Saturday, May 29, 2010

Baby steps.

I'll be honest, because maybe here I can be honest in a way I haven't been recently, even with myself. It's been tough for me recently. And that's part of the reason I haven't blogged in a while. Don't get me wrong, I've been happy, but that's getting harder and harder to maintain in the face of my depression. I'll keep saying to myself now what has been my mantra for the last 5 years of my life. It's my illness, and it doesn't own me.

When not pushed to socialise, I don't. In fact since college ended barring SU events to which I was obliged, the only people I have made a genuine effort to spend time with are my training partner, a girl who has to ask me to spend time with her for me to actually make the effort, and a few dates. Outside of that its been the guys from my martial arts school and only in training hours. Essentially I've become a hermit. I like that fact. In college I'm very social, because it surrounds me. But I like to be self contained otherwise.

However the problem arises that this aggravates my depression (notice that its being spoken about as an illness), and leads me down a dangerous road. The second you think you can do it alone, you've lost it. The simple fact is the greatest danger for a person with depression is believing that they are alone in the world. Its almost ironic that one of the most singularly universal experiences that should bind people together in an effort to overcome their issues manifests as a feeling of absolute isolation. Ha.

This isn't a cry for help. I'll get over this. That fact was never in doubt for me. But I think the most important thing for me is to acknowledge when I need to exert that extra effort and force myself out of my own head. At its core acknowledging the problem is enough to banish it for a short time. Go to bed aware of whats been eating away at you and how its been showing itself in your life recently. Get some sleep and salvage whats left of your day, but don't fret because tomorrow is a brand new one.

It's the first step. The implication whenever you say that is that there are many more to follow. But it's a start and that's something that so many people will never even make.

May God's love be with you. 

Saturday, May 15, 2010

That Bibelly thin'

Hi, my names Jon, and I love Jesus. It's pretty weird to hear that confessed these days. In fact where 20 years ago nobody would admit that in public, the roles have reversed and now having faith has become pretty unfashionable. I guess its easier for me because I had a big religious conversion, so for me I dealt with that uncomfortableness as it came, rather than people who grew up believing and then went out into the big bad world to find out people didn't necessarily think the way they did, and sometimes that causes discomfort and even hostility. Don't get me wrong, there are reasons for that and I for one won't pretend they're not justified, particularly in this country. But thats not really why I'm writing here.

God is a huge part of my life, you could even say since my conversion that he has been the sum of my life (I'm using he for simplicities sake, thats a blog for another day). I lose sight of that sometimes, but I mostly think I'm on track. This verse which was read by my friend Charlotte at my baptism last August has meant so much to me, and I reread it again the other day while I was searching for inspiration, so i thought i'd share it with you.

Isaiah 55:10
      "As the rain and the snow
       come down from heaven,
       and do not return to it
       without watering the earth
       and making it bud and flourish,
       so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,  11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
       It will not return to me empty,
       but will accomplish what I desire
       and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
 12 You will go out in joy
       and be led forth in peace;
       the mountains and hills
       will burst into song before you,
       and all the trees of the field
       will clap their hands.
 13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree,
       and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
       This will be for the Lord's renown,
       for an everlasting sign,
       which will not be destroyed."


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Primary School. Secondary School. College. Career path? Demon Hunting.

I found out the title of the film. Its Demon Hunter: Reckoning. I believe it was written by Shakespeare.

No. Trashy title and plot aside I'm really excited about this project. For those of you just tuning into radio GOAT I'm doing fight and stunt choreography for a film, a horror action flick called Demon Hunter. Sums it up nicely don't you think? And I had my first meeting today with the director and producer who popped along to one of me and Kathy's eskrima practice sessions to see what I can bring to the table. I think we all left happy. We went through some basic ideas and got what we all want to see out there and it looks like its going to be alot of fun. I watched the pilot 30min version of the film that the director Zoe shot previously and one line stuck out as summing up the whole project "that's B-Movie shit!"

I'm wrecked and Kathy bust my lip a little bit. My body is in bits. And tomorrow I'm going to celebrate the fact I'm finished college forever. After that, it's right back into the game. I have about 2 months to choreograph the fights, working with the special effects team, train in the actors and extras and get them looking like they all know how to fight. Fuck. I don't even know how to fight. There's one sword fight, one vicious final knife fight (saw some concept work for the weapons, phenomenal) and a smattering of other random acts of violence. Totals around 35 mins of stuff to do. Oh well... guess I wont have to adjust to having nothing to do.... Next week we're also upping our training time in Wild Geese. Its going to be fun. I swear. I'll just keep telling myself that....

Right I know this post made no sense, but I'm dog tired. Dead-road-kill-dog tired. Over and out.

