To Lily, From Asgard

My first short film…

When Lily follows Pete’s romantic breadcrumb trail, she must confront her wayward heart.

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Character snapshot: Wingman

Black Adidas jacket, big hoody. Apple earbuds and a cigarette between his fingers. He smiled almost maliciously, confident as all the ladies approached gang boy’s red, green and yellow bird as it preened its feathers on his knee.

First Podcast!

Here’s the story that predictive texting helped us create in the end:

What are your parents and I got in the basement of your academic institution?

Hey dude that is privileged material for me.

Alright well I’m going back to the future of our lives and then you can just do our own project.

Well you still have some fun things to consider before we begin by on January.

Time flies when we are having problems that can arise.

We will provide you with the chemicals that you need of the past year, or if you want me to check the box for the drug dealer…

How are they gonna donate their “green beans” to the future generations of your fellow citizens with everything about to go down?

I don’t know how to burn the people that you have been eating.

Whatever happens after this is not to be confused with other things that the government should consider using.

OK cool I’m going to wait and stuff after the government has been generated.

I’ll email you the best and most popular stories of the galaxy on your computer and then I gotta prepare for the future. Okay? So you can just vent and I will give you guys that day off.

Thanks for getting me the best thing ever.


Reflection

Assignment 7. This assignment is probably the one I had the most fun making for this digital portfolio. We had to make something using a form of media we had never used before. It was a little nerve racking, putting something like this online, but I’d never actually start the podcast I’ve been meaning to start, if I never tried. The embarrassment wave is sure to hit me sometime soon…

For me, writing is much more digestive, for lack of a better term, for thought processing. I can take my time to chew and reflect on whatever experience I had. I can have the time to make connections, draw parallels, go back and fix something, clarify something, whatever it may be. With a podcast, you’re very much a prisoner of time in that you can’t really do those things, you can only edit things out later. You’re forced to live in the moment, because for better or worse, that moment will be frozen and preserved thereafter.

As a result, I can tell these podcasts are going to be much lighter than my Light Within posts. Conversations with people, stories and narratives with a more “authentic” feel in that nothing on the podcast will ever be as structured and crafted as blogpost content. But you never know. In a way blog content is an exposure of the internal processes, and the podcast is an exposure of the external. Listening back, I hadn’t realized how different these processes are for me.

Feelings aside, there’s a lot of media going on here. Podcast, Skype, Texting and a strange narrative to tie it all together. I can share a podcast with the internet world — a scope too large to properly comprehend — and even 5 hours apart, the media can still connect two friends. The internet is like a wormhole, bringing two distant points in space through some higher dimension together, creating a shortcut between them.

But what speaks most about our culture’s integration of, obsession with, and dependence on screens is the predictive text feature on many of our phones. Yes it’s a fun game to play across any distance, but how does the existence of this feature make meaning?

First, written language was done by hand — on stone or wood, then paper. Then we learned to type with ten fingers. Then we learned to type with two thumbs. Now we’re not supposed to type at all? For any conspiracy theorists out there, this predictive text feature is teaching our devices to think for us, to learn our language, bringing us ever closer to “the singularity,” or the point when our technology becomes our masters.

For now, AI and robots taking over the world are merely great pieces of science fiction, but in many ways, the singularity has come and gone. What are we to do without our smartphones, our laptops, the internet, WiFi, GPS? Even self-driving cars are on the horizon. Society at large has become totally dependent on our toys, a life without them seems unbearable, dare I say impossible.

The toys and tools are not bad in and of themselves of course, but asking them to do everything for us seems to me to be a symptom of bigger issues within the human condition: a deep need for connection and community, and a subconscious awareness of our futility. If everyone is forgotten in the end, let’s preserve our activity. But also, if the fruits of our labour will wither when we do, why bother labouring in the first place if we can build something that can do it for us?

I’m exaggerating a little, but not by much.

Media and technology have invaded, and for better and worse, we have welcomed them with open arms.

“Cup Song” Throwback

Assignments 9 and 11, remixing and bricolage.

Listen and sing along with the score. Orange play button is on the bottom left.


Reflection

My first mash-up! All of the songs in there seem somewhat dated now, but they weren’t when I first started.

For this project I used an online program called Noteflight, which I hadn’t really touched since my time in the Trudeau Wind Symphony (high school).

I’d been thinking about starting a “real” YouTube channel for some time now, and I’m a little closer to getting there, but at the time of starting this particular project, the “cup song” from Pitch Perfect was all the rage. With a new creative cover of the song appearing every time I signed in online, 2012 me thought I’d do an a cappella cover of my own. I was supposed to perform and film it with some talented friends but never finished it until now.

