Retrospective On My 2017 Portfolio

It’s always a bit of a challenge to write about your own work without either trailing off or telling the audience how to feel about it, so condensing a whole year’s worth of creative output into one post will certainly be a bit of a heavy task, though it’s one I feel I should do. I had gone through several drafts trying to figure out what to say, giving brief descriptions on each short, but always wound up getting really wordy and kinda going nowhere. So gonna try to be as to the point as possible with this blurb.

2017 was a really transformative year in creative and artistic goals. It was the year that I shifted from attempted light surrealism to full on experimentation in both filmmaking and art. The year started off on a rather large foot with the completion of my animated surrealist grotesque thriller, Madhouse Mitchel. It was my personal homage to the Japanese underground art scene, taking numerous notes from artists like Hiroshi Harada, Toshio Matsumoto, Shinya Tsukamoto and Shozin Fukui. It was a creative setting I probably won’t return to, production took three years of what was basically isolation and obsession (all work and no play make Jack a dull boy). I was effectively trying to make my desk, computer and stack of office paper create the sort of content that most limited animation television studios from the late 1960s would churn out with a whole crew. It was a significant personal achievement, but one I’d rather leave on its own for now.

From Madhouse Mitchel (April 20th – 2017)

Madhouse’s completion gave me a great deal of room to air out, not having to keep to the schedule of constantly drawing the same things over and over again. Was in some ways a bit drained, drained in the way that concluding a first major production would leave you. Was over with drawing in the certain style it restricted me to, even though I hadn’t exactly known it yet. Hadn’t really noticed it until I started doing the Thinklematter Monthly comics along with several other zine projects in the later half of the year, by that point it hit me but I was already neck deep in a more experimental method of drawing.

During this creative drain, I started making what could best be described as improvised editing sessions while plotting out bigger shorts, but then realized that what I was making in my spare time could become their own films. And through that I started production on the short film Leftovers. Pinning the exact method to this non-narrative form of filmmaking took a month to figure out, but when fully realized I found a whole new personal approach that combined documentation with video collage. Shorts would commonly begin from small ideas like an art gallery (Leftovers), speed (Velocity Into Execution) or this one Japanese book we had in our living room that I found to be fascinating in its crypticness (Spiral Film). I then found a way to work this style into my other, narrative driven shorts, namely Weightless Bird In A Falling Cage.

With all that came of the year, I felt that Ihad to in some way give the body of work associated with 2017 a conclusion. The initial concept of Thinklematter Visual: Volume 3 was the fakery in nostalgia, in how with all nostalgic memories there’s the aspect of sentimentalism that removes a deeper emotional reality. It’s a subject I find to be especially potent, and is one I feel I may return to in the near future. There’s almost a strange synchronicity between it and my prior short, Tree People, in that Tree People itself is now a slight product of nostalgia, being that it was originally filmed in 2015 and built from sentimental snapshots.

The list below counts the projectsI made that were released in some way or another. I had several other projects this year, mainly short films, that never got put out either due to copyright issues or not meeting up to my vision. Several of the films that didn’t get released were Eye Of The Storm, The Civilized Predator, Wall Street Vampire, Suspension, Sinking Feeling and Transmission No. 1.

Madhouse Mitchel
Initial release – April 20th
Uncut version – August 28th
Leftovers – May 23rd
Velocity Into Execution – August 1st
Rusted Waters & Busted Trucks (Reedited rerelease) – August 28th
Weightless Bird In A Falling Cage – August 29th
O / O / O / O (Spiral Film) – October 12th
Thinklematter Visual (TV): Volumes 1, 2 & 3 – November 29th to December 31st
Volume #1: All The Lonely People
Volume #2: Will-O-The-Wisp
Volume #3: Waking Up
The 20th Birthday Film – December 2nd
Tree People – December 20th

Part 1. & Part 2. – January 26th
A Wilderness Within Hell – April 13th
The Thinklematter Monthly Album – June 14th
O / O / O / O – October 12th
Weightless Bird In A Falling Cage – November 20th
The Narrative Album – November 20th

Comics / Zines
Thinklematter Monthly Volume 1. (Love In Loathing) – September 3rd
Thinklematter Monthly Volume 2. (The Sounds Of Music) – December 4th
What Brought Me To This Point – December 4th

All The Madmen (In One Car)

September 1st – 2016
It was an unspecified time before Halloween of last year, and it was the very day I picked up a little prop I like to nickname the Ozzie skull. The day was largely uneventful, almost forgettable if it wasn’t for this one lone incident. I was not the one at the wheel, so I was entirely a spectator of the surrounding roads. I saw just beyond my field of vision what I assumed at first to be a runaway clown car, but as we got closer a very different truth was revealed. With noticing this one car, I knew that something was up. It looked like the type of car that a suburban family of five or more would use to head to Sunday school, but it blared indescribable electronic screeches and had a sign dangling off the back which read “Happy 24th Alfred!!!!”.

This vehicle equivalent to a packed sardine can was in fact playing rave music, and many little heads were peaking from the windows, all of which being that certain college age where basic reasoning doesn’t matter and the whole world is one big frat party. I would take a bit of a bet and say that half of them didn’t even have shirts on just to show how that wasted New Year’s resolution gym subscription paid off. Some talk about how they can smell fear, I’m the one to usually pick up the scent of a drunkard. Or in this case, a whole car full of ‘em. They took their party to the road, so much so they converted the road to their personal dance floor. Car doors swung open to reveal drunk shirtless dudes dancing around ignoring the certain death passing by in the form of speeding traffic, and in spite of how many of them left more would seem to materialize in the passenger’s seats. And as quickly as they would abandon ship to boogie down, they would catch up with the vehicle and jump back in. Each hop inside being answered with an unseen floor-boy going “Ouch!”. Must’ve been the nerd of the class. Things became especially disconcerting once the driver side door flung open to reveal the one and only birthday boy in a tinfoil shirt writhing like a serpent on a concrete floor as the car sped off without him steering it.

Amongst all that was going on however, the main thing I noticed was the built in DVD player which was playing (in all seriousness) one of the Shrek films.