Big fan of Kevin Smith. His tenacity, his commitment to his friends and fans and his willingness to follow his art no matter what anyone else thinks.
I love most of his movies (Dogma being my favorite and I did like Jersey Girl no matter what everyone else thinks of it.) his comic book work (the Daredevil run was great) and I am a big fan of his podcasts (#1 in my book is his original with his good friend Scott Mosier, Smodcast.)
Storytelling is my currency. It’s my only worth. The only thing of value I have in this life is my ability to tell a story, whether in print, orating, writing it down or having people acting it out. Kevin Smith
Okay the #Oscars So White is a big deal to a lot of people. Claiming it is a symptom of a larger problem, maybe it is but I think the overall question is why do the Oscars really matter at all. It is a bunch of industry insiders, an business that is oversexualized and hung up on the outward trappings of wealth and power.
Movies can be magical, movies can elevate you to heights you never knew existed. Films can introduce you to new people, places and ideas that you never cared about and invite you care. The silver screen can act as transportation to magical and incredible places or sometimes just let you take a few steps in another person’s shoes.
The big screen has the ability to change you both in good and bad ways. Horror flicks can make you insensitive to others pain and suffering. Watching westerns sometimes creates an idealistic and/or naive view of American history. Romantic comedies fabricate an unrealistic view of relationships and sex. Too many science fiction movies can make you unattractive to the opposite sex . (Kidding of course, it usually comes from a combination of poor hygiene, lack of confidence and the inability to have intelligent conversations without making an obscure pop culture reference which the opposite sex doesn’t get.)
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognizes on a yearly basis performances by actors, the direction given to those actors, the technical and artistic aspects expended to realize those performances into a coherent product and the writers who dreamed up the entire story. But the Academy Awards do not truly recognize what a movie means to a person.
One of my favorite movies The Karate Kid, was not anywhere near a nomination for an Academy Award the year it came out. (Terms of Endearment won in 1984, with the other films nominated being The Big Chill, The Dresser, The Right Stuff and Tender Mercies.) The Karate Kid story touches me on so many levels mainly because where I was in my life I was clueless about life and girls (basically the same thing to a teenage boy), I had studied karate at the time so I could see myself in the movie, and everyone at that age feels like they don’t fit in.
Now the training stuff in that movie was outright crap, you do not learn to block a kick or punch by waxing a car or painting a fence. Those chores may increase your muscular strength and endurance but they do not teach you to place you hand in the right place at the right time to stop a blow from landing. But the heart of good martial arts is there; only use martial arts for defense, balance, focus, concentration and learning to walk before you fly. The Karate Kid taught me that you can learn something from anyone, whether it is a skill, history or what is important in life. That friendship has nothing to do with age, background or race but about who stood by your side when you are going thru crap. That skill and knowledge have nothing to do with the clothes (or belt) you are wearing. Later on in life I have looked at the same movie and realized that everyone has a backstory: Mr. Miyagi with the loss of a wife, Aliee not wanting to live up to her parents expectations at their country club, even Johnny trying to change is life by turning down a joint when you first see him then rolling one in the bathroom later on. Any movie that lasts with you for thirty some years is truly a masterpiece, even if it only means that much to one person.
Another filmmaker that will probably never get an Academy Award is Kevin Smith, his movies are full of juvenile jokes, childish sight gags and way too much trivia, but at the heart of his movies is a celebration of friendship, love and life.
The black and white film Clerks may be about working a minimum wage job but it is also about finding and knowing what is important in life and that there are lot of beautiful girls in the world but not all of them will bring you lasagna. Dogma may have a crap monster, a sanctified golf club, and the late great Alan Rickman, sans genitilia, but it is also about believing in yourself and raising questioning about faith, god and religion in irreverent but smart fashion.
My favorite filmmaker will probably not be recognized by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. I love Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Chasing Army, Red State and even Jersey Girl. I enjoy his movies, I have laughed and seen things a little bit differently, and in seeing things differently I have changed as a person. Isn’t that what the movies, and art in general, are truly about? Art is about the important things in life, not how many awards you do on do not win. We need more art in this world, art that brings us closer together, art that helps us rage against injustices, art that keeps our sense of wonder alive and movies that display love in all its different shapes and forms.
I found the podcast medium sometime around 2009, originally I listened to Glenn Beck’s show because I could not hear it during his normal broadcast time. But then he started charging, and after a little while I started looking around the podcast world for free things and stopped paying for Glenn Beck’s show (my agreement with most of his views changed too).
Probably the first free thing I found was Stuff You Should Know, a show trying to explain everything in the world, everything from Tupperware, particle physics, to the Muppets and earwax. I highly recommend this show if you like amassing knowledge about the entire world, it’s sister podcast Stuff You Missed In History is equally stimulating.
