Dream On

Him: “I’m just going to say, whatever your dream is, just quit it. Right now. Otherwise you’ll be really disappointed.”

Me: “You don’t even know what my dream is.”

Him: “…. fair enough. What is your dream?”

Me: “To be a film director.”

Him: “Exactly my point.”

Me: “But I have at least forty years to make that dream come true. I’m in no rush.”

Real conversation that I had on set with another worker. The first sentence was meant to be a joke as it followed our discussion of my schooling, but it went to a whole new level very quickly. This little snippet of conversation was then told to a couple others around set by the other person because he was impressed by my answers. I couldn’t be more proud of being recognized for them.

Passion

When I was in band in high school, it was easy to spot the passionate musicians versus the part-time players. One was a very dear friend of mine who exuded such joy and enthusiasm with everything he ever played on his horn. He was a fantastic player and it was almost impossible to catch him without his horn in his hand, whether together and warm from playing or tucked away into his brown case. His power when playing combined with his excitement was what drew me to picking up a brass instrument, and he even offered me a few private lessons to bring me up to a decent playing level. Thanks to social media, I was able to keep tabs on him after he graduated, and it was exciting to see him continuing on with music professionally which so few did after high school.

As the years passed, I would run into him in brief moments at social settings or performances, and it seemed like he was happy playing and doing what he loved, but each time, there was something a little bit less. It took one chance encounter in an open social setting for me to finally see it. As passionate as he had been in high school, that spark was now missing. In our brief conversation, he described all the different bands and activities he was taking part in- far more than a normal being would probably do- but he stated them all in exhaustion.

It is upsetting to see someone who had been so innocent and driven when young and still in the public school system, to now be several years out and missing that spark. Perhaps the pressure of the outside world demanding a “real” degree- not music- and a “real” job- not band- is weighing down so much on his passion for playing. The struggle is infinite for musicians and other artists who are attempting to live their life on their work, and I think that’s something that needs to be addressed. How we are to adjust our society to suit the needs of the artist is beyond me, but I think recognizing a person’s art and supporting them in any way we can is a good start.

Vincent

Written Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Vincent (1982) by Tim Burton

I resisted the urge to watch Vincent for the two days leading up to the class just so that I could experience it on a large screen with the thoughts and feelings of an audience surrounding me, rather than in the confined space of my home with a tiny screen and laptop speakers. Because of this choice, the film affected me more so than I thought it would, and so here I am documenting my experience.

I’m a lover of Edgar Allan Poe, but I regret to say that I have not seen many film adaptations of any of his works. This neglect may have been due to the fact that I couldn’t stand the stories being altered for film and losing out on important details, or because the readings of the poems and stories in their original format is what I believe to be the most organic way of experience everything the author, in this case Poe, wanted you to experience. Therefore, I have not seen much of Vincent Price, except for the odd cameo or mention in other films or shows. This may have been a slight problem with the screening because I do not understand the person or his work to whom it is dedicated, only the stereotypes that I have seen through other sources. On the positive side, I am inspired to see Price’s work that has inspired such an artistic force in my lifetime and am interested to see if/how my view on Vincent will change.

Now that I have finally experienced Vincent, I understand why Disney did not release it to the public. Sure, Disney has its sombre moments- Bambi’s mother’s death, the puppet show in Pinocchio, or even the panther in the Jungle Book- but despite the fact that, according to Burton, Vincent doesn’t die in the end of the story, I experienced shivers and goose bumps throughout the short. For a younger audience, this would certainly be something that would give someone night terrors; in fact, I may even experience nightmares tonight considering how this has affected me enough to write about it! It may have been the overall theme of the short, suggesting the innocence of the young character Vincent Malloy is just a mask to what lies beneath; the twisted sense of Vincent Price. To think that a seven year old has torturous tendencies is disturbing, yet knowing that it came from a mind as Tim Burton, I accept the idea, but understand when it was originally created, why the classical minds at Disney did not appreciate it.

