Important mega convo with buddies Shonagh Home and Ed Liu over on Psychedelic Milk. We here at nilesheckman.com can't get enough of Ed's podcast since this is our 4th appearance over there this year. Super fun Ed my man!
Discover the psychedelic origins of Christmas and see through the facade of corporate manipulation!!!
Shonagh Home is a shamanic therapist, teacher, author and poet. Shonagh holds the feminine voice for the reverent use of the sacred mushroom, authoring a book on the subject titled, 'Love and Spirit Medicine'. Shonagh was on episode #19 of my podcast as well.
- What is Christmas?
- Mainstream narrative of Christmas
- The days of the week and its meanings
- Remembering our past
- The corporate takeover of Christmas
- The Great Depression and its effects on modern day consumerism
- Edward Bernays
- Astrological aspects of Christmas
- The significance of the winter solstice
- The anthropomorphism of nature
- Mushrooms & Mankind
- Knowing your astrological perspective
- Who is Santa Claus?
- Amanita muscaria
- Mycorrhizal symbiosis
- Entheogen, the divine within
- John Marco Allegro
- The Sacred Mushroom Of The Cross
- Shamans of Siberia
- Does it make sense to pass psychedelic particles through urine?
- Flying reindeer and Rudolph's red nose
- Christmas stockings
- When did western culture adopt the Christmas traditions of today?
- Who are the people keeping the true story of Christmas from the public?
- Invitation of the tree spirits of spring
- Capitalism and its influence of mindset
- Reclaiming your ancestral rituals
- Etymology of words
- Decisions between consumerism or withholding
Continued in our PLUS+ Extension:
- Triple crown of commerce
- Christmas consumerism dilemma
- Recognizing seductions
- Knowing thyself
- Collectivism and individualism
- Educating the self
- Recognizing your spiritual journey
- Why ask ourselves the hard questions to ascend if we're only here for a limited time?
- Things you can do start ascending
- Targets of corporations
- Seeing through the the artificial overlay on nature
- Steeped in WiFi, and harmful signals
- Bypassing the corporate hack and seeing clearly
- Begin the journey to awaken from the illusions of our surroundings
- Education through learning from wise elders
- Process of growth and learning
We are all many things. Being a street photographer and documentary filmmaker are two main focuses which are partially my hobbies and partially my professions. However, before either of those things I am a student of life. Anyone who's curious about the nature of existence is one as well. All of those who are inquisitive, introspective, and curious are students and will always be students, no matter what level of mastery in specific area is achieved, they will always be students when it comes to this thing call life because in reality, next to no one knows what life is really all about. The ancients studied this in the past just like those inquisitive ones do now, and this study of the student is not only passed on by occasional and rare wise elders but is self taught by the autodidact. The most important thing to emphasize though is that weather your teacher is someone else or yourself or both, by you always being inquisitive, you never stop learning, hence never stop being that student who's constantly asking questions of those around them, not conforming to the old patterns of old ways of doing and being, but most importantly always asking inside yourself why?
Many of the things I share, I do because they help me learn. They act as both a journal as to what I've put out and a barometer to look back on and know where I’ve been. But I know next to nothing like the rest of us because I doubt to ever claim to be a wise spiritual philosopher but more a student of life. It's very healthy to never think you've reached the mountaintop. To stay humble and to always continue to look up and out for the mystery that lies ahead. So anything I say in the future can be looked back on as being mostly on the ball but perhaps some small percentage of what was conveyed at the time maybe missed the mark a bit. Hence why I sometimes will give a disclaimer that everything shared is “at my current level of understanding”. Which is okay because I'm not a guru nor a scholar either, but a student.
So things don't have to be perfect, none of these essays are perfect, they are always in motion, in development, any praise or criticism received is fair enough and is being sent from neophyte to adept and there are always more rungs to the ladder of learning. That ladder of education, not schooling but education.
Life is a beautiful thing and to have 100 good years in corporal for may be there to be a gift give to each of us for that learning. Because learning is growing and mistakes and "failures" are also leaning. So don’t be afraid to take on a task knowing it won’t be perfect, everything is in motion and is a work in progress. And mistakes are those bumps in the road which must be gone over to continue that motion because you either win or you learn.
