Phuket

Sometime between leaving Ko Phi Phi and arriving in Phuket Town, I became suddenly and violently ill. I stumbled off the boat after holding back a reservoir of vomit for 2 hours, and ran to the bushes to open the spill gate. Disoriented and too nauseous to research a destination, I decided to just follow people from the ferry. Almost everyone was going to a place called Patong Beach. I'd never heard of it, but it must be decent if it was so popular, right? All I needed at this point was an air conditioned room with a bed and a toilet.

I got on an 'ordinary bus' from Phuket Town to Patong. It cost about 20 baht and turned into a school bus halfway through the trip, slowly filling far beyond maximum capacity with kids in lavender and khaki uniforms. They were hanging out the door, piling up in the stairwells, sitting on each other's laps in the aisle, all while screaming and laughing and shoving more kids into the tiniest gaps. The bus was so full it could barely make it up the numerous hills on the way to the opposite coast, sometimes slowing to a near standstill as the diesel engine labored and belched an unhealthy black smoke. Mopeds and pickup trucks flew past us, honking, while a few kids jumped off the bus and ran to the top of the hill to wait for their ride to catch up. When we hit the beach, I squeezed off the rattling, overheated vehicle and fumbled my backpack to the nearest discount guesthouse.

I won't go into the gory details of the following 48 hours - all I'm going to say is that they were spent writhing face-down in bed and making frequent unpleasant trips to the bathroom. When I emerged from that diseased lair, I was surprised to find that Phuket's reputation had preceded itself. My less-than-sunny disposition was compounded by the fact that the island turned out to be a nightmare of corporate tourism. If high season was just kicking off on Ko Phi Phi, it was already in full swing on Phuket. I doubt there had been a low season in at least a decade.

Patong Beach - you can't tell where one Speedo ends and another begins. It's an undulating sea of umbrellas and human flesh, punctuated by hawkers, peddlers, and garbage. It's a game for these people to chuck beer cans and cigarette butts into the ocean. "Ugh, I'm done with this but I don't WANNA walk over to the trash can." I'm not exactly an environmental activist, but come on. Do I have to explain to you why flicking your cigarette butt into a marine sanctuary is a bad idea? There's no driftwood here, but driftplastic - bottles, styrofoam ice chests, fishing nets, and a confetti of multicolored plastic chips litter the beach like gardening mulch. Three decades ago, I bet this landscape was pretty close to flawless. In three more, it'll be a theme park.

The streets in Patong boast an intense palate of odors. In the span of three blocks you could be assaulted with raw sewage, two-stroke engine exhaust, leaking propane, electric ozone due to shoddy wiring, rotting fish behind the seafood market, smoke from distant agricultural fires, vomit, carrion, stray animal feces, and delicious street food. You could give directions based on the smells alone: "Go right at the shit, head straight through the puke, and then hang a left at the gas leak. It should be somewhere between the piss and the hot garbage, but if you hit roadkill, you've gone too far."

A big challenge is framing gawking tourists out of photographs. I'll come across a great vista, but there's an overweight European in a Speedo blocking the shot. A monkey drops down from the canopy and is bombarded with camera flashes, girls screeching, and locals slowly shaking their heads. The curve of this beach would make a great photo, but some idiot left his bag of Doritos in the sand and a 65 year old woman is busy oiling up her loose, leathery skin a bit further down.

I had to get out of Patong as soon as I was feeling better, so I rented a motorbike and drove around the island. There were some nice places, particularly in the south, but I was still hounded by an unfitting sense of commercialism. When they put up a Starbucks, a McDonalds, and a Pizza Hut between a shanty town and a sewage drainage ditch, something is wrong. Priorities seemed completely backwards - a street would have dozens of empty billboards with what could have been tens of thousands of dollars in unpurchased ad space, but a restaurant right below them still has dirt floors.

