Daughter of Godcast 069

Wow, just 2 weeks left until 2018 and the big shift. This is episode 069, Almost. Because after 67 episodes, not counting 009 the lost episode we’re almost done. For 16 months straight I’ve gassed on and on, unfolding the 12 going on 13 year history of Daughter of God, sketching out a personal exegesis, foisting half baked creation myths and blustering about the meaning of life. Going all theoretical and yammery, full of mad vision and talk, talk, talk.

This Daughter of Godcast Gentle Release has been an introduction to my unfinished opus, the movie Daughter of God, and I’ve tried to tell the story of how making this movie made me, Dan Kelly aka Shri Fugi Spilt.

Rambling recollections and ranty revelations have set the stage for what is about to happen.

Daughter of Godcast Episode 069, Almost from Daughter of Godcast – dog.movie on Vimeo.

The Gentle Release Ends

This is either the last or the second to last episode of the Daughter of Godcast Gentle Release.  We’ve been digging around in an archeological midden heap, brushing off artifacts, rummaging around in the basement. Now let’s climb in the elevator and ride up. Get in on the ground floor of an epic artistic adventure. The Daughter of Godcast Crowd Completion.

I am not sure this has ever been done before. Plenty of movies test screen before going into distribution, but I’ve never heard of audience feedback starting so early, before the final cut.

Fundraising sites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo and Gofundme encourage fans to donate money to projects. Daughter of God isn’t looking for your money, we want you to collaborate with cognition, by sharing your ideas and opinions in the months ahead.

During the Gentle Release, I’ve rambled, offering recycled and factory fresh metaphors about movie making and human existence. Often shining with insight, other times inscrutable, and occasionally cliche. Maybe these radical theories I’ve spouted about life and movie making are just a lot of hot air.

We’re almost ready for theories to be tested, to turn all this talking into a happening, proof, a movie. I’ve listened to these podcasts just as you have – doing dishes, driving. I too have wondered if all these words amount to mostly gibberish or genius. Time to stop the tell, and start the show. The telling so far has been something of a show, granted… now I’m geeked to convert conjecture and assertions into the tangible, together.

In the next two weeks I invite you to transition the Daughter of Godcast experience, to get more interactive and visual. To offer your notes, critique and  gut reactions. Even though there’s going to be more things to look at and opine about, I’ll do my utmost to keep this podcast a viable stand alone audio experience. Probably.

Primary Narrative

I’ve done about 7 Episodes on 2016 so far, an action packed year. Let’s recap, filling in the gaps as we go. We’ll wrap the history in this episode, almost.

in episode 056 and 057 I talked about the Uncle Joe emerging from the tunnel on his bicycle shot and showed the version that I roughed out in late January of 2016. I had reactivated my rotoscopers from India, Richa and Eshan to mask off Joe and the bike. I’d slammed together a bunch of toys and nick nacks and done some auspicious foley.  The resulting proof of concept changed everything, inspiring a new approach to VFX, the Toy Universe. When I finally got around to watching The Grand Hotel Budapest in 2017 I realized Wes Anderson had already fallen down this rabbit hole, lucky.

The Joe on bicycle shot features a forgotten mug of coffee, possibly left behind by Uncle Joe himself. Was he lounging in the sun and reading that vintage PKD paperback? I emailed Rusty from SomaFM asking for permission to use my official SomaFM mug in the shot, a product placement. He replied enthusiastically, but I’ve still got to send him a release.

 Open Source Product Placement

Legend has it that Stephen Speilberg wanted to use MMs for ET bait in ET the Extra Terrestrial, but MM Mars balked, so he cut a deal with Hershey’s for Reeses pieces. Sales of Reeses pieces boomed after ET rocked the box office.

Daughter of God could boost all manner of benevolent human endeavors with Open Source Product Placement and maybe grow DOG’s audience. Like TEAM DOG’s crowd funding for the Watershed Center in Episodes 046-049. I would definitely need a fabulous new trailer and web site make over before attempting any serious outreach.

Building a Studio

My discovery of the toy universe felt like an ecstatic breakthrough. I was also feeling encouraged by the establishment of a svelte post-production and administrative team.  Matt Kern and Josh Piersma were consulting on DOG VFX shots. Matt worked on the shot just prior to Uncle Joe’s emergence, the tunnel interior and Christina’s entrance to the big ship. I wanted the passageway to Christina’s cabin crammed with assault rifles and edged weapons, and Matt was working on a solid 3D motion track of my not so steadicam footage.  I had borrowed all sorts of guns from my armorers John Galt and J. Mark Eiden. Matt thought we might be able to digitize them, but the software packages we tried weren’t producing satisfactory results. To insert the guns, I eventually opted to use forced perspective for locked down shots and off the shelf 3D models when the camera was moving.

