journal page 23

january 1, 2003
was woken up at 7:30 this morning by a drunken imbecile running in circles around the apt building repeatedly yelling "cock a doodle doo!" in a high pitched voice, merged with sleepy threats and hoarse obscenities raining down on him from neighborhood windows. it went on for a good half hour and sleep was pretty much hopeless after that. i am impressed though that this guy managed to stay drunk for a full 7 and a half hours after new year's. so i still need to move out and maybe one day i can afford it. meanwhile, a busy month begins. i have a bunch of very complicated orbiting moons and planets to animate and then will be shooting some other stuff this weekend. i'm glad to see 2002 symbolically over and done with. it was an extremely difficult year of nothing but work, from which i have few memories and i didn't get to travel anywhere once. and in the last week or so i heard nothing but bad news from everybody... accidents, deaths, etc. i guess the last few days of a year are kind of like the dregs at the bottom of a glass. i was watching cnn yesterday and the woman said: "...and in afghanistan today a pakistani was politely asked to vacate an area occupied by US forces when without warning... [rehearsed disbelief] he suddenly opened fire on them. [rehearsed concern] one US solider was wounded. [she actually smiles, logical conclusion] in response, an F-16 dropped a 500 pound bomb on the pakistani and his shelter."

december 18, 2002
just got in from a final editing session in LA before everyone flees for the holidays and the new footage looks great, very happy and feeling quite accomplished. all of the trickier shots came out smashing and it is a small miracle that i won't have to reshoot any of them in january. after these last whacks of editing, the little cartoon will almost surely be all finished up by end of january and the big film is now looking a little better and brighter each time we see it as it slowly takes shape. people said "oh my god" a couple of times in the editing room at some of the bigger sequences so thats a good sign. i now pass the journal torch on to his fresher eyes on these films, having just seen footage from both for the very first time tonight.. happy holidays - don

Hi folks,
I'm filling in for Don tonight cause he's off at the editing labs for a few hours of nip and tuck. Not sure what time he and Rebecca will finish so I figured I'd catch you all up on the latest momentum here in L.A. After a quick trip I met up with the two of them in the bowels of a large unnamed studio. Apparently gifts and large boxes aren't allowed on the lot this time of year so I parked a ways away, stowed my treats and made the trek. After settling in I got to take in a good chunk of the big film and all of the second smaller film. (The second one's done. It only took two months!!) Without a finished soundtrack, editing it seems to fall into that "best guess" category. I remember seeing Rejected at this phase and wondering what the hell Don was doing. This time out looks to be in much better shape. The shorter film is already really funny. Hopefully this will translate into an easy sound mix. haaa haaa haaaaa aaaahaaaaaaa.

I want to go into the special effects stuff but I'm not sure how much I'm allowed to give away. At some point Don will go into detail about how exactly he's put together what you're going to see...the dynamics of it. It's just a lot of fun. The sound mix is going to be a whooooole lot of hoopin and hollering.

The chunk I caught of the longer film is a lot harder to describe. More effects but subtle. I don't know if people will catch the detail but it's going to be a film you can watch a few dozen times and still catch stuff. Its overall theme right now is pretty somber but we'll see what a little fourth quarter sound mix can do there. It's hard to hear the film in my head but I guarantee it's stuff you've never seen in a cartoon and I've seen a lot of friggen cartoons. So that was about it. I left the two to continue snipping away just in time to watch the security guards lock up and close down for the night.

January will be big.. 2003 will be bigger.

