Stuff I’ve Read, Watched, Done – October 6, 2022

It’s been months since I wrote one of these posts. But considering how much I’ve neglected this blog in the last week or two, I felt like it was time to go come back to these parts again, mostly because I’ve actually been doing stuff lately (and not just watching TV).

Of course, I have been watching TV as well, including making my way through all of season 2 of Superman and Lois (significantly better-paced than season 1), having watched the first few episodes of Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (generally enjoyable, especially to a non-Tolkien purist like myself–I don’t care if they make Galadriel into an action hero, for instance) and the first few episodes of She-Hulk (better than a lot of the criticisms would suggest, although it likes to act like women understand anger better then men).

But most of my time has been spent actually working on some film projects. Medium-term readers of this blog will know that one of my recent projects has been something that I’ve been calling the “Sister Veronica documentary”, but which is actually entitled Coming Home Together.

After a year or so of working on this movie, it’s almost completely done. In fact, just tonight I made a few last adjustments to it, and have set the computer to make another export. Assuming that the thing is mostly glitch-free when I check it, I’ll be sharing it with the other key stakeholders for the film by the start of next week, and then after making whatever final changes they ask for, I’ll be supplying them with the final version shortly after that. It’s very exciting to see it coming together!

And then the other big project I’ve been working on is a short film called Finishing Touches. My friend Rod and I came up with the concept, and then I wrote the script. It was supposed to just be a short thing but the screenplay ended up being (depending on the precise formatting) around 30 pages long. Then my co-workers at Cygnet Films got ahold of it and there was a big debate for a while about the core concept. We tossed it around and tested some other concepts, before finally settling back on the original idea. And these past few weeks, we’ve been shooting it.

The basic story is about an independent filmmaker who is trying to finish a pretty silly project about teenagers who have gained super-powers through contaminated energy drinks. It’s a film he has taken on just for money and exposure, and he is pretty excited to get it behind him. But bizarrely, he finds that the character in the movie starts communicating with him, pushing him to put the extra work in to make the movie better. Ultimately, it’s about listening to your conscience, both artistically and morally.

Here is the fake poster for “Constant Thunder”, the movie that he is making in the movie.

That’s my daughter as Constance Thunder, the star of the inner film. She also plays Tracey Whitmore, the actress who plays Constance. It’s been a fun production. We shot about 80%+ over three days this past week–long days but we got a lot done, thanks to a good cast and crew.

Also, in the midst of al this, we had a screening for my lockdown-inspired (sort of) time-loop movie, Stuck, at the missions community that I am part of. It was shown as part of a social night we had after dinner, so it was a pretty casual environment. I wasn’t sure how it would come across but people seemed pretty engaged.

The story is specifically about a guy who is trapped in a doorway because of a time-loop that works a little different than most of the ones you see. He can actually extend the length of the loop for as long as he wants…but only as long has he stays in the doorway. If he tries to go out or to go in, things automatically reset, and he returns to the moment that he was first passing through the doorway.

There’s a lot of things about the film that I quite like, even though I’ve just lately been taking a screenwriting workshop that has helped me to realize how easy it would have been to make the story design a lot stronger. Oh well, live and learn.

Speaking of learning, I’m slowly learning to do color correction on Davinci Resolve. I’d rate color correction as one of my worst areas of filmmaking, but it’s been the thing that has created the most delays for both Coming Home Together and Stuck, so it’d be good or me to get a handle on it.

Anyway, all of this has made for a strange week (or couple of weeks). I even fell off the wagon for a bit with my 10,000 step/day goal. I did manage to pull it together this past week, but just barely.

Anyway, like I said, even with all of this, there are a handful of things I’ve watched. One of them, strangely enough, was...

Avatar

That’s right, after avoiding it or over 12 years, I’ve finally seen James Cameron’s Avatar. This is a movie I’ve long-mocked without authority, although I’d felt like I’d already seen it when it was called Dances with Wolves, and I didn’t like it then either. Now I’ve finally watched it, and at the drive-in of all places.

My opinion? I didn’t hate it, but I don’t particularly like it. Sigourney Weaver gave the most assured performance, which is not surprising. I don’t think Sam Worthington is all that interesting an actor, and neither do I find Zoe Saldana. Much of the dialogue is embarrassingly expository, but after the first half or so, after Avatar turns into a more direct military action movie, I didn’t find it boring. I can see why it was a big deal in 2009 but I think it is regrettable that as pretty much a direct consequence of this movie, I ended up watching Star Trek Into Darkness in 3D.

Line of Duty

Seasons 1 & 2, anyway. Line of Duty is an Irish crime mystery series. I’ve only seen the first two seasons, but each runs for 5-6 episodes and tells a single story in the life of the AC-12, an anti-corruption unit who investigate fellow police officers suspected of being dirty. Martin Compston and Vicky McClure (no relation) play the lead detectives, with Adrian Dunbar as their boss.

But each of the seasons has given top-billing to a “guest star” playing the officer being investigated. In the first two seasons, these character were played by Lennie James and Keeley Hawes. The stories are atmospheric and gripping, and both seasons have had some compelling twists and turns.

Our friend has put my wife and I onto this and so now, depending on whether we are in the mood for “light” or “heavy” in our viewing, we often alternate between this and Death in Paradise.

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