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Making A Movie Day 5 — Killing & Burying the Ideal Self

Okay, after a couple of hours of wallow and nap, I’m up and active.

Today, as my previous post affirmed, did suck.  Not because anything awful happened to me (thank baby jesus in da manger), but because personal growth is hard.

I spent most of my waking hours this past weekend working on my whole life inventory’s (80 pgs, 9 point font, written over the last year and a half ) — resentment breakdown list, which is about 30 resentments so far and about 15 pages or so.

I was supposed to have it finished by this morning so I could read it in one sitting to my group therapy mentor and then we could begin work on my character defects. To keep healing and growing, you know, but the truth is I wasn’t able to finish the resentment breakdown so we rescheduled the read aloud for next Tuesday.

I wasn’t able to finish it because my obsessive attention to detail and enslavement to thoroughness, makes it quite impossible for me to skip or skim most things. Especially anything art and spirituality/emotional & psychological healing related.

Yet my obsession with the passage of time — my race to accomplish more, BE more constantly tricks me into setting unrealistic deadlines for myself.

Deadlines that bludgeon me with a clock hand — the size of the metal ones you find in train stations.

I set deadlines that prove unrealistic and unhealthy for my detail-oriented nature. It’s not that I can’t make the set deadlines, but that I’m usually pulling all-nighters and sacrificing other areas of my life to do so.  Often times, I don’t make many of the severe “around the corner” deadlines I set for myself because I can’t bring myself to sacrifice the quality of the task at hand.  I know I’m cheating it if I do.

Of course, when I inevitably don’t meet said austere deadlines — I pummel myself with a large block of wood that has the word “F-A-I-L-U-R-E” spray-painted across it. So then I set another deadline (the one I should have originally set for myself) and meet it.

Instead of blindly following the pattern, as usual — today I heard my mentor’s voice when she said to me again what she’s told me for a long time, “Your life is not a race.”

My life is not a race.  What a brutal yet liberating concept to assimilate…

I’ve always felt that I’m falling one step behind if I don’t race to finish the book, finish the film, get the grant, get the awards, make high honor roll, etc.

I’ve lived in an incessant relentless competition with my ideal self since I was about 7-years old.

Focusing on my ideal self obviously means, however, that I’m never enough now.

I compare my body, my career, my romances and lack thereof constantly, relentlessly with those who seem to have all their chit’ TOGETHER.

As Carly Simon once sang about Warren Beatty:

Well, I hear you went up to Saratoga
And your horse naturally won
Then you flew your Lear jet up to Nova Scotia
To see the total eclipse of the sun
Well, you’re where you should be all the time
And when you’re not, you’re with
Some underworld spy or the wife of a close friend
Wife of a close friend …

That’s the person I compare myself to — never those “worse off” always those “doing better.”

As Martin Luther King Jr. once said (By the By, Happy BDay Papa King!!!):

I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the “isness” of man’s present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal “oughtness” that forever confronts him.

This “oughtness” is my greatest and gravest obsession — to become the best me and all the while I’m not the best me, I feel that I’m just wasting my potential.

It’s clear to me today, that I fail at this feat because it’s an impossible one to achieve — Likened to trying to reach the Sun on foot.

Worries swim through my head all day and all night: If I don’t finish this resentment breakdown then I can’t work on the “To Do’s” for my film then I’m pushed back a week, and then and then and … Always falling deeper into the “isness” and further away from the “oughtness” …

The question is: Do I continue relating to my life this way?

If I am ever to be happy, to take enjoyment in the things I do — in the variations of the Self I become — I must humble myself to the moment that is, raise my white flag, and embrace that I’ve failed.

I will never win “The Race” I’ve imagined myself winning since I was a little girl because the race never ends … but the body, the mind, and the soul do tire …

I’m tired.

Thus, I surrender to the process of living — the one life has set out for me — and drive a stake through the heart of my beloved Brass Ring.

Making a movie — making this movie Dear Dios — isn’t about proving to myself that I can do it or that I can do it as quickly and as perfectly as my ideal self can — It isn’t about the Nicholls Fellowships or the Sundance Labs or the Cannes Film Festival –It isn’t about getting signed by CAA or backed by the Weinstein Company…

Dear Dios is about learning to make a movie with other creative people I’m inspired by in a manner I enjoy — learning to make a film that I artistically respect and love — learning to cut out the unnecessary middle men and make my work available to people all over the world through forums that are affordable for them and economically lucrative for me — learning as an artist/filmmaker and business woman to work from a place of principle not of fear so that humility, quality of craft, and accessibility of art are my aims not the Brass Rings.