Talk to you all soon
Happy Holidays

december 12, 2002
driving home from the studio at night lately i've been coming across an inordinate number of dead things in the deserted roads. last night i spotted a big dead dog and a dead raccoon and tonight there was a dead possum and a dead somethingelse that i couldn't classify. when the day comes i start to see black cats hanging from tree limbs and my shower pour red ants i will let you know. well i think the little cartoon could be all wrapped now but there's probably a bunch of things i'll need to reshoot in january. there are up to seven exposures in some of these shots to keep track of which is enough to make you a bit twitchy. the bubble machine however appeared to perform admirably. rob and i should be able to knock out the voices by the end of january now and be pretty close to being all finished with it. so at least two new films coming from us in the new year plus one big hot announcement that we have been sitting on for several months. also hope to have more time to provide this site with more things for you to poke at because i can sense your pouty neglect. have to go to bed "early" tonight though, have another meeting in LA tomorrow

here is a festive holiday wreath i fashioned just for you while on the phone

november 27, 2002
my right eyelid is getting all weirdly dry again, dedicated readers will remember this gripping subplot from a while back. stress, but i don't think its of the negative kind. all the footage came out largely good... the little cartoon is going to be an easy slam-dunk to finish up and the effects tests for the big film came out not too bad. they're going to take a lot of work but the key is we've proven that these shots are now going to be possible to pull off, and will be quite pretty. so i have my hands full for the next couple of months with quite a full plate: animating, shooting, and editing both projects at the same time as we go. full steam ahead

november 21, 2002
it dawned on me tonight that it really seems a shame to have all this quasi-finished material just sitting here in this box indefinitely for the will-i-ever-have-the-time-for-it anesthetics book, so i've started putting a few of the weirder odds and ends from it up in the rrr place for sharing. maybe you will enjoy and maybe i will add more or just upload the whole frigging thing one day : ) ..or maybe the return of the weekly comic strip to the website? who knows

off to LA for editing tomorrow - rebecca says the footage all came out looking good, will let you know how it goes

november 16, 2002
i seem to be devouring all food in sight, packing it in for the winter coat. well the latest 400 ft of film is off to the lab and will be shooting a leftover piece (from the smaller other project) tomorrow night to follow it once the art gets inked (which incidentally incoporates live action bubbles (don't ask) so its off to the toy store tomorrow in search of the right kind of bubble machine. i bet you have never seen the magic of real life bubbles in a motion picture before but we just keep pushing that special effects envelope here at bitter films). i seem to be setting a new speed record in the animation and photography of that little cartoon at least, after this week it will be 90% animated and filmed, all in just under a month. but i cant believe its the holidays already. i read the other day that people who work nights are at greater risk for heart disease because even though they get enough sleep, our circadian rhythms are locked in biologically, set to regular daylight hours. so being awake at night in spite of these rhythms basically means you end up secreting chemicals at all the wrong times. so in summary, i am secreting chemicals at all the wrong times.

i have been cleaning this weekend because its starting to smell like a wet dog in here apparently due to the change in weather. i also still really need to bleach the tub

november 2, 2002
"the cartoon network has taken rejected away from you"
despite what you may have read we were never involved in any sort of fight over the film, it was always meant to air uncut. all the drama has been between the network's censors and their programming dept, who've always been very kind to us. i've been sort of on the sidelines of all this with the rest of you over the last year, hearing bi-monthly updates on new potential airdates and continued weird internal negotiations about the phrase, "sweet jesus." so i don't know much more than you all do but it's my understanding that this last minute pulling of the plug, after a week of on-air promotion, was handed down by the president of turner networks, again only because one character says "sweet jesus." yes, the movie's blood, violence, and gore are all ok but saying "jesus" on the air is apparently more offensive. truth be told, they seemed a bit jumpy about the movie from the beginning: when we finished the paperwork they went so far as to get an insurance policy to cover any potential multi-million dollar lawsuits stemming from its broadcast. i was actually kinda looking forward to that. at this point though it's become so surreal and beyond any possible rational argument and this is sort of what the film is about anyway and you have to kind of stand back and appreciate the weirdness it seems to create wherever it goes. thanks to everyone for your often-hilarious happy thoughts in the last 24 hours. the "sweet jesus" letter writing campaign will probably not work but cheers. incidentally, i read somewhere that the film supposedly was to have a tv-m rating which is why it got yanked (from what is popularly a kids network), which is actually not true; from what i was told it was given a tv-14. anyway i really have doubts the film will ever make it to air, especially following such a dramatic move after all this time. they seem resolved to continue fighting for the piece, so i guess we'll all just have to wait and see.

