Saturday, May 30, 2009

Astro Andy on the Enterprise

He's a badly drawn Captain Kirk today.

A hot weekend here. Too hot. I burned yesterday simply just going about my everyday business. Just burst into flames.

But I don't sleep in heat. Just can't do it.

Now me and sleep aren't friends at the best of times but last night was one of those hideous nights where I was so tired that crazy thoughts just went on a loop in my head and I couldn't get them out. And yet I couldn't sleep. It's the loop thing that really gets to me. If I was working out substantial puzzles or something, that might be okay. It's the fact that I'm having a thought worth about 4 seconds of brain time but it just loops for three hours.

I hate that.

Eventually, I got a little bit of very broken sleep. I dreamed of a dog that walked like a person. Not like a dog up on its hind legs - it walked just like a person. And it was being walked by a lady. Then a train hit the dog and it just went splat - gone, leaving only a pile of goo. Where the train came from, I don't know. But, when I examined the train, the dog was there, like it was stuffed, being pulled out by a team of dirt-covered miners.

If anyone knows what that's about, let me know.

Hope you all have a good weekend!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Star Trek Phase II

I couldn't just leave the talk of Star Trek at that. As a Star Trek fan, I feel compelled to go into more detail and expose my geeky self.

As a result, there are spoilers here. It takes a while to get to them but there ARE SPOILERS!!!
If there are any comments, there will likely be SPOILERS in there too.



As I mentioned in the last post, I thought the characters really worked and they were the core of the film.

Karl Urban did a great McCoy. That man deserves an award for that performance. And Pine, there was one scene where he channelled Shatner's performance and, for a moment, they could have been the same person - in that very last scene.

But the rest? No, I didn't see the Chekov I knew. I certainly didn't see the Scotty I knew.

Thing is, I don't know that it would have been any better a movie if I had. What I saw a bunch of new characters who just happened to share names with the characters I knew. But I thought these new characters were pretty damn great. Simon Pegg's Scotty was probably the furthest away from the original and just played it for laughs. But it worked. He was massively entertaining. Chekov was excellent - young and so enthusiastic. While that description sounds just like the original, how he was played was entirely different. And they worked for me.

In some ways, I could say there were actually subtle improvements. For example, we see an Uhuru who knows several different Romulan dialects, contrasting with an Uhuru in Star Trek VI, a senior communications officer seemingly without a word of Klingon.

Quinto as Spock was an odd one. I've heard how like Spock he was from several people. He looked like Spock. But something was off and I'm not sure whether it was the writing or the acting.

He seemed to be written into a slightly different role, well beyond the Science Officer he once was. And, with that, seemed much more comfortable in his surroundings and with humans than the Spock I know from the original series. And, though he's half Vulcan and their thing is their lack of emotion, Nimoy's Spock was always commenting on what was going on around him with just his looks. He showed a huge amount in his face.

You could see even very early on that Spock did in fact have a sense of humour, that he did sometimes doubt himself, that he was often baffled by those crazy humans.

I got very little from watching this new Spock.

That's not to say he was bad. In the role that was written for him, he worked very well. Just different. And this was made all the more apparent by having Nimoy in the film.

You know, that move was key to the movie. Had this been a complete reboot, a (to use the term I loathe) reimagining, it would be open season. Anything goes.

But they didn't do that.

By having Nimoy in the movie and telling the story they did, they were saying this is all part of the Trek universe we know. Yes, it's different because some things have changed, but aside from stuff changed as a result of Nero's and Old Spock's presence, everything should be the same.

Nimoy in the movie means that consistency is an issue.

Oddly, the one character who should have gone through the most change as a result of Nero's first action, Kirk, is probably the least changed. If anything, Nero's actions provide a good backstory as to how he ended up like he did. But he was like that already in the timeline we saw before Nero was invented.