I had one redeeming night in Patong, the night before I left. The streets were thumping with cheap dance music and I made my way towards the beach where people were buying and setting loose hundreds of sky lanterns. These bamboo and rice paper balloons lift off the ground and gently soar into the air when a small candle is lit at the base. The sky was filled with these miniature hot air balloons for hours. Many got blown into trees or fell onto street tents, causing small fires up and down the main drag. Nobody really seemed to notice or care.

On my one night out, feeling more or less 100%, there was an impressive amount of live music being performed on this stretch of beach. At least a dozen music stages were set up, each featuring its own group of bands and genre of music. You have to give credit to the Thais for knowing how to throw a party. Most of the performers were traditional Thai dance teams, singer-songwriter types playing acoustic guitars, or cheesy synth cover bands butchering the lyrics of classic songs. But one stage was blasting the loudest, shreddingest death metal I've heard in a long time. Their audience was abysmal, but I stuck around, partially out of solidarity with my fellow metal brethren, and partially because death grunts in Thai were hilarious.

When their set wrapped up, I approached the band and introduced myself. They were super friendly, and seemed happy to have someone backstage who actually appreciated metal. I was a welcome break from the tourists in Hawaiian shirts walking by, mock-headbanging, making fun of their music before waddling off to the karaoke-style hacks further down. In a moment of shameless self-promotion, I handed the audio tech my iPod and told him this was my music. Without hesitating, he shrugged and unplugged whatever background tunes they had playing between sets and popped my iPod up on the monitors. He played three or four of my songs on the main stage speakers, volume cranked, while the next band set up. We stumbled through language barriers talking about music, our favorite bands, and what the metal scene was like in Southeast Asia. At one point, I offered to buy the band a round of drinks, only to be informed that none of them drink or smoke. I ended up hanging out with them backstage for two or three hours, a bunch of really cool guys. I left them with a copy of my CD and got a few photos before I headed back to my guesthouse for the night.

It was a good night in a strange place, but tomorrow I was getting off this non-island in search of mellower climes.

Krabi, Ao Nang, Railey, and Ko Phi Phi

It was time to switch coasts. With the monsoons winding up in the gulf, the weather was getting messy. I crossed from the gulf islands to Krabi via Surat Thani which turned out to be a full day of traveling aboard cargo ferries, motorbike taxis, a handfull of tuk-tuk trucks, and one very cold bus. An air conditioned bus sounds like a fantastic idea when you're hauling around a fifty-pound backpack under a blanket of heat and humidity. But when you're immobilized beneath a jet of icy air for five hours, you start to forget what you were so excited about.

Krabi Town itself is friendly but somewhat unremarkable. It straddles the wide and slow Krabi River as it opens into the Phangnga Bay, functioning as a water and land transportation hub for the surrounding area. It's a perfect a gateway to a slew of isolated beaches and a launching point for several popular islands off the Andaman coast. On my list were Ao Nang, Railey, and Ko Phi Phi. I really had no idea what to expect at each of these places - I was making decisions based on on vague recommendations, guidebook entries, and pure speculation. These three places sounded the most legit.

Ao Nang is a series of broad, straight beaches broken by sheer cliffs that rise and fall almost vertically with no warning. Like the dot-dash of morse code, these sequences of beach-cliff blipped down the coast farther than I could see and in an order I couldn't predict. Of course the most popular section of beachfront is heavily developed, as it's the only section of coastline in the area easily accessible by car.

Railey, on the other hand, is only accessible by boat, despite being a part of the mainland. It sits where the inside curves of two beaches meet, creating a narrow spit of sand and jungle. Pushed onto the peninsula are walls of rock the size of skyscrapers, rimmed by dripping limestone caves, framed in dense rainforest, and undercut by a sapphire ocean. Vines, roots, and plant tendrils tie down the rock, as if it would fall over or lift off into the sky without these support cables. Railey West is almost uncomfortably postcard perfect and lined with resorts, while Railey East is a swampy mangrove forest where the cheap huts and good times are.