Story aside, I have to say that the clay stop-animation, though in its infancy, was fantastic, and I had to draw myself away from the story to appreciate the artwork. As noted in class, several of the figures and ideas have been reused in other Burton films or animation. Being a big fan of The Nightmare Before Christmas, I noticed to monsters in particular that were of similar sketches; first was the jack-in-the-box style snake in Vincent, which has the same design as the snake in Nightmare that was given as a gift to a child and ends up eating the Christmas tree; second, the silhouette and slight glimpse of the mutated dog in Vincent (also note this idea is connected to Frankenweenie) reflects the hunched figure of the werewolf in Nightmare; thirdly, the stature and dress of Vincent’s aunt is also similar to the dead woman in Nightmare. I would also count the cat as being similar, but I can understand that when one person draws a cat or other animal, it will be the same style drawing in all other films such as in Nightmare as well as Corpse Bride. Also noted in Vincent is the mixed use of 3D and 2D animation. As mentioned in class, the opening sequence was paying homage to Mystery, beginning with simple 2D animation and having the transition of the cat jumping to the window and cutting to 3D supported by the diegetic sound of Vincent playing the recorder. There were several other moments as well, such as when Vincent becomes the more sinister character and the smoke from the cigarette was in 2D but so was the fog covering the animation as Vincent and his mutated dog wander the streets and the skewed staircase that he climbs to the tower.

What I also noticed was the pace of the short, having started out quite slow in both cuts and music. As we view further into the mind and imagination of Vincent, the cuts between the shots as well as the transitions between the two Vincent’s are shorter in time, to almost half a second between cuts even when little is happening in the sequence. An example of this would be closer to the end of the short when Vincent’s mother comes to ‘the tower’ to have him go outside and play, but then continues to scold him. With animation movement limited to an arm wave and eyelids blinking, there are several cuts that occur from different points of view, and this may be for use of keeping your adrenaline and heart rate up as you prepare to watch the finale to the film. This is especially important as this scene is followed by a very fast paced, quickly cut sequence as Vincent reflects on his time in the world of Price and Poe. When the end finally draws near with a tracking shot away from a side profile of Vincent lying on the ground in a spotlight, my heart rate not only dropped, but I felt a heaviness in the pit of my stomach, leaving me uneasy. Whether this was from the insecurity of a non-concluding ending or just the overall experience of the short film catching up to me, I am still unsure of, just as how unsure the main character is unsure of which Vincent he really, truly, is.

What is Love.

B: Are you seeing someone right now?

E: No, no. No one right now.

B: Any particular person you’re interested in?

E: Particular? No, not really. I always seem to have a few people in mind but rarely does one person jump out at me. I think that’s how it is with everyone though, don’t you think?

B: Yeah, definitely. It’s like you can’t be certain which person is the one you really have feelings for.

E: Exactly. I think, as humans, we have this expectation of falling in love; seeing the person across the room and knowing they are exactly who you are supposed to be with. We expect this to happen to each and every one of us, so when you are only slightly interested in someone, you tend to be distant, waiting for that moment either with that person or with another person that comes along.

B: Do you think that will ever happen?

E: For me personally, or everyone? I guess either way the answer is the same. I don’t know. Deep down we all believe that it will but there are some that accept reality as it is and abandon the idea or settle for feelings of comfort as opposed to love. I would be content if it happened and I wouldn’t be heartbroken if it didn’t.

B: Would you settle for someone instead?

E: Maybe I would, but it wouldn’t really be “settling”. It would be more of a mutual understanding of each other maybe with similarities that allow us to get along and grow together. The love would grow as opposed to being instant. I would be happy with that, and I think others would be as well. That is why people continue to date and experiment with other people as it is all in attempts to find that match to grow with as an alternative to the love stories and the ideals that are thrust upon us in other means.

B: That still sounds like a love story to me.

E: Yeah, it is, isn’t it.

B: It seems that more and more people are searching for the idea you just described, the perfect best friend to become a lover, as opposed to the across the room, one look love. I don’t think it makes our society any less romantic because of the change in the idea, but it is certainly a more realistic situation.

E: Now that I think of it, it isn’t any more realistic than the one look love, but is now what people have geared their romantic lives towards finding. This isn’t a bad thing though. As our society evolves, so do our ideals.

B: What if that ideal is never reached though? What if, say, you never find that person to grow with? People don’t stay together because they aren’t with the right person that connects with them, but this could be because their ideal person is nonexistent.

E: For me, if I end up a tired old lonely hag, I would be okay with that. And I agree, maybe the reason I wouldn’t end up with someone is because my expectations of that person are so high or out-of-this-world, but that is part of the learning curve. If a person is afraid of being alone when they are older, they must learn to accept the differences of their partner and work through them in a different way, which is all part of the growing process.

B: What you are saying is that we should continue to date other people in search of our ideal relationship, whether we’ll find it or not, as it will lead toward a better understanding of our own self.

E: Yes, that’s exactly it.

B: Awesome. Dinner tomorrow night?