You can see a rack of this heavy iron in the dog.movie website banner, mounted on the wall of Christina’s cabin. They look like they were there in Canada with us.

Josh was working on stabilizing the abandoned highway shot from Breezewood, PA. I was planing on loosing Jonathan’s 3D cars and turning that shot into a saurian attack aftermath, complete with flipped cop cars and a chomped dirt bike. The camera was on a tripod and so the shot shouldn’t have needed to be stabilized, but the tripod was on top of my van which was buffeted by the spring winds of 2007 and my weight made the roof buckle a bit. I would have thrown out this shot, but the cloud shadows were compelling. Unfortunately the shifting illumination makes the shot tough to stabilize. Josh was trying every trick he could think of.

On the administrative side, the hyper competent Bennie Matesich was handling chain of title and the expenses backlog with additional support from Joe Cissel, Bri Mathias and Melonie Steffes. I had plans to shift artists Joe and Melonie into miniature work in the spring and maybe Bennie too. Bennie was also trying out for voice acting work with me, see episode 064.

Starting Over

In April my financial stability took an unpredicted dip, and I was forced to lay off most of my crew. In little Benzie County, talented people are not easy to find. By the time I had rebuilt my cash reserves at the end of 2016, most of these peeps were no longer available.

I made a mistake. In Episode 046 I said that in the summer of 2015, Bri and Ben Woody had moved into Keanu’s Airstream. Though they were def around to help refurbish the doom raft back then,  they didn’t occupy the Airstream until the summer of 2016.  I had planned to hire Ben to do more VFX and production that summer, but with my finances in shambles that wasn’t happening. Both he and Bri were super easy about this. Ben hooked his Nintendo 64 up to a big flatscreen in the Airstream and replayed his kidhood favorite, Zelda the Ocarina of Time. Bri almost blew herself up trying to light all the burners on the stove at the same time, and I had to forbid her from buying ant traps after she left a bunch of candy on the kitchen counter.

Throughout 2016 I was applying my insight into how the universe is powered by desire and that I could change my beliefs about what was possible as easily as changing t-shirts (see Episodes 062 and 063). My effort to grow an audience by getting my short stories published and narrating genre podcasts fused into a dangerous mutant epiphany, the Gentle Release and  the Daughter of Godcast. Around November Jil Johnson suggestion that I do more on camera, like my pre-podcast August bathtub PSA “Because, America” and thus video was added to the podcast. Along the way I realized all this video podcasting could become a documentary feature, the making of the Daughter of God, (see Episode 055). So thanks Jil!

BTW, here in 2017 we’ve been having problems with the video after I shifted dog.movie over to a dedicated Bluehost VPS, I think the answer is ultimately Vimeo.

Before we leave my first attempt at getting short stories published, I’d like to thank my famous brother Jim, who did the initial story doctor session around Thanksgiving of 2015. Thanks too to my excellent polymathic friends Emily Votruba, a professional copy editor and Josh McKeon, consulting librarian to the stars. They both gave extensive notes on my story George Clooney Burgers. Emily and Josh are also accomplished visual artists.

Finally, apropos of nothing, here’s the redoutable Tony C Smith reading my bio on Starshipsofa. This was a milestone in my acting career, like when I played Heisenberg to Ed Catton’s Bohr in the Benzie County Players production of Copenhagen. Ed was the voice of Interlochen Public Radio when I first moved to Michigan in my early 20s. I was living the life of a hermit, knowing hardly a soul in the shire, and his deep resonant voice felt like family. Taking the stage with him decades later was an profound honor.

After a year or so of cranking out VFX while listening to genre fiction introduced by Tony, having him introduce ME was a freaking rush, especially hearing him laughing through my tongue tangling prose.

Vibration

Making movies can mean a lot of screen staring. Sitting is not the best for keeping a fabulous body like mine fit. In 2015 I converted to a hybrid standing desk for the the studios primary VFX station. My brother Mike had a treadmill under his standing desk and he liked that. As a trail runner, I was a little skeptical. Treadmills are lame. I alternated between perching on an architect’s stool and standing. For most other computer tasks, I’m on my laptop so I can change positions often – sitting on the floor cross legged, lying belly down, reclining in a hammock or stretched out on my side and navigating one handed.

