The Empire Has Fallen

I cannot remember the countless times I’ve sworn I’m “quitting filmmaking”, that “the dream is over”, that “the art world doesn’t need my hokey dick-joke bullshit”.

Even more countless are the times I’ve renegged on that and just pumped out another project or two anyway.

Cards on the table; I do the “struggling artist” thing pretty well. I’m a Macbook Pro away from completely embracing the stereotype and writing all of my shit at a Starbucks, sipping latte after latte as I bang out another self-deprecating script, vaguely covered by a thin layer of creative license and hyperbole.

All for what? So I can make my mark in the world, surrounded by other marks people before, alongside and well after me have made? So I can impress my girlfriends? So I can feel like I’ve ‘done something’ and not be that quiet fuckup who never did shit? Why put myself through the bullshit and agony in the first place, when only a handful of times in the last five years, have I ever received kudos or respect for what I do?

I’ve explained how my head works in a previous entry on here, when it comes to personal achievements, and I don’t want to repeat myself. Besides, the original post was fun to write and I daren’t detract from that.

I can watch Neil Gaiman’s “Make Good Art” or read Kevin Smith’s “Portrait of the (f)Artist as a Young Man” and feel rejuvenated and justified all I like, but it is all merely temporary.

in 2010 I had plans to start somewhat of a media empire. Y’know, like that Murdoch guy, but less of a dessicated corpse and more dick jokes.

in 2016, I feel the empire has fallen.

A lot of things contributed to this; Some of which I feel enough time has passed that I can exercise my right of reply. I shan’t go into them here but it’s become more and more evident that yeah, a somewhat talented Kevin Smith wannabe -hockey jersey and all- is no longer needed in the creative space already inhabited by the real deal. And when I broke away from the stuff I could write with my hands tied behind my back, blindfolded, and dangling off of a rope from a cliff, nobody gave enough of a shit to really warrant doing it at all.

Should I be doing it for myself instead? Absolutely, but that would imply I wasn’t making things up and writing them down for myself to start with, which… well, Compound Fiasco Productions wouldn’t exist without a handful of scripts that I wrote many many years ago, that I wanted to see come to life, purely because I was naive, or stupid, or narcissistic enough to want to see the shit I wrote be acted out and come to life.

It would all be a complete pipe dream, and instead I’d waste my time doing whatever I was doing, thinking  “what if”.

How long do I keep beating my head against the same brick wall until somehow, by chance of luck, it “works”? I’ve been doing it for five years, and anything that’s come out of it is the occasional pat on the head and the verbal equivalent to a banana sticker.

Oh sure, there was the show, but that just left me completely demoralized at the end of it and as much as I’d call that an achievement, it feels more like a pyrrhic victory, considering the amount of abuse I copped from the co-creator for things within, and well out of my control.

So where do I go from here? Who knows? I have a few stories left to write and a music video or two to do, but they won’t last me through the end of the year. Besides, the thought of putting myself through that particular grinder again is giving me hives.

I could just write things for other people, but hell, I’m a control freak. Y’think I’d let some jerk walk into my yard and play in my sandpit so easily?

I could just continue doing what I’m doing and hopefully get lucky in the next few years, but then I’ll be back here, finding another way to rewrite this post.

Perhaps it’s time to just let the empire fall already. Stick a fork in it, it’s done.

Anyone want to buy a camera?

Poor Self Esteem, Thy Name is Ruku

My name is Luke Sheehan, writer, raconteur, podcaster, filmmaker, occasionally a musician…

Oh, and I hate myself.

Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a ‘pity me’ post, or a suicide note. I’m not going out Kurt Cobain style, or whinging how I’ll be dying alone, loveless, and with five bucks to my name. So if you’re reading this and you’re worried, don’t be.

But I really, well and truly do hate myself. Or at least I did. This right here is where my story begins.

I hate how I look, I hate my name down to every last syllable to the point where it should only be uttered in hushed tones, I hate the fact my hair’s thinning, I have a gut disproportionate to the rest of me, my ears are too big, it goes on and on and on. This has been happening for as long as I can remember and really, I’ve only come to terms with it a mere five years ago and still struggling. Assuming that “self esteem” is in the dictionary, my face would be nowhere near it as a reference picture because frankly, I have none.

The name thing has been going on since day one. I have a first name yanked straight from the bible and “Sheehan” is incredibly common. I remember in guest books I’d sign under a pseudonym because I hated my name that much. Oh, and I have two middle names. To this day I pick the one I prefer and use that on everything, because what sort of pompous fuck needs two middle names?

The rest came from early childhood and I don’t know what set it off. Maybe some girl I fancied called me “fat” or “ugly” in primary school and it spiralled from there. I look at old photos and not only do I marvel (and vomit in my mouth a little) at how much I’ve porked out since discovering my first pube all those horrible acne-filled years ago, but how gaunt, skinny and “gross” I looked. There’s no middle ground, here. Only self-loathing because below my neck and above my waist are caverns and mountains of flab that I need to scrub under, so far, no sign of Gollum or the One Ring, but if I find it I’ll let you know.

