A podcast about movie making and the scifi featurette, Daughter of God, with Director Shri Fugi Spilt, (Dan Kelly). Daughter of God, Volunteers, Episode 031, all about getting the most out of giving.
Howdy, mi hermanas e hermanos, soy Dan Kelly, escritor y director y hablo un poco español. Gracias por su atención.
Y, this is the Daughter of Godcast, stories of the making of the post apocalyptic romantic comedy featurette, Daughter of God, 11, well maybe 12 years in the making since this gentle release continues through 2017. Pre-production and primary shooting happened in 2006, but I cast the die in 2005.
When I was a kid growing up in Pound Ridge, NY, my older teen brothers Steve and Mike helped me understand the anatomy of golf balls. I am not sure if today’s golf balls are made the way they were in the 70s, but back then, if you carefully removed the dimpled plastic cover, there’d be a single strand of rubber wrapped around and around. We would get in the family station wagon, grab the rubber strand and drop the ball out the back window. We would then drive the twisty, hilly roads, letting the golf ball skitter and unravel behind us. This usually required many miles of driving before the golf ball eventually unwound down to hard marble sized solid core. This is the sort of thing teenagers did before 1st person shooters and ubiquitous network porn.
Boys unraveling golf balls behind a station wagon on rural roads evokes a Ray Bradbury innocence. Then we all grew up to be a rocket captains on the Mars run, eventually raising our own little families in clean bungalows by lazy canals and red mountains. You can hit a golf ball pretty far on Mars.
We are revisiting the later half of 2012, more than half way through the history between way back when and the blossoming now. We’re dangling the DOG story out the back window of our station wagon, and I expect we’re going to unravel the whole thing, another 30 or so episodes ahead, if we account for my segues, diversions, dubious spiritual ramblings and ranty social commentary.
Here in 2017, we’re still making history, winding more rubber even as we unravel. That’s the space time continuum for ya.
I caught a cold a few days back which is the excuse I’m using for the delay of this week’s episode, I was hoping I could be a little more perky before recording. Plus 2012 had a lot going on. AND the DOG goings on in March and April of 2017 are inviting me to show up as more myself than ever.
Daughter of God’s gentle release is much bigger than this podcast and mostly invisible for now. In 10 or so weeks, I’ll be summarizing the wildness happening right now. Future episodes are being born even as these words nuzzle up to your cochleae.
Episode 031, Volunteers
In March 2 – 12 I drove back to NYC and then Philly for a series of re-unitings. I saw the Tai Chi family, my gorgeous Africans, met up with Dave Crowley and Darcy Peck of cowboy wedding and forest fire fame in episode 021, then drove down to Philly to see Marion, Jung Woong and their son Ari whose magic quilt encompasses all of Lake Michigan from Episode 025. I enjoyed urban camping in the Odyssey, complete with composting toilet. The habits of Hello World persisting, artifacts of a sustainable civilization insinuating themselves into our enhanced every day.
2012 year in creation
Heal back/pelvic basin stiffness, reveal cause and discover / implement protocol for repair. physically robust, feeling/looking svelte and yummy. Daughter of God is finished. Ultimate Around Lake Michigan Expedition. Science Fiction Musical script and score/lyrics. 6 new feature scripts. Feature well into production / completed. 3 sets of 15 handstand pushups, all the way down. 3 sets of 20 pull-ups. Flying roll, horizontal. Sword form, ru yi form. Life arts fully integrated. Gorgeous and conscious women delight in sharing life with me, especially consistent deep intimacy and affection. [snip] Production/VFX crew established and working. M3 thriving and delegated – I have the ideal role. Memory sharp and quick. Festival awards. Global presence and project distribution. Profound yoga and tai chi practice.
I had projected some pretty zany goals that January, extravagant and way abstract. By July, after family debacles, developing a roto contractor infrastructure, expanding the sailing fleet, celebrating the boon of Ben Woody, and high concept blogging, my goals were slightly less about outcomes and more about experience. This was a significant improvement from a magical perspective.
