The Tarantino Effect: Don’t Leave It To The Judges

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The question came for Robert Rodriguez.

“Do you think it’s still possible for an upcoming filmmaker to go the route you guys went and still be successful?” An aspiring filmmaker asked. It was Comic Con 2006 and “you guys” meant the panel of Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, Guillermo Del Toro, and Sam Raimi to name a few—all of whom were once broke, undistinguished, Indie filmmakers.

“That’s a good question,” Robert answered, obviously at a loss for delivering some sort of hopeful advice. “Times have changed.”

But then, Tarantino, who was sitting right next to him, butted in and said, “Uh, make Reservoir Dogs!” Quentin laughed at his own comment and so did Robert. “Actually,” Tarantino added, “I’m not even being a smart ass… you make a goddamn kickass movie, and you can take it all over the fuckin planet earth and everyone’ll know it!”

The audience cheered and applauded.

Robert then defended his stance, stating that things are harder today because there’s just more competition. “Everybody’s got a camera, and everybody can edit, it’s just tough.”

“Yeah, but you know,” Tarantino cut in again. “There’s a lot more competition, but those crappy movies aren’t competition.”

I never forgot that interview. And through the years I’ve heard mixed reactions about what was said at the panel. Some say Tarantino is full of it, that he’s arrogant and vain and he’s really not a good filmmaker. Some even went as far as to say that, the only way to make it in Hollywood is to “suck up to some rich Jews who control the system” etc, etc. I consider such comments weak and insecure, and those who advocate them deserves to be scheduled for a session of chemical castration. I mean these goofballs would have you believe that Tarantino just got lucky, and that luck replaced the daily blood-drip of hard work and dedication. Never mind the fact that the guy once spent three years shooting an independent feature over the weekends by funding it through working in a video store; never mind the fact that he had consistently written and networked and shot with nothing working out for him for ten straight years, and still kept at it; and never mind the fact that he has earned both wealth and acclaim by starting out with no money, no guarantees and no complaints. Furthermore, as for throwing the word “arrogant” around, keep in mind that “arrogance” comes from superficial self-importance and ignorance. If you’re familiar with the indie film scene, you know that this industry is plagued with people who start projects and never follow through. I think we can all agree that Quentin can walk his talk. He knows how to drive that sword to the hilt. Besides, “modesty” might go a long way but let’s not forget that it is also a pretext for insecurity, for fear of backing up what you say you’ll do, and for diffidence in standing by your principles without the support of a crowd, group or organization. But such is the ideology of the hopeful nonparticipant, which goes like this: “As long as the system is corrupt and the people that are in it are also corrupt, then I am not a total failure.” Because at the end of the day, only those who show up and finish what they started get to feast; the rest can hate, complain and fight over the leftovers.

Now I’m far from a Tarantino fanboy (though I regard him as a legitimate, modern great), but his statement assures me. It assures me that the system works and we, as indie creators, still have a chance. Despite all the marketing and the committees and the compromises, I still like to think that the craft, in its most basic state, is still pure. Because to me, a good piece of work is like a knockout.

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A knockout is independent of the referee’s arbitration, score-cards or panel judges. There’s no trial, objections or debate. Irrespective of previous dispositions, biases or whatever, everybody who saw it cannot dispute what just happened. In the same vein, a good film doesn’t need big-budget special effects, a star-studded cast, or film awards; it just needs to be undisputed. It just needs to be good.

As a hungry neophyte coming up, I believe that breaking the difference and passing through the trials from amateur to pro must be the young filmmaker’s priority. Should one attain this in their technique and work ethic, the rest should be promotion.

Don’t hope. Make sure.

 

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Fear: A Moment Of Clarity

 

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The city is at its rush hour plight. Everyone is out and about, going where they’re supposed to go. You see everything in solar salience—from parrots to canaries, vultures to pigeons, crows to eagles, circling above you in skyscraper altitudes. There they are pandering and advertising, sampling and soliciting, compensating, violating, enduring, hunting. Then you realize something. You’re getting older by the day. You can’t read two pages of a book without getting tired, and your only bff in the last few months has been Jon Snow. Every night you can’t wait to pass out so you can stop feeling sorry for yourself, because you know that all this time you have been wasting your life away. Trapped in a fate of your own design, you have been doing what you don’t want to do each and everyday.

