.  As arrangements were made for Mel to spend about two weeks in Cedar City where the school is located and filming would take place, Mitsuyo expressed the desire to have our Kaylee in the film as well, and invited her to be a gypsy if we could get her to the set.

Call time for the "gypsies" was 10:30 AM.  However, since the wife is the costume designer she had to be on set with everyone else by 8:00 AM.  We figured we might as well come up with the rest of the crew.  The drive to the location was not very much fun.  Oh sure, it's only 30 miles from our hotel, but 27 of those are completely unpaved.  Our little Honda Fit is not designed for unpaved road.  Most passenger cars aren't.  They especially aren't designed for mud.

Basically the drive was 10 miles on a somewhat paved road called "Lund Highway", then a right turn and 17 more miles on the dirt.  Now I had been told it was sort of dirt, but I really didn't understand.  If I had, we probably would have gotten a ride from someone else.

I mentioned mud right?  Well about two miles short of the location the rain from previous Summer storms created several mud bogs, and one very very large lake in the middle of the road.  A lake which would prove to be impassable to all the vehicles, least of which the large commercial rental trucks carrying props and costumes.  THEY, however, could go around and there were several SUVs and other larger passenger cars which could make the final few miles.  Just meant that we had to leave our car on the side of the road, three miles away from the location and had to wait almost a half-hour to get to the site.  Could have been worse, one of the trucks got stuck in the mud, and that was an important truck.  Our car had only one tiny meat-puppet who wasn't that important to the film.

Well, we finally get to the location about 9 or so, I forget to be honest.  As soon as we're there we can relax because Kaylee's scene isn't until later, and the other gypsies didn't need to be in costume yet.  We watch filming.  We watch the rest of the crew show up.  We see the livestock enter the picture.  We're told not to go near the sheep.  We don't.  We snack on the craft-services grub.  We bond with the other extras and principals.  Fortunately there are a ton of kids in these scenes so Kaylee had a lot of fun making new friends and playing with them.

One thing about filmmaking in general that you really need to understand, is that the environment is very chaotic.  It's a controlled chaos usually, but I've been on enough sets to know that it's pure chaos.  Questions like "how long is that going to take" should never be asked, especially by the extras or the extras 'people.'  Mostly because when you ask that it's guaranteed to take longer than you'd like.  The shooting schedule, as best I can tell, got rearranged several times to accomodate the drone camera.  I'm still not sure how they wrangled it, but they managed to get a $30,000 drone with an incredible camera to do overhead and 'helicopter' type shots.  It was AMAZING to watch, and quite frankly I could have watched them do that all day.

It's a beautiful piece of technology that is functional and good looking.  The 8 propellers are powerful enough to take the thing pretty damn high, and the noise isn't all that bad.  The most impressive part I think though is the smoothness of the motion, the video looks like it's shot by a steadicam.  Oh and they had live feeds to the director.  I'm telling you, the footage is going to be incredible.

The problem though is that they can only fly a few minutes at a time.  Of course each session means multiple takes and the meat-puppets, especially the small ones, get tired and need resources like water and food.  Needy meat-puppets.  At about noon the first AD comes over and lets all the extras know that the Gypsy scenes are being moved to the last few shots of the day, and that instead of being let go at 3 PM which was the original stop time if we wanted to be in the film we'd have to stay until well after 6 PM.  No big for us, we'd planned to stay anyway, but we did lose a couple of the younger gypsies to time.  Ah well.

I believe it was actually well after 4 pm that the gypsy scenes began to be filmed.  If I'm recalling correctly there were three setups with the gypsies, they're pulling carts around the homestead when the main dancer character Leo sees the lead dancer character Sophia.