Well hello my name is Simon, and I like to do drawrings!

Remember Mike Meyers in a bathtub?  Of course you do, you cheeky monkey!

I’ve been trying to document some of my sketches over the last few days.   I’m slowly posting them  in my “drawings” section.  I thought I would post a few of them here on my blog, as well.

This is Neyteri.  I am a nerd.  I doodled this while on the set of The Office, earning me the nickname “Avatar.”  Being called “Avatar” by Craig Robinson was a delightful geek moment for me.  More on that after the episode airs…Neyteri

This is a quick sketch of Doctor Orpheus from The Venture Brothers.  My reference material was my iPhone and I scanned him before I could finish his hands, but I plan to do more of him.  He’s really fun to draw:

More to come.  I had been waiting to get a scanner, but I have found that my iPhone takes decent pictures of drawings as long as I have them in the sun.  I think Neyteri might be a tiny bit warped, but the idea is there.

“I Was a Film School Reject”

These may be words that come out of my mouth someday in an interview with Filmmaker magazine or Inside the Actor’s Studio.  I’ll say those words right after James Lipton asks me what my favorite swear word is…

I have officially received the “best of luck in all of your endeavors” letter from the film and video program at CalArts.  I have to admit that I wasn’t really expecting that.  I was expecting to panic about having to find a way to pay the extremely high tuition costs at that school after having been accepted.  Based on the advice of people I’ve known who have gone to that school or who currently work there, I thought I had a real shot.

Yeah, that might seem a little cocky, sure.  I am pretty confident in my abilities, though, and 100% sure of my ambitions and motivations.  I also think my work shows at least a little talent.  If not, I think the potential is there.  It’s quite possible that I had just applied too late, applied to the wrong program, expressed too much love for Terry Gilliam or the color blue, or just didn’t have the academic recommendations or variety of film work they wanted.  Whatever their reasons, I know what I’m not doing in September, now I just have to figure out what I am doing…

Why am I sharing this with the world? Because I learned something valuable in all of this:  if you really want to know more about yourself as an artist, apply for an MFA!  Even if you don’t get in, it’s worth the application fee to discover valuable things you may not have known about yourself.  I learned so much about myself, my influences, my goals, and my ambitions and desires through writing my “artist’s statement,” and my “thoughts and influences” and whatnot that I actually still feel more confident than defeated by the rejection.  In fact, my personality is such that it makes me more determined to do what I want to do.  In the end, all this means to me is that I’m saving $36,000 in tuition this year.  That money might be better served as an investment in my own film, anyway.

I share it too because perhaps this could apply to a lot of people in a lot of situations- not just artists seeking MFAs.  You might get rejected, but you have to try.  So many of us build up walls around ourselves and live in “some day” while the world goes on around us- we don’t apply for that job or that scholarship, ask that cute boy out, tell someone we love them, move to that new place, etc. because we feel that a “better time” might come along…  So far, the only thing I have gained from that philosophy in my short lifetime has been a feeling of regret.  So I’m plowing forward full speed.  I’m proud of my rejection.

Just thought I would share that with the inter-sphere, the web-iverse, or what have you.  We tend to be critical of ourselves and one another fairly easily, but support and understanding is often a little harder to find.  Whoever you are in the world, let your freak flag fly!  I don’t know why we have to make things so hard on ourselves and on each other, but often times, we do.

In response to one of Lipton’s other “10 questions,” when he asks “If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?”  My answer will be “yeah, so… sorry about all of that weird shit.” :)

Obama in 30 seconds

It’s a little late to be posting this- voting closed a long while ago. I felt it was appropriate, though, seeing as how it looks like Mr. Obama is going to be our Democratic nominee. It’s also appropriate because, well, I actually have time to post it! It looks best if you click play and then the little “monitor” icon in the middle of the right hand side to play it full screen. It was drawn in pencil. At such a small size, it’s pretty hard to see.