I spent a few days here on the east side of Railey, rock climbing and hopping around jagged outcroppings to get good shots of the cliffs. One day I hacked up through the jungle to see the legendary 'lagoon' crammed away inside the peak of one of the limestone monoliths. I spent the better part of two hours scaling rocks coated with slippery red mud, clinging to frayed ropes dangling from well worn tree roots, and skirting mud pits that would have swallowed me whole. It was nearly a vertical climb at parts. I was expecting some Fern Gully-esque jungle paradise at the end of all this, but what I got was a glorified muddy pond. It wasn't even really worth photographing. The sights can be pretty hit-or-miss.

I hit Ko Phi Phi next, along with everyone else, right on the cusp of high season. The tiny island has a steep reputation, and justifiably so. As our ferry pulled into the emerald cove of Tonsai Bay, I could stand on the top deck of the boat and make out individual fish swimming around the coral. You know all the photos in the guidebooks and magazines with impossibly blue water and white sand? This is where they were taken. And everyone knows it, which is why they come here in droves.

The SCUBA diving on Phi Phi was top-notch. We took a boat south to some uninhabited rocky islands, Bida Nok and Bida Noi, which looked like two enormous fossilized eggs placed carefully into the sea. As soon as I hit the water, I was overcome with the clarity and vibrancy of the colors that surrounded me. The wall of the island we swam up against was dotted with anemones that represented every possible hue on the continuum of color, and the countless fish that swam amongst them only added to the palette. We saw cuttle fish, color shifting cephalopods, cousins of the octopus, which put on a show of ever-changing patterns and hallucinatory color spasms. Up close, I looked into the eyes of one cuttle fish and caught a glimpse of its bizarre W-shaped pupils before it darted away and rapidly camouflaged itself amongst the coral. We also saw a black-and-white ringed coral snake as its flattened body slithered up and down the rock face. These snakes are highly venomous, and we had to keep our distance.

On Ko Phi Phi, it seemed like every night was Spring Break. The crowd here was young and affluent, two prime ingredients for outrageous partying. Concession stands lined the streets, blatantly selling packages that included a flask of liquor, a can of soda, a bucket to mix them in, and a communal jumbo ice tub. Bars and clubs hire attractive westerners to hand out flyers to whatever event or party was going on that night. I could really rail against the ridiculousness of this situation, but it's hard for me to maintain any legitimacy when I'm technically part of the problem. I'll save the cynicism for another post.

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Ko Samui

They're building resorts on this island like some sort of twisted tourism arms race. Mutually Assured Accomodation. Like if they stop building, the island will shrink away and disappear. When you build an international airport on a 200 square kilometer jungle-mountain popping out of the ocean, things are going to change.

Samui is a once-pristine slice of place and history that is now in it's death throes. Globalization has claimed another victim, and I feel guilty for contributing to it in some minute way. The island is not necessarily broken or destroyed, just irreperably changed. On the contrary, its economy seems to be thriving. It's a mixed bag - this unique island is being homogenized into the global average, but it's locals get to enjoy a better stardard of living. Locals now have access to modern healthcare, better education, political freedom, and far less manual labor.

If this transition was all bad, the Thai locals would reject it outright. Instead, they reluctantly embrace it, taking the good with the bad. Many are as eager to exploit the scenario as the tourists are. Like most things, the situation is not black and white.

I get the feeling these islands were violently bitchslapped into the 21st century - power lines have been sprayed onto buildings like silly string and the streetlights jut from the ground like unskillfully thrown javelins. This hut has been here for 200 years, but it has a utility box and air conditioning unit bolted into the antque siding. A restaurant isolated at the end of a dirt road has high speed wi-fi access. Strange priorities; internet access before vehicle access.

