May 6, 2013

Motivational Growth – Darkly Funny and Deliciously Icky

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The Mold knows, Jack. The Mold knows.

Ian Folivor (Adrian DiGiovanni) hasn’t left his apartment for months, and he has no interest in doing so until his television, lovingly named Kent, dies in the middle of a rerun-marathon. The loss of his source of entertainment makes Ian question his life and decide to take action. With two parts household bleach and one part sulfuric acid, he attempts go out in a chlorine gas induced, disgustingly glorious end. But due to an unfortunately placed vent and a bit of bad luck, he wakes up on the bathroom floor.

Ian is welcomed back by the mold on his bathroom wall, voiced by Jeffrey Combs, and things take a serious turn for Strangeville.

Motivational Growth is written, directed and edited by Don Thacker, and is the result of one singular idea coming to fruition. Everything in the piece, from the dialogue to the special effects, fit together and make for a compelling, funny and icky whole.

When it comes to the story itself, it’s clear that Thacker wanted to leave things open to interpretation. As we follow Ian down the rabbit hole, we abandon the concept of time and space. The story makes several logical leaps, and it’s not always clear what the relationship between Kent and The Mold is, or what is going on. For the most part, this is good, but the score and the animated sequences, so clearly inspired by 1980s/90s video games, left me wondering if there was another dimension to this piece that I missed.

I enjoy bizarre tales and I like that Thacker wasn’t afraid to let us jump to conclusions, but I believe the story would be stronger if the reason for Ian’s seclusion from society was revealed to the audience. Without an explanation, Ian’s retreat into his cave did not make much sense. I also found it problematic that he could afford to stay in there for months on end without a job. It’s difficult for me to sympathize with a character that is privileged enough to sit on his ass eating take-out for six months without financial strain. I just wanted to yell at him to get the fuck out and do something. Once I got past the set-up, I began liking the character, almost despite myself. But with a bit more set-up, I could have rooted for him from the start.

It must also be mentioned that this is very much a character piece, resting on DiGiovanni’s performance, and he does not disappoint. His delivery of the lines had me laughing out loud, and his desperation once The Mold pushed him far enough past his comfort zone had me cringing.

The choice to use puppets, real special effects and animated sequences fit the overall look and feel of the film, and the story. Scenes that could have seemed fake or over the top with CGI, were made tangible and poignant by the use of retro effects. In general, the movie looked very good.

The dialogue was sharp, the humor pitch black and the story absurd. I’d keep my eyes open for this twisted coming-of-age story, guys. It’s worth seeing.

I got to watch Motivational Growth before it’s Norwegian release date so that I could review it on this blog. A European release date has not been set yet, but keep your eyes peeled.


May 9, 2012

Writer Wednesday with Ethan Kincaid

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Today, I’m proud to present Ethan Kincaid. My first meeting with Ethan’s writing was when he joined our writing group, St-Norbert’s Writer’s Circle. He presented the first chapter of his novel, and the first comment he got was: This is the most publishable material we’ve looked at yet. A mere year later, he’s getting ready to publish the full thing himself. Keep your eyes open for Blood of Midnight: The Broken Prophecy. I’m happy to be one of the first to recommend it.

As someone choosing the self-publishing route, Ethan gets his hands dirty with every part of the publishing process. Here, he talks about how to pick a cover artist.

So, you need to commission novel cover art for the first time? Don’t panic. There is a great wealth of artists at your fingertips right now. Before you get on Google, let me suggest something: don’t go with a hugely famous artist.

You want a professional and you can have one. What I recommend is not taking the first five search results as your ideal candidates. If you frequent art sites like DeviantART or Elfwood, for example, you already have favourite artists. You like them because their art speaks to you. While an artist of greater renown may have a huge, impressive profile, how do you know they will give your work the “face” that fits your vision? You’re about to shell out some serious cash here. $500 to $2000, paying half up front, is pretty standard. Think about it.

Artists have egos, some easier to deal with than others. With all the prospective publishers, agents, and editors you have to flatter, you don’t need one more person to coddle. Lesser-known artists are more likely to be approachable, affordable, available, and flexible. The quality of their art is often the same or better than the big players.

I’m negotiating with some artists I’ve admired for years. Let me tell you, it’s an incredible feeling of excitement. Enjoy that! Also, take pride in giving money to an artist who really needs it. You may have noticed that it’s tough making a living on art. You can make your favourite artist’s life easier by giving them your business.

Got some artists in mind? See if they take commissions and what their policies, availability, and pricing are like. Send inquiries to at least three artists. If they’re available for commission, send a brief idea of what you will need on the cover. The artist will probably give you a price estimate at this point, based on the difficulty of the work.

They might offer to do a rough sketch of their idea, especially if their portfolio is smaller than some of the big-name artists. They might do this for free, or not. Remember, you’re paying for their time. If you ask for a sketch, be prepared to pay for it. They will usually have prices posted on their webpage for sketches. Budget for it. They might not want to do a sketch for you before you pay half of the commission fee. Sadly, this is because sometimes an artist will get cheated by a client taking their sketch and getting someone else to realize the art for cheaper. Be sensitive to the artist’s needs.

That said, if the artist is impatient with you, doesn’t take the time to answer your questions, frequently misunderstands what you say even though you’ve been pretty articulate, or you just have a feeling that they’re not very good at working with newbie authors, don’t make a contract with them. Whether it’s a simple communication problem or a prima donna attitude, you do not need the extra stress. An artist that will work with you to realize your dream is worth far more than a famous name.

March 25, 2012

Contemporary Art is Online

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 7:07 pm
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I used to love going to galleries. Every summer, my parents would bring our family to another part of the world and introduce us to a new sculptor, painter or performance artist. I was wowed by Antoni Gaudi, Salvador Dali and Edvard Munch, I was enticed by Ferdinan Finne, Anna Ancher and Gustav Klimt, and I was bored by a multitude of others.

I don’t know when my taste changed, but somewhere around my early twenties, I stopped going to art galleries. Not a conscious choice, life just got in the way, and I stopped earning enough to go on vacations. Somehow going to museums in my home town felt odd.

But when a friend of mine asked me to join her at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts yesterday, I didn’t feel like I could say no. After all, I used to adore going to galleries, and the exhibition of contemporary Canadian painters was free.

As soon as I set foot inside the place, I remembered what I used to love about going to art shows. The silence of the crowd. The place was as packed as it was hushed. The tension in the air as everyone who went inside quietly committed to a vow of silence made my tummy tingle. It felt like I was part of something truly important.

But of course there’s a but. I looked at the sixty year old pieces that claimed to be contemporary, and I felt nothing. Sure, it was interesting to see how the textures of oil on canvas played with the edges of color and light, but it didn’t move me. Not like this does:

Pumped up kicks:

Look at the beauty of movement in that piece. See how he captures the spirit of our age as well as pushes the boundaries of what I thought people were able to physically do. How is that not art?

Lindsey Stirling’s Crystallize:

Listen to the beauty of that piece of music and tell me you weren’t moved.

Muto by Blu:

See how that piece of art tells a story, a story that gains momentum over time. It is beautiful.

In fact, looking at those pieces of art, hidden on the internet, I can’t help but feel that what we attribute value to has less to do with the merit of the piece, and more to do with society. The silence inside the gallery is a sign of an unspoken agreement that this is art and therefore important. That is what gives us the feeling of awe when we enter the art gallery, not so much the things that hang there.

The real contemporary art is hidden in the mess of youtube, on fan forums, inside blogs and in the shout-outs of social media. So I won’t be going back to the galleries soon. Why should I, when the most moving pieces of art I’ve seen in years aren’t there?

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