I first learned how to do the cup beat from the movie to Nothing But the Blood, a classic hymn, which is what got this whole cover ambition going. Alas, as with many of my grand ideas, very few of them get executed, and of those, even fewer are completed. While I learned to actually put a mash-up of 5 very different songs together, I think for me, this assignment was more about confronting my tendency to abandon ideas before they’ve been played with, before their potential has even been explored. After three odd years of gathering dust, this mash-up isn’t where I thought it would be, but it’s finished, and I like it enough. Maybe it’s time I gave all my “rejects” another chance — or rather their first chance.

As for bricolage, changing something’s meaning, that almost happened by accident. I was challenged last week to further my media literacy by using it to actually say something. Playing and exploring is an important first step, but now that I’ve discovered the tool, how am I going to use it?

The 5 songs I used in the mash-up are really only related by their tempo and time signature so that they could match the beat. Otherwise, their styles and their genres are all fairly different. Each story the lyrics tell is different.

When I’m Gone by Lulu and the Lampshades. What Makes You Beautiful by One Direction. Healing Begins by Tenth Avenue North. Just the Way You Are by Bruno Mars. Nothing But the Blood by Robert Lowry.

It’s hard to tell without the lyrics actually being sung, but once every song has been showcased, the lyrics meld together at the end to say this:

When I’m gone, this is where the healing begins. What can wash away my sin, nothing but the blood of Jesus, ’cause You’re amazing just the way You are… and that’s what makes you beautiful.

Not to alienate anyone who doesn’t share my worldview, but it seems to work its way into most of everything I do, and I think the gospel is a story worth over and over again. Our brokenness can only begin to heal when we take our eyes off ourselves, and that healing is possible because of Christ’s blood on the cross. Not Santa Claus Jesus who ought to give you everything you ask for, not military Jesus who only gives orders or penalties, but Jesus as He is, the perfect Lamb who was slain in our place… and that’s what makes us beautiful, whole again.

In a society that’s becoming more and more secular, not only have people developed a deeper yearning for some sense of spirituality, but shamefully, I’m finding myself to be more apologetic for my own. The gospel isn’t popular in this day and age, or else I wouldn’t be apologizing.

This course, but this assignment in particular was definitely a challenge and an exercise in vulnerability. First going back and fixing what I had written off as a failure, but more importantly taking a risk and being myself without apology or compromise.

Dragon Eyes

To see a world in a grain of sand, and Heaven in a wild flower. To hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour.

William Blake


Reflection

Assignment 5: A five shot video diary.

I used Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe After Effects for the first time to create this video. First impression, fantastic. I played around, I watched some tutorials, a whole other world of endless possibility seemed to open up to me. I’m excited to make more videos, short films and stories.

In truth, I wasn’t thinking about the assignment because I was so overwhelmed with how cool doing this was, so my five shot video isn’t so much a diary as much as it is a montage of interesting things I wanted to try with the camera and the program.

Nonetheless, each of the five shots show how I like to perceive the world. I don’t always see things this way, but it’s thrilling when I do.

First, my eye and my large pupils. I’ve been told many a time that I have big eyes. When I was young and everything was still not quite proportionate, my eyeballs must have been too big for my head because you couldn’t see any white. It makes for some interesting pictures.

My Grandpa used to say that I had li zye longan, eyes like a longan fruit — which itself means “Dragon Eye.” A bit of a stretch, and no one ever calls me that, but it struck me that I do see differently. Or at least I try to. I can sit in a room for hours thinking about a new story and a new world — which is why I’m not picking up the phone in the video.

In the second shot, a cherry blossom grows and falls. It’s basic science with crystals and a super saturated solution, but it’s beautiful. And how much more amazing are the slow moving giants in our yards.

In the third shot, a small gift from someone you love always means more than it seems.

In the fourth shot, every snowflake looks like a uniquely cut diamond. Infinite in number, and wondrously beautiful.

In the last shot, time goes by that fast when I’m working on a script or a story. Those eight hours might as well have lasted those handful of seconds. To get a little circular, I was also writing this post in that video.

What I love about film making and storytelling is that you can start with having something to say, but the story always seems to tell itself. It tells you how it wants to end, it tells you how and when it wants to move. It’s much like sculpting in that sense. The sculptor isn’t just turning a block into a statue, the statue is already inside and the sculptor is just digging it out of the block.