I subscribe to a variety of podcasts from Jack Spirko’s The Survival Podcast, Penn’s Sunday School, numerous NPR productions, and a variety of shows about writing and science fiction. But probably the premier podcast that inspires my creativity is Kevin Smith’s Fatman on Batman. Kevin interviews people that have created and brought to life Batman through the animated series, comic books, video games, movies and even the 1960’s television show. These people tell stories about creativity, their processes and sometimes failures.
What really made me think about turning my story Scouts Out into a podcast was Space Casey, which is a great humorous story about a space faring con woman, named Casey. The creator is Christiana Ellis who has also written a follow up story to Space Casey and Nina Kimberly the Merciless a comic fantasy.
I don’t know if Space Casey has increased the sales of her books, but I know I enjoy the stories and look forward to her stuff.
It was Kevin Smith during one of his shows who discussed the fact that there are no gatekeepers in the new media, no one keeping anyone from putting their stories and ideas out into the big wide world. No one saying “No” we will not publish your book, or let your show be broadcast. At the same time no one saying “hey bud, you story kinda sucks, maybe you should work on it more.” The Internet is truly a free market that lets producers meet at a unrestricted marketplace with consumers.
Reading up on how to do it seemed simple enough, get a microphone, some software, a headset, then you recorded your stuff, put it on the web and then transfer it to ITunes and see what happens.
Reading about podcasting has been the easiest part of this process. When I finally decided to do this I got some unexpected but wonderful allies, my very good friends Dawn and Gary. They invited me down to their home; after Dawn gave me some fantastic input and great editing she read the introduction and closing, and then they created the theme music. After all the work they put into it I could not give up on this project if I wanted, to throw away their wonderful work would be disrespectful to my friends.
After traveling back home I wrestled with putting the theme music and introduction together and starting the first episodes. That was a struggle. It was then I learned just how hard it is to read out loud perfectly, or even relatively well. (I also began to understand more of the flaws in my writing.)
One thing I did not share was with Mr. Spirko was my lack of funds for a new cover art for the book and the podcast. Honestly the first cover art for the book stunk, it was boring (see the bottom of the article for a side by side comparison). Not through any fault of the artist, Graham Kennedy, he did exactly what I asked, his subsequent work for me has gotten better and better by giving him more free reign once I give him a direction. I have had to save up my funds slowly, meanwhile other things kept popping up that did not allow me to throw more funds toward the new cover art. Then I found out I had to upgrade my website to allow posting of the podcast to the site and eventually to ITunes. The cost is not substantial but it was not anticipated.
Once I started recording and putting episodes together (upon it’s release I have 11 ready to go) I did a little research on professional audio book productions. Statements from professional voice actors give the time input into a book as about three hours to get one usable hour of material, of course that is working in a full professional setting with a sound engineer. My ratio has been a little steeper than that, I am guessing that to create a 30 minute episode it takes me about six to seven hours. This includes, reading my story a few times, recording my reading then editing it (it has made me very immune to the awful feeling most people get when hearing their own voice) for mispronunciations, coughs, flubs, stutters and stammers, then putting in the theme music and the music breaks between chapters.
My original intent was to create ten episodes giving myself a cushion, I did this before I took into account how much money I had to save in order to redo the cover art and upgrading my website. I created the episodes while building funds and as soon as I got enough money paid for the cover art, then upgraded the website, and ta da a podcast is created.
What I have learned:
Like most Do It Yourself Projects it has taken longer than anticipated and cost more than I thought. (I originally told Dawn and Gary I thought I would have it out by the end of February, that is so funny now.)
A lot goes into the podcasts that I love. Jack Spirko of the Survival Podcast makes it look easy, as far as I can figure he works alone and does all his own engineering and puts out an episode five days a week, including interviews of people not co-located with him. He speaks off the top of his head with maybe a rough outline of the subject, I would say his delivery is as good as any nationally syndicated talk show host with less support. Jack Spirko was also a major influence in getting me off my duff and getting my books out into the world first with my blog, then self publishing at Smashwords.
My podcast is more like an audio book than most of the other podcasts I have mentioned, even Space Casey is more of an audio drama with multiple voices and sound effects. Most similar to my efforts is Escape Pod which has different short science fiction stories being read by talented people, although I think a Master Storyteller is Stephen Toblosky (The Tobolosky Files) who tells stories about his life, his loves and his experiences in the film and television industry.
My intent with the podcast is expose my stories to a wider audience, to hopefully sell more books. I hope you try my podcast, if you like it subscribe, if you enjoy it write a review, if you want to know about the rest of the stories in the Outfitters Universe buy the books. I plan on having another book in the Outfitters Universe out this winter, with the crew of the Long Range Recon Ship the Arrogant Lion playing a major part in the intergalactic war.
The Old Cover to Scouts Out (Most people agree, pretty boring)