“The Expanse” Will Make You Feel Lost In Space

BY KEATON J. EVANS

Netflix’s new show, The Expanse, is extraordinary, visually stunning, and has a gritty, realistic look which makes the show quite unique and creative when compared to other sci-fi shows.

There’s a lot going on right off the bat, with colonies across the solar system, a futuristic Earth, a militant Mars, and plenty of water shortage on some smaller worlds. I would say there’s a lot going for the show.

This being said, there are also a few things which the show isn’t so great at doing. Below are some thing it does well and some things where it misses the mark. All points considered, you’ll feel lost in space watching this show.

Now whether that’s a good or bad thing is up to you.

The Worlds Are Incredible

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The production quality is the shows number one quality, hands down. The worlds and ships they show glisten with details and have almost a Blade Runner vibe especially on the Asteroid colonies.

The show also hits well on the realities of space and what could go wrong. One example, is the water shortage on the asteroid belt. There’s moments where shipments of ice are delayed and the people on the belt suffer because of it. It goes even farther to point out that if a second shipment is delayed then people will die.

It was refreshing to see so much thought put into the mechanics of world outside of earth, and see the messy reality, and complications which could arise. The visual aspects of the worlds and the realism they present are both excellent.

Seeing all these real intricate worlds allows you to get lost in them, a feeling which was a pleasant surprise.

Wait, Who Are These People?

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After watching The Expanse, I noticed the one thing I didn’t quite like: the character development. Probably the weakest aspect of the film. While the production design is quite superb, the characters fall short, especially in the beginning.

I thought about why this was. The characters are interesting enough, they live in incredible worlds, and the plot is good, so what gives. Well, here’s the deal. While the characters may be interesting, it’s hard to know because they rush the character development.

It feels like we are supposed to know who these people are as soon as we see the first shot. It almost seems like the beginning of the show is the middle of a show. Now, there is development of the characters, a little.

But for the most part, all the introductions are rushed and end up leaving you feeling  little connection with the people you are watching. I think to myself, “A spaceship explodes and people might die! Oh no! Wait, who are these people?”

If they want the events to hold any weight, they need to let us get to know the characters, and then put them into dangerous life-threatening situations, or we won’t care.

If you feel stranded and not quite sure how to feel then don’t worry, it’s an effect of rushed character intros.

Feeling Lost Could Be Either Good or Bad

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Both the best qualities of the show and the worst qualities of the show will make you feel lost. But which feeling sticks with you? Does the production design and visuals carry you through the hard-to-know characters, or do you feel not knowing the characters takes you out of the show?

Either way, it’s an inspiration to anyone who wants to make a science-fiction show.

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You don’t want life to be easy – trust me!

BY ANNETTE LANGE

If actors didn’t struggle, they wouldn’t be able to represent the human race. I came across an interview by the Screen Actors Guild Foundation with Matt Damon in which he recounted his early endeavours with Ben Affleck to pursue an acting career.

After having no place to stay, “Ben showed up […] and that was when we were really running out of money. He was on our couch and […] he didn’t fit […] and all this shit was in our living room […], so we got really serious about writing. And that was the place where we sold the script [of Good Will Hunting].”

This was also the script that then won a well-deserved Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Their sticky situation was a blessing in disguise for them and ultimately for us who watch Good Will Hunting and get an opportunity to understand characters like Will and Sean.

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All aspiring actors and creatives risk poverty and uncertainty when they choose to pursue acting/art/writing professionally. When successful actors are interviewed, it’s almost a guarantee they’ll be asked about odd jobs they had in the past to make ends meet.

I love to hear those stories. First of all, they’re hilarious. Second of all, it takes them off the pedestal I automatically put them on. Experiences I can identify with bridge the gap fame creates between celebrities and myself. It gives me hope. A hope to create something I never deemed possible.

A career in the film industry is hard – no doubt about it. It’s unpredictable, financially insecure and you will face rejection, criticism or concern from your family and friends. It’s highly possible you’ll have to defend your choice again and again and continually choose not to give up – the battle in the mind seems unending.

But, that being said, I am so glad this is the case… in theory more than practice…

However, times of desperation build our character. They force us to endure and to cling onto hope – if we choose to do so. Desperation causes us to wrestle with questions we want to avoid asking…

Are my current aspirations worth pursuing?

Why am I here?

What is the purpose?

What really matters?

Why am I who I am?

What is worth fighting for?

What do I want to see happen?

Where do I want to make a difference?

What can I offer to make that difference?

Boy, am I glad pursuing art is hard…

Art reaches hearts like nothing else can. It rises above being mere entertainment because it comes from a place of struggle. Not always financial struggle, but emotional, creative and/or philosophical  struggle.  When art comes from this vulnerable place – we can all identify with it to some extent or another.

Struggle makes you re-evaluate your choices. It brings the best – and the worst – out in you.

Desperation can be the biggest source of creativity – if you choose to channel it right.

In his pursuit to become an actor, Sylvester Stallone got to the point where he had to sell his dog to get by. That was also the time during which he wrote the script for Rocky. This in turn, garnered three Academy Awards… and he got his dog back.

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Jim Carrey discovered his gift for comedy during his teenage years when his family lived out of their van for several months because his father lost his job. Because of his boldness and commitment, we are able to enjoy his comedic and dramatic stories he tells.

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Charlie Chaplin grew up with an alcoholic father. His mother was mentally unstable and he spent most of his childhood in orphanages, yet that did not seem to hinder him from becoming the iconic actor he became. All his wealth “didn’t seem to derail his artistic drive” either.

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Dustin Hoffman “lived below the American poverty line until [he] was 31.”

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Halle Berry was a struggling actress in the beginning and found herself jumping from homeless shelter to homeless shelter.

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Morgan Freeman never fails to give absolutely believable and profound performances. But bear in mind, it took him 50 years of perseverance before getting ‘success’ in his career, if you count fame and awards as success.

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Obviously, these are success stories of actors we all know. They have a platform to share their experiences. But I always wonder how many success stories there are that we just don’t know of because the end result wasn’t fame, or an Academy Award.

Now, I do not wish poverty, depression or misfortune on anyone, but I do want to encourage those that are struggling to view this as an opportunity to rise above your circumstances and to channel your desperation towards creativity. Don’t dwell in desperation, but use the growth that comes from it to reach others.

Oftentimes comfort is the biggest threat to creativity.

Comfort and wealth isn’t bad. But don’t see it as the ultimate fulfillment of your life, enjoy it when you can, but don’t let it be a blockage to your creativity.

Failure, mistakes and struggles are so valuable – yet we’re so scared of them.

Desperation is a blessing in disguise – if you let it be a blessing. For all else, it keeps you down-to-earth, allows you to be human, allows you to learn from mistakes. It can be the most helpful springboard to reach and exhort others through your unique experiences and creativity, or you can let it define you and be a curse.

Channel desperation right. Choose to treat it as an opportunity. Celebrate the highs and lows of life – your own and those of others.

Viola Davis put it better during her Academy Acceptance Speech:

“I became an artist—and thank God I did—because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life.”

Don’t give up fellow Actors, Creatives and Dreamers!

How Failure Improved My Acting And My Life

By Keaton J. Evans Sr.

Attempting to dodge failure sucks. Trust me, I’ve done it a million times in my life. I consider myself to be the expert on the subject.

 

That being said, I’ve learned how to overcome a fear of failure and now wish to share with you what I’ve discovered about failing. Hopefully, these lessons will help you learn to fail well. The key lies not in planning to fail, but allowing yourself to fail and learning from what you’ve done wrong.

 

As an actor and artist, learning to fail has been the biggest success I’ve had yet. This idea didn’t really make sense at first. The idea that the way to succeed is through accepting failure.

 

We’re all going to fail and make mistakes, that’s one of the ways we grow. The process of moving on from a fear of failure requires you to do a few things.

 

The worst thing you can do is what I did and try your hardest to not make mistakes. If you do that then you will never take the risks you’ll need to take if you are worried about failure.

 

K(no)w risks, k(no)w failure, k(no)w success

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Picture this: you’re about to audition for a role in a new Marvel film, say, Captain Ironman. Now you are thinking about auditioning, but then suddenly you start thinking about how terrible you’ll probably do and how you might flub the audition and how it would be better to not even audition, cause why waste your time doing something you don’t do well?

 

Probable situation, right?

 

I’ve been in a similar place as an actor. While acting in a scene I would continually think about how I wasn’t reaching the standard I held for myself. I became a perfectionist in every sense of the word. (Ask my parents, they’ll back me up on this one).

 

Earlier on, before I got more used to auditioning, I hesitated and stopped from going to auditions or even trying new things out of a fear of failing. There are so many opportunities I could’ve taken but didn’t. You’ll never fail if you don’t try, it’s true. But you also won’t ever succeed either.

 

Besides, the continual fear of failure stops you from having fun! Speaking of fun.

 

Seriously, don’t take everything so seriously

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The pressure that the fear of failure and perfectionism both create not only hindered me from taking opportunities that would’ve helped challenge and grow me as an artist, but it also kept me from one of the very reasons people create art: for the fun of it.

 

An example of this idea in my life came in the form of painting. I liked to paint, but after attempting it a few times, I became so discouraged by what I was making that I stopped. The paintings were never as good as I wanted them to be. The fun of painting had been strangled by my perfectionism.

 

But just a few weeks ago that all started to change.

 

I underwent this beautiful mind shift where I decided to paint and just have fun. I no longer painted with the intention of avoiding mistakes, that is, having to create something perfect. While I was brushing away at the paper, making a landscape of hills and trees I had a revelation: I was having so much fun just making something. It didn’t have to be perfect or even that good. I made mistakes, but instead of getting rid of the painting immediately, I would fix the mistake or even turn it into something I hadn’t originally intended it to be. In fact, the mistakes were the very things that made me the most proud.

 

This revelation was huge for me. It showed me fun is found in the unexpected twists and turns that happen when making something. Also when there isn’t the pressure for the piece to be perfect, I am surprised by what I am able to make.

 

The same could be said of any art. When there’s the pressure to be perfect it keeps us from enjoying the creative process. I felt this in my acting. I was starting to take it way too seriously. Then I remembered that acting is about playing. Let us never forget that.

 

Perfectionism hinders your creativity and imagination

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With the pressure to be perfect and to create perfect things, starting out becomes a real pain in the butt. When starting something, I had the idea in my mind that I needed to be instantly good at it. I would quickly become frustrated when I discovered I wasn’t.

 

This kept me from doing a lot of things as well. I didn’t allow myself to be a beginner, I had to be excellent right out of the gate.

 

When it came to creating things or acting, I was the same way. And this need to be excellent right off the bat hindered me from experimenting with different ideas and methods. I had to choose the right course the first time. I couldn’t afford to be wrong. Needless to say, what I created and how I acted was fairly flat, and it would never get any better because I didn’t allow myself to make mistakes and learn from them.

 

I fortunately learned that when we begin something, we won’t be good. I learned that it might take awhile, a long while to get good at whatever I was attempting. But that’s ok. The sooner you learn that the sooner you can let go of needing to be perfect and cling to the desire of getting better.

 

If I had held to perfectionism when I started out in acting I would’ve quit early on. Fortunately the passion I have for acting helped drive me forward and push past some of the frustration that comes from starting something new.

 

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See, letting go of perfectionism and the fear of failure isn’t the rejection of excellence. Quite the opposite, in fact. Learning to accept our failings and learning from them is how we achieve excellence in what we do.

 

That is what I learned, and it has changed how I have approached art and even every day. I see each day as an adventure, not as a day where I could mess up, or things could go wrong. So believe me when I say, learning to fail is one of the greatest lessons you can learn. Don’t try to always be dodging failure. Beat it by seeing it as a necessary step towards growth. You’ll never look back once you do.

 

It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default. -J.K. Rowling

 

How to Get Away With Murder… Filming in Public

By Greg Garofalo

So you’re an independent filmmaker and you’re ready to take on the big city and shoot your film in a large city or out in public for added realism. Things are going well, you’re on schedule for once, your actors know their lines. The stars have aligned.

You’re just about to call “Action” when all of a sudden the boys in blue show up with a cease and desist.

All of a sudden you find out that in order to shoot a film in public you need to fill out some sort of permit, as well as forms 124-135, subsections “GOOD” and “LUCK”.

Now you’re mortified. Cold sweat starts to bead up on your forehead and you desperately wish someone would have warned you about this and would have told you what to do! Well don’t worry, I’m here to save you from all of these frustrations and headaches.

First thing you need to know is that filming on public property is legal… with some strings attached, before going out to film do a bit of research to know what you can and cannot do. (Disclaimer: these are not government sites and may require further investigation)

Here’s a bit of info on Australian law concerning filming in public.

Here’s a bit on U.S law.  

Please note that I’m not advocating for you to break the law, just giving you a bit of information on how to avoid being shut down while you’re filming.

That being said, here’s some advice to help you out:

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  1. SKELETON CREW

Filming with a smaller crew is good for a couple of reasons, first of all, you don’t draw much attention to yourself which is always a good thing. Second of all, it might save your crew from being kicked out of your location.

A few months ago I was working on a film that was being shot in a National Park, we were approached during our shoot by a Park Ranger asking if we had gotten a permit, being student filmmakers we definitely didn’t. Our Director immediately got online to the park’s site and found out we were one crew member short of being considered a film crew in the park’s eyes. If we had one more person working with us we would have been slapped with a $500 fine.

Ergo, the smaller the crew you have, the better.

  1. BE INCONSPICUOUS

Nothing will ruin your shoot faster than having either a security guard, or a police officer shutting you down. Again, I’m not advocating that you break the law, but often times you can be asked to stop filming solely because an authority figure sees a film crew outside. On the last film I directed we made sure to switch everything over from a camera bag to a backpack. You’ll not only have more mobility while moving around, but you’ll be next to invisible. Also make sure to keep your equipment to the minimum. Now I know your dolly jib shot is indispensable, but get creative with what equipment you can easily move around.

  1. HAVE A FLOATER

This one’s more for if you have a skeleton of a skeleton crew, but when putting together your crew roster it really helps to have someone around to warn you beforehand if a store owner or police officer is nearby. Having a floater also helps with traffic control. No matter how inconspicuous you are, you will always have people asking questions and you can’t just stop your shoot every five minutes, you need someone on standby to Jedi mind trick people outta there.

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“Move along. Move along.”

If you’re fortunate enough to have an AD on your set, just make sure to prep them beforehand that they’ll probably have to channel Obi-Wan Kenobi for a moment.

  1. STAY AWAY FROM LOGOS

This one might seem obvious, but really make an effort to keep any corporate logo or ad OUT of your film. It might seem trivial and you might be thinking, “But Greg, there’s no way Starbucks is even going to see my film.”

Trust me, they will. I don’t know what crystal ball companies look through to find these things, but they have employees working around the clock to find an excuse for a law suit. So do the smart thing and DON’T GIVE THEM ONE.

After that you should be good to go, but honestly the most important thing to do before you shoot in public is read up on the laws in your city. If you opened the links I posted above you can see there can be a million loopholes and each city has different regulations and variations when it comes to filming. Knowledge is your greatest ally here, know what you can do for sure and know what you might be taking a risk on. It will help you so much more in the long run.

Spotlight on Botswana: revealing a ‘scandalous’ love story

BY ANNETTE LANGE

 

*** WARNING: This article contains spoilers!!! ***

 

Having grown up among the Batswana community in South Africa as one of the few white people in our township, I was always made aware of the fact that I was white, not black – from both sides.

 

Even though the Apartheid system had been abolished in 1991 (and I was born in 1995 – the so-called born-free generation), the effects of it and attitude were still ingrained in people’s minds. I never felt truly part of either the Batswana, or the white community in South-Africa – a weird limbo situation.

 

Needless to say, the trailer of ‘A United Kingdom’ sent tears streaming down my face – even when watching it for the 10th time. Seeing a powerful testimony of both the black and white community reconciled through the ‘scandalous’ union between Seretse Khama, a black inheritor of the Bamangwato chieftainship, and Ruth Williams, a white typist from London, pulled on my heartstrings even more.

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A United Kingdom follows the true story of Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo) and Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike), who meet and fall in love in London in the 1940’s. Their relationship is not only opposed by their families, but by Khama’s uncle, the regent of Bechuanaland, his tribe and both the South-African and British Governments who do everything in their might to prevent their union.

 

Through it all, their love overcomes all opposition, efforts and exile, ultimately leading to Seretse becoming the first president of Botswana, now being an independent country after its state as a British Protectorate.

