A Bringer of Both Pain and Delight tussles with a brainless Mr. Spock in Spock’s Brain.
As a writer and (especially a) producer, one would say that I have a unique relationship with my computer – my Mac Book to be exact. Directing is different. Directing is motion. It’s communication. It’s feet in the sand, walking from cinematographer to actor, or picking up the phone and jawing away for an hour or so to share creative ideas or make strategic plans. It’s personal interaction. It’s nuance and inflection. It’s gauging the voice on the other end of the phone, or reading the body language of the person in front of you. It’s everything a computer isn’t. It’s instinct, it’s by-the-seat-of-your-pants, it’s thinking-on-your-feet. It’s personal. It isn’t paused or reflective. It’s in-the-moment, it’s at-the-speed-of-life or whatever the newest evolution-changing smart phone that your wireless company is trying to push on you right now, but for realsies.
Now my computer is both my work computer and my personal computer. It is a great tool that nudges Shockwave along, keeps the business afloat, but also houses enough movies, games, URL’s and podcasts to also be a terrific time-waster. In fact, every morning when I check my first email of the day, I can’t help but regard my little white plastic-and-steel keyboarded buddy as a slot machine of sorts – utterly dependant on those first, early morning emails which inevitably will determine the events that usually shape my day. Sometimes I roll a few lemons, and others I get cherries. Sometimes, I even hit the jackpot.
So, like the female aliens who swiped Spock’s Brain in the classic Star Trek episode (aptly) named ‘Spock’s Brain’, I consider my computer as a ‘bringer of both pain and delight’ . It can make my day or squash my mood like a bug hitting the windshield of a Toyota Camry. But until now, it’s always been more-or-less a one-way communication. As a writer and producer, you’re generating things; Screenplay. Budget. Even storyboards. The limit is really my own skills and the curve-balls are all self-induced. ‘Can I say this better?’. ‘Can I make this piece fit into that piece...’. It’s a one-way street and I’m in the driver’s seat.
All this is fine and good, except recently, I realize that my trusty MacBook is now talking back to me.
Suddenly, more and more, faces are appearing on my screen. And they want me to do stuff. I’m no longer controlling the pace of my computational output – my computer actually wants things from me. ‘What do you think of this?’ ‘Have you had a chance to check out that…?’. It’s awesome, but weird. It’s… it’s, well, Star Trekkian in it’s almost-normalcy.
So things have been very active in Shockwave, Darksideland. We have turned our attention from the editorial process to the finishing touches. Effects, both sound and special, music, color correction and 3D convergence, oh my… It’s actually quantumly exciting because the movie is now really beginning to take shape. Like a picture slowly coming into focus, all of the decisions and directions are starting to play off each other, resolving into something sorta resembling a finished movie.
My little garage band of director-editor-producers are now being joined by new members that will build our sound into a full-blown symphony. I’m reminded of an interview with the great composer John Williams talking about his melody for ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’. Next to him was a piano and he started playing, reminiscing about how he had two different themes that he and Steven Spielberg both liked, so they combined it into one. I could just imagine Spielberg’s thrill when he heard that little piano tune blown up and out by way of the London Symphony Orchestra. And that’s how I’m feeling these days.
Bit by bit, new players of our growing orchestra are putting their effort and care into the finishing of ‘Shockwave, Darkside’. And they’re all over the world.
Yep, that’s right. ALL... OVER... THE... WORLD. And I’m not kiddin' - so allow me to put on my Ricky Ricardo Band Leader vibe and let me introduce them one by one. We have Andreas Weidinger Büro (composer) and Stephan Römer (co-composer) in Munich, Germany on Music… Sean O’Neal, sound designer in beautiful Brooklyn, NY… ‘Minnesota Wayne’ Johnson on special effects and animation, with an extra Latin beat provided by Bambula, our Buenos Aries-based graphic designers… Sitting in with the FX section are our muzzle flash and laser beam visual rhythm section of John DeMayo of Harwich, MA and Axel Wilkinson in Seattle, Washington. Not to mention Benny Powell in Orlando, Florida on comic book editorial duty and our amazingly amazing art team of Weilin Yang (Pencils) Youjun Yang (Finishing) & Kun Song (Colors) in China.
And oh, yeah, I’m in Santa Monica.
So, ‘Shockwave, Darkside’ is truly an international collaboration. And that’s one of the things about filmmaking in general that’s so rewarding because not only do you have experts in every imaginable discipline coming together, but now you can also collaborate with pretty much anybody on the globe. And with that, everything gets that much richer because everybody brings in a little bit of their regional and cultural influences that somehow broaden the creative palate in ways that I couldn’t even imagine. Sometimes it could be subtle, and other times, it can spin you off into a new, thrilling direction.
Our meeting point is always within the LCD screen of my happy little MacBook. Be it Skype or iChat, it reminds me of a little two-dimensional portal into the worlds of my ‘Shockwave’ co-workers. What’s the weather like in Minnesota? It’s right outside Wayne’s window. Night in Munich, sunny in Santa Monica. And so it goes.
Sometimes I forget that we’re miles apart. We laugh and joke, or sometimes scratch our heads at the challenges of making the movie. Eye contact is essential for camaraderie and a smile pays dividends. Other times, I become very self-conscious that I’m having a conversation with a little white piece of plastic on my desk – and that it’s talking back. And for an instant, I flash back to a youth filled with Bridge of the USS Enterprise view screens, Dick Tracy talking watches and Blade Runner Vid Phones and can’t help but laugh at the fact that my day-to-day bares a striking resemblance to someone else’s imagined future in all of it’s spooky, frustrating, wondrous glory.
I am making a science fiction movie, after all…