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I love music, books, movies, blah, blah, blah! I love people, learning new things, and always progressing to be a better person.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Rules For Working In a Creative Field

So you've decided to work in a creative field?

Congratulations, now bend over because unless you follow these rules, you can expect a world of frustration and pain...and painful frustration!

Rules For Working In a Creative Field

1. Shut The Fu$K Up! -
Have you ever heard someone refer to themselves as "a writer" only to find out they haven't actually written anything? Have these people also bored you to tears telling you about the "novel" they have been working on for years? Yeah, that's because until you are published, you are not a writer, you are writing as a hobby. This blog does not make me a writer...nor does having a blog make YOU a writer.
I'm not trying to be rude here, I understand that you have ideas circling the proverbial moat of your mind like the black knights of yesteryear. But, the truth is you are only as good as what you've done...outside of a legitimate pitch meeting, no one cares about what you plan to do. It's only what you've done that truly matters. Not to mention that ideas in the creative arts are hardly safe, so the more you share the idea, the higher the risk that you will be ripped off.

2. No Matter The Cost -
Don't sell yourself short, the work you do, be it graphic design, web development, sound design, film,  or art, takes skill and talent. So, when you take free work you are screwing everyone else in the creative field by undercutting their rates.
Now, I understand that in some cases you will need to do some free work (typically when you are starting out or when family begs you to help them) and sometimes that is just the nature of the beast. I also understand that when doing free work you might feel the need to do a half-assed job...DO NOT DO THIS! No matter what the pay you should always DO YOUR BEST WORK! The reason for this will be explained in rule # 3.

3. EVERYONE IS A POTENTIAL CLIENT
Do you want to know how South Park creators Matt StoneTrey Parker landed their TV show?
They were contracted to create a web christmas card that ended up going viral! Then, when an executive from Comedy Central saw the video they were given the option to do a pilot. So, what have we learned from this? Well, no matter who you make it for, or what they charge, do your best work! Because you never know who is going to see it and what that might mean for your future! If you do a half assed job you miss out on the opportunity for more as well as better paid work in the future.

4. Don't Be Such A Piss Ant!
On monday I was given the last minute job of directing the Cinematography classes workshop. They were not pleased with this for some reason and a few of the students gave me attitude...little did they know I have been working steadily for the last summer and this semester on paid and big budget projects. They also don't know that the first people I turn to when I'm asked on set, "Do you know anyone who can help out?" Is students I work with...so, having a bad attitude...means it's less likely that you will get or keep a job in the industry.

5. Never Show Your Family Your Work! Seriously, Never!
I know we all love our families...but when it comes to your creativity they are fashioned from stone cold couldn't give a damn. All that will happen is they will sit, down see what you have created, and do one of two things,

1. They will pretend to be interested in the work and say patronizing things to you like "Gosh...that was...nice...I guess" or "Wow, it's ALMOST like you're a professional" or "So...that was your little project or whatever?"

or

2. They will pull their pants down and crap all over it.

Now do they do this because they don't care about you...Of course not. Well, at least for your sake, I hope so. They do this because they don't understand, or care, about what you are doing creatively. So if you want to keep your sanity...DON'T SHOW YOUR FAMILY ANYTHING!!!! Even if it wins awards or brings you any sort of media attention, don't show them...they seriously don't care.

Finally,

6. Always Do Your Best To Outdo Yourself

Don't stagnate! I know that we get comfortable at times with doing things the easy way or taking work we know that we can do...but you must always, and I can't stress this enough, ALWAYS try to stretch yourself creatively as to not be comfortable. You should be terrified of your next project. You should sit for days or months picking over every detail of how this project will be different and better than your last one! Now obviously I don't want you to get an ulcer over this. I just want you to see how important it is to take on the jobs that scare you. The kind of jobs you don't think you can do. Because even if you fail you would at least (I hope) learn something and use the experience to become a better artist.  

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A fine line between parody and plagiarism

"Almost everything I've done, I've done through my own creativity."
 - Quote by Buddy Rich

Something has been bothering me lately like 
an itch at the back of my brain that has slowly but surely come screaming to the surface.

I have been in film school for three years now, and with my new collected knowledge and experience I can honestly say that it is very, VERY hard to create something original.

