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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Dear Santa - A Holiday Journal Entry

When my talented husband D. R. Acula wrote his monologue entry for the new Tentsquare contest #HolidayJournalEntry, I loved the cool and hilarious twist he put on it, but we weren't quite sure how actors would portray it or if they would get the message we were trying to convey with it. But then, a light broke through the clouds of uncertainty. That light's name is Adra Janean.

Adra is an actress with some work already under her belt, which you can find on her IMDB. We were pleasantly surprised to see that she not only read the monologue, but understood completely the message in it, conveying it perfectly and hilariously on film, with some great editing to top it off and make it even more entertaining. And she did it all in one hour! As a dabbling video editor myself, I know how hard it is to complete a project like this in just one hour, but she did it. So that earns even more kudos from me!

At first Adra was worried if a female Santa could work for the challenge, but her take on it as Mrs. Claus was absolutely brilliant, and she even threw in some improv that made the whole thing better. With this video, Adra completely surpassed our expectations, and made a little masterpiece in the process. Watch the magic HERE. You won't regret it. ;) 

If you like the video, you can vote for it once a day, beginning December 13th. If she wins, she'll score some cash and a meeting with casting director Lindsay Chag. So help us show our appreciation for this wonderful performance by voting when the time comes. She so deserves to win. :) 

Be the lightning, 

}i{ 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Boardwalk Empire - Review and Video


(Warning: Mild Spoilers)



A Slow Start: 

I love historical stuff, but honestly I wasn't that impressed with Boardwalk Empire at first. I guess I felt like it moved too slowly and had too many story lines for me to keep up with. But my husband loved it, so I watched it with him, and soon I started getting into it. When the mask-wearing, gun-toting Richard Harrow was introduced, I started getting even more into it, because I loved the contrast of badass and softie portrayed in his character, and felt that he brought a sort of uniqueness to the show. When (spoiler) they killed him off in season four, I was pissed, and swore I would hate the show from then on, but I was pleasantly surprised when season five (the show's final season) began with beautiful and intricate flashbacks of Nucky's young life, giving us a glimpse into both his past and his mind, making me love the show even more. 


A Shocking Anti-Hero: 

Due to the flashbacks mentioned above, Nucky soon became my new favorite character. So, needless to say, the ending floored me. The writers spent all this time showing Nucky's soft side and having him help people, almost to the point of heroism, only to hit us with a huge change of character in the end, which should have made us hate him, but at least for me, it was still hard not to like him. This was kind of clever on the part of the writers, turning the final episode into a sort of psychological roller coaster ride, but it felt a bit rushed, and in a way almost like a betrayal. 


A Quick Death: 

As many have said, the final season of Boardwalk Empire felt rushed, and probably needed more than eight episodes to fully wrap up the intricate and flashback-filled story line, and that theory was solidified with the final episode, as (spoiler) Nucky's greatest sin was suddenly revealed, and he was shot, leading many to believe that he died. Of course, those of us that know the real Nucky's history know that he wouldn't have died then, because in real life he was arrested and later died of natural causes. So I thought it was cool that the man leaned over him and mouthed "We're going to get you to a hospital" which let us believe that maybe the character of Nucky didn't die, but was patched up and then arrested. But even with the open ending, it felt too sudden. This moment, as he teetered on the edge of life and death, would have been the perfect moment to utilize all those flashbacks from the season and have his life flash before his eyes, giving the viewers a little more closure and maybe even a tear or two. I just felt like it ended too abruptly for a series finale, but it was a cool twist nonetheless, as most of us didn't see it coming. 


An Alternate ending: 

I personally think it might have been better to end the show with Darmody pulling the gun out to shoot Nucky, but getting thwarted by the police just before shooting. The police would then arrest Nucky, as they did in real life, but the fact that his arrest stopped him from being shot would have made it sort of bitter sweet. His life could have still flashed before his eyes as he sat in his cell, maybe even coupled with shots of his love interest Margaret and his brother Eli as they heard the news of his arrest. If you have another alternate ending idea, I'd love to hear it in the comments! That's just one of many directions it could have gone. 