I remember a good fifteen years ago I almost had a meltdown because my grandfather mentioned I’ve “filled out a bit” while prodding me in the belly. That’s stuck with me since and I don’t really know how to bring it up outside of just blurting it and ruining whatever occasion I happen to be seeing my grandparents for. He didn’t mean it in a bad way and I get that. Still, thanks Gramps. that’s one less piece of cake I’ll be eating… Probably because I’ve eaten the whole thing already and now I’m in a food coma (send help, and a case of Dr. Pepper).

I remember deliberately eating less, damn-near starving myself because I didn’t have a totally-bitchin’ six pack. That lasted about two days before I found out that Magnum ice creams exist.

Really, this is the tip of the iceberg. It’s not so much a “body image” issue, it’s the entire image of myself, as I am. I can stop eating cake any time I want, but I’ll still be plain old me, boring name, big ears, the works. There’s not a lot I can do about that without spending a shitload of money and time on changing every last little thing about myself and even then, I won’t be Brendan Maclean, or Kevin Smith, or Trent Reznor, or whoever else I deem “more interesting” or “cooler than me” without having my ass thrown into court for identity theft.

Welcome to the inside of my fucking head. Enjoy your stay.

So this went on and on and on for years until maybe 2011 when I finally realized “holy shit. Okay, I have a problem”. Now it’s 2015 and I still have a problem (that entire cake won’t eat itself, and the people I idolize have changed since I was a young’un but wanting to ‘be someone else entirely’ is still there), but at least now I find myself remotely decent looking, or at least, in a relationship where two people find me attractive, which helps. Really, I’m just making do with what I’ve got and people seem to like that.

 

I actually don’t mind being a bit of a porker these days. Hell, I’m not even that fat. I just happen to have a gut bigger than my head. Besides, pants sizes don’t matter if you tend not to wear them.

I’m more content being myself these days which I’m chalking up to actually getting shit done and finding out where my talents lie. Hell, I even like seeing my name on things now.

I still feel like a useless sack of shit who bores people to death and isn’t good enough for anyone, ever, in any capacity, but at least I have a cool job?

I still cringe at photos of me, but that’s probably because I’ve made this face and someone’s tagged me in it on Facebook:

Hawtness in a barrel.
Hawtness in a barrel. (photo credit: Corine Brown)

There’s still things I’d like to change, and things I acknowledge I can change. But at this point, let’s take one step at a time. I’m only really just getting the hang of not vomiting in revulsion of who I currently am here, and really, why fix what really isn’t broken?

I guess the whole “fat positivity” thing had a hand in it, Kevin Smith definitely had a hand in it in a “if a pretty average looking dude with a pretty common name can pull this shit off, why can’t I?” sorta way… but mostly I think I grew up a little and realized that me, as I am, actually is pretty worthy of anything I want, even if it is writing hokey dick-joke bullshit that I cast my friends in. Worthy of having a loving, stable relationship, worthy of being narcissistic enough to talk about himself being “decent looking” on his own blog.

What I want people to take from this? I don’t know. I haven’t written here in a while and really, enough time has passed that I want to talk about this shit more publicly and this is the best way I know how to address a shitload of people at once. So I guess this is just throwing a hopefully relatable bottle out in the ocean and hoping someone reads it, maybe even ‘gets’ it is my agenda. I dunno, I just write these things. You make your own damn assumptions. I have a bigass fucking cake to eat.

Till next time…

On “THAT article” about Clementine Ford.

So a New Matilda article has come out, penned by Jack Kilbride, basically saying that Clementine Ford isn’t the wonderful, patriarchy-punching role model she appears to be.

Identifying as a feminist, the ironically-surnamed Kilbride explains that to preach to the non-converted, getting angry and spewing vitriol is not the best way to re-educate misogynists.

Y’know what? The guy has a point. Patiently explaining to someone your views and initiating a discussion will get a lot more positive feedback than simply hashtagging #KillAllMen…

….Except y’know, there’s that whole thing that this is the exact thing women have been trying for decades, and they’ve promptly been told to shut the fuck up for decades.

I’m not going to even try to explain Ford’s motives here. That is treading a little too closely on the mansplaining line and I’d like to avoid that where possible. But here’s what I will say: People get sick of hearing broken records pretty quickly, much less attempting to initiate a discussion that inevitably ends up sounding like one.

Shit, even I have ended up in arguments about the whole “Not All Men” thing, which has been explained by others pretty fucking plainly. Shared the following infograph on my Facebook profile:

11219590_955997274445800_1250932126168087829_n

And it still completely fucking derailed with people saying it was unfair, that it was a discussion worth having, etc. etc.

It call comes down to one thing: Those who aren’t willing to listen, simply won’t.

