Saturday, July 09, 2011

Just Because ...

... someone tells you a story doesn't mean it's true.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Dangerous Writing

The film is done! Such a relief. It's been such a long journey filled with expectation and distraction and four long years of life in general that it's difficult to feel a sense of accomplishment just yet. It's creeping in here and there. Per usual I have a lot of other stuff going on as well right now, so that's part of not feeling finished. And, quite honestly, it isn't finished. Just like finishing a script and wrapping principal photography are but stepping stones, getting to this stage just begins the process of helping the film find an audience. And frankly the idea of making people care is more daunting than the previous steps. Especially since along the way I often said we were making a film that no one cares about.
Until now, if I can manage a successful promotion campaign. I've actually been in the process of redirecting my career toward marketing communications. While that may seem like a slam dunk, it actually seems very daunting to me. Writing nice things about a brand or a non-profit is one thing - selling my won artistic vision from four years ago is quite another. Deep breaths. Making the film was a process. Promoting it will be as well.
We're doing the footwork to build a website. We submitted it to the Bend Film Fest where we're hoping it will premiere. I've made a list of other potential festivals, including the NW Film and Video Festival. I've sent queries to a few people about sending them screeners. Mixed results so far.
One idea I've been thinking about is creating 100 Fans of Dangerous Writing and then trying for a 1,000 and so on. If I can get 100 people to like the film and help spread the word, that will help keep the promotion focused. It's so much easier to think about 100 people than the world at large. Just writing these finite numbers gives me ideas!

What's the Matter With Kansas?

I'm reading this book by Thomas Frank about how conservatives successfully convinced the Middle-American working class to support the interests of big business. By conflating the outcomes of the culture wars and business regulation, Middle-Americans are now under the impression that they're voting Republican to get even with Wall Street. As a result many have lost their jobs and have raised picket signs not in response to the rich getting richer, but to denounce abortion and same-sex marriage. It's a sickening story that we have seen play out with increasing momentum over the past twenty-five years.
Frank does a great job of keeping things moving while articulating the depressing facts of the devolution of our culture. He's even pretty funny at times, "... leadership had taken long pulls from the bubbling bong of New Economy theory."

Sunday, May 29, 2011


I've been so busy lately. More so than in a very long time. It's been kind of draining and also very invigorating. I suspect that the growth I'm experiencing isn't even apparent to me just yet. One thing that I've noticed is my ability to get things done like never before - and not just the things I'm passionate about. Or perhaps I've become more passionate overall. Not sure about that. Anyway, I've been one to generate a lot of activity but I haven't always been one for finishing things. Old story - great starter ... not so great finisher. That's been especially true over the past few years regarding film projects. It just eluded me and then I would keep making films and the editing backlog grew and grew. We've been chipping away at that and the experience has been good in many ways. It may even be one of the reasons why I'm finding the finish line more often lately.
Recently I've been working on a campaign for a non-profit. Doing a very comprehensive strategic plan. It's been a tough assignment for many reasons and I've wanted to quit many times since the second week. I've been able to stick with it. There was even a moment when the only reason I had for sticking with it was the feeling that I needed to practice hanging in there. Eventually there came a point where I had the opportunity to make a video for the campaign. It came about because I was writing a proposal for a training program and I realized that a training video would be a much more efficient means of conducting the training. But the Board thought a video appealing directly to the audience would be even better.  I was excited to bring my work as a filmmaker to my work as communications strategist together. There was also a feeling that I was getting in over my head, taking on too much. An incident just after I committed to the larger scale video seemed to confirm my folly, but once again I persevered.
We shot the video last Sunday.  By Tuesday night I had a rough cut.  By Wednesday noon I had an alternate version. And by Thursday night, early Friday morning I had a finished video.
It feels really good to have the unfinished project monkey off my back. Now can I get some love in the health and fitness arena, please?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Blow in her face and she'll follow you anywhere.

Hard to believe this was ever a successful campaign.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Dangerous Writing - Steady Progress

Work was scheduled for this weekend for DW. I received a progress report tonight. Good news - almost all of the music has been mixed and synced. My immediate reaction: good thing we waited almost a year to do two days worth of work! Oh well. It's moving forward; that's the important thing. We'll do another review this weekend and then after a few tweaks it will be ready to be color corrected. That should take another week or two. The deadline for the Bend Film Fest is May 15th. We're aiming for that. Seems more than likely. Which is very exciting.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

DW Spotting Session #3,247

We did it! Finally sat down and opened the Dangerous Writing music edit today after almost a year.

