Brain Science Breakthrough: Direct Brain to Brain Communication

Okay, this falls under the category of The-Future-Is-Now:

Researcher Controls Another Person's Brain Over the Internet –

In an experiment called “Direct Brain-to-Brain Communication in Humans,” the scientists involved in the research were able to send a brain signal through the Internet to control the way another researcher, seated in a separate area of the university campus, moved his hand.

The two researchers involved in the project, Rajesh Rao and Andrea Stocco, connected their brains by slipping on a hat that included a “magnetic stimulation coil,” which can read and stimulate the brain. Mr. Rao then sent a signal to Mr. Stocco’s brain, forcing him to move his right index finger to hit the “fire” button in a computer game.

And the video:

Plot vs. Story

As I was working on the rough draft of my new screenplay, I found myself thinking about the difference between plot and story. We’re always told that we should eliminate anything that doesn’t advance the story, especially in a screenplay, which should be simple and direct. I recently took a 6-week intensive on film editing at The Edit Center (an excellent program), and they also stressed, if it doesn’t further the story, cut it out.

This is great advice, but you’ll get yourself in trouble if you confuse plot with story. Yes, everything should advance the story, but everything doesn’t need to advance the plot.

I can explain with an analogy and with a concrete example.

First the analogy. If you think of making a movie as bulding a house, you can think of the plot as the frame of the house. The frame, like the plot, needs to be well made and well-designed. The material needs to be durable. The rooms need to flow nicely into each other. You need to have good natural light from the windows. You shouldn’t put the kitchen on the third floor or the boiler room right inside the front door.

But all of that by itself doesn’t make a house you want to live in or visit over and over again. That takes the right color of paint, comfortable and aesthetically pleasing furniture, maybe some ornamental fixtures, or some stained glass on the windows, tasteful artwork on the walls, a nice carpet, a modern, clean and efficient kitchen, a luxurious bed, etc., etc. Those are the things that make a house a home. Those things are the story.

A concrete example:

We all know the film The Godfather (if not – and do I even need to say this? – spoiler alert). Think about the scene after Sonny has been killed and Don Corleone takes his bullet-ridden body to the undertaker and tells the undertaker. “Remember you owe me a favor? I want you to fix up Sonny’s body so his mother doesn’t see him like this.”

You don’t need that scene for the plot. You could perfectly follow the story if you just cut that scene out.

But it is such a wonderful scene for so many reason: it ties things back to the very opening of the movie, and it does it with irony, since that’s not the kind of favor we expected Don Corleone to ask; the opening scene seemed to portend something much more ominous. The scene also shows us how much Don Corleone loves his family and how he tries to protect the women in the family from the consequences of the business and so is echoed at the end when Michael lies to Kay for entirely different reasons.

It’s an amazing, rich scene that resonates throughout the movie. It’s one of the scenes that everyone remembers and talks about. But it’s not plot. It’s story.

The Art of Dreaming Moondance Semi-Finalist

I just found out my latest film, The Art of Dreaming, is a semi-finalist for Best Feature in the Moondance Film Festival. Congratulations to all who worked on the film!

You can find out more about the film, check out behind the scene photos, and watch the trailer here:: The Art of Dreaming


Butoh Aesthetics

Sankai JukuI’ve added an essay about the aesthetics of Butoh, examining what, despite all their differences, Butoh artists have in common.
(Reprinted from my old website).

Aesthetics of Butoh

Resources for Indie Filmmakers

Since my last post was originally written a couple of years ago, I thought I’d update it with a couple of more great resources for Independent Filmmakers.

Both of these focus on distribution for independent films and are rich with ideas, information, and tips.

Jon Reiss, author of Thinking Outside the Box Office has a great blog and website:

As does Stacey Parks:

If you know of any others, let me know!

Film As Cheap as Pencil and Paper

Jean Cocteau once said “Film will only become an art when its materials are as inexpensive as pencil and paper.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about this quote as I transition from butoh into film. As a butoh dancer, all I needed to do my art was my body and maybe someone to do lights the night of the show. Sometimes for outdoor performances not even a lighting person.

Of course, my performances were often more elaborate than that, but the point is that at a minimum all I needed to practice my art was myself. I didn’t need anyone’s permission .

Film, at least as it’s generally practiced, is an entirely different game. It’s expensive and takes fundraising or investors.

I’m not use to needing someone else’s permission to do my art. I don’t like that feeling.

In our bright new digital world, we haven’t quite reached the “cheap as pencil and paper” that Cocteau was dreaming about, but we’re getting closer.

Of course, one of the things that make filmmaking so expensive is that it takes a lot of people to do and artists want and deserve to be paid. I’m proud to say that everyone on the set of my first, self-funded, no-budget film received some pay, not a lot, certainly not industry standard, but something.

However, I can’t help but feel that another thing keeping us back is our holding on to an aesthetic of expensive film. We’re so used to seeing multi-million dollar productions that when we see something with a lower budget, we are somehow disappointed or see it as inferior.

So I’m thinking about a new aesthetic of film, one that’s based on the needs of people and of artists, not the marketing needs of Hollywood.

I’m looking for inspiration to silent films, and to the films of the early avante-garde. One I particularly enjoyed was “The Life and Death of 9413, a Hollywood Extra.” An experimental film made in 1928 that’s available on the Kino release “Avant Garde – Experimental Cinema of the 1920s & 1930s, Vol. 1.”

Among more modern filmmakers, Guy Maddin, one of my favorite living directors, is very interesting. If you don’t know his work, I urge you to check it out, especially, “The Heart of the World”, “Brand Upon the Brain”, and “My Winnipeg.”

Also interesting was Lars Von Trier’s “Dogville,” which was filmed on a bare stage, with chalk outlines on the floor , a few props, and written signs representing the locations. This conceit wouldn’t work for every film, but worked well with the themes and tone of that one.

We live in an exciting time. Internet video has already primed audiences to appreciate the entertainment and even artistic values of films that reflect a hand-made aesthetic.

A couple of good resources for DIY filmmakers: John Reiss’ book “Think Outside the Box Office” is a good, thorough rundown of the tools available to today’s filmmakers interested in self-funding and self promoting.

Also the website Workbook Project is dedicated to offering independent filmmakers innovative ideas to help develop, fund and distribute their own work.

Website Revamp

Hi all, I’ve just finished a complete re-build of my website. will now be my primary platform for news and info about my projects, as well as general thoughts and musings.

I’ll also be slowly moving all the content from my old site, Flesh & Blood Mystery Theater here, including all the pages about the history of Butoh.

To help inaugurate my new site, I’ve done a re-edit of one of my first films.

Check it out:

Transitions in Light

Transitions in Light Small