Monday, November 30, 2015

Kev In Demand?

You know, it's weird. Now that I've gotten some momentum going creatively, other opportunities are coming my way...

I spoke with one of my film buddies tonight--a real cool guy who calls from time to time just to see how I'm doing. Anyway, toward the end of the call, he casually mentioned that he was reaching out to his writer friends and offering to let them write an episode of his new web series, and extended the same offer to me. I quickly accepted, of course, primarily because of the honor of being asked, but also because I've never worked with this friend in any capacity, so it was an opportunity to rectify that.

However, that's not the only "non-Kevin-originated" project that's come my way. I've also been asked to help craft another web series with an actress friend. I'm a lot more involved in this process, basically serving as the head (read: only) writer, director, and co-executive producer. And even more recently, I've spoken with a local author about shooting and editing a trailer for her upcoming book, with an actor friend who appeared in a short I co-directed some years back serving as director of the trailer.

All of this, mind you, is on top of two shorts I'm rewriting and would like to do in the coming year-- "Revelation" and "The Reparations Squad." And, of course, there's still "The Life and Times of Abigail Waller," which is going as strong as ever, and "Lupus Moon," which I'm looking to start the next draft of this weekend.

I'm not sure why this is all happening now, but I'm very grateful for it. And I hope it keeps coming. It looks like it's going to be a busy 2016, and the timing couldn't be more perfect as I'm feeling confident and creatively refreshed.

It's just a good moment, and I'm ready to embrace the challenges that come with it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Reassessment

A close friend of mine for many years lost his father recently. He was a man who was very cool to me in the handful of times I actually spoke with him at length, and had an awesome spirit about him. Suffice to say it really made a huge impression on me.

I was honored to be asked to be a pallbearer at this man's funeral, and although I was so absorbed in making sure I did everything right that I didn't get that last, prolonged moment at the coffin to take in the body (I got my glances, though), the thing about these moments is that they have a way of making you reevaluate your own life and determine if you're doing what you should be doing - what you're meant to be doing. In my case, one of those things is filmmaking. And no, I'm not doing it.

Filmmaking is something I established long ago (1992) as what I wanted to ultimately do with my life. It was my goal all throughout high school and college. It's what I got my Bachelor's in, and why I chose the University of North Texas over Prairie View A&M University when I knew I would've loved nothing more (outside of filmmaking, of course) than to hit the field as part of the "Marching Storm" alongside another close friend of mine from high school. It was who I was, and yet, I've spent the better part of a decade running from it. There's plenty of reasons why, but at the root of everything is one, simple, overriding emotion: fear.

Sure, I've had motivation to shoot something here and there over the years (and have), but it was always fleeting, quickly struck down by anxiety, anger and frustration over past failures and the unyielding desire to not have to deal with the annoyance of having big cinematic dreams in a film community that thinks - and works - small (I never wanted to go to California full-time; the dream was always to build something here in Houston). But at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what explanation (or excuse, depending on how you look at it) I give - I'm not doing what I'm supposed to be doing - what I've wanted to do for over two decades now - and it's time for that to change.

I've been talking with a few folks recently who present themselves as people that might be good to build something with. I want - and need - a team (a "coalition," if you will), and will be looking to put together such a collective in order to move projects forward, whether they're mine or another artist's. I know this will be easier said than done - and I know there will be more moments where I'll doubt whether or not I can do this myself and want to focus on something I'll think easier to accomplish, but the interest is there. The fire still burns, and I can't give up now. I have to try and see this through or else I'll wind up an old man full of regret - or worse, will pass on and have nothing to show for my time here.

I can't have that. I have people who love and support me, and believe in me - even when I don't. I'll need to lean on them instead of worrying about the ones who'll laugh if and when I fail or turn their noses up when I ask for help. Though it seems the naysayers outnumber the supporters at times, I know that's not the case. And as long as I know I have folks in my corner, I can keep fighting into the later rounds.

My friend's father, along with being an inspiration and example of true manhood, was also a deeply religious man, so this is apropos: when it comes to whatever talent and ability I may have, in the words of the old and oft-recited hymn -

"This little light of mine... I'm gonna let it shine..."

Thursday, November 19, 2015

A New Moneymaker in the Works? or: Kev's Gotta Eat, Too

I've put it off as long as I comfortable could, but the time has finally come...