Before Lena Maude headed west, she grabbed the full set of Tony Robbins Personal Power. I have taken the course about 10 times since the early 90s and suggested she give it a whirl. Admittedly Tony is a little over the top but his tools are effective. Lena and I had been talking about how polymaths prioritize. We even explored how we might go about developing a software assistant that could act like a dashboard for our priorities and goals. I’m excited to have her impressions of the material when she (theoretically) returns in late summer / fall. Lena in June x I’ve been feeling a distinct momentum and sense of accomplishment… which is a little dangerous, it makes me want to look around for more stuff to do. My big list is beginning to feel a little unstructured, so it’s high time for me to revisit my own priorities. First priority is DOG completion. Simple. Getting that wrapped by fall is still my primary focus. What else do I want to experience and what can I realistically accomplish in the next few months? There are five categories 1) DOG, 2) stay strong and balanced, 3) getting organized and inventoried 4) sharing joy and 5) pre-production for revised ALM. Strong and Balanced I lied. Maintaining and expanding my physical presence is actually my first priority. I’m pretty much at my goal of doing each of the following practices 2-3 times a week – yoga, tai chi, tumbling (combat mime) and light free diving. Sustained action flows from staying strong and balanced. DOG Next comes DOG. I parted ways with the whacky VFX contractor Trace (New York, Bombay) in June and have yet to replace them. Ben and I have been slogging through the roto but it’s time to re-recruit if I am serious about a fall finish. I myself will need to log 4-6 productive roto hours daily from mid July through the end of August. Also, I’ve got to perfect welding jump cuts. That means buying Twixtor, a powerful tweening application often used to convert GoPro footage to super slow motion for extreme sports videos. Ben Loves to Rotoscope! x Organized Getting organized and inventoried was delayed last fall because of a snafu in the renovations at the shack – a fabrication space Patrick and I were working on. As of July the shack is operational and my organizational efforts are finally moving forward. Organization means having all the production equipment sorted and ready, tools accessible, art materials like clay and paint sorted and available and my archives of past projects stabilized. Finally, the house itself requires renovation to support collaboration. The renovation short list includes new lofts for visiting VIPs, greenhouse, floor refinishing, mudding and trimming out the back room, executing the mosaic in the bathroom, and replacing uninsulated windows. Except for lofts, most of the house renovations could be postponed to the fall. If I have more lofts, I can allocate proprietary space to visiting artists (and their families) so that the house doesn’t get completely cluttered with travel gear, toys, clothes, etc. If the lofts were freestanding, they could be disassembled in the fall to allow for the backroom to be finished and painted. Sharing Joy Sharing joy is about having 1-2 of ALMs vintage Hobie Cats operational, launching the raft as a high diving and free diving platform, making more opportunities to dance and inviting the tribe to soak up the good vibes of the Artist house. (Added 07-12-12), blogging is another sharing of joy, it’s also organization/inventory. The Hobie fleet (so far 3 H16s and 1 H14) needs love. With the exception of Hello World, they’re all vintage 70s cats acquired this summer for cheap. The long term plans are discussed below, but in this context of sharing joy I’d like to have a couple on the lake by the end of July, when my brother’s family shows up. Jim Barnes H16 and my family’s original H14 are mostly functional right now, so that would make a mini fleet of 4. The raft is a non trivial undertaking with several steps – I need to locate the anchor in 15 feet of water, clean and prep the raft for painting, paint, erect a new cedar tower, put down a deck, and hook up solar nav lights. She-oot! Seeing the big raft out there would certainly be a magnet for friend fun. For dance I’ve just got to go to Traverse City weekly or invite folks over. Meryl and Alex are getting married in August so that’s a good excuse to gather and practice. I’d love to have some visitors from NYC but it’s not totally feasible without lofts (see Organized). Blogging spans several