Now, he was missing the thoughtfulness of Kirk but then he was younger so maybe that had something to do with it. But people seem to remember the fist fights and torn shirts and forget how many aliens/robots/whatever he beat with pop philosophy or psychology.

Scotty, on the other hand, is a whole different person. And there is that odd quirk in the Spock/Uhuru relationship, the point of which eludes me. I can't think what it really contributed to either of them. Yes, it impacted on Kirk but to a tiny degree.

But, as characters were different and Star Trek is sacred, I am thinking - well, did it have to be those characters? Couldn't they have created a whole new bunch of characters? I remember seeing Generations and loving that opening - a whole new crew of rookies who seemed totally out of their depth. A new crew made just for that movie. Seemed really interesting. And then 15 minutes in, we move on and never see them again.

We end up with the soulless crew of The Next Generation.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed Next Gen at the time and it had some great stories but the characters were pretty dead and they had a hard time sustaining movie interest. For me, anyway. They're stiff. They're not fun.

But a whole new crew? Yeah, I could get behind that.

So did this have to be Kirk? Spock? I don't know. I guess they felt name recognition was all-important. I'm not so sure.

The story of the movie felt all too convenient in places. We're getting a new story where they are all sort of forced together, whereas I guess I would have imagined in the previous timeline that their careers evolved naturally. We were asked to swallow a hell of a lot when a smuggled, suspended cadet was given command of a starship and his young buddies went with it.

And then they get to keep the ship.

But there were plenty of other contrivances in the movie. We were asked to buy a lot of very unlikely events and actions. You either accept those or you don't.

I think, as a Star Trek fan, what could have helped here would be nods to some original stories. These could have been very subtle but would have made all the difference. For example, like the classic show, Captain Pike was captain of the Enterprise before Kirk. But, in the movie, he had Kirk's crew. Had he had someone resembling his 1st Officer, 'Number One', as in the orginal show, that would have eased the transition.

And where was Gary Mitchell?

He was the 1st Officer under Kirk seen in the pilot episode with Shatner, when Spock was just a Science Officer. According to that episode, Mitchell was a good friend of his in the Academy, when this new movie take place. But he doesn't seem to exist in this new Trek. His addition, in even a small role, would have been a lovely touch. And, considering how well they wrote the new versions of some of the characters, he could even have been a main player.

But, to their credit, there were some nice touches. Tribbles for one thing.

Though they managed for the first time to make a green alien woman look rather less than sexy.

You know one thing that let me down though? It's just a small thing I guess - the engine room. It was a few pipes. I remember back to engine rooms of movies gone by with large crews all in special protective suits and those, to me, looked like the engine room of a starship. This one looked a little cheaper.

Star Trek fans are known to be nitpicky. Well there was plenty to nitpick in this movie. But there were some massive things to overlook. Like how a star went supernova by the Romulan planet and seemingly they noticed it too late. Or how two blokes and their hand weapons could destroy one of Nero's drills and yet not one affected planet seemed to have any defenses to do it themselves. But, even accepting what we're told in the movie, there was one thing that stood out for me and it was mentioned in the comments of the last post so I wasn't the only one -

Nero and Spock were sucked into a black hole and thrown through time, unscathed. And yet everything else touching black holes was destroyed. For some reason.

I can get past that. Just about.

The big problem, the one thing that's hard to get past, as I mentioned in the last post, is how weak the villain was. Who he was, the reasoning behind what he was doing, just didn't feel strong enough. He was nobody. Nero may well be one of the weakest Trek villains we've had.

And that made it far more difficult to take the struggle against him seriously. Good heroes need great villains and Nero just didn't cut it.

That was a major failing.

What's odd is that the last Star Trek movie, Nemesis, was hated on by just about everyone. Part of the reason for that was the villain in my opinion - a bald rogue Romulan with a grudge against Picard for some obscure reason.

And, as much as that film was criticised, they saw fit to have history repeat itself, this time with a bald rogue Romulan with a grudge against Spock for some obscure reason.