When traveling, we carry a bag. Whether it's back and forth to the slave job daily or if you're in transit on holiday, we have some amount of "stuff" we carry with us.
As you turn into the roving samurai and have less materialistic crap, it's good to only live with what you need and travel with things you really need daily for your work. The items about are what's in my happy man purse sack by ONA.
Items to collect images and store images, a few handy tools, and the bare necessities for modernity outside of your fashion. As a journalist or documentary photographer, you have to have a great camera with you at all times. Phones seem to have good cameras in them but in reality, they look good on the phone's screen but are still very so-so in quality when you load them onto a computer or try and print them out. Hence why the Leica M collection is so wonderful. World class quality in the smallest package. Ready to go, as soon as the opportunity presents itself.
All one really needs in there living environment are the tools of survival, some clothes on your back, and these base need items to get your work done which you carry around every day. Joy.
Co-Hosted a nice chat with Miguel Conner on episode #79 of the Psychedelic Milk Podcast with Ed Liu.
Miguel Conner is a garage philosopher, hedge theologian, and general madman across the waters. His life quest is to take his audience from ancient connections to modern meaning. He is the host of Aeon Byte Gnostic Radio, author of four published books, and writer of hundreds of articles in various publications. His ventures include Voices of Gnosticism and Other Voices of Gnosticism (Bardic Press) and the post-apocalyptic vampire epic series, The Dark Instinct Trilogy (Warner Books/AB Press), as well as fantasy novel, The Executioner’s Daughter (Solstice Publishing). Miguel's articles and fiction have appeared in such publications as The Gnostic Journal, The Heretic, Mindscape, Reality Sandwich, The Cimmerian Journal and many others including being an Author of the Month for Graham Hancock’s website.
Gnosticism is a deep well of knowledge based on personal experience or perception of which films such as The Matrix, Dark City, The Truman Show, and Groundhog Day owe their themes.
Part #2 of the conversation gets extra juicy with my philosophical ramblings. It can be listed to on the extra plus section of the podcast. Available if you support it for a nominal fee on Patreon.
With humanity, there aren’t so many bad people but more bad systems. One of the worst parts of our current human operating system is how centralized many things are. So in our current cycle of coming out of a bottom barrel state of the deep timeline of humanity, we have been awash in centralized systems. Meaning systems of power which are controlled by the few in a centralized way. Gatekeepers of power rely on having structures of control to continue their opaqueness; unaccountability, corruption, inefficiency, nepotism, and stagnation. This has been going on for thousands of years and it has been no different in the last century with our corporations, banks, and governments. Otherwise known as corporatized governments controlled by the bankers. Since the dawn of the internet and world wide web, this has gotten better through net neutrality allowing anyone with access more of a voice, it’s also been beautiful at forcing sliminess from the past to go, such as gatekeeper record industry labels who use to charge $18 for you to listen to music on a compact disk, to adjust their ways, by force, as the gates have been dissolved by file sharing. Even with the internet era, there are plenty of gatekeepers, such as Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, as well as YouTube. Another wing of the Googlepus. Youtube, A tech company, which has ultimate control of their system, as an ad revenue a creator-controlled by the few at the top of the centralized corporatized hierarchy. But centralized corporatized hierarchies create jobs you say, well sure, but that’s within the mainstream robotic culture of empire which is not fulfilling to the natural human who should be in nature, living in tune with the land, organic farming, relaxing, and creating art in small villages by day ingesting tryptamines around the stone dolmans uploading to astral dimensions to expand their consciousness by night.
Now, when you upload digital content to social platforms, they get to make the vast majority of the ad revenue. Facebook is another one, where you have to pay their shitty narrow aspect system to get more interest and eyeballs on your material. You are David and these systems are Goliath and it is backward because you create the content and then get measly compensation at best or have to pay them at worst. And it should be the other way around where you are compensated based on the value of what you create and share with others.
One of the main fractal backs to centralization of awfulness is money. Which on one level is just a measure of energy when it’s done right, but on another, it’s a spell used to reduce and control and the root of all evil. Fiat unbacked by anything paper money is the king of centralization. Since the late night Christmas eve skulduggery of Congress in 1933 the federal reserve act was passed. Creating a centralized location of nefariousness called the federal reserve. What it does is tightly lock down the control of the US dollar through inflation and deflation and essentially prints money out of thin air for bankers pleasures. With rooms of small centralized un-honorable tales from the crypt Crypt-keepers controlling it. The Federal Reserve is a private banking cartel who is not federal nor does it have any reserves. It sucks 36 million dollars an hour off the current horrible system and Rockefeller was one of the original investors and JFK had the back of his skull blown out because he dare suggested it be abolished.