Finished college. Still busy. I'm off to meet the Director and Producer of Demon Hunter today, as well as training with Kathy. I'll let you know about it later.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Visual weaponry

Today I watched Blade. Part of the reason is that I may have a place choreographing fights for a horror-action film in the next few months and that was one of the films I was told to look at as a visual reference. The other reason is that Blade is fucking class. I'll say now I hate horror films. But Blade is a bit more comic-booky then that and falls more in the action category. Guns, vampires, swords, Kris Kristofferson with a cyborg leg, it's got it all. Reminded me of why I love film martial arts so much. There's a pretty big distinction between what you see in films and what you see in real life. In fact real life fights are just pure mess and that is why training with realism in mind can sometimes seem really unimpressive to the passer-by. This explains why ULTIMATE-DEADLY-KILLER-STREET STYLE martial arts that have no grounding in reality and tend to be very flashy attract people in record number. They sell the appearance as opposed to the actuality.

Don't get me wrong, I don't train to be street safe, as a philosophy I think its lacking. I did a blog about why I train so I wont bore you with that. I'm kinda writing to put some thoughts down about how to translate what I know onto film. I'll break down my thoughts into a couple of principles:

1. It must be seen by the audience, no point in subtlety here, all the strikes, locks and takedowns have to able to be seen, and more importantly understood. There's nothing worse then watching a film where you can't actually understand the mechanics behind a fight, even if those mechanics are unrealistic, they have to be fathomable.

2. It has to work with what the director and the producer want to see, and the actors are capable of. Theres no point in something flashy being let down by an actors inability to look like its natural. And don't get me wrong, that's my problem, not theirs.

3. It has to be consistent. Memorable film fighting styles are memorable because they are distinctly owned by the film. Blade uses alot of Japanese arts, karate and Jujitsu by the looks of things. Batman Begins is instantly recognisable for its use of Keysi fighting systems. Bourne uses Eskrima and it fits the film and the character really well, becoming part of the visual experience.

4. It has to be safe. simple as.

5. Finally it has to be slick, stylish, and if I get my way, brutal. I love close fighting, joint manipulation and weapons.

So what do I know about the film. Not much. Props include a samurai sword (without specs I refuse to call it a katana), and twin knives. However I don't know how much these props will be used and I don't even know the title of the film, so god knows.

Most of all I can't wait to work with martial arts as a visual medium. I see it as a form of expression, so this is a pretty good test of if I can carry that out in a manner that is both enjoyable to watch, and visually impressive. I think this is going to be quite a schlocky horror film, which is great, so it's gotta be fun too.

I like realistic training, this doesn't mean I like violence. I like trashy martial arts movies and this doesn't affect my ability to train effectively. Its all about translating this to film and you'll know its done well when you watch a film for the first time and no matter how outlandish the fighting is, you desperately want it to be real.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Quick link

 This is one of my favourite spoken word pieces, can't stop listening to it. It captures that feeling so well. Listen and enjoy, I'm not going to analyse it, just take a few minutes and listen...

Dan Le Sac Vs. Scroobius Pip: The Magician's Assistant

Saturday, May 1, 2010

"Live on the Coke Side of Life"

"Seize the day" or "Carpe Diem", its been repeated so much that that it has literally lost all meaning. Same with "life is short", "live before you die" and all that other cliched stuff that has become so hallmarky and contextually void the message is lost completely, we consume it as simply another part of a mundane existence. But what does it actually mean to seize the day?

Theres an old samurai teaching that I think can be applied to this statement to greater understand what is being said. If you were to find out you would die tomorrow what would you do? Some people would go out and indulge in every earthly pleasure, food, drink, sex, drugs and the old staple, rock and roll. This person's life is unaccomplished, why? Because they need to be told that they will die before they actually pursue what they want, and they have left it so late that their dreams can only be reduced to the simple overindulgence in that which they immediately desire. Another person will spend the time with their wife and family visit their friends and relatives, and reach out to those closest to them. This person is more accomplished because they invest their final day into that which they have cultivated thus far, and that which has given them greatest pleasure to build. However the person who has really nailed what it is to live will, upon hearing the news of their impending death, do nothing different than any other day.

Think about it. This person does not need to fill their last days with things that they have put off (remember, they may not have been so lucky as to know when they will die), because that is what they have done with everyday so far. Their every moment is lived as if it was to be their last.

This ideology of "living life" is so often used to sell a product; indulge, death is coming! The title of this blog is an example of this, Coca-Cola are great for this kind of advertising. However if you were to truly live every moment like you could die in the next you would build for the future, try to do something worthwhile with the time you had left. And thats the point of the story. Seizing one day is useless, as it will just be a stark reminder of everything you've missed and will miss. It will compound the fact that the seconds that inexorably tick away are not your's to use, but somehow still your's to lose. Seizing the day is pointless. In fact it's a discourse that's used in order to make you buy a product. Why should you seize one day amid all of the days of your life, each one should be yours.

This doesnt mean that you shoudl live selfishly, it means that when you give over a day to something else it should be a gift, not a chore. But sure as hell you're the one giving it, so make sure that when you do give it, it's to something worth doing. Living life does not mean one day a week you get what you want. Living your life means simply that. Coke may own "life", but you're the one who has the monopoly on each and every day you spend on this side of the ground. So don't seize the day, it's yours already. Just remember that from time to time.

I write this because yesterday I had a day that I felt should be seized upon, and I was wrong. There are far better uses for your hands, like holding an umbrella while you play in the rain.