A podcast about movie making and the scifi featurette, Daughter of God, with Director Shri Fugi Spilt, (Dan Kelly). Daughter of God, Episode 034, Question.
Hey neighbor, friend, far away. Hello sister, brother, lost relation. Greetings spacefarers, crew of the Starship Earthenprize, Astronauts Asian, African, American, Aboriginal, Artical! Standby for another transmission from somewhere earlier in our Sunward swinging. This is the Daughter of Godcast and I am Dan Kelly aka Shri Fugi Spilt or something who looks and sounds very much like him, a cosmic crab safe in his swirling seashell, wearing the stigmata, doing a bang up job of pretending to be just me, claiming the cosmic Oscar for my role as mere mortal. Just like you!
Oh to once again be speaking, smiling into the future, to entangle myself, dualistic and digitalian. I point devices from the early 21 century in my approximate direction, devices barely better than stone knives and bearskins for capturing some fraction of my visual and audio radiations. These primitive devices are all we have in the way of time machines in this here and now, one way only, some shadow of myself travels to the future with a message, a hint about who I might have been, what my ride felt like. Can you recognize me, in a future unfathomable, am I still even slightly human? A vintage model, but forever classic. Easy on the eyes? Aye.
Ready to reconstitute 2013, 4 years ago from my lovely locus of the ever refreshing. I am writing this bit on April 17, 2017 in the gray AM and recording this on April 18, 2017 in the sunny after morning… Which is more me, the writing or the reading of the writing?
Episode 034 Question
Ask the right question, and the answer will be obvious. Who said that? As far as I know I did, tho probably other sages have too in our 200k year history. What I mean by “Ask the right question” is that when confronted with a quandry, a mystery, or dare I say, a problem, thinking about the optimal solution is less helpful than thinking about the most interesting questions. A really fortunate question includes the answer in the asking.
‘Why did I take a decade to make Daughter of God?’, is a question with an agenda. Maybe not worth answering. There’s some sneaky presuppositions lurking. For instance, this question asserts that a little-ish movie and a decade aren’t congruent, they don’t match. Please resolve the mismatch, Dan Kelly. If I try to answer THIS question, I am going along with an assertion that may not be very interesting. Nor useful. Nor Fun.
Even so, the Daughter of Godcast podcast could be seen as an answer to this question. I’ve craftily retooled the question to intrigue and entice. Stories from the making of Daughter of God, 12 years from script to screen and how making my movie made me. Pretty sneaky!
Which is word play. I wasn’t made, I bloomed. I am more like a flower than a birthday cake. I’m not assembled, soldered or baked. I grow.
Every decision during DOG has been about me. The movie and the diversions too. Especially being of service, volunteering, giving of my power and majesty to worthy causes and then eventually strategic worthy causes. Or what I hallucinated as strategic. What I dearly wished were strategic.
Like for instance, the Michigan Movie Makers or M3. The first half of 2013 was spent jousting at windmills. In episode 027 I re-co-launched M3 and then after James baked the trail became M3’s prime mover. I don’t think I would have started M3 by myself, too much work. Now that the organization was launched, I felt an obligation to follow through. I guess I had some issues around unfinished projects!
My personal agenda for Michigan Movie Makers was merely to introduce myself to the creative crowd and identify the most fun people to collaborate with. All these Northern Michigan movie makers. Since my movie wasn’t done yet, how could strut my stuff, how could I attract collaborators? Organizing M3 became a proxy for proving my credibility and hutzpah. Which almost worked. I did get a few acting gigs!
Then mission creep, I began to have some fuzzy notions about what M3 could be. Objectives that sounded good but really weren’t my passion. Such as…
Since movies brought together so many creative disciplines, maybe M3 could be an advocacy group for regional artists generally. Movies could bring lots of really interesting jobs to our region, to the state, maybe M3 could help make that a reality. Maybe M3 could be all things to all people, a chicken in ever pot, freedom, justice!
M3 could have been Version 2.0 of my co-coordinating the Prospect Heights Community Farm, back from episode 020. Except without the compost bins and resentment.