categories, certainly it’s a sharing of joy. In this post I’ve alluded to a vast backlog of topics – 0 APR credit cards for film finance, the arrival of Rosie, Save the Hobies, ALM revised, shack, animation studio, personal archeology, producing and collaboration with James and Jeff, the incomparable Ben Woody. Jeff was down here talking about Story (big S) and he asked me how much I write. I wanted to answer a lot, but for the past month or two I’ve only been blogging in my mind. The running narrative to my far flung friends hasn’t actually been published. Revised ALM Remember sailing Around Lake Michigan on Hello World, the 300 mile expeditions in 2009 and 2010? Will there be another circumnavigation attempt in 2013? What’s this got to do with assembling a Hobie fleet? I’ve got a new concept that will both amp up ALM epic-ness and tightly focus the premise. Previously, I was searching for artifacts of the emerging sustainable civilization(s) but all that’s moot if there’s a catastrophic failure of the current unsustainable infrastructure. Think Fukashima. So the new expeditions will be focused on neutralizing threats and facilitating a soft transition from consumerism to balance. The earlier expeditions demonstrated that navigating, sailing, arranging interviews, blogging and making a feature doc is a little more than one man can handle, even if he is Dan Kelly. A team is wanted. A support crew. Diverse talents and expertise. To support the new premise, I need to grab at least another 2-3 H16s locally before folks put them back into storage, fit out the shack for fiberglass work this winter, recruit a robust sailing / support team, research the threats and figure out how to take them offline safely. Miscellaneous I’ve got to coordinate the Michigan Movie Makers Micro Movie Marathon happening on July 25, then there’s the M3 party to organize for the TCFF. I’d also like to shoot the secret beaches project I’ve been scheming on with Sandra Dee in September. There are also a smattering of informal collaborations eg distractions. I had promised to cut a trailer for Patricia Norowol’s Circuits which is way overdue. James’s Africa movie is attempting to suck me in and I meet almost weekly to banter with Jeff about Planet. Add to this family and friends and that’s a pretty crowded dance card. Conclusion Here’s an energy breakdown. 80% of my energy needs to flow to my top 3 objectives. Physical practice only requires a non negotiable 10% of my time, then 50% for DOG and 20% for organization. A whopping 10% goes to sharing joy, (whoo!) 5% to ALM pre-production and 5% to distractions. If I project a 14 hour work day, here’s the hourly breakdown…
The Summer priorities had some fanciful projections, and allocating my time by percentages was a little micro-manage-y for sure. In contrast to the January Year in Creation, Summer priorities emphasized the why more than the what. Almost getting to the feelings I sought, which is the core of any why. Just ask any Tony Robbins.
I mentioned a family debacle in 030, which shifted my connection with my nephews. Jonathan and Patrick had been very much involved with Daughter of God and I thought we’d ultimately form a family production / post production studio. That faded, they had their own dreams to discover and realize.
For my part, I needed a much expanded cadre of collaborators to trade exotic memories, unfamiliar ideas and diverse perspectives. I had to grow my team way beyond a couple of 20 somethings.
There’s scads of upbeat stories to explain the nephew exit, other than the obvious – DOG was cursed! There had certainly been some significant fallings out since I started the project. I toyed with the image of DOG as a juggernaut, plowing through my insecurities, breaking all the stagnant patterns. Such as the seeking of self worth through oblivious generosity.
I might have believed my nephews, being full on mutants too, were the only ones who could truly get me, join me on my journey. Eventually I realized they were coming along more from loyalty and curiosity than a fierce passion. They had unique lives to live, adventures of their own to choose. Seeking their own patch of sunlight.
The summer of 2012. Internship of Ben Woody and our crazy animation experiments. Alex and Meryl getting married. The arrival of Rosie the blue water sail boat. Lena visits before wandering out west. Hobie Cats showing up. The uproarious Come as You Will be Party. Freediving with Jason Lome and his monofin. Realizing the neighbors stole my anchor. DOG rejuvenated.
