I Write Stuff


I first learned to type in 1982 on an Atari 800 computer using a program called master type. It was my brother Peter who brought it to my attention. He was four years older than me and his fingers were flying away at the machine. I was astonished at the speed and skill of my brother. His intelligence was phenomenal, and he was the inspirational genius that showed me the world long before the Internet showed me the world. It wasn’t just the program or the machine that taught me how to type -it was brother’s own journey that guided me.

Over the years Peter showed me how to write in screenplay format as he lived in California as screenwriter for hire. By osmosis, Peter and I began our journey as writers who wrote movies that would never get made; except, I did make one and it nearly killed me.
My brother was tremendously proud of me for making my first feature at eighteen. I didn’t realize making a feature would take me twenty years to finish and nearly break me, but across those twenty years, I wrote twenty features. I was a person that wrote, but not yet a writer, that is what became clear over the last year.

An assignment by professor John King was where I hit the wall on a short story I just could not must up myself to be proud pushed me to the point where I flat-out didn’t want to even do a revision, but it was John that said, in summary, that the reason I needed to finish the work, even though I didn’t want to, was “clearly because we’re writers”. That’s when I came to realize the need of discipline and new ways to approach content creation beyond just works we love to write for ourselves or friends.
Through the last year, as I did my studies and started the “world-building” of my novel and facing incredible challenges that were crushing me personally, I maintained a thin line of my faith and my expression through written words. After two brutally difficult years, I truly knew I’d become a writer.
I am grateful for the last year with my peers and professors. I have hit the mark of author evolution by going beyond writing just for self, after all, we write because we must.

La Jette: The Reason for Film School


Title: La Jette
IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056119/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

Possible Offensive Content: Nothing
La Jette is by far my favorite film of all time. I’ve never written about it nor been given the chance. The first time I saw it was in 1991 in a film class at The Minneapolis College of Art and Design as a Post Secondary Enrollment Options International Baccalaureate student at the age of 16. I was both a high school student and a college student at the same time. I had no idea that in my new Art school studies I would ever enter a film 101 class and see the best thing I’d ever seen in live action. It was, in fact, La Jette that made me realize that I wanted to tell stories in cinema and that CalArts was the school for me. In that time I still had to finish high school in order to go to CalArts, and MCAD was not where I wanted to be. I immediately wanted to make movies.
16mm film and the square aspect ration disappeared for me in that dark room that day. I was enthralled by the fact that film was pulling through the projector gate at twenty-four frames per second, and that the film itself was comprised of photographic stills. It made no sense to me that the film was going through the gate and that no moving images were taking place. This was the moment where I changed from a photographer to a filmmaker and couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. By the grace of God I was seeing La Jette with the French voice-over and English subtitles. It was the perfect cinematic moment that would form who I was and migrate my skills as an illustrator and photographer to 16mm cinema. I shot my first short film that summer and then the next year started the first 16mm feature that would take me fifteen years to complete. La Jette was the inspiration for why I became the Artist inside the moving medium of film.
The story stuck with me for decades. I tried to watch it once a year just to remind me what could be done in storytelling through the use of film and photographic narrative. The story of time, romance, tragedy and the rescue of humanity was central to all my own forms of Art. Chris Marker had hit paydirt as an artist and I was insanely proud and jealous of him at the same time. It wasn’t jealousy that I wanted to be Chris Marker or make his film, but jealousy that showed me that my own artistic voice had a long way to go and he had set the highest bar possible. It was, truly, the greatest film I had ever seen. It beat out Citizen Kane, Sunset Boulevard, Walkabout, Taxi Driver -everything. It totally blew me away that this was what cinema could do.
There is a singular moment contained inside La Jette that was the very moment that shook my world to the foundations of what Art could do when it broke all rules. The film gets you moving through the timing of edits and how photographs smash up against each other. It reminds you of why an edit happens. The idea that one image effects another were unquestionable. Every edit was not just a choice, but a reason. The greatest surprise of all is when a woman is laying in bed and looking at the camera. We sit through this film in the notion and promise by the filmmaker that this is a series of photographs, one after another, telling a story in time. As the photograph of the young woman in bed with a sheet over her looks at the audience, we become her lover. We adjust to the photograph as a work of Art. Then, in brillance unmeasured, Chris Marker breaks his own rules to his movie -he lets just a moment become live action -a woman moving in the frame. She’s alive. We break through time and the film splits in half and returns us to the photographs juxtaposed as stills to tell the story, and yet, it’s too late. He’s taken us into something alive. We are, in fact, caught in time.
This film still has a unique magic. The structure is quite simple. We are with a man who is in the future. He must travel back in time to rescue the world. The scientists do this somehow through drugs and agreements of what time even is. We are convinced that they have sent our hero on a journey to stop the end of the world. It is the airport where a man is shot and a little boy sees the death of the man by a woman at the end of the airport overlook.
Our hero remembers being a little boy -seeing a man shot at the airport. The little boy, is, of course, him and the grand secret at the end of the film that shows us he saw the moment of his own death in some kind of endless time traveling -living to love and die again and again. Finality is expressed in the finale of the film, but there is still, in the tragedy, a sense that he will become both his own death and the endless loop of love and life through time.
The one, two, three structure seems clear. We move through time with the hero in total sync. We are in a linear adventure of finding out the mystery while struggling to hold onto the love of a woman caught in a timeline in a way where he can never have her but for a moment. Themes of heroism, tragedy, sadness, loss of love, keeping one’s sanity, sacrifice to rescue the world -they all sync and rise to the top. In the end, the film is both a live-action narrative and a photographic Artistic experience caught in time. The film itself is time-travel and no other film has captured time in quite this way.
The best way to see this film, quite frankly, is exactly how I did. Something is lost when the film isn’t seen on a 16mm print. The idea of the edit and time and the click of each frame does not exist in a digital format, and so, in a way, part of the story is lost. But even in that reality of a lost experience in film which would be beneficial to any and all filmmakers, La Jette still remains a singular experience as one of the finest films of all time that in its structure, utterly encapsulates what time itself is in live action cinema. The story lessons and themes and plot are clear, and they work in tandem to with film as Art. Watching La Jette is about experiencing it, not just absorbing the story. It is one of the few films where we become the protagonist in the midst of adventure and ultimately are caught in time. This formative Artistic experience as a viewer, for me, was the moment where I knew I wanted to be more as a storyteller. It is the very film that motivated me to enter film school raw, yet ready to absorb any and all things like it in order to find my own voice.