Spotlight on Act3scene24

What led you to get involved with machinima?
I grew up loving two things. Baseball and storytelling. Not good enough for baseball, but I was always a natural storyteller. At least I called it that; instead of the ugly word "lying", I would say, "I'm just telling a story." Okay, not really, but I was always fascinated by movies and television growing up and writing stories as a little kid.

I wanted to grow up to be a filmmaker and/or screenwriter, especially after seeing how a few of my heroes became professionals (Robert Rodriguez, Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino). Not having enough money for film school, I wanted to seriously try to do what Robert Rodriguez did, which is shoot guerilla style in Mexico and try to get it seen in the states. He did it at 23, and I was about 13 when I read all about it, I was so prepared. But, as the years went by, my extreme shyness towards others led me nowhere, but with stories to tell.

So I learned how to write sceenplays during my high school years. I wrote about four or five to get out of the way as I learned "my voice." I then wrote two that I was very serious about. One that I planned on making myself on a micro budget, and one I'd hoped to sell as a spec script. I like them a lot both, and I still sometimes say to myself, "I feel like watching 'Beguiling Smiles' or 'Faded Sunrise', which are the titles of the two.

I sent Faded Sunrise out to competitions and instead of winning a competition, it got the attention of a studio, which optioned it for a year. It never got made, but I noticed similar movies ended up coming out the following years. I like to think they stole my screenplay and changed it around enough to say they don't know anything about it. When I get really drunk and talk about filmmaking, it suddenly turns into me becoming a sad.

And since I haven't even answered your question yet, I guess I'll just say this...I've wanted to be a filmmaker all my life (and still do even after putting it off for about six or seven years of Writer's Block) and machinima is the most realistic way a guy like me with no money or connections can tell a story to an audience that I hope grows.

What aspects of movie-making do you enjoy the most?
Wow, I don't know how to answer that, I love so many things about it. When it comes to writing, I LOVE writing dialogue, as you may tell from my movies. I love the writing process when dialogue is what takes me wherever the story goes. Sometimes, I just begin writing dialogue without plot and the conversation leads to a plot eventually. An example of this would be my Clarks episode "Dad Uncle Nick" where Damon and Nick are "drunk" at a strip club and just talking. It eventually leads to Damon sneaking into the Clark parents' bedroom.

If I work with a cast of actors like I do in 'anonymous', I love the feedback I get on the script. There's only been one handed out so far, but I like the feeling of working with other people who are willing to a drama with me as opposed to a comedy, which is so completely different.

Another thing I love to do is the editing. The post production editing is very simple for me because I never need to add or cut a pause because the timing is done within Moviestorm. But editing is a lot of fun for me, especially when I need to do more like in 'anonymous' or my entry into Mefune Akira's mock trailer competition (which took me a very long time to edit).

But, I guess I would say that my favorite aspect of movie-making would have to be the viewers' comments. Whether good or bad, I appreciate that they took the time to watch my movie and comment on it. Also, I got a few fans of The Clarks and it feels good to say that I actually have fans. It's a weird feeling for me, but I want more fans!

What programs do you use to craft your work? Why did you choose these?
To make the movies, I use Moviestorm. I was about to begin machinima making several years ago when The Movies first came out, but my PC crashed and I lost my TM game before I could really begin. After that, life got in the way, but recently wanted to make movies again, so I looked up TM again. I didn't have any money, but I noticed a list of machinima programs on the TMU front page where it says, The Movies, iClone, Antics and Moviestorm. I googled the last three and found that MS was free, so I downloaded it. A couple of weeks later, I tried it out and haven't stopped since.

For my voice recordings, I use GarageBand. I tried Audacity, but I'm no audio expert and didn't know how to get rid of all the pops and static. GarageBand doesn't have static or pops when recording voice at all and I could also change tone and pitch if I wanted to there as well. Sound editing is not something I'm especially good at, which is kind of embarassing to admit to my family because they all have been in the music industry in some way or another. Well, I have made a few songs in GB for some of my movies, but no symphony.

To edit the movies, I use Final Cut Express HD, which I purchased along with my Mac when I got it. Even before I knew I was going to be making movies, I would always purchase a good video editor. I was intimidated by it at first after using such a simple program like iMovie HD, but I knew I needed something better to make my movies, and I had FCE there already. All I had to do was learn the basics and I was ready to go. I also gave Adobe Premiere Pro, but MS movies can't be edited there. But I don't see a reason yet as to why I should switch from FCE as of now.

I'm not a very technical person, so I don't know how to make mods or make computer graphics for special effects. My movies are simple when it comes to the directing style.

How would you describe your movie style?
With my comedies, I describe them as simple, yet effective. There's not much motion, no crane shots or anything like that. I play with the lighting a little but and that's it. With comedies, there's really no serious deeper meaning when it comes to an extreme closeup, and crooked angle on a closed window with bars, just show what you want people to laugh at. With comedy, it's about execution of the voice acting and timing.

When it comes to my more serious work (which there will be more of), I like to describe the style as poetic. I know that probably sounds cocky or something like that, but I put a lot of thought with the props I use, shots, angles, timing and especially lighting. One thing I'd like to learn about more is lighting the sets exactly the way I want them. Most of my future movies will be gritty crime noirs and I like shadows, blue or yellow lense filters and things like that. I like to set the mood with lighting. I used a blue tint in Randy's home in 'anonymous' that is very subtle, probably not noticeable, but I hope the feeling is there.

