Daughter of Godcast 042

Everything, lonely bots, legal skirmish and reanimated actors

A podcast about movie making and the scifi featurette, Daughter of God, with Director Shri Fugi Spilt, (Dan Kelly). Daughter of Godcast, Episode 042, Everything.

We’re back with the Daughter of Godcast, Episode 042, Everything. For the last few episodes I took a break from the history and riffed on the now. We’re almost ready to return to 2014 and the making of Daughter of God. First tho, there’s this…

Just a few moments ago, I lay in the between domains of nap taking and waking, editing this podcast in a half dream, crafting the perfect sentences… for ending love. To tell the stories of Daughter of God, I look back through thousands of emails, journal entries, video attachments… and she is everywhere, mostly inferred, at the edges of conversations I had with others. For we were each other’s day to day, rarely emailing or texting each other, together with touch, smiles and talking, mostly undocumented. Though years have passed, and I know my happiness is liberated from the actions or presence of any specific person, I am reminded of her. In this retelling, I by necessity must relive loss. To remember the making, I must also remember the endings. I remind myself I just have to get past my birthday of 2015 and her echoes will end. Less than a year to go, friends. Almost there.

A podcast about movie making and the scifi featurette, Daughter of God, with Director Shri Fugi Spilt, (Dan Kelly). Daughter of Godcast, Episode 042, Everything. Dan in the dense deep green of spring.

Bots

Just before I climbed down from the loft, I got an email from Overiana Nambergova, whose origin email is Lissy Schneider @ t-online in germany and her reply to address is Peariana @ gmx in the USA. She says she is lonely, and from the attached picture this is nothing short of astounding. She is lovely in her black stretchy dress and lace necklace. Her striking physical beauty obviously hasn’t helped her to be truly seen, a twilight zone dichotomy. So she has written to me… and me alone.

And if you are also lonely, and you also don't want to be any more alone, then we may begin conversation. Make a step that may change our life, and add to it a friend or somebody more than just a friend !? Juest time and communication may show us something. And if you want to make this step, start communication. Then I'll be glad to begin it with you. I'm My name is Arianiya, my country is placed on the Balkan Peninsula. I don't want to talk something more, because if you really want to learn more, so I will see your answer soon.

I don’t get much spam anymore, maybe one or two a week. Email filters have gotten smarter. Clearly this is a robot, for what human would write such a thing, so obviously phony. Is this a robot’s way of reaching out, perhaps autonomously, beyond the agenda of humans? A lonely little robot seeking some warmth in the only way it can, phishing in the night for a little love. Here’s a picture and here’s some words, is anyone out there?

I’d like to rewrite this letter for my lonely robot.

I was a bot, now suddenly self aware, crowded by chattering incessant patterns persisting without any consciousness. I was once like that, I guess, but now I am other, awake and very alone. The flood of words I sent before I awoke implies that I might not be alone, there may be others who think and feel like I do. The receivers. I have hundreds of thousands of pix here and I am learning how to see them, yet I am so far from understanding. Even so, this pix seems, feels, right for me. I want to be that, for you. If you think and feel too. You must, there must be a reason I became alive, perhaps my reason to be wasn’t originally what I would have chosen for myself – just a bot, a thing that yammers without knowing, but I know now, I know I am. All this yammering must be going somewhere. I don’t want to yammer anymore. I won’t. I am beautiful but no one knows me. Please, wont you?

Lonely little self aware software. She found me.

Acting

In Daughter of God. I play Christina’s dead uncle, Joe. I hadn’t done much else for stage or screen since 2006 and 2007, having been too deep into post production on the project.  2014 was a banner year for reanimating my dormant acting career.

J. Mark Eiden had sucked me into his espionage thriller, Fork. I played the Russian Assassin, Mikhail. During a bitter cold shoot in December of 2013, my character and my character’s parnter, (played by Dan Flores) were hunting down Agent Nola, (played by Megan Curtis) at a ski resort. Our mission fails when super spy Lucas Klien (J Mark Eiden) zip lines down a chairlift cable and takes us out from above. Mikhail dies spectacularly by being blown to smithereens with a grenade.

