Q&A Feature: K. Sankofa

DSC_0367.MOV.00_00_35_09.Still003K. Sankofa isn’t your ordinary music artist. With a dab of hip, a splash of jazz, and a spruce of Caribbean flow, he surely knows how to keep his sound original, while eclectic in the ears of his listeners. That isn’t the norm produced in the music rooted from Wisconsin, or from the stereotype from Wisconsin, but here we are. K. Sankofa isn’t going anywhere else anytime soon. Music isn’t the only knowledge K. Sankofa possesses. He proves that with us in this recent interview with the young man, himself, as well as the song lyrics he creates for his content.

K. Sankofa is such a unique stage name, yet a beautiful name as well. Would you tell us the story of how you came up with that name for your musical presence?

K. Sankofa: For the most part, I learned of the term ‘sankofa’ while in college. It is a proverb from Ghana, Africa that means, “Go back and get it.”

Being involved in many social justice efforts I was able to see how the term was used in fighting for justice. Reclaiming culture and heritage in roots of indigenous, as well as, revitalizing the spirit of justice that swept over those who fought through momentous periods like the Civil Rights Movement.

For me, personally, it has become a motto for continued self-development, while never leaving behind the upbringing that made me who I am. I celebrate every part of my past and every lesson that I have learned. This includes being raised in south central L.A.,  and being raised to reverence God in everything.

I started writing and experimenting with music early on in life. However, when I got to college, I told myself that I’d have to leave music behind to focus on things that I believed to be more important. I soon realized that when times got hard it was music that could make me feel whole and revitalize me in the way that I needed to move forward and carry on. With that I took on the stage under the philosophy of sankofa, going back, and getting the music.

For someone who might not have listened to your music before, can you tell us a small description of what your music is about?

KS: My music is about liberation. For me, I feel a sense of freedom in the creation of my music. Even more, I hope to reflect the struggle of the people who may not have the voice to speak out against injustice. My music is spiritual. I try to keep God in everything I do.

My music reflects my own pain and my own adversity that I have experienced. I feel like it might have a blues feel to it with how saddening the content can be sometimes. My music is about rising up against the forces that are here to keep people in inequitable socioeconomic conditions. My music is about love, hope, truth, and justice.

DSC_0380How did you find your voice for the music industry and how did you find your gift for writing music and your ability to rap?

KS: I started rapping in the 7th grade. I first discovered my love for rap music during that time, because a friend of mine urged me to get into some writing sessions with him. I loved putting the pen to the paper and expressing my thoughts. I try to make sure I let my influences and life philosophy speak through me. I try to stay in tune with God. I think it is a confluence of these thing that helped to develop the voice that I have.

Are there any current musicians who have helped influence your style of music?

KS: Definitely. Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, and Jay-Z are a few people who influenced me the most, but even today I have been influenced by newer artist like Chance The Rapper.

Even though your music focuses on your life stories, music is actually not your priority goal is it? Care to tell us what is your main goal in life is?

KS: My main life goal is do what I believe is right. I want to do what God has set out for me to do in this world. I believe that encompasses organizing towards justice and being a voice for the oppressed and the unheard. I believe that it is our great mission as a race of humanity to serve our fellow man and put our focus into achieving a well-fare state. I know that the task is endless and bigger than any one individual but I believe that we all have a part to play. My main goal in life is figure out the part that I am best suited for and fulfilling the duties of that role to the best of my ability.

_DSC0008You’re not actually from Wisconsin, but you are originally from California. How did you find yourself in Madison?

KS: I got the Posse Foundation full-tuition scholarship to come to UW-Madison.

Not only are you gifted and talented, but you are a young, well-educated human being. Can you tell us what you are studying and/or majoring in for your Bachelors degree? What drew you to choose your field of study?

KS: Sociology was my major. I chose this, because I had a mentor who opened me up to the major. I fell in love with the pursuit of understanding the development of our world through a societal lens. I was drawn to how interdisciplinary sociology is. You will learn about the law, history, the economy, politics, and so much more. I graduated back in May.

Does Sociology have a part in your influence to make music?

KS: Most definitely. It gives me perspective. If there is one thing that I have learned it is that we are social creatures, and that people are generally a product of their social environment and upbringing. I try to equip a broader lens of understanding of this in my music.

_DSC0250In December, you dropped your first mix-tape album, The Audacity. I must say my top three songs on that album are “Young, Gifted & Black”, “Surrender”, and “Say Less.” What were your top three songs you enjoyed creating the most in the studio process on this album? Why?

