Star Trek is sick, and the cure for what ails it isn’t another bombastic brofest.
Allow me to explain. Though I’m best known as a Doctor Who nerd, my first introduction to science fiction in a visual medium was Star Trek. As a six-year old in the mid-70s I was intrigued by the colorful costumes and derring-do of the original series, and I never really lost that interest until the series started hitting the dirt around the mid-point of Voyager.
Rather than stare at my computer on a Saturday night, as per usual, I made my way out to Main St last weekend and took part in the Vancouver Comic Jam, which is a cool sit-down involving drawing a panel of a one page comic and passing it on to the rest of the group to finish. As you might imagine, the results can be odd, funny or both. Check out this month’s drawings and see if you can pick out my infantile doodlings!
Had some weird stuff happen with the blog. Hackers tossing spam into the world, apparently by hiding in the theme of the site. So I had to change the theme around to hopefully flush their vile scripts into hell, hence the (temporary?) new look.
I have been a bad, bad blogger and have not updated this site in quite some time. There are reasons for that, from mundane things like work, life and more work, to interesting projects that have demanded all my attention. These projects are as follows!
I wrote a story called “Crowsnest Past” for Seasons of War, the unofficial War Doctor anthology due out early next year. It’s got a “young” War Doctor, rural Canada, homicidal robopeople and shotgunning of beer. What more do you want? How about many more stories by incredibly talented writers, all of them devoting their time to a good cause. A big shout out to writer and gentleman Declan May, who has ably shepherded the anthology into its present state and deserves buckets of praise for his tireless work.
The cause in question is the Cauldwell Children, which helps out families of autistic children as well as the kids themselves. The anthology has to date raised over 3,00o pounds, and all of it goes to the charity.
I also wrote a story that appears in Dark Tales from Elder Regions: New York, an anthology of ghoulish and ghastly horror tales set in NYC. My story, “The None Percent,” tackles the thorny problem of what an ultra-wealthy Wall Street magnate does with himself once he’s shuffled off this mortal coil, and all that’s left is his coal-black soul. You can pick up Dark Tales from Elder Regions up now from Amazon or directly from Myth Ink Books.
What else? Well, work continues on Bookshelf Doctors and Master Control, my ode to days gone by in the televisual trade (which is also hosted on the Bookshelf Doctors site). And I have a few more irons in the fire, which I will discuss when they go from “warming up” to “oww, that’s scorching.”
Confession time: I was an anime fan in the early 90s. Back then it was tough to find anime, and watching the stuff was difficult, with 4th generation fansubbed VHS tapes regarded as a major find. Anime was a predominantly male (and Asian) hobby at the time, something that has massively shifted over the last two decades.
My own additions to this list would include some creature effects, as only top end digital beasties like Gollum or…well, Gollum seem to be utterly convincing. Creature animation has always been the toughest part of VFX animation and that won’t change no matter how many petaflops you throw at the problem. Andy Serkis is the reason Gollum works..or at least he’s a component of the hard work everyone puts in to make you forget Gollum isn’t there.
But even when effects are utterly convincing, as they are in Man of Steel or Avatar, you still check out a little bit. It’s all just so “big” that you brain slides into apathy. Alien jungle? Check. Entire city collapsing? Meh. You don’t want to, or at least I don’t, but you care a little bit less about the goings-on because it’s all stunningly common-place.
I think it might also have something to do with the overriding subject. Gravity has two characters and a very simple goal; survive. It also employs stunning effects that you don’t question, because you care more about the characters than you do about pixels flying around. It’s a very thin tightrope, and to maintain that tension the effects have to be both invisible and impeccable, but Gravity pulls it off. Minus an Alfonso Cuaron at the helm, the likelihood of that combination declines sharply.
It’s been a while since I’ve run through my list of podcasts I listen to (and, less often nowadays, watch) so here’s a compilation of some of the newest and greatest:
Canadaland: Jesse Brown’s new thing takes aim at the Canadian media. About time somebody did. Nerdist Writer’s Panel: The Nerdist network’s flagship podcast with Chris Hardwick can be pretty hit and miss. When he has a good guest, it’s gold, but sometimes it’s just kind of meh. Not so with the Nerdist Writer’s Panel, which is almost always chock full of interesting conversations with writiers of tv, film and comic books. Inkstuds: Speaking of comic books, this local offering is a cornucopia of great interviews with comic book creators from the strictly indie end of the spectrum. Definitely worth a listen. Cinema Sewer Podcast: Robin Bougie is a local filth merchant and the publisher of Cinema Sewer, a zine that celebrates the best in sleaze. He’s just started a podcast covering the same material, and it’s remarkably polished. That Post Show: Kanen Flowers is an indie filmmaker out of Portland, Oregon. The show has a cast of regulars and can get very technical, which depending on your familiarity with the tools being discussed, but if you’re into post-production it’s well worth a listen.
All these audio entertainments cost you only your time, so go check them out.
That fine piece of work above is Gallifrey Academy, my latest short Doctor Who film. Every year I try to make a short film in advance of Gallifrey One, the biggest Doctor Who convention in North America (more on that later.) This year I was lucky enough to run it ahead of our Radio Free Skaro live show in front of a big crowd, and it got a pretty decent reception. Kyle Anderson, a friend and writer for The Nerdist, also featured the short in his Gallifrey One wrap up.
The film featured the talents of Eric Fell, Joanna Gaskell and Shaun Stewart in front of the camera, as well as a certain Time Lord whose identity I’m not at liberty to disclose. All those named can be seen here in Vancouver at the Critical Hit Show, a hilarious live Dungeons and Dragons improv that happens every month at the Rio Theatre. Laurel Brown, Vanessa Driveness (who also played an apathetic Shobogan) and Mel Siermaczeski also helped out behind the scenes.
And how was Gallifrey One (or Gally, as its know to its many fans)? Simply amazing. I’ve been for five years running now, and the sheer amount of Whocentric content never ceases to amaze me. Shaun Lyon and the other hard-working people who have been putting on the convention for a quarter-century(!) pour their heart and souls into this yearly event, and it shows. Now matter what you’re into in the Whoniverse, there’s someone else at the convention who digs what you dig.
What’s next? Well, it’s a guarantee I’ll be at Gallifrey One next year, and I’ve got a few ideas for the next short film. I try to be more ambitious with each film, so next year, expect ILM quality visuals and a 6 hour running time. No pressure.
If there’s one thing I love more than film it’s films about film. Here’s a few documentaries it would behoove you to check out.
Side by Side is all about film, the medium of choice for crafters of cinema over the last 100 years, is slowly but surely being usurped by high-resolution digital cameras. The film is ably hosted by Keanu Reeves, who goes through a bevy of Hollywood heavy hitters both for and against digital. It’s worth it just to hear David Fincher’s epic rant about the Panavision Genesis.
Not Quite Hollywood is a loving tribute to Australian exploitation films, ranging from the sex comedies of the early Seventies that put Ozploitation on the map to gore-soaked horror romps and the uniquely Australian genre of post-apocalyptic car films best exemplified by Mad Max. The entire film is viewable on Youtube (surprisingly) so check it out before it gets pulled.
These Amazing Shadows is a documentary about film preservation, and it goes into pretty serious detail about the importance of preserving film along with just how much work it takes to keep cinematic treasures alive for generations to come.
Other than Side by Side, all these films are on Netflix. Even though Netflix doesn’t have the latest and greatest hits, it does have a lot of hidden gems, especially for film nerds. Have you found any great obscure documentaries (or otherwise) via Netflix? Let me know in the comments!