Not a good move.

But I guess that's something that could be sorted in another movie.

Other things...hmm... I quite liked the Enterprise, though it doesn't reach the standards of the one introduced in The Motion Picture, which I think is just gorgeous. Effects were pretty good except for a very CG creature in the snow. Though, oddly, I think the old Motion Picture still looks more expensive than this movie.

This one was more of a mixed bag. Expensive looking outdoor snow shot leading to a bunker that felt like it came from Romero's Day Of The Dead. That doesn't negatively affect the film but every part of The Motion Picture looked expensive.

Humour was spot-on. Score was great. I didn't mind the use of the Beastie Boys at all.

Product placement in a Trek movie stinks though. I really wish I hadn't been subjected to that.

I could go on and on.

But I won't.

Before this movie, Star Trek was dead. Some people may like bits and pieces like Deep Space Nine (those people are have issues), or Voyager (those people are related to the cast members), or Enterprise (those people don't exist) but pretty much everyone who likes Star Trek could find more to hate about it than love. The concept and universe was beaten to death and killed.

And the originals, those who started it all, are either dead or too old. Though Shatner is still, to this day, a god.

Star Trek was dead.

So there was nothing to lose with this. And I don't think we've lost anything. I actually think we've gained a lot. I'm very curious to see where this will lead.

I'm looking forward to more.

What I'd really love to see in a new movie is the actual premise - to seek out new whatevers. Exploration. There has been so little actual exploration in the Trek movies.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Star Trek

I finally managed to see Star Trek last weekend.

I love classic Star Trek. I don't care if you call me a geek. I think it rocks. I think the characters are exceptional and it has a perfect balance of thought, action and humour - a balance that was often retained in the movies but completely off in most of the follow-on shows.

Shatner is a god. Nimoy is fantastic. The girls are sexy.

I love classic Star Trek.

So when I first heard about J.J.Abrams doing a 'reboot', I thought it was a bad idea. For many reasons. Firstly, remakes are utter shite. Yes, there are a few good ones but I can count those on one hand and most of the good ones were made before Hollywood went creatively bankrupt and started remaking everything. The words 'remake', 'reboot' and especially 'reimagining' make me want to puke.

Secondly, Abrams did what? One of those godawful Mission Impossibles and Lost. I hate Lost.

But, most importantly, classic Star Trek is sacred.

I began to mellow to the idea when the shots started to appear. Just a little. Then the trailer. Actually, the trailer looked pretty damn cool. But, still... Star Trek is what it is. Shatner is Kirk, Nimoy is Spock and it would take a lot to get past that.

So now I've seen it.

I liked it. A very enjoyable action sci-fi movie. Certainly exciting in places with some sequences that kicked ass. And, thankfully, it had a very healthy dose of humour.

The main thing that really worked for me were the core characters. They put together a group that worked really well together. They gelled as a group and each brought something different. However, for the most part, they bore little or no resemblance to their original counterparts. Karl Urban as Bones was the exception, who took the risky approach of trying a DeForest Kelly impression. It paid off. He pulled it off brilliantly. And there was one moment, just one, where Chris Pine was completely James T. Kirk. Pine certainly had the action and the attitude but, in the process (and this was down more to the writing), he lost the brains of Kirk.

The rest of the crew were different. They shared the names of the original characters, accents and not much else.

But, even being different from the originals, the characters worked. They came together to form a new crew - a very entertaining crew. Everyone had a role to play and I thought each actor delivered the goods for these new characters.

The action was pretty great in general and it really kicked off in full gear in the opening sequence. And there were a few good old fashioned hand to hand scuffles too. It wasn't just all space battles.

The only problem I had with the action was that there were a couple of sequences just thrown in simply to add more of it. The main one being a big monster in the snow. Had it been removed from the film, nobody would have noticed. Same with Scotty getting stuck in a pipe. They were just sort of thrown in as opposed to actually contributing to the story.