Nobody elected me to project manage M3, I didn’t have a mandate to unify the cinematic community. We never had a formal membership. I kind of liked blogging and definitely enjoyed getting to know folks. Everyone was very appreciative, a few people jumped aboard and helped, then fell away. Other key players logged some significant hours. What exactly was it all about? At least there were no personal protection orders issued, that’s a win!
At the start of 2013, as the supposed prime mover of this theoretical advocacy group, I felt obligated to address the most important issue facing my imagined tribe, How to save Michigan’s film incentives? Answering the wrong question.
In Episode 028, the writing was on the wall for Michigan Film Incentives as early as 2011. They had been savaged by Republicrats, who didn’t like the crowd that made movies, even though conservative icons Clint Eastwood, Charleton Heston and Ronald Reagan were all in the biz. Well, Reagan and Heston were dead, but still.
M3 or more to the point *I* couldn’t yet read that writing on the wall. The Film Incentives at least existed, perhaps they could be repaired, remediated. Big budget productions might yet enrich Michigan.
I researched the incentives and interviewed the fabulous Clover Keys Roy about how we lost IE Effects and then legislators Ray Franz and Howard Walker about their positions on the incentives. Deb Havens of the West Michigan Film and Video Alliance led a workshop to inspire and rally M3. I blogged and blogged. In March, M3 organized a production extravaganza where we interviewed each other about the importance of movie making in Michigan. We did probably 15 interviews and I made some rough cuts. The idea was to flood the legislators with excerpts from these interviews, to help them get perspectives they certainly weren’t hearing. The first salvo was shot by students of the CTC FNM program, and edited by me.
Kids are the most insidious influencers, they’re so cute. That last guy Jake, he’s well on his way to fame.
Along with all this film incentive jostling, M3 also pulled off a Micro Movie Marathon. I came to my senses in July and eased off on advocacy, but even so M3 kept up regular meetings featuring the Brothers Ciaglaski, the students of CTC FNM and Rich Brauer plus an open studio in support of J. Mark Eiden’s Fork. Phew!
To answer the wrong question, one reason Daughter of God took 12 years was because I kept aspiring to leadership, without a clear idea of why. Why was I coordinating yet another community garden? Certainly my movie maker pals were way easier going than many members of the PHCF, red in tooth and claw. This wasn’t fiesty Brooklyn, this was Northern Michigan after all. I had several justifications for why I was running M3 but the only relevant reason was to expand my network of collaborators, which could have happened by just inviting them to hang out. But to improve conditions for movie makers, to create jobs on big projects I didn’t even see myself being part of, to make Michigan more attractive to Hollywood? Not my passion. Yet there I was pushing these peripheral agendas, neglecting my passion.
We could go all arm chairy psychologisty and posit a fear of success, but at this delicious moment in the spring of 2017, here in Dome 2 of the Valley Forge, my take is that maybe because I’ve got a big brain, wide ranging curiosity and zest for life generally, taking on new challenges is just natural. I would just cobble together some whacky justifications for how whatever I was doing fit into a mythic master plan and away I’d go.
I’ve gradually gotten clearer about what bliss feels like. Many experiences feel good – applause at the end of a great M3 meeting, screening the work of 30 or so comrades at a Micro Movie Marathon, writing a especially kooky blog post for a few hundred people to chuckle at – but bliss is more than feeling good. Bliss is feeling me.
The Michigan Film Incentives would be totally nixed in 2015, and not long after I would lay down the Michigan Movie Makers, and lean into the sun. Rather than organize movie makers, I would be a movie maker, full time.
Meanwhile… my secret top drawer Indian rotoscopers, Eshan and Richa were steadily cranking out results. I don’t have to explain rotoscoping anymore, do I? So in spite of my part time tilting at windmills, DOG was not languishing, hardly. All the contractor and task logistics deployed in 2012 were fully functional through 2013, vroom, vroom!
To expand my credibility and cashflow, I tried offering an editorial workshop through North Western Michigan College at the start of the year but I only got half the attendance I needed to break even, so I canceled. This is still a brilliant idea and worth revisiting after I’ve collected a few Palme D’ors.