What money really has become is a whole other story which entire documentaries have been made off of and will be further discussed in later chats here. The cliff notes version summary is, since the Financial Services Modernization Act of the late 90’s which, abolished key parts of the Glass-Steagall Act, there has been a dissolution of the separation of commercial banking from investment banking. Now resulting in nearly all commercial and investment banking institutions being systemically corrupt up to all the highest levels with the wall street investment banks being purely parasitic with behavior leading to ongoing situations such as the financial services meltdown of 2008. Many of the ills of which were pointed out beautifully in the slogan “we are the 99%” by occupy wall street because unless we have major corrections to capitalism we are left in a system where less than 1% of the population have the vast majority of the money and some 8 families have half the wealth on the planet. So feudalism never really went away.
In a previous reality tunnel essay, I gave hint to a suggestion of humanity “moving onto better systems”. So as an example, after the 2008 crash, a little thing called cryptocurrencies were being incubated. Cryptocurrencies are beautiful because they are decentralized, meaning controlled by every node on the network and the larger that network, the less centralized it is and naughty bankers are then obsolete. They are capable of buying into massive amounts of crypto and becoming crypto whales in the network node ocean but them doing so would only add value to that new operating system of money. When you are a part of this system, you store your own digital money in analog or cold storage so you are responsible for your own actions. So anyone using cryptocurrency is essentially unbanked, which is where we all want to be so we have the power and are not giving it to others. Because over the last 1000+ years amplified by the last 100+ years, whenever things are centralized, systematic corruption runs rampant.
Now cryptocurrencies are actually not the most beautiful part of the decentralized equation. Behind these technologies are a genius operation called the blockchain. Which is a ledger, a recording system, controlled by everyone and no one specifically which allows for full transparency? And many things can be done on top of the blockchain foundation. Further applications can be used for disrupting any industry that has tight control systems in place, such as energy, entertainment, network sharing, agriculture, voting, trade, etc… Imagine a scenario where you provide content and are then paid proportionately for doing so. Or as your internet bandwidth sits idle all day, you can be paid by the bandwidth you lease out to others who need faster bandwidth at that time. Same with your solar power you generate. You sell it to others directly when not using it. Or imagine a future style decentralized voting system where you have a direct vote on a specific piece of legislation, which is then upvoted Reddit style in the community, each with one vote, directly votes on a specific proposed rule thereby we would no longer need representatives who actually don’t really represent. We would have an ocean of direct peer to peer communications and interactions and not be landlocked to massive islands of control. So even though all these technologies are just one electromagnetic pulse away from going down and we are still very much in times of extreme polarization, be very happy to be alive in such exciting times.
And that’s just the beginning of what Blockchain type structures are capable of and they have snuck up on the machine which is working really hard to keep a lid on them, but it can not. This type of system is something old paradigm corporations and governments, which really means corporatized governments, have never allowed. So corporatized governments and the status quote have first ignored it, then laughed at it and are now hugely threatened by it. Because Rome is burning.
Since everything in the mainstream reality signal of falsehood is back to front and they don’t want free thinking minds, they want obedient wage-slave consumers, you have been conditioned. Because you are supposed to be in abundance and wealth, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t be but instead have been conditioned to 9/5 (more like 8/7) slave jobs to think we need to be in protestant work ethic struggle of centralization all our lives until we die. Which we do not. Not like material wealth equals happiness but it does equal time and ease and we should be freed from our unpleasant jobs to do real fun work which fuels our passions. So I highly highly recommend looking into blockchain technologies and getting involved in it and cryptocurrencies in whatever tiny or large way you can. Think of converting some of your fiat dollars into crypto coins as your protest and public service all in one. The community is really excellent as well. There are hundreds of folks freely sharing information online because sharing is caring.
Power to the people. Power to each individual. Decentralize the world.