The problem with misogynists who call out feminists, tell them to get back in the kitchen, and proceed to call them “sluts” and “whores” and what have you is that they’re quite content being misogynists. No patient discussion is going to change their mind, even if you patted them on the head, fed them chocolate and said “poor little bunny”.

I don’t agree with Ford’s tactics 100% of the time. I can certainly see why she polarizes people, and at the end of the day, Clementine Ford is simply out of fucks to give, along with countless other feminists, and while they certainly couldn’t give a fuck about little old me and what I think on my shitty-ass blog that nobody reads, they have my unwavering support.

It is not the job of feminists to explain to you their agenda, there is Google for that. That’s how I learned a thing or two about a thing or two, and shit, it kinda worked.

Nor is it the job of (female identifying) feminists to placate men who wish to be in their space. The sooner the #NotAllMen crowd dies off, the better the world will be.

According to “Destroy the Joint”, do you want to know how many women have died in 2015?

78

Seventy-fucking-eight as of this writing. 84 in 2014, and shit, I’d hate to go back further.

Read those two numbers again and tell me why the fuck Ford and other feminists shouldn’t be fucking angry?

That’s not to mention the cat-calling, the verbal abuse, harassment in public areas, so on and soforth. Even if you are completely privileged, the world is a pretty shithouse place for women, when it really doesn’t have to be. Nor should it be, in 2015.

Maybe Kilbride is right. Ford’s “nuke the earth” tactics are probably not going to win over anyone anytime soon, but -from how I see it- women are simply sick and tired of explaining nicely and so they should be. If men are unwilling to play ball when they had the opportunity, why the hell should they be given a chance now?

Till next time.

A Music Snob’s Look at Silentó’s “Watch Me”

Now look, I’m not one to turn my nose up at goofy fucking songs. One of my favourites to play on guitar is “Only Gay Eskimo” by Corky and the Juice Pigs (NOT Tenacious D, as various filesharing programs of yesteryear would have you believe, though, wouldn’t that make a wonderful cover?), “Fuck a Dog” by Blink 182 I used to blast at my girlfriend when I felt like being a shithead, and Rickrolling is my religion that I will never lose, no matter how many repeat listens of REM I go through.

But in later years, there seems to have been a plague, shall we say, of music that is certainly goofy as all shit, but more catered for the lowest common denominator: People who just love obnoxious, repetitive noises.

The latest addition to this plague is “Watch Me” by Silentó.

THE ARTIST

Silentó (real name: Richard Lamar Hawk) is a 17 year old recording artist who’s only claim to fame is outright demanding people watch him whip, then nae-nae, then make them do dance moves, like a cocaine-fueled record exec who ordered in a small Ethiopian child to throw nickels at.

That’s all there is to it. Another shitty teenager whose modus operandi is to pollute our ear canals with shitty music. He must be doing something right though, cause the fucker already is getting airtime and has a partnership with Vevo from just one song.

THE SONG

Here’s a breakdown of the more commonly used words in the lyrics. Yes, I had to google the lyrics, yes, they were posted online. Why? I’m not entirely sure, because there are very few to remember.

Watch Me: 74

Whip: 18

Nae Nae: 24

Duff: 17

Bop: 18

Aside from a few references to the “Stanky Leg”, “Yule”, “Superman” and “Break Your Legs”, along with any fillers (yeah, crank dat, stank, etc.), this is the entire song. That’s it. No hidden surprises. Silentó of course has to tell us his name just in case we’ve forgotten who came up with this dredge.

At first, I thought autotune was in full force here, as Silentó’s squeaky teenage voice giving us the customary name-check is replaced with a warmer, deeper voice in the actual song, but then that seems to be his actual voice? Or at least a close approximation, after watching a live performance or two. Either way, the voice changes and it’s pretty jarring. Kid, stahp. Either be a squeaky annoying teen or a damn grown up. You can’t have your whip/nae-nae and eat it too.

Musically, nothing to really write home about but nothing to really fault, either. It’s an alright beat, wasted on lyrics about stanky legs, whips, and so on.

A sidenote here. Who the fuck comes up with these dance names? Isn’t a “stanky leg” what happened to that guy who got bitten on the ankle in “The Walking Dead”? What the hell is a “Duff”, and as far as “break your legs” go, don’t encourage me, dude. I’m getting ideas.

THE MUSIC VIDEO

This actually saves the song for me. It incorporates videos sent in by fans, presumably, as well as a sequence in a highschool gym that makes up the majority. Three rather conservative women come in and witness the horrors of their POOR LITTLE DARLINGS whipping and nae-nae-ing all over the place, then eventually get into it themselves because “FUCK YOU, OLD PEOPLE!”. It’s decently shot with a few neat camera tricks here and there, beyond that it’s all very “standard rap fare if it were directed by a 17 year old kid”.

IN SUMMARY

It’s another J. Dash “Wop”, or Migos “Versace”, except those two assholes are old enough to know better. “Watch Me” is earwormy and annoying enough to hate, yet somehow is popular enough to end up on “Ellen”, which is the real kicker: This kid performed on US television, all because of a song that equates to a list of dance moves. Come on, guys, this is why we can’t have nice things.