if it helps the cause though i'd like to offer the following compromise: the film in fact does not refer to jesus the philosopher at all: the character saying "sweet jesus" is actually referring to his mexican-american friend, jesus, who is a very sweet person. hopefully that should clear up all the confusion

in other news, photography continues over the weekend and all seems to be going well, now in the process of making one and a half new films at once. i ought to be back in the editing seat in a week or so. with all of the other things swimming around over here it sounds like next year will be a very fun and busy one for us

october 28, 2002
5:05 am
spent the last week taking a short break away from the movie, animating a good chunk of that short secret side thing which has been an absolute breeze and a welcome distraction. simple and very familiar characters doing dumb things with many, many cycles is just what i needed right now. i will whip through it in time to fit its first half on the tail of the upcoming reshoot roll of film for the bigger project, maybe by the end of the week. then it's back to the old ball and chain and hopefully finalizing that miserable special effect shot

october 18, 2002
uncharted territory, 6:46am
i think i've reached a new point where my mind simply doesn't want to work on this film anymore. it is currently protesting this ridiculous production and marching around my skull with little picket signs. forcing myself to sit down and keep on animating this miserable thing seven days a week after all this time is getting more and more difficult, getting very frustrating, getting very distracted, really fighting to stay on target. the animator's job when you really break it down is one of just sitting in a chair staring at the same stuff for many, many months on end. and after this long i must be getting desperate to stare at something new. it's getting rough. when i was shooting that first roll a couple weeks ago, i had to stop to buy a few groceries and the checkout girl said "hello" and i said "hello" and then after she rang me up she said, "there you go, have a nice night," and i stood there dazed for a second and i actually could not remember the words for "thank you," and before i knew it i somehow blurted out "hello" again as i wandered away. i want to be on a tropical island.

i have to forge my way through designing this special effect sequence for the next couple of months and then i have two more sizeable scenes to animate and then that's just about it, at least i think. it took two days to animate an exactly one second test of this special effects footage, and that will hopefully prove whether what i want to pull off for the actual film will even be possible. so i might be shooting that stuff in another couple of weeks. my body has really disliked this idea of regular waking hours and is still insisting on nocturnal time... i had thought i was back to normal but it's inexplicably been the old 7am game again. i'm hungry and this lollipop tastes like cough syrup

october 10, 2002
the first roll of film came out looking good. it was very difficult for me to watch and fathom all the work that's gone into it, almost two years flying off and evaporating in two minutes, but i'm used to seeing it now and the whole film is starting to take a more solid shape in my head. in fact the very first thought i had when i woke up this morning, weirdly, was an extra sequence that i think will fit... so now it's on to animating and shooting the rest of the film and doing more sculpting into next year. rebecca has already started some minor editing and i've been doing some touch up stuff that i will reshoot soon. also plotting out one of the big optical effect shots that i think will require 5 composited exposures that will definitely require some more tests because i've never tried anything like that before. so it's all sort of coming together, shifting gears with different sorts of work thugho at least i don't need to worry about fireproof safes and drawings going up in flames and animating to 7 in the morning anymore. the hardest part is finished. so things are getting exciting again. so much more to do. will try and have new production pictures to share soon. i am going to eat chocolate

october 1, 2002
whew, the first miserable round of photography is now finished. it took an extra week of 12 hour nights than i'd thought, but the first 400 feet of film is away. i was stopped by a cop leaving the studio last night who looked like he wanted to crack me over the head. i guess a guy exiting a building alone carrying boxes at 2:30 in the morning wearing a black shirt and knit cap looks suspicious somehow? anyway, now i follow the film to the labs and wait around nervously in LA as it gets developed. thankfully, this does mean i finally get a few days off. i think i might see "spirited away" if there's time and have a look at the academy's animation exhibit thing

september 26, 2002
i started shooting last night which went ok but very slow, i had forgotten what a drag cels are to work with. place artwork, wipe dust. wipe dust, wipe dust, wipe dust. wipe dust on other side. use air gun on dust. yell at dust. wipe dust. shoot single frame. place next artwork. i also had some issues with the follow-focus motor a couple of days ago so i had to dismantle it and get that working, but everything seems to run well now with the camera and it's just a matter of getting through it all. i've got some more painting to do right now and then its off for another dusk til dawn shoot. i will probably put in 10 hours of photography tonight and tomorrow and see what's left to film after that.

