Saturday, February 27, 2010

Earthquake Preparedness! (PLEASE READ)

Since major earthquakes are striking the globe right now, please read the links below to make sure you are prepared for when one DOES (not if) hits you!

http://www.fema.gov/hazard/earthquake/eq_during.shtm

http://sheepdogfiles.blogspot.com/2010/02/dealing-with-catastrophe.html


THE BASICS:

- During a earthquake, duck and cover. Stay away from breakables, and DO NOT try to run outside until the quake is over.

- Be prepared beforehand. If you haven't already, get to the store and stock up on water, non perishable food, medical supplies, batteries, flashlights and a propane stove/gas tanks.

- In an emergency, you will BE ON YOUR OWN. Stay with your family, and protect your supplies.

- DO NOT EXPECT HELP.

- Most of all, keep a good outlook on life and find something to live and survive for. Be that religion, family, self preservation, anything you hold dear. You must stay alive during this.

- Spend the time you have NOW preparing for disaster. It will eventually come. You should always be ready.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

"We're going to party like it's 1984!"

When I'm not being creative, I usually am researching, or writing about the events going on in the world today.

In the following post on The Reformation, I discuss how America's government is beginning to resemble the totalitarian world found in George Orwell's novel, "1984". Read it at the link below!

http://socalreformation.ning.com/profiles/blogs/were-gonna-party-like-its-1984?xg_source=msg_appr_blogpost

Friday, February 19, 2010

Lies, Lies, Lies! (LOST 6x4 “The Substitute”)

     Most people lie at some point in their life. Some do so significantly more than others. Those who lie constantly fall into one of the following definitions. (Definitions by www.askville.amazon. com .)

“ Pathological Liar: A pathological liar is usually defined as someone who lies incessantly to get their way and does so with little concern for others. Pathological lying is often viewed as coping mechanism developed in early childhood and it is often associated with some other type of mental health disorder. A pathological liar is often goal-oriented (i.e., lying is focused - it is done to get one's way). Pathological liars have little regard or respect for the rights and feelings of others. A pathological liar often comes across as being manipulative, cunning and self-centered.”

and

“Compulsive Liar: A compulsive liar is defined as someone who lies out of habit. Lying is their normal and reflexive way of responding to questions. Compulsive liars bend the truth about everything, large and small. For a compulsive liar, telling the truth is very awkward and uncomfortable while lying feels right. Compulsive lying is usually thought to develop in early childhood, due to being placed in an environment where lying was necessary. For the most part, compulsive liars are not overly manipulative and cunning (see, Pathological Liar), rather they simply lie out of habit - an automatic response which is hard to break and one that takes its toll on a relationship.”

     Another type of lying is a type everyone suffers from greatly: Self Deception. The Bible tells us the heart is deceitful above all else. We can easily lie to ourselves, considering ourselves to either be greater or less than we are, to fit our preconceived viewpoint, or our prideful wants. Everyone should do a self examination to see who and what we truly are.

     The characters of LOST can fit into ALL of these three categories. After the jump, my analysis of episode 6x4, “The Substitute.”


Thursday, February 18, 2010

“I know where I’ve been.”

History is very important to everyone. The history of the world has formed how we currently live. When developing both settings and characters, it is important to create a back-story. Do you have to share any of it with the readers? Nope! Sometimes, a back story to your story is so drawn out, it should be embarrassing for you to even reveal it to the populace, and should stay in your mind only! (*cough* Star Wars prequels *cough*)
Part of life, is learning about your friends past lives. However, when you meet someone, do you sit down and tell each other your entire past right off the bat? Usually not! Al though I know some who do… Anyways, your characters shouldn’t either.

Things to think about when developing your characters back story are: their childhood, relations with friends and family, work, hobbies, interests, faith, beliefs, religion, where they grew up, and where and when they have lived.

In my script I’m currently working on, I have a character named Paul, who’s 70 years old, and emigrated from Romania in his 20s or 30s (yet to be determined.) In researching that time period of Romania, I learned quite a few things about Paul. First, he grew up with a communistic government, with religious officials being taken to concentration camps. Since, Paul would have attended the Romanian Orthodox Church during his childhood and teenage years while this persecution was happening, how did this shape his view of government, religion, and God? My research has told me a lot of stuff about this character I hadn’t know before, and will help in deciding what actions he will take during the part of his story that’s shown on screen.

As always, a lot of my theatre training helps in working on characters. Later today, I’m going to be giving my theatre students an exercise in character development, which anyone can use for their own work. The assignment is: where were you right before the play starts? By figuring out why they are where they are, will help in bringing realistic performances.

Have a good day you all!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

People Never Change (LOST 6x3 What Kate Does)

While circumstances may be different, character traits never really change. A Human is divided into 3 parts, the body, the spirit, and the soul. Body is physical, and spirit is, well, spiritual. Those two can change, but the inner soul of a character, their distinctive traits and personality, usually doesn’t differ.

