Monday, November 18, 2019

The Murdock Chronicles?

"The Murdock Chronicles"? Yes. To be sure. So what exactly is that? Well? I'll tell you. It has a history, as most things do. I've covered some of this before in previous blogs and publications. But I'll wrap it up here in a new wrapper. I have created this blog, Murdockinations. I have well over 1,000 blog articles on it since 2010. When I began it, I did two blogs a day, seven days a week, one serious one more humor based. In order to learn and build up my writing catalog and ability to produce to the public to such a degree. It wasn't easy, but it paid off.

I have created on Facebook, "The Murdock Society", for the writings of JZ Murdock and for those of a like mind. I've also created, the faux religion, Purpleism or "The Church of the Pure Purple" as a slam back at all things annoying in the Human Experience. Like, religion in general.

Over the years it had occurred to me more and more that I should take my writings and turn them into films. How does one do that? One learns to write screenplays. One sends screenplays off to be further developed and purchased.

Or, one gets into film production and films those screenplays themself. My orientation since childhood was in film production. I just didn't know it. I thought it was as a writer, which I also believed was unattainable. Authors and filmmakers were "Gods' to me, so lofty were they above me.
I got my first short sci-fi horror story published in 1990. "In Memory, Yet Crystal Clear". It was an homage to PK Dick, to Isaac Asimov. So much so to Mr. Asimov that the title was taken from his first autobiography, "In Memory Yet Green".

When I decided to retire in 2016, I also decided I would switch careers and finally go full time into what I wanted to do. Write and produce films. By "produce" I mean not be a producer per se, but see that films I've written are made in whatever way I could possibly get them made. And the most obvious and in some ways, the easiest way to get a film made, is to simply do it yourself.

I have always been a firm believer in how to go about things in life. I grew up into having a professional attitude and orientation about my actions in life. When I went about learning something I tried to learn that thing and all things associated with it so I would be the most knowledgeable person in the room about it. Whatever it was.

Some years ago I was befriended by local indie horror/comedy director Kelly Wayne Hughes. But let's back up to the 1980s for a second. I was on the set of "Starman" the TV show when they were filming the pilot in Seattle. I got to be on two of their sets, one on Capitol Hill and one later that night in the Seattle Center at the Monorail terminal. I even found my way right next to the camera and director until they were done shooting for the night late into the AM, early morning hours.

The location manager noticed me following them around and took pity on me when I had told him I studied screenwriting a few years before in college but had never been on a set. So he placed me right at the tip of all the action and just left me there. I was pretty overwhelmed at the time. But I learned a lot.

Skip forward years later and I was on the set of a Kelly Hughes film. I got to act as various crew, running sound, doing SFX, pyrotechnics, actor wrangling, even some makeup effects. I got to act in some of Kelly's films, even headlining one.

Why? Because I wanted to see how the practical application of a screenplay went.

In that same vein, I had wanted to be, and studied being, a writer. I was a trained researcher in getting my BA in Psychology. My minor in creative writing in fiction, play, screen, and TV team script writing. Later I worked for five years with a production company as an unpaid in-house screenwriter.

I have tried to write everything I could. I've written nonfiction and been published in computer newspaper-style mags in the 80s. I wrote fiction. Plays, SciFi. Horror. Poetry. I wrote White Papers as a Senior Technical Writer in IT. Isaac had said in his autobiography to become a tech writer if you want to be a sci-fi writer and all the great golden age sci-fi writers had been one. Why? Because it teaches you to write, to disbelieve in "writer's block", to produce on-demand, to turn out quality work on demand, to be succinct, and by definition, functional.

As I said, when I try to learn something, I try to learn things associated with it. And so I have. I also put out audiobooks of some of my writings. I'll be producing more.

Which brings me up to retiring again in 2016. I purchased the film equipment I would need, a video editing workstation and proceeded to consider my future actions. It took a while but between continuing to work with Kelly, to network with other creatives, artists, musicians, filmmakers, actors, and so on, I was building a catalog of skills and the skilled.


Until finally, I shot a small eight-minute long film with Nikolas Hayes as the one and only actor. That became, "The Rapping". Once I got that under my belt, I was emboldened to a bigger project and thus, "Gumdrop, a short horror" was born where I used more actors and some SFX.

