Been working on some color tones for The Porter & The Stone, thought I'd share while I'm in the process. I'm going with lighter, milkier shades in this test, closer to pastels, next up I'll try more vivid colors. A more vibrant palette might be where I end up, we'll see once we get to the actual concept art stage. I wish I could draw better, how did James Cameron do it?
I've been a little behind on the updates, rest assured I'm still hard at work, albeit with some delays. In a nutshell my mother hadn't been well (two surgeries in four months of each other) and I've been traveling (among other things).
So what's happening lately?
'The Fort' is still doing pretty good. It's turned out to be a smaller & fun project, and Christian Villarreal and I are having a blast with it. We're on a seasonal/ summer break, but still churning out a couple of quick episodes bi-weekly, so keep your eyes peeled!
We're also about to hit 1000 views on our 'Wonder Man' character history video any day now, so these are exciting times, check it out here: https://youtu.be/dlM2kHWzl2Q
What's coming up:
Things have calmed down, so an article should be up by the end of the weekend. Expect 'Nuhdles' to start up again.
And oh yeah, in movie news, expect an update on both 'The Porter & The Stone' and the imaginary friends project soon. Stay tuned folks, good things are coming.
As a filmmaker, imagination may quite possibly be one of the most important things during the creation process.
In your mind, your imagination plays the fiddle. An epic story of heroics and villainy. The light of God cast on your characters. Music so sweet the Sirens themselves sang it. Visuals so stunning that Rembrandt would be impressed.
But the root of our imagination begins in our childhood. Recently on ‘The Fortress of Dorkness’, we discussed the comic series, Saga. Creator Brian K. Vaughn crafted Saga over a number of years, a result of his imagination when he was a child.
Today I’m going to speak of something that inspired my own imagination, Mattel & Filmation’s Masters of the Universe.
The Eternian adventures of the scantily clad barbaric hero, He-Man, and the villainous bone-headed wizard Skeletor, was perhaps the most important cartoon produced in the United States in the 1980’s.
On the surface, MOTU, as it’s often abbreviated, was your typical cartoon about good vs. evil. GI Joe was doing it. The Thundercats were doing it. My personal favorite, Transformers was doing it.
But when we dig a little deeper we see that Masters had something…more. Another layer down we have a story where barbarians, wizards, robots, cowboys, vampires, and a ton of other beings lived in the same universe, letting my imagination soak it all in.
A little further, and we start seeing the deep roots of the stories. Masters wasn’t just another cartoon where toys were being forced down our throats. It was threaded with a rich, fantastical tale of heroism, loss, pity, consequences, and, yes, even lust.
Look at the infamous episode ‘The Problem with Power’. Skeletor tricks The Most Powerful Man in the Universe into thinking he accidentally killed a man, causing He-Man to relinquish the power bestowed upon him. He beats himself over his own negligence, and regardless of the outcome or the circumstances, a strong lesson is learnt about the consequences of wielding such power.
Or perhaps we can look at ‘The Search’, where He-Man is overcome by the cosmic power of The Starseed, and must rise above his own temptations of destroying Skeletor. And who can forget ‘Prince Adam No More’, where Adam puts his own desire to be approved by his father above his duties.
Stories like these sparked the thought process for me, where heroes could be damned by their own actions. I learnt that you could still make a fun story about fantasy and science fiction, and retain a solid, character driven tale, with strong moral implications.
Credit has to be given to Filmation. Lou Scheimer and his team pushed the boundaries of a cartoon in a way that I, as a fan of animation, had not seen in any other cartoon of that period. Yes, other cartoons ended their episodes with a short moral snippet, but the consistency of Masters was unmatched in the western market.
To give you an idea of the impact of this cartoon, look at some of the names involved: Paul Dini, Bruce Timm, Bob Forward, Haim Saban, David Wise, J. Michael Straczynski, and Larry DiTillio. These guys went on to spearhead some of the most memorable cartoons, television series, and films ever, even winning numerous awards along the way.
He-Man and The Masters of the Universe is by far one of the important pieces of media to ever be produced. Though it’s faced moderate success with its many attempts to come back, the series, comics, and the films it spawned following it may be good, but lack the soul that made the original so special.
With another film in the works, I hope that they remember the heart of what made the Filmation series so unique, and not make it another mindless action film to appeal to a ‘grittier’ audience (I myself would love to see one done with this flavor in the styling of Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal).
The potential now exists to bring that same heart & soul out for the imaginations of the modern age, and hopefully, we’ll all be a little more inspired.
Enjoy the second episode of The Fort, this one is about hidden treasures scattered throughout the film, The Goonies!
I've been off the grid for a few months. I absolutely have. Today I get to happily explain why.
Creator and Exec. Producer Christian Villarreal, Producer Ryan Burke, and of course Lead Writer and Director myself, have been working together to create 'The Fortress of Dorkness', a weekly resource channel for trivia, general knowledge, and analysis of everything in the world of geek.
I'm proud to say that we launched today. It has been a collaboration between Christian, Ryan, and me. The show is hosted by Christian and Beth Damiano.
Since The Fort is a continuing project, you'll see frequent videos, posts, and updates about it right here on my website between my other work. I might even throw in some behind the scenes goodies for you guys. So I hope you guys enjoy the channel, please follow us, like and subscribe to our social media (linked below) and link the bard says; Never Fear The Dork Up Here!
Last weekend, Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s Birdman won Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, and Cinematography at the 87th Academy Awards.
Birdman, which was a weird and gratifying film, falls into a genre that is close to my own heart, and what defines a number of my stories. I’m speaking, of course, of Magical Realism. With Birdman’s big win I felt that this might be a good time for me to speak briefly on the genre.
Magical Realism is taking fantastical elements and portraying them as commonplace in the ‘regular’ world. This is not the same as a story where a character enters a separate, fantasy universe, such as the Chronicles of Narnia or Peter Pan.
In those cases, the character is leaving the rational world and leaps into a strange land filled with mystery, or rather the unknown. Magical Realism, on the other hand, takes the same wondrous components and makes them out to be everyday occurrences in the real world. The metaphysical becomes physical.
Imagine Aslan the Lion around every Wednesday for coffee.
Perhaps you’ve seen Pan’s Labyrinth, Big Fish, or Amélie? These flicks are examples of the genre, the latter two being in my top films. Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Hayao Miyazaki are two famous names you might recognize whose films contain, surprise, surprise, Magical Realism.
Birdman presented Magical Realism as an imaginative element brought out into the real world. The film, though it followed a number of themes and players (for the most part), is a visual account of the outlandish mind of Riggan Thomson, represented by this Birdman character. These sequences were a daydream extended into real life.
I like to tell stories about the mundane world with an added sprinkle of the spice of the fantastical, thus my devotion to the genre. Storytelling can be an extension of our own experiences; the worlds that I build are the same that you and I live in, with the same history, the same events, but off-kilter.
This genre allows me to portray my message, whatever it may be, in a way that opens it to a broader gallery of people. Perhaps what I love most about this genre is one of the ingredients that makeup the core of it: acceptance.
It represents accepting the bizarre and otherworldly into mundane lives, and in doing so, juxtaposes humanity and individualism as a whole. That supernatural beast we see is nothing more than a reflection, a divine mirror image, of ourselves. We escape our lives. We let loose.
Remember, we are all different and the same. We are all bizarre and human.
And that’s where the magic of storytelling comes from.