In late 2015, Dr Mercola’s newsletter (Mercola.com) had turned me onto vibration technology as a way to help my mom rebuild her bone density, but the machines he was recommending were in the $5k range. After a bit of Amazon research I discovered the highly rated Confidence vibration machine, around $250. I bought one in early January 2016.

The Confidence does not offer the range of motion that the expensive machines do, but the construction is solid and the interface straightforward. Before giving the Confidence to my parents, I supplemented my own workouts with vibration and definitely noticed benefits. Eventually I moved the Confidence to my parent’s house and they liked it. They even had another shipped to their snowbird roost in Florida and when they brought that back to Michigan we had two. I reclaimed the original and kept experimenting. Turns it to be great for vibrato. Then one day, on a lark, I pushed the Confidence under my standing desk and climbed aboard.

Holy smokes! Not only could I still do precision VFX work, but being at the computer felt way more engaging. Another breakthrough! Now I could stand at my computer for hours and come away feeling revived and powerful. The only drawback of the Confidence is it has to be restarted every 10 minutes. But for $250, whose complaining?

In May I threw myself a surprise birthday party on Elberta beach. A diverse crowd showed up, slightly surreal. Friends from high school like Dirk, Jim, Dave, and Allison and the Briggs brothers Chuck, Chris and Phil and Chris’s wife Carlin. The Brigg’s elegant mom Gwen had a cameo in episode 036.

A crazy quilt of Benzie and Traverse City friends, including my prodigal nephew Patrick and Dede who’d moved down state brought her friend Milagros, who’d become a super tight ally that summer. The party was marred by a couple of wandering hoodlums who started punching people randomly, but eventually they were chased off. That was a first for me on mellow Elberta beach. Possibly an early insinuation of Trumpy into our timeline.

The Briggs drove back down state that night, but Jim, Dirk and Dave stayed for a night or two more and Allison for almost a week. The boyz and I took the XR-650 beast out for a test drive, and Dave, one of the more experienced riders among us got on her bad side and was bucked, after accidentally popping a wheelie and running into a fence. Dave is a super competent lawyer and fit warrior, so all four of us were humbled by his crash. If Dave couldn’t control my machine, what the hell were the rest of us thinking? I realized after the fact that my relationship to my bike was special. and not to be taken lightly. She had chosen me as much as I had her. I apologized to her for sharing, even with my long time and much loved brothers. Lesson learned.

A key component of the 53 beach party was live music and singing around the bonfire, I had expanded my repertoire with new songs for the occasion. Here’s an excerpt from my process log just 5 days before the party.

Process Log 05/15/17

When I started to write the Science Fiction Musical, I thought it was merely a fun idea for an epic movie musical. The music was not incidental to the experience but essential. The story required the technology of music to move forward. I was a music enthusiast, but not quite yet a competent confident performer. I decided that if I were to write a musical, I’d have to amp up my singing and playing, to have more fluency in the medium. Enough to render a song competently enough so that arrangers and {collaborators} [more experienced musicians] could flesh it out.

I was getting present and more relaxed with my singing. I started hitting open mics with Melonie. Emily asked me to play for Elberta’s post Thanksgiving feast, my first solo gig EVER. I was well compensated with 1 jar of Emily’s homemade quince jam. You’ve since heard me a bunch on this podcast, throwing acoustic caution to the wind.

Well shucks, we’ve run way over our time for this episode and there’s still a few 2016s to tell. You might wonder why I make a point of rattling off these incidental anecdotes. That’s because they are always redolent of more. When one of my recollections sparkles and glitters, a wave washed stone on the winding beach of memory, I gotta grab that pretty stone and have a closer look, with you. Then maybe later, a pattern I wasn’t even aware of will suck that stone in, a puzzle will be solved by that recollection. Trusting my intuition, I cover whatever pops up.

That’s all. We’re dang close now. See you next week if not sooner.

You’ve been beach combing with the Daughter of Godcast, on the eve of Christmas eve’s eve 2017 or thereabouts. The water is chill on our bare feet, the wind on our nipples reminds us to breath, just breathe deep and savor the freedom of harsh nature, harsh and righteous. You’re way more than you ever suspected, because no matter how much you are now, you’re nature is always more, you are more incarnate. And so very forgetful too, intentionally oblivious, here on this glorious self aware rock spiraling into the deep darks, spinning too. Meanwhile, we imagine ourselves unmoving, pretending stillness when we’re upside down and inside out on a 12 dimensional roller coaster. Whoop, whee! If you ever closed your eyes and stopped thought, that’s the feeling waiting for you. Whoo hoo! Fuck yes! Why do you think those crazy gurus meditate? You think yogis are down with boredom? Hardly!