The War on people

As many of you know my father was a police officer and fought for this country in WW2. I am all about locking up criminals and arresting thugs.

It is my personal belief that Michael Brown, the black kid shot in Ferguson, did not deserve to die.  However, he was involved in a criminal act, and was far from a hero or martyr, but indeed a criminal who put himself in a situation to be killed. I have never found it possible to accept him as a victim of police brutality, since he was involved in the commission of an act right before his death, then wrestled a cop for a gun.

That’s just stupidity. That’s the kind of thing that gets you shot. That’s the kind of thing that allows your entire personal history to be opened up to the public, so your death can be justified. In this case, Mister Brown provided the alibi for a cop who probably should have been indicted or fired years prior. Then again, if you’re trying to grab a cop’s gun, what do you expect? A pat on the back?

However, after his death, the FBI did discover a systematic pattern of police misconduct especially against the black residents of Ferguson, and regardless of the lack of moral character of Mister Brown, his death did serve the purpose of making people aware that something was not quite right about the policies of the police department in Ferguson. In fact, it was biased, racist and in some cases, the illegal actions of predators against an impoverished community. Bottom line is, Mister Brown did not represent the law abiding citizens of Ferguson. BUT, he did allow us to find out what was happening to the innocent citizens of Ferguson who had been purposely lumped into “his category” as criminal, just because they were black or poor.

I am also quite aware that the police brutality issue facing us is nothing new. As a matter of fact, there are dozens of videos which show cops, black, white, and otherwise doing the same thing to people of all colors. However, as a black person I Cannot ignore the fact that the videos which are now making waves in the media, do not show thugs, criminals and murderers.

They show citizens of the United States being shot by police for things which on the surface do not appear to be people involved in the commission of a crime. There simply seems to be a lack of training on the part of these cops, because there is rarely an attempt to de-escalate a situation. Shooting someone dead should not be a first response.

It is apparent that for some reason, police have the idea that they can be judge, jury and executioner with no repercussions. So now, did they just decide that was the policy, or is someone at a higher level telling them this is the way to enforce the law? Is the problem really rogue cops, or a systemic illness that is creating a police state right under our noses?

Tazers, warning shots, shooting limbs seem to be an alternative to just shooting a person because that’s the easiest way to the end the issue. Furthermore, the hypocrisy of this method of policing becomes even more apparent when we have terror suspects who are brandishing weapons of mass destruction, who are somehow “captured” without having been shot to death.

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I believe this goes beyond race, and right into the uncomfortable arena of state mandated murder and oppression against the people of this country.

My wife, who is white, was pulled over by a police officer in a place called Minerva Park. She was driving, and had a hoodie over her head because it was simply cold outside. When the cop finally got to the window, he informed her that she should have passed him” further to the left” as she passed an active accident scene.

Sure officer, got it. My bad. He then asked her if she had “Any DYNAMITE in the trunk”. My wife was flabbergasted. Say what? My wife firmly replied no, and told him to look if he wanted. He didn’t, and my wife did not get shot. However, it again showcases the confrontational nature of come police. As an aside, Minerva Park has some of the worst police officers in the country, and that is not just a rumor.

I believe people who are not black should be even more outraged that this police brutality is being covered up by badges and the facade of law enforcement.

We are all in danger, and instead of fighting each other, we’d better realize the fact it’s the people versus the so called “government”.

 

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Steven Seagal Strikes again….

I just attempted to watch Steven Segal’s new film Code of Honor. Tried, really, really fucking hard.

Back in the early 2000’s, Seagal made more than a dozen of these films where it is apparent he shot all of his scenes in one day, then had them cut into the rest of the film. Although he has moved back into actually showing up on set to work with other human beings, this is a film where he regresses into his one day big paycheck format. Bro, you were back on track toward resurrecting your career. What the fuck dude!?

From what I can tell, it looks like some rich guy used his inheritance to shoot an action film, then he sent Steven a big check to do one day’s work, and then cut all that shit into the “main” film which they actually shot. To be honest, Seagal’s appearance in the film does little to enhance or detract from the marginal appeal of the story line. He was used to sell the film, he got paid, people like me foolishly rented the film. That’s business, God bless America. They got paid.

steven_seagalThe real “star”, Craig Sheffer, who turns in a decent acting job, is obviously hampered by a  director who apparently never made an action film before. Perhaps, he never made a film before. Fact is, the characters are tired, stilted and uninteresting. There is no one to root for, even the bad guy James Franco seems disinterested in being a badass murderous prick. More about his oscar winning performance later.

Sheffer, who plays an FBI agent who eschews standard issue hand guns for a pair of knives, which predictability leads to a way too long and repetitive, not to mention poorly choreographed battle with Seagal. He’s pretty fucking unlikeable, but I’ll take his acting performance over the rest of the cast.