There is a theory in literature and media that there are only seven plots total in storytelling.

They are
[wo]man vs. nature
[wo]man vs. man
[wo]man vs. the environment
[wo]man vs. machines/technology
[wo]man vs. the supernatural
[wo]man vs. self
[wo]man vs. god/religion


So, it's not hard to see why bringing an original idea to the screen can be one of the most intellectually and creatively taxing experiences to be a part of. But, just because there are only seven plots that doesn't mean you can't create an original and compelling way to tell them. 

With that said, here's what has been bothering me.

KID HISTORY

Kid History is a very popular series of YouTube shorts "created" (and I use that term lightly) by two brothers from Utah. The entire concept behind Kid History is the two brothers interview their younger nieces and nephews about family stories and then recreate those stories for YouTube. They take the audio of the children’s interviews and overlay it upon scenes they act out with adult actors pantomiming and mouthing the children's crazy storytelling.

Wow! What a crazy, original idea right? 
That's what I said...two years earlier when I saw Derek Water's Drunk History at the Sundance Film Festival and on Funny or Die.

Drunk History is an award-winning series of short films created by Derek Waters and starring such talents as Jack Black, Don Cheadle, Will Ferrell, and many more

In Drunk History, writers, comedians, and history buffs get fall-down drunk and then are interviewed about historical events. They then recreate those stories by taking the audio of the drunk person's interview and overlaying it upon scenes they act out with well-known actors pantomiming and mouthing the drunk's nonsensical storytelling.

So, the makers of Kid History have taken (and this is by their own admission) the entire concept, production, and execution from Drunk History and made a slight change to the interviewee.

Now I understand the concept of parody and that, to some, imitation is the highest form of flattery. But it fails to be a parody when the original concept is itself a parody and when imitation is a frame-by-frame rehash of another persons idea. If that is what you've done then what you are is nothing more than a hack.

Here, I'll let you be the judge. 

(Note: Pay close attention to the concept, the beginning and end credits, and how the overall pieces of both films are cut together)

Kid History (Also note that the creator's YouTube username is stolen from Pinky and The Brain...have you no shame?):



Drunk History:



What bothers me the most is that the creators of Kid History are now selling DVDs on Bored Shorts TV, collecting advertising money on YouTube, and are selling out local theaters on a stolen concept. They even have people lauding them with festival awards and using terms such as "creative" and "visionary" when they stole the idea from an already award-winning concept

So I ask you: If they are so "creative" then what have they really created? 

To summarize their interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, the "creators" of Kid History said that they wanted to enter a local film festival, so they went online for an idea of what to shoot and found Drunk History (HOLY SH*T! THEY ADMIT TO STEALING THE CONCEPT).
They made Kid History using the template set forth by Derek Waters and have won several local festivals all while riding the coat tails of another person's hard work and creative concept. 

To me this does not deserve praise, awards, and certainly not money for something they have creatively plagiarized. The fact that people are buying into this is astounding to me not only as a member of a similar creative field but also as an observer.

And the creative hijacking doesn't stop at Kid History. It continues with the BYU film department.  

I'm sure you've all seen this commercial.

Old Spice Commercial:
   

It's fantastic! It's funny, eye catching, and best of all very hard to do! It's won several awards and has completely changed the face of commercials for the past year.

Now watch this...

BYU Library Ad:


Notice anything similar? While this can technically be classified as parody, I just don't see it that way. Because, yet again, a parody of a comedy is ridiculous, pointless, and a scapegoat for not having any true creativity.

I'm not saying BYU film didn't do a good job making this video, because they did a great job. But how hollow of a victory is it to find success through another person's original idea?

They didn't come up with the idea or the concept. They saw an already award-winning advertisement and said, "That was awesome! We should do that."

Sure, they have succeeded in carbon-copying a great idea. But in my book that doesn't deserve respect or admiration. If they spent just a little more time coming up with an original idea the experience would have been more rewarding. They would've not only be challenging themselves creatively but they would still have their integrity as well.

Let me be clear. By bringing up this topic I am in no way saying that I am the most original when it comes to creativity nor have I shattered any genres in my field. But, at least I am trying my hardest to do something different. I strive to be different in my writing and film making in hopes of finally breaking that barrier between creative inspiration and true art. Have I done that yet? Of course not. But at least I am not six steps behind by making cookie cutter versions of other people's genius.

