Hot Fries, Pickup Trucks and Brotherhood

Sunny, humid, and we were in farm country. The warm weather would bring me down at the start. Reminders of long dead things. That was a few weeks ago. Rolling in to the parking area at around 3pm, dirt road and tall grass, barns and the sounds of horses. Having city people and their trucks of equipment all over must of looked strange if not that most “country” people are just transplants from suburbia. Have a horse and a few chickens does not make one rural.

It was a nice set up we had. Camera, electric and grips all next to each other. Production base camp just a few feet away. Craft services ready with food. The only downside was that the actual set was about 500 meters down the tiny side road with a rocky shoulder. Hundreds of pounds of equipment per department would need to be transferred by cart. That would take hours. The property owner of our set, or someone else with a slice of power, didn’t want the big transport trailers all over the grass. Understandable, but we were making a movie. Its a dirty job. Its a destructive job.

My department, camera department, was kind of fucked. Extremely expensive equipment, time sensitive setups and absolutely no transport to set. That would mean pushing our carts down the road. Luckily, the key (boss) grip lent us a pickup. In 5 minutes, we had all our equipment on. The pickup only had 2 seats though and there was 5 people being transported. The key grip, the 2nd AC (same as the last story) and myself jumped in the back. I sat on one of our carts, supporting my balance on the edge of the pickup’s bed. With the largest Red Bull money can buy in my hand, we set off down the dirt road and on to the asphalt.

All that was missing was the Dixie horn and a shotgun

The resident crazy ass transpo driver was behind the wheel. I nearly fell off when he turned down the driveway to set, but all that came out of my mouth was a “WHOOOOO!” You don’t get to sit on the line between fun and a cracked skull very often. Not an hour later, all the tech trucks were brought to set, parked down in one of the suburbia farm’s fields in a crescent moon. All we needed was a bonfire (we already had the beer) and the long weekend would of started.

Movie making is having huge amounts of stress in a very small amount of time. When something goes wrong, it can tank your reputation and respect in the industry if its not fixed. Getting used to different directors and their needs is frustrating, but a must. The previous one was always on our ass to move faster and faster. This one has a need to take his time, which removes the constant aggravation of “MUST SHOOT! MUST SHOOT!”, but the day will never end early. You can make a movie cheap and fast, fast and good or cheap and good. You can only get to pick one, and they all come with heart-pumping, head-sweating moments of “Oh shit.”

At lunch, most of the crew hung out at their trucks. The key grip, a farm-bred heart of gold, was shooting the shit with his guys when one of the props guys pulled out a toy he got a Wal-Mart: a foam-dart sniper rifle. The country boy, not to say no to having a little fun. He asked how it worked, grabbed a few darts, and by the red glowing light of the electric’s truck, walked up the ramp with the biggest grin. A few moments later, the pop of the gun followed by a “what the fuck!?!?” and the howl of laughter by everyone in our fireless camp. He came back out, loaded another dart and spotted one of his guys having a smoke by the front of the truck. The gun raised, he disappeared into the black. POP! “What?!?!” and more laughter. It was then I realized that I had found a brotherhood. Factions by departments, but in the end, we technicians and creative souls are part of a tiny brotherhood. Our experiences are singular. Our personalities unique. For every ten thousand farm-boys like the key grip, there may be five who can solve on set mechanical problems like him. For every 100 000 want to be photographer, the head of my department may be the only one who can set up lighting in lightning speed, making what could be a shitty movie look amazing.

As I drove home, sun rising over the lake, I smiled. Happy things are getting better, cleaner, in my life. Directions found and ambition focused. It may not have been the dream I had at 22, with a new life and a new wife and the world before me, but its a better dream. A dream for myself; my skills, my will and my wants.

I pulled in to A&W at 6am, hoping to having a well-deserved burger. The root beer came first and it tasted like victory. Soon, freshly made, I could smell the salt and the oils of meat and potato. I was hungry for something other than craft service, catered lunch and what I could find at home. As the chubby, dour looking employee handed me the bag with my food, she said “Be very, very careful.” in reference to the fries.

I drove off, laughing, eating a dangerous fry. Is that what we must be scared of now? Hot meals?

If she only knew what I did in the last 15 hours, she may give up telling shill people to watch out for reheated, freeze-dried food.

Hollywood Kills Creativity


Being a Fallout fan since the first game came out a over a decade ago, I’ve been working on Fallout: New Vegas, the western themed stand alone sequel to the lauded Fallout 3. When I play these games, I brush up on the lore, getting a feel for the world I’m playing in, instead of diving in and just ignoring the history. Like a good movie, a good game sucks you in and makes you believe its all true. While scouring the history of the “Great War”, a worldwide nuclear war, I came across this interesting tidbit.

According to the script of the Fallout movie, neither China, India, nor North Korea launched the first bomb. It was in fact Vault-Tec’s executive of the vaults. He launched the first bomb to fulfill his own prophecy of nuclear annihilation.

Sounds like a typical madman story, except that in the history of Fallout, including the lore set down from the games since its inception, China was the first to fire. It was losing the oil war it had started with the US. Alaska was lost, its pipeline back in the hands if the USA. Its mainland was being invaded by unstoppable mechanized Marines. As a last resort it attacked, sending its planes up in the air and its subs to the coasts before firing its missiles to ensure total annihilation. It didn’t work. When the death cloud of missiles were launched, everyone else fired as well. America, Russia, the Europeans, the Arabs, everyone recognized what was happening and decided that if they were going to go, so would their enemies.