Little by little we get clear about what we want, what our life experience should be about. In the now 2017, I emphasize action as joy, as an expression of feeling fully alive. Otherwise I don’t act. That doesn’t mean everything has to be easy, because hard things can be fun. That’s what she said. My experience depends upon my beliefs, my perspective.
In 2012 I was coming along nicely. I was still scheming on outcomes, but I had recognized that taking action should never feel frustrating, or crazy making. Especially if I was offering robust Dan Kelly action for free.
Volunteering is at best a strategic distraction. Siphoning a little power from what you care about most to facilitate some desired boon or coup. Worst case scenario, a hallucinated or extremely vague boon or coup. Volunteering could be just plain distraction as demonstrated by my coordinating the Prospect Heights Community Farm in Episode 020. Since then I had figured out how to make sure my distractions were mostly strategic if not totally delicious. This may sound mercenary to those who believe service should be selfless. If so, then I am definitely getting my point across!
My three distractions in the later half of 2012 were the Michigan Movie Makers, The Traverse City Film Festival, and salvaging James Weston Schaberg’s Ethiopia documentary.
I volunteered myself and Ben the intern to edit a 3 minute festival high lights trailer for the TCFF video team, to be screened at the awards ceremony. I had been asked to lead the team the month prior, but I declined this honor, preferring to attend panels, watch movies and generally enjoy myself. A day of editorial would get Ben and I credentials for the festival. I also acknowledged the possibility that offering this gift might facilitate future collaborations between the oblique TCFF management and M3. So there’s a solid boon and a more vaporous one.
From: Dan Kelly <email@example.com> Subject: update Date: August 1, 2012 at 5:14:16 PM EDT To: Jeff Gibbs <firstname.lastname@example.org> Cc: Dan Kelly <email@example.com> Here's what Ben and I are up to during the festival. You did good. I went to see the second one and tho interesting, yours was the finer by far. xo Wednesday 8:30 arrive 9:30 panel Susan Sarandan 12:00 Jeff secrets of making a blockbuster documentary 3:00 Finding Your Story Josh Koury 6:00 ai weiwei √ 9:00 we are legion √ Thursday 8/2 8:30 arrive 9:30 Panel: Who's Laughing Now? 12:00 Film School Audio Tech 1:00-6:00 volunteer edit 5:30 M3 party midnight Shorts old town playhouse √ Friday 8/3 8:30 arrive 9:30 Panel: Michigan Film Commission 3:00 best acting class ever 12:00 VHS √ Saturday 8/4 8:30 arrive 9:30 Panel: Film is Dead! Long Live Floppy Disks! 12:00 shorts fiction 12:00-3:00 volunteer edit 3:00 roundtable 9:00 journey planet x √ midnight Sunday 8/5 9:30 Panel: Wim Wenders One on One with Michael Moore 3:00 ashes of america √ hitchcock blackmail
Our plan for the festival included 7+ hours of volunteer editorial. The best laid plans of mice and men. Ben and I saw lot of what we had planned, but in spite of my determination to keep the volunteer effort sane, we ended up having to stay up all night from Friday afternoon to Saturday morning to meet a bogus drop dead deadline. AND, after going beyond the call of duty, the redundant obsequious layers between myself and the ultimate decision maker meant that our editorial effort was ultimately scrapped. Mildly disheartening.
Walking back to my car after that grueling, pointless slog, I met a beautiful festival attendee who, later that evening on the edge of a star scattered Interlochen lake, kissed me. So there is a cosmic balance.
My community contribution was already collosal, as acting spokesmodel and cat herder for the Michigan Movie Makers, our regional production affinity group and cinematic ecosystem, going on a year since revivification.