KS: I enjoyed creating every song because they are all different and require different approaches in the creation process. But if I had to pick a top three it would be “Sing Sankofa,” “Surrender”, and “Go Down.”

“Sing Sankofa” was the first song I recorded for the tape, so it was exciting to jump into it with full intensity. I got to work with the brother, Lucien Parker, at Strange Oasis Entertainment. Lucien is cold with the audio setup and the vocal production.

“Surrender” was an interesting recording process, because we incorporated live instruments. I was literally rapping the track to the beat while the homie, Mandell, went to work with the saxophone. Then, later on, we brought in the home girl, Jada, to hit a violin outro. So overall, music collaborative process was just powerful in “Surrender.”I can’t forget to mention that I was able to record the first hook with DJ Pain 1 who actually made the beat for the song.

Last, but not least, I gotta go with “Go Down”, because of the intensity of the recording process. I felt like I put my all into the spitting that song in the booth.

With all the access to many independent artists on various music platforms like Spotify, ITunes, SoundCloud, and ReverBNation, I see a transition within the music industry in itself. Do you see or feel a change with the music industry changing or reconstructing?

KS: With social media and a wave of independence it seems like music is in the hands of the people. There is no telling what’s to come. Hopefully major labels don’t get to control what we listen to in the future. Hopefully that power is transferred to the hands of the people.

Do you feel the polarization of modern politics has an influence with the transitions of the music industry? Why or why not?

KS: Not really. I think the music industry changes are because of social media, technology, and massive access to information. However, I think these same factors have shifted modern politics too.

Where do you see the music industry in five years from now? Where do you see yourself?

KS: Nothing new is under the sun. I think the music industry will still reflect a variety of perspectives and thought. However, I do think as we evolve as a society drawing nearer knowledge, purpose our music will reflect that growth. Hopefully we elevate the musical leaders in such a society. I hope to be one of those leaders.

Majority of artists out there, whether it be actors, musicians, painters, singers, or whatever, always has that one role model or influence with their pathway in life and/or artistic missions. Who has been the most significant role model in your life?

KS: My older brother Eric. He was the first in my family to go to college. He was amazing. He lived a life of service and integrity. He was also a rap artist.

If you could write a letter to your younger self in one sentence, what would it say?

KS: Don’t let anyone try to define you and always stay tight with God.

This is simply a challenge, rather than a question. Give us a random playlist with the first ten songs that come to your mind.

  1.     Jay Rock: Win
  2.     Michael Jackson: Human Nature
  3.     Outkast: Ms. Jackson
  4.     Ice Cube: Today was a Good Day
  5.     Kendrick Lamar: Mortal Man
  6.     Tupac: Changes
  7.     Lauryn Hill: Ex-Factor
  8.     Cardi B: I like it
  9.     Beyonce: Halo
  10.     Bob Marley: Get Up Stand Up

Oh, there is plenty more coming from this young individual. Currently on a light tour, just to increase his presence in the scene. K. Sankofa also has a new album in the works! Stay tuned for how the founder of #RebelGang turns up!

For now, enjoy the new single, “State of Emergency.” Make sure to just hit play right down below and check it out.

It’s. That. Simple.

Just. Push. Play.

 

Q&A Feature: Saul Pincus

unnamed (1)This is certainly a first. A film recommendation becomes a two part with a interview feature with the director and writer, himself! Saul Pincus, thank you for taking the time to sit down with me and discuss the world of film! It’s truly an honor to be able to do this with you. Let’s dive right in, shall we?

How long have you been working in the film industry? What or who influenced you to dive into the film industry?

Saul Pincus: I’ve been doing this for the better part of four decades, roughly four fifths of my life. The first ten years were comprised of a lengthy string of experiments on Super 8 – experiments that grew and grew in challenge and complexity, thanks in part to the fact that it was the heyday of Super 8, and there was a lot of advanced gear available to get you results not possible with just a consumer camera and projector. I would cavort around Montreal, my hometown, with my camera, having a blast.

My dad, an astronomy buff, had played ball with William Shatner when they were in high school together, but no one in my family was in the entertainment field. The original Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind opened when I was seven. I went to the library to research how these sorts of films were made – but there was nothing available, only a book on “trick photography” with still cameras. But I was hooked – and at just the right moment, because for the first time in the history of cinema, science fiction was no longer a ghetto genre. We got rafts of films with new visual achievements every six months, and some of them had great stories, too.

For me, the thought of making films professionally was never much of a question. But when I left Montreal for Toronto in the mid-90s, I was starting from scratch.

What were some of the greater aspects working on the production of La Femme Nikita in the ’90s? What are some things on the production end that were difficult to do then, that might be easier now to do? What parts of the film industry hasn’t changed since you started in your career?