On that note, this blog — which follows the making of a portion of my first feature Dear Dios over 365 days — will focus primarily on making the movie while achieving balance in my life as a whole person — spiritually, psychologically, emotionally, socially, romantically.

There is no race.  I have nothing to prove.  I have failed my ideal self and exchange its dead body for a chance to enjoy the great unknown — like a nomad, a wanderer, an explorer.

A groundless, frightened, passion-driven thing that admits she knows nothing and exists on earth for the sole purpose of learning.

That being said, I’ve made my tumblr account for Dear Dios, which will illustrate the film’s press kit a.k.a synopses, logline, tagline, artistic inspirations such as paintings and photographs, music links, articles, ETC.  I’ll also include a paypal button as fundraising, starting on the smallest scale, will begin shortly.

I plan on buying a domain name and forwarding it to the tumblr account and of course, linking that up to this blog and my main website.

I plan on updating my director’s reel, resume, main website, and official news/press blog.

Oh, yeah, and I haven’t seen Baby Dewds in almost 2 weeks, which means I have to get in some Baby Dewds University quality time ASAP.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


Making A Movie Day 4 — Francis Ford Coppola & My Whole Life Inventory

Alright, I’m taking a breath from breaking down my whole life’s written inventory (80 pages, 9 point font, for ages 0 – 26 written over the last year and a half) into specific resentments built up over those periods of time.  I am to read this to my group therapy mentor tomorrow from 2pm until we finish.

I probably won’t finish this assignment until right before we meet tomorrow at 2pm. Gah!!!  So, I’ll just discuss briefly with you some discourses swimming through mi brains.

Yesterday, I read an interview with Francis Ford Coppola that Baby Dewds e-mailed my way a week ago.

Francis Ford Copolla is, in my opinion and every award ceremony’s on earth, a creative mastermind.  His films make up an important part of why my favorite Cinematic Period takes place during the 60’s & 70’s — The New Hollywood Era. The New Hollywood Era — When the studio system fell to its knees and turned all its creative power over to inventive daring outsiders, like Coppola, for them to craft artistic quality films, which reflected society back to itself — in order to close the growing divide between audience and box office.

Yes, Francis Ford Coppola’s direction of the first 2 Godfathers, Apocalypse Now, The Outsiders, Peggy Sue Got Married, Dracula, Jack and all the AMAZING films he produced and executive produced plus the exposing documentary Hearts of Darkness — makes him THA’ Jam.

When I read this article, I realized, yet again, how much I loved and respected Coppola as a filmmaker/artist and family man.  Who wouldn’t with quotes like these:

I just finished a film a few days ago, and I came home and said I learned so much today. So if I can come home from working on a little film after doing it for 45 years and say, “I learned so much today,” that shows something about the cinema.

…the cinema is very young. It’s only 100 years old…The cinema language happened by experimentation – by people not knowing what to do. But unfortunately, after 15-20 years, it became a commercial industry. People made money in the cinema, and then they began to say to the pioneers, “Don’t experiment. We want to make money. We don’t want to take chances.” An essential element of any art is risk. If you don’t take a risk then how are you going to make something really beautiful, that hasn’t been seen before? I always like to say that cinema without risk is like having no sex and expecting to have a baby. You have to take a risk.

I was always a good adventurer. I was never afraid of risks. I always had a good philosophy about risks. The only risk is to waste your life, so that when you die, you say, “Oh, I wish I had done this.” I did everything I wanted to do, and I continue to.

When you make a movie, always try to discover what the theme of the movie is in one or two words. Every time I made a film, I always knew what I thought the theme was, the core, in one word. In “The Godfather,” it was succession. In “The Conversation,” it was privacy. In “Apocalypse,” it was morality.

Always make your work be personal. And, you never have to lie. If you lie, you will only trip yourself up. You will always get caught in a lie. It is very important for an artist not to lie, and most important is not to lie to yourself. There are some questions that are inappropriate to ask, and rather than lie, I will not answer them because it’s not a question I accept. So many times we are asked things in our work or in life that you want to lie, and all you have to do is say, “No, that is an improper question.”