I suppose the whole “message” of the video relates to this new venture into editing. Video editing is about crafting and framing how audiences see the world on the screen. I’m not the only one to see the world with a bit of imagination, but for those who don’t, this is the invitation.

Reconnecting

Two summers ago, I finished my very first manuscript with an 80,000 word first draft. After about a week of celebrating, I chopped that word count in half after changing my mind (again) about the story, and then shelved it. I haven’t begun the rewrites, but the world I built there is still very close to me.

For assignments 10 and 12 for this class, intertextuality and creative commons, I thought WattPad was a great vehicle for me to demonstrate both of these. I used a social media website I’ve never used before (despite having an account for years), as well as reconnected with a story that I’ve been meaning to work on.

The prologue for this “spinoff” series is actually the last chapter of my unpublished manuscript, but slightly modified with some expositional details. Of course, is it really a spinoff if the text it is spinning off of doesn’t publicly exist? Who knows.

You can read it HERE.


Reflection

The intertextuality is clear in my allusions to the people who created and inspired the Sherlock Holmes mythology. Artistic license has been taken of course. In my story, Dr. Joseph Bell, the inspiration for Sherlock, has just solved his best friend’s murder with the help of my own character, Wilbur Henderson. A young Arthur Conan Doyle even makes a brief appearance.

Wattpad, being a fantastic resource, network and community for creative writers, has an option to apply a creative commons license on published stories, and I chose the Attrib. NonComm. ShareAlike CC license.

Originally I was going to write something self-contained rather than serialized, but it seems Wattpad is designed for series. It is a place where fiction (mostly) and blogging meet. We’ve conditioned ourselves to feel pleasure when receiving a like, comment, share, view, etc. on social media, and Wattpad is no different. How many reads and hearts does your story have?

While some might say this practice is only perpetuating our enslavement to online social networks, I also think it’s important that writers get their work out there, to not be so precious about the worlds and fantasies they spend so much time in. The creative commons licenses help overcome that worry of having works stolen. But the benefits of publishing aren’t so much for exposure, but for practice the writing craft, exchanging feedback and connecting with like-minded people. I’m new at all that myself, but having something officially “published” certainly gives me an incentive to keep writing, to not let my story well run dry. People might be reading. People might want to know more. Even if they don’t, I do.

Wattpad is also filled with fan fiction. Though not taken very seriously, which is sometimes well founded, the practice of taking an existing world and adding to it, modifying it, merging it with something else, can be a great creative exercise. It’s almost like growing homemade salt crystals. It starts small, but when submerged in a supersaturated solution, it grows and builds upon itself. Audiences can expand the world of the story and explore the characters, see what they can do with it, test their creative writing chops.

One of the many working slogans for this course certainly applies here: you’re only limited by your imagination.

Around the World in 80 Hashtags

Assignment 8 and 13.

When we played with google maps in class, I quite literally “discovered America on the map” #creoleexpression #noonegetsit #crickets

Folksonomy and Geotagging.

I never participated much in folksonomy — tagging and hashtagging, but seeing tweets or a status with a paragraph of them always makes me #smile.

Of course, this class is about trying new things, new media, and new technology. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever been in a class whose name alone aptly summarizes the course: Approaches to Media.

We have approached different media, experimented with it, #played with it, #failed at it, and #learned from it.

As such, this post is going to have a #hashtagoverload as I try to use tagging or folksonomy in a way I never have in the past. I also set up a Delicious account here before people could finish explaining to me what it was. (#excited #impulsive) Being able to access bookmarks on any device with internet access is more than useful and personally, the best part of this experience. However coming up with a list of tags when prompted becomes conflicting. I don’t want there to be too many categories to keep track of, but I still want there to be enough of them to make a nice tag cloud.

I hesitate to put these fake #hashtags into the actual WordPress tag cloud for this post because it keeps track of these tags that I will likely never use again, thereby tainting the efficiency of my tag cloud. A little overdramatic perhaps, but here is my logic. Tags are like drawers, organizing things by similar themes or content as dictated by my OCPD tendencies (I don’t actually have this personality disorder). Too many drawers almost defeats the purpose of grouping and organization. But here’s to #exploration, a simulation of what it would be like to use hashtags in a blogpost about geotagging. #segue

Geotagging, literally tagging the world. I decided to #dream a little and map out the cities I’d like to visit on a hypothetical year abroad after graduation. Click the map below for a closer look.

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 5.11.49 PM

21 cities or locations, 12 months, unlimited resources.