When I wake up, I have to make a decision: sunblock or bug juice? The white man has just not evolved for this climate. Either UV rays will cancerize the skin, or disease vectors will infect the blood. Hypochondria is one of the many gifts of industrialized society. Luckily, science makes my travels possible.

Science, man! Spray and lather those chemicals and you are invincible! If only they made a spray or ointment against head-on motorbike accidents, the Thai traffic system might get a better wrap.

The gulf coast of the Malay Peninsula is just entering its wet season. Thunderstorms shake the foundations of my guesthouse every morning, making me sleepily wonder if that rushing sound is the ceiling turbofan or a torrential downpour just outside the screen windows. More jarring than any alarm clock is a monsoon thunderclap exploding overhead. Every day, the storms last longer and clash louder. Soon, I'll flee to the Andaman coast, where the wet season is on its way out. Catch the tail end of a few more storms and it's all sunny equatorial climate from there on out.

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Ko Phangan

There is no way this motorbike can jump the three-foot concrete abutment, but it has to. The sun is setting, I'm about 20 klicks from civilization, and the bike rental expires in 45 minutes. So it's come to this - assembling a ramp from rotten boards and flat rocks found in a dry creek bed, battling swarms of mosquitoes as the dinner bell of dusk rings, and attempting to make sense of the brochure map now ruined by sweat and rain. Over dramatic? Absolutely. But that's the way this shit goes down, you know what I'm sayin'?

Over the past two days I rented a Honda POS moped and circumnavigated the island on this baby. Me and Ol' White Lightnin' tore through the red volcanic mud of the highland dirt roads and got bogged down on the fine white coral sand of the Haad Rin beaches. It's a good thing I sprung for the 50 baht insurance policy - I broke off a kickstand, scuffed up the flimsy plastic fenders, and probably tweaked the forks on at least eight potholes taken at speed. I got lost a half-dozen times, almost collided with a few pickup trucks, and found a handful of remote vistas untouched by tourism. It was a blast.

Together, me and Lightnin' dominated the inconsistent roads of this island. We hit an ancient Chinese temple, an elephant trekking camp, a coconut plantation, some kind of bizarre ecotourist-trap zipline enterprise, a dozen coves and beaches, and countless Indiana Jones-style deep jungle locales. This place belongs in a museum, if you catch my reference. The roads would go from Southern California superhighway to medieval dirt with no warning. I got stuck on the wrong side of one of these transitions, coming up from a washed out dirt trail to a steel-reinforced concrete freeway. The Thai government either ran out of money halfway through building this road, or they gave up and hit the beach instead.

Everywhere I go gets progressively sleepier, from the madness and confusion of Bangkok, to the lively small island life of Ko Tao, to the deserted beaches and jungles of Ko Phangan. The island's huge resorts, bars, and restaurants are empty. It's a ghost town populated by well-weathered locals and quiet couples searching for a storybook island getaway. They have the facilities to host what seems like thousands of visitors, but they sit maybe 5 to 10% full. The island is dead.

This might have something to do with the ongoing floods in Bangkok and northern Thailand. The outlook of that city gets worse and worse with every storm, and the locals here are riveted to the Thai news channels showing geysers of brown water drowning the crowded streets.

Once a month, Ko Phangan is bombarded with partiers on a pilgrimage to a fabled boozefest on the island's southern peninsula. The infamous Full Moon Party is a study in irresponsibility, intoxication, and the types who prey on these weaknesses. They've written novels and based films around this event, that's how ridiculous it is.

But for now, the bucket stands are left to become driftwood. The resorts operate with skeleton crews. And the restaurants are content to let you wait until a commercial break to pass out menus.

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Ko Tao - Turtle Island

I'm urgently shaken awake at sunrise by three German brothers who shout "American! Wake up! This is your stop!"

It was not my stop. It was actually about 200 kilometers north of my stop, but plans change quickly when you have no destination. I had taken the sleeper train out of Bangkok with plans to go to Surat Thani and catch a ferry to Ko Phangan. It took me about 30 seconds after the train left the station to realize that I was in Chumphon, not Surat Thani. This is a lot of place names to be throwing around, but let's just say I was very much not where I intended to be.