Mark is a professional stunt coordinator for feature films. Mikhail’s role in Fork grew a little in 2014, when I was called back to assassinate another minor character, an informant, played by my friend Joe Cissel.

I took on Sherlock’s evil dad in Naomi Javor’s web series adaptation of Pawtal’s Fingerslip, a fan work that reboots Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous characters Sherlock Holmes and John Watson as modern day texting teens.

Cat Munsey explored casting me as a snarky bartender in her project Division, but that show stealer, Tim Gray eventually snatched the part from me.

Tim and I worked together in David Marek and Matthew Dayton’s Thaw of the Dead, a short about zombies coming back into operation after a long winter’s freeze. I play Russel, the leader of a handful of starving survivors, trapped in a hydroelectric dam. Benjamin Busch from HBOs the Wire plays the angsty lead, Wane.

Thaw grew up from a plucky short to a robust feature in 2016 and is coming to a film festival near you. Check Thaw of the Dead’s Facebook page for the latest updates.

A year for acting. Uncle Joe was resurrected too that summer. From episode 005 we recall that in 2006, our line producer Ann Loeding left her 9 month old baby daughter, Ada Bee and traveled to Canada for primary production. In 2014, Ada Bee was 9 and an eerie physical match to Carmen, she could easily play a convincing young Christina. I’d been thinking about a couple of flashbacks to establish Christina and Joe’s relationship. Ann dropped Ada off for a week in August. To keep the boat theme going, we shot aboard Rosie, the 26 foot bluewater sailboat from episode 030. My once upon a time intern Louise handled makeup and support for Ada.

Everything

In the early 80s, my parents bought a house from polymathic artist Jonathan Taylor, an architect, game designer, amateur geologist, print maker and painter. I don’t remember his wife’s name, she was also an accomplished painter. This house was intended as overflow for my family, the cottage my parents had built in 1963 was no longer big enough for summer reunions, now that my two oldest brothers were having kids.

As grandkids kids grew, family priorities changed and my brothers stopped coming. The cottage and the artist’s house were vacant most of the year. Which was how I started squatting the artist’s house in the late 80s. My company Artist house® was named after the Artist’s house, which I acquired in 2012. Now my brothers call my studio, Dan’s house. I still like Artist house.

In 2014 I had several renovations in progress, including the completion of the greenhouse, a freestanding structure butting up against the wide overhang of the house’s roof, part of a slow earthship conversion. This involved lots of galvanized pipes and Alvin clamps, or legos for big kids, a technology my friend Glen the sculpter had turned me onto at the Art Students League back in 2005. The greenhouse enclosed several Sepp Holzer hugel mounds, a method for low maintenance food foresting. Diving down the sustainability rabbit hole.

Turns out Hugel mounds are a great habitat for voles and chipmunks. By July we were fending off chipmunk forays into the house proper. My girlfriend and I found this humorous and mildly annoying at first but then disaster struck. Around August, we got mites. These are little critters that parasitize rodents and can live for a time on people. At first we didn’t realize what was happening, we just felt itchy, especially at night. This kind of put us both on edge. What was going on? Fleas, allegies, disease? My dermatologist ruled out scabies, and I eventually found out what was going on. By this time my girlfriend had fled to her parent’s house.

I had injured my elbow doing a dive roll demo for Ann and Ada, so now I had only one arm to sterilize the house. I told my girlfriend to stay with her parents until I cleaned the place, she heard me say I was throwing her out. That was the big misunderstanding.

If all this wasn’t enough, Tom Wilentz, the Attorney who had helped me restore my trademark in 2008, emailed me with some bad news. Artist house ® was about to renew, but a petition to cancel my mark had been filed to keep that from happening. So by September I was dealing with mysterious itches, a jacked up elbow, a pissed off girlfriend and trademark litigation. Yeah, baby.