You shut your mouth
How can you say
I go about things the wrong way?
I am human and I need to be loved
Just like everybody else does

Oh, yes. Always good to remember that I'm human.Thanks, Morrisey.
It felt good to get back to DW. I still like the film a lot. And I'm really trying not to get into feeling badly about letting it sit and all that should have stuff. I will admit that there are very easy solutions to some of the problems that have kept me from being very eager about getting back to it. For instance, there's this scene that I wanted to put some romantic, sentimental saxophone in the background. My musician friends worked on it for me but didn't come up with anything that worked. One of them told me I was asking for too much and why didn't I just buy some cheesy needle drop if that was all I wanted. Good point. I found something on for about sixty bucks. Problem solved.  Moving on.  Sheesh.
As inefficient as this process has been - I can't count how many times I've gone through our songs and cues and the scenes that need music - the film has benefited from the protraction. I'm both more relaxed about the outcome and more capable of solving some of the problems we were experiencing. Choices made in haste or to follow convention are easily recognized and improved.
One of the skills I've been trying to polish is keeping things simple. With big projects like Dangerous Writing I often get overwhelmed by trying to take it all on at once. Like today, it's tempting to start thinking about the website again. Yes, it would be efficient to work on that while Jordan does some mixing. My fingers just paused as I wrestled with why that doesn't actually turn out to be true. Perhaps because I already have a lot going on and if I get overwhelmed I'm more likely to drop the whole thing for several more months. To be truly efficient in this case it would be best to keep it slow and steady. Support Jordan's efforts until the current task is crossed off and then move on to the next item on the shortlist of finishing the film. A finished film always speeds up the creation of a press kit and publicity materials. An old mantra brought back to serve:

Social Media Engagement/Canibalism

Sunday, March 27, 2011


cLioTellsHi(s)Story from Neal Corl on Vimeo.

Just finished this short that we shot in 2007.  I think it's the most successful of all my shorts.  Very happy with it and glad to share it.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Awesome Vintage Boot Label

(Reblogged from a A Time To Get)

I love this from a graphic design perspective as well as a fetishist of all things vintage.  I have many pairs of Red Wings, both vintage and new.  But the only jump boots I ever owned were the Corcoran's tI bought while in the military.  Those boots shined up much better than the regular issue 'cruit boots and helped earn me at least two three-day passes during Command Inspections.  They served me well for years after the Army as well.  Though they weren't as comfortable as Doc Martin's, they were a little less specific, especially in the late 80s when Docs were associated very negatively with Skinheads in Portland. Then they were hopelessly ubiquitous in the early 90s.  My jump boots were my footwear of choice especially when wearing anything other than Levi's during that period.  I passed the boots on to a friend after they were about ten years old.  He wore them daily for a few more years.  Pretty good value for their original sixty dollar price tag at the PX in Germany in the mid 80s.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Master Says 371

Hollywood gives a young girl the aura of one giant, self-contained orgy farm, its inhabitants dedicated to crawling into every pair of pants they can find.

Veronica Lake

(The Selvedge Yard inspired this return to an old Finding Fellini favorite - The Master Says.
Photo and quote reblogged ibid.)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Factory Fascinations

I noticed on Facebook today that one of my very young friends, a very interesting model with whom I've worked, posted some pics of Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgewick.  N is about the same age as I was when I was fascinated by all things associated with Andy Warhol.  However, in my case it was the 80s.  There was no treasure trove of images and videos at my fingertips in cyberspace.  I checked out every book I could find at the library and read them.  Few of Andy's films were available on VHS. I went to see Warhol's films at the SF Art Institute, which was totally informal – a 16mm projector and a bunch of art students sitting on the floor in some foyer.  I listened to the Velvet Underground. When I was living in Germany, one of my German friends was somehow able to convince Nico to come meet him for coffee when she was in Munich while on tour.  Obsession with the Warhol crowd was Stefan's and my bond.
I'm not saying it was better or worse back then, it was simply different.  You had to work harder for much less and a lot more got left up to the imagination.  Andy thrived on mystery and salacious gossip.  He, like many of us, would probably have a love/hate relationship with the digital age.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Set of Lumberjack Storytime

This is the bedroom.