After riding on the back of someone's motorcycle to the money exchange kiosk, helping a Thai gradeschooler with her English homework, and unfolding my giant 'look-at-me-I'm-a-tourist' map, I bought a ferry ticket. Ten minutes later I was in the back of a military-style truck with benches parallel to the road and big canvas flaps for a roof, riding to the docks along with the aforementioned German brothers, an American dive instructor, and a Sweedish bartender, all of whom I'd shared drinks with at some point on the train. We were heading to Ko Tao, a place I'd never heard of.

This all turned out to be hugely in my favor. Josephene, the bartender, was in with a diving outfit on the island, and hooked the Germans and I up with accomodation and dive trips for 4,000 Baht. That's about $130, and it included a beachfront bungalow to crash in for five nights, equipment rental, air, taxis to and from the docks, and boat fare to the dive sites. We did a deep water dive, a long and shallow reef dive, a remote shoal dive, a night dive, and a wreck dive, all in the course of two days. Our guide was a British expat who has lived on the small island for four years with his Thai wife and newborn.

It was an incredible deal and some of the best diving I've ever done - wetsuitless, breathtaking, teeming with color and life. Turtles, eels, irridescent stingrays, octopi, giant barracuda, towering coral formations, bioluminescent plankton, and billions of psychedelic fish of all sizes and shapes. The wreck of the HTMS Sattakut, however, was the highlight. Formerly the the USS LCI-739 this WWII infantry landing craft was sold to the Thai Royal Navy shortly after the war ended. It was recently sunk in June, skuttled as an artificial reef and for technical wreck dive training.

We approached the massive ship from the bow, so that when it's threatening silhouette came into view, the twin cannons commanded your attention, projecting beyond the broad deck at uneasy angles. We swam through the bulkheads of the ship's bridge, over the landing ramps that put troops on Iwo Jima, and around the rear cannon before circling back near the ships hull, peering through holes where the steel had been broken and rusted through.

The diving was phenomenal, but staying in a tiny beach bungalow with three loose-canon German brothers was a whole different experience. Two of them spoke very good English with a thick Bavarian accent, while the youngest and craziest of the brothers spoke hardly any. He spent most of the time trying to teach me the filthiest German phrases he could think up.

They enjoyed openly discussing their level of horniness and how much they love taking a shit, always speaking at full volume and wanting to "make a party." Three days in a row, Manfred was too hung over to dive. I'd tell a joke, get three blank stares, then thirty seconds later when they finished translating it amongst themselves, they'd howl with laughter and buy another round. Whenever I would introduce myself to someone, they'd crack up at my name. "JT? Like a J and a T? Those are just letters! His name is just letters!"

At the end of one dive, Andi, the oldest brother, fully inflated his BCD at 10 meters (33 feet!) and shot to the surface like a god damn cork. The dive master was furious, and for good reason, explaining how dangerous this was due to the expansion of air at different pressures and the possibility of a lung embolism or decompression sickness. He turned out to be fine and went diving the next day, but the dive master had to sit him down and explain in protracted, simplified terms with full sign language that he needed to ascend SLOWLY SLOWLY SLOWLY. He did the same thing again the next dive, this time at 5 meters, and wasn't allowed on the dive boat after that.

Andi, Christian, and Manfred were great guys to hang out and drink a few beers with, but they were terrible house mates, especially considering how we only had two beds between the four of us. They were really nice guys and very welcoming, but it got a little too cozy and I had to get my own place after three nights.

The next two nights were much mellower and I got to enjoy the dives more. I walked the entire length of Sairee beach twice, swimming when I felt like it, eating when I was hungry, drinking when I was thirsty, and sleeping when I was tired. It was comfortable, but time to move on.

 

HEY YOU! WHERE YOU GO?

