From the Ground Up Episode 2 : Plainview Kiet

This was not supposed to happen the way it did. It felt like this episode would never finish. I went in thinking this would be the shortest episode to come from the “From the Ground Up” series because of the lack of content. When we shot with Plainview he was dealing with a lot of personal things which were documented in the episode but it meant musically there wouldn’t be a lot of the rich b-roll that was captured with other artists. I told Carla this would maybe be 20 minutes.  Recognizing there would be a struggle to get to half an hour I thought of ways to have a creative edit that could push the episode to 30 minutes.  As I started breaking down the segments I soon realized maybe there is far more here than I thought.  Plainview was very slow to open up. I could tell he came in wanting to be open but has never been put in a position where he would be on the record to express the things that truly troubled him. As I reviewed content from each session I realized he was giving more and more each session.  He was less guarded as we spent more time together. Which actually made the editing process harder. I no longer could breakdown segments into themes on a subject matter, I had to treat the segments more like peeling the layers of onions.  Plainview would give me explanations through his guard and then on another day give me a little bit more with a new context that served as a vehicle to a larger revelation that I discovered. Plainview Kiet actually suffers from a crap ton of inner turmoil and trauma.
 After a session of shooting when Plainview was shooting a music video Carla said to me “…I find it interesting that he said he grew up without his parents…” I initially blew it off as this is a very common theme amongst artist in this genre who come out of broken homes. It was not until I was more than half done with the scene arrangement that I realized that that notion would be almost the driving force behind a lot of Plainview’s personal makeup as a person. I knew that I had to balance that across the episode and this grew to make this one of the most complicated edits I had to make. The people want music music music but as a creator, I know the long lasting impression comes from the story and it is my job to balance what people want with the story I need to tell. The initial cut of Episode two came in at 47 minutes. Which was far too long I knew cuts needed to be made. This audience will not have the patience for 47 minutes of talking no action. I had to make some major cuts and I had a nice flow to where things were headed and the next thing you know the MacBook charger committed suicide. The damn thing just stopped working with 30 percent battery left. This would be the second charger to go within a year and I was surely not going to pay 100 bucks for a new one from Apple. 9 days later thanks to Amazon I received my replacement. That was a painful thing because I do so much of my creativity on the Macbook and I was stuck.
Boom I am back at it and lost all momentum but now after time away from it, I realized many of the cuts didn’t make sense and the flow was blah.  43 minutes is the total time and I think maybe if I re-edit the final scene  I could cut about 4 minutes off of it. So I rework it and boom 42 minutes…not enough… maybe if I cut this conversation and rework the middle scene I would save 4 minutes… nope  41 minutes. Maybe if I make this scene last and move this to the middle I can save 4 minutes.. blah blah blah. I had become obsessed with getting this once 20-minute episode that ballooned into 45 minutes down to 30 and I just couldn’t do it.  It was frustrating because now I am finishing Plainviews lines and actually having conversations with the screen and just going delirious about this one episode that should have been done a month ago but the god complex of directors make you obsess over small things that the big picture wouldn’t see. I had finally had enough and became content with the final runtime. The people have waited long enough and the stories were so pivotal that the need to be longer so that context would stay intact. 
There is one scene I wanted to keep but used it as a tradeoff to keep a story I felt was more important about his relationship with Space Station  Not Human owner Tevin Jacques.  I will use that deleted portion for bonus content later and it is about his use of the N-word in his music as an Asian artist. Heads will roll but its the conversation fans wanted me to have with him to justify his reasoning.  Another more obsessive nature of the edit occurred after I submitted to being done I watched it over and over and said to myself “lets back the early half with even more b-roll to keep energy high going into the second half when things get more serious. There is one beautifully emotional moment where we get to share the reuniting of Plainview and his mother for the first time in over a decade.
Episode 2 of From the Ground Up drops on Facebook and YouTube or the official website March 30th, 2019 at 5pm. I hope everyone enjoys it please let me know what you think. 

In Production 6.1 : The Trunk

I have written many scripts….correction I have started writing many of scripts but for some reason with this script felt like the one that could actually get made. One that required the least amount of effort to make. With that, my desire to complete this script was heightened. I have my ways but…. When I write a script it is more than just putting pen to paper in the metaphorical sense. It is a place I have to go mentally and create a world around me where I can see the film and end up merely transcribing the actions I see and the dialog I hear. I have to play music that puts my mind in the film.