That is a prequel I wrote to a short horror story and true crime tale I had published some years go, "Gumdrop City". There is now a trailer to that film  It showed at the Historic Roxy Theater in Bremerton, WA at our Slash Night shorts event we put on with Kelly as founder and showrunner. We are attaching it to our annual Gorst Underground Film Festival. 2020 will be its third annual event.

I am now in post-production with, "Gumdrop, a short horror". A first assembly of the film is completed and I'm working now toward the first draft of it, a first cut.

It was at this point that the concept of, 'The Murdock Chronicles" appeared.

When I made "The Rapping" I created the "Garage Tales" series. I was going to shoot a series of short horror films in my sizeable garage. But that project kept growing bigger and bigger and a fifteen-minute film was turning into a thirty-minute film and longer. it was good, I had some great ideas for SFX. But I canned that and decided to go smaller.

So I came up with the "Attic Tales" series that I would shoot around the attic that house had. And so "The Rapping" was produced. And so that film is the one and only, "Attic Tale" that I produced. Then, I moved to this new location. Here I have a vastly smaller house and yard. But I have a creepy basement. And so, yes, you guessed it, "Basement Tales" was born. So far I have now produced, as I've mentioned, "Gumdrop, a short horror".

But as you may guess, all this got me to thinking about the changes, and in going back to my original considerations, of turning my writings into films, how does this all work together? After all, "The Rapping" was not from my old writings. It was an original I crafted to fit the location. A new work.

What about my old works? My old writings I was going to turn into films? Well, some of those are massive stories. My book, "Death of heaven" is a massive special effects story. There is simply no way I could produce that without millions of dollars.

I also knew I was going to produce more films of new writings. As my skills get better in SFX and VSFX, I would better be able and more cheaply, to produce some of my old writings. "Sarah" perhaps for one, could be doable. Almost doable now. Sarah, is a Twilight Zone-ish story of an old woman with Alzheimer's. But it only begins there.

And so I felt I needed a way to differentiate between my original older stories and my newer stories and films...like, The Rapping.

Thus was born, "The Murdock Chronicles".

"The Rapping", is one of the "Attic Tales" stories/films.

"Gumdrop, a short horror", is one of "The Murdock Chronicles".

And now when you see, if you ever see, one of my films, you will know what exactly is going on and if you are seeing one of my newer, or one of my old stories.

Next up I think we will film that fits into my "Murdock Chronicles". A curious version of my story, "The Mea Culpa Document of London", contained in two versions in my first book, "Anthology of Evil, a collection of my older short stories, and in "Death of heaven".. It is a simple tale about a 12th-century witch hunter. Perhaps the film will be only one actor, talking, telling his disturbing story.

A challenge to make interesting, to be sure. Also, we are looking now at doing the audiobook of my story, "Gumdrop City". Once the film is available, if you want to know what originated the true crime story, you'll be able to read and listen to it, both.

It has been an eventful time. I have learned a lot. For those who wish to get into writing or filmmaking, I can only say, do it! But know that if you really want to do it, separate out the difference between the romantic notion and the solid and more serious desire to accomplish something.

Because anything of worth takes effort. IF he comes easy, you're probably doing it wrong and the result will show in the final product. And others eventually, will indeed tell you. And it will hurt.

So save yourself time and effort and the pain. Don't fall in love with the romance of writing or filmmaking because that will not work well for you. Do, however, allow it to fire your passion, to carry you over to the threshold of accomplishment. Just be aware that writing and filmmaker are hard work. There is much to learn. Learn by doing.

Learn by surrounding yourself with others of a like mind. Others who are better than you. But show them you're willing to do the work and not simply burden them for you being in their presence. Show them what you can give to them and to the community at large if you truly wish to take on the effort, to produce things that readers and viewers, other than only family and friends, will want to experience.

Then, go out and do it. But have a plan. Understand how hard it will be and never stop. When you fail, get back up and dust yourself off and continue to completion. Even if you produce crap, finish it. Then produce better next time. And next time. Know what your commitment is. And stuck with it.

I did. I have. I am. And you can too...

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