SP: LFN was a cool show, in part because it a show with a large international audience that was produced by American and Canadian minds hand-in-hand. It was also well-budgeted for an off-network show of that time, so it could look the part and not often look silly doing so. That was unique, and it helped lend the show the kind of character it has.

The difference between any series or film now, versus then, is the ease with which you can lend scale or realism to the images after the fact. But if you take a look at season two versus the first season, you can already see an improvement in the visual effects, which is less due to the artistry in this case, and more due to the availability of new tools – tools which were still evolving. The first season VFX seem a bit too “video-ey.”

But other than technology, the basic process of producing a series really hasn’t changed since the advent of the medium. You still need money, great writing, a great cast, a great crew, a supportive broadcaster and a loyal audience.

Could you go into detail on how your day went while you were an assistant editor on the show?

SP: When I was there, two assistants would alternate odd and even numbered shows, which meant we’d work with one editor though the season. LFN was shot on Super 16mm negative film, which meant that the previous day’s footage would be have to be first processed by the lab in a chemical bath overnight. Then it would go to Magnetic North, a post facility, and into the hands of Bill Holley, who would transfer it with care and a keen eye to Digital Betacam tape. This process would take till the early afternoon, so I’d arrive at work around 4pm.

I generally worked with Dave Thompson. When his episode would be shooting, I’d check his dailies and feed them into his Avid, ready for him to edit. There are many checks and triple-checks when dealing with film transfers to video, especially at that time, when you’d be shooting @ 23.98fps and wind up with 29.97 video. And it wasn’t just a one-way street, because Warner Bros. would want to archive a cut negative of the finished show. So you had to be certain the metadata of each and every piece of camera negative was correctly transferred to tape, and in turn, made it into your Avid intact. Otherwise you couldn’t instruct the negative cutter with confidence. Today, that process is much simpler, because we rarely use film.

It’s a technical job, yes, but it’s also a political job. And creative – though how much depended on the project and the editor.

So, you are not from Toronto, but from Montreal. What helped you decide to relocate to Toronto, from Montreal? Was it for work purposes? What helped you to decide to stay in Toronto, instead of returning to Montreal?

SP: I left Montreal largely because my girlfriend was returning home after going to school there. She and I later married, so I guess I made the right call!

But the other reason was the political climate in Montreal, which was in the throes of Quebec’s second referendum on sovereignty in two decades. It was not a healthy environment in which to seek gainful employment or a predictable financial future.

I always believe you can read a city by its food. Toronto was just starting to get interesting food-wise. On several levels, Toronto of the mid-90s was transitioning, getting more inviting.

You are still based in Toronto decades after shooting LFN. I understand access to budget for films in Canada differ than the access here in the United States. Could you share the difference between the Canadian film industry compared to that of the US and can you share the process that is done to get budget for a film project in the industry up there compared to what is done here in the U.S.?

SP: Well, that’s a really big question with a week-long answer. In a nutshell, the English-speaking film/television world is driven by the U.S. market. Traditionally this had meant we in Canada have taken the scraps, or produced alternative programming in a bid to secure what we consider to be our Canadian identity in broadcast or theatrical form. There are government agencies set up to ensure projects with a Canadian identity get made. But as with any project anywhere in the world, the total project budget comes from several sources. Cobbling all those sources together is the big challenge.

The US isn’t as concerned with its cultural identity per se in large part because the machinery to export American movies was set up over a hundred years ago, and is still functioning at top efficiency, in great numbers, with well-worn distribution channels allowing access into nearly every country on the planet.

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Mary, Ted, Chris, Me, Dave, Natalie, & Saul

I actually had the privilege to personally meet you with numerous cast and crew of LFN back in May 2017. When you walked into the reunion convention, what was your first expression and/or your whole experience like all weekend spending time with the fans and your previous coworkers?

SP: I was amazed, in part that so many had traveled so far to celebrate it. But I’ve gotten on planes to see the late Jerry Goldsmith and then John Williams (both widely considered the greatest film composers of our time) conduct concerts, so I get it.

I’ll admit though, that the first time I was approached to autograph Chris Heyn’s book on the show, it was a strange feeling. Strange because I didn’t create this show, nor was I a key creative force. I was more like red shirt #28576 at a Star Trek convention. But it’s all about love, and that’s a beautiful thing.

Do you feel there is more expression freedom in the art of film in Canada as a whole compared to the film art expressed here in the States?