I made this for moveon.org’s contest called “Obama in 30 Seconds.” Obama was my second favorite Democratic nominee (and no, Clinton was not my first, though I liked her too). I really do like the guy, though, and I’m happy to vote for him. Politics aside, there was a $20,000 prize (redeemable in video equipment) and it gave me a chance to play with character animation. I drew several pictures that I scanned and animated in Flash. The lip sync was a little tricky because Flash seemed to want to play the video and the audio at two different frame rates, so I just had to trust my dope sheet (I’ll try to post a page from that tomorrow and explain what it is). The animation is a little… basic… but it was my first full-blown character animation with lip sync and it was supposed to look “grassroots” (which is now an adjective). It’s really amazing to see a character that you drew come to life before your very eyes. Carl Fuermann was the voice of America.

(Note: heated/bigoted/negative political comments to this post will be deleted- sorry, but that’s what every blog seems to become these days and no one ever said mine was a democracy! I alone hold the power of comment approval! Mwa ha ha ha!)

More on L.A. – The Getty Center

“There is no There there.”

Okay, I’ve heard some of my more “cultured” friends use this Gertrude Stein line on me to try to dissuade me from my desire to live in Los Angeles. First of all, she was referring to Oakland (about which I know nothing), not L.A. Secondly, there is plenty of “there” in Los Angeles, if you know where “there” is. I will admit, the greater Los Angeles area has its fair share of strip malls, chain restaurants, and uninspired suburban cookie-cutter neighborhoods, but there are a lot of unique, funky and -gasp- cultural places, as well.

Me on my HeelysI didn’t make it to LACMA, through which Steve Martin roller skated as “performance art” in one of my all-time favorite films, “L.A. Story” (though I do have the shoes for it now- see right). I did, however, manage to visit the Getty Center- a huge art museum with a stunning view (click the thumbnails for a larger view and to click through a slideshow- the next and back buttons will appear near the top of the photos along the sides):

The Getty Heliopad and the 405 The Getty’s window’s adjust automatically to allow natural light that will not damage the art. We’re all falling off!  Or… just a humorous camera angle.  Looking out at the 405 from the Getty. Looking out at L.A. from the Getty The Getty Center- Front Entrance Downtown L.A. from the Getty. The tracks of the Getty tram and a view of the hills. Travertine squares- gaps between the stone allow for earthquake movement. The Getty’s travertine and aluminium squares against a blue sky. The Getty Center The Getty from the sculpture garden The Getty- travertine and blue sky A framed landscape of Los Angeles from the Getty The sun setting behind the Getty L.A. at night from the Getty

Admission to the museum is free once you pay for parking. You take a tram to the top of a hill to get to the museum. I took the guided architecture tour while I was there. It’s really fascinating (as you can see from the photos and read about on The Getty Center’s architecture page). The entire structure is covered with 30-inch squares of travertine (a sedimentary stone) and aluminum. The grid is based on a line that is approximately eye-height and spans the entire complex. It even lines up with the horizon of the ocean (which, due to the hazy fog, you could not see that day).

Gettin fancy with the heelys Despite the museum’s modern look, its specialty is Western art from the Middle Ages to the present (a more dignified roller-shoes pose may be in order). They do “mix it up” a little, though. There was a really great video exhibit there (California Video was the name of it and it runs through June 8). I couldn’t take pictures there, but my favorite artists were Jim Campbell (Home Movies 920-1 my favorite by far), Jennifer Steinkamp (Oculus Sinister my second favorite), Martin Kersels (Pink Constellation), Bill Viola (The Sleepers), and Paul Kos (Chartres Bleu).

There was also a lovely sculpture garden, where I did cut loose with the camera (again- click the thumbnails for larger views/slide show):

Looking down on the sculpture garden at the Getty Pink lilies of some sort… Rebar trees A “rebar tree” Closeup of a “tree” made of rebar that had viney plants growing through it Flowers in the sculpture garden- Getty Center A stream in the sculpture garden- Getty Center Succulents in the sculpture garden at the Getty I think this is what they call a desert rose… The sculpture garden at the Getty The cactus garden at the Getty

Views From Views

The world of experimental film has become a very interesting place for me lately. More words on that later. First, I wanted to post some pictures that I took at my screening, which took place on October 7th.

The setting: The Walter Reade Theater. This is where the Views from the Avant-Garde portion of the New York film festival plays. Before the programs start, we all gather in the gallery. I was very pleased to see that the program in which my film was playing was sold out (click the thumbnails to click through a slide show of the full-sized images):

Carl’s Shoes 01 The Crowd 01 The Crowd 02 The Crowd 03 The Crowd 04

I recognized a few faces, but as I said, I feel that I have become estranged from this world. A group in which I once felt so at home and seemed so welcoming to me seems at once elitist and alienating to me now. So I did what any normal person would do. I went to the bathroom with my iPhone to do some quick e-mails and take photos of my fish purse:

Fish Purse 01 Fish Purse 02

What? Wouldn’t you do that?

After bonding with my fish, I decided the two of us needed to get to the theatre before the films started:

Fish Purse 03

So yeah. Then the films started and I stopped taking photos and playing with my toys. Great program. Great films, all around, actually. I’ve exhausted all of my past strength to write detailed critiques about avant-garde films, though. I might write about a couple yet… It just always took a great deal of effort to write about these works and I kind of felt that the energy was lost. Again, more on that later.

I was kind of surprised by how many of these works were digital this year. Much of the experimental film world has been fairly “anti-video” for a while. With the exception of the occasional hiss at the video projector (yes, someone actually hissed), it seems like this “rule” might be beginning to bend (this is the avant-garde, after all- we’re supposed to be all about bending the rules). Though I have been doing a lot of video work lately, my film was shown on 16mm. Unfortunately, the 16mm projector bulb was having “issues” which resulted in my already dark film being projected MUCH too dim. I’ve grown out of my “artist throwing a fit” stage and have accepted the uncertainties of working in the medium I have chosen. Besides finding it somewhat unfortunate, I simply let it go.

Besides, there was a director’s party to get to and wine to be had:

New York Film Festival Director’s Party 01 New York Film Festival Director’s Party 02 New York Film Festival Director’s Party 03 New York Film Festival Director’s Party 04 New York Film Festival Director’s Party 05 New York Film Festival Director’s Party 06 New York Film Festival Director’s Party 07 New York Film Festival Director’s Party 08 New York Film Festival Director’s Party 09 New York Film Festival Director’s Party 10 New York Film Festival Director’s Party 11 New York Film Festival Director’s Party 12

I really didn’t drink all that much wine. I just liked the way my phone’s camera handles reflected light in low-light situations. Now, for stars (the movie kind that don’t emit their own light making them actually uninteresting subjects for my camera phone- again, click to enlarge):

New York Film Festival Director’s Party 13

Jason Schwartzman!

Not really. I thought it was him, but I’m really bad at the whole “identifying people” thing. But I swear this is Wes Anderson:

New York Film Festival Director’s Party 14

Huh? Huh?! Forget it. I have no real pictures in this category. They actually kicked us out rather early, but this being New York, we just moved to a new bar.

New York Diner 01 New York Diner 02

Most of these folks are filmmakers whose films were in the Avant-Garde program, but I will spare them from being identified by my text here (that makes it Googleable and, let’s face it, some people don’t want a fuzzy strangely-lit picture of themselves popping up on the Internet when stalkers Google their name).

Finally, I snapped a couple of photos of graffiti outside of the restaraunt. A friend of mine asked me to snap a couple of shots because she thought it was beautiful. I agreed:

New York Graffiti Art 01 New York Graffiti Art 02

These Little Town Blues… and Nicole Kidman!

I love New York. I wish I could live there again, but I know better. Living in that city really took its toll on me. I might live there if I didn’t have to make a living there, but as it stands right now, that’s not happening.