september 20, 2002
"during play mr glow bones collects dirt and will lose his tackiness"
photography soon! much progress, all done with animation and inking now for the most difficult part of this film and i have no more lip sync to deal with from here on out, thank god. this weekend i need to finish up a short sequence, fingerpaint about a hundred cels, and clean up the camera.. although yesterday i decided i also need to redraw about 250 pictures from over a year ago that no longer fit in with the rest of the artwork, so it's sort of two steps forward and one back but hopefully by this time next week i'll be shooting that 3 minute beast chunk of film and crash in LA while it's being processed. i feel close to that all-downhill-from-here part, there's still much animating to do but the scenes should be a little easier. i should also soon be able to get myself off the nocturnal hours for the rest of this production and it will be good to finally join the world of the living as i don't think i've seen a morning in a year and a half... though i guess there is something to be said for seeing the sun rise every day before you go to sleep. have started writing bits and pieces of what might be the next film, the long one. iit seems like it is a couple of thoughts away from being a sure thing. my fingers smell like chlorine.

i read about an unfortunate guy in a magazine who lost his nose and his eyes to this rare skin problem and he now just has this large empty hole in his face that spans from his forehead to his mouth, deep enough to stick your fist into. he fastens a wax face over the big hole with magnets. a few nights ago i dreamt i was a rock star giving a performance above this park and it was kinda grungy brit rock and then the authorities shut it down and the crowd got angry at them so i tried to hit one of the authorities over the head with my guitar. lately though it's just been more dreams about oceans and death and space alien invasions and terrifying deep sea animals; last night it was something about having to bury some crazed woman alive, and we were arguing over whether to use wet dirt or dry dirt.

september 6, 2002
this week's been unusually quiet, the phone only rang a couple of times and it seems i've become momentarily invisible. watch as don blends into the art desk. i have been noticing too that the closer i get to starting photography on this thing the more weights seem to lift and the greater sense of clarity i've been having, which has become my favorite word. i've been somewhat less irritable and also noticed i've been slowly gaining back all of the weight i'd lost a year or two ago when deeper in the pits of this movie. yesterday there was a weird white crustacean fungus i found growing on the wood of my little orange tree so it lives outside now.

although it's clear that the universe has been expanding since the beginning of time, nobody knows what will happen next. some scientists believe that after so many billions of years, everything will expand to a point of critical elastic mass and cataclysmicly suck itself back into a fiery point that explodes into another big bang, the universe constantly rebirthing through the ages, forever hitting the reset button on everything. the other theory is there's not enough matter around out there to pull the expanding universe back into itself, so everything will instead just keep on expanding out, into infinity. new evidence from a study on supernovas + the discovery that the universe, oddly, seems to be speeding up as it expands, has given new weight to that idea. in which case the universe will just continue to expand forever... galaxies will only grow more and more distant and isolated from each other, stars will slowly be pulled apart. after many billions of years, expansion will reach the point where matter itself will be pulled apart; the molecules that make up the gas in the stars will become unstable, unable to keep burning. all of the stars in the universe will wink out one at a time and all remaining life will disappear with them. eventually space-time will have expanded so much that nothing can exist anywhere, lightless and cold and dead, everywhere, forever.

the last time i was in LA i saw hulk hogan. he was wearing a skullcap and a stretchy black shirt that had yellow lightning bolts running down the arms. standing alone in a parking garage waiting for a valet to bring him his car

it's been raining today but only lightly enough to bring out a sort of puke smell from the sidewalk. i am hoping for the heavier rain that digs up that clean asphalt smell and washes my car. don

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