Directed this PSA style peice for Only The Source. It gives thanks and recognition to our heat source, our light source, and our life source, the sun.
This spot was made for next to know money. It constitutes the final of the initial six short form life-lesson spots we're going to do for Source v1.0 as we move onto more v2.0 style video course work. So stay tuned for updates on that.
There are many visual themes in this similar to what is in our feature documentary film Transmutation. It's safe to say I've figured out my visual style and can now continue to refine refine refine.
More of my philosophical ramblings can be heard on episode #66 and #70 of the Psychedelic Milk Podcast.
The podcast is hosted by my buddy Ed Liu. Ed is one of the first people who’s just let me talk in a broader sense about spirituality and the ascendent path of walking the walk on top of talking the talk. In this chat, we encapsulate a breakdown of walking the yellow brick road of life wisdom into the container of studying to becoming a Jedi. Quite standard stuff. Ed and I will have much more chats in the future together.
Niles Heckman is the director of the documentary series Shamans Of The Global Village. He is also a filmmaker and street photographer with a background creating visuals for high-end commercials, games cinematics, and Hollywood. He has overseen plate photography with New Line Cinema, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, Marvel Studios, and is a member of three Academy Award winning teams shared between the animated feature and visual effects categories and a VES Award recipient for outstanding achievement in virtual cinematography. He directed and shot the pilot episode for Shamans of The Global Village in 2015 and his feature directorial debut for a documentary film entitled Transmutation is due for completion in 2017.
• Director of Shamans Of The Global Village
• Filmmaker & Street Photographer
• Worked with New Line Cinema, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, Marvel Studios, and more
• Concerns raised in PS17 about Niles' documentary Shamans Of The Global Village
• Living in a culture of criticism
• What is Spirituality and how we should define it
• Making advancements in spirituality
• Muggles of the spiritual world
• Processing through spiritual growth
• Our human value based on commercial success
• The lack of spirituality in mega churches of Texas
• Practical ways to become a jedi?
• Starting with the internal-self
• The detrimental effects of watching the news
• Mind, heart, and will
• Joining a side
• Our thoughts manifesting into real life
• The healing capabilities of the mind
• The vibrations of the mind
• A practical approach for the law of attraction
• Being "heart based" and what it means
• Taking risks to gain rewards
• 5-MeO DMT magic and synchronicity
• Puffers in the spiritual world
• Time as a limited asset
• How mental mastery is simplicity
• Tony Robbins
• How to start self mastery?
• Finding wise elders
• How teachable are you?
• Who you listen to matters
• The discernment of information
• The training balance scale
• Engaging your life to make things happen
• The practice of non-worry to manifest things into your life
• The Four Levels Of Competence
• Drawing different conclusions from the same message
• The polarization of the mind and finding the balance
• The Kybalion, the Jedi manual
• The analogy of "Going into the forest"
• Drinking the kykeon
• What are the 7 hermetic principles?
Continued in our PLUS+ Extension:
• The mental construct of the universe
• The correspondence of the internal self to the external universe
• The secret painting in the Sistine Chapel
• The vibrancy of material reality
• The rhythmic flow of the universe
• The practice of opposites
• The balance of masculinity and femininity within the self
• The precognitive abilities in the spiritual practice
• Doing the spiritual work and being rewarded with magical occurrences
• How to handle the "fake news" in spirituality
• How would you know what "level" you're on in the path towards being a Jedi?
• The powerful act of giving and receiving in a natural environment
• The polarity of light and dark
• The sun as a dimensional converter and the projection of reality
• Manly P. Hall
• The combination the spiritual work with the plant medicine to generate the best results
• Decoding the Jedi codes of The Corpus Hermeticum and The Way of Hermes
• The biggest takeaway from this episode
A tribute to my daughter Makena Rae.
Written by myself and inspired by the work of Abraham Hicks.
Shot on the Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera (BMMCC) using the 35mm “SLR Magic Anamorphic Cine” true anamorphic lens. With some extra sprinkles of color jazz.
Music by Tsuki.
The website of my personal production company has been updated at www.aurora-lab.com.
Domains for websites are so crucial I cannot overly express the importance of keeping track of them and always making sure they stay in your control. Especialy if you've build previous back catalogues of other works linking to a particular site.
