25 April 2011

Destressing before Hell Week

You come home from Easter, and you catch the dialogue in a scene from How to Train Your Dragon coming from the living room downstairs. Think nothing of it because everyone in the house loves that movie and it's really no surprise that someone is watching it. Instead, trust your luck that the scene is in the final act. Of course it'll be close to ending! No use joining in if it’s ending in less than half an hour.

When your parents leave for home, you are left to your devices. Again, you catch wind of dialogue from How to Train Your Dragon. But you know that this piece of dialogue comes before the piece of dialogue you heard earlier. So you walk downstairs with homework in hand and you sit down.

"Are you watching How to Drain Your Dragon on repeat?" you ask.

"Don't judge me!" your roommate responds.

Fair enough. She's been stressing about that paper for five days already. You've got your own stress to deal with. 

And you finish the night by watching How to Train Your Dragon three more times before bed.

~ ~ ~

I've got more homework than should be legal, so you won't be seeing me for a while. Have fun and take care.

14 April 2011

Goodness, an award!

Holy heavens, I won an award! Here it is.

The rules are to link back to the giver, (Thank you Margo Kelly!), list seven facts about yourself (below), and then give to 15 other blogs you think are awesome (or deserving of 7 facts). So here are my facts and the winners presented by me.

1). Harry Potter was introduced to me in fourth grade when my teacher read it to the entire class. We didn't particularly enjoy it at first, but as he continued to read every day we came to love it.

2). I carry around what I call a Notebook of Everything because I write everything in it. It features hangman games, meeting notes, scenes from larger pieces, writing exercises, dreams --- everything.

3). My first Notebook of Everything lasted 2-3 years from high school to the beginnings of college. It is currently stored with hard copies of my stories. It is also completely beaten up and worn and decorated with stickers.

4). My second and current Notebook of Everything has been in use for about a year and a half and features the same material. It is proving to be more durable than the first.

5). In high school, all my time was spent with the Madrigal singers and backstage theater. Things have since changed because now I spent all my time involved in the publication committee on campus.

6). My first European road trip was when my brother came to visit me for Christmas this past December. We took a train to Paris, another train to Berlin, and flew back to London for a few days. Best Christmas Ever.

7).  My second European road trip was immediately after when my brother returned home and I flew to Denmark to explore Scandinavia (+ Finland). Visited a friend in Denmark, skied in Norway, learned some history in Sweden, and saw a sea fortress in Finland.

Award Recipiants! I give this award to my Crusader group #14!

1. Dominic de Mattos (Writes of Passage
2. Anica Grey (Butterfly Mind
3. Sandra Ulbrich Almazan (Sandra Ulbrich Almazan: Speculative Fiction Author)
4. Tony Benson (Fireside Park
5. The Golden Eagle (The Eagle's Aerial Perspective
6. Mlle Lizka (Laws of Gravity
7. Chris Kelworth (The Kelworth Files
8. Mercy (Have Mercy! Killer Reviews
9. Rogue Mutt (Every Other Writer Has a Blog...Why Can't I?
10. Charity Bradford (My Writing Journey)
11. Gen Jordan (Living on Earth
12. Pensheep (A Writerly Pensheep)
13. Cindy Borgne (Dreamer's Perch
14. Michael Offutt (SLC Kismet)

06 April 2011

I call it Wonderful

Let's name all the mediums with which a story can be told:
- oral
- books/graphic novels
- film/TV
- stage performance

Quite recently, the same story has been passed around from medium to medium. The Hunger Games is working towards a 2012 movie release. (Are you keeping up with the casting news?) John Scalzi announced a while ago that his book The Old Man's War was signed to be made into a movie. I heard a series by Amanda Hocking was signed for movie production as well. 

It's been a trend in recent years to make movies into musicals. Starting with Disney movies, we have The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast. Most recently are the Legally Blonde and Flashdance musicals. Less famously is Young Frankenstein, which was recently in my town but not seen by me, which is why I think of it. Various books were adapted to musicals as well. Les Miserables started as a book, then a musical, then a film (without music). Most famously (for me at least) is The Phantom of the Opera. I practically grew up with this musical, mostly because my mom's such a big fan of listening to the original London cast from start to finish. (I am too for that matter).

And both my mother and I agree that the film adaption for Phantom of the Opera is done very well. Not only are there a few scenes featured in the film that couldn't be covered in the stage play (I'm thinking about the flashforwards to Raoul here), but the acting and the costumes were done very well. 

Chicago is another movie made from a musical. As with The Producers, Oklahoma!, and Grease.