The instant I step off the airport metro is the instant the sky decides to open. I have never seen such a quick transition between a sunny day and a torrential thunder storm. The locals take this in stride, but of course, I'm the ridiculous white man clamoring for shelter, gawking at the thunder claps, and wrestling the plastic elastic rain cover over my oversized backpack.

An hour in the rain got me to a bus stop, where I was supposed to take the 503 to Banglamphu. Hard to pronounce, but home to the world famous and equally infamous Khao San Road. They've made movies about this place, that's how absurd it is. The reason I'm here is because the guidebook says it's full of westerners, tourists, people like me. 'Ease into it' I keep telling myself.

The place reminds me of a classy, tropical Tijuana. People on the street will not hesitate to become your best friend for 18 seconds while they try to sell you a tailored Armani ripoff suit.

Are you looking for discount dental work? Well holy shit, you've found the right shop! Disregard the hastily retrofitted power lines and sewer drainage ditch, this place is legit! Everything is cheap, cheap, cheap, this is the favorite word of Thais in Banlamphu. I spent all day walking as far away from my guesthouse as I could in the sweltering heat and suffocating humidity, only to get a tuk-tuk back to home base for 50 Baht. That's like a generous buck three eighty, sans change. I'm taking photos like a trigger-happy Parkinson's patient. At this rate, my hard drive is full in one week.

One thing I'm discovering is the power of the smile. I'm VERY American here - I don't speak Thai, and I'm pretty much mono-linguistic in general aside from two years of Spanish in high school. The glowering, toiling street cart owner stares at you when you walk down the street, but you flash her a smile and the world changes. A smile truly transcends human language, it is universally a positive symbol of good-will.

Where I sit now, at a Bar/Restaurant/Guesthouse/Bank on Soi Kambutri, I'm listening to a frantically organized playlist of late-90's hits, at a table aside a road that has existed for eight times longer than the USA has, drinking a Chang Draught for 30 Baht.

Pseudo-Vagabond

Welp, here we go. I'm currently sitting in San Francisco International Airport waiting to board the red-eye flight to Bangkok, armed with only a backpack full of clothes, a pocket of cash, a laptop, and a camera. My return flight is in about three months. I have no itinerary, no traveling companions, no knowledge of the culture or language, and only enough money to scrape by in the dingiest guesthouses and hostels. But wait, let me back up.

About a month and a half ago I was laid-off from my job. The moody, dysfunctional production studio I was working for decided to lay off the entire creative team - you know, the one that wrote, produced, and animated award-winning short films on a tiny budget. It was really only a matter of time before I quit on my own volition; at least they did me a favor by cutting a nice severance check before kicking me to the curb.

Within 24 hours of being escorted from my dark cubicle, I'd submitted my one month notice to move out of my apartment and concocted some strange scheme to vagabond around the globe. It's something I've always wanted to do, but I've always been swept up by the proverbial 'next step' in my life: graduating high school, going to college, paying off my student loans, searching for work, trying to keep the aforementioned job...

Fast forward through a month of researching destinations, cameras, and plane tickets. Move right past the desperate clamor to sell or give away all my furniture, dead weight, and other junk. Blast right by the culling of my belongings down to only the precious cargo that would fit in the back of my Honda Civic hatchback. Try to look beyond the sometimes-awkward temporary reconnections with friends and family. Skip over the last minute wild goose chase of putting together the backpack-turned-survival-kit I'll be using for the next three months. And here I am, ready to start this thing.

Later on today I'll cross the international date line, stop over for a two-hour layover in Taipei, then drop into Bangkok amidst the worst flooding Thailand has seen since 1999. I wanted an adventure, and I think I might have found it.

