31 October 2010

On the Values of Quadrant 2 Planning

Today, I'd like to share my thoughts on one of Stephen Covey's principles on what makes an effective person.

Specifically, from "Habit 3: Put First Things First" which is a chart based on the cross sections of importance and urgency.

From the graphic, you'll see that Quadrant 2, that which is important but not necessarily urgent, tends to be activities that build better self esteem, sharpen the saw and pay off in the long term.

When Ash Williams was transferred to the middle ages to prevent an undead horde from rising up and killing everything in sight, he was instructed by his immediate supervisor to find a reference volume in the satellite records office and remember the words "Klaatu barada nikto."

The words were a Quadrant 2 item, important, but not urgent. Ash, distracted by quadrant 4 activities like sleeping with the princess and yelling about boomsticks, neglected the words that allowed for the safe removal of the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis and allowed his supernaturally created doppelganger to lead an undead assault on mankind, creating more unnecessary work for everyone.

Marion Crane had the perfectly reasonable motif of reinvesting her embezzled cash so she and her boyfriend could start a new life together.

Marion was a Quadrant 3 planner, addicted to urgency. Whereas she was quick enough to take an opportunity that presented itself, her relationship based on financial conditions would be doomed to codependency and unhappiness, not very empowering at all.

Besides, since Marion did not think Long Term(Quadrant 2), she failed to check with AAA or travel agencies about reputable hotels or motor lodges.

Marion's lack of planning and foresight got her
a.) lost on the highway, depriving her of valuable time to focus on wise venues to invest her funds
b.) a stay an an overcharged hotel that didn't even have hot water in the showers.

c.) a premature end to her career as a freelance investor.

Science Officer Ash seems a bit more mature by comparison, undoubtedly using the long commute times of his profession to read medical journals and listen to books on tape. He knows what's important, but he was a Quadrant 1 planner, still addicted to urgency.

When Executive officer Kane showed up in the airlock with a parasite on his face. Ash valued the importance and the urgency of Kane's predicament over the long-term importance of quarantine protocol.

Kane failed to sit out full quarantine and as a result, succumbed to a case of food poisoning that put everybody off their meals.

Michael Myers was a Quadrant 2 planner with a very direct mission: reassess and dispose of young career women in the temporary child care industry.

Others in his position might try to start killing people right away, but Myers knew the value of foresight and did not suffer from an urgency addiction. Michael Myers started with sharpen-the-knife activities by acquiring an inconspicuous wardrobe consisting of a jumpsuit and a William Shatner mask, before continuing with his Quadrant activities.

One might imagine his chart would go something like this.

Quadrant 1
-Dispose of Babysitters who look like my sister Judith
- Escape from Sanitarium

Quadrant 2
-Get Clothes
-Get Knife
-Get Mask

Quadrant 3
-Sort Mail
-Lunch with Mrs. Vorhees

Quadrant 4
-Kill Dr. Loomis (?)
-Addams Family Marathon on Channel 4

24 October 2010

What it Says on the Box

Branding is pretty simple, right? You can tell who or what companies made something just by looking at it. The Disney Company has excellent branding, you know a Disney movie when you look at it...

Except these are not Disney movies.

Anastasia and Ferngully were distributed by Fox and Swan Princess by New Line Cinema. You don't need to be an animation geek to tell, you can find out by checking the name on the box or poster.

Somehow, the name "Disney" means "Animated Princess Musical", which is weird, since Walter Elias Disney...

this guy

...produced over 20 animated features in his lifetime, only three of which starred Princesses.

...as well as significant amount of live action features and TV ventures that spanned genres from Sci-Fi Adventure to situation comedy. But he's dead now, so whatever. I really want to talk about "Flashpoint".

seamless transistion: no?

Or more specifically, One of the names on the box: "Silver Screen Partners" which, initially, was a limited partnership set up to fund a number of HBO Pictures films(like Flashpoint). Through such a partnership, average stockholders could invest in movies.

Like The Producers, but with less fraud(I think).

Which brings me back to Branding (specifically the Disney brand). As Silver Screen Partners was a series of limited partnerships, and Silver Screen Partners II, III and IV,produced Disney movies (and by extension, Touchstone and Hollywood Pictures movies) which were released from 1985 through 1992, before Disney became "Princess Musical Central".