SP: Not necessarily, because if someone trusts you with a million dollars, no matter where you live, very few people on this planet are going to ask you if you achieved maximum artistic expression. They just want to know if what you’ve made is exploitable and whether it will bring returns. It’s probably healthier to find an exploitable concept, but carefully craft it and then lace it with artistic expression that does not undermine the exploitable aspect.

NOCT_still_1-tw2
Still frame from Nocturne.

Your most current project is the independent film, Nocturne. Was there a specific person or event that influenced you to write the story for Nocturne?

SP: Nocturne was borne from my desire to make a silent film about characters that struggle to communicate. Obviously it’s not a silent film, literally – but it’s a story lends itself to visual language and I hoped to stress that. It’s about an insomniac who falls for a sleepwalker, and how they eventually must come to grips with the fact that their intimate, almost myopic “relationship” has larger implications for them both.

How long did it take to create a film project like Nocturne?

SP: About a year to write, a few months to shoot, and several years to finish. The reason is because it was entirely self-financed, but also because the film contains five minutes of hand-drawn animation playing in tandem with the dominantly live-action portion of the film. That took a year to actually produce, but before doing so, I had to cut and shape the live-action very precisely to know exactly how much animation I really needed. So it took time to finish, for sure, but once we started getting invited to film festivals in the US, Canada, and in Europe (Nocturne had its World Premiere in the Free Spirit Competition at the Warsaw Film Festival), won awards for best feature film (at the New Jersey International Film Festival and at Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival, with an excellence award from the Rincon Film Festival), and landed our distribution deal with Random Media, it left me feeling gratified.

What was the difference between working on La Femme Nikita and your work with Nocturne? Do you feel you had more control as an editor or as a director/writer for a project?

SP: LFN was Joel Surnow’s vision; Roy, Peta, everyone – we were all hired to execute it. Your own project is just that, and you work with or hire people to help you execute it. Depending on what your arrangement is with your investors, you are answerable to them to some degree. But in the end, we make things for audiences, and you are always answerable to them on the basis of the work itself!

What is the difference between working on a film, compared to working on a television series in general?

SP: In the late 90s, you worked on a TV show for the better part of a year, there were semi-regular hours, each episode took roughly eight days to shoot, and you shot six to ten pages of script per shooting day. There were distinct limits as to how many locations you could visit in that eight day schedule, what caliber of guest stars you could cast, etc. And each episode had to run a specific length.

Even low budget features of the day shot for at least four weeks, often months. So you shoot less per day, meaning you can introduce more detail into the story and take a bit more time to craft the result. But the hours were crazier.

Today, the lines are a bit more blurred. A season no longer equates to a definitive number of episodes, and even the duration of individual episodes doesn’t matter as long as they remain under a certain length. In general, series work is much better funded across the board, with broadcasters (including the likes of Netflix and Amazon) having realized that to compete with features, their product must be as good as features traditionally were.

NOCTURNE_DSC_8818
Still frame from Nocturne with Actress Mary Krohnert

 

Do you have any new projects you are currently working on or a part of whether it would be in pre-production, production, or post-production phase? Can you tell us what to expect from you in the near future when it comes to projects or work?

SP: Well, oddly, Nocturne is still very active. Earlier this year, Nocturne was released on special edition DVD – which means that the two lead actors, Mary Krohnert, Knickoy Robinson and I, went into a studio to record a screen-specific audio commentary that describes how we made the film. And we had fun – but we were serious about it, too. If you’re curious about movies, it’s a great way to learn – sort of a film school in a box.

Also exciting for me is that Tribeca Shortlist, the digital arm of the Tribeca Film Festival, has just licensed Nocturne for a two-year run in the US. Tribeca Shortlist is a real home for the kind of “filmmaker’s film” that Nocturne has often been called. It’s also available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Xbox and certain broadcast networks in more than 50 countries across the globe. This is the thing about movies – they can go on for years, even after they’re done!

And yes, I have other projects in the works. Sorry for being coy, but that’s all I can say at this stage!

The film industry isn’t an easy career to pursue in general. What helps keep you motivated in your craft to help keep you focused and allows you to keep pushing forward in your career?

SP: The simple answer: it’s just what I like to do, and has been for as long as I can remember. I like to build things.

What is some advice would you like to share, based off of your own experiences, for those who are in film school or interested in the film industry?

SP: Another simple question! But seriously, the real trick is just knowing yourself, what you want to eventually be doing, and chart a path from there. And remember, it’s not so much about where you see yourself in a year, but where you’d like to see yourself when you’re fifty or sixty. Pick an area that will keep you passionate on little or no sleep, in horrible weather, even if your health fails. I’m being dramatic, but also truthful. If you can’t do that, walk away!

NOCTURNE_DSC_9047
In Between Scenes with the actors of Nocturne

I don’t know about you, but I would love to see what other film art you have the ability to cook up in that articulate mind of yours. Any last words you’d like to share for the following readers before we conclude this interview?

SP: Well, I’m going to put in another plug for Nocturne. From the story, through the performances, through the crafting of the film, I never approached it as a date movie, never frivolously, but made it hoping it would satisfy in a similar fashion to the way you return to good book that’s been waiting patiently on your shelf, tempting you to return to it for another read. And when you told me you had to watch Nocturne twice, but still found that second viewing rewarding, you gave me hope that my plan may not have been in vain.

*Disclaimer – All photos are of courtesy and rightfully owned by Saul Pincus.

Q&A Feature: Deuce Ellis

Deuce
Deuce Ellis 2015 @ GautschVision

Instant connection is how I felt when I first met Deuce Ellis in 2015. I didn’t hesitate to open my doors to him for an unexpected week long stay here during his last tour in Wisconsin, and I don’t regret it for a minute. I value our memories and bonding over nerdy shit and spiritual connection. Ever since then, we’ve been “thunder buddies” and the rest is history.

I got to sit down and converse with Deuce about his philosophy in art and life after his recent return to Brooklyn, New York, while he launches his new business and studio.

 

Before we even get into the questions, you just open business for Cult Classics, LLC. For the followers and readers out there, give me an elevator speech to sell your brand. At Cult Classics, LLC.

Deuce Ellis: We, at Cult Classics, handle production, mixing, mastering, marketing, and promotion.Let us know your goals and your budget and we’ll work with you from there.

 

The first time we met was three years ago and you advertised yourself as a hip-hop artist. Can you tell me how you’ve evolved your brand and/or yourself as an artist since 2015?

DE: Personal growth. I traveled a few places around the world, I’d always wanted to produce and so I just traveled and studied music and pushed myself.

I used to take a couple tabs of acid a few times a week in Hawaii and ride my bike to the edges of the island and just write and try and find myself and hear the music that was in my head and figure out how to get it out.

I’m a strong believer in reinventing yourself, and I wanted to kill off the undesirable elements of the Deuce Ellis brand and emerge as a wizard. I thought meditating in the mountains in Colorado would help, but somewhere in L.A., I connected to root of who I am and came back home with a vision.  Like I knew I had something special and I could change the game.

 

As an artist, what’s art to you? How do you define it in your own words?

DE: When you make yourself a meal, that’s art. It’s life. Expression. I think the more conscious of it you are, the power you inject into anything you do, the more magical it becomes. My grandma’s garden is a work of art and so is my grandpa’s gun collection.

 

If you didn’t find your foundation in art and hip-hop, what do you think you would be doing instead for a career? 

DE: That’s tricky, because some parents play Mozart when the kid is in the womb and my folks played Rakim. I was nicknamed Deuce before I was born. Pops was a legendary party DJ in Buffalo. I had poetry published when I was five, so everything in my world geared me to who I am. However, due to my love for travel, I always joked that I could drive cross country picking up and delivering stuff.

 

Do you feel your art is your salvation? Why or why not?

DE: I am my own salvation. Nothing in this world is given. It’s a pretty cold place, so even when music is the vessel for healing, I gotta get off my ass and get to the lab or decide to push out the funk and create through it.

 

When we first met you were living in Brooklyn, New York. Since then you moved to Hawaii and Denver, and then to California. What have you learned from experiencing life in Hawaii , Colorado and California, compared to what you have experienced in New York?

DE: People are different. But the same. With the right mindset you can go anywhere in the world and create great things and make wonderful friends, and find health, wealth, and joy. Except L.A. (laughing).

 

What was your favorite part about living in Hawaii? What was your favorite part about living in California? 

DE: Hawaii is beautiful and warm; I experienced true kindness. Just a different mindset from America. It’s the first place I went where I wasn’t a black man, I was just a man. It’s the only state in the country that isn’t majority white. It sucks cause there are elements of the island that have been completely bastardized by capitalism, but I was fortunate enough to meet a lot of locals and be able to see the island through a pure lens.

California the state, itself, is dope, it has everything to offer fro beach to desert to mountains to forests. It’s got a rich culture all it’s own. And you know I lovey my weed, and the marijuana culture out there is wonderful.

 

You recently moved back to New York. What made you decide to move back to New York?

DE: A terrible experience in a place called Brooklyn, Oregon. And it was like, this ain’t the Brooklyn I’m supposed to be in, and around the same time things just lined up in Brooklyn and life and the omens spoke to me.

 

As a Hip-Hop Artist, who, that has come before you in the craft, has influenced your writing and your music

DE: Daft Punk, those guys are my idols, that perfect fusion of musical and marketing mastery. 

 

You’ve gotten the opportunity to work with phenomenal artists. Artists like Aloe Blacc. Is there anyone else you’d like to work with in the future?

DE: I wanna produce for Beyonce. I would love to sit down with the founding fathers of hip hop like Grandmaster Flash, Caz, even the guys from Kraftwerk.

 

What philosophy influences you to keep striving in your art regardless of the social climate we are witnessing today?

DE: The simple question resides within me, what else would I do with myself?

 

Deuce2-1
Deuce Ellis 2015 @ GautschVision

Is there anything you’ve done for an art platform beyond music? Is there anything you would like to do that you may have not done yet?

DE: I once had my art in a Mr. Brainwash exhibit. That was cool. I’d like to pen another poetry book and novels. Film, definitely gonna do Cult Classics Films. I’ve done some acting roles that got e really into it, so I’d like to do more of that.
I want to continue to focus on producing projects that tell more diverse stories, and give different types of talent that would otherwise remain disenfranchised; sound and instrumental designs are passions of mine, so I’d like to continue to break those barriers and extend my craft.

No matter what I do though, it’s always a ‘Cult Classic.’

 

You just built a studio back home in New York. Last time we chatted, you haven’t figured out a name yet. Have you figured out a name for it or are you still figuring that out?

DE: No official name yet. It’ll happen. Just feels good to be in the space.

 

What’s next for Deuce Ellis? Are you working on a new album? Are you planning to go on tour?

DE: Here’s my new single Acid Motorcycle. I released this single first as an exclusive on Choon, an independent and artist owned streaming service that pays artists 80% instead of .8% and pays out artists in Cryptocurrency. It’s dope. 

Next is Murder of Crows this amazing collaborative project with Sanity that we’re close to finishing. I did all the beats and there’s some amazing features and just this awesome vibe and feel like nothing else in this world. I’m really proud of that. Then my next project will be the Cult Classics:Volume One. It will showcase all the new talent on the label, and our vision and what we have to offer.

Follow this link for the single and if you want to make some cryptocurrency, while you are at it. —> Acid Motorcycle – Deuce Ellis <—

Or just check it out on Deuce’s YouTube Channel down below, and check his music out!

A 48 Hour Film Project Experience

“Lights, Camera, Action!”

“That’s the wrap!”

None of this shit was said. I guess none of that matters when you are in a small time slot to brainstorm, write, shoot, and edit a five to seven minute short film in exactly 48 hours, tops. Final editing being the final phase with figuring out the perfect score, sound, and/or music in the perfect slot in the film. Sweat spewing down your face, with anxiety and adrenaline pacing your heartbeat to that of a crooked thug running from the cops in a crime scene. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit here, but you get the picture… …er scene image printed within your mind.

I was a bit nervous regardless of the research I did prior to the event. I never did one before, so where the fuck do I start? People. I start with people. The trick was to get just the right amount of dedicated individuals who were willing to be locked in an empty wing of the school over a whole entire weekend, where instead of going out and socializing and drinking with family and/or friends. I mean, it is summer… …isn’t it?

So it’s obvious that recruiting was a challenge. When I reached out to friends about wanting to do a 48 hour with me, I got only a few people interested, but only one fully committed. I felt defeated when we couldn’t get people interested. Especially individuals that were interested in film in the first place.

Then one morning I woke up for just another work day, look at my phone and BAM! A message from one of my mentors stepping in to help recruit a team endorsed by our college program and I was included! Faith restored! However, it was a damn roller coaster trying to keep those interested again. Of course even until the day before the kick off event, people would back out. It is what it is.

Five members of our team would show up to the kick off event. It was as hot and humid as a Vietnam jungle. Dripping sweat, adult beverages, and a crowd packed in an event room like a pack of sardines. What the fuck was this? How big are these six other teams? We have seven. Fucking seven! Producer, Michael Keeney, was NOT joking when he pushed the advice to RECRUIT, RECRUIT, RECRUIT!

FRIDAY NIGHT: KICK OFF EVENT — …Shortly after I arrive, I was informed that the six teams we thought we were up against, simultaneously turn into 29 other teams!! Plus, producers’, Michael Keeney and Katherine Thompson, has a waiting list! Now that’s success in such a small city of less than a quarter a million. My question is… where the hell did these aspiring filmmakers come from and where have they been?!

Two genres, two characters, one prop, and one line later, we find ourselves at a local coffee shop, Collectivo, to start our brainstorming and the espresso inducing for the weekend.

Untitled2(I am not going to get into the rules and run around on how the 48 hour film project works, so just check it out on their 48 Hour Film web site to learn more of this event. Especially for those who might be interested in doing one next year.) *smiling*

After we went our separate ways for the evening, I dove right into the Killer Tracks website to set the tone of the short film. Our two choices of genre were Spy/Espionage and Suspense/Thriller. There is nothing more soothing than to swing through sounds surrounding those genres on a Friday, the 13th evening. The irony, if I am even using it properly.

Let’s be real here, I thought irony was that of which came from Alanis Morissette’s song, “Ironic” growing up like majority of our population in North America.

SATURDAY: SHOOTING/EDITING – Day two was committed to shooting and rough editing. There’s not much to say, except that I did not expect to be a main character in this short film. In an odd sense, my anxiety decided to take a vacation that day. Not sure if it’s cause I was in such a familiar setting, or what, but I was in some kind of zen during the shoot. I can’t really explain it, other than it just felt right that I was there in the moment.

(I must note that the chemistry between the cast and crew was pretty epic. We had our fun, but we also kept the mission at hand; to get the shoot complete so we could get the rough edit done before Sunday.)

We were done shooting right around 8-830ish that evening.  I was kind of daydreaming of being on NCIS, working late nights, ordering Chinese, while working to find other music to possibly use for the film. My mind goes to different places, to different scenes.

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Actress Katrina Fuchs as ‘Bitsy’

SUNDAY: EDITING/FINAL EDITS/SUBMIT – The final day was purely committed to editing, which I did not have a huge part in accept the title cards and the music choices.  However, we did get our film turned in on time to be premiered this past Thursday.

As for my followers and supporters who actually read my blog, here it is! The web premiere for our short film, “Surprise Party!” I must also let you all in on that a winner for hour 48 hour film project has not been announced yet. The rest of the films all were done real well and props to any of the filmmakers that may pass through this blog post. The networking and connections has just begun! I definitely have found my calling when it comes to film. I am just not sure if I will continue the acting sector of the industry. We will just have to wait and see.

(One last note before we watch the film. My character has no manners at a dinner table, swears, and smokes like a chimney. Like she grew up with no direction in life, because… well, find out when you watch the film! I, as a human being, only relates to the swearing trait of my character.. Fucking military.)*smiling*

Enjoy the film, y’all!

Did I Serve My Country For This?!

*Warning: Another long ass post with very low resolution photos from the memory bank*

I grew up sheltered beyond measure, not seeing much beyond Wisconsin and half of Minnesota. I never encountered anyone darker than the Native American skin complexion until my first cousin once removed, Maxwell, was born. I was eight years old. So, growing up with very little diversity did two things. One, helped me accept all Americans regardless of color and background, and two, it still blinded me from the reality of our very own country, because of experiencing my very own discrimination in small town USA.

September 11th, 2001, I was fifteen years old. I did not know what the World Trade Center was until this very day. The day that would change America and the rest of the World forever. It was my loudest calling. As any small town White American, we grow up ignorant, but proud of our safe haven we call the United States of America, the land of the free. This is a moment I realized I needed to sincerely reach out to the rest of the world and educate myself.

It didn’t take long to talk myself into taking the military route, due to my spiritual beliefs beyond the illusion of freedom. September, 2001 brought to light in my life of a black and white factor, good verses evil. Yeah, I also wanted to see the world and get the hell out of dodge, but also fight the evil that displayed itself at the very beginning of our new millennium. I didn’t want to just prove to others of my ability of being somebody, I wanted to prove to myself that I could do anything I put my mind too regardless of everyone else’s doubts of my vision.

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Me in NYC with our tour guide and former actor, Frank Luz, ’05

Before I headed to basic training after I graduated high school, I talked my mom and stepfather into helping me pay for a school trip to New York City my Senior year. I paid half and they paid half. I needed experience beyond the small radius I grew up in.

Luckily for me, they agreed. This was only three years shortly after the infamous date. I had to embrace ground zero, or what was left of it anyways. It was the reminder I needed on the reason I was serving. It pushed me to believe in the choice I already had made.

Now fast forward to my experience in the military. We served whichever was our commander-in-chief and we were NOT allowed to bring up our political beliefs, but instead focus on the mission right in front of us. Tunnel vision, so to speak. There are a plus side to it.

There was a plus side to the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy as well, regardless of how it was

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Me in Iraq hanging with my battle from the Air Force (he’s behind the camera). ❤ RIP Jon. ❤

flipped against those in the LGBT community in those days. We weren’t consumed of things out of our measures beyond what was right in front of us. I guess being a chameleon, so to speak, also has it’s advantages.

Unfortunately, I am well aware that not everyone has the same case as myself, but in reality with all the units I was assigned too and the individuals I met through the military, I never felt that no one gave a fuck about who I was sleeping with, men or women. The men I had relationships didn’t give a fuck about my previous ex-girlfriends.

Completely different from the environment I grew up with. I did felt ‘free’ regardless of the circumstances with the military. While, others were unlucky to have found themselves kicked out, at my time in the service, the most I got was a counseling statement for bringing up hardships with an ex while in Iraq (for those who don’t know what a counseling statement is, it’s basically just a slap in the hand for fucking up).

The military showed me a close knit crew outside a few episodes of soap operas and drama theater going on, but again, that’s everywhere in this world. There was maybe one instance where a douche-bag NCO was being racist towards our Puerto Rican brothers. He tried to write up a counseling statement for me sticking up for them.

Yes, I was very opinionated in the military and didn’t hold back if I witness something wrong and I didn’t give a shit about what rank that individual was. Ask any of my leaders of this factor of my persona (laughing). This dude was certainty on a power trip though. Still no regrets though. He wasn’t a leader in my eyes and that’s still my opinion today.

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SGT White & I, OIF ’06-’07, DFAC Guard

Other than that, I did not witness anything racism, especially towards my African American brothers and sisters I served with. Niave? Maybe. I was one of the few white soldiers always kicking it with my African-American battles though, when I wasn’t hanging with my Air Force guys.

Even at home, in my military environment, I didn’t witness any racism with my own eyes. Not saying there wasn’t, but I mean, I was going through my own issues to the point where it consumed my life, my small mind at the time. To the point where the civilian world, it was a complete stranger to me. I didn’t get what was going on due to my experiences in the military and my own discrimination growing up in small town, USA.

Even when the social issues were seriously rising, even under Obama’s presidency. I did not understand the issue. I wanted to, but I couldn’t help but question things like, “but we have Obama.” etc…etc… How is this going on? Why is this going on? I thought we got past this? Questions for days and days.

Like, I got completely uncomfortable and had lots of white guilt, because of how frustrated my friends were at me, and how mistreated they were with the system the country has in place. I will admitted, regardless of my life experiences, I was biased and uneducated as fuck to what truly mattered.

I wanted to understand, but my mind wouldn’t allow it due to my experiences in life. It didn’t take until a couple of my African-American friends actually literally dummy down the explanation for me, even with statistics. Somehow that helped shit click, which is weird, because I fucking hate math and suck at it with a passion (laughing).

Well now, it’s just beyond frustrated as fuck. I try to do my part to unify humanity and bring compassion in the world. Same as my original mission and purpose when I first signed up for the military, but it’s hard when over half of our humanity don’t give a rats ass about others than their own beliefs and themselves, especially Americans. Yes, I am calling my own country out. Look at the dynamic we are living in. We are not looked at as the best country in the world, we are a clown show for the world. Accept it.

This post also goes towards the ‘neo-liberals’ who want to categorize veterans as conservatives/Republicans/Trump-supporters, because of the trolls you see on social media that try to speak for us. This is why majority of Americans, not just veterans, hate political parties and association with the government, regardless of the choices we made in our lives. I don’t regret a moment of serving, regardless of my status of a soldier and the choices I made to retire the boots.

I am still proud to be from this country, this continent, regardless of our imperfections. I will not allow our history to define my patriotism as an American Viking. I will allow our history to endorse more compassion within to expose towards society to try to fix the now. We need to open up and realize, not all nations world-wide are not on our level of progression when it comes to laws and rights, but again we are far from perfect. It takes lots of years and change to see where we’ve been compared to where we have come. The only movement is forward.

One last bit, before I close this post. Believe it or not, plenty of us, veterans, are not brainwashed and can think and speak for ourselves. I still believe there are plenty aspects of this country that is far more beneficial than many nations on the world, regardless of the current shit show, but that’s another post for another time. Political rants exhaust me.

That goes for the current climate on both ends of the political parties. It’s time for a change, government. It’s time to give a shit about the people. It’s time for a change, people. It’s time to have less reliance on corrupt politicians who give no shits about anyone, but themselves. It’ll take a lot of work. It’ll be hard. Nothing is black and white, but nothing worthwhile ever comes easy.

For those who are too far ignorant to see reality and truth beyond the propaganda bullshit, and are stuck in your own alternative truth, I’ll pray for you.