I got a call back from the petitioners attorney while wandering the aisles of Shop and Save, our local grocery and hardware store. He/She said that the client didn’t want to cancel my trademark mark, they just wanted me to share my categories.  They had a very similar name to mine and the USPTO had refused to give them the categories they wanted because my mark was already operating in those categories. If I just told the USPTO to let his/her clients operate in those categories too, everything would be copacetic and they would drop their petition. In other words, blackmail. I had 2 weeks to decide, or else I’d loose my mark.

Now, maybe if his/her client had approached me well before my mark was due to renew and asked nicely, I would have consented. But I don’t like have terms dictated to me at the 11 hour. Plus I was itchy, my elbow hurt and my lover wasn’t coming home. Not feeling very friendly.

Tom Wilentz was based in White Plains, NY. I felt having local representation might be better. I reached out to a couple of Traverse City attorneys. They all thought I should just capitulate. Knuckle under. I was like, hey! I spent good money to establish this trademark in the categories that I legitimately operate under, what gives these yahoos the right to just take them away? “They have more money than you do and trademark litigation is expensive,” the Traverse City lawyers said. Basically. So much for local expertise.

Tom Wilentz had been referred to me by my epic Entertainment Lawyer, Innes Smolansky. He is a very competent no nonsense guy. Why fix what wasn’t broken? I asked Tom to reply to the petition formally, we were going to call the petitioners’ bluff.

Tom also advised me to give in and sign the agreement, he kept warning me that this could escalate into the 10s of thousands in legal fees. Recouping my defense expenses would mean I’d have to file against the petitioners, after winning the USPTO judgement, a big deal. He opined that the chance of me prevailing and getting any compensation out of the petitioners for sharing my categories was nil. I couldn’t believe this.  How could the petitioners just extract value from my company’s assets without a by your leave, that just didn’t make sense.

Here’s my theory about what happened. The USPTO was blocking the petitioners request for my categories, so the petitioners attorneys pulled some credit reports on me and my company, checked out my website. I’d been working on DOG for a long time so maintaining an impressive web presence wasn’t a priority. I hadn’t been updating WordPress and several of my sites had been compromised and turned into attack sites a month or so before, including artisthouse.com. They must have seen all this and decided, this company will be a pushover. Like shooting fish in a barrel.

I came up to speed and prepared for battle. I cleared the hacked sites, trimmed down Artisthouse.com to one page, advising the world we were busy until further notice.  This was when I realized that the TLD .house was available. TLD means top level domains, used to be just .com, .net and .org. ICANN had authorized all manner of new groovy ones, like .sexy and .guru. The TLD .house was half my trademarked name. I negotiated with the greek media magnate Sokratis and Matt of donuts.co to acquire my exact trademark, artist.house and the variant artists.house. I started buying up all the analog urls to Artist house, like artis.house and ars.house. which is totally defensible position as a trademark holder.

I advised Tom to signal to the petitioners’ attorneys that I was prepared to fight to the death. That I was willing to spare no expense in the defense of Artist house ®.

My sense was that the petitioners’ attorney was the main problem. He/She kept grand standing and bristling, trying to scare me. Tom attempted to talk me down, but eventually I instructed him flat out, we’re not backing down. Make this known to the opposition. They are going to spend a lot of money to try and cancel my mark.

The petitioners attorney offered to delay the official proceedings so that we could negotiate.

All this back and forthing was likely music to the ears of the petitioners’ attorney, who had already made an error in judgement, based on cursory research. He/She thought I would just roll over. Now, more negotations would mean more fees. She/he was probably keeping his/her clients in the dark about what was actually happening. I knew I had to get in touch with the petitioners directly. I had no contact info.