 

Under his leadership, Botswana became one of the fastest growing economies after being the world’s third poorest country. His uncompromisable stance for equality and integrity was a beacon of hope amidst a region ruled by racial segregation, civil war and corruption.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvOWLRNxVs8

 

I applaud Amma Asante (director) and David Oyelowo (actor and producer) for their incredible efforts in making this story come alive. I am and will remain a huge fan of this film. However, there were some melodramatic and westernized elements and choices that pulled me out of the story on several occasions.

 

Pike and Oyelowo’s acting performances are outstanding and they have great chemistry on screen even though Oyelowo’s accent pulled me out of the story every now and then, sometimes rolling the ‘r’, sometimes not. I realize this is a daunting task, seeing that Seretse would have had the British accent mixed with the Setswana accent due to him living in London for several years. Also, Oyelowo’s occasional choice of pausing in the middle of his sentences as if he had a hard time speaking English was unnecessary, since Khama was perfectly fluent and proficient in English.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shg1hXkvT4U

 

The cinematography and production design was beautiful and aided in creating the stark contrast between the different backgrounds of both Khama and Williams, the culture of London and Botswana and the obvious presence and absence of wealth and economic stability.

 

Most of the locations were the actual locations where the story took place: the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, the St Mary’s Church in Isleworth and the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich. For the scenes set in Bechuanaland, they mainly filmed in Serowe, Botswana’s biggest village and Seretse’s actual former house that was put back together after finding it in a dilapidated state.

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I realize that Asante and Oyelowo’s main focus was the love and relationship between Seretse and Williams, they do not deny the fact that they are both ‘unashamed romantics,’ but in my opinion the focus on the romanticism took away from its authenticity and led to unnecessary melodramatic elements.

 

When Ruth first catches a glimpse of Sereste, we see him sitting confidently on the armrest of an armchair discussing politics in a macho-like manner among his African brothers. In my opinion it does not reflect Khama’s humble demeanor he is said to have had. “Seretse Khama was known for his intelligence and integrity, and a wicked sense of humour –puncturing the pomposity of those who had too high an opinion of themselves.” For the sake of his country, he stepped down as a chief and became a cattle farmer for a while. His weapon was humility, not arrogance.

 

In another scene, Seretse delivers a brilliant speech to his people who are assembled to vote whether or not they want him to continue as chief. However, the part where the men raise their hands to vote was drawn out dramatically with long periods of silence was a bit unrealistic. This particular kgotla (public meeting) in which he was recognized as Kgosi (king) by his people was the last meeting following a series of meetings through which he had gained more and more favor from the people. The men would not have taken so long to vote for his chieftainship as he “was popularly recognised as Kgosi together with his wife.”

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Another element of melodrama is seen in the portrayal of the antagonists of the story: Sir Alistair Canning (Jack Davenport) and Lady Lilly Canning (Jessica Oyelowo). Even though their intentions obviously weren’t pure, their portrayal as villains was unnecessarily exaggerated. It came across that Sir and Lady Canning made no attempt to hide their pleasure in Seretse and Ruth’s misfortune, even in their company.

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There were also a couple of moments that gave away the fact that the screenplay and dialogue were not written by an African.

 

Which brings me to the following examples of ‘westernisation’:

Ruth remains in Bechuanaland while her husband is in exile. During this time, her first child is born. In her effort to integrate herself into the Batswana community, Ruth nurses her newborn baby and joins the circle of other African mothers in the bush hospital, I am 90% sure they would not have just sat in silence acknowledging each other with a smile. I think I’d have permission to assume this group of nursing women would have been chuckling or at least chatting away in their native language, at least to the point when Ruth joins their circle. It was not the behaviour I expected from a group of Batswana mothers.

 

The people of the rural villages in Botswana are portrayed as meek and quiet. In view of the fact that Ruth had become a member of the royal family, I can imagine that a certain respect or reverence towards her might have caused members of her community to feel inhibited in her presence. From my personal experience, however, I would describe the Batswana as a lively, confident people.

 

The part that was executed extremely well however (the tearjerker for me) was the scene where the women of the village gather together in song to show their acceptance of Ruth as one of their own. I have seen such a scenario many times, and it never fails to make my heart skip a beat, when I see an example of reconciliation and acceptance such as this.