China’s suicidal launch makes sense. Its technology was far behind the US and Europe. While the US had created the portable fusion battery, its hope to end its dependence on the last drops of oil, China had nothing of the sort. The Resource Wars had drained it of materials, people, prestige and, of course, resources. Its army was being mowed down by the nearly-invincible Power Armor units of the US. It saw the end. The end of the Communist state and the Chinese nation, most likely. What choice, other than surrender, did it have?

But, no, Hollywood had to go fuck it up, and thank God the movie has not been made yet, if at all, with that script. The story wouldn’t be as original as it is with the game canon. It would be slid in with every other evil corporate white man movie like Sum of All Fears. In the book, the terrorists were communist Arabs who dug out a lost Israeli nuke, fixed it up and, despite the fission fizzling, killed thousands of Americans. Their reason was to start a nuclear war that would punish the USA and Russians for thinking of peace. In the movie, it was pro-corproate Neo-Nazis looking to revive the Nazi state through nuclear war. In The Constant Gardner, a British corporation was experimenting with a drug on poor Africans and killing off whistleblowers. In State of Play, the corporate baddy isn’t even the main antagonist, but its still put in the worst possible light. Even in the amazing District 9, corrupt officials working with a weapons corporation were experimenting with alien technology, torturing and dissecting the creatures, who were stand-ins for South Africa’s black population during Apartheid. We get it, corporations are full of evil people.

Large corporations, like any other government created/supported entity, are power hungry. That’s not in dispute. They are monopolies, given power over entire markets because of regulation, backroom deals and open political connections. But governments, especially tyrannical governments like Communist China, are the ones had have been behind the worst atrocities of human history. Hitler’s wars killed tens of millions. Stalin killed 20 million plus of his own people, at least. Mao killed nearly 60 million in China alone, the leaders afterward have killed millions more through their policies and through violent enforcement of their rule. It makes much more sense for a defeated Communist China, unwilling to surrender to the capitalist and resource hungry US,to be the reason the world ended, not some apocalyptic CEO with a manic vision of the future. Especially when there is no evidence in the game world (the games, books, comic books, and fictional world history book) of anything of the sort.

The insular nature of Hollywood and its writers, directors and creative personnel destroy what originally are great ideas and filter them through how can we make this simple, how can we make this stupid, how can we make this sell. Its sad to say that comic book movies like Christopher Nolan’s Batman reboot have much more complexity and creativity than most of the Oscar winners and nominees of late. Avatar? Beautiful, but so simple that it could have been written by a retarded slug. The Hurt Locker? A balanced movie on the Iraq War, but entirely fantastic in its depiction of the realities of war. Black Swan? Dark, surreal, but still a repeat of many other mindfuck movies we’ve seen time and again, and done much better than the winner. Even Inception, while mindblowing and entertaining, plays to many of the same points as most action movies, like The Matrix and its sequels. Vague enough to get people talking, but once looked at objectively, holes appear, big ones.

This has gone on for so long that simple historical plot points, like China starting the war, must be changed so we stupid viewers “get” the movie. Maybe it was changed because, like the Red Dawn remake, some pantywaist thought the Chinese would cause an international uproar if China, the world’s largest military, invaded its rival, the United States, like Iran did with 300’s depiction of Persians, except that it was explained by the filmmakers and by writer Frank Miller himself that the story is told through the eyes of the Spartans and isn’t supposed to be taken as fact. But, don’t tell that to a entertainment culture happy to put out movie after military movie that paints white males as evil, weak or, in the case of Avatar, the saviors of every ethnic group except their own.

Hollywood needs a good kick in the head. By the jackboots of the governments they cover for in their copy and paste scripts and by audiences across the Western world. Maybe then they’ll pop-in a few new ideas, make movies with some interesting history and quit bending over for every whiny-ass puckerhole that thinks we audience is too stupid to get the plot.

Find Your Passion

There’s a lot of guys out there who are unhappy. They may have decent lives, girls, money, but they feel like the world isn’t right for them. That they need to jump ship and run towards some paradise far from the decks of America. This uneasiness is not a niche. Its a common factor of modern American life. Mid-life crises, Americans moving abroad, people switching careers three or four times in their lives, Roosh syndrome as Ferd called it; men are not getting their spiritual fill.

I had it. I had it before I even finished college. I sat on a bench outside of a lecture hall and I made the decision to join the Canadian military. I’d do it after finishing, since I’d already invested 2 years and much money into learning television. Actually, I had gone in for film, but it intimidated me, so I switched. Fear, its a fucking bitch.

Thing is, I love film. I love thinking of amazing imagery, sound and lines. I love writing. I love music. I’d be happy doing any of those things. I love sports. I just reconnected to my love of baseball by simply sitting back and watching an actually full game (Red Sox won). All these things I avoided for years, things I feared myself out of, are now the things I feel love for deep inside.

I’m finding these rekindled passions because I am alone with myself. I’d always attach myself to someone. Parents, friends, girlfriends, the ex-wife. I wouldn’t be me. I’d be a mutant of them. I’d twist and be ugly and have nothing that was mine, and I did this out of my own volition. It wasn’t their fault I was a mimic. It was my social way. I mimicked. I tried to fit in. I had my own things, but they were below being one of the crowd.

A man cannot live as one of the crowd. Sheep are sheep, cows are cows, women are women, but men are individuals. Our psychology forces us to define ourselves so as to establish ourselves among the swaths of rival suitors. We must be different, or get lost in the crowd. We do this with our passions.

Find yours, and be happy. Find yours, and find salvation.


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