But if that is what the public wants, who am I to resist?



































"Almost everything I've done, I've done through my own creativity."
 - Quote by Buddy Rich - Neil Hiatt


Now all I have to do is sit back and wait for the praise to roll in.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Newfound Celebrity...Of Sorts

Google.

What a fantastic creation that links the world together and allows access to information at the click of a mouse.

Information like:

"Who won the first world series?"
Answer: The Boston Americans (Later renamed the Boston Red Sox).
or
"How many packets of Kool-Aid would it take to fill the ocean?"
Answer: 732 quintillion packets "Oh Yeah!"
or

Google is also incredibly successful. As of 2011 Google's net worth is $190 Billion dollars.

To put that into perspective, if you were to produce the movie Avatar, buy the world's most expensive house (Antilla), buy a private island, A Private Jet, and a Tiger, then donated $300,000,000 to charity, and purchase The Batmobile (The Dark Knight Version), You would still have $188 Billion dollars left over.

Google is so popular that it is now a verb (examples: Google the answer, Google the site, I just googled myself).

Speaking of googling myself, that is another amazing thing that Google supplies us with,
immediate self-masterbatorial narcissism. With a simple click you can search all of the information the internet has about YOU! Where you live, your facebook page, and even links to your blog.

The final item that Google is good for, apparently, is porking me in the ass.


You must be confused.
"But Neil, you were just saying what a great invention Google was. Why are you being so negative toward Google now?"

Well, let me tell you.

Yesterday when my wife googled my name she found something interesting.

She found this:














Now you probably don't see anything wrong with
this picture...so let me narrow it down for you.






What you see in that picture is a link to a website called www.icelebsdb.com

From what I can gather, www.icelebsdb.com is a bullshit site.

It is a fake site that takes information from anyone who has an IMDB.com page and then post it on their website in order to link it to a celebrity porn site.

So now, when you google search my name a link pops up and claims to have "Nude Pi
ctures" and "Naked Hot Scenes" of me. And on the first page. Make no mistake...it's me that they are talking about. They have my full name, birthdate, and home town on record.

So, obviously there are no nude photos of me on the internet.
I mean seriously, the closest thing to a nude photo I even have is this...
























And while I am flattered that they have lowered the standard of the word "celebrity" to include this pudgy, 26-year-old college student, I don't appreciate a site claiming to have nude photos and videos of me. The funny thing is...why are they using my name to promote their site, and is that strategy even working?

In all seriousness, if they wanted nude photos, all they had to do was ask.
























Obviously this is a recent picture.

I really don't know what my legal recourse is here, but for the moment I guess I could find the server that houses the site and hope to God it's in the U.S. Maybe the site will be short lived and get shut down by people even more famous than myself. Or, for now anyway, I could just leave it be and use it as a conversation piece.

I can see it now: I'm somewhere in time and space, talking to a prospective client or colleague and when that inevitable dip in the conversation happens, I can pull out my ace in the hole: "Hey, (insert prospective client or colleague here) if you Google my name you will find a fake link to non-existent naked pictures of me."
Then we all laugh and become friends.

Or something like that.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I Sense Much Fear In You...And By "You" I Mean Me

According to Psychology Today:

"Fear is a vital response to physical and emotional danger—if we couldn't feel it, we couldn't protect ourselves from legitimate threats. But often we fear situations that are in no way life-or-death, and thus hang back for no good reason."

Good point, Psychology Today!

Fear is something that is in all of us, be it legitimate or irrational. From time to time, I myself feel the gut-wrenching void that opens up in my belly and crawls its way into my brain whenever fear grips me by the man-bits.

Here is a list of my top-5 fears.

Neil Fears (In Order of Terror)

1. Spiders

Yes, spiders. I know it sounds cliché, but every time I see one of those eight-legged bastards my mind can't help but lock up all of my motor skills and evacuate my bowels in pure terror.
I am so afraid of spiders that even fake ones creep me out, and I had to have my little brother beat all of the levels in Resident Evil 2 that had giant spiders...

But come on! Just look at them!



















