I spent Monday night in Los Angeles with our friends Heidi and Ken, and their delightful daughter B. Young B. had a homework assignment in which she had to set forth the countries from which her forbears had immigrated, and why. In B.'s case, the answer--all Costa Rica on the one side, with a tale of coming to a place with more opportunity, and largely Russia on the other side, with a tale of escaping the pogroms, suited the assignment very well. I thought about how in my grade school class, the answer among the anglo kids would have been, almost to a one, an ultimate trace to Scots Irish or midlands English forbears, who escaped creditors in the old country, Virginia, the Carolinas, and then Alabama, before settling without money or debt in Arkansas. I don't believe that story is quite as cinematic for the American Dream lessons as the tale of B.'s forbears.
Ken and I discussed short films, because he may be making one in 2008. I asked him how many frames a tournament-worthy animation would need to use to be suitable for submission to festivals. He said, if I am quoting him correctly, that as few a 18 a second would minimally suffice, but that 30 was closer to the number. I imagined creating 7,200 images for a 240 second, or four minute film. The math would double that figure to 14,400 images for an 8 minute film, which is apparently tournament length.
This morning I pondered what it would be to create 14,400 images. I wish I were one of those people who spoke programming languages in profusion. Then I'd go into one of the various Logo programs I have on my desktop, and tell the Logo turtle to draw and save 14,400 spirograph-like evolutions. I'd call the resulting film "string art".
I'd love to make a film that could be submitted to a festival. It just sounds like such a fun thing to do. Although one's goal should be to be featured in Sundace or New York or Austin or Toronto, I'd be thrilled with a makeshift screen at a Holiday Inn Suites on the outskirts of Omaha. Youtube and blip.tv take all the worry out of film-making anyway, because one can find great audiences there.
In the real world, of course, one does not draw one's own animations, but instead hires a skilled craftsperson with a fresh eye and immense creativity to do it for one. That's undoubtedly the wise way to go, but it seems much less fun than hand-drawing 14,400 images.
The main obstacle I have with drawing as an expression of my creativity is that I can't draw. I have read a number of the books on how to draw on various sides of the brain and various sides of walls. They never make a serious dent in my artistic complacency. They always start by showing me that when it all comes down to it, a portait of John Wilkes Booth is really three potatoes, an onion, and two Goodyear blimps. Yet the problem is always that last step, when the concentric circles and ill-defined squibbles magically transform into the Sydney Opera House. My squiggles never transport anything except perhaps the wonderfully clearing effect of the "new document" key. Without meaning any disrespect, I wonder if one could economize on Scientology sessions by using the little eraser on MS Paint.
I have now posted 70+ times on twitter, with no idea of what I am doing, and nearly no discernible progress in social networking. Some sites are like that. Take bebo. I have no idea what that site is about, other than that I am enrolled in it. Other sites, on the other hand, do not gain my participation although I think they're utterly cool. Pandora certainly qualifies for that distinction. My friend Scott uses it as a primary tool to hear familiar music and learn of similar new music. I've not yet gotten bitten by the bug. The bug is rabid, though, so foam may yet come from my mouth.
I remember when I spoke just enough programming language to do essentially nothing in Basic or Fortran. Those were days of each command being carved into a little computer card to be fed into a giant thing that looked like a good way to make money stuffing envelopes. If one programmed carefully, little letters "x" would print on huge green paper in the shape of a cat or barn.
Now I speak virtually no programming language, and can do so much. I love that feeling, almost as much as the feeling I have that there is a freeware animation program somewhere that will let me make better cartoons without drawing anything.