#Toronto #NewYork #Montreal #Glasgow #London #Paris #Nice #Cannes #Barcelona #Rome #Athens #ReunionIsland #Mauritius #Rodrigues #Sydney #Wellington #Maui #SanDiego #LosAngeles #Vancouver #Chicago.

Of course there are plenty of other cities that I would love to add to this list, but this is only round one.

As an #introvert and a #homebody, I found it strange that I’m so eager to travel. But at the same time, why wouldn’t you go see the world? My list of cities is nothing too exotic — famous cities, expensive cities, familiar places. What struck me most about this list are the places my itinerary completely misses.

#SouthAmerica #Africa #EasternEurope #Asia

I realized that I was treating this hypothetical itinerary as a year-long #vacation. Most people take that year abroad to #discover themselves, to #mature, to broaden their worldview and sense of #culture. Others do it to gain international #experience. But for me, this trip almost seems like I’m running away — a #quest for a more interesting life or an opportunity to take incredible pictures just to draw some attention to my Facebook page.

It seems that I’ve always been after an #adventure — not in the adrenaline junkie sense, but rather in leaving the mundane behind. While I think there are healthy amounts of this, it’s also important for me to keep re-focusing and re-centering. The grass is always greener on the side and there are always great things being done here at home, if only I’d look.

When it comes to planning ahead, I tend to be too far-sighted. I’ll look across an ocean for opportunity or I’ll dream about how things will go five years from now, before I even start looking at the short-term plan. Plan ahead, but not too far ahead, I suppose. First things first.

Now here’s the #irony. Assignments 8 through 13 are the media project portion of the course. Therefore this post, the first of these particular projects proves to be a very short-lived “first things first” given that I’m tackling the last one, geotagging, first. Looks like linear ordering is much too #mundane for my subconscious.

So I have explored folksonomy and I have geotagged a world exploration. My first impression of this “new technology” or technology that I’ve touched for the first time feels like exactly that; the same wonder and pleasure when a child experiences playing with a new toy. Granted, not as overwhelming as when I first touched my scriptwriting program or more recently, After Effects from the Adobe Creative Suite.

This creative exercise in media is something that I will definitely try again. I may not have explored a deeper region or layer of my core self or my soul, but it was a welcome #adventure all the same.

Quiet Strength

Quick character sketch.


Physical description: He could disappear behind a streetlamp, he was so skinny. It was like his cells made him all long bones and forgot about the muscle. Boyish face, long nose, he looked good in a uniform. But those hard eyes were born for the military. You could tell he was strong despite his lanky heights, everybody kept their distance. Everything about him was rigid, his posture, his blinking, his silence. He tightened his jaw whenever he swallowed. There was a darkness about him… sadness? Remorse? His stillness betrayed the speed of his thoughts.

Inner Conflict: He isn’t the archetypal brute soldier, nor is he the zero-to-hero. He’s worked hard to get where he is, and his experiences were more than what he expected them to be. He knows what it’s like to be the victim and the bully. He knows his strength and the only way he can control his emotion is to bottle it up, leading to a complex, well-guarded inner life.

Scene: SOLDIER comes home, back from his tour. His WIFE is so happy to see him, but he doesn’t say much. She comes back with their newborn son; it’s the first time he’s laid eyes on the baby. He refuses to hold him. Ashamed of what he’s done to children abroad, he’s afraid of what he might do to his own son.

<a rel=”license” href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/”><img alt=”Creative Commons Licence” style=”border-width:0″ src=”https://i.creativecommons.org/l/by/4.0/88×31.png&#8221; /></a><br /><span xmlns:dct=”http://purl.org/dc/terms/&#8221; property=”dct:title”>Quiet Strength</span> by <span xmlns:cc=”http://creativecommons.org/ns#&#8221; property=”cc:attributionName”>Melissa Chong</span> is licensed under a <a rel=”license” href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/”>Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License</a>.

Moment Eternal

Not exactly proper formatting, but it’ll have to do for now.

This story is pretty packed and very ambiguous. Reflection to come on how I wrote it.


EXT. WATERFALL CLIFF – DAY

A bare foot steps forward, toes gripping the edge of the rock.

MATCH CUT:

EXT. ROOFTOP – SUNSET

The other foot, now in a sneaker steps onto the concrete step. Jeans. A windbreaker. Brilliant orange skies. A skyline.