If you haven't noticed, these are all done by live-action actors and actresses. With the exception of Disney in this case the musicals came from animated movies. But what if someone decides to make a hand animation film of an already existing live-action musical?

For all you fans of Wicked, wouldn't this be wonderful? (NOTE: the text below the video is the video description on the actual site and not written by me.)

Dear Stephen Schwartz,

I know you can relate to the plight of loving a story, loving a medium, and trying to convince someone in power to see your vision! You did it with Marc Platt when you convinced him to make it a stage musical. I’m just approaching you with the same sincerity. Is it possible to talk you out of doing a live action movie adaptation? Would you consider doing a traditionally animated adaptation? In my heart I think the musical needs the medium, and I think the medium needs your musical. I just love them both so much and hopefully that shows through in the story reel.


Heidi Jo Gilbert

04 April 2011

What do the machines DO?

A few weeks ago, I had to watch The Matrix for my Contemporary American Film class. This is the same class that watched Blade Runner, Silence of the Lambs, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Coolness of this class aside, I want to ask a question pertaining to the Matrix, give my answer, and see what sort of discussions will arise in the comments.

What do the machines in The Matrix do when they are not hunting humans?

After much thought, I asked myself "Then what do humans do?" My answer to the human question was "We built a society around that which we value. We valued shelter from the weather, so we built houses. Sturdier than huts made of straw now, but that's what happened. We wanted readily-available food, so we built a system around that. Now we go to the grocery store when we want food. Or we eat at a restaurant. Then we started to crave entertainment, and thus we have what our current pop culture and society seems to be built around.

My answer to my question is this. The Machines built their society upon which they value, like what humans did. So if the majority of their society goes into maintaining human farms and hunting the human rebels, then I guess that's their society. If anyone has seen hints regarding other jobs of The Machines, besides keeping the Matrix running and the aforementioned positions, please comment in the comments below.

03 April 2011

Film Review: The New Year

Film: The New Year
Directed by Brett Haley
2010 - Independent Studio

The New Year deals with the struggles of Sonny, a young woman in her early twenties living in Pensicola, Florida. She had previously returned to her hometown to care for her dad who has cancer. She works at a bowling alley, dates the Tae Kwon Do instructor at the local dojo, and struggles through living at home. Her yearning to break free is brought to attention at the return of Issac, a high school "rival" who won the class presidential election their senior year and is now a budding comedian in New York City.

~ ~ ~

This is a film that almost hits home for me. Almost. Sonny is my own age and trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life. I am Sonny's age and attempting to figure out what I want to do, but I feel less pressure because I have about a year to figure that out. I have also recently concluded that I may move to a random location and attempt to set up a life there. Just to see what happens.

But the film. This film was made with an $8,000 budget, but it does not show in the final product. The visuals are stunning and professionally done. I especially loved the compositions of the pillow shots between scenes. Those were very well done. (Vocabularly: "Pillow Shot" -- a sequence of shots connecting one scene to another. Taken from my Production class notes.)

Another positive is the play with romance of the film. Sonny has a boyfriend, but a visiting guy starts hitting on her as well. She doesn't know what to do with the romantic relationship just like she doesn't know what to do with the rest of her life. However, the romance is put on the back burner and the focus is more on Sonny and how she deals with her life in general and not one specific aspect of it. If the romance were in the forefront, I would have been annoyed.

I would have liked to have seen a few things in this movie, though. For one, character arcs. The final bit of the movie fails to provide any evidence of a character arc. The movie introduces problems and plays with them without doing much with them. Yes, this might seem a realistic way that people deal with problems, but when I sit to watch a film, I want to be taken somewhere and feel like I got something out of it. I didn't have that feeling with this film.

Another thing this could have used was risks. What does it mean to leave your dying father behind so you can spread your wings? What sort of effect would that have on the people you left behind? Would your dying father hate you for it? Would he want you to fly away? Would he get crap for feeling like he does? Meanwhile, what about you? Would you feel guilty as you do your thing? Would you be reminded every few months of your father's condition and asked when you're coming home? Would your father send you messages of encouragement? Disappointment? What would happen when you leave everything behind? Those are the kind of risks this film could have used because there would have been no consequences if they were taken.

To top this off, the acting of this film was amazing. None of the actors were well known, and a majority of the people were Pensicola locals the director just knew. For instance, Sonny's father was somebody the director acted with in community theatre. And he was an amazing actor for the part of the father. Just amazing. The woman who played Sonny, as well, was really good. She could shoot off sarcasm and make it sound natural, and that's important when you have a sarcastic character. Her sense of humor was also spot on. Props to the director for finding the perfect actors for this film. This was quality work for $8,000.

~ viewed at the 2011 Wisconsin Film Festival ~