The worst part is, “Watch Me” is the musical equivalent to Stockholm Syndrome. At first you hate the everloving shit out of it, but because it’s so damned catchy, you secretly, disgustingly find yourself kinda liking it, and then wanting to drink bleach and take a nap on a major highway because you remember how annoying the fucking song is.

Now if you excuse me, I need to buy a deck-chair and have a tanning sesh on the M5.

BEST DESCRIBED AS:

“This song is the reason I hate this generation”

I DESCRIBE IT AS

This generation’s Map to the Treasure of Melee Island.

A Music Snob’s Look at Nickelback

I have a confession to make. I used to be a Nickelback fan.

Emphasis on “used to”, because I was young and didn’t know any better. Also I really only liked “How You Remind Me” because well, the rest of “Silver Side Up” was pretty forgettable.

As part of my ongoing musical education prior to starting a band, I started listening to all kinds of music lately, good and bad. Nickelback was the latest cab off the rank and the results of this aural experiment left me with enough of a rage-boner that it warranted a blog post. I’ll be doing more of these in the months to come, with artists I like, hate, find tolerable, and so on. I’d call this “Music Mondays”, but you know how I feel about schedules.

So without further ado…

THE EXPERIMENT

The idea was go objectively look at a band I used to like and now find rather generic, and find out why they’re so god-damn hated amongst music fans. My argument is basically “there’s plenty of other generic rock bands out there, why does Nickelback, of all forgettable bands, cop so much flack?”

THE BAND

It should really be called “Chad Kroeger and Friends”, because let’s face it, can you name all the members of Nickelback? I know I can’t. So you basically have Chad Kroeger, Chad’s Hair, and a buncha dudes he picked up during a visit to the pub.

We see a lot of Chad and his hair, and the general feeling I get is that he’s just douchey. He’s a walking Summer’s Eve product line, though I imagine rubbing Chad Kroeger on your pink bits will result in a far less-than-clean vagina.

THE MUSIC

Y’know what? I could theoretically get into Nickelback if I had amnesia, completely forgot what music was, and the only CD available was “Nickelback’s Greatest Hits”. It’s not bad, by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s far too generic for me to like. Too generic, too safe, too forgettable. But then I listen to a band that thinks death metal goes really really well with surfer-rock, so I’m not the best person to ask here.

Here is the basic formula for a Nickelback song:

Strummy acoustic bit > Distorted bit while the drummer suddenly realizes he was meant to come in several bars ago > acoustic bit but now the bass plays along > Distorted bit > End.

There. I have sent you on the road for forgettable rock superstardom, dear reader. Use these skills wisely, young Padawan.

SONG-BY-SONG

Even for a generic rock band, they have some standouts. Here’s a rundown of what I listened to during this:

How You Remind Me

This is pretty much all she wrote. They released this, and then added lyrics and other chords to make other songs.

Too Bad

In this ditty, Chad’s Hair gets angry and if you squint close enough at the music video, you may even see spittle.

I gotta ask though, what’s with the weird synth-y bass effect? C’mon guys. Either leave the synth to Nine Inch Nails or Garbage and just continue on with your crappy crap, or actually include it in your music in a meaningful way.

I’m pretty sure this is the only Nickelback song that features a solo or two.

Someday

See “How You Remind Me”. It’s the same song.

Rockstar

Okay, so this one isn’t too bad. If anything, because the music video features a bunch of celebrities who probably had a mortgage payment due at the time.

the real irony here is the line “I’m gonna sing those songs/that offend the censors”, because these guys are the tamest rock band in music history. The Beatles had more notoriety for their bowl hair cuts than Nickelback ever did. Maybe if we took them for a DeLorean ride back to 1955 they’d turn some heads.

Photograph

Okay. This is a joke, right? The fuck are you trying to pull, Nickelback? Is this just a race to the bottom for you? What the fuck happened?

Basically I ended the experiment here because the song and the video clip damn near killed me. When I die, I want this played at my funeral because I’m taking all you motherfuckers down with me.

“LOOKITTHISPHOTOGRAFF”, Chad’s Hair mumbles over a warm acoustic guitar. At least that’s what I think he says. I’m not even sure anymore. The only clue is that he holds up a picture frame in the music video:

Subtlety isn't exactly in Chad's Hair's vocabulary.
Subtlety isn’t exactly in Chad’s Hair’s vocabulary.

If Green Day’s “Time of Your Life” is the song played when you leave university, then “Photograph” the song you play when you’re looking back at the age of 45 wondering what the fuck they’ve done with their life. A sentiment that I’m not sure Chad’s Hair can really relate to.

THE MUSIC VIDEOS

They look pretty, that’s for sure. But that’s about all they’ve got going for them. You’re looking at some of the driest, formulaic videos ever released by a major label. “Too Bad” and “Someday” are basically the same video with relationship dynamics switched for variety, and every other video has someone creepily trying to caress someone else from behind.