A Final Farewell: 

Despite some of the show's unlikeable characters and that shocking twist ending, I decided early into the final season that I wanted to commemorate and immortalize the show and its characters with a music video. This was due in part to my husband loving the show so much - I wanted to give him a little something extra to enjoy after the series was gone - but it was also for myself and for the millions of other Boardwalk Empire fans out there that are undoubtedly itching for a little something extra, especially after that abrupt finale. Even if the real Nucky was as flawed as the show made him out to be in the end, I still wanted to give him and the other characters (and the actors that played them) a final farewell. When I heard the song "Gold" by Sir Sly, I knew right away that it was the perfect song for Boardwalk Empire. The lyrics, the sound, and even the singer's voice were all so perfect for it. So I got to work, and immediately I started noticing that no matter what I did, no matter how much I cut and chopped and rearranged the footage, it always went perfectly to the music. I probably have ten different versions of the video that I kept just because of this creepy fact, but I eventually pushed through the intimidation of its supernatural essence and made a final version. The final version still has some of that creepiness to it though - the opening, the explosion, the gun shots, the actors mouthing the lyrics of the song, and more - none of that was me. I've had videos fall into place before, but never like this. It may sound crazy, but it almost feels like the spirits of Nucky and the rest wanted this video made. I just hope that with this final farewell, I have done them and this beautiful show some justice. I hope you like it!


The link isn't working here yet but you can watch the video by simply clicking HERE.


There it is! Please let me know what you think and please subscribe if you like it. Thank you to the amazing cast and crew (credited in the video) and to the mysterious force behind this video. I had a blast making it, and I hope it brings the fans a beautiful ending to a beautiful series. <3

Be the lightning, 


}i{


P.S. Yes that's me humming at the very end. I wanted to use "Dream A Little Dream Of Me" which had been featured in the show a couple times, but I didn't have it, so I just hummed it from memory. I hadn't heard it in a while, so the tune might not be entirely the same, but my husband said it was haunting, so I used it. Because if this experience has been one thing, I think haunting is the word for it. ;)


}i{



Monday, September 29, 2014

Imaginarium 2014 - Review from a Film Festival Queen.




The first annual Imaginarium Convention is over, and we are both exhausted and exhilarated. It was my first convention, so I don't have much to compare it to, but my gut tells me it went extremely well for a first year convention. Word of mouth seems to state the same, so that's quite exciting. We've also heard ravings about how well the convention area was laid out, with most of the panels and events being centered in the same hallway, making it easy to find the room you're looking for. It's so great to hear that so many people enjoyed Imaginarium, and it definitely makes us excited for the coming years.

When we volunteered to help our friend Stephen Zimmer with this event, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We ended up being deemed "King and Queen" of the Film Festival, a title we will gladly be reprising next year and hopefully for many years to come. Working the Film Festival requires late hours as some of the films run until 1 or 2 A.M. but we don't mind at all because it's so great to be able to sit in on some of the films being shown, and to appreciate people's work with them.

In addition to the wonderful authors we met at Imaginarium, we also met some great filmmakers. And there were plenty of awards given out for the Film Festival during the banquet on the final day of the convention (see the winners HERE). But for us, the winner of most memorable moment from the Film Festival definitely goes to our friend and fellow Eastern Kentucky native, Jeffrey Reddick (creator of Final Destination and much more), who sat in on a short film he wrote called "Paralyzed" (Directed by Aaron Sims) and when we experienced some technical difficulties with the film, Jeffrey handled it like a pro, rolling up his sleeves and joining Eric on the floor to help fix the problem. So major kudos to him and his team for that :)




And I also have to mention Amy McCorkle's film "Letters To Daniel" which, in addition to its announced award, also had the best turn-out of the whole weekend. Also, "Scenes From A Gay Marriage" (Written and Directed by Matt Riddlehoover) which won the most awards, and deservedly so. Its characters were so well written and so well portrayed that you could have sworn they were real. And of course Jackie Gamber's short film "America's Got Superpowers" which was an awesome take on the popular reality competition show "America's Got Talent" and had a surprisingly touching theme.

To those filmmakers who we weren't able to sit with for their films, it wasn't because we didn't want to, but we just had so much to do during those times. In addition to running the Film Festival, we also ran errands for Stephen and his crew, opened doors for people with heavy loads, and other various odds and ends like making and holding up banners.