I would be remiss if I did not give props to the news anchors who give newscasts while using overly dramatic dialog which rivaled the writings of Shakespeare. Too bad their so-called “news set” looked like someone’s garage. And, I have never seen professional news anchors dress like they were headed to a cookout.

Also, do your best to ignore the Morton Downey Jr.-like trashy/paparazzi news guy. Apparently someone has stolen Downey’s character/caricature from Predator 2. Very clever! Uh, not.

Jesus. Shall I go on?

I’m not sure what the hell I just watched. Oh. Lots of strippers, insignificant bad guys, and stereotypical Hispanic gang members. By the way, the “director of photography” should probably learn where the focus control is on his camera. Way too many out of focus, poorly lit shots. Tons of Cringe worthy acting, and a useless side story about some woman and her poor, poor kid. The kid reminds Sheffer of his long lost son. It’s almost touching. Warning people: get your tissues! Boo hoo. Uh, not.

Get your tissues to wipe up the excrement coming out of your rear end when you shit yourself over this corny ass bullshit play out on screen. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

Please Mister Seagal, thou must not tug at thine heart strings! Yeah, sure. Bullshit.

There was in fact a 20 minute stretch of this heart wrenching”back story” which seemed to be nothing more than filler. Talking, walking, nodding, gesturing.

Shit ya’ll! Fight and shoot something!

For the record, and this should come as no surprise, Seagal spends most of the film sitting on the same rooftop perch shooting down thugs. The aforementioned James Russo picks up a quick paycheck as a mob boss who walks around a dark room scowling menacingly at photos of his enemies. That scowling! That distant stare like he wanted to be somewhere–anywhere else than this movie set!

OHHHHH! The humanities!

When the movie was 3/4 over, I checked the time counter on my blu ray hoping it was over. When you watch it (God help you) you’ll find out what I mean. Works much better as a short film, and you know how much I hate short films.

Do yourself a favor and get drunk and eat cheese curls on your couch instead of frying your brain with this incomprehensible vomit bath of a movie. Holy fuck.

The definition of insanity

I haven’t been on the political rant lately, but just dealt with some people who are really into us versus them. You know, Americans at each other’s throats. People love getting off on arguing talking points about what “side” is the right side….or the “left side”.
 
I gave up single party affiliations years ago, because I finally realized corruption permeates both parties, and because of the ungodly amounts of money thrown into this debacle, corruption will always exist when two parties hold the keys to your future.
 
Do you think the Dems or Reps will really ever do anything to help you, if it affects their need for power, money and influence over the planet?
politics sucks
I am so done with right wing nutbags, and left wing lunatics who yell at me when I try to make them understand they are arguing moot points. This government only cares what you think every four years. In those years in between, they line their pockets, start illegal wars, and manipulate the stock market.
 
The government of, for and by the people sounds really nice, but it doesn’t exist.
 
In my mind, the truth is much simpler:
 
Until this corrupt two part monopoly of our government and election process is dismantled, nothing in this country’s governing policies will ever change. And you are the victim. How’s that working out for you?
 
I am simply too intelligent to believe that two “chosen” candidates marched out there by the two controlling parties every 4 years are the only two people on God’s green earth capable of running this nation.
 
People, when the fuck are we going to stop playing this fucking parlor game?
 
The system is broken. Face the facts.
 
It’s insanity and you are a willing participant.
 
Two years from now, you’ll be on Facebook calling the new President the worst president in history….again.
 
You humans amuse me.
 
God get me out of here.
 
I think you put me on the wrong planet.
#OUT

They like ME..they really like me!

So, it goes like this…..

A wannabe filmmaker signs up to work on your film, then quits in a huff and tells you that “He knows more than you do about film, and he’s SEEN YOUR “TRAILERS”, AND can’t work with someone like you”.

You see, he and his buddies spent a whole 8 months at some place called Full Sail University, and now they know everything about filmmaking. And the script, shooting schedule and production information you handed them, does not meet the demanding requirements of Full Sail University, nor does it follow the established “rules” of scriptwriting set forth by unnamed pseudo-Hollywood types who have never done a damn thing in the world of actual filmmaking. Oh, but they know the rules, they talk the talk, and they are better than you. At least on paper.

In essence, they have determined that since you, William Lee, don’t do things by the book, you William Lee do not know how to make films.

Of course, all of those films listed on your IMDB page, and all of your films in world wide release, and all of those movies that are on retail store shelves mean nothing.  Nope. Only the rules and the “method” matter. Real life results? Poppycock!

What sharp dressing, quick talking, techie film maker needs to actually make a film? after all, it is better to look good than it is to actually be good, right?

Not only that, the wannabe’s five buddies who also agreed to work on the film, fall in line and insult you in the very same manner, as they all go off to exercise their “Full Sail University” educations to prove to you that 40 years of filmmaking–and Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Cinema– cannot match their prowess. But something surprising happens.

