Like Sidewalk Slugs After A Summer Rain

Yesterday I hung out some with Russ and AJ over enchiladas at Tito's Tacos.

AJ gave me a huge poster he designed for the 30th anniversary of Carnaval Brasileiro, held this time of year in Austin.  I'd never even heard of the event.  Pete sent out an email drawing attention to their website, since it had several images of posters that AJ has designed over the years.

Most people I know think of AJ Garces mainly as a filmmaker.  But he pays the bills as a freelance graphic artist.  Some of his stuff can be seen at

The poster looks great.  He even signed it for me.

He groused a bit about Alamo Heights SA, the online bilingual telenovela, which I believe I heard someone refer to as a cyber-telenovela.  The short episodes I've seen are technically slick, filled with pretty people, and nicely shot.  But AJ is a perfectionist.  Also, he fought to keep the project in San Antonio, until most of those sorts of decisions were taken from his hands.  Mostly he remained as director.  His input during post-production wasn't anywhere near as involved as he'd hoped.  But there's always another project on the horizon.

Russ seems to be getting into a comfortable rhythm in his new teaching job at Harlandale High-school, AKA, the Film School of San Antonio.  He's teaching animation.

He asked AJ how much of his art work was done on the computer.  AJ said he did the preliminary sketches and inking free hand.  Scanned the work.  And took it from there in PhotoShop.

“You use a tablet?”

“Yes, sure.  You've got to use one.”

But Russ was fishing.  He had received a shipment of electronic tablets for his students, and after he figures out how to hook them all up, he wants a guest artist to come in and talk about the confluence of art and of computers in the work-a-day world.

“So,” Russ asked, “can I get you to come by one day?”

“Oh, of course,” AJ said without out a second thought.

So, there you go, Russ.  A witness.  And I do believe blog comments are as binding as an affidavit.

We three then launched into what we thought was wrong with film in San Antonio.  The one thing that allowed us to be on the same page was that we desire to work on projects of an artistic depth and weight.  We each wish to be better than we are, and we try to learn from all those around us.  But even with our common sensibilities, we each have slightly different thoughts on how to bring the local film community together.  The notion of having an opportunity to get together, show work in progress or completed pieces, and exchange critique is something we could all agree on.  AJ talked of a biannual event, where the work will screen at a venue with the best projector, sound system, and acoustics.  I lean more to a monthly salon, with a casual setting, and time set aside for screening a few items for discussion.  Russ seemed to think that some of the elements of Short Ends still have validity — I think he is interested in an organization, a context, which drives the production of the work that will be screened.  These are all minor things, I think.  What most interests me is to get away from these cliquish groups and clubs, have people show up with one thing in common:  they are making — or are interested in making — visual time-based media.  Everyone is welcome.

I still want to start up my monthly salon.  But this Robin Nations film is robbing me of my weekends until … um, I dunno, April?

Actually, there is no Nations shooting this weekend.  But I'm doing other production work, which also will pay me nothing, so it all works out.

After AJ left to pick up a kid from soccer practice, or whatever it is that family men do, me and Russ spent way too much time talking about Robin's film, Leftovers.  We were there in Tito's until the waiters began clearing their throats and locking doors.

“I just wasn't having fun last weekend,” Russ said solemnly.  “Kick me when you see I'm not having fun.”

I said I'd do my best.

He wants to place the video tapes from last Saturday under the wheels of his truck and roll over them.

“Go ahead,” I said.  “Last I heard you were one of the producers.”

“It's too late.  Kevin and Robin have already captured it to their computer.”

Usually I'm opposed to re-shooting a whole day of work.  I get snarky and feel that if the people running the production fuck up, let them live with it.  But that sort of punitive mindset presupposed two things.  One, that the buck stops somewhere.  And, two, that whomsoever that metaphoric buck ultimately nuzzles up to deserves to be left in the lurch.  But the fact is, the weight of responsibility on this project is principally shared by four people, and, in a slightly less manner, shared by the entire cast and crew.  And as for the thought that Robin should sink or swim based on the whole productions' efforts (whether they be of the half-assed or full-assed variety) serves absolutely no  purpose.

We will regroup for next weekend, no doubt.  Whether we re-shoot the kitchen scenes from last Saturday, I don't know.  I've not seen the footage.  But if it needs to be done, I'm all set.  There needs to be beautiful photography that is motivated by each scene.  There needs to a serious person running the art department who will not accept, “it'll be good enough.”  We need some whip-cracking from Bob to get us to stop dicking around and wasting time.  And, here I know I'm going to get voted down, just one boom-pole.  This is insane.  There are microphone shadows everywhere, like sidewalk slugs after a summer rain.  If we need a second microphone, stick a lavalier on someone.  Get on with it, already.


Finally, a day with sun and vague warmth.  I was able to hang up my laundry and go for a bike ride.  I mean, really, my needs are simple.  (My tombstone will read: “And all we really wanted was to live in a one room adobe house in the Chihuahua Desert.”)

Actually, tonight I should be cleaning up this rat hole I live in.  Tomorrow I'm shooting a small scene for the next round of the Short Ends Project.  I need to move two bookcases out of the living room, because this character isn't a big reader.  The 800 or so books can be piled on my window-seats in the bedroom (once I remove all the crap stacked there) — that's just a lot of trips back and forth.  But the bookcases are hardwood, and even though I can move them, it's a real bitch to move and then restack them.  I'll wait on that until someone shows up.

Basically, I have until noon to sweep the floors, wash and put away the dishes, and dispatch some of the more adventurous cockroaches.  That'll leave me just enough time to brew up some coffee and put out an assortment of pan dulce.


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