No matter what we were doing, we had a blast, because not only were we honored to be part of the beginning of something as epic as Imaginarium, but just being around so many like-minded and artistic people made everything awesome. You could literally feel the positive vibes in the air, and I think everyone there got the sense of belonging, which is a rare thing to be felt all around. Kudos to Stephen and the rest of the team for making us feel so at home, and for putting this amazing convention together. We really are excited for what's to come and can't wait to see Imaginarium grow even more epic with each coming year. :)

Speaking of coming years, don't forget to join us for Imaginarium 2015! It's gonna be awesome. I'll add the exact dates when they're revealed. Keep an eye out. ;)

I leave you with some photographic highlights from the weekend: 


 
Some shots of us in our shirts on day one.


On "guard duty" on day one.


Part of the vendor hall.


 
Watching the table for Hydra Publications.


Story time with T. Lee Harris in the smoking area.


Some shots from the Masquerade Ball on night two.


More shots of us working the Film Festival.


The Awards Banquet on the last night.


  The final post, as promised HERE, & a group hug.


See you at Imaginarium 2015!


Be the lightning, 

}i{





Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Imaginarium Convention


You might be wondering...


What is Imaginarium?

The Imaginarium is a convention that will be taking place September 19th through 21st, in Louisville, KY. This is the first year so you may not have heard of it, but if not you will! So I suggest you get in on its awesomeness before it's too late ;)

Who is the Imaginarium for?

This convention is pretty widespread, including great stuff for writers, readers, editors, filmmakers, gamers, publishers, cosplayers... That's right, pretty much everyone. It's like all your favorite conventions wrapped up into one, and centered around all things creative writing.

What is there to do at Imaginarium?

In addition to the great writing panels and guest appearances, the Imaginarium will include a film festival, a gaming room, a masquerade ball, and much more!

How much does it cost?

You can enjoy the entire weekend for $55, or $25 if you just want to come for a day. And if you happen to have a group of 8 or more, the entire weekend is only $35 per person! AND if you have kids ages 12 or under, they get in for FREE! So, convention-wise, it's a pretty good deal. ;)

What am I getting out of it?

If you're a writer, you'll get tons of helpful advice from seasoned authors, and a chance to network with readers and publishers. If you're a reader, you'll get some face-time with some of the coolest authors out there, and the option to pick up some signed books. If you specialize in another field, you'll get to meet new people and have an awesome weekend. And Awesome weekends tend to include unexpected surprises ;)

The hour is nearly upon us, so if you're interested, please register HERE.

Hope to see you there!

Find #Imaginarium on Twitter HERE and on Facebook HERE.

I leave you with a little graphic my husband D. R. Acula made to promote the event. You can find his blog with a lot more cool links on the Imaginarium HERE




Be the lightning,

}i{



Monday, September 8, 2014

TV Review: The Leftovers - Season One


The Leftovers might be the weirdest, grittiest, most beautiful TV show I've ever seen. Each episode is like its own mini-movie, and I think each episode of the first season has left me feeling the same way - drained, intrigued, and satisfied. 

This show has some of the most gorgeous cinematography I've ever seen, and the entire cast delivers breathtaking performances - from Liv Tyler's astounding tree chopping scene in one of the first episodes, to Ann Dowd's surprisingly passionate first speaking part at the restaurant on their day off, to Carrie Coon's heartbreaking sobs in the final episode of the season, and many more. 

Every character is so believable, and in a way, this sort of dystopian world they inhabit is almost believable too. This might be in part because no one knows what happened yet. We know people disappeared into thin air, we know it wasn't the rapture because not all of the departed were good people, and we suspect some kind of supernatural force but we're not quite sure what that force is.

This mystery is one of the intriguing aspects of the show - I think a lot of people stick with it because above all they just want to find out what happened on that fateful day when they went away. But about half way through season one, you begin to realize that it doesn't really matter what happened, or how it happened, it only matters that it happened. And now the remaining characters are left with so much intensity and confusion and inner turmoil, and I think that more than anything this show is about struggle. It's a look at how different people handle things, and at human nature at its worst, when it's put to the test. 