When it comes to my dialogue movie style, I think it shows a lot in anonymous that I like saying things without saying them until it's pushed there. For example, subjects get changed a couple of times with Randy's conversations with his daughter to avoid awkward moments ("I'm cold," "Wanna watch a movie?") and Haley felt pushed into asking her father to stop drinking when he called her mother a bitch one time too many. I'm proudest of my dialogue in both my comedies and dramas.

Which of your movies best depicts that style? Why?

'anonymous' definitely shows my style a lot because in addition to dramatic shots, camera movements and dialogue, it also has some comedy. One of my favorite moments when it comes to comedy is when Gully tells Randy that he's married and with a straight face says "Woo-Hoo" and pumps his fist with no meaning. A light-hearted moment I love visually is when Haley tells her father that his house better smell like potpourri the next time she visits with that really cute look on her face. I just had to keep the camera on that adorable smile.

anonymous (Part 1) from Jorge on Vimeo.

What are your proudest achivements in this field?
Well, I haven't had many yet, I just began machinima in November of '08, but I would have to say a couple of things (okay, a few): One being finishing my first drama in 'anonymous' and the positive feedback it's gotten so far (even though it just came out). It's a great feeling to come out with a 20 minute dramatic movie that people are interested in. And the other would be getting the attention from who I've just signed with recently to become a director. So, I'll be making the cheddah! It feels nice to be noticed by a big site like I also have to say thanks to DL Watson and having The Clarks series associated with Moonlight Pictures now and getting The Clarks a website (shameless plug time! &

Can you share any voiceacting techniques or tips with us?
First is a tip. It's SO much easier acting in your own movies than in others'. I've learned this first hand and hate the way that some of my earlier perfomances sounded in other peoples' movies, but I've learned to get better at that.

So, when I record lines, I don't visually focus on anything. I'm feeling what I'm saying. I physically act out my lines as I say them. If I have a character who is crying, I'm actually crying, angry, cocky, emotional, whatever. So my tip is to not have anything that could visually break your character. Learn your lines ahead of time, one at a time if you're not good at it. Also, make sure you read the entire script if you have meaningful lines, you need to know the mood of the story and especially of the particular scene you're in. I heard of people who just go straight to their lines and read them, not caring what's happening in the actual movie. Probably why I'm not good with Casting calls with an audition line where I have no idea what's happening in the scene. Lines can be easily taken out of context.

Also, please don't be afraid to change a word here and there, we all want the lines to sound natural. An actor doesn't memorize the words, they memorize what they have to say. A big difference.

Have you worked on projects with anyone else in the TMUnderground community?
I was working on a 7 Deadly Sins project with Dulci and thebiz, but I was so busy with finishing the season of The Clarks, anonymous and my personal life that I was ineffective (dulci's note - that project is still in motion and you aren't getting out of it that easily pal!), which is unfortunate. I hope I get the chance again in the future to work with someone in the TMU community. However, I am working with a member of the MS community at the moment and that's become my main priority now that 'anonymous' is out.

Do you have any projects on the horizon?
Well, as I just mentioned, I'm working with someone in the MS community. I'm working to direct and co-write a subplot story from the Star Quest series with Jim Hurst (aka reptor7). It's his baby in his universe, but he gave me the freedom to write anything I want around the skeleton of the plot/plot points.

I'm also writing the rough draft of part 2 of anonymous which will feature two other characters from the group. I hope to have that script done soon so I can send it out to the VA's in the series. I'll also need to get new actors for the stories that will be told in the episode.

I'm also planning Season 2 of The Clarks and I really want to get that first episode done before I start lagging on it, but there are still other things to be done.

Also, I'm planning some short comedies to make for Circus Machinima ( The second episode is nearly complete and I'm already planning on shorts to include in episodes beyond it., I'm busy, I really want to make "A New Dusk" which is a crime drama, but that might have to wait until after I'm done with the things above. I also may as well wait for the upcoming "Criminals" pack for MS to add to it. I hope they have more weapons, drugs and animations. Maybe a moving car with a broken windshield and bullet holes would be good too. :-)

I have so many ideas queued up that I know I will eventually make, but it's The Clarks and anonymous that will be taking up most of my time for machinima.

What advice would you give someone starting out with machinima?
Don't be afraid to start. Don't be intimidated by people more advanced than you because you could be right in their ranks within months. Don't be afraid to record your ugly voice (hehe) if you don't like it. Get those first few movies out of the way and listen to and welcome any constructive criticism that comes your way. And don't be afraid of some people who rate your movies low just because you're new, those people seem to have forgotten what it's like to start out in a new world. You will be welcomed by some very nice people. So like Nike..."Just Do It." Just make the movie, if you're thin skinned, don't read the comments. It's your right to make whatever movies you please, that's the beauty of freedom of speech. Start out simple, then add as you progress, because you will progress. Don't try to come out with an epic film with your first movie, you'll only be disappointed you didn't do it after you learned a lot more about movie-making. Also, please don't be afraid to ask people questions in open forums. You'll get a lot more answers that way as opposed to PM'ing your favorite actors/directors.


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