Here’s my LOST episode recap for 6x3 “What Kate Does”.

Ripples in a Pond (LOST 6x1 and 2 – LA X)

All choices in life affect everyone else, even if you don’t realize it. Since stories reflect life, a way to put together a compelling narrative is to show how one character’s actions affect the rest of their world. An example would be how anything Superman does affects the rest of the world; because if he didn’t do what he does, the world would, well, be destroyed.

This theme of the ripple effect (everything affects everything else) is evident in the season premiere of LOST.

My review of character growth in episodes 6x1 and 6x2 - LA X after the jump. (spoilers)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Story God Factor: Creating Characters

What is the most important aspect of storytelling? In my opinion, it’s characters, because that’s how it works in real life too. Life can have pretty much anything happen in it, same with stories, but, the things people really care about and respond to are other people.

Characters can determine the course of action in a story by how they relate to what’s going on around them. If you write a story based on plot, and force your characters to do things to get to a certain predetermined destination of your choice, the characterization will probably fall flat, and your audience won’t care about your characters because they can’t view them as real human beings.

So how can you create characters that choose their own path in life, yet still have them arrive at the point necessary for your story? I call this the “God” factor. (And this is not meant in a weird spiritual way at all, it simply means you are the creator of, and in control of, your story.)

In a sense, you are God of your story. You create the characters, and give them life and personality, and you also create the world you’re going to put them in. Now, what you can do, is either tell them exactly what to do, or, let them make a choice based on the information you allow them to have. That’ where the story starts. A good part of storytelling is creating characters, then letting their personality and opinions decide what they are going to do next in the situations you’ve placed them in.
You may know what’s best for your characters, but, as in real life, will your characters listen to you, or decide to try things their own way? As with Adam and Eve, even if you put them in a perfect environment, they may choose a destructive path.

If you think of characters in that sense, you will (In a God role) also know what triggers them, or what shuts them down. Then, you can give them situations that will either grow and better them, or send them on a downward spiral (depending on the needs of your story.) The most important thing to do as your writing is get to know your characters.

A way to get to know your characters is, through improvisation. An exercise I give my theatre students is to be able to answer 20 questions about their character that have nothing to do with the script. To do so, they have to create their own back story and personality traits, that aren’t revealed in the information I give them. The reason I have them do this is so they can 1, give the best performance they can, and 2, know how to deal with any situation that may happen during the performance, that wasn’t pre scripted or rehearsed. (Mac’s rule number two, anything that could go wrong probably will, so better be prepared!)

A form of this in writing is to sit down, and think of a random thing that could happen. For example: Character A, is shopping in the grocery store, when a monkey shows up and starts throwing watermelons at them. What in the world would they do? Make sure it is something true to what they would do, and not, what you personally would do. (for a bunch of excersise starters, see this post.

Short notes version: let your characters make their own decisions, and your story will take off in new ways and you may find plot points you had never thought of before. :)



Coming soon, I’m going to be analyzing the current (6th) season of the TV show LOST from a character perspective, and how the creators allow the characters free will while still movie them towards a preset goal.

What are your opinions of letting characters run your story?

Random character improvisation starting points.

For a performing or writing improvisational exercise, take your character and put them in one or more of the following situations, to see how they will react.



1. Character is at the movie theatre. What movie would they watch?

2. Character is at a convenience store, when a masked man comes in with a gun and demands they hand over all the money in the cash box.

3. Character just won the lottery.

4. Character is at the car dealership. What sort of car would they buy?

5. Character’s beloved pet just died. What do they do?

6. Character is going to vote for president. What candidate?

7. What is character’s favorite color?

8. What is character’s favorite childhood memory.

9. Character’s relative just died. How do they respond?

10. Character just got arrested for shoplifting. Why did they steal, or was it a mistake?



Add more in the comments!

Current Status

This is a short post to let you know my upcoming plans before i post the first part of my next blog series.

First of all, I am currently on a actual film making hiatus. Reason, I need a better microphone. We all know camcorder sound is... well, shouldn't be considered sound. Also, I have a tendency to only be able to write shorts I can actually film at the moment starring my brothers. Though I love my bros, it's really time to venture to a different age group. ;)

Also, taking this break to really focus more on writing. One of the reasons I figured out I am unsuccessful in getting my film projects done, is because I am never sure what to work on at a given moment. I have several projects that need finishing!

So I'm limiting my concentration to strictly the following. (until my A.D.D. kicks in, of course. ;) ) Pinocchio for theatre, one feature film script to work on (a modern day version of Paul the Apostle), and writing both analysis posts and political posts.

Hopefully, I'll be able to get that new mic soon, and be able to film some decent material. ;) Till then, please enjoy my writing!