Now, suddenly, we're no longer sticking around to find out what happened (I have a feeling we may never find out anyway), but now we're sticking around for the experience. It's not about the destination anymore, but the ride. A beautiful, crazy, heartbreaking & mind bending ride that I hope will never end. 

The last episode of the first season definitely had a "this is it" feeling, and I suspect they wrote that episode with the possibility in mind that it might not get a second season, but I've heard that it's already been renewed. I could be wrong, but that is what I've heard. I hope I'm right, because there is so much more to the stories being told on The Leftovers, and so much more to be learned through the struggles of the characters, the brilliant writing, and the experience of not really caring about the destination, but the ride. 

Because in the end,
isn't that all that matters? 

That we're still here. 

And though the ride is bumpy at times,
the view is still so beautiful.

Be the lightning, 
Kylie Jude.

}i{ 


Friday, August 22, 2014

Making "Coma"


 As most of you have probably heard by now, my husband D. R. Acula and I have been participating in a contest on a collaborative website called TentSquare, and for about a month now it's pretty much all we've been doing. We've now made it all the way to the final round, and for this round contestants were asked to write an original song, using elements of TentSquare's coming film "While You Were In A Coma" in which a man wakes up from a coma to find that aliens have invaded. 

We were told to incorporate a gas mask (which we happened to have anyway), a city (which we did NOT have), and the fact that the main character 'doesn't get the girl' in the end. So we built this whole apocalyptic world based on that little bit of information, in which our characters are in the midst of this war with the alien invaders, and we have run out of bullets so we have to use swords and hammers and such to fight them, and our characters are basically singing to the guy in the coma, waiting for him to wake up and 'help us save the world' as the song states. 


Photo by Kylie Jude


We only had about 10 days to compose the music, write the lyrics, film the video, edit the video, and get it uploaded (which for us is an entire day's work anyway). We celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary during the 10 days, and we had to take a few breaks for yard work, road work, house work, and even tearing apart and rebuilding our porch steps. So in reality it probably only took us 6 or7 days to do all of this work. And trust me, it was a LOT of work. 

First he composed the music, which featured elements of the video interview we submitted in the 2nd round, so it wasn't too hard to build on that and make it into a full length song. Then I wrote the lyrics, which I'll paste below in case you can't understand them in the song. Then we recorded vocals and I mixed them into the song, which took longer than it probably should have. 

Then we filmed the video, which took about 3 days, and was a combination of us, some close-up shots of the machines that conveniently decided to work on our road during that time (which never happens here so it was good timing - we figured they could pass for aliens), and footage that people sent us of cities including New York, Chicago, and even from Argentina. We don't have a city near where we live, so we were really lucky to get that footage from them. Then our TentSquare shirts arrived in the mail just in time to go back and film some extra shots for the last chorus with us wearing the shirts. 


Photo by D. R. Acula


Then came the editing process, which was probably the most tedious and time consuming of all, but I love editing and I had fun doing it. As it started to come together, I literally squealed with excitement a few times. LOL.

We both worked harder on this than I think we've ever worked on anything, and it was so much fun to create something like this together. Hopefully we'll be doing more stuff like this in the near future!  

UPDATE: We didn't win the contest, but we did come in second place. We are grateful to those who supported us and voted daily for us, and we hope to do more stuff like this in the future (even if it's not with TentSquare). We will be uploading the music video to Youtube as soon as we can, but for now you can still watch it on the site HERE.

And please let us know what you think!


  Oh! And here are those lyrics I promised: 

When you wake up
We need to talk 
Everything has changed my love 
They came from the skies 
Hell fire in their eyes 
And waves of radiation 

They blew the buildings down 
They blew the lights out 
And now we're left with nothing 
To fend for ourselves 
To fight for our lives 
And only the strong will survive

Are you strong enough to fight 
Or will you give in tonight 
Don your gas mask draw your sword 
Come and help us save the world 

Open your eyes 
Look to the skies 
Death is in the rain son 
Don't be fooled by 
Their coy disguise 
Trust nothing and no one 

Are you strong enough to fight 
Or will you give in tonight 
Don your gas mask draw your sword 
Come and help us save the world 

