Posts tagged me

Flash project: I was going to spend last week helping out Joana with a promo video for the FAZ Ideas in Portuguese contest. Everything was going to be shot outdoors, however progress was irritatingly slow due to the heavy rain that fell all week. We couldn’t get a break. So yesterday and in despair, we scrapped nearly everything and started over, shooting stop-motion indoors as the rain fell outside almost to the very end, when we managed to get a couple of shots outside again.

And somehow it worked.

If you can read Portuguese, please visit and vote for us!

Twenty twelve, thirteen

I’m late to write about my impressions of the year 2012, not because I’ve been busy but because I should be busy and somehow a sense of guilt about it prevents me from doing something as egotistical and pedestrian as writing my personal thoughts about those 366 days filed under 2012. Or perhaps I just feel that writing on my blog is just low-priority work disguised as leisure. Or perhaps I feel only twelve people will actually read this, and none of them will be any of the persons I enjoy imagining doing so.

And I’m annoyed I’m writing on my old netbook because my home computer died last weekend. Not a good moment because my PhD requires stuff done. The fucker.

But I digress. Even though it had its moments, 2012 was a shitty year. Even though I try not to mention it to my international readers, lest I be interpreted as belligerant and/or depressing, know this: the Long Depression — that is, structural socio-economical Crisis — got real here in Portugal. I’m actually lucky to have a part-time teaching job which requires me to take a PhD I’ll have to pay for. I’m lucky to be able to pay for a small studio where I can work and study, and that my parents can help with the other things I can’t afford. I’m 33, and like most of my friends my age I’m stuck with little perspectives. And the fear of unemployment and the little money due to frozen wages and rising taxation and the feeling one’s work became an auction won by the lowest bidder while empathy is rarer as selfishness, not selflessness, is generated by and feeds The Crisis, all that is on my mind as I wake up every morning. Lonely mornings. 366 of those don’t make a good year.

And why? Because of turbo-capitalism, because of Euro-banksters, and because of what can only be Northern/Central European governments’ climate envy and racism (an ugly word, I know, but how else to explain the beautifully orchestrated media campaign to convince Southern Europeans they brought this on themselves because they are lazy, when they actually work more hours for less pay, less perks and more taxes?). And obviously, because of those among ourselves (starting with our turbo-liberal — that is, Social Darwinist — government) who honestly or cynically believe such bullshit, that we must suffer for our sins, however factually unspecified those sins are. And there are lots of shit-believers, because The Crisis is actually a Cold Civil War, with external interferences and profiteering like all civil wars, therefore a Civil War indeed. Ongoing in 2013.

Fuck it.

In 2012 I fell in love; things didn’t work out but I loved!

I feel I’m a wiser person. Not always a good thing, but its own reward neverthless.

I made cool stuff: directed a film, released two shorts to the Public Domain. And I learned enough technical stuff to make my geeky self happy.

My friends were my friends and were my friends. That is incredibly important. And even though at my age it is getting difficult, I think I made new friends — and I’m not talking about Facebook.

In 2012 I watched some great, great films: Alexander Payne’s The Descendants, Miguel Gomes’ Tabu, Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist and what must have been my favourite Bond movie, Sam Mendes’ Skyfall. But my two favourite movies of the year came right at the end of the year: the powerful Detachment by Tony Kaye and Leos Carax’s fantastically charming weirdfest Holy Motors. Holy Something, indeed!

2012 was also the year I rediscovered music thanks to (advertising alert) Vodafone.fm, a radio station I got in the habit of listening to while driving and manages to have a playlist that doesn’t prompt me to switch channels every other song (something we in Porto had lost in the late 1990s and I thought would never come back). Here’s a beautiful automated medley of my favourite songs of the year, courtesy of This is My Jam.

And in 2012 I read David Eggers’ A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. That book is a keeper.

A few hours ago I went to the movies for the first time in 2013. I watched Michael Haneke’s Amour, the 2012 Palme d’Or at Cannes and a wonderful film — one of the saddest I have ever seen. And yet another item that underscores my growing realization that being a busy person is worthless, working a lot on stuff is worthless, if you prioritize that over the people in your life, if you value the bustle above the building of relationships and friendship and love (and if you don’t want to just take it from me, go read Tim Kreidler’s The Busy Trap, who puts it a lot better than I do). I do want my PhD and I am driven to do stuff. But if I’m going to choose a future regret, between failing a deadline for a paper and failing to accept a coffee date, I know which regret I’ll choose. If this makes me a lazy Southern European, so be it: I choose love.

The last few days have been a bit crazy as I tackled some Murphy Law technical issues in order to have Caos finished today. After a failed first render (my bad actually, in all haste I accidentally unsynced the sound in a couple of scenes), yesterday I had two computers rendering and compressing the film simultaneously. It seems such redundancy kept Murphy at bay, as both finished without any trouble. I just watched a compressed MPEG, and it’s allright. And that is just as well, as the avant-premiere is scheduled for… today.

So if you’re in the Porto or whereabouts, you’re invited to drop by Teatro Nacional S. João at 6.30pm. See you there.