And yet you still do it. Defensive and evasive you circle the drain for the hundredth time just like everybody else. Why?

You know why. You’re afraid of leaving your job. You’re afraid of leaving your house. You’re afraid of leaving your husband, your girlfriend, your friends. You’re afraid to forsake your relatives, mortgage, cars, school, loans, and everything else you don’t necessarily want but just happen to be stuck with for a long time. You argue that this is normal. You pretend that you don’t want power. And you say to yourself that only a handful make it anyway. Why try? Through the years you made yourself believe in the funnel factories of aggregate potential and the virtual rabies of self-doubt. Then somewhere along the way your eyes dimmed and lost its fire. Now, you’re even afraid of leaving your own miserable self.

But then ask yourself: what are you holding on to again?

Perceived risks and neglected opportunities, secondhand knowledge and firsthand misery, these are the nature of modern fears. But wait a minute. This is actually good news. Dying slow used to be a luxury. Today, in the developed world, you are more likely to die in the poison drip of depression rather than in fatal, catastrophic social conditions. That ain’t too bad is it? Unless of course you want a better way.

And there is a better way. Getting intimate with your fears has always been a good thing so long as you learn what it is trying to tell you. Physical fear warns you of physical harm. Emotional fear warns you of oncoming emotional tragedies. You just have to learn to adjust to it. Life has never been about sedating or eradicating risk. The people we herald and idolize are all residents of fear. What you need to do is listen to it. A true examination of your own fears will provide a reality bath, an undiluted self-appraisal that will take you to another level. Because despite what you’ve heard or what you’ve been told, you are not enough.

You have to change, to dare greatly, and to act with courage. You have the human raw materials to succeed and you must forge something stronger than yourself to barrel through. Do not erase the warpaint of your tears. Do not suppress the drumbeats of your heart. Do not wish to delete your past failures because without them, you wouldn’t have access to the wisdom you have today. Smile in the face of your demons. Be happy that you heard its whispers and screams instead of the other way around. Because only when we master our fears will we be able to master our lives.

 

Ray Bradbury

 

 

Turning Super Saiyan # 1: Zero Hero

Power Level definitely NOT over 9000.

Today marks the end of my 16-week cut. I’ve tried “cutting” before but it is the first time I did so counting calories and tracking macros. Coming from a 9-month bulk (which was also my first time counting and tracking), I kinda went too fast, too soon and got a little too fluffy to be considered “hoe-ready.” As such the cut took longer than I’d like, and I couldn’t get as lean as I wanted without sacrificing strength, a dying metabolism, and all those hard-earned gainz. But alas the earth is in danger again of being destroyed by haters from another planet and the results are in!

I kept some of my gainsgot rid of most of the flab, and now I am ready once more to pack on some serious muscle mass—that is, some super saiyan muscle mass!

"I didn't choose the thug life, the thug life chose me."

“I didn’t choose the thug life, the thug life chose me.”

From the beginning I’ve always had  a hard life (please reference pic to the left).
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Born in the dark recesses of the third-world, in the foreign-exploited planet of Vegeta, people have always wanted to take advantage of my cuteness for their own malign and evil purposes. To counteract this depraved ploy—even if it meant violating the tenets of the warrior bloodline that runs in my veins—I ate a lot of meatballs to render myself (for a lack of a better, more precise word) “unfuckable.” (more…)

Cure in Chaos

Detective-Comics-Vol.-1-880-animated-comic-book-coverIn a deck of cards the Jester is the only card without a rank or suit. He does not kneel to the King of Diamonds, serve the Queen of Hearts, nor answer to the Jack of Clubs. And even though he cannot brandish the Ace of Spades, he is nevertheless included in the set without purpose or utility—he is only there to cause distraction and discord.