When you wake up 
We need to talk 
Everything has changed my love 
I'm not yours and 
You're not mine and 
We will never happen 

This is not the 
Time for love - it's 
Time for killing - time for war  
So don your gas mask 
Draw your sword 
Come and help us save the world 



Photo by D. R. Acula



Be the lightning,


}i{


Monday, August 18, 2014

Artist Interview: Miguel Alvarez



Today I'm doing something a little different, because this guy is an awesome artist, and I really want to spread the word to anyone reading this. He pumps out these sketches (yes, SKETCHES) of such intricate and detailed stuff, and I've never seen anything like it. A while back, he held a contest on Twitter for one of his drawings, and to win it you had to guess the number that was written on the back. I figured I'd give it a shot and guessed the first number that came to mind, and to my surprise, ended up guessing  right! So he sent the drawing, and I still have it nearby to remind me to always trust my instincts (something I've struggled with many times in the past). So it's pretty important to me, and I'm so grateful to own such a gorgeous piece of art. Here is that drawing:




Anyway, I wanted to let you get to know the artist a bit, through an interview. I've interviewed authors before, but this is my first artist interview, so bear with me. ;) And enjoy!



1. I've always been fascinated with how much detail goes into even your simplest sketches. How DO you do it? And what is your preferred method?

 The simple answer is that’s just the way my brain is wired. Even when I set out with the intention to sketch something simple my mind will just start adding complexity and detail. The creative process for me is different for every drawing. Sometimes the idea/image pops into my mind fully formed and then I just have to draw it out. Other times I just grab a sketchbook & a pen and just let whatever creative idea come out of my stream of consciousness.



2. Who or what are your biggest artistic inspirations? (I'm sensing some Giger influence, but I could be wrong)

 A lot of people assume Giger is one of my influences and looking at his work I can understand why that comparison is made. Although I am flattered by the comparison and think he’s a great artist with a tremendous body of work, he was not one of my influences. The only time I remember seeing Giger’s artwork was in a book once at a Barns & Noble for a few minutes, and seeing the alien designs from the movie. Most of my influences came from comic books. The first comic book book artists that began to captivate me were the guys who broke off of Marvel and start Image Comics. Guys like Marc Silvestri, Jim Lee, Todd Mcfarlane, and Erik Larson. Over the years I’ve come to admire the art of Jack Kirby, John Buscema, Jae Lee, Joe Maduereira, J Scott Campbell, Humberto Ramos, Leinil Yu and so many others. I’ve also been influenced by Salvador Dali and other surrealist artists.



3. Have you had any professional training? Or does it just come naturally?

 I've not had any formal training. I learned a lot of drawing techniques through how to books and magazines. There have also been tons of hours spent every day working on my craft. There’s just no getting around it, if you want to become great at anything you have to believe you can achieve it, and then prove it to the universe by investing the time.



4. Well said! Now I have to ask, Have you ever done commissions? And how would someone commission you to draw something for them? (Totally hypothetical question, I swear) ;)

I have done commissions before and actually made quite a bit of money doing so. I stopped taking commissions because I didn’t enjoy it. I felt that it was killing my creativity. The majority of the time the customer wants you to draw or paint them, their family or some subject matter your not interested in. With commission your usually drawing or painting from a photograph which takes a lot of skill, but allows for little creative expression. Art for me now is about expressing my creativity with freedom to go in any direction the universe takes me. I want to draw worlds and figures from my imagination and not from photographs. I want to sell art on my own terms and not have my creativity stifled because I want to make a quick buck. Let me add that I do think it’s important for new aspiring artists to draw from life and study the things around them to build a base on which to build a creative foundation.
  



5. Totally agreed! Do what makes you happy, not anyone else! And last but not least, can you tell us more about yourself? Who is the man behind the art?

I’m a man who loves God, loves his family and loves life. I wake up every morning grateful that I get to spend another day in a world filled with creativity and with people who love me. I’m grateful that I have the opportunity and freedom to explore my creative ideas. 



And I'm grateful that there are wonderful artists like Miguel in the world, who's work inspires me every day. You can find Miguel on Twitter, Instagram, and his website. I leave you with a collage I made of some more of his gorgeous art:






BOOM. 


Be the lightning, 


}i{