I need to figure out how I'm going to make money. Unemployment only lasts for so long, and for me, that time is coming to an end pretty soon. So what is a committed, 9-5 rat race-hating creative like me to do?

The obvious answer is to find a way to make money doing what I love. I love writing, but um, yeah... ain't nobody paying me for that (yet).

But I also love filmmaking - so much so that, even when I'm at my most frustrated with the local scene in Houston and a good number of the people that populate it and say "I'm done," I, somehow, always find myself coming back. The interest is still there. The story ideas aren't going anywhere. But without the financial resources, manpower, and, most importantly, support, how am I to make the kind of headway I've always dreamed of? How am I supposed to get anything done? Any images created?

Well, that last part isn't as hard as it sounds. Photography is the creation of images, and the forefather of motion pictures. I also happen to already have most of the equipment needed to pursue that creative avenue, should I choose. And choose it I have.

I have every intention of building a business out of it (I even have a name - KBS Digital Media), but right now I'm in the "exploratory committee" phase of things: making lists of what equipment I'd need, what insurance policies would be best, watching tons of YouTube video tutorials on everything from "photography 101" to software and post-production tips, and planning to take online courses to expand my basic knowledge of Bridge, Photoshop, and After Effects, as well as introduce myself to Lightroom. Basically, everything I need to know to approach this opportunity intelligently and prepared, with realistic expectations.

I'm excited, of course - but at the same time very nervous. I need this to work, and I hope it does, lest I find myself back in the dreaded rat race. I know it takes time to build a business and the best thing would've been to start on this long ago, but I was taking time to sort out what else I wanted to do creatively and figure out what steps I would need to achieve those goals. So, as the saying goes, "Whaddya gonna do?"

I do love creating images, whether it's with words, or actual pictures, and I already have a bunch of ideas for themed photoshoots beyond the standard portraits, weddings, or event coverage. This could be really fun if it works out. Forget about a house with a white picket fence, a car, a family with 2.5 kids and a dog. Getting paid to do what you love? 

That's the real American dream.

Monday, November 16, 2015

LUPUS MOON #29 - "Moonrise Imminent"

After a barely productive, truncated remote writing trip to my local Panera Bread on Saturday (I was sent packing by the relentless air conditioning), I finally finished reworking the story this evening, using the "KS 1000 Story Development Sheet" - a plot development tool of my own design (i.e. aggregated from other sources).

Now that the adjusted story is mapped out, the plan is to begin (re-begin? I mean, I did start a version before) writing the first draft on Thursday. I'm very much looking forward to it, which is a blessing to be able to say after the seemingly limitless revisions, changes, and tweaks, but I must admit I am very daunted by the prospect of having to distill information, notes, dialogue, sequences and plot points from numerous files and handwritten documents into one cohesive manuscript. But I want to wrote the book and it has to be done, so, in the words of the immortal Al Bundy -

"Let's rock."

Thursday, November 12, 2015

LUPUS MOON #28 - "Re-Re-Re-Re-Re-Redevelopment"

Now that I'm looking to bring "Lupus Moon" to the world via prose, the first thing on the list was to take a long, hard look at the story and make sure that what I had was what I wanted to stay with.

It wasn't. Not completely, anyway.

Although the main idea never wavered, and Alex stayed the same leather-clad ass kicker she was always intended to be, the supporting cast has gone through a tremendous amount of changes. Different names, genders, ages, professions - you name it, I'm pretty sure I did it. So naturally, in looking at what I was working with, I decided to make a couple adjustments.

Thankfully, however, they're small. I'm reverting one supporting character, Baines, to a previous iteration that calls for him to be a complete stranger to Alex when she meets him. At one point, they were going to have a past together, which would strengthen their relationship in this first story, but given how I wanted things to play out, it was better if I went in a different direction. I still love the idea of a character popping up that Alex has a past with, but now that story bit will go to a newly-named character, who will also have a daughter that Alex is very familiar with. I'm not sure at what point they will show up, but it's down the line for sure.