So when you get into a habit of not lying when you are writing, directing, or making a film, that will carry your personal conviction into your work. And, in a society where you say you are very free but you’re not entirely free, you have to try. There is something we know that’s connected with beauty and truth. There is something ancient. We know that art is about beauty, and therefore it has to be about truth.

Ahhh, yes!  Yet again, he couples his refreshing ideas into truly invigorating statements.

Still …

When you read his quote below — you realize how far removed financially successful people become, no matter how much they want to stop the distancing, from the realities of every day people. Upon reading it, I quickly remembered why I’ve never considered anyone “my hero” and I could never worship a person as a god — because their human flaws would break my spirit long before their attributes helped it grow. Read on:

How does an aspiring artist bridge the gap between distribution and commerce?
We have to be very clever about those things. You have to remember that it’s only a few hundred years, if that much, that artists are working with money. Artists never got money. Artists had a patron, either the leader of the state or the duke of Weimar or somewhere, or the church, the pope. Or they had another job. I have another job. I make films. No one tells me what to do. But I make the money in the wine industry. You work another job and get up at five in the morning and write your script.

This idea of Metallica or some rock n’ roll singer being rich, that’s not necessarily going to happen anymore. Because, as we enter into a new age, maybe art will be free. Maybe the students are right. They should be able to download music and movies. I’m going to be shot for saying this. But who said art has to cost money? And therefore, who says artists have to make money?

In the old days, 200 years ago, if you were a composer, the only way you could make money was to travel with the orchestra and be the conductor, because then you’d be paid as a musician. There was no recording. There were no record royalties. So I would say, “Try to disconnect the idea of cinema with the idea of making a living and money.” Because there are ways around it.

It’s easy to say art should be free and an artist shouldn’t get paid for their work when you’re making royalties off of 2 Godfathers and countless box office hits, and you, your daughter, and your father all have Academy Awards.  Oh, and your nephew is $40 million per movie Nick Cage.

Sure, wine money is good, but wine money was started with films-are doing-AWESOME money.  All I mean to say is that when rich — and I mean RICH — and famous — and I mean FAMOUS — artists tell the poor artist in South Gate borderline Huntington park to spend the rest of their lives in the financial trenches in order to maintain artistic integrity that poor artist exhales a deep, sad, long sigh and accepts that Francis Ford Coppola is just a regular human being like me and you … No one has ALL the answers.

That being said, I completely agree with him on creative ethics — stay true to the truth of your vision, especially the risky bits big corporate investors often want to smother, and only take into consideration the opinions of collaborators who have the betterment of the project in mind such as actors, writers, etc.

But giving your work away for free/letting people steal it off the internet while accepting that as artists we’re just bad with money so there’s no point in fighting it?! … Hmmm. Not on board with that advice, Papa Coppola.

I may do that now, but not forever!  I am joining a money-management/business betterment group next week.  Dear Baby Jesus in Da Manger, please teach me how to value my artistic efforts and turn them into lucrative sums that I can invest into more artistic endeavors!  No more CASH 4 GOLD Sundays! ;p

Bankers, Politicians, and Wine Connoisseurs should NOT be the only members of society with mula to spare a.k.a invest.  In fact, I think that scenario extremely dangerous to the cultures they form part of.  Artists — those that reflect society back to itself with truth, heart, risk, and love — should be able to sustain themselves and invest in future projects a.k.a roll in the doe too.  The greater the artistic integrity, the higher the paycheck, I say!

Although in theory Coppola doesn’t agree with this mindset, in reality he sure does. The Coppolas — Francis, Sofia, Cage, Talia, & Jason Schwartzman (to name a few) are rolling in the royalty $$$$.

Hey, there’s nothing wrong with it!  I’m just saying — Artists should be paid for their work and art should be reasonably priced:  Free sometimes, affordable mostly always, and high cost only in business dealings.

You’re making royalties off my hard work?  I deserve some too.  Let’s negotiate.

While digesting what Papa Coppola has said, I realize that with everyone’s advice in life, you take what works for you and leave aside what your gut reaction/spirit doesn’t jive with …

Yes, even Francis Ford Coppola’s words of wisdom.

The perk of being raised by a social worker mama is that you’ve been brainwashed for years to truly fundamentally believe that — regardless of financial and social status — every human being is inherently equal.  Thus: Rich or no rich, famous or no famous, creative genius or no creative genius, if I agree with you I agree with you and if I don’t I don’t.