The TCFF had this theoretically great community involvement scheme, a contest for bumpers – parodies of famous movie trailer promoting Traverse City, that would play between the festival’s feature selections. Making a bumper is a lot of work, and the selection criteria wasn’t easy to suss out. Many (most) of the bumpers entered were not selected. M3 wanted to recognize all that effort by screening the non-selected (booted) bumpers.
At the Micro Movie Marathon in July, we launched the Golden Boot Award. The Golden Boot went to the audience’s favorite rejected or non-selected bumper. This could also be thought of as a counter-intuitive promotion of the TCFF. If entrants knew they could find an appreciative audience for their bumper regardless of whether or not they were accepted by TCFF, they’d be more likely to go the trouble of making a bumper. The Golden Boot was in addition to M33M’s 3 other audience favorite awards, based on poetic and often inscrutable criteria.
In 2012 M3 met and edified our community – crowd funding by Andrea Claire Miao, a Red Scarlet camera tour by Jeff Morgan, an interview with filmmaker Randy Vasquez by Rebecca Glotfelty, Symptoms of Storytelling with Jeff Gibbs, a Postapalooza preview by Steve Julin, a satellite M33M at the Bioneers conference and a screening of Aaron Dennis’s and Jacob Wheeler’s collaboration with On the Ground, the People and the Olive, about planting olive trees in Occupied Palestine, followed by an interview.
The People and Olive was tangentially related to my rabbit brother James Weston Schaberg’s stalled Ethiopia documentary, an earlier and more grandiose On the Ground effort, all about building schools for the children of coffee farmers. James didn’t have my blessing for this project, and I even went to the trouble of producing a short critique from back in Episode 026.
In a karmic twist, James asked me to produce the project in early 2012 and help him find a way to finish. Originally conceived as promotional fluff for On the Ground’s agenda, documenting in Ethiopia had rocked James world. He yearned to translate his experience and insights. Documentary titan Jeff Gibbs suggested we put James back into the story, moving him out from behind the camera.
James was catching static from On the Ground, the organizers of the Ethiopia trip. Two years waiting and now they wanted all his footage. Legal action hinted at. I did my best to soothe while advocating for James’s vision.
Aaron and Jacob had done a much better job of preparing for their project. Also On the Ground had become more realistic about what they could expect from a low budget documentary. The People and the Olive was a wonderful achievement for all involved, a tribute to our region’s collaborative hutzpah.
The Ethiopia movie is still in James queue, maybe. I’ve taken 12 years to make DOG, so James still has plenty of time to finish, as far as I’m concerned.
While we’re discussing volunteering, I had better mention my micro budget commercial project, which was instigated by Ben. His pal Danny was a painter at a local bodyshop, and Ben pitched the idea for a repair time lapse to the owners, Reagan and Camille Frixen. They agreed to $1000 all inclusive to document a week long repair, 24 hours total labor time. This would just cover the cost of Ben.
We ran a GoPro in an armored case I fabricated, to keep overspray and dust off the lens. Ben’s job was to keep in touch with the shop and move the GoPro to cover the various stages of repair.
The fabulous Fauxgrass agreed to lend a music track and the final edit went public on 9/24 with a robust press release. Which was reprinted pretty much verbatim in the Benzie Record Patriot. Fame! 5 years later 4117 views and counting, not exactly viral, but certainly a prime number and hey 4000+ views! That’s 4x more than 1000 and 400x more than 10.
The shack fabrication space was completed in July. Patrick decided he needed more room for his Frankenstein race car project and bugged out. I had some steel fabricated for big rolling shelves and started getting organized. I finally bought my own Dedo light kit, having lusted for them since shooting with Martijn’s aboard the Alexander Henry in 2006. I also acquired a Canon T3i and Dragonframe animation software. Ready for stop action.
We’re about to tie a ribbon around this episode, 031, a prime number. Divisible only by itself, and 1. If we’re talking natural numbers. This is not the first episode number possessing primality, but this posting almost coincides with the day of the month.