This was a URL that I had actually LOST a couple years ago. A life lession which was a huge learning experience suffice to say. Having registered it a horrible godaddy.com who's CEO shoots exotic african animals in the face, I made the grave error of having my junkmail address set to alert me when it was getting time for domain re-registration and it was allowed to expire against my wishes because I never saw the single notification e-mail. Savy folks can set it up so they auto grab your domain names if you give up ownership for them for even one moment.
Anyway, life lession learned and it was a great excuse to protest by taking my buisness elsewhere. The best way to make your voice hear is often with your dollar.
Anamorphic Cinematography is absolutely gorgeous. Yet a pain in the ARSE to shoot with.
The anamorphic process is derived by a comparatively widescreen image being horizontally compressed to fit into a storage medium with a narrower aspect ratio. Compatible play-back equipment such as a projector with a modified lens can then recompress the horizontal dimension to show the original widescreen image. This is typically used to allow one to store widescreen images on a medium that was originally intended for a narrower ratio, while using as much of the frame, and therefore recording as much detail as possible. The word “anamorphic” and its derivatives stem from the Greek words meaning formed again.
Anamorphic lens development has been around for nearly 100 years, dating back to the 1920’s and 30’s. With it being more heavily utilized in major motion pictures starting in the 1950’s as a way to get audiences back into theaters after ghastly home television started popping up in white picket fence suburban America to make suburbanites cease critical thinking. Those TV screens were tiny bulging squares with curved edges. Ghastly square aspect Instagram style. In Hollywood, a new term “Cinemascope” was being adapted for widescreen format using anamorphic lenses which had been developed at Fox (the same Fox who’s news channel rots brains like Gollum with the ring) in an attempt to give a larger resolution and more wide frame to get butts back in theater seats. Similar to IMAX or 3-D, these new formats pushed what only large format theater screens could offer best. An immersive cinematic experience.
The anamorphic format has been an option for large budget productions to shoot with ever since. At a cost. Lenses were as expensive as a down payment on a house. They were massive in size and only really worked for big format pictures such as Ben Hur or Blade Runner. The look is distinct, most visually notable by its stretched horizontal flares. With other aspects such being aperture flare, unique blooms and optics, unique vignetting characteristics, spacial compression, and stylized depth of field with squished bokeh circles of confusion. But came with these unique traits not achieved in any other way also came many setbacks. The systems were hard to focus, not very sharp, the close focus distance was farther than a standard “spherical” lens, and the playback and film lab processing was increasingly complicated with additional steps being added in what was already a multiple-step process.
However, in the last 30 years, the only way a more independent filmmaker could access the anamorphic format was with various adapters. Names such as Hypergonar, Sankor, Iscomorphot, etc… each produce their own unique optical characteristics.
Adapters work by being attached to a non-anamorphic lens to be the stretch component of a multiple part system so when combined, they play the same service as a single true anamorphic lens. Many of these adapters had been made in Europe, Russia, and Asia through the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s and are affordable by being bought used. Scouring through old camera shops or places such as E-Bay yield the best results. As a special niche of cinematography, combined with not being mass produced, they are often times in high demand and thus hard to find.
Having had some past experience with some of these adapters, I have first hand realized how difficult it is to try to understand all these mechanics.
Each of them require very custom components and setups which often times are individually unique. Short of scouring forums, there isn’t a manual you can pic up or a single step by step on how to build one. It must more be figured it out on your own through trial and error.
Within the first couple years shooting anamorphic b-roll with various adapter setups, I often times was met with moderate results. The main struggle I always found was the size of the rig because the larger a system is the less easy it is to carry with you and the less likely you are to use it regularly. Until I finally caved and ended up purchasing one of the first micro 4:3 anamorphic lenses in the world made by SLR Magic out of Hong Kong.
About half a year later, we completed my first project shot entirely in anamorphic. A promotional piece for my street photography portfolio at www.philosophicalphotography.com. It’s a bit of an Exposé on why I often combine philosophy with street photography. Hence how the site gets’s its name. The cinematographer on the project was the amazing Ben Wong.
This promotional piece for philosophicalphotgraphy.com was shot with a Kowa for Bell and Howell 2x Anamorphic adapter.