(I had to have someone else paste this picture here)

Everything about spiders is pure, unadulterated EVIL!

Here is a sub-list of evil things spiders do:

I know what you're thinking, "Neil, is this a list...within a list?"

The answer is Yes!
You bitches have just been Incepted!





















(Yes, drink it in.)

Anyway, here is the sub-list of evil spider actions:

A. They have eight legs, eight eyes, and fangs, and most of them are deadly poisonous.
B. The females eat their mates after sex.
C. Spider babies eat the mother after birth (seeing a pattern here).
D. The largest spider in the world is called the "Goliath Bird Eater" and it FREAKING EATS BIRDS!

And, if any of the previous items failed to convince you that spiders are pure evil, then take a look at this:

E. They trap their prey in a web, wrap them up in a death cocoon, inject them with venom that melts all of the prey's internal organs, and then they DRINK WHAT'S LEFT!

That is the most messed up way to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

Well, almost.

2. Heights

This is an odd one. I love repelling, I have been bungee jumping, and I have ridden all of the sky rides at the Stratosphere in Las Vegas. But being on a ladder or even standing next to the railing of a high stairwell makes me clam up, panic, and feel like my legs are going to give out.














(How does this not make you say AHHHHHHHHH?!?!)

3. Pickles

Okay, this isn't really a fear as much as is a raw hatred of pickles. But, some say that anger is a byproduct of fear.

But I must remind you, a pickle would kill you if it had the chance.
















(See? The dirty bastards.)

4. Milky Eye

For those of you who don't know what Milky Eye is...This is milky eye:





















Milky Eye (or Cloudy Cornea) is when a cloudy film covers the outside of the eye or inside of the cornea. This can be caused by several things: infection, damage to the eyeball, etc. Nevertheless it scares the crap out of me. I am not afraid of people who have milky eye, mind you; what frightens me is the thought that maybe one day I could have it.

Plus I just hate the word milky...gross.

5. Paralyzation

Once again, I am not afraid of people who are paralyzed. Just afraid that one day I will have an accident and become paralyzed. This might explain my fear of heights a little though. The only way I think I would ever be okay with paralyzation is if I got to ride around in this,


















(Attach a cannon that fires t-shirts to this and you've got yourself a party!)

Fear is a strange mistress.
There are moments when you defy her and moments when you succumb to her cold embrace. But in life you shouldn't let fear hold you back from what you want. We all have let moments and opportunities pass us by because of fear. Fear of failure, fear of success (yes this is a real thing, and a lot of people will chicken out because of this one), fear of rejection, and the list goes on and on.
The point is to try your hardest to not let it drag you down. Because I never want to be the person who looks back and wonders, "What if?"

Sunday, February 6, 2011

IT HAS BEGUN!!!!

Last night, I couldn't sleep.
So I stayed awake and practiced
my PhotoShop skills.

Here Were a Few Results:



























But, for some reason I decided to challenge my friend Brad Taylor to a bit of a duel...by sending him this picture (see below) with the words, "Your move Brad." Posted on it:















Here Was His Response:
















"You were saying?"

And we were off to the races!
The unspoken rules were that we must take a picture of our friend Kyle, photoshop him in a silly situation, and post it on the other person's wall within twenty-four hours.

This is what we came up with...


ME


















BRAD



















ME













Brad



















Me


















Brad


















If anyone would like to participate please...don't hesitate!

(P.S. Thank you Kyle for being such a good sport.)

- Neil

Monday, January 31, 2011

LDS 24 Hour Film Festival

For the last nine years the LDS Film Festival has held a 24-hour film competition.
The basic idea is you have twenty-four hours (from 10:00 A.M. Friday to 10:00 A.M. Saturday ) to write, shoot, edit, score, and turn in a three -minute film.

The Rules Were:
1. You can only have five people in your group total (meaning only 5 people to act as your cast AND your crew).
2. You must use the given theme, prop, and line of dialog in your film (Our theme was generosity, our prop was a dollar bill, and the line of dialog was "What more can...").
3. Your film can only be three minutes in length.

This year four colleagues from the UVU film department and myself entered the competition.

Our Group Consisted Of:

Jorden Nash
Brittney Johnson
Jeremy Prusso
Eric Lawrence
and
Neil Hiatt (Myself)

We all worked hard and pulled together a really great short film.