This is the front of the cabin in the woods.

This is the gravesite.  The crosses were actually 
little sticks about three inches long in front of little 
piles of dirt that I shoveled with a plastic spoon.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Old News That's News To Me

I've been studying mathematics lately to prepare for some upcoming Statistics courses and possibly the GMAT.  I also want to refresh and augment my skills as my children advance in their study of maths.
Coincidentally, I found an interesting article in the NYT today about making math more fun.  Which led me to search for more information on Ulam's Spiral leading to this video on the simple importance of prime numbers.

We had a long chat about primes in the car the other day, identifying them and exploring their rules and patterns.  I just showed these videos to my kids and I saw some lights go on in their eyes.  My son commented that you could create a video game based on patterns.  Yes.
I recently read an Eleanor Rooselvelt quote to the effect that low-minded folks talk about other people and high-minded folks talk about ideas.  It feels good to reach a little higher.

A Jacket To Want

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Lumberjack Storytime

Lumberjack Storytime from Neal Corl on Vimeo.

We shot this almost five years ago, but just got around to finishing it.  The bulk of it is meant to go into a larger film that's also in progress, but I thought it could exist on its own as a short. At first I posted it on Facebook only, it quickly got a few likes and then nothing.  I was frustrated because I see people pass around stuff that isn't all that good all the time.  And people always ask to see some of my stuff.
The whole experience led me to redefine how I use Facebook.  I've decided to use primarily it as an address book for old friends and colleagues.  I continue to keep tabs on those who post status updates and I've even commented here and there, but I am rethinking sharing what's going on with me.  I'm sure there's a better interface in the pipeline than Facebook or Twitter for personal news sharing.  I think they can coexist in ways that earlier social networks didn't.  For instance, I love having people that I worked with on photo jobs in NY in the 90s amongst my friends, but I don't think they want to hear about how much I love the Blazers or what my middle child said after school today.
Anyway, here's the film.  Please leave a comment if you enjoyed it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Finding My Way