In creation myths, the Trickster is also an anomaly. Neither good nor evil, he is both carnal and divine at the same time. Loyal only to his pleasures, this mischievous entity is nonetheless capable of good deeds and celestial engineering through a state of chaos.

This brings us to the most famous and modern incarnation of this creature, that is the Batman’s Joker. The Joker is unlike other super villains in that he is a killer without a pattern. This is why the Joker is Batman’s arch-nemesis, because he cannot be defined and he goes after your friends and family, where it hurts, i.e. the balls. Madness and chaos are his state of only normalcy. And in a way, although most of us are not lethal sociopaths, writers also thrive in such an extreme state. (more…)

Roun’s Rants Vol.5: Bitching

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“Declaring intent is not execution.” —Mark Twight

The other day I found myself bitching again. I didn’t know I was doing it at the time, but I knew something was wrong. A girl that I was trying to seduce was not responding to my advances. Try as I may, the pimp juice just wasn’t working. But that is the canary in the coal mine, so to speak. The girl was trying to tell me something, but she was trying to be nice to spare my ego. Nevertheless her actions spoke loud and clear.

Why are you acting like a little bitch? (more…)

Limit Breaks

Death by monotony. Death by theories and statistical wisdom. I.e. death without a trace.

You feel it coming that’s why you search the internet, scour for articles, watch the videos. Maybe even pay to watch someone in a panel or on the podium, hoping that their words will somehow stain you a little longer, seep into your life a little better, into your abilities, activities.

A month-old into the new year and a lot of people are still “motivated.” But just as water and food, this mental and emotional diet, if not nourished, will deplete. And this is why people will always wonder why they are always starving, deprived and depressed.

Online clickbait “secrets” will often try to sell you on some sort of system, “a way of thinking,” that will change your life. But this is only true if you have accepted the true necessary equation of “the secret,” prioritizing a way of doing instead of the passive, a way of thinking.

Blood + Sweat + Time = Chance (more…)

Appetite For The Hustle

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So my friend told me the other day, “What if you don’t make it? What if you end up like all these people, working minimum wage because they’ve spent their lives working for nothing? You’ll end up old, broke, and nobody will hire you back.”

At this point I can write, “well that got me thinking,” but in fact it didn’t. In fact my response was so immediate because to me the question was so stupid.

“What makes you think I want to go back?” I said. “Besides, even if I don’t make it—”

Now let’s stop there for a moment. First of, I really hate it when people say that line: “Even if I don’t make it…” It is a statement of weakness disguised in moral eminence, as though money and fame didn’t really matter to you. It is a passive-aggressive claim of higher standards—a preemptive dulling of a theoretical pain—hiding the fact that you’ve accepted loss without actually losing. (more…)

No Quarter: The Urgency of Obscurity

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It always comes at the right time. You’ve just settled in a sweet latency and then it follows you throughout the day; it stares at you when you’re alone; and then it wakes you up at night. You don’t know where it’s coming from but every time it brushes against you, you feel sick and cold, ugly and defeated. You know it’s telling you the same lies; but they are lies you’ve always believed in.

It is the stirring and the fidgeting, the sweating and the stressing, the eyes that couldn’t stare, and the searching for questions you’ve answered many times before. It is you stalling. You notice it far away, like breaking glass, like dancing sirens in your head, and then you tense up like you’re falling in a dream because you know what it’s there for. Engineered solely for your weaknesses, it is both haunting and precise. You know its nature by now. It is silent and patient, lethal and brutal, and it is there to claim what remaining time you have. It’s back. And you’re going to feed it. (more…)

Hope: Silver Side Effects

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There is still time.
You can be anything you want.
There is someone for everyone.

Hope.

It is the cosmic lottery ticket, the deus ex machina, the human silver bullet. But what they don’t tell you is that hope has a darker element to it—its toxic compounds; its catabolic nature that eats away at your heart, mind, teeth and nails; its silver side effects.

Because the truth is, hope alone is not enough. (more…)