I need the soundtrack from a similar genre playing along with ambient sounds that act as music beds in my auditory psyche. It is like constructing layers of subconscious acts consciously that will help motivate building scenes that will ultimately become the finished product. A product that I will then start the process all over again and construct the vision as MY vision for an audience. It has to be original and unique as a dynamic piece ready to be consumed. It is exhausting.
This time was different.
I originally was working on a thriller involving capturing a victim and the plight to escape the inevitable. It is a good script yet it remains unfinished because I skipped writing the scenes that tie things together. The more I wrote the more I realize how much shit I will need to do to get this shot for practically no money. That wasn’t an issue. The money that is. It was finding time to construct a visual and put all the pieces together in order to make the right film the right way. It has been my commitment to never make a short film that looks and feels like a short film. I visualize a short film as an excerpt from a larger film. The meat of something that can be made larger or the core of something larger. The way I see it, making a short film is me saying to myself if a studio makes the call and says “we love this can you make it a feature”  I can come back and say “yes” with the confidence that I would be able to expand the rest of the world of that film. With a documentary, the story stops when it is decided the interest is done. The task is complete and I can give you this content and be done with it and it’s simply a choice if I want to give you more story. With narrative its ultimate god factor. Creating a world from nothing. Creating the journey. I do not want holes in my world. The way “The Trunk” came to be is one day I was taking a drive for a late night snack and was thinking of a new movie. For some reason, as I was walking to my car I said out loud “nigga this shit is wack”. That was the original first line of “The Trunk” and it still exists in the script today. From there as I drove to Wendy’s  I continued to expand the lines not knowing where I was going but just to continue the dialog.

Being a fan of the old black and white films I believe in good dialog over putting a million things on the screen. If you buy into the words being said on screen it doesn’t matter what else is happening because I have you locked in to know how each person is responding to the next. The chemistry of worlds colliding. I was inspired by a film I saw called the Hide that was purely driven by dialog. Two men in a room trying to figure out who each other is as well as figure out the motives of the other. All this is happening against the peaceful act of birdwatching. There was so much build up. It was amazing. This made me say to myself “can I make two men in the middle of nowhere broken down in the street waiting for help have a conversation worth listening to for X amount of time”? For the record, that’s not the plot of “The Trunk” its just my thought process the more I was developing the conversation being had. The more I wrote the more I began to see the film and thought to myself “I really could get this done”. Only one problem….where is this going? I had a really good dialog but I didn’t know the point of what I was creating. I just thought i was writing good back and forth between two people but I never thought about where it was going. Then I came up with this idea of doing something supernatural. I have always wanted to make some sort of paranormal ghost film but without ever revealing any ghost-like content on the screen. Everything would happen off camera but I would create things in the sound design to make you believe something happened that you didn’t exactly see.  I needed to break the dialog and transition the script to something that moves more like a story so I decided to use one of the most known devices to shift the scene. The two characters are talking to each other while driving and the driver takes his eyes off the road for a split second to look over to the other and BOOM they hit something. This is by far the most used and worst transitions of story ever. The driver can see for yards out but yet somehow they didn’t see the thing that comes from nowhere on a road that is as straight as a ruler! It makes no sense but the audience is used to these moments so I will also use it as a way to officially begin a story and create a moment… I will tell more about how I developed this script in time but I can say this, I am super excited to make this film. I think this same enthusiasm is why so many other creatives have reached out to me telling me they want to be a part of making it happen. From auditions to the crew, I am excited to see it come together. My biggest goal with this movie is to do it right. I do not want my short film to look or film like a short. I want it to feel like big cinema and that’s why my focus is to do it right. Have a great DP, take the time with the edit, do proper pre-production, find the right talent etc. As a consistent creative everyone always wants to join the gang because it seems like easy work but its exhausting. Acting is 20 percent performing 80 percent waiting. Working the camera is constant movement as is holding a mic. A very simple task can be very exhausting and I want my crew to care about this as much as I do and make the sacrifice worth the potential reward. That will be a tough task but if they feel like they are apart of something great I stand a better chance of them committing to this story!… Until Next time….

New Production(s) in works

Now its time to make a full return to the blog world as we have a few great announcements on projects that will be in production very soon to go along with the “in-production diaries” from previous projects. Getting right to the point Wi-Fi at Rock Bottom Second Edition is near completion and is currently in dealings with a publisher to bring a full immersive audiobook experience as well. We are working with another production entity to bring a new web-series to Wichita called “FROM THE GROUND UP” it will focus on the music scene of Wichita, Kansas in an interview style conversation that answers the questions of starting unknown and building up to a fan base and all the struggle and highlight in-between. We are looking for partnerships with some of the local business leaders to be involved and grab advertising spots for product placements. Contact us for more info.

Lastly, the most exciting thing I want to talk about is the new short-ish film I am working on called “the Trunk”. This will be the biggest in-production piece for the rest of the year.  I have written and will both act and direct my first Narrative film. More details to come in the production diaries but its an ambitious idea for me to put on so many new hats at once but its a task I think will pay off as many of my more industry friends have told me how strong the script is and it will come down to delivering good performances and final product. I can not wait to get back into the swing of things but as well there will be levels to this because one thing I have faced with tackling for the first time is funding and supporting a crew to make sure I can put together the best product possible.  New things and we are ready to get to a very busy summer.

#BACKSPACELIVEHH with @BackSpace_Media

The past week as been unreal and we will talk more about it in future post. After a presentation at the 1 Million Cups we had the oppertunity to be a guest on the Video Live stream called BackSpaceLiveHH with Jen Cole. aRowe Films love being apart of historic moments and this was another one of those. WE discussed some of the projects we have created, the podcast, as well as some of the strategy in how I approach this whole new age of digital production and delivary. This week I pulled the curtain back and talked a ton about how we make things happen. Below is the live stream in full for those who missed it!
And do not forget to purchase your own copy of WiFi at Rock Bottom : Something About Meth on amazon for you or for a friend. :