Just before we see his face–

MATCH CUT:

EXT. WATERFALL CLIFF

SCOTT 20s, stands topless, overlooking the ocean. The white water thunders down into sea. We’re behind him, the sun making his back glisten…

In slow motion, he bends his knees to jump.

SCOTT (V.O.)

I wanted to live forever.

MATCH CUT:

EXT. ROOFTOP – DAY

Scott falls forward off the ledge, arms wide, embracing his fate.

MATCH CUT:

EXT. WATERFALL CLIFF

He puts his arms forward, with his feet together as he plunges toward the big blue.

SCOTT (V.O.)

But I was running out of time.

INT. JAIL CELL – DAY

Scott, in orange, sits on his cot. The cell door swings open. An OFFICER waits for him.

JUDGE (V.O.)

Scott Bishop. Please proceed to the doors to receive your sentence.

INT. INTERROGATION ROOM

Scott sits in a bare concrete bunker, at a polished steel table. The lights BUZZ. He turns a KEY between his fingers. Two identical DOORS wait for him. FIVE LIGHTS shine above them. The first four are GREEN. The last is RED.

SCOTT (V.O.)

One door leads to death. The other, to immortality.

THREE green lights. Above, A WOMAN in a crisp two-piece suit, 40s. She watches from a large glass window.

TWO green lights.

SCOTT (V.O.)

I wanted to live forever.

Scott gets up, the plastic chair SCREECHES like nails on a chalkboard.

SCOTT (V.O.)

But I was running out of time.

He goes to the door on the right, tries the key. LOCKED. The woman leaves the window. Something was wrong. Very wrong. Scott goes to the door on the left.

One green light.

CLOSE ON the knob. The key goes in. It turns. His fist pushes it open.

No green lights.

He walks through.

MATCH CUT TO:

EXT. ROOFTOP – SUNSET

Scott is in his jeans and windbreaker. The fire escape door locks shut behind him. CLICK. He walks toward the ledge, footsteps CRUNCHING in the gravel.

SCOTT (V.O.)

If you could pick one moment…

One sneaker on the ledge.

SCOTT (V.O.) (CONT’D)

Just one moment, in your entire life.

Both feet up now.

SCOTT (V.O.)

To stay in, forever.

He leans forward.

SCOTT (V.O.)

Which would you choose?

The ground rushes toward him. But he is calm.

INT. HOSPITAL – EVENING

Scott is on a stretcher with an oxygen mask. BLOOD covers his head.

SCOTT (V.O.)

Some would choose their favourite moment.

FLASHBACK

INT. LIVING ROOM – DAY

YOUNG SCOTT, 8 years old, blows out candles.

A weak HEARTBEAT mutes the LAUGHING and SINGING.

BACK TO PRESENT

INT. HOSPITAL – CONTINUOUS

Doctors and nurses rush him down the halls.

SCOTT (V.O.)

Or their happiest.

FLASHBACK

INT. CHAPEL – DAY

Scott, in a tuxedo lifts the veil kisses a beautiful BRIDE. They pull away. And smile.

SCOTT

(softly) I love you, Ashley.

BACK TO PRESENT

INT. OPERATING ROOM – NIGHT

CLOSE ON Scott, eyes closed on the table. Electrodes on his scalp. The DOCTOR, a woman in her late 20s, looks at the monitor, charting his brain activity. She looks up. The woman from the prison is there, looking through the large glass window. The doctor pulls off her mask and looks at the nurse.

DOCTOR

I’m calling it. 2:21 AM.

SCOTT (V.O.)

I chose the moment when I felt free.

EXT. WATERFALL CLIFF – SUNSET

Scott stands on the edge of the cliff. And dives.

SCOTT (V.O.)

The moment where I’m most alive.

He falls, the water falling with him. Scott disappears into the ocean.

SCOTT (V.O.)

My name is Scott.

A bare foot steps forward, toes gripping the edge of the rock. Then the other.

CUT TO BLACK

SCOTT (V.O.)

I am immortal.

Creative Commons License:

<a rel=”license” href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/”><img alt=”Creative Commons Licence” style=”border-width:0″ src=”https://i.creativecommons.org/l/by-nc/4.0/88×31.png&#8221; /></a><br /><span xmlns:dct=”http://purl.org/dc/terms/&#8221; href=”http://purl.org/dc/dcmitype/Text&#8221; property=”dct:title” rel=”dct:type”>Moment Eternal</span> by <span xmlns:cc=”http://creativecommons.org/ns#&#8221; property=”cc:attributionName”>Melissa Chong</span> is licensed under a <a rel=”license” href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/”>Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License</a>.