And then there’s “Photograph”, which feels way too much like one of those ‘literal music videos’ to be taken seriously.

Don’t expect wonders here. But if you ever wanted to see the Pokemon-like evolution of Chad’s Hair, then they’re worth a watch.

IN SUMMARY

I’m still not sure why they’re hated so viciously. Are they seriously worth the trouble of starting a petition to keep them out of the UK? Or Australia? This is the sort of shit the Helen Lovejoys of the world do for Marilyn Manson concerts, except worse in the fact that Nickelback isn’t even offensive. At least Ol’ Mismatched Eyes managed to cause some controversy. Nickelback on the other hand parades around in this “big, tough, rockstar” image but once the leather jackets and sunglasses come off, they’re just a bunch of little kids playing with daddy’s guitar.

The sticking point here is Chad’s Hair, and the douchebaggery he represents. Nobody gives a shit about the other bandmates, really.

Nickelback, as bland as they are, do what they do reasonably well. They’re not bad musicians, but they’re not exactly looking to switch their game up anytime soon. I guess the most amusing thing that comes out of the amount of hatred they inspire is the fact that without it, Nickelback would not exist. If you all shut the hell up, then there’d be no more Nickelback.

But then, what would we have to bitch about that doesn’t involve politics, any form of “ism”, or social justice?

BEST DESCRIBED AS

“Mom rock for moms who hate mom-rock”

I DESCRIBE THEM AS

“The ‘Greedo Shot First’ of Rock Music”

I just improved your shitty Minion quotes.

Minions. Gotta love ’em, right? Or if you’re me, tolerate them just enough to not car-bomb all your Minion-loving Facebook friends for being such fucking embarrassments to society.

Trust me when I say this, I know all about being an embarrassment to society:

Still the greatest photo of me ever.
Still the greatest photo of me ever.

But whether we like it or not, Minions are here to stay, it seems. But it doesn’t mean we can’t use this to our advantage. Sit tight, Felafel-readers! I’m about to solve all your fucking problems with these four weird tips.

1) Find a minion picture. Just use Google. Nobody uses Bing except for parents and Microsoft employees. Don’t be a fucking disappointment to your ancestors by picking any old image. Choose one that’s relevant. I chose these three assholes:

minions-2015-im-with-stupid

2) Find lyrics to punk, metal, or prog music. If you have AdBlocker, you should be able to avoid the 7200 viruses you’re about to get.

3) Open your favourite image editor. By “Favourite”, I obviously mean Photoshop. Everything else is crap in comparison. Don’t even get me started on Paint Shop Pro.

4) Copy and paste like the talentless hack you are, and viola! You have a Minion image you can be proud to emblazon on your Facebook page, putting a spring in your step every time it appears on your newsfeed.

Jim Carroll - People Who Died
Jim Carroll – People Who Died

Much like Simpsons quotes, excessive drug use and casual racism, there’s one for every occasion. Here’s another I knocked up:

Tool - Prison Sex
Tool – Prison Sex

See? SEE? He looks kinda INSANE right?! The song talks about sanity, and he’s in his underpants, so he probably rubbed one out so…. look, the bar’s set pretty low with these things already. Just find a fucking Minion, add lyrics from music your grandmother will probably hate and don’t put too much thought into it beyond that. It works for Minion Quotes.

Pantera - Fucking Hostile
Pantera – Fucking Hostile

Here’s a few tips from when I actually did some graphic design:

-Use a readable font. Nothing gets ignored quicker like a shit font. And make sure it doesn’t clash with the background. None of this red/blue, white/yellow colour scheme shit okay? I know where you fucking sleep.

-Use as childish a font as possible to fool people into thinking it’s legit. Better yet, just use Comic Sans.

-Remember to use your left/center/right alignment tools. If you don’t know what they are, you have just failed “using a computer 101”. Get the fuck out of my class.

-Keep it simple. Unless you’re adding a basic background or some shit and know what you’re doing, text + image is fine. Let’s not put any more effort into this than needed.

 

Now I’m leaving it up to YOU GUYS to cause a bit of mischief and make your own. Send any submissions to audible.xepha@gmail.com with the subject title “Metal Minions”, Best 10 submissions will be featured on the site and the very very very best will get a prize of some sort.

 

Till next time…

Barnaby Joyce is a fucking tool.

Australians all let us rejoice, for we are run by a pack of morons.

But let’s focus on Barnaby Joyce today. I mean, what a waste of a badass name. When I think “Barnaby”, I picture some cigar-smoking, dinosaur punching, time-travelling anti-hero who sounds like Tom Waits coughing up a lung and speaks like a pulpy Noir detective. Instead we’re stuck with this dipshit:

The only time travelling this jackass is doing is bringing us all back to the 1950's
The only time travelling this jackass is doing is bringing us all back to the 1950’s

Non-badass Barnaby has been in the news recently, criticising same-sex marriage (or as I like to call it, ‘marriage’), saying that Asian countries may see us as ‘decadent’ if it’s embraced in Australia

To this I say “so what?”

