Twisted Comedy

Vitamin C. 1500 mgs of it, 3x a day…that’s what, 4500 mgs a day? Liquid Golden Seal, Echinacea and yes, Hydrogen Peroxide. That’s how much I’m taking to stave off a bug I caught from the sick people around me. I resent the fact that I take very good care of myself but most of the people in the world don’t—and they get people like me sick. Detox saunas and C-shots. Most people say, “I can’t afford to get sick.” But I have to afford not getting sick because I invest in my health to stay productive.

Despite getting the chills last night, I miserably woke up early to attend a workshop that took place at the CBS Studios lot.

The interesting thing about this story is that the first time I went to the lot was in August 2016 and the night before, I got hit with an infection that was bad enough to kill me. But me, being in denial of my mortality, was walking around like a zombie with massive chills in 80 degrees weather. Every bone in my body ached. I walked like a slug.

The annoying thing about that lot is that you have to park in the parking structure that’s far from everything. You have to navigate this weird Prisoner-like town of fake houses and sets that go on FOREVER to find a non-descript HOA style room with a cryptic number on it.

I was so sick that day that I was wearing a hoodie and a coat over it to keep warm. I wore sunglasses the entire time in the class. I was wearing all black.

The presenter was an annoying bitch. She kept looking at me. I was anemic, white and half-dead…. I should have been hospitalized. She was talking about some film topic and then looked at me and said something that referenced “suicidal people” and I was like, “really?” Really? You looked at me and confessed what you thought of me? I’m sick, bitch. Normally, I’m a happy person, so I really resented her forming that opinion of me. The fact that she was a producer that was promoting faith-based films did not earn my respect. You can’t be in the entertainment business and love Christ at the same time.

I stepped out into the blazing sunlight and walked toward a weird, fake colonial house structure that seemed paper thin and laid down on the wire bench. It was burning hot and I still had chills. I was sweating profusely and probably looked like a drug addict as well.

I walked back to the class but I didn’t go inside, I just stood, watching people go by—then these two very hot girls, Latina dancers walked by—one of them ignored me, the other was giving me the once over. I looked god awful. I shamelessly watched her pass me and she shamelessly turned to look back at me. That put a smile on my face. It was the only smile I had all day.

I found out a week later, after I sought medical attention, that I was actually supposed to be dead. But whatever, it wasn’t my time.

To be perfectly honest, I have no problem with dying. I just don’t want it to be gory. I want it to be short. And I want it to be dignified. But me, being OCD as I am, the only reason I can’t die is because I don’t want people going through my shit. I know that sounds silly but it’s true. I’m more afraid of people going through my shit than of death! I’m a very private person.

So, it’s February now, over six months later and I go to this workshop at the same studio and the night before, I get chills.

I can’t explain in words how I pissed I was. Does lightning strike twice? What are the odds of getting chills twice in a row before this fricking class? I’m thinking to myself, the moderators are going to think I’m the most depressed junkie in the world if I show up twice like this!

It’s a twisted comedy. So, I’m thinking, “What is up with this?” Maybe it’s an omen, a sign that I should never go back there. Maybe I have some bad karma with that studio.

So, I get there super early, so early that the parking structure gates aren’t even opened. I took a chance and went through the main gate. The security people grilled me because the moderator didn’t turn in the guest list yet. But they let me in. Before driving through, I asked, “Is there any way I can park near the room?”

He said, “No, they want everyone to park in the parking structure.”

After I pulled away, I drove past the parking structure, then made a U-turn, then drove through The Prisoner-like village. I had a feeling Big Brother could probably see where my car was heading so I waited for security to come get me. They didn’t. I drove around looking for the room and then parked my car in front of that fake Colonial-looking building made of paper. This way, I was right next door to the building I needed to be in.

The VIP sign said, “BIG BROTHER, Reserved 24 hours/ 7 days for Don Wollman.” I Googled who that was. Whatever.

I’m staring at the sign and think to myself, “So what if this Wollman guy pulls up and makes a scene, what excuse do you have?” So I pulled out and parked in the spot next to him instead.

While I’m sitting there staring at this building I was having flashbacks of the other lot at Fox Studios where I take a screenwriting workshop. I’m thinking to myself, “How sad this world is.” There’s no life in it. It’s just a camp—you know, a kibbutz for factory workers. That’s what all these union people are. That’s their dream job.

These people have interesting personalities, a type of aura like the kind you feel when you enter a town with steel workers or miners. It’s a lived-in industry feeling—like mechanical production is all that they know. Everyone starting out in the film biz wants one of these jobs. Why?

And this Wollman guy. So many guys like him. Everyone is the same.

The profane existence hits me and felt utterly dispassionate. At first, I thought it was just because I’m fighting off a cold, but I remember when I was at the Fox writer’s lab, the air felt dead to me there too. I don’t think I am meant for this, that’s why I never entered industry work. I’d much rather work in an unrelated field and continue making art.