And while I'm on the story, I may as well get to the one big negative, the one thing that I felt held this movie back from being absolutely fantastic - the villain. Eric Bana is Nero, a Romulan from the future who has been thrown back into the past and is determined to wreak havoc and destroy Spock.

For some reason.

It's explained twice, in two hefty exposition sequences, and yet still it just felt like I had no real idea what his problem was. I knew nothing about him. I knew he was angry and that was about it.

And that took the power away from the movie. Massive events happened that should have been tragic and yet because it was all happening at the hands of someone who seemed so weak, so much impact was lost. Considering the events of the movie, this guy should have been an enemy of Darth Vader proportions.

Instead, he was some dude on a ship who ended up back in time for some reason.

But, even with that, the movie was very enjoyable. Was it the Star Trek I know and love? No. It was something different. But, with or without this film, the Star Trek I know is dead. And what we have now is something new. It's pretty exciting.

I'm definitely up for more of this.

Warp 4 out of 5.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A cautionary tale

On dreams and letting them go, from my post a few days ago on this, Anonymous Gerbil posted some very interesting comments.

"I gave up my dreams years ago, there's nothing anymore. Days go by, I lurk in net like a ghost, acomplish nothing and just wait for the inevitable, oblivion..."

"At first it was nice. Life was simple and cold beer was that "heaven". But one can live like that only for so long. Now I can't even recall when I last time actually enjoyed about anything. And all that because nothing matters anymore."

However accurate Anonymous Gerbil's assessment is of his own life, there is an important warning here.

It can be very difficult to get up in the morning without a real reason for doing so. We all seem to need a point to our lives. Goals seem to get us moving, keep us going. Is a life without dreams a pointless existence?

I'm not sure that it is. I think that's certainly a danger. I guess there is another factor here, one that was brought up by Bwakathaboom in the comments -

"The challenge you face with regards to screenwriting, television production, etc. is that everyone in those fields must ultimately beg the "gatekeepers" for permission to achieve their dream."

Absolutely right. And that is the kick in the pants every time. To quote from my favourite album of last year, "they got dreams of taking someone else's dreams away".

Maybe it's not the concept of having dreams that is the problem. It's dreams that depend on the approval of others.

Maybe it's not a case of dropping dreams altogether, but being selective and refining them down to find dreams that don't depend on others.

I finally managed to see Star Trek at the weekend. Thoughts, however late, on that in the next post.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Taking a leap of faith

Another weekend? Already?

How did that happen?

I bought some clothes yesterday. To try to combat that homeless person look that I have been cultivating up to now.

You know when someone throws money at you on the street that it's time for a change.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Wanting what you don't have

More on those dreams, or lack of. Some great comments on the last one. I want to go into some of them in another post. But I was thinking more about the abandonment of dreams and thought back to early rejections, hence the teenage version of myself in the pic.

A phrase I've often heard says that it is the journey that is important, not the destination.

And yet we are driven by destinations, not journeys. In most cases, the journey becomes worthless if the correct destination is not reached. Wasted time and energy.

I think back to crushes I've had on people. Some serious. Others just when people sort of made their way into my head, temporary and amounting to little more than the crush itself. I don't think I've ever enjoyed that. Ever. It's not fun. Thoughts seem twisted, they lead to self-doubt, endless questions and a slight queasy feeling in my stomach.

What is fun and very exciting is when that crush leads to an actual connection. But that's the destination.

The journey, the crush, for me, is actually a pretty horrific experience.

And that, I think, is because it amounts to wanting something I don't have. Or, in some cases, know I will never have. The reason I'm using a crush as an example there is that it is quite a primal, pure emotional version of what I'm talking about. But wanting anything, even on a very logical level, has elements of that. The fear of rejection, the sense of unfulfillment, the temptation to obssess on things that will never happen and, eventually, the letting go and moving on.