As a cinematographer, Ben has done a significant amount of research in this area which he has then implemented on. One might call him a bit of a mad scientist when it comes to perfecting a custom anamorphic setup. Exhibit A:
Cost effective anamorphic — True micro 4:3 anamorphic lens from SLR Magic with a DIY anamorphic adapter: Part 1
One might call him a bit of a mad scientist when it comes to perfecting a custom anamorphic setup:
The results yielded such a great final outcome it has inspired me to do more projects in this format. Through the akes and pains, it's worth it, in the end, to get the visual style I fancy the most.
Ben’s YouTube channel is jam packed with excellent wide aspect travel ventures in this format and comes highly recommended. Thanks so much to Ben for all his help putting these efforts together and sharing some knowledge for others interested as well.
Here’s a collection of additional anamorphic B-Roll I’ve personally shot in the past and license from FILMSUPPLY. It will always be a growing collection.
New piece from our production compnay Only The Source entitled Yessence! Written by Stu Zimmerman and directed by yours truly.
Source aims to awaken, inspire and empower humanity to a more peaceful, delightful and loving life through original content and branded entertainment. Engaging, thought-provoking, heart-warming and occasionally outrageous, our content offers a global audience new insights, direct experiences and reliable practices to create positive change in their lives.
Our friend Lorenzo Hagerty has posted Rak Razam and I's 2016 Palenque Note lecture over at the Psychedelic Salon podcast. There was an early pre-screening of Shamans of the Global Village at the 2016 Palenque Norte lecture series at Burning Man.
This began a year + long screen tour of the pilot episode of the show. One which has been very much a learning experience. We are uplaoding all of them to the show's YouTube Channel.
At the end of the 1983 film Wargames, the characters outsmart the AI which is intent to destroy them by setting players in the system to the number 0. Forcing the computer to play tic-tac-toe against itself, resulting in a long string of draws, thus forcing the computer to learn the concept of futility and no-win scenarios. This is a brilliant metaphor for thinking outside the box and not being part of a garbage situation which has no good options. Such as military occupations of Afghanistan. Setting players to zero basically means not doing things that are crap. In today's world of fake machine childish asleep robot culture, many "people" do things they don't need to be doing. This can be countered by doing anything as basic as a spring cleaning of a house to as complex as disavowing your corporate fiction straw man name which you are the primary security interest holder for. One example of setting players to zero I've been personally doing as of late is purging social networks.
Less is more. Every additional social network you're a part of takes time and time is your most valuable commodity. No one is going to be in the nursing home saying "man I rocked Facebook that month". They’re going to be on their death bed thinking about all the life-experiences they had, what they personally created, and who they became. A major part of human happiness is being creative by creating. The more time you're promoting, the less time you can create but more on that later. Social networks are like high school yearbook signings. Popularity contests. Most muggle people just use them to try and gain numbers, likes, and followers. They friend you or add you not because they want to re-connect or get to know you fresh, but because they want to +1 a number on their profile. They would be much more mature if they didn't show any numbers and kept those private. The social networks prop this up by always showing the size of someone's network in their profile. Which is totally unnecessary. This is one of the childish aspects of childish asleep robots. Those numbers are void regardless because if one wants to turn to the dark side they can always buy followers which is about as low as you get. Some massive percentage of politicians Twitter followers are fake bots for example. Since all fake things are mirrored back to front, social networks are not social. They're anti-social. Meaning they have little to no connection with real authentic social behaviors of fellowship, friendships, and relationships. These things always happen in the flesh face to face. That's why a social network is best used if it get's you to real meet ups, hence www.meetup.com is the best social network.
A negative part of externalized hardware technology such as cell phones is this artificial smokescreen on what we’re meant to naturally get in local and small communities. My wife is on zero social networks but has a large network of real people she interacts with due to her patient population in real personal social circles. That is very healthy human behavior. You can be a selfish dumbass and still have quite a few horizontal fair-weather friends though because you like to go out a lot. Since your level of consciousness is mirrored by those who you attract, those types of folks will be surrounded by other wankers such as themselves. In the flesh wearing sunglasses indoors or at night in bars and clubs. This ultimately leads to shorter term shallowness that's wide and broad but at least they've left the keyboard. What's even less healthy is spending all your time at the keyboard and never really leaving the house. Or if you do leave the house you're a coffee shop troll who's still at the keyboard not socializing with other folks in the room. So why even be there in the first place?