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Even though these few elements distracted me from the story now and then, I praise the filmmakers for brilliantly telling the story from both sides: Seretse’s challenges in being accepted in England as well as Ruth’s challenges in being accepted by the Batswana and the white community in Southern Africa (the part I identified with the most).

 

And, a bonus for me personally was of course, to see a story told that was so close to home. I was surprised I had never heard of the story myself, but even “many in Botswana did not know the story either, despite Seretse and Ruth’s son being the current president.”

 

I’m excited to see what the response to this film will be in Botswana and South-Africa and also to see future projects of Amma Asante and David Oyelowo. Hats off to both of them and the team!

 

Successful Self-Promotion Isn’t About Promoting Yourself

BY KEATON J. EVANS

One of the least thought about and most difficult things for most actors to do is promote themselves. It doesn’t seem to be apart of the artistic experience, and for most of us it is like attempting to skydive in a scuba suit. We have no idea what we’re doing, and when we are doing it we are positive we are doing it wrong.

 

Here’s the deal. The art of self-promotion doesn’t have to do with promoting yourself or showing just how good you are.

 

It’s actually a lot better than what people make it out to be when you get to the root of why you do it.

 

For me, as an actor, I tend to want to skip the step of promoting myself and go straight into the craft. I just want to act, gosh darn it. But the thing is, the benefits of self-promotion are very high, especially in today’s social media saturated world. So learning to promote yourself is vital as an actor and it can even be a positive experience for those who would rather skip it altogether.

 

Here’s how.

For the love of art

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When self-promoting can seem more of an irritation and a nuisance we have to do, then why do we do it at all? Besides from the obvious of getting our name out there, we gotta remember we do it because we want to further our craft.

 

I have found it’s good to think about self-promotion in the same way as I think about acting technique. Both are going to help me become a better actor, even though they seem like two totally different things. When I promote myself and my work I am striving for more opportunities to act and develop this art that I love to do.

 

That’s the whole point of it. We don’t promote ourselves to just receive credit or praise or recognition. We do it because we want to continue down this path of creating. I say this, but I often forget that when it comes to posting something on social media, or bugging my friends to watch what I’ve done, or promote what I’m going to do next.

 

So to me there’s a lot of comfort in knowing the bottom line of why I promote myself at all.

Connecting the dots and people

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The second and equally important part about self-promotion is that it is a way for you to make connections with other actors and artists who are doing the same work you are doing. Nothing’s more helpful as an artist as being with others who are also artistic!

 

It’s good to see promotion of self in this light too because it will shape your approach. Your focus will be on getting to know others and their work, as well as sharing with them what you have done. It’s also just encouraging. I enjoy getting to see fellow actors on Instagram performing in plays and short films, and it also motivates me to further my own craft.

 

So yeah, self-promotion can be many things simultaneously, including encouraging and motivating other artists to create.

I feel good!

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When you use self-promotion to further your craft and connect with other artists, it’ll make the process more enjoyable for you.

 

I know I can feel like I’m just tooting my own horn when I tell everyone about my skills and work, and to be honest, it makes me not want to promote myself at all. But with the different approach, I can find more freedom, understanding exactly why I do it. And I really want to act and create, so it also motivates me to do some self-promotion.
With this natural step we have as artists, it’s best to approach self-promotion with the right goals and focus. Successful self-promotion isn’t about promoting yourself, but about promoting what you do and why you love doing it, while making connections with other artists.

 

 

The Visual World of Wes

Written by Josias Jensen.

There are very few directors that have an instantly recognisable visual style. Wes Anderson is definitely one of them.

You may or may not be a fan of the quirky and whimsical style of his movies. However, one thing he is undeniably excellent at, is using Production Design to tell us about the world and characters of his stories.

Anderson frequently collaborates with Production Designers: David Wasco, Mark Friedberg, and Adam Stockhausen. Together they manage to fill every shot with plenty of detail and information for us to gain a deeper understanding of the characters of the story, and the world they inhabit.

As the Production Designer on The Out of the Woods Project, I was greatly inspired by Anderson’s body of work.