Now that I'm thinking of relationships, I remember reading a book as a teenager on girls and how to get them. Yes, I read a book like that. No, it didn't help. It said basically just keep asking girls out. You may go through 99 rejections but that 100th time could be the winner.

But what kind of demoralised worthless shell would I be after being rejected by 99 girls? There would be nothing left of any humanity for that 100th girl to respond to.

When those rejection letters came through one after another last year, trying to get a project moving, it was like that. They didn't get easier. Each one cut deeper. And I was left damaged.

Was it worth it?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Lost fans are idiots

No way! Did he just call us idiots? Yes. Yes, okay, I did and that's not nice, I realise. But I'm being cruel to be kind. I want to go into more on dreams and their abandonment, as I feel I have loads to add, especially with the comments that came from that. But first, I feel the need to reach out to Lost fans and stage an intervention.

You are the victims of a scam.


There was some finale that aired the other day and, like Big Brother back in the day, no matter how much I try, I can't avoid hearing (or reading) about it. And what I'm getting from Lost fans sort of goes like this -

Oh my God! That episode was amazing! Okay, so most of it was filler but that bit at the end... who was that guy?! Was that Ben's father's brother? Does that mean that the past is now the future and the present is the present only now reversed? How does that fit with the Phase 2 Dharma jelly? I have no idea what the deal was with that thing. He must be totally dead now. Unless that means that he'll come back because of that explosion time ahhhh....

Sorry, I lost interest there.

The writers must be laughing their god damn asses off at you guys. They write random shit that means absolutely nothing and then just read your websites to give them clues as to what to write next. Which, as it happens, will also make no sense.

It's a total scam.

I watched it at the start. The two-part pilot is stunning. And the premise - strangers having to survive on a mysterious island with nothing - was great.

Until that premise was pretty much dropped in the first season when they found a stash of everything they could ever want. By the end of the first season, I was disgruntled. It was increasingly clear that it was, in fact, going nowhere. The writers were writing stuff in before they actually had half a clue what it was they were writing. Earliest example was the monster in the jungle. A loud thing rampaging, tearing trees down. They were too afraid to go through the undergrowth.

For a few episodes.

Then it pretty much vanished, people had no problem going through the forests and, when some writer remembered about it, they wrote in some smoke. A tiny little wisp.


And the entire first season was taken up with shit happening to people and those people not telling anyone for absolutely no reason whatsoever. The lack of communication was far harder to believe than any poxy polar bear.

But it was at the beginning of the second season when I figured out their system and stopped watching. The system? The secret?

It's a show of first acts.

Only first acts. Introduce a new element, a big mystery. That's the first act. But instead of that element going anywhere and leading to a second and third act, they'd just introduce another new element. Another first act.

And repeat.

Hence the stupid amount of people on this deserted island in the middle of nowhere. New character... ooh mysterious... new character (let's hope they forgot about that last guy so we don't have to explain any of the cack he was doing)... ooh mysterious...

And so on.

What a load of cack.

Lost is like giving someone 1000 pieces, each one from a different jigsaw puzzle. If you tell them they're supposed to fit, they may well make something interesting eventually. But it still makes you a prick for laughing your ass off while they sift through the pieces.

And that's what the writers (and I use that term very loosely) are doing to you.

Monday, May 18, 2009


This is something that has been on and off for quite some time. I think I may have even blogged about it at some point but I've long forgotten. I probably meant to but didn't.

At some point, it's time to give up.

I'm right, aren't I?

It has to be true for many of us. Most of us. We have some things we want to do but, at some point, many of us have to accept we're not going to get to do those things.

It sounds bad but maybe it isn't.
That searching, those endless knocks, the criticism, the failures - they're not good for you. How could they be? Maybe just accepting that some things just aren't going to happen will allow me to let go of so many disappointments, stop me wasting large chunks of my life. At the beginning of last year (or was it the end of the year before?), I sent out a load of submissions for a project that I had worked long and hard on. I had a 100% failure rate. Stock rejection letters one after another.