If you take the position that coincidences are trivial then this pattern of episode 31 on day 31 of March is not a hint, not a friendly nudge. There’s no reason to pay special attention or allocate extra processing. Even a guy like me who’s tuned to coincidence, even I don’t think this 31 31 warrants notice.
We all have unique criteria for paying attention. For deciding what’s a signal and what’s noise. Crows cawing, sunlight busting through clouds, words on a passing billboard might be redolent with meaning for some and utter static to others. How do you know what to raptly attend to and what to blissfully ignore? We seek pleasure and avoid pain supposedly, but cogent arguments can be made for opposite strategies. Like living for the moment vs delaying gratification. I wonder what Walter Mischel‘s marshmallow experiments were really all about… self control or beliefs? Beautifully ambigious.
Last week’s episode 030 was titled doughnut. That was foreshadowing this next mini-story from the deep archive.
Having safely landed his ship on the surface of the strange planet, Micro Mizako secures the bridge with a flick of his mighty gauntleted wrist. All systems spin down in a satisfying whirr of mysterious technology. Not mysterious to Micro of course, as he is the ship’s Master. He exudes weary confidence as he rises from the pressure couch and grabs a syntho doughnut. “Another day securing the alliance for freedom.” he mutters, not without sarcasm. Suddenly, the entire cabin is blasted into it’s constituent atoms. Micro is likewise negated as a coherent entity and scattered every which way. A sleek star faring vessel and it’s intrepid commander are now but a thin smear of vapor, slithering across a desolate, rocky landscape. In their place, slightly sunken in the powdery sterilized dross, a single intact syntho doughnut… Or is it? For Kent.
Here’s a Douglas Adams pastiche from the deep archive.
As tor yaday
A fish is staring up at the surface of the lake in which he lives, looking at the stars. They fade as the surface of the water becomes a great sheet of light, not unlike the sky of the land dwellers. He goes about his business, eating minnows and whatnot, making trinkets and baubles for the tourists – like cleverly crafted little snail shell pendants and glass rings made out of the necks of discarded pop bottles which he slices with an industrial rock saw. How he does this without the use of hands is easy to explain; the principle of action at a distance is much more common underwater and is frequently used by the creatures who dwell there for all manner of things that would otherwise require hands. That’s why you if you ever dive under the water and see fish staring at you, it’s because they are trying to make you go away and eventually you always do, so there you have it. The science behind all this is complicated, involving gills and water pressure and as this is a very short story, there just isn’t time for extensive geeky exposition. Eventually, the sheet of rippling light is dominated by a great singular blob, not unlike a wavering glass pop bottle ring. Now as this happens almost everyday the fish is not surprised, but for all it’s familiarity it’s still a pretty awesome spectacle. He stares without a thought, neither wishing it away or wanting it to be bigger. Great spokes of light flicker down from the blob. “This is obviously the sun”, the fish thinks, perhaps as a little thought bubble over his head. “The sun is good. I am a fish. Being a fish is good too. Therefor am I not like the sun?” This question is not some silly logical flim flam, but is actually very profound and demonstrates the spiritual sophistication of fish generally. If you don’t agree, it’s likely because you’re human and humans are generally not very good underwater, where all the really interesting stuff happens. Morec of the story? Swim more often especially underwater. Don’t assume anything unless you’ve had a lot of prior experience and even then be careful because you are likely to be very surprised at a very inconvenient moment.
You’ve been listening to Daughter of Godcast, Episode 031, Volunteers and my name is Dan Kelly, or Shri Fugi Spilt, spelled Shri F•U•G•I S•P•I•L•T but pronounced Shri Fuji Split in ancient Essene. We’ve got a crack posse of Brahmin scholars working on the Sanskrit translation. Next week, we’ll ride the Daughter of God wave to the end of 2012. More mountains of water rising, gently, slowly, inexorably. Surfs up.