Our Schedule Went As Follows:

10:00 A.M. - 12:00 Noon. - Get theme, prop, and dialog from LDS film festival. Come up with idea and write script.

12:00 Noon - 6:00 P.M. - Film entire script in three different locations.

6:00 P.M. - 5:00 A.M. - Film green screen in garage, synch sound clips to film footage, and edit the film together.

5:00 A.M. - 6:00 A.M. - Film pickup shots in garage, record songs for film, and record voice ADR.

6:00 A.M. - 7:00 A.M. - Color correct footage and mix audio.

7:00 A.M. - 9:00 A.M. - Finish mixing audio and synch it up to final film edit.

9:00 A.M. - 9:30 A.M. - Add After Effects lightning to fifteen frames of footage.

9:30 A.M. - 9:50 A.M. - Export film to DVD.

9:50 A.M. - 10:00 A.M. - Turn in final product to LDS Film Festival.

This was our first time entering the competition, and honestly I couldn't have asked for a better group.
You know why?

Because...


Here is us accepting our award:
(From left to right: Jorden Nash, Jeremy Prusso, Neil Hiatt, and film festival sponsor Christian Vuissa. Not pictured: Eric Lawrence & Brittney Johnson)
















Here is us taking a picture in front of the LDS Film Festival Sign:
(From left to right: Neil Hiatt, Jeremy Prusso, Jorden Nash)













Here is a picture of me next to Boss Nass from Star Wars:
(From left to right: Boss Nass, Neil Hiatt)












Anyway, our three-minute short titled MUFFIN TOP took 1st PLACE out of twenty-nine entries and it also won the Audience Choice Award.

That means we beat out one-hundred and forty film makers working on their twenty-nine separate projects!

The logic:
29 groups x 5 film makers per group = 145 film makers
145 film makers - 5 (our group) = 140 film makers

And there were some really great films in this competition!
It was a wonderful feeling to meet so many talented individuals and to walk away with our heads held high.

So, without further ado, I give you our short film...
(NOTE: Remember we only had 24 hours to make this, so please forgive some of our editing and continuity errors)

MUFFIN TOP:


All-in-all it was a great experience, and I can't wait until next year's competition.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Why Make Facebook More Melodramatic Than It Already Is?

The Internet is a strange beast. While it connects us together with a simple click of the mouse, it also distances us greatly from one another. You may be asking yourself, "How can it connect us together while separating us at the same time?"

The answer is simple: anonymity.

If you've ever seen a comments page on YouTube, or a Facebook wall post, you would quickly notice how social tact and a general proclivity for civility is thrown out the window. . . much like the toasters in my friend Brad Taylor's recent art piece.

Brad Taylor's "Toaster Defenestration"


















Because the Internet allows us to state opinions from the comfort and safety of our homes, we tend to say things that we normally wouldn't say to a person face to face. In some cases the Internet allows us to say these things completely anonymously, and that is when all hell breaks loose.

In my opinion, arguing on Facebook is akin to shouting into the darkness and is pretty sad when you take a step back and look at the situation. It comes as no shock that the two subjects that stoke the flames the most are politics and religion. Now I am fine with conversations and civil discussions about both of these topics. But, it's the extremist political parroting, ad hominem, and useless trash talk that inevitably follows that really bothers me.

Examples:

From the Right: "Obama is a Socialist."
From the Left: "Republicans are Fascists."
"Gays are abominations!", "Christians are nut-jobs!" etc., etc., etc.

So my plan is that if anyone posts extremist political or religious fluff on Facebook I will just remove him or her from my friend list. (Note: Remember, only extremists get deleted; if you are civil and just keep an open mind, I will only hide you from my wall feed.)

Let's face it, and you can quote me on this,
"Posting extremist political and religious views on Facebook is like masturbating in public. While it might feel good to the person doing it, everyone else around you is uncomfortable and annoyed!" - Neil Hiatt
See, I even quoted myself (how humble of me).

Here is a song my friend Brad Taylor wrote on the aforementioned subject...
I have to say no one has put the subject in such an eloquent manner.
(Warning: Explicit Content - Not Safe For Work)

"Facebook" By: Brad Taylor