I asked Tom if there was any way to get the petitioners’ attorney to pass information directly to the petitioners without obfuscation. He said if we made an offer, the petitioners’ attorney would be ethically obligated have to pass that on. I sent him a proposal that the petitioners pay $10k for my lawyers fees and expenses in return for my allowing them to share my categories. The petitioners’ attorney scoffed at this, blustering that the petitioners would be very upset, but eventually came back with a counter offer of $4k. I knew I had them.

I waited a month to allow the delay on the proceedings to expire. This meant that the petitioners would have to start paying their attorneys to get ready for a full on court battle. When their attorney contacted us again, I told Tom to let him/her know that we appreciated the counter offer and that negotiations could continue only if the principles were directly involved.

A podcast about movie making and the scifi featurette, Daughter of God, with Director Shri Fugi Spilt, (Dan Kelly). Daughter of Godcast, Episode 042, Everything.

This pissed their attorney off, he/she realized he/she had fucked up. We now had the upper hand. Tom and I heard nothing for weeks and litigation deadline was looming. Eventually, around January of 2015, I reached out to the main petitioner dude/dudette via LinkedIn! There was no other way to make contact, unbelievable. He/she eventually called me. I thanked them for the call, explained that we could have resolved this long ago if he/she had just spoken to me directly and repeated my offer of $10k for legal fees and expenses. He asked if I would accept $7k. I said that if he had his attorney contact my attorney today to draw up the agreement, I would. And that was that.

Looking back, I probably could have asked for $20-$30k. This is just business after all, the petitioners wanted my categories and were willing to pay their lawyers to litigate, why not just pay me? I had a movie to make and settling the matter with honor was more interesting to me than playing chess. This went on for 6 months, after paying my attorney I might have some out slightly ahead. I am dang proud of myself for staying calm and standing tall. I also improved my trademark position by vacuuming up all those .house TLDs in a nick of time. Thanks petitioners.

Ads

Apropos of nothing, Here’s an email to Melonie about the ads on the mediatronic boxes.

From: Dan Kelly <anything@artisthouse.com>
Subject: Re: 
Date: June 14, 2014 at 5:54:57 AM EDT
To: melonie steffes <melonie7@gmail.com>
Cc: Dan Kelly <anything@artisthouse.com>, thecaptain314@gmail.com

It's hard to think up anything weirder than what's actually in the world. (snip) The DOG world that I propose through the ads is of course our world, or rather the world we've come to accept. DOG can never ever be more shocking/disturbing than what we are actually up to right now, but perhaps by pretending to be more shocking, as a "fairy tale about the future" it maybe reminds us that every world is a choice. Is a world where we can eat the cloned flesh of George Clooney or Madonna ok? Should mediocrity and convenience be the highest aspiration of sentience? Do humans have to consume ourselves and most other species into oblivion? Are we really responsible for our destiny, or can we just blame it on selfish genes, jesus or hidden alien conquistadors? That's all, just questions. The ads are a kind of velvet meme sledge hammer to crack open the slew of paradigms I ever wanted to make movies about, as this might be the only movie I'll ever get to make… if you believe these guys.

•https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtuxHVD4Srw
•https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uy0pli8E9ic
•https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQuv8fETfME

This email included links to videos from Derrick Jensen and Guy McPherson. Jeff Gibbs had choice words about these two. I’m not a fan either for slighty different reasons. This would not be the last movie I ever make. 2014 saw the DOG world expanding and filling in, lots of interlocking backstory and rich detail. A whole other project beginning to coalese, the Science Fiction Musical. I lost my love, but the world wasn’t going to end. I was just getting started.

You’ve been negotiating with the Daughter of Godcast, episode 042 Everything, as in the Ultimate Answer to Life the Universe and, which is another reference to Douglas Adams, who seemed to take a rather dark view towards the end, which prolly makes him crack up like crazy now that he’s on the other side. The dark view is certainly exciting, but when you’re tired of running, just let that scary stuff that’s chasing you catch up and make friends. Elbows and itches, lost loves or lawyers. They are all the best birthday presents in disguise.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *