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Prior to the airing of several new shows in this new season I wasn’t terribly impressed with the concepts of a lot of them. Some of them seemed more like the ‘same old same old’ that have been airing for awhile and others were mildly interesting ideas that I figured probably would end up sucking anyway.

Last year we got some awesome anime that I was excited for and stuck around with me even after I had finished watching them; To Be Hero, Mob Psycho 100, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress, and Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto. I’m really hoping that the 2017 season will provide more than a few shows that I can add to my all time favorites list and (spoiler) there are already several shows that I’m very excited to keep watching.

I’m only including brand new shows on this list until I get a second season of a show I *REALLY want to see. (Like Mob Psycho 100.) As of writing this article, we’re only a few episodes into the new season and as a result, this list is only comprised of shows that I have watched only pieces of. I’ll likely go back and write season reviews of each series when the time comes, we’ll see what happens.

*Side note: Everyone I know was excited about Konosuba Season 2, but to be completely honest I wasn’t incredibly impressed by the show. Aside from subverting some fantasy tropes in a funny way, it didn’t really tickle my fancy as much as some of the other shows last year and the first episode was more of a recap than anything else. There are also several new series I haven’t even started, and a few I don’t plan on watching until the entire season is over (as well as a ton of older shows that I’m just trying to watch all the way through for the first time. I just keep watching and watching and it never seems to end.).

Top 3 Anime to Watch Out For (Winter Season 2017)

#3.) Saga of Tanya the Evil

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I’m going to be really honest here, I watched the first episode of this and really didn’t enjoy it. (I’ll probably write a review on in soon.) I was actually considering dropping the show right then and there, but I decided to give the second episode a shot. WOO BOY I’m glad I didn’t.

(Slight Spoiler Warning)

The second episode’s opening, where they introduce this cosmic being that’s either God or the Devil, I was incredibly impressed by the entire sequence. Where time freezes and he’s just there, seconds before death, arguing with this being about wither or not he actually exists before being thrown into an alternate reality. I was like, SOLD. Almost immediately, in fact, I wondered why they didn’t just open with that. Who even knows, but I’m excited enough about the show now to where I will probably try to finish this season.

(End Spoilers)

Again, the first episode doesn’t really go into what the show is actually about. The second one is what got me interested in it. The synopsis for the show is as follows; for having insulted God, an arrogant Japanese salary man in the moment of his sudden death is sentenced to be reborn in an alternate universe similar to 1920’s Europe, in an empire torn apart by countless wars with all nearby countries. The man is reborn as Second Lieutenant Tanya Degurechaff of the Imperial Army, a 9 year old soldier girl. Plus, at least according to ‘Being X’s’ words; if she’s not able to die a natural death or she refuses to have faith in Him, her soul will leave the circle and be sent to hell for the countless sins that Tanya has committed in her previous life.

The show centers around a Japanese man who insulted god and is sentenced to be reborn in an alternate war torn universe that’s very much like 1920’s Europe. The man is reincarnated as Second Lieutenant Tanya Degurechaff, a 9 year old girl.

Overall, this show is worth a /shot/ at a bare minimum. It’s a show made by a brand new studio trying to prove something, so it’s really worth watching to see the overall stylistic choices and interesting way they’re trying to tell the story overall.

#2.) Gabriel Dropout

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Let’s be honest, considering I’ve created a six issue comic series based around the war between angels and demons, I’m obviously a fan of stories on the subject. This one immediately got me hooked, the premise is hilarious and the execution is near perfect.

Gabriel Dropout centers around a small collection of angels and demons who finish their angel training in heaven and are sent to Earth to learn more about humanity. When Gabriel, one of the more promising students, ends up on Earth she discovers that video games are a WHOLE LOT more fun than going to school and messing around with humans, she basically decides to stop caring about everything and just messes around all day until she can go play more video games.

It’s really funny, lighthearted, and has a unique flavor that I wasn’t sure was going to shine through when I first started the episode. The demons are actually some of the most endearing part, as one of them is friends with Gabriel and is trying to get her to get out of her comfort zone, while the other is trying to be as evil as possible (and failing)… In fact, Gabriel ends up being more evil than she is. Overall, if you’re looking for something fun to watch this season, go with this one.

#1.) Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

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I know there is some kind of irony somewhere when the three shows I enjoyed the MOST this season feature blonde protagonists… But when I saw the trailer for this one I was like, “YEP. I’M IN.” This series feels a lot like is could be a Miyazaki film and is another one of those shows that really doesn’t feel like it’s trying to be over the top epic. (Granted, I’m only an episode in… THE NEXT EPISODE COMES OUT TOMORROW THOUGH.)

One night a coder named Miss Kobayashi gets crazy hammered and comes across an injured dragon (Tohru) and helps her. The dragon wants to repay her debt to the woman, so she starts living with Kobayashi as her maid.

I didn’t read the manga, but so far it’s a simple premise. The first episode is actually incredibly fun and genuine; the dragon doesn’t understand how people work, so there’s a lot of natural humor coming from that, and Kobayashi really wants to live a normal life… She has a dragon, but she’s just kind of going about her days normally… She has back problems and complains a lot, works as a coder, and goes out drinking with her (boyfriend?) at night. Meanwhile the dragon Tohru is enthusiastic, adorable, incredibly deadly and powerful at the same time. There are a lot of things I want to know about the dragons in that world, and I’m excited to keep exploring that world with the main characters (and the ones that pop up).

I’ve seen the first episode four or five times already and I’m incredibly excited to see more from this series.

Got any shows from the Winter 2017 Season you really like? Let me know in the comments below! 

Nathan Seals is an independent filmmaker, artist, and author who has created various comic books, films, role-playing systems, and card and board games throughout the years. He’s either insane, or a genius. Either way he’s having fun.

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It’s a new year, in case you didn’t know. I’m sure you didn’t. It’s this new thing they’re trying out, where, after a collection of about twelve months they decide to reset the months back to one and start over again.

Anyways, during this time of year people have decided to set their minds to accomplishing a specific set of tasks they want to do to improve their lives; eat better, work out more, etc. For years I did the same thing; ‘It’s 2011, I’m going to accomplish this, create that, workout and look like this…’ etc etc.

Eventually I realized that making a resolution at the beginning of the year, no matter how well intentioned, wasn’t accomplishing what I wanted to accomplish out of life (and statistically most resolutions fail anyway).

So I gave them up entirely. What’s the point?

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THERE HAS TO BE A BETTER WAY!

The last three years, I didn’t have any resolutions at all. Instead I focused on spending each month on a single project that would allow me to close the book on that project after that month and start the next month with a new project. I’ve had varying levels of success on these different projects, but overall I’ve been very happy with what I’ve been able to accomplish over the last several years. (IE: A LOT more than before… Which was nothing.)

I’m not stopping that by any means. It’s given me great momentum and this upcoming year is going to allow me to release some projects that have been in ‘development hell’ for almost a decade.

BUT I’m constantly seeking self improvement and there are several things I’ve been wanting to make a habit in my life. I have a clear picture of who I want to be and what I want to do with my life, so I’m constantly striving towards that image.

One of the major things I’ve wanted to  be able to do is to read more… But I just didn’t seem to have time. AN ENTIRE BOOK?! THAT’S TOO MUCH!

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To give you an example of how my last eight or so years of reading has been, I’ve read a LOT of comics (though last year even my comic reading dropped significantly) and I usually manage to read about two to four books a year (usually business and finance books, I rarely make time for fiction anymore).

Which is odd, considering I’m a fiction writer. Huh.

WOW! You might say, that’s a LOT more than what I read in a year!

Well, considering that I used to read a full novel every day and still had time to accomplish everything I needed to… I’m going to say that my reading has someone diminished since college. Ha.

Well, I took December off in order to kind of reassess my life and my goals. Make sure I was still headed in the direction I wanted to head and to plan to set myself (and my family) up for success in the upcoming years. I’ve been so frustrated over the last several years because I can’t find the sort of inspiration I’m looking for; I watch movies, television shows, SORT OF play video games… Yet I have this sort of empty feeling that doesn’t tickle my mind and I’d often just kind of feel like I could be working on a project instead of consuming the media I am consuming.

I’ve constantly been looking for that feeling that I’d felt when I was younger, when I was more creative and expressive, when I had a seemingly endless supply of stories and ideas… But for some reason, over the years, I’d begun to lose it. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what it was…

Well, about a year and a half ago my phone stopped working and I lost my constant access to social media (and generally the internet). I realized very quickly that I was incredibly addicted and was, of course, spending a tremendous amount of time on these sites. (Hereby attributing to the ‘I don’t have enough time to do ‘x’ excuse.)

In December, aside from taking it off from projects, I also took it off from Facebook entirely and managed to discover that I actually have a TREMENDOUS amount of free time. That is when I picked up some of Kevin Strange’s bizarro stories. It’s not secret that I’m drawn to weird stories, filled with unique characters and just a bizarre, out of the ordinary premise; some of my own stories or pitches reflect that, I’m sure. If it is a fantastically told story on top of that; all the better. I’d been wanting to pick up some of Kevin’s stories for awhile, but after I had actually read some of Strange’s stories (in particular Texas Chainsaw Mantis) I began to realize something; that feeling of inspiration and imagination that I had felt before college?

I got that feeling from reading.

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Obviously! Duh! Over the years, as I’d begun to read less and less (as I got ‘busier’). I became less creative and became less inspired.

RIGHT after that I began to read quite a bit every day and ended the year by reading (and finishing) about four different books and a small set of short stories. So, I immediately I realized that reading was more than just a hobby or a goal for me; it was a NEED. Reading is a source of creativity, inspiration, and stimulation.

I was happier, I had an influx of creative ideas, I enjoyed the media that I was consuming more, and my mind was more focused on the other things I was trying to accomplish. I knew in that moment that I needed to get off my ass and start reading more.

HEY! It’s a new year! Let’s make a resolution! 

Well, for the most part what I’ve realized that most people don’t go into this sort of momentous task without having a specific set of tasks in mind that will help this accomplish their overall goal. That’s why only 8% of people succeed in their resolutions. They’re too broad with what they want to accomplish.

So how am I going to make reading a habit? Well, I’m taking a very similar approach to the whole #FinishIt method that I’ve been successfully using over the last several years to accomplish various projects that I’ve been wanting to do for over ten years. This version, however, will take the form of a 100 day goal.

Every day for one-hundred days, my goal is to read as many books as possible.

Yikes. That’s a big goal. Well, after I broke it down, it seemed more reasonable; thirty days to establish a new habit, the bite-sized goal from now until then is to read at least two chapters a day in a book. This gives me a very straight forward, broken down goal that I can accomplish every single day for the amount of time I need to (the 100 days). A bunch of smaller tasks accomplished each day takes me a step closer to getting to where I wanted to be overall.

Instead of waking up in the morning and browsing Facebook, I wake up in the morning and read a chapter in a book. Instead of browsing Facebook when I’m bored, or before I got to bed, I read a chapter. Now I ONLY get onto any social media when I have a reason to and (big surprise) I’m accomplishing a lot more.

Well, I’m almost two weeks into the new year and guess what? I’ve almost read two books. With this method, I’m on track for reading a book a week. How awesome is that? I’ll keep you posted on how I’m doing on fifty days and on one-hundred days… But so far I’m going strong!

So, in summation; I realized that, despite already cutting down my social media time SIGNIFICANTLY, I still waste a massive amount of time on it. I’m using my time to accomplish things that don’t matter and just eat up my time instead of accomplishing my goals. So, instead of using social media as a method of entertainment, I’m doing something else more productive and beneficial to my life. Reading.

What are some of your goals for this upcoming year? What do you want to accomplish?

Nathan Seals is an independent filmmaker, artist, and author who has created various comic books, films, role-playing systems, and card and board games throughout the years. He’s either insane, or a genius. Either way he’s having fun.

It’s no secret that I love movies.

