Saturday, November 13, 2010

I have been preparing for Alison in Wonderland to some degree and have just started building and procuring a few of the props. I have a new Canon Rebel EOS camera that takes beautiful HD video and will be used as one of the cameras in the film. I also am working somewhat on the Black Sunshine: Conversations with T.F. Mou DVD set, with which there is good news and bad news. First the bad news, which is that I am axing the commentary and releasing it in February instead of December, will give me time to work on it though I think the Two Short Films repressing may be available in December. All I need to do for that one is redo the Red Riding Hood making of stuff and make the menus.

The good news is that T.F. Mou, whose wife called me to reiterate how pleased they were with the film, has agreed to autograph a certain number of copies and I will be autographing them as well. They will be sold for around an extra $10 as "limited collector's editions". Like with the shorts, I will be returning to this and repolishing it in X amount of time. I have found out new information about T.F. Mou since I finished the movie, I need to correct the "Men Behind the Sun-Man Behind the Sun" issue and Mou is working on getting me access to his early Taiwanese movies.

Truth is, I've been very depressed lately and in a fit of frustration broke my toe from kicking a concrete column the other day. I have struggled harder than I thought I'd ever have to for the last few years and have too little to show for it in my mind. And my talents and visionary mind, rather than connect me with people like I had hoped, seem to have alienated me to some degree, including with many of my former collaborators and I am also sick of people's ruthlessness. I am frustrated my life still isn't where I want it to be, I am in a period of transition now and haven't yielded enough from it in my mind which has drained and exhausted me. I want so badly to contribute to the world but it can seem like the world doesn't want me.

But I am getting back on my feet (both metaphorically and literally as I am now hobbling around with a cane until the broken toe heals). I have been worrying too much. All this strife and resistance I encountered made me depressed and obsessively worry and that ended up crippling me both mentally and physically. Truth is, despite this strong self image I have tried to send out, I am still rather insecure and I still worry about failing and also that my detractors may be "right" in the end. I have to especially forget about both of these and love my life again instead of seeing as it a means to some vague final victory. My perfectionism, obsession with "winning" and proving myself worthwhile in the scheme of things has made me miserable and life can seem like nothing but a string of let downs and frustrations.

Here is some prop work I have been doing as of late. Pictures all courtesy of my new camera.
My materials for the first few creations: a pumpkin (for my festival Halloween "Lucifer O' Lantern") and an electric Halloween skull decoration that will become the first of the Queen's piked heads. I started by gutting the electrical components from the skull and the etchings on the pumpkin were my carving design.Some bones and skeletal parts that came with the skull. These will be given a "lived-in", more realistic post-decay look and used for both the Hatter's torture house and the Queen's dungeon.
The "Lucifer O' Lantern", a jack-o-lantern made into a Devil face in construction, I added prosthetic cliche horns and pitched tail for more effect which I sculpted in clay and then coated with papier-mache. I cut a hole in the bottom to fit in a candle with I would mount on a clamshell. I like to eat stuffed clams so have a lot of those lying around.The first pike in construction. The pike was made from two dowels (industrial wooden support rods) and wood glued then taped together with strong tape and papier-mached. I spent a few days sharpening the top dowel into a pike. I would sit out on my porch, drink beer and sharpen it like a cannibal tribesman. After it dried here, it was then covered in a few layers of papier-mache with brown paper bag and then painted.The Lucifer O' Lantern drying after carving and papier-macheing, the blue bowl has the papier mache that I had been using for all my recent prop department projects.The bowl of papier-mache and an IKEA all purpose screw driver with about 10 different interchangeable bit heads I used to help carve the pumpkin.The Lucifer O'Lantern continues to dry. On the chair is the exact-o knife that I used for both the pumpkin carving and the pike sharpening.Painting the Lucifer O'Lantern and pike.The Lucifer O'Lantern, painted red as a final touch and finished. The Lucifer O'Lantern glows with the unearthly fire of Hades.After drilling and chipping a hole in the gutted, formerly electric skull, I put the finished and painted pike through it. I then molded a layer of red clay onto it to simulate some flesh and musculature. I applying a layer of papier-mache to the skull next, I used thin paper like tissue and tracing sheets to best simulate hanging, rotting flesh. Finally, I papier-mached some fake hair I had lying around on it afterward.The finished piked head lays down to dry as my plants get some sun.The first completed piked head all completed and now standing against my wall where it will stay as a macabre decoration until filming. It will go in the Red Queen's throne room like in this pre-viz painting here.A wide shot of the piked head against my wall, puts its size more into perspective, it's a little under six feet tall.The Lucifer Lantern a week later and all the worse for wear; oozing more gunk than a hoo-haa with chlamydia. Sadly it didn't make it to Halloween. I should have started carving a week before H'ween instead of two weeks. Now I know for next year, pumpkins go bad really fast.Now about 10 or so days later I started work on the plastic bones as I geared up to make another head. I discolored them slightly and then applied papier-mache tissue to make it look like there was still some rotting flesh hanging off them.
The finished first "batch of bones". I painted them to give them a very "post rotted" look and added to the effect by putting a little hair on them and painting them with a little soil from my house plants to "dirty them up". These will go in the Hatter's house and these props will be adorned with live maggots and mealworms to enhance their realism even more. The second batch will be painted a little differently (paler and cooler for a more "bleached" look) and will go in the Queen's dungeon.

I have also been building another piked head in the last week and am almost done with it. Pictures (of which there are many) soon, I am waiting on a wig as it needs some hair.


venoms5 said...

Sometimes failing is the same as winning in certain ways. It allows you to reflect on why things didn't work out and you become wiser in the process and possibly learn things you wouldn't have known otherwise.

Also, if you are able to at least attempt what you want to do with your life, that much in itself is a success whether you actually make it, or not. The point is that you tried and gave it your best and that's better than if you just sat and watched it all pass you by.

venoms5 said...

Nice props, by the way, and that's good news regarding the Mou documentary about additional material and that the Mou family are pleased with it.

J.L. Carrozza said...

Thanks for the encouragement!