Ruined Subjects EP

Ruined Subjects EP I've just released a new EP called Ruined Subjects. It's a collection of previously unreleased tracks and film scores that have been slowly accumulating on my hard drive for a long time. This is NOT a regular album release, it's just a collection of soundtracks to short films and other random, unrelated stuff that didn't make it onto the real albums. From the liner notes:

Ruined Subjects is a retrospective collection of unreleased tracks, film scores, and alternate versions of songs on previous albums. It's not intended as a regular album release, but rather an EP with unrelated material created between 2005 and 2011.

As a result, the production quality and style is all over the place. Some tracks are good, others are bad, and a few are just plain weird. Several are not even complete songs, but snippets from abandoned projects. Lots of ideas in these tracks were either recycled into later compositions or simply thrown away and forgotten.

The first four songs (Pollux, Vega, Deneb, and Sirius) were made for Universica and either scrapped entirely or adapted into other songs from that album.

The last eight songs (beginning with The Multiverse) comprise the score of the short film Strange Matter.

Everything in between is a jumbled selection from various projects and includes alternate versions of songs from Anomalous Material and The Dreamer's Paradox, sountracks from animations and short films, experiments, and joke/novelty songs.

Check out the Jamendo page for the full EP, or stream a sample of the song 'Infinimarch' below.

[soundcloud params="theme_color=292421" url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/20852149"]

The Guttersnipe

Skeletal Merbitch  

I was charged with designing the logo / mascot for my friend's 28 foot sailboat, affectionately named The Guttersnipe. It's an apt summarization of our maritime activities - boozin', divin', and irreverent good times.

 

SWITCH

About six months ago, I wrote and animated a short film for PassmoreLab called Switch. It's the first complete short I've made for the company, and the process I used to make it is described in this blurb I wrote for the press kit:

Switch was animated using Adobe Photoshop and After Effects. The characters and backgrounds were drawn by hand using a Wacom graphics tablet. The environments are multi-layered images assembled in a 3D space. The animated characters are composited into these environments and viewed through a virtual camera which can move freely through the environment. The video is then rendered in individual layers corresponding to depth and converted to stereoscopic 3D.

Inspired by the original Aeon Flux shorts, it's a simple story about pursuit and deception told entirely without dialogue. Overall, it was a lot of fun to make and I worked with some talented people who created the music and converted it to 3D. I believe Passmorelab is planning to distribute it on 3D mobile devices as part of a package with other animated shorts.

Check out the trailer!

Strange Matter

I was going to start off this blog with some kind of lofty posturing about the nature of art and the internet and their effect on each other, but nobody wants to read that and I'd most likely be talking out of my ass anyway. So instead, I'll jump right into it by introducing my latest project, Strange Matter. Kneecap and Cyborg

This film started out as my college thesis film and then completely snowballed into a psychedelic, kaleidoscopic adventure about the end of the universe, the people caught up in it, and the corporation trying to control it. It's a mash-up of live action and animation that jumps through every visual style I could manage, and plays against a soundtrack alternating between the orchestral and the heavy metal.

 

The main inspiration behind Strange Matter was my love for pre-CGI science fiction movies of the 80's. By shooting on grainy 16mm film, using sets built on a shoestring budget, miniatures and stop-motion for special effects shots, and a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, I wanted to recreate the hand-crafted feel of these old movies. There are several retro-futuristic computer sequences, scenes lit by fluorescent black lights, and more than enough cheesy action to drive this point home.

 

Onus, mid-collapse.

I started writing the project in early 2009, and we finished shooting the live-action segments later that summer. The cast and crew were then largely disbanded as work began on the bulk of the film's running time - animation. From here, the film sat mired in post-production as the many animated sequences slowly materialized. It wasn't until late May of 2011 that the film was finished.

 

We held a successful premiere on May 21st, reuniting a good selection of the original cast and crew for the first time since the live-action shoot. I'm now in the process of fine-tuning this beast, trying to trim the long running time down from 21 minutes to something more suitable for film festivals.

 

Check out the official website for more info, and watch the trailer below.

 

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/22510689 w=601&h=338]