For comparison, here’s a screenshot of my real Geocities-hosted homepage, made in late 1997. The downside to years of data-loss paranoia and redundant backups is that I keep all kinds of embarrassing stuff, readily available for me to share with you readers whenever I find myself on a Cory Archangel-esque, aesthetic-appreciation-of-crap mindset. (Perhaps the Internet equivalent of my not-totally-ironic conversations on the merits and demerits of individual episodes in the Rocky series.)

Anyway, as it has been years since I last looked at this, I have a few questions to my 18-year old self: What the hell is that typeface in the title and background? And how could you even include that handheld-scanned ID photo? And is that darker background color purple or blue? (At 32, I can’t tell them apart.)

For the record I’m pleased no Comic Sans was found anywhere on that page. And surprisingly enough, no hitcounters!

There’s a recurrent theme in my inbox as another semester is near the end. (And yes, I do use that wooden desk Gmail theme. Let a man keep his kitschy customizations.)

Here’s a new sad pasttime of mine, The Gallery of Dead Projects. It will contain posters for all the films I never did, either because I couldn’t find a way to fund and/or shoot them, or because they were only temporary musings and I never even bothered to commit anything to paper. This first one definitely refers to the latter type of project — at some point, I guess I wanted to make a film like Dune, but good and set in this solar system. Don’t we all?

But then again, perhaps this movie does indeed exist, as a blockbuster in the same parallel universe where a James O. Incandenza does his arthouse movies (hence the ‘Interlace’ Infinite Jest reference). I’d like that.

Twenty Eleven, Twelve

So we have come to this: twenty-twelve. That year.

In which the world is supposed to end (as pictured yesterday), the Mayan myth getting some traction here because the future seem pretty bleak in this old and impoverished southern European economy, a feeling opposite to the innocent optimism of the previous apocalypse, during the Y2K Belle Époque. The consensus here is there’s not much to look forward to in 2012, except for inflation, unemployement, crappy digitally-televised Olympics (the analogue TV blackout is due in a couple of weeks), emigration, government and citizens alike being dicks, a slightly higher rate of civil unrest, a slightly lower rate of meals to be had in restaurants, bond market bondage being equated with ‘freedom’: serious problems in the First World, in which percentage points, rather than orders of magnitude, mean the End.

Of course, none of this will go as planned, not even the Euro or Mayan apocalypses (apocalypsii?). So there’s no reason to bother making lists of resolutions or go about planning stuff (suggestion: listen to this). 2011 taught us that: it was the strangest year on record. I won’t even go and repeat last year’s mediocre excercise of reviewing a full 365 days as if they were a record album or a movie to be digested. But if I did, I’d rate 2011 with five stars. Despite having spent the summer in bad health, despite the precarity of my work and the freelancing troubles, despite the illnesses of close relatives and the troubles of close friends, despite the melancholy in the morning and the inadequate relationships and the heartbreaks. Despite the laziness, the many productive hours wasted on crappy computer games, the fear of being sincere in doomed romances, and all the times I didn’t even try. Because I’ll remember little of this as being 2011. What I’ll remember is the sublime, unscripted weirdness. Consider the evening of April 6th, a date I find easy to recall as it is my birthday, as a scale model for all of 2011:

While having dinner with friends in a restaurant downtown, there’s this sudden announcement the IMF is bailing out Portugal. People’s smartphones are produced out of their pockets (we had, and still have, smartphones, get it?), 3G internet used to summon the mobile webpages of newspapers, fact-checking — yes, Portugal is getting ‘help’ from the IMF (in the form of a big loan the economy — meaning us, the working people — won’t be able to pay). The girl I was seeing at the time had to wake up very early the next day and had to leave the restaurant soon after the meal was over (another crazy detail — I was seeing someone at the time), so I left the restaurant for a few minutes to walk her to her car, and as I came back to rejoin my friends I already sensed this palpable but yet-understated hysteria, as if a carnival would start to unfold later that evening. It was a very hot evening — about thirty degrees Celsius, in April! — and, as our party left the restaurant after a couple of drinks and went for further drinks in bars nearby, we all had this shared feeling of “let’s spend all our money today because we’ll all be poor tomorrow”, the drunken circularity of which you have to admire. Walking in the streets, our party wasn’t the only party not minding the sidewalks. It was a Wednesday. Later that night, I met a friend in an equaly advanced state of drunkeness at a club, and I spent a good deal of time listening to his awesome narration of the most disgusting and gory parts in A Serbian Film.

Just consider for a little while the following impressions, all co-existing in space, time and mind: a oral history of Serbian extreme gore, the IMF bailout, the heat (when I took a taxi home at about 5am, I was still in t-shirt, carrying my jacket as a twisted knot in my arm), the binge drinking. And the awareness that the Belle Époque was finally truly over, that job precarity (eg. my not having a contract despite working at the same place for seven years now) was not the past, the present, but the future as well, and that we might as well live that present evening — listening to fragmented accounts, voices like random radio chatter, of what the Finance Minister had said, if the PM had been contradicted & etecetera — and ask for a shot of Bushmills if one could still pay for it.