Out of all the bullshit arguments about letting ‘them filthy queers’ marry, this is quite possibly the worst. It’s not even impressively insensitive or crass like the other, more popular ones (pedos wanting to marry children, and the whole “Adam and Steve” thing, to name a few).

It doesn’t even make sense. Since the Coalition (again, waste of a badass name) came into power, when exactly have we given a fuck about how other countries view us?

We don't even like Asian people, really.
We don’t even like Asian people, or any other race, for that matter

Seriously, after silencing doctors and human rights supporters speaking out about the atrocities happening in detention centres, the fact the Libs have spent more money than Labor ever did, the fact we’re cutting funding to everything that isn’t making the rich richer (again, thank fuck the ballerinas are safe), we’re now insecure all of a sudden?

It’s 2015 guys, come on. Even America is doing better than us. Don’t you want to keep laughing at how shitty America is, guys? ‘Cause they’re kinda beating us as the whole “equal rights for all” game, and shit, they love the hell out of shooting all those “thuggish, unruly, black people“.

I get it, the Coalition are all for traditional values that are long since outdated, but frankly, if we’re going to get our man-panties in a twist over other countries’ opinion of us, I don’t think it’s same-sex marriage we have to worry about.

Joyce goes onto say that marriage shouldn’t be redefined by legislation (despite the fact it already has been many times over), comparing the idea to calling diamonds squares, and the usual tripe about how marriage is for procreation. All the fun stuff that gets thrown around when a middle-aged conservative thinks that being a decent human being who stands for equality is akin to being naked in public in the nightmare fuel department. Yawn.

Don’t get me wrong, I think same sex marriage is not the be-all and end-all. There’s still many a ways we need to go even once we have that fabulous-looking feather in our cap and I hope the recent push from everyone sporting a rainbow on Facebook continues into the realms of women’s rights, transgender rights, etc. and not just be another grand show of slacktivism. But this does eventually need to happen sooner or later.

And it’s time for Barnaby and his ilk, to stop making excuses for same-sex marriage not to be allowed in our once-great country. I just got off the phone to Adam and Steve, they wanna start planning how fucking fabulous their wedding cake is going to look already. Pick your fucking game up, ‘Straya.

 

Till next time…

The Cost of Working for Free (and why “Exposure” makes for shitty compensation for your skills)

Hi.

Incase this is your first time reading this blog, let’s recap:

I am a filmmaker, writer, blogger, former webcomic writer and currently-on-hiatus-until-I-get-my-shit-together podcaster. I am also the lead creative director, owner, and sole trader of a small-time production studio here in Sydney.

I also work freelance a lot of the time for a lot of people who need a guy to do a thing. As of this year, almost all of these gigs have been paid, except for one I did for local band Shanghai, whose musical director (Hi Luis!) I get free shit from all the time, so it kinda evens out and even if that wasn’t the case, I’ll be happy if I never get paid a cent from these guys because they are friends first, and pseudo-clients second. Plus I get to test out new setups for my gear, which is a bonus and takes less fucking around than doing so on a proper film shoot.

Of course, I just hope if they ever end up becoming stupidly famous and playing in packed-out stadiums and ending up on the cover of Rolling Stone or somesuch shit, they remember that guy who shot all that shitty, grainy concert footage for them over the years.

As of six months ago, the freelance side of things has become my fulltime job. I have an ABN, am looking to register a business name so I can sic lawyers onto anyone who wants to name their company “PUKED!” or “Fompound Ciasco Productions”, and -since putting an ad up on Metro Screen, my workload, word-of-mouth advertising, and thus, cashflow so I can pay rent, bills etc. has jumped exponentially. Basically, at the point, I don’t need to follow the naysayers usual catcall of “get a job”, because this is my fucking job. I barely ever work for free these days (I will, however, work for a cut rate, which-while not ideal- fills me with glee because it pisses Centrelink right the fuck off).

Between the years of 2010 through to 2013, I have been on many, many shoots where I have worked for free, or deferred payment which never got sent. Why? Because I doubted my skills, needed the experience, or it was a friend I owed a favour. I’m not bitter about it these days (at least as much), because I have set prices for my skills, know what I can do, and can just say “no” if I want. Because I know that I have a safety net, and -if things keep going the way they’re going, there’ll be another well-paying gig around the corner anyway.

I have also asked other people to work for free, simply because I didn’t have the money to pay them. They agreed, and I’ll probably be giving out a few-grand-worth of handouts once I’m living pretty comfortably.

I think -at least starting out- working for free is just a necessary evil. If you’re still honing your skills and not confident with what you do, best way to get your hand it and keep it firmly planted there is just sign yourself up to some cheap, shitty labor. Jump on the gig, accept the dubious payment for “exposure” and “for your portfolio”, leave at the end of the day knowing there’s at least ten people you no longer will want to work with because nine times out of ten, low or no-paying gigs are a clusterfuck.