I recently went to a street photography workshop at the Leica store in San Francisco in an attempt to meet some more local street photographers in the Bay Area. In the flesh. The majority of photographers had some kind of high-end rangefinder camera. Rangefinders are great to see, regardless of brand. However, when it came to sharing the results of everyone's work, I came to realize that nearly everyone there was on Instagram. This is like driving around in an Austin Martin and going home to park it in a homogenized cookie cutter suburban town home neighbored across the street from a 7-11 and gas station with bulletproof glass. Instagram is beyond fucking rubbish. Retro style is fine but the layout sucks and the tiny square aspect image frames are just terrible. Sadly, tones of youngsters are on Instagram at the moment because muggles love staring down at the app based phone world. #LookUp. On other photographic social fronts, two of the main social networks I've purged are Flickr and 500px. Flickr is dying because all things Yahoo! are luke warm at best, 500px is beautiful but I ultimately had to ask myself, "how much time am I putting into this and what am I really getting back?” It became another weight in a series of small things which all added up. So purging things digitally can be as important as purging the physical aspects of your life as well with the final goal being to live in a tiny house. With the ultimate goal being a zen samurai on the path.
On a final side note, I do totally acknowledge social networks are where all the muggles as well as some amount of B+ to A- at best humans are. Including awful Facebook and Instagram. As a human who wants to try and connect to others and reach out to larger groups of fellow excellent humans, I understand and realize social networks can be a valuable tool to help facilitate that process. If done consciously as a tool in lite moderation to meet other kindred spirits on your same wavelength in a vertical relationship or to promote your cottage industry. Everyone wants eyes on what they create. I'm no exception and realize the power of having others follow your work. Sadly, many who have "success" with large social network followers then turn around and use their social networks to make money of their followers. Which is fine if the content is worthy and that's how some independent small business owners and operators need to function in our current state of post-truth capitalism. Trying to be an independent operator in the current Gen X internet tech world means becoming your own promoter and socials are some what required to fufill this. So I set players to mostly zero and still play the game a bit on a few anti-social networks.
I've been influenced by numerous artists in my day. The painting of the dutch masters come to mind. With their heightened vivid perfection of nature and the characters within them. Ken and Robert Williams who made the old Sierra Online computer adventure games have been another influence. The photography of Dan Abrams and Andrew Mohrer were others. On the filmmaking front, the work of James Cameron and David Fincher, two directors whos project's I've worked on and met personally have also been tentpoles. However, by far the most influential of them all, has been Makoto Shinkai.
He is a Japanese anime director and former graphic designer. His body of feature work includes, The Place Promised in Our Early Days / 雲のむこう、約束の場所 (2004), 5 Centimeters Per Second / 秒速5センチメートル, Children Who Chase Lost Voices / 星を追う子ども (2011), The Garden of Words / 言の葉の庭 (2013), and Your Name/ 君の名は (2016). Most of the narratives of his films are coming of age stories of teenage love, surrounded in a Terrence Malick-like whisper voice wrapper. Blending science fiction with the drama and angst of adolescence. Also importantly, he became a filmmaker by doing the wrought I most respect. He did it himself. I've done this and no one knows who I am except my friends, acquaintances, and my mom. Gareth Edwards also did this with the film 2010 Monsters and now he's directed a Star Wars movie. Shinkai's 2001 breakout project Voices of a Distant Star looked incredibly good for a one-man project. Voices was a breakout success for an amateur animator, and Shinkai has created three more films in the past decade, establishing himself as one of the anime industry's preeminent creators.
His narrative choices are okay, but what really sets him apart is his distinct visual style. Shinkai belongs to a new generation of animators who have never worked in the traditional pen-and-paper format, and his film Voices of a Distant Star is a testament to how dramatically computers have changed the animation industry in the past decade. His Art Direction is second to none, creating a dreamy hyper-saturated pallet of beautiful texture and optics. Glows and blooms are common, but always motivated. All inside a stylized feature of watercolor clouds, vividly colored skies and dramatic lighting. I've made it a practice to put on his films with the sound off as background for my computer when in downtime. Much like a moving wallpaper. As I've developed my own visual asthetic, I've been finding I always prefer the saturation cranked up more and more as well.