That day was hyperreal. Anyway, the next day it became pretty obvious things wouldn’t go as expected, either for better or for worse. People’s ways of life didn’t come to a sudden stop as the hot sun rose that morning. There are still dinners in restaurants (fewer — or far fewer) to be had, extravagant gadgets and other toys are still bought and sold, some people lost their jobs while others got raises. I have close friends who were forced to go back to their parents’, while others moved into a bigger apartments with their partners and their kids went to kindergarten. But still, the overall feeling of 2011 is indeed depressive, that injustice and overall stupidity were on the rise in this country. The expectation for 2012 is that the austerity forced from Above will do no good, and may in fact force good people into doing things they are not supposed to in a healthy society: leave the country or fight the power(s).

Then again, consider that week in November: I had been well down in the dumps, counting evey day until that Tuesday when I’d get my first paycheck of the school year. The day before, I was penniless and attending a meeting concerning a play I was going to make video for. As I search my backpack’s pockets for a scrap of paper in which to write a quick note, a 50 euro bill comes out. I had stashed it there for safety before the summer and had completely forgotten about it. I called a close friend and invited her for dinner that night. On me. I had had to share that good fortune, and taste a bit of luxury after weeks on a tight budget. The very next day, as some kind of karmic reward, my paycheck has a significant raise — which I had actually expected last year (as finishing my Master’s degree had brought me to a new carreer position), but after getting no pay increase then I became cynical about it and didn’t expect it in the current ‘austerity’ climate. Feeling pleased about myself (even if you think I’m a shallow person for letting pecuniary rewards influence my self-esteem, the truth is, they did), I invited a girl I had met a few days before to go out with me the next weekend, and she replied she’d be delighted. We started dating but things didn’t last, and we parted ways after a couple of weeks. But despite that, if I could just capture the feeling of hope, the knowing things were going to be all right and that we’d get through these troubled times, the expectant happiness, all the optimism I felt during that week in a bottle, I would take a sip of it every day.

Despite it being 2011. Despite the IMF, the troikas, the precariousness, the expensive rents, the price hikes. Despite the Arab Spring going bad. Despite the populist Eurocrats, despite the US Republicans, despite our new Prime-Minister, the old Prime-Minister, and the people who vote in hate of a candidate. Despite Islamic terrorism, despite right-wing terrorism, and the jornalists and politicians who blame both on immigrants. Despite Obama being a letdown, despite Merkel and Sarkozy. Despite the easily offended and the eagerly offended. Despite censorship. Despite the thieves, despite the police, despite the politicians who blame everything on authority and the politicians who blame eveything on the poor. Despite earthquakes, despite floods, despite the heat and the freezing cold. Despite oil, coal and gas, despite nuclear power, despite the villages flooded by dams and the birds killed by wind farms, despite solar power and the exotic materials, toxic chemicals and the energy wasted in building batteries and panels. Despite the infinitely regressive ecologists who will never be satisfied. Despite anxiety, despite fear, despite suspictions. Despite fashion, despite technolust, despite gluttony. Despite the hypocrites and despite those who are bad at simple math:

When you feel you are worth something, this all goes away. This is something all leaders and managers must know; this is something all lovers and friends must know.

For 2012, I expect the unexpected: the truly unexpected.

Today, as I got frustrated by my sluggish progress at a motion graphics job in which I was tasked with the most agonizingly long and boring copy, I found myself stacking effects on top of effects, just generating shit at random. Somehow I found this image pleasing, and it reminded me this aimless and purposeless exploration is something I do miss from my earlier years of doing stuff with computers.

So here’s a resolution: to set aside a few minutes every day for random purposeless.

If you happen to be around Venice, Italy next Friday (September 2nd) night, be sure to check out a screening of Change Your Habits Today at the Circuito Off Film Festival.

Yes, it may be true moneymaking necessities made my filmmaking career take a backseat to multimedia and hired video stuff, but it’s not entirely out yet. In fact, I’m ready to announce that I expect to have new film called Damião will be ready for premiere by the end of September. More on that soon.

Yours truly just came back from a week with family in Algarve, most precisely from Vilamoura. A place which I found, to be blunt, of pseudo-glamorous landscaped oppression for the nouveaux riche. Most tellingly were the demographics of the place, with a notorious gap from the age of the teenage patrons of expensive clubs to the age of their golf/yachting/casino-going parents. Surely most of the people of my own age/status I met were the attendants in the local commerce. I found myself with not much left to do except for eating icecream while reading newspapers about arson and looting.

My mood improved quite a lot on outings, though. Next to Vilamoura is the ugly and unfashionable Quarteira, but which at least feels like a real place, not like an open air shopping mall. It is a heartwarming and organic relic of 1980s mass tourism — and with an actually nicer beach to boot. I regret not having taken enough photos there. I also recommend a trip to Faro, the region’s capital, which not only is an old place with assorted monuments and whatnot, but also a rather good place to wander around. Photos coming soon.