But the established? The professionals? The ones doing the thing they want to do and getting paid for it? You’d better damn well expect a paycheque.

Thanks to musician/actor friend, possible secret understudy for Tori Amos and all-round cool chick, Helen Perris, I’ve been reading more and more about professionals getting asked to work for free. More disgustingly, they’re being asked by prominent, well-known businesses, who have the cashflow to pay people.

First up is Castle Hill Myer, who Helen approached to see if they were keen on her music. Though this has since all been sorted out from the sounds of things.. So kudos, Myer.

Next up? Oprah Winfrey, with her net-worth of 2.9 billion, asking performers to play during her tour, “The Life You Want” on a stage nowhere near Oprah, for free. I guess the bill for all those free cars finally came through.

and Opera Australia, doing a callout for dancers who -again, aren’t earning a paycheque.

All of these organisations have plenty of money to go around. This isn’t another case of a purely independent artist like Amanda Palmer asking people to work for free (though really, that’s still kinda shitty), and this isn’t like they’re bringing on people who are still honing their skills. These guys are loaded and can afford to pay some folk, and the people they’re asking are talented, skilled, and probably earning a bit of cash on the side.

Outside of Helen’s facebook page, I have recently learned my girlfriend, Kim, was not compensated for her work alongside a prominent opera singer, and that her reward was “the opportunity to work with me”, which… well, call me biased, but that’s the biggest load of shit I’ve ever heard in my life.

Don’t get me wrong. Exposure is nice and all. But it simply isn’t enough of an excuse or form of compensation if you’re going to recruit people to work for you, and you have the cash to pay them. Even in my situation where I’m living week to week, most people are pretty chill if you work out a payment system and mututally-acceptable rate with them. Hell, just tell ’em you’re poor as shit and be upfront about the fact you can’t pay them. These people are human, and humans are capable of rational thought, compassion, and understanding (unless they’re Liberal, or voted Liberal, anyway). So long as you’re upfront, honest, easy to work with and nice about it, you can usually get away with murder without looking like a jerk. Just remember that every person you ask has every right to tell you to go fuck yourself (and probably will).

The problem with exposure is that

a) it rarely follows through with that almost-always-promised “paid job down the line”,

b) it’s usually un-needed if you market yourself enough and have enough portfolio-filler.

Portfolio-filler has it’s own share of demons, being that usually, the projects aren’t that good, or well-polished, or are just downright unusable. It also is a bit different for people working in entertainment because that next album, next film, next book, is your portfolio-filler most of the time and with services like YouTube, Vimeo, Bandcamp and WordPress, it’s getting simpler, cheaper, and easier to get your work out there.

To me, the whole concept of “working for exposure” just cheapens one’s craft. Like, think about what that says in regards to your respect for the person you want to collaborate with; You absolutely LOVE their work, but don’t love it that much to pay them? Nice.

It’s probably worth mentioning that most expenses go unpaid ontop of the lack of a fee. So once you put rehearsal time, their skillset, practice, years and hundreds of dollars of training, and now the poor bastard has to pay for their own fuel to get to your shitty job? Congratulations, you’ve just made every sweatshop in China go “jesus that guy has some issues”.

Also, from the standpoint of hiring people to work for free, people simply give less of a fuck about it. Take it from a vindictive, misanthropic bastard of a filmmaker, folks. It’s easier to get people back in line, arrive on time, learn lines, rehearse, and work without complaint if you threaten them with their paycheque. But that’s just me. I tend to rule through fear.

I know some of you out there are calling “BULLSHIT!” and saying that artists have a choice to work for free or not. They do, and they exercise that right pretty fucking often. However, for every two artists that say “no”, there’s three newcomers who haven’t figured out that their newfound recruiter is basically exploiting them. It makes it harder for legitimate, professional artists to get paid for their work. Not to mention, you get what you pay for, nine times out of ten.

Perhaps you’re also saying “BUT THEY COULD HAVE GAINED LIKE, SOOO MUCH EXPOSURE FROM THAT! IDIOTS!”. Also true, but last I checked, exposure isn’t a form of legal tender, and it’s hard to pay rent with IOU’s (trust me, I’ve tried).

And for the select few assholes who want to yell “GET A REAL JOB!”? Go fuck yourself. You don’t deserve to enjoy art. Burn all your CD’s, all your books, all your movies and ram the molten  remnants up your goddamn arse if that’s the attitude you’re going to go with. Imagine the world today if some cock-headed loudmouth jerkass yelled at say, Kurt Cobain, or the dudes from Metallica, or Quentin Tarantino, or the Matt godddamn-motherfuckin’ Groening to “get a job”, and they did. You and people like you just destroyed some the few good things about the 90’s. Well done.