The group of filmmaking wannabes doesn’t do a thing. No short film. No trailers, no teasers. Nothing.

 

Then, months later, the wannabe is now “liking” your trailers.

Then your film hits RedBox and stays there for 16 weeks.

Then, this week, the guy who said you weren’t shit wants to add you to his LinkedIn network.

How about, no.

Gotta’ love this business.

Bruce Lee once said that in order to swim, one must get in the water. His unorthodox martial arts style went against tradition, and he was hated for it by the establishment. Bruce Lee did not do things by the book, and he questioned everything about the process of actual human combat. Eventually, people began to see his genius. I found inspiration from Bruce not only in his approach to kung fu, but to filmmaking in particular,and to life as a whole.

Bruce-Lee-Portrait

Bruce called his detractors “dryland swimmers”. people who could tell you everything about swimming (martial arts) but never actually engaged in the actual act of swimming (martial arts). So now, here, ironically, 40 years later, it’s William Lee vs. the Dry Land Filmmakers.

These young swimmers–uh, film makers have to be carbon copies of every other clown who spends 8 months at some sham operation, then decides their last name should rhyme with Coppola, with lots of fancy parties to attend.

That is not filmmaking. That is called subterfuge, hubris and most of all, bullshit.

There are no rules in filmmaking. You do what you gotta’ do to get it done. As long as you have a good story to tell, a decent camera, and good actors, you can do this. You don’t need a special book, a special film school, or connections in the biz to make a good film.

Rules and guidelines set the framework. You should not be bound by that framework. Filmmaking is an organic process, and it evolves. It’s pretty simple: keep following the same path, and you’re gonna’ run up against something not covered in those classes and books. Following some obscure “book of rules” or curriculum will not prepare you for the real world of filmmaking. That means when something goes wrong, your “rules” simply will not work. Then what? You quit because everything didn’t go according to that “perfect plan”? Looks like you got yourself one big problem: what now?  Oops. Guess that page got left out of the rule book.

To be a filmmaker, you have to experience adversity, and you have to work your way out of it. That my friends, is not something a book or a film course will ever teach you.

You become a successful filmmaker by making mistakes, correcting those mistakes and improving.

The one mistake you cannot recover from, however, is the one where you tell someone who has done this thing hundreds and hundreds of times, that he does not know what he is talking about. This may surprise that film wannabe and his buddies, but there are actually people out there who know more about this business than they do.

 

#OUT

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EDITING YOUR OWN FILM?

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Self censoring is the hardest lesson for any filmmaker to learn, especially if he/she is also the director, writer and or producer.  I spent about 20 years OF my career editing films that were overly long, and overly self aggrandizing. In short, ego took over a job which requires an ultra critical eye and a set of guidelines which must be adhered to for the good of the project.  But what do you do when you KNOW that you KNOW your project better than any third party?    Here’s some thoughts on that issue…..

I have found that my cutting on action skill, which was developed from 40 plus years as a martial arts expert and film expert, make it difficult to trust my work in the hands of another editor. This, however also blinded me to the fact that by being on set, and also writing and directing, I would have a hard time being objective, and picking out shots that were NECESSARY to the film, as opposed to the quandary of “missing out on that beautiful shot which meant absolutely zero to the continuity of the story.

I have found that I was able to be successful when I took a simple rule with me into the edit: If a scene is cut, and it has no effect on the overall look of the movie, cut it.

I also tell myself that any shots I think are “really cool” and cannot be cut out, are usually my ego talking and may be cool, but should be cut out. For years, I had the disease of “please everyone on the crew including myself”. Now, I set a goal of about two ours running time, and if something I think is “essential” doesn’t fit into that time frame, it goes.

     I have gotten so good, that I have cut people out of my films entirely to fit the time frame, and even cut out those “cool ass” shots of myself, because I have become very conscious about being a casual observer instead of my own best fan. It’s hard, but it can be done. Once you learn it’s “business” and how best to sell the film, instead of making yourself look really artsy and cool, you can edit your own work successfully. Took me 2o years to figure it out, but I did it.  You can too.

#OUT

GENIUS LOST

Back in High School, me and my peeps from Colonel White went insane when Prince’s first Break out hit “SOFT AND WET” came out and began to dominate the music at local clubs. It is amazing that decades later, he was still relevant and original. Songs like “Housequake” proved he was hip hop. “Sing of the Times” showed his social conscience. “When Doves Cry” proved he could be orchestral, grand, inspiring and triumphant. When he went to war with his record label, he showed he understood the nature of greed, exploitation and criminality that exists in the corporate world of “art”. I did not fully understand or appreciate his genius until late in my life, but there is no denying he is, was and always will be one of a kind. ‪#‎saluteRIPPrince‬

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