And just because I don’t agree with you doesn’t mean I don’t think you still rock my socks off because you do.  For example, I’m barefoot right now because Francis Ford Coppola’s interview, including the comments I disagreed with, rocked my socks off. It made me “grapple.”  Grappling is good.  Grappling is growth.

Alright, back to the inner-work a.k.a finishing the resentment inventory for mentor sesh tomorrow!  Gah!!! ;p


At Baby Dewds University — Contemplating R. Kelly & New Years Eve

Happy New Years, Everyone in All The World!  If you’re reading this, it means you’ve hung on and made it to the year 2011.  Congrats!

So, I spent Last Night December 31st and Today January 1st with one of my closest, most beloved, and kindred friends Danielle O’terry also known as Baby Dewds O’TerrDawg.

My heart pays no attention to birth names and naturally assigns everyone who leaves a mark on my psyche — positive or negative — a nickname.  My spirit knows Dani by her spirit name “Baby Dewds O’TerrDawg.”

“Baby Dewds University” is what I call our quality hang-out sessions because I learn from her and share with her rarities — things unheard of, things unspoken and avoided by others, things polluted yet pristine.

She’s on a hike right now.  I don’t hike.  She made me walk to the local Sharkey’s and back earlier today.  That was enough pitter patter for my feet …

(AT which point I fell asleep … and then woke up and hung out with Baby Dewds for another day …)

—- Today, Monday January 3rd, I continue the blog post …

As I was babbling,

From Friday Dec. 31st, 2010 to Sunday Jan. 2nd, 2011 — Baby Dewds and I sluggishly lied about Baby Dewds’ University aka her Apartment to the point of bed sores, and OD’d on Art.

First, we watched R. Kelly’s Hilariously Brilliantly AWFUL Musical on YouTube Trapped in The Closet. OH MAN. What a great way to start 2011!

Check out a scene accompanied by R. Kelly commentary!

Trapped in The Closet “… is a story set of 22 chapters released by contemporary R&B singer R. Kelly in 2005 and 2007. It features one melodic theme with varying lyrics, which relate an ongoing narrative … (these) songs tell the story of a one-night stand that sets off a chain of events, which gradually reveals a greater web of lies, sex, and deceit …” (summary courtesy of wikipedia)

Direct quotes from the musical:

“You crazier than a fish with titties” – R. Kelly

“I pulled back the covers and I found a rubber…A RUBBER…A…RUBBBBBERRRR.” – R. Kelly

Trapped in The Closet is a MUST SEE!

Then we watched the Behind-The-Scenes Documentary/Making Of  Apocalypse Now called Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse. Twas’ also severely awesome — in THE EXACT OPPOSITE WAY of R. Kelly’s musical.

Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse is a “Documentary that chronicles how Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now was plagued by extraordinary script, shooting, budget, and casting problems–nearly destroying the life and career of the celebrated director.” (summary courtesy of imdb)

Netflix that SUCKA!  It’s REAL good.

In between all that, we slept, pigged out on Thai food, and listened to an exposé on Black Spirituals from this AMAZING radio show called “Being,” which explores “Spiritual Expression” across the multi-cultural globe.

We finished off our OD on Art Fest with Lars Von Trier’s Masterpiece AntiChrist. The Tragic Love Story between Reason (Man) & Nature (Woman).  Beautiful, Dismal, Intellectually Stimulating, & HORRIFYING.  Starring The Symbols: Willem Dafoe & Charlotte Gainsbourg

“A grieving couple retreats to their cabin in the woods, hoping to repair their broken hearts and troubled marriage (after their toddler dies). But nature takes its course and things go from bad to worse.” (summary courtesy of imdb)

Although highly disturbing, it’s fascinating to watch Von Trier explore the complex entrails of his beloved star — “The Martyred Woman” — and his tortured relationship to her.  AntiChrist stains the mind like a bloody foot print on a pearl white carpet.

For Example, on Sunday morning I was lying in bed cringing as the monthly round of cramps ate away at my underbelly:

“God, I hope I just pass out from the pain.” – Me

“Do you want me to hit you on the dick with a block of wood?” – Baby Dewds (Referencing a scene in the movie)

Netflix that SUCKA too!

YES! As I basked in the glory of Killer Cinema this past weekend, stimulation battered my senses into a state of Awe, and in this state I welcomed the New Year.

I love Movies.  I love Baby Dewds.  New Years 2011 definitely rocked my socks off. Hope yours did too!

Okay, I’m tired of writing and getting sick.  Goodnight!


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