Another change I made that has proven monumental in helping solidify things is de-powering the effect of silver on werewolves a bit. The problem was that silver, as initially written, was severely, and always without question, lethal to the beasts. One bullet was all it took to kill a werewolf, which meant that, in order to have a decent level of conflict or danger for Alex and the town of Weeping Springs (the town in which the story is set), there had to be a large number of werewolves with which to contend. Thing is, Weeping Springs is a small Colorado mountain town, so I was forced to come up with a reason why an army of werewolves were holed up in such a place. That led to, I felt, rather contrived plots that actually go against the wolfish pack nature of the antagonists. Wolves - and, by extension, werewolves - travel in packs; there's no way multiple packs would converge on a small town in the middle of nowhere and be subjugated to the rule of one particular alpha without battles to establish dominance. Making it now to where silver can kill a werewolf with one shot (if placed in the perfect spot, and only if the bullet remains in the body), but nowhere near a complete absolute, opens the door for buttloads more conflict, as now the creatures are much harder to take down, which means I don't need as many. So, instead of an amalgamated army of packs descending on Weeping Springs, I can keep the werewolf number to a much more manageable single pack of 9-10.

There are numerous other small changes I've made in the service of working these new concepts into the existing story beats, but there's no reason to go into them now. Suffice to say, though, that as I progress, the story feels stronger, and much more realistic, if that makes sense. And, if it doesn't, it's all good...

I just need it to make sense to me long enough to get the story locked once more and move into the drafting stage. Then, I'll know if I really have something here...

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

"The Life and Times of Abigail Waller" Turns 50 (Kinda)

I just put the finishing touches on "The Life and Times of Abigail Waller" #50.

Man. Pretty cool.

I can't say I never thought I'd get there. To be honest, I never really though about it that much. But it is a milestone, and one that I'm very proud of. Not too long ago, this was just a failed web series that was sitting on the proverbial shelf, waiting for the time that it might see new life.

However, there's no time for resting on laurels. I have a lot more story to tell and I'm looking forward to the next 50 comics - and well beyond.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Flip that Almost Flopped

One of the dangers I have with talking with others about plans I have for projects is that, often, those plans change within the next day or two. Most often it's because my confidence is fleeting, and one day I'm feeling very high about my chances of realizing a certain project a certain way, and the other, I'm not. Very often it has to do with a lack of motivation, or my tendency to second-guess everything I do (bad habit) or my desire to "make the perfect choice" and not screw up, lest someone throws it in my face. The again, the greatest reason for my wishy-washyness is probably summed up in one word: fear. I just don't wanna fuck it up and wind up spending a ton of time and energy on one route when another would have proven fruitful faster.

Last week, I wrote about how I was considering a chapter book treatment for "Lupus Moon," along with continuing to realize it as a comic book series. Things were looking good. I was feeling strong and confident...

Then the next day came. 

For some reason, I started to second-guessing the prose concept. Do you really want to do it? How long would it take? You love comics, shouldn't you go that route if that's what you really love? You don't read a lot of novels. What sense does it make to write one? Then, to make matters worse, I lost interest in realizing the story as a comic. It was enough to question how I would pull it off, but something else to just say "screw it" altogether.

I've really been annoyed about my back-and-forth tendencies for a while. More than anything, it leads to "paralysis of analysis," and nothing gets accomplished. After that day or two last week, I made the decision to just sit my ass down and work on something. With "Lupus Moon" stagnated, I figured I'd brainstorm on another idea. I previously mentioned my interest in creating another web series with either a superhero or supernatural slant. I let one of the ideas roll around in my head and realized that I had done precious little world-building on it, so it made sense to take some time and flash it out some more. One thing led to another and, next thing I know, I'm considering creating it as a TV series. 

That lasted for maybe a night. 

As I worked on it more and more (and looked at the practicality of getting the work out there, the timeline for it, and whether or not I'd maintain ownership in my own creation), I began to think of it as a series of novels, along with "Lupus Moon" and a few others. Basically, an expanded version of my ideas from the week before, but with a different property at the lead. This current concept, currently called "The Coldest Night" (about a detective who meets a vampire after stumbling onto a case that exposes her to the world of the supernatural), is still something I might play with as a web series should I continue to move on that (I've done a little flipping on whether or not I'm really going to get back into filmmaking - I'm very interested, but it takes work - and others - and writing novels is just plain less taxing - and singular), but it's feeling really good as a novel at this point. After a few days' work, I've greatly expanded the story's world, done some heavy development on the two main characters, and am about to start developing the story for the first book. 

Where does this leave "Lupus Moon?" I'll get back to it soon enough, but I'm planning on making yet another adjustment to the story - primarily to the supporting characters (there was a death planned that I no longer want to have, and characters that I want to save for larger roles down the line). Afterward, I'll give it another go, but I think working on something fresh right now is a better choice.

At least there's movement on that front.