There is just something magical about this visual medium that draws you into new worlds, the lives of these people we aspire to be or want to learn about. We want to experience things that we wouldn’t in normal every day life and just escape our every day lives for awhile. I’ve consumed movie after movie over the years and my taste has become a bit more refined (read: cynical) when it comes to the films I watch. Being a filmmaker myself, I tend to break down things like plot and editing structure, effects, creative attempts (and successes), choreography, character believably… I’m constantly comparing it to what I would do, or how I would adapt or change the material to make it better. I’ve spent years consuming every interview, behind the scenes, books, classes, breakdowns, essays, articles, I’ve talked with filmmakers, writers, listened to thousands of podcasts and seen a countless amount of movies in my lifetime all in pursuit of my goal of being a filmmaker. Film is something that is constantly on my mind and a set of skills I seek to refine and improve every single day.

It’s probably safe to say that I love film as an art form, through and through, even the ugly stuff that no one talks about. It is also a good chance that I’ll end up dabbling in the movie industry my entire life and it also means that I have a particular taste that has developed through both my consumption and analysis of the industry…

So when a movie really pulls me in and I don’t sit there wondering why they chose that plot beat, how they cut the movie weird, or how bad the CG was. Instead if I am in awe of how they managed to pull off that incredible effect, what was happening in the story, or what was going to happen next to the characters I was rooting for, or even how stunningly beautiful the cinematography was; that means that I consider that a good film.

This list is comprised of ten of the few dozen films I managed to watch this year, despite being incredibly busy and wishing that I could have watched more. These are the films that sucked me in and made me realize what I loved about film. Believe me, these days, that’s a difficult thing to pull off.

#10: Suicide Squad

Whoa whoa, I know what you’re going to say, this one was going to end up on my list either way, right? You know as well as I do that I am a major DC comics fan, and I really love movies. So this is the golden combo. It was an obvious choice, right?

Well. Honestly, I’ve never been that much of a fan of the Suicide Squad (in the comics). I think the concept is kind of cool, but the insistence of the company on pushing the team down our throats over and over is kind of frustrating, as a long time reader of all things DC I’ve seen more half hearted attempts at making this team cool than the amount of times I’ve seen Batman complain about his parents being dead. Plus the obvious inclusion of Harley Quinn to provide some sort of eye candy to the reader is also kind of frustrating. (But don’t get me started on how Harley has been treated lately. That’s a topic for another day.)

Somehow, though, the title keeps selling and people eat it up. It’s a popular title with them, so it was an obvious choice to convert that into a movie. It was just kind of rushed through production, which is a shame, because you can see a lot of great pieces there that could have made the film great.

So why did this end up on my list anyway? It was a movie that took several risks. They tried something different and ALMOST succeeded. From their unique take on Joker, to throwing an attempt at commentary as to why the world needs Justice League, giving it a unique ascetic and even playing around with the soundtrack.

This is a lot more than what you can say for the majority of big budget blockbuster films that are coming out these days.

Consider that you do not have the ability to remember one Marvel movie soundtrack, but you immediately associate the Bohemian Rhapsody to Suicide Squad. DC attempted something TWICE in one year that most studios wouldn’t even dare. Despite the fact that they got a lot of hate over it, I admire the attempt and consider this one of the great attempts at creative freedom within the superhero genre before the fans ruined everything.

#9: Doctor Strange

This one ended up my list despite being one of those films that felt like a cookie cutter version of Doctor Strange. (I mean, come on, it was Iron Man with magic…) The film was exactly what I expected, then threw in something a bit more elaborate when it came to adapting Kirby’s original (very 60’s) art. The visual effects were seamless and stunning, the final fight was actually pretty fantastic, including the big encounter with the major baddie, and literally every encounter with some sort of magic was filled with an original idea or really attempted to pay tribute to what originally made the character so great. In that, I really respect Marvel and how they treat their content.

I honestly only wished that they had taken a bit more of a risk with the film. They had a lot of potential to go super weird and out there with it, but they chose the safe route, which is basically what I’d expect from a Marvel movie these days. If it ain’t broke; don’t fix it. It really just comes down to this; it’s not how I would have done it, but that’s okay.

#8: 31

I love Rob Zombie movies. Hate if you want, but I love how seriously he takes his horror. There is so much ironic self awareness in movies these days that it’s nice to see a filmmaker work within a genre he has mastered and actually take it seriously. Even with a concept as silly as the one in 31 was. This featured several great actors having fun in their roles, and even some strange bizarro-type moments in it that will get you to either cringe or shake your head as to how disturbing it is. (Hispanic midget Hitler was a nice touch.) Sure he had to censor some of it, but the spirit of the movie comes through and I really enjoyed this flick.

#7: Hush

Upon review, I noticed that this was a great year for horror. It was difficult to not JUST put horror movies on this list. I watched Hush because I liked the concept and I’d heard that it was a filmmakers challenge to himself to write a script that didn’t feature much (if any) dialogue. So after watching this film, I realized that I was immediately sucked into the world and I was completely on the edge of my seat the entire time. Overall, this was a great horror film that featured a surprisingly low body count. If you haven’t seen this and are a fan of horror, go watch it immediately.

#6: The Jungle Book

This one surprised me, actually. After seeing Maleficent and realizing that Disney was going to be pumping out one of these live action remakes of their classic animated films over the next decade, I was starting to get a bit jaded. However, after watching Jon Favreau’s Jungle Book I remembered why he was at one point considered one of the top directors in his field. He basically created the cinematic Iron Man from the ground up, just winging it during production, and it STILL was a solid film. Anyway, I used to love the story of Jungle Book and I’ve likely read the novel a hundred times. Every aspect of this, from the special effects, to the perfectly cast characters, throwbacks to the Disney songs and some flourishes, like making Christopher Walkens King Louie GIGANTIC made this a unique, but also very faithful adaption of the Jungle Book story I love so much.

 

#5: Deadpool

This was one of 2016’s superhero movie triumphs. In this really meta-self aware movie mentality the industry is suffering from right now, this movie (ironically) served to riff on that, as well as provide something that is really difficult to find in many of these superhero movies that have come out over the last several years: a protagonist that is funny and sympathetic. In a world of rich playboys, impossible technology, giant organizations, and world ending plot lines, it was really refreshing to see a story about a guy, trying to get revenge on another guy, and win back his girl.

The entire film is littered with references and hilarious dialogue, a simple plot, but written brilliantly to bring out the most of both Ryan Reynolds performance and to really showcase the character and potential for greatness when you just let people who care about a character or franchise take the reigns and just let them run with it.

#5: Star Wars: Rogue One

I wasn’t expecting much going into this one. After hearing that they were going to do a spin off between actual episodes of the franchise I was hesitant. In fact, I’m kind of going through Star Wars burnout right now, between the constant bombardment of clips, images, and products from the franchise, that on top of the previous movie bringing it to the forefront of pop culture topics once again, I really wasn’t excited to go see this film…

But when I watched it the other day, especially in the aftermath of Carrie Fischers death, the movie made me realize why I loved Star Wars to begin with. I really wanted another film set during the time period of the original trilogy, because that is what I love about the series. That SPECIFIC time period. Stormtroopers, Vader, the Emperor, the weird 80’s ascetic mixed with World War II imagery. It’s all fantastic and it was an exciting moment to revisit that period in Star Wars lore once again. In fact, I want to see another.

Rogue One had some great characters, awesome cinematography that you’d expect from anything but Star Wars (honestly), and a fantastic plot line that really helped to start to flesh out the Star Wars universe BEYOND lighsabers and Skywalkers. I honestly loved this film more than Episode 7 and would love to see more films set during this time period. I hear the next one is a Han Solo spin off, so we’ll see what happens with that.

#3: Yoga Hosers

A lot of people hate Kevin Smith. I’m not really sure why, though admittedly I’ve gone on record by saying that I think he’s great, but I don’t think I could work with him. Mostly because we’d likely clash heads when it came to the direction of where we wanted to take a film. HOWEVER his last two movies, Tusk and Yoga Hosers were unique and hilarious flicks that really made it difficult to see Kevin Smith as someone who cared about what people think. He’s literally making the movies he wants to see; tell me that doesn’t make you a little jealous. I’ll literally support everything he does from now on, as long as he keeps up this honest, pure, unfiltered art he is producing going. I’m crazy excited for Moose Jaws.

 

#2: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

WHAT NATHAN, BvS ISN’T YOUR FAVORITE MOVIE OF THE YEAR?! Nope. But it’s close. First let me preface this by saying: watch the ultimate edition. It sucks that studios can manipulate us into thinking that they’re doing us a favor by releasing pieces of a film in the theaters and then selling us the whole film later on to appease us, but that’s neither here nor there.

Batman v. Superman is number two on this list mainly for the feeling the movie gave me when it started. When, during the opening scene, you see Bruce Wayne frantically attempting to get to the Wayne Building, only to watch it get destroyed in front of him, all during the EXACT time span that the final fight happened in Man of Steel… I literally teared up I was so excited to finally see such a great, cinematic, depiction of the DC universe on the big screen in the hands of such an ambitious director. Sure, he takes himself too seriously. But I’m tired of having to hear how stupid superheroes are every single movie. I’m tired of the jokes and the stupid humor, I want to see an opera, I want to see gods and monsters fighting and the politics of how something as massive as superheroes will effect our world.

This movie also had something major going for it that Suicide Squad didn’t: FANTASTIC cinematography. In fact, when I was watching Suicide Squad I immediately noticed the aesthetic difference and it threw me off a bit. Thinking over my experience (and subsequent experiences) with this film, I realized that this was a fantastic moment in time that we might lose in the future, due to the controversy surrounding it.

It took risks. It had a vision of what it wanted to be and was that thing. It cast villains in strange ways, and spun the familiar lore of the stories in order to bring something MASSIVE to the big screen. Something unrivaled by all other superhero movies up until that point. This movie wasn’t about a beam of energy destroying a city, it was about superheroes conflicting with each other and the consequences of that. It was a marvel of cinema, the ultimate collection of storytelling, cinematography, effects, talented actors, and stunning choreography. Ultimately, this movie was exactly what it needed to be and did a fantastic job of establishing the tone of this brand new DC Universe.

#1: Don’t Breathe

This is my top movie of 2016. Why? It takes a lot of horror tropes and actively avoids them. With an original antagonist and a plot that has an incredible amount of twists and turns for being a film that just takes place in a single building, this entire film had me leaving the theater in shock. I couldn’t believe how incredible this movie was, how well acted, and how solid it turned out to be. I don’t want to spoil too much if you haven’t seen it, but believe me, it is well worth the watch.


Same as last year’s ‘Yearly Round Up’ there were MANY movies that didn’t make this list that likely would have if I had taken the time time watch them.
In fact, having looked over the list of movies I hadn’t seen as opposed to those I had seen, my inner movie nerd-slash-indie movie creator side cringed a little. In fact, I spent more time watching the big blockbuster films of the year, than I did actually focusing on what I’d heard to be the big triumphs in film for 2016, or at least movies that I’d likely have enjoyed enough to add onto my top ten list. This is something I need to address in 2017 and I’ve made a note of it to more actively seek to watch movies that might not be as big or popular as some of the major.

This is also part of my 2017 effort to kind of step out of the mainstream media culture in an attempt to get a more rounded look at movies and art in general in order to grow as a person.

I’ve noticed that I need to learn to take more risks when it comes to things like movies or books, instead of just focusing on what I KNOW I’ll like or what I KNOW will be (at least moderately) good.

While I enjoy the big blockbuster titles, my focus needs to shift more towards supporting these lesser broadcasted movies because in this mid-tier section is where a lot of great, fresh, and innovative ideas in film are being created there amongst the crap.

 

Anyways, here are the movies I REALLY wanted to see, but DIDN’T: Rise of the Legend, The Bodyguard, The Purge: Election Year, 10 Cloverfield Lane, A Monster Calls, The Nice Guys, Moonlight, Hell or High Water, The Forest, Lights Out, Nerve, Swiss Army Man, Spaghettiman, War Dogs, The BFG, The Girl on the Train, The Accountant, The Greasy Strangler, Godzilla Resurgence, The Girl With All The Gifts, Pet, Before I Wake, Snowden, The Magnificent Seven, King Jack, The Girl on the Train, A Girl Like Grace, Railroad Tigers, Hail Ceaser, Midnight Special, The Shallows, The VVitch, La La Land, Nocturnal Animals, Neon Demon, and Green Room.

What are some of your favorite movies from this year? Let me know in the comments below!

“Nathan Seals is an independent filmmaker, artist, and author who has created various comic books, films, role-playing systems, and card and board games throughout the years. He’s either insane, or a genius. Either way he’s having fun.”

What does it mean to be creative in an industry so focused on the money? I have been thinking very deeply about this sort of thing over the last year. I’ve been pouring over business books and finance books in an attempt to more fully understand both sides of the coin. Things like Hollywood 101 and Creativity, Inc. I am attempting to uncover what my morals and ethics when it comes to my business and personal life, what makes me tick and what can I offer to the entertainment industry that will promote change and ultimately leave a legacy behind that will inspire the next generation of creators. More in a short term sense, what do I believe in creatively? What can I establish within my company in order to promote both growth and prosperity within it, myself, and those who will potentially be working for me?

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What it really amounts to is establishing a brand that promotes the ideals that you feel within your soul without compromising the overall need for your company to grow and prosper in a monetary sense. I understand that, but it is something where you have to create an honest trust with the consumer base you’re working with while taking calculated risks in order to achieve that fine balance between unique and creative and something that will turn a profit.

I think that the early phases of Marvel Studios is a fine example of this. Lately I’ve been growing more warey of this method with the obvious placements of other plotlines into films that should really just be seen as solo films. Then you have films like Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man which ended up perfect films that still made a ton of money. Risks made by established indie directors that ended up being exactly what people never knew that they always wanted.

Inevitably it comes down to whether or not you want to forge your own path and create a sort of indie culture within your art or to work with the studios in order to work with potentially higher budgets and get your films out into the world for all to see. Both require a massive amount of work and both will potentially become incredibly expensive in the long run.

The major reason this topic rose up in my mind was after I watched an interview with George Lucas where he speaks about the downside to Star Wars. I don’t entirely agree with much of what George talks about, I think he still resides in the old mentality, but this is some great insight into the current movie industry, which I think has lost sight of the original idea behind the medium.

The thing that struck me was; ‘You’re not using the tools to tell the story, you’re using the tools to tell the story.’

I think that Star Wars was an indie risk and it spawned a massive franchise, but it started to kill the creativity within the industry. Meanwhile when Marvel came along, it created the concept of the cinematic universe which is now quickly being abused and used to create uncreative blockbuster films that don’t take risks, because they don’t want to kill a franchise they’ve invested so much time and money into. It’s all about the money now, but money is a tool. A TOOL used to create a story. Instead, big studios and creative types are using money as a means to sell a half baked story.

These days anything can look incredible, sweeping, epic. Everyone is doing it. In every movie you see the ‘jumping into the air and landing onto the creature shot’ because it’s something new. It’s not good. It doesn’t strike the audience as endearing or become an important part of their lives.

Because it’s not creative. It doesn’t inspire. It doesn’t make you think.

It’s not art.

It’s simply an attempt to cash in on the investment someone has put into a film in order to make a ton of money. Simple as that.

Now, let’s get back to the two options here. Earlier I talked about there being two options to being a successful creative in any industry. Here I’m going to go into a bit more detail, with a heavy focus on what I most care about creatively; film.

Forging Your Own Path: 

A great example of what I am trying to convey is Quentin Tarantino. Yea, I know, everyone wants to ride the Tarantino train, but just stick with me for a little bit. Tarantino has made it a habit to just push himself into the movie industry and has just made whatever films he’s wanted to. He doesn’t work with current trends, he doesn’t jump on the cinematic universe bandwagon, he doesn’t even submit to the opening weekend box office mentality. He’s releasing the film before the opening weekend, creating a sort of ‘event cinema’ sort of atmosphere.

When you watch his films, you know what you’re going to get, you feel like you’re in some sort of club with him and you know that you’re going to have to watch the movie at least ten or fifteen times before you fully understand it. It’s complex, the stories are interesting and the violence is fun and over the top without being overwhelmingly CGI. He’s established himself in the indie scene and now studios will just give him money to create whatever he wants to, because they know that he’ll make them money. There’s a fine balance there and Tarantino seems to know exactly where he wants to be and plays within those boundaries he’s set for himself in order to make himself a very loved and cinematic director.