We, as artists, consumers, and recruiters need to set a precedence that not only asking people to take time of our their day to work for free -when no other trade really encounters this- is a shitty exploitative practice, and that getting a paid gig shouldn’t be something to be cheering about, but something that’s damn-well par for the course.

If you take anything from this post, just remember that being an artist is also a job for some people, and if you’re so adamant about how exposure is a good form of compensation, tell a tradie that you’ll tell all your friends about him if he fixes your house for free, and get back to me with how far you get in your spiel without being punched in the head.

 

Till next time.

 

The Plague #1: Sentry Duty

January 8th, 2248: 1825 Days after Incident Zero.

Nobody knows where the plague first started.

Some say it was infected monkeys, some say it was a freak accident at one of the R&D labs, the tinfoil hat-wearing types say it was a bio-weapon from The Government, but sit beside a smart-looking chap in Fighting McDougall’s, and he’ll give you little more than a half-hearted shrug before going back to nursing his beer.

What we do know, is that it changed everything. The things that people took for granted in life became scarce, people became more paranoid, it was the end of the world as we knew it and we didn’t feel fine.

Mick adjusted himself as he walked back to his post in The Old Quarter. First piss-break in what seemed like forever and he knew the next would be long after changeover. He was a burly sort with a thick Irish accent. Before his newfound life as a member of the 104th division of The Liquidators, he worked in a shipping company. He slung his beaten-up old rifle back onto his shoulder, sat down and rolled a smoke by candlelight.

“Alright, Mick?” asked Carlos, a talkative spanish man who lost his accent long ago. Mick nodded in silence, then lit his smoke.

“Gettin’ too old for this shite.” Mick replied, taking a drag. “When did the others say they’d be here?”

“Another hour. Then you can get back to your shithole of a pub.”

The Old Quarter was ostensibly a place of refuge. Infected hardly -if ever- got in, and they didn’t last long if they did. ‘Nothing personal’, Mick would tell himself if he ever had to deal with them. “This is going to hurt me more than it does you”, “It’s not your fault”. All reassurance for himself that he was just doing his job, his bit for those who survived.

“They say Old Hadley got blood on him. Screamed at his family to kill him.” Carlos said.

“Hadley? Shit.” replied Mick. “Who snuffed ‘im?”

“Overwatch caught up just in time to see Moira crack his skull with a brick.”

“Send my regards, will you? They were a good family. Put me up many a time when Laura and Thomas didn’t make it”

It almost seemed like a horrible dream to Mick, losing his wife and son. He tried his best to stay well away from his old home, drinking at McDougall’s to forget, to forgive himself.

A torch light shined into Mick’s face, he grumbled and aimed his rifle.

“Who’s there?” he yelled.

“Put the rifle down, you oversized Leprechaun.” replied a voice. “It’s the search party from Overwatch.”

Mick put out his cigarette and stood up with a sigh. The owner of the voice was Butch, Mick’s drinking buddy and fellow Liquidator, though, higher in rank and having the dubious honour of serving The Overwatch, basically the shredded remains of authority in The Old Quarter. Butch was a foot shorter and slightly more built than Mick, and sported a five-o-clock shadow. Mick walked over to greet him.

“What have they got you searching for this time?” Asked Mick.

“Supplies, mostly. Overwatch got news that a trade caravan didn’t make it through the Wastes. We found fuckall. Chances are, raider’s nicked ’em.”

“Bastards. Why doesn’t The Overwatch just send out escorts?”

“We’re needed here. You want to play babysitter? Go right ahead.”

‘Ha, if only.’ Mick thought. He had been wanting to get out of The Old Quarter for months now, somewhat doubtful that he’d be missed if he just packed up and left. But where would he go? What would he do? The Wastes were dangerous and raiders were becoming more organised. Going out alone was suicide, even with Kevlar and a rifle. He could take Carlos, perhaps. But he was too green, only having earned his stripes a week ago. Besides, he was getting too old and couldn’t bear to take supplies from The Old Quarter without earning them. Excuses ontop of excuses. The Old Quarter was safe and nothing ever happened. Mick preferred it that way.

Butch and Carlos exchanged pleasantries and they were back to their post almost as if nothing happened. The next hour was mind-numbing. “Nobody ever comes down here”, Mick thought to himself. “Nobody except for Overwatch goons and the occasional refugee from the Metro”.

Finally, Riley and Sean, their replacements, turned up to take the morning shift. Mick kicked Carlos awake, then they both stood up and gave a quick salute.

“G’mornin, you lot. Have fun watching this shitheap.” Mick said.

“Good morning to you too, Mick.” replied Riley. “Anything to report?”

“Nothing down this way aside from Butch’s team coming back.” Carlos replied.

“Alright. Enjoy your meals, fellas. Hopefully McDougall’s isn’t serving the same slop as last week.”

As Riley and Sean shared jokes, drank, and shared what was left of their tobacco, Mick ambled his way back down the cold, echoey tunnel towards The Old Quarter. To raise a glass to those they lost, to drink, to forget that this was his life now.