My theory about working in the industry is a stance that few people understand or think about. They think that if they “break into” the industry by being a part of this big, fast-moving machinery, they will get to where they need to go faster. The issue is, I don’t think they know where they want to go. They don’t realize that the deeper you get into it, the fewer choices you have—that more people control you and your vision.

That is why so many people flock to the indie scene. But my real reason for staying away from it is to protect my creativity.

People who spend their creative energy on the artistic aspects of the film industry adulterate their pure creative energy with formula work. At the end of the day, many of them become bitter, jaded people. This is because they are not writing a script for themselves, but for someone else, they are not editing their own film, but for someone else, they are not directing their own movie, but for somebody else…and then even when they make a billion dollars, they sit back and say, “If only I could one day make the movie of my dreams.” That is a loser mentality. You hear the biggest directors saying that. It is sad.

So the more boring your job is, the more removed it is from that competitive world, the more creativity you have for yourself. That’s the secret on saving your highest creativity for what matters.

I look around this CBS Prisoner-village and I see no hope for my future. This is not my idea or dream for why I make films.

I’m listening to other artists and filmmakers around me in this workshop talk about their passion for filmmaking and I don’t know what they’re talking about. So many kids don’t realize that when they say, they “love filmmaking” they are saying they “love business.” They haven’t figured out the difference. Filmmaking is a business. It is predominantly a business.

I would much rather say, I’m passionate about being an artist.

At the end of the day, whether it is Hollywood or the indie sector, content is king. And if you don’t have original content—if you don’t have enough creativity—and if you don’t something exceptional, then it doesn’t matter whether you love filmmaking, the business of filmmaking or struggling for fame, fortune etc. It doesn’t matter if you want to go mainstream or make art films. The most important thing is, if you are an artist and film is your medium—then the focus needs to be on protecting and nurturing creativity as if they were your children.

Most artists are naturally spiritual people. Some are more aware of it than others. As spiritual people, what that means is that they have a child-like Soul, a poet’s Soul—and this is the part that keeps the doors to their imagination open.

Today, with technology being more widely available, anyone can make a movie, create an EDM mix, learn how to create special FX, animation, digital illustration, etc. This means, people are more distracted, there is oversaturation of content, therefore people who used to spend years learning their craft, as a filmmaker, writer, etc…no longer can stand out from the crowd.

There was a time when a film festival actually meant something. Today, it doesn’t mean anything for the artist. Of 12,000-15,000 submissions the major festivals look at—only over 100 are chosen. Festivals are increasingly becoming more and more of a business, regardless of the meaningless “indie” tag associated with them. And with all businesses—it is about relationships, who’s attached to the project, marketability, the payoffs etc. and not about the art form (the love and “spirit of filmmaking” so often preached). Rightly so, but let’s not call it indie or serving the artist.

Technology, for its amazing ability to free the artist, has also forced them to become business people and marketers. To an extent, this is useful. But for the most part, it is unfortunate. It is just as unfortunate as watching elderly people unable to retire because the government doesn’t provide enough for them to live on. In some parts of Europe, artists don’t go through what artists go through here. The film schools are either free or ridiculously low (like 500 bucks as opposed to 50K a year) and projects are funded outside the commercial arena; so filmmakers don’t have to struggle for marketing–or to pay off debt for that matter. And in other countries, the elderly are taken care of. It’s about getting certain priorities straight. But we can’t expect that from a capitalist country.

Art, whether that be in music, film, or writing suffers in America due to marketability. We rarely find people creating art for art’s sake and to me, that quality is priceless. Without true art, all we have is media noise.

The survival game isn’t about standing out from the crowd, but in protecting your creativity. That’s priceless. Filmmakers are expected to learn too much about the financial side of filmmaking and writers spend more time on social media creating a fan base than writing their books or screenplays. This too is a herd mentality. It’s one of the many “shoulds” that people tell you to do in order to get ahead. So everyone is doing it. And you know what? No one has a voice because it’s too loud in the media space. So the priority is to protect your creativity because that is where the joy in creating is. That is the true purpose.

We Shall,
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Ji Strangeway is a filmmaker, writer, and poet specializing in female-centric LGBTQ. She is also a fierce blogger aiming for a new level of indigoness and bad assery. Find out more: www.jistrangeway.com | Follow FB: jistrangeway.official  #jistrangeway

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Ji Strangeway

Ji Strangeway

Executant of the Ineffable

The Three Gates of Speech stipulates that you ask these questions before putting your foot in your mouth: Is it True? Is it Necessary? Is it Kind? Since this doesn't fit the purpose for every occassion, the criteria for my path is: Is it True? Is it Necessary? Is it Indigo?

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