What did I gain from that?

More recently, I spent many months on a screenplay. I sent the draft off quite some time ago and have heard nothing. Now, if there was good news, you can be sure I'd have heard it. Did I throw away those months? Even if there is good news, what that good news would be is the tiniest of tiny steps forward, possibly adding on considerably more work before the inevitable happens.

Most of us in any sort of creative field have goals and goals. So many, often very different. And I'm finding myself a complete failure at many of them. And that process of working so hard and then not getting results is killing me.

And yet, right now, I'm doing something else. Something I've done before. Working on a show for very young children - not animating. Writing. And I like it. More than that, I'm good at it. I care about it and I'm in a field where so few do. Maybe I should just finally accept that that is what I do and let go of the rest? Let those other dreams die.

Actually I did blog about this before. I've found it here in this post. Last September. I wrote "it's a bit like those claw machines right now. So many things to grab and yet those stupid claws are utterly useless. I'm getting old. I'm seriously thinking of letting go of the claw machine and playing a bit of Street Fighter instead."

Is it time I finally did that? Let go of that poxy claw machine thingy and go and play Street Fighter?

Not SF IV. I mean back when it was good.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The downfall of the bears

Yes, this is where our modern world would do all it can to bugger up Susan's excellent bears for pills exchange plan.

While those particular cities wouldn't be the only ones to fall, I'm pretty sure they would be the first. People who live in any one of them for a length of time without topping themselves should get a special 'survivor' bear.

I once took an open-top bus tour in Glasgow. Attractions included a car park and some homeless people rummaging through bins.

It rained.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

It's the way forward

The lovely Susan, over at her blog (If You're Going Through Hell Keep Going) wrote - "the world would be a better place if there were no pills to make us better, but just teddy bears".

Well, I adore that idea.

I don't trust the pharamceuticals industry. They're too big. They have too much money to make and to lose to let ethics get in the way of a sale. A bit of Googling and I'm sure I'd find some nice juicy examples to illustrate that but I'm purposely trying to avoid such things, you know, so I don't get depressed.

The history of psychiatry is a horrific one. Had I been born 50 years ago, I could well have had some quack jamming a metal rod into my brain to purposely damage it in the name of psychiatry. I'm not convinced much has changed.

And there are too many people with much to gain by keeping those of us with a tedency to actually see the ills of the world in a medicated haze.

But a world of teddy bears, well, that's an idea I can get behind. Fluffy warm teddy bears. They can prescribe a nice mug of hot chocolate too.

I'd like that.

Monday, May 11, 2009

That large thing...

What the hell is that? A beach ball? Or am I just getting fat?

I was a skinny kid. Like a stick skinny. In my twenties, I grew a belly. That was okay. Sure, it meant I couldn't wear those tops I bought from that excellent gay clothes shop which had such fantastic stuff designed by the owners themselves, but I didn't mind.

I was never bothered about my weight.

I did notice when I was interviewed about a project a few years ago that I looked very round. It was a bit of a surprise but didn't bother me. Never bothered me. Even when that woman attempted to compliment me by telling me I didn't look quite as fat in real life.

And now, there is this thing between me and my laptop.

And holy crap, I think it's my ol' dad's belly. It bothers me. Now, it bothers me. Why now? I don't know. Maybe it just hit a point where I can actually just see it in front of me. And I don't like it.

That bugs me in so many ways. Bugs me that I have this thing above my waist. Bugs me that I care. Bugs me that I wish I didn't have it. I've never really wished anything about my appearance before. Well, except I didn't want to lose my hair so fast. I know weight is an issue for so many people, both male and female. To me, this is all new.

I don't know what to do with it.