I'm not sure that I associate with too many people that aren't involved in some sort of self-searching, some of us more successfully than others.  I know a number of people that are extremely self-actualized.  As I know quite a few that are putting much more effort into getting more lost.  I spent a number of years seeking obliteration myself.  I suppose the toughest things to sort out are those periods when our ambitions are in conflict with our conditioning.  That is to say when we really want to find our way, but find ourselves unable to effectively navigate the pathways we're seeking.  Sometimes in spite of our fervent efforts we undermine ourselves both consciously and otherwise.  I find that the two key things to making progress are courageous perseverance and seeking guidance from others.  The Greeks had a name for thinking you can go it alone - hubris.  A trait I'm all too familiar with.
There was a time that Finding Fellini meant finding greatness and recognition equal to Federico's.  I was also interested in learning about Fellini in order to become a better filmmaker.  In time, I became less prideful and self-interested and more open to Fellini's humanism.  Eventually I gained the humility necessary to recognize pursuing a career in film was no longer in my best interest.  I recently read that careers in the arts and, or glamor professions, are subject less to job markets but more to a high-stakes tournament.  Few people win, most lose, some take jobs in ancillary roles, some enter tournaments with lower stakes, with and without hope for reentering the grand sweepstakes, and many others withdraw.  My withdrawal from the Tournament of Aspiring Directors caused me to experience some crises of identity and a sense of failure.
I tried to refocus my energy on a career in Public Health, but ultimately decided that a complete career transformation, including five plus years of schooling was not in my best interest either no matter how passionate I felt about it.  In the interest of capitalizing on the skills and contacts I already possessed from my years working in film, I began producing photo shoots - an ancillary role in a parallel industry.  It has been sometimes fun and fruitful, but I don't see the likelihood of it capturing my attention in the long term for various reasons.  I have not shut the door on photo production opportunities and will continue to leave it ajar for the foreseeable future.
I've been researching and contemplating my next career for most of the past year.  I've looked into many things.  Some of them involved entering more tournaments albeit on a less grandiose scale.  I explored a career in fashion for several months.  I hesitated to tell too many people about it for fear of setting myself up to appear fickle should I decide, like my public health aspiration, that it wasn't to be.  I took a few sewing classes and did some drawing.  I paid a lot of attention to inspirations and possibilities of success.  It intrigued me, but there were many things that didn't feel right.
On the advice of a trusted friend, I decided to stop looking for an ideal career and to take a good look at what skills seem to be common in my long and varied work experience.  I bristled at that initially.  "What?  Do you mean something like, What Color Is My Parachute?" I asked cynically.  Ever earnest, my friend said, "Exactly that."
So I got that damn book and every time I started reading it I got a headache and felt tired and hungry and wanted desperately to go back to bed.  Part of me feels as if I am aiming at some sort of consolation prize of a career that capitalizes on my organization or leadership skills.  As such, the questions regarding what I really want out of life are like salt in my wounds.  At best.
I spent most of my twenties trying to lose myself.  I wanted nothing to do with convention.  My heroes were denizens of the underbelly.  I never wanted to buy a house or own much of anything, but I wasn't keen on being entirely destitute so I worked mainly in nightclubs and restaurants among other short-lived dalliances in various fields. In spite of my apathy and disdain for convention, I demonstrated a vigorous and dedicated work ethic and the ability to anticipate what kind of experiences and environments would attract the affluent, hip and beautiful by the hundreds.  I was a leader and an organizer, responsible for large staffs, budgets, logistics, musicians' careers and investors' money.  These skills seemed like common sense to me.  In my mind, any idiot could run a business.  I took it for granted that I was able to step into these businesses without any formal training or guidance and not only assume operational control, but increase revenues as well as raise their prominence.
I never really wanted to be there.  I thought of myself as a writer or a furniture designer.  Anything but a businessman.  Nightclubs are all about make believe.  Nothing seemed very real.  Besides I never went looking for any of these jobs.  They always came to me and when I was desperate for some income, I often took what was offered even if  I would have preferred a less demanding job as a bartender.  Because of these factors, it's been difficult for me to see that the skill set I used as a club manager and promoter has value.  That the things that came easy to me are transferable and marketable competencies.
I regarded my film producing skills in a similar manner.  I worked with producers along the way that often seemed to need my guidance or simply just get in the way.  I never thought I wanted to be producing in the first place, but when I was subject to someone incapable of meeting my expectations I saw it that I had to put that hat on as well.  Now I see that while that make sense, it has often been inconsiderate and insensitive.  Being a good team player means helping one another out, not shaming those that are less capable.  The takeaway, though, is that while I was doing okay at the creative aspects of filmmaking, my logistical talents were in abundant evidence.  I was often distracted from my storytelling ambitions by my attraction to making sure things were happening efficiently.  Clearly my mind is compelled by such challenges.
When I started producing photography, I thought that with my storytelling ambitions behind me, that I would be able to focus strictly on coordinating production.  However, I found that while I didn't need to be the main creative force on shoots, I couldn't fathom not offering input into casting, locations, wardrobe, art direction, prop styling and, in some cases, composition.  I don't feel as if it's an ego-driven desire.  More of a DNA thing, really.  I never stepped on any toes with my input and I'm told that for the most part it was not only welcome but appreciated.  One of the photographers I worked with asked me to help him communicate with the models.  He had heard me talking to the background talent and admired my director's voice.  I appreciated his taking notice.  There was no resentment on my part that I was better at an aspect of his job than he.  Though I see that I have skills that benefit the creative process.  And I really need some sort of creative stake - not primary authorship - but some sense of involvement beyond coming in under budget and making sure there's lunch for everyone.  Again, those are skills to be sure and I need to make sure I account for them.  While ensuring that I don't sell myself short.
I've been trying to explore what lies between the two extremes of my career pendulum.  There must be jobs that are both creative and administrative; right?  It's taken some digging and I haven't quite sorted it all out, but I'm definitely making progress toward discovering them.  The jobs worth having are going to take more work to get than some of the jobs I've had in the past, but probably less work than it was taking to become a working film director.  I've just go to keep striving to balance not making it either too easy or too hard on myself.  I'm starting to feel some hope of finding a career that is neither booby prize nor beneath me, but that will not only make good use of my aptitudes and skills but encourage me to discover ever greater talents.

Political Spoof from 2008

Political Spoof from Almanac Pictures LLC on Vimeo.

I improvised the voiceover for this video by Jordan Karr-Morse and Travis Huntington.  It was supposed to be a temp track, but it ended up they couldn't find anyone to do it better for the final edit.