I would like to examine a few ways in which Anderson uses production design, to give us a deeper understanding of the characters in his films and the journeys they go on.

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Attaching meaning to props

In The Darjeeling Limited, the three brothers carry with them suitcases from their father. Anderson uses these props to show the audience how the three brothers let go of their past, and the grudges they have held against each other and other members of their family.

The brothers walk away from their father’s funeral with much hurt and emotional baggage. The suitcases symbolise this emotional baggage. In the suitcases, they bring a few items with them that used to belong to their father as well.

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Throughout most of the film they haul around all of their suitcases wherever they go. This is somewhat comedic, as they are carrying more than they need and they often get help just to carry it.

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By simply attaching meaning to specific props Anderson shows us that the characters have changed, because of how they interact with these props. They have let go of their emotional baggage.

You can do something similar in your work by creating a strong association between a prop and a certain person or event. You can show the audience something about the character and their journey, simply by showing how they interact with that prop throughout the film. Do their interactions with this prop change as they grow as a character? Do they stay the same?

Contrast

The family house in The Royal Tenenbaums is rich in detail and in almost every single shot we can learn something about the people that live there.

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In the prologue of the film, we get introduced to the three children of the Tenenbaum family. In this shot we see how Chas has arranged his room. It is devoid of color and it doesn’t really look like a kids room at all, but more like an office. Chas has grown up fast and left his childhood naivety behind him.

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In contrast to the previous shot is a shot of his brother Richie’s room also from the prologue. The room, the toys, and the clothes are just like a normal kid’s. This is a great contrast between the shot of Chas’ room that we saw earlier and this one. We can see that they are two very different people and later we also realise how they each have very different relationships to their father.

Chas feels overlooked by his father and there is great emotional distance between them. This is one of many reasons he grows up too fast. Richie is clearly the father’s favourite, he feels cared for and he gets to be a kid.

We can’t tell all of this just from the production design but it adds to and enriches their story.

I encourage you to experiment with contrast in the production design in your own work. You can show a character’s change or lack of change by having the environment they live in, or the clothes they wear, change or stay the same. You can highlight the differences or similarities between characters by showing them in vastly different or similar environments or clothes.

Characters, relationships and colours

Anderson’s attention to detail is especially evident in his use of colours. Rarely, if ever, will you see anything in frame that doesn’t fit in a carefully calculated color palette.

In The Royal Tenenbaums, we can learn quite a bit about the characters of Richie and Margot, and their complicated relationship, in the colour choices. Anderson’s use of color is a bit complex, but this is how I interpret his use of the colours of green, blue and brown related to these two characters.

In the prologue, we see that Richie’s room is blue and green. I assume these colours represent a sense of familiarity and childhood comfort to him.

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In the film, Royal Tenenbaum, Richie’s father and Margot’s adopted father, lets everyone in his family know about his deteriorating health in order to gather them all under one roof again. When Margot meets with Richie after hearing the news, she steps out of a green line bus that has a green banner. The airport banners above Richie are blue.

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Here Anderson uses those two colours to show how she represents something familiar and comfortable to him. Coincidentally, he is also in love with her and the color of green can both represent something healthy and obsessive.

Throughout the film, Margot frequently wears outfits of those colours and both her and Richie often wear browns. The colour of brown is something they share.

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In another scene Margot has locked herself in her bathroom distancing herself from her husband. She is wearing brown, and the bathroom is green and blue. This represents how she longs for the familiarity of being close to Richie (his colours) while being removed from her husband.

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In the tent scene where Richie confesses his love to Margot, they are in a brown tent and both of them are wearing colours within the blue and green pallette. Here the green and blue colours represent them finding comfort and familiarity with each other. The brown represents their similarity and bond.

You can apply this to your own work by attaching meaning to a specific colour.

You can use that specific colour to show the audience what the character’s desire is, as well as where the character is in their journey. Have they reached their goal yet? Have they returned to familiarity? Have they entered something completely new and unfamiliar?

These are just a few of the principles and ideas Anderson and his Production Designers explore in their work. Production Design is easy to forget in low budget independent filmmaking, but it really makes or breaks a production. If what you put in front of the camera doesn’t tell the story of your movie, it will not be as strong of a visual narrative.

I encourage you to be inventive and creative in your use of production design in your own work!