There's something not quite right with that image, is there? It looks like I've, well... it doesn't look good.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Sleepy weekend

What a dull image. He's not even hurtling into an asteroid field or anything. It may as well be a picture of a bloke on a bus.

I think I just wanted to do an Astro Andy ship interior. Probably thinking about the Star Trek movie. I haven't seen it yet. Reviews seem to be positive all across the board and yet, from actual people, I'm hearing a few negatives.

I love classic Star Trek. I'm not going to apologise for that. The characters mean a lot to me.

But, you know, no matter what I think of the film when I get to see it, at this point, Star Trek is dead. The franchise ran itself into the ground years ago. You'd have a very hard time finding even a rabid Trekkie who didn't draw the line somewhere and say that a large percentage of Star Trek is complete rubbish.

And, as far as the original series goes, a couple of cast members are dead and the rest are old enough for us just to say, let it go. Star Trek's time has passed.

So, even if I watch the movie and think, "well this isn't Star Trek," nothing is lost. Or I could love it and then it's a whole new beginning.

Of course nobody will ever replace Shatner. That man is a god. Let's be clear on that.

So it's the weekend. I'm flicking through the music channels, trying to avoid P-P-P-Poker Face P-P-P and so on. It's not easy. Seems to be either that song or Beyonce trying to put me to sleep.

Did the banks ever collapse? I haven't been keeping track of what's going on but I'm a little disappointed society hasn't fallen apart yet.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Allow me to do my job

Those of us in creative fields have a cross to bear.

That cross is clients. Or those crosses are clients. Or something.

At certain points in our careers, we will end up being hired by people who know jack shit.

But then the idea that clients are idiots is a dangerous one for those wanting to stay in work. When it comes down to it, they are the clients and they are paying for what they want, not what you want. You have to do what you can to please those you are working for or with. It's not only good business but it's just common sense. Why would you want to deliver work to a client who is unhappy with what you've done?

But there are limits.

When someone hires a creative, you would think they are hiring them because they like the work they do. Because they are good at what they do. They may even be an expert in their field.

If that is the case, why would someone then do everything in their power to prevent that person from doing their job? We've all had it happen. A client asking for this, that or whatever when you know, from your years of training and experience, that what they are asking for will either look awful or simply just can't actually happen. I'm sure many of us have done work we know will look shite simply to prove to the client how bad it is, terrified they may actually like it.
You've done that, right?

It's frustrating. And, sometimes, even insulting. They are the clients so it is their brief that should be followed but, if they respect your work and what you do, you would hope they should listen to you. Take on board the experience, knowledge and judgement they are paying for. And, together, you can create something that fits the brief in the best way possible.

Rather than end up with a train wreck.

I worked in advertising for many years. In terms of clients, if you've worked in advertising yourself, I probably need say no more. But I've had some really good clients too. Some who either knew exactly what they were doing or were willing to take advice and trust in the people they hire. It's great when that happens.

But there are limits for those of us in the creative businesses. And where people draw those lines is down to themselves. I don't think there is a real right or wrong. But, eventually, we'll be placed in a situation where those limits are tested. It happens to all of us. And, sometimes, the choices we make in those situations can haunt us.

That all assumes, of course, that a client is actually a client. They are commissioning work, paying for a job. Right now, I'm in the midst of what I call a personal test of character. From someone who is not a client. Someone who barely registers in the process.

Let's see how it turns out!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Just what are we worth?

I'm not one for web responses. Or jumping on bandwagons. I don't even know what a bandwagon is. Is it an ancient name for a tour bus? Is it that U2 gets a tour bus but Deep Purple would have taken a bandwagon? I don't know.

Don't for one minute think I'd put U2 up there with Deep Purple. I only used them as an example because a two-letter name meant less typing. Or, more accurately, a one-letter and one-number name.
But there's a bandwagon I'm going to jump on right now. Gary Taxali, illustrator, posted on his site here about what it's like for illustrators at the moment. I'm not an illustrator. I used to do storyboards and mock-ups for poxy ads and have, way back in the old days, done some actual advertising illustrations and magazine illustrations but the truth is my drawings just aren't good enough for me to have ever called myself an illustrator.