"Now hold on there, smart-ass!" I hear you say. "Two of those are Animated Princess Musicals, that seems like mighty persistent brand association to me!".

Yes, anticipated-angry-poster, they are. But not every Silver Screen Partners picture got a slew of home video sequels and a theme park ride.

With the exception of Dick Tracy, all of the above movies were released by Disney as a "Disney" (as opposed to "Touchstone") film, with the name right on the box. There is also genre diversity, from High Fantasy to Mystery to Action/Adventure to period, to contemporary to Scary-as-Hell Thingies with Wheelers.

The actual quality of these films can be debated but not the content which doesn't conform so much to the "Cute and Cuter" fare that the Disney studio was producing since Walt's Death(like "Pete's Dragon") or even to the "Enchanted and Magical" stereotypes Disney has currently perpetuates as a brand. Dare I say, this was when the Disney Studio was trying out something new and different(or more accurately, as new and different as you can get in 1980's blockbuster cinema), most likely due to the influence of Michael Eisner and his "regime".

If you check the imdb pages for the Silver Screen Partners, you'll find The majority of Disney's Silver Screen Partners projects were more mainstream (at the time) films with a diversity of subject matter and genre, or "grown-up movies".

Because maturity means "Adventures in Babysitting"...

None of the Silver Screen Partners limited partnerships got a logo: no kid on a bike flying across a moon, no shield, no arclights, no little red robots no theme music and no castle whatsoever. After all, these partnerships were financial, not creative institutions, and were set up for and by one customer.

But since these investment funds were just as vital to producing motion pictures as big names like Spielberg or Eisner, these partnerships got credit on promotional materials (like the fine print on movie posters) and title cards on every movie made with their money.

Basically, one of the names on the box, and it's a brand I personally associate with a unique era of experimentation and ultimately, quality, in a movie studio's--

... oh never mind

17 October 2010

Fall Portfolio

In an un-startling and expected turn of events from last week, I've assembled my fall portfolio and submitted it.

Keen-eyed readers might notice a few these images look familiar, as I have posted them on this blog earlier.

...and a finish with the requisite but often lamented figure drawing.

10 October 2010

10 for 10-10-10

When I'm not firing my mouth off about marginalized 1980's fantasy movies or pitching a fit over marketing semantics, I actually do manage to get some work done.

In this case, putting together a portfolio to submit to a animation studio in Burbank.
Assembling a 15 piece representation of your best work from the past year is tough, as it basically means cutting stuff out. I'm not going to point out what's wrong with these, except maybe as to why I'm sorry I could not include them in the final package.... and of course, that the actual portfolio looks much better.

I mentioned a Christmas project earlier, a storybook featuring my cousin's children at the behest of my Aunt. This pic has some nice qualities, character appeal, strong readiblity of the distance.

Same project, another pic. This was one I did swipe poses from various photos for since the writer (my Aunt, again) asked for a photograph, so it seemed fitting. I like the sense of personality that comes across, even the Dad's more interested in playing with the cat than a picture.

This one also got a great sense of play and I feel it represents the personalities of the kids best, computationally, I like the S-curve from the bubbles. I'm sorry that some technical gaffs in this one prevented me from including it, 'cause it's got a nice mood.

I used circle-frames as a bookend device for illustrations: the first page features the kids popping out of circular holes like you might find in a climbing frame. It's something I haven't seen that often and I thought it would help stress a world of playfulness.

This is some storyboard art for the live-action short "The Lion and the Unicorn" (now shooting) directed by a mysterious bearded man known only to me as "Moose". The top-down perspective was difficult enough to warrant shooting reference with action figures and a digital camera so as not to screw up the foreshortening.

The script was a lot of fun to read, especially with the wonderfully askew sense of humor that can only come from someone who allow themselves to be referred to as "Moose".

The turnover on these was pretty fast (at least for me) so I tend to look at these and curse myself for not being Alex Toth.

This was the first page of a mini-comic sent as a Christmas Card last year. It was titled, imaginitivley enough, "A very Merry DEATHmas". Surprisingly enough, nobody's asked me to send similar Easter cards.

Actually, I would send this one if it were only big enough (only about 5"x3" at 150 ppi, in direct contradiction of submission criteria minimum size).

And naked people. It really isn't a porfolio without drawings of naked people.