A friend of mine had put the movie “Ghostbusters” in my head, so I was taking pictures of the various places in the film:

Ray: “Symmetrical book stacking. Just like the Philadelphia mass turbulence of 1947.”
Venkman: “You’re right, no… human being… would stack books like this.”

Gozer? Who’s Gozer? And what’s he doing in MY ice box?!”

“Ray, when someone asks you if you’re a god, you say ‘YES’!!!”

I arrived at the festival office to collect my credentials, hoping to see a film or two (because, you know, film festival). It turned out that I wouldn’t be able to see most of the feature films. The films that were playing over the weekend we were there were the so-called “popular” films, with stars like Nicole Kidman:
Oh, wait. What? Was that actually Nicole Kidman? Gee, I don’t know, let’s get a closer look:

Why, I think that was, in fact, her. Better look again, just to make sure.
Okay, these pictures kind of suck. I mean, I think the bluriness is kind of cool, but not when you’re trying to prove someone’s identity. That was Nicole, just take my word for it (yeah, we’re on a first-name basis now because she walked in front of me). Yes, she is beautiful in real life. Also, she smells like roses. No, not like rose perfume, but like a bouquet of roses. It was a little surreal.

Earlier, I had to squeeze by John Turturro on my way out the door (who does not smell like roses). We had not reached the level of fame required to stay in the press room for the photo ops. I said, “screw that” and made our own little photo op:

Courtney Hoskins, director of “Snowbird” and “Gossamer Conglomerate” at the 2007 New York Film Festival for the premiere of her latest film “The Counter Girl Trilogy.”

Carl Fuerman, director of “The Box” and “Oft Not” in attendance at the 2007 New York Film Festival.

And then we were really kicked out.

The press conference was for Noah Baumbach’s new film “Margot at the Wedding,” starring, obviously, Nicole Kidman and John Turturro, but also Jack Black (who wasn’t there, but I’ve already “met” him, so whatever), Flora Cross (of “Bee Season,” which was an excellent movie based on an even excellenter* book), and Jennifer Jason Leigh. There are others, I’m sure, but I didn’t see the film, so I don’t know much about it other than what was posted there. I’m sorry I missed it at the festival, but I’m looking forward to it.

Incidentally, Jennifer Jason Leigh and I must have similar-looking hair. Perhaps we even look a bit alike. When I exited the building, there was a brief moment of excitement resulting in a couple of pictures, but that passed as soon as it was determined that I was no one. And I KNOW they didn’t think that I was Nicole Kidman- the only other famous female at the conference.

In all, quite a first day in the City!

*new, real, legitimate word

Air travel joys

I had a nice hotel room with a big, fluffy bed in Chicago, so I was a bit sad to leave it, knowing I would be crashing at a friend’s apartment soon, imposing myself on their lives like any good former New Yorker would.

Sigh. I quickly got over it, though. I was, after all, heading to New York- a city dear to my heart and always full of excitement. I was also heading there to attend the New York Film Festival, where my latest film was going to be screened. I could get over the loss of a fluffy bed and pool.

Nothing, however, could ever make me happy about Chicago O’Hare (well, except for the UFO sighting (a video here), but that’s neither here nor there- oh yes, puns intended).

Traffic to the airport was awful. For some reason, the cab driver seemed to believe that if you alternately slam your foot on the brake and gas pedals, the car would either fly over the offending vehicles, vaporize them, or somehow alter the spacetime continuum, making it possible to get to where you were going on time. Needless to say, none of those things happened. I got to the airport only an hour before my flight, though they “recommend” two.

I quickly learned that in the world of overbooking, “recommend” translates to “require.” I was too late to check in and was bumped to a later flight, flying standby. Still, I flew out, eventually, and the trip out of the city was at least visually interesting.

Arriving at Newark airport turned out to be a mistake, however. $85 to get to Brooklyn? Ouch…