In May, for my 50th birthday I threw myself one of the best surprise parties ever on Elberta Beach. A dancing, delirious night of bonfire singing, debauchery and lit frisbees until dawn. I ate a way too powerful brownie but was mostly there most of the time. So many excellent friends showed up and celebrated this crazy little thing called love.
Let’s not forget our base of operations, the Artist house. In June I started repairing and refinishing the red oak floors. I wanted to find help with sanding but I couldn’t! After renting the big machines, I eventually ended up finishing with dual hand sanders. I didn’t lay down oil until August, which meant that most of the house was offline for the entire summer! I laid plastic down when the Allegro clan showed up, there’s like 7 of them.
Ann, Gary and Ada Bee visited while I was brushing on the oil, kitchen infrastructure was relocated to the patio and we lived mostly outside which was actually pretty fun. Ben Woody was working for me again that summer so we had to access the computers by climbing through a window. What a wonderful, annoying train wreck! But the floors turned out so beautiful.
Here’s a little story from the deep archive.
I am Amber and I am Braithwhite We are emissaries from the stars Salve, emissaries welcome Are you not surprised to see us? On the contrary, I’ve been expecting you. Indeed, how so? Well, lately I’ve gone mad and so it was inevitable that you or something like you should manifest. How do you know you’ve gone mad? The others of my species no longer understand my thoughts and feelings, I am unable to establish basic rapport. Ergo, I am no longer sane. So you believe us to be a lie you are telling yourself? I do. This a problem is, for we are quite real and have made contact with you for a vital purpose. We require action from you. I have no problem acting on whatever direction you give, for that is the nature of insanity, to strive against the consensual reality and behave in a singular manner. Following the instructions of disembodied voices… you can clearly see our bodies yes as I can hear your voices, neither of these perceptions bodes well for my sanity. Yet I am perfectly willing to accept this state of affairs. What else can I do? Your attitude is somewhat unsettling. We certainly hoped to secure your cooperation but your rationale or lack thereof for moving forward is not ideal it’s of little consequence however. We know we are real well of course you do and tho you doubt the veracity of your perception now, you will know too eventually. At that time you may experience a slight shock but by then, shocks will be not unfamiliar to you so there will be pain involved pain of the sort you seek, yes. Hmm Come now, you know what we mean You are isolated from your fellow beings, are you not? A result of your madness, your loss of consensual reality, or so you say. Isn’t it possible that you perceive more than your fellow beings? Could your separation be the result of an enhancement? This is to be expected, now the apparitions tell me I’m better than everyone else, I am special and therefor unrestricted by conventional mores and accepted ideas unique superlative it’s why we’ve come to recruit you this is so banal. It’s just what I’d expect to experience in my first throes of madness. It’s textbook meglomaniacal bullshit well, you’ve agreed to follow our guidance in for a penny in for a pound and won’t you be surprised when you find out that you aren’t nuts but for now, believe what you wish the next chapter will be the same, in any case ok, so back to the pain part your joseph campbell said, love is the pain of being fully alive doesn’t adventure involve pain so does this involve falling in love not directly, but perhaps we’re certainly not setting that up for you no there’s no time if you find falling in love efficacious, that’s your call in achieving the work which is what exactly. What do you require? There is a vast universe, chock full of consciousness too complex for you to even comprehend at this stage. They are as gods to you and some not so nice gods some downright nasty think lovecraft and some wouldn’t even notice you at all, even after they crushed your planet you could say by accident there’s a huge spectrum of divinity for lack of a better word and you’re people are at the low end decidedly of the spectrum but and here’s the good part something needs doing that only a human can do one human in particular you and well… we’d like you to do it and there’s a boon at the finish typical hero’s journey and you get to wear a cape more like a hoodie a hoodie cape it’s purple I’m in
You’ve tuned to the Daughter of Godcast, episode 034, Question. A major theme of 2013, put to bed. Next week, we might add a flourish or three, close out this year or whip pan to a tangential topic. All depends on what I’ve eaten for dinner the night before.
OMG, I’ve got to kiss myself. Enough time goes by and this brother forgets what a badass he’s been. 2013 was a year of bad assery, I definitely showed those windmills!