One of the most key influences of his work is to show that texture is absoulty paramount. By texture, I mean detail in all areas of the frame. Hence it's really awful to point a camera at someone with a flat white wall behind them or solid color psych backdrop. Clouds and sunsets are perfect opportunities to build up the texture. A habit I've been influenced by in my visual work and various life experiences such as taking both LSD and DMT under beautiful vanilla skies. So skies have become very important in my personal world as well as my artwork. Shinkai does skies masterfully using them as a canvas for beautiful heightened, almost dreamy, ethereal textures. This is a habit I've syncronisticlly found myself creating as well in my work of the past unconsciously and now consciously in my work of more recent times. See my Auroras, Shamans of the Global Village, and Transmutation posters for reference. I promise not all future posters will be of a sky!
This aesthetic leads to a mixture of real life non-fiction combined with a slight science fiction Mise-en-scène. There are elements in both the pilot episode of Shamans of the Global Village Episode 01 and Transmutation which I feel accomplish this well. Always in support of the narrative and not as a distraction from it. Shinkai had been quoted as saying, "I think that science fiction can, by creating extreme situations and settings, draw out the essence of human relationships," Shinkai wrote. "The ability of science fiction to create thought experiments...is one of the things I like about it." It's ultimately about telling a story with interesting characters that are compelling and hold the viewer's impact. That's paramount. When you have that foundation and put it in a container that's visually stunning, then you've struck gold in my book.
It is official. My wife and I have duplicated ourselves. A beautiful baby girl Makena Heckman has transited here on May 10th 2017, exactly on the full moon.
Our one and only child, not only will she likely be the most photographed child on Spaceship Earth during her life, raising her will be my greatest art project. A magnum opus.
Half of me worries about adding a new little human to the world during these times of transition and climate catastrophe, but the other half of me realizes were all non-corporal, higher dimensional, divine beings from source who just transit to this illusory place for a while to experience some polarity and grow. Either way, I'll still try and get content out under a schedule similar to one podcast or essay per month, one SGV episode per every other year, and one feature every decade. Stay tuned.
Really fun two-day shoot with San Francisco based production company Liars & Thieves!
Collin Kriner edits the spot as it's being shot. Everything's gotta be cut.
On a side note, I'll use this to lead into a blurb on workflow storage... As modern moving image media makers, we capture a lot of data. Digital information which requires constant storage. So much to the point that my out of the industry wife constantly says "You're buying ANOTHER hard drive?!?!" in a nagging wife voice. Those external orange Thunderbolt LaCie hard drives are infinitely fast and I've taken up the habit of having a single orange drive per project. Storage space has become so cheap it's not worth the risk of losing irreplaceable files because you didn't have them double backed up. That in addition to the unnecessary life complication of having multiple projects on a single. Best to keep them separate.
External hard drives used to be so slow that it wasn't really an option to be able to work directly off of. Those times have changed however and one can easily edit straight from a faster Thunderbolt drive. Another solid reason to use them is in case your computer crashes and burns, your separate external drive won't be part of that scenario.
I've been slowly but surely trying to transform as much of the content of my life from analog data to digital storage data. All with the final goal of being able to move into a tiny house of course. The ultimate zen lifestyle of less physical STUFF. American's have storage lockers of stuff they don't need and that is unsustainable.
Behold! Our panel discussion from the Haight-Ashbury screening of Shamans of the Global Village Episode 01: Octavio Rettig & The Sonoran Desert Toad. Featuring Author Rak Razam, Psychotherapist Meriana Dinkova, artist Alexander Ward, and myself.
A huge thanks to Lawrence Gerald for recording!
Joanna has a great motto “if you don’t like the media, be the media”. She has a history as a bit of a luminary in the 60's counter culture having had a past relationship with Timothy Leary, an American psychologist, and writer known for advocating the exploration of the therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs under controlled conditions.
One of the best rewards for creating a piece of media is its ability to reach others who work you've previously known and build relationships with those folks. Also by those who have responded positively to your personal creations and engage in conversation. When you meet someone of the previous generation who's also fought the same fight and created a culture to push back against the status quo of the day, that's massive. Joanna has been doing for many decades and its great to share in conversation as a meeting of minds.