But there are common symptoms here that apply to animation and possibly many other creative businesses. Gary Taxali writes that "clients' fees are getting even lower and the rights they're demanding are even higher". Well, in animation, you can forget about holding on to any rights. That's nothing new unfortunately. "Editorial clients are slashing 1999's fees almost in half and citing the bad economy as an excuse" says Mr. Taxali. Now I'm already hearing that one in animation right now. The poor economy is being used all across the board to shaft people.

The fact is, and this applies to the people just starting out as much as it does us old-timers, if they value your work, they should pay for it.

Any talk of reduced payment, any suggestion that work should be free, no matter what stage in your career you are at, is an insult.

An insult.

They may as well just come straight out and call you a dick.

To accept less can often be quite tempting. For a start, those of you just starting out need a break and doing work for free can get you that break. I understand that. I've been there. Those not starting out know the competition can be fierce and there is a temptation to undercut your competitors.

But this leads to the same position we are in with Flash animation.

You see, many people herald Flash animation as a great thing because the massive reduction in cost means less outsourcing. It gets studios work they otherwise wouldn't have got. And that's true. But what's already happening now? The very countries that work was outsourced to are now delivering Flash animation even cheaper.

It was a very temporary fix and all it is doing is devaluing the craft.

Soon, no animators, Flash or no Flash, will be able to afford to live on an animator's salary. The only ones working will be those in preproduction.

And doing work at a reduced cost or for free has that exact same effect. It sets a new price for the work being commissioned. A lower price that someone else will then try to undercut. It is self-destructive.

There isn't a creative among you who doesn't deliver something unique. Sure, you can look at blog sites, art sites on the web and think, as I do, holy crap those artists are amazing and I can never compete with that. And still, what you offer is unique. A viewpoint. A style. It's unique.

With that in mind, aren't we worth more?

Friday, May 1, 2009

It's a Globademic!

Ah, the media love their scares.

I love how the word 'epidemic' is old hat now. It's not alarmist enough. It's 'pandemic' now. I'm sure someone will jump on and tell me how it's appropriate because of the spread and so on but, firstly, 'epidemic' was good enough in similar situations in the past and also includes being widespread as part of its defininition and, secondly, the media were using the term 'pandemic' before this actually was one.

I'm voting for globademic next. Then galactademic. And unidemic. And possibly infinidemic after that. It depends just how scared the media wants us to be.

We never seem to get tired of them. Bird flu, SARS, mad cow disease, ebola monkey virus, salmonella, and so on and so on. And that doesn't even get into the terrorism, millennium bug and god knows what else. Whip the people up into a frenzy to take their minds off the shit that people are doing in the world. Who is going to care about what crimes are being commited by their government in their name when they're spending every waking moment worrying about the next flu epidemic? Sorry, pandemic. Globademic.

We live in the Age of Distraction.

And yet this swine flu has hit a serious amount of people. One of the symptoms of our Distraction is the short attention span. There could be people dying in six months time from this and nobody will give a shit because we've moved on to the next scare. Emu flu or something. I hope my good net buddy from the Daily Grail, Red Pill Junkie, is doing well and hasn't been hit with it or had family hit with it.

I have to wonder though. The pharmaceuticals industry is too huge, worth too much money, and has proven itself to be without morals and, in some cases, totally criminal. And I wonder about computer viruses. I don't believe in most computer viruses. I can't help feeling those anti-virus companies meeting the supply, are also creating the demand. And if it came to light that the pharmaceuticals industry was doing the same thing, I wouldn't be remotely surprised. Money overrides morality and the more money to be made, the easier it is.

And you can be damn sure that, right now, there are people in the pharmaceuticals industry cracking open the champagne bottles.