Other examples of this style or Robert Rodriguez, Kevin Smith, Wes Anderson, Alfred Hitchcock, and George Lucas.

Working with the Studio: 

I think that Guillermo Del Toro is a fine example of someone who will work with a studio to achieve a great deal of incredible works. Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth, and Pacific Rim to name a few. For every one of his creative films you have your Blade or your Hobbit. He knows how to work within the boundaries of the studios so he can create both big blockbuster films, while pushing out his portfolio to establish trust with the studio in order to be able to make something like Pacific Rim or Crimson Peak. Del Toro is a fine example of a director that works within the limitations of a studio and one that makes sure that he establishes himself in a unique and creative way to promote that sense of creative continuity within his films similar to Tarantino and even Tim Burton.

A downside to working with the studio is actually an example ripped straight from the video game industry. Del Toro was working with Kojima to create a revitalized horror franchise game that everyone was incredibly excited about; Silent Hills. They worked with an acclaimed horror writer and even had Norman Reedus (Walking Dead) on board to star in a main role in the game. Then, after the studio ‘Konami’ decided that they wanted to focus on mobile and pachinko games, they shut down the nearly finished game and effective drove their best asset away and potentially lost a massive source of income because they blatantly thought that the money was in something that they really had little experience in. Now that Kojima’s contract with the company is up, he’s moved on, taking creatives with him in order to forge his own company and start creating new franchises and properties that he can have full say over and ultimately give his fans what they want to play… Kojima has effectively converted to forging his own way.

This has been a similar trend to many people in the video game industry lately, they just want to make games that they love and that the fans who have rallied around them for years want to watch, play, or enjoy the things that these creatives produce.

Other examples of this style are Steven Spielberg, David Fincher, James Gunn, and Stanley Kubrick. 

Final Summation: 

The problem with any creative medium these days is that people are afraid to take risks on something because they don’t want it to be compared to a mega-franchise or to be accidentally too similar to another idea and get sued.

This is reflected in a problem with seeing things like the entertainment industry as a slot machine, putting money in and expecting to come out even or better, instead of seeing it as an investment in creativity that will inspire the next generation. A huge portion of this is due to the entirely broken copyright laws we have due to corporations wanting to hold properties for for longer than their creators are alive and them not being transferred over to the public domain to be used to create more art. All art is just a remix of something that already exists. The other side is that they don’t see it as a tool to tell a story, they see it as a tool to make more money.

Basically it appears to me that in order to be a successful creative in the industry today, you need to learn to either compromise and work with the big studios, or to just forge your own way and take risks. Either way; you damn well better be telling a good story. Otherwise there is no point.

With today’s technology and tools, you can make a film with an incredibly low budget and still be incredibly successful. There is no excuse. People like Kevin Smith, Sam Raimi, and Rodriguez have forged a path for this generation to take indie film by the collar and have a beautiful creative child show up in the world. Yes, there are a lot of crappy films out there. It’s a time exactly as described by George Lucas. Everyone wants a piece of the pie because it’s a new thing.

When everyone moves on to the next big thing, I’ll still be here working my butt off to birth that next big feature I’ve been dreaming of creating because when I die, I don’t want my characters and stories to transfer over to whatever corporation, I’d rather see them move on to the people to use or to be inspired by to create their own remixed work of art. That’s how art and culture WORKS.

So what are our grandchildren going to be left with? Lawsuits? Or a new wave of art that inspires the next generation?

Nathan Seals is an independent filmmaker, artist, and author who has created various comic books, films, role-playing systems, and card and board games throughout the years. He’s either insane, or a genius. Either way he’s having fun.

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Update

Hey Nathanreaders!

I’ve officially won NaNoWriMo! I’ve written every day and in 25 days I’ve managed to write 50,000 words! Granted, I still have about 30,000 more words to go before the books first draft is completely finished, but still, 50k in less than a month is a major accomplishment.

For this post I want to say a bit about my process. I usually wake up at about 7:00am every day and start writing about 7:30am until between 10:00am and noon on that day with a few breaks in between. I like waking up early because I can work alone as soon as I wake up, so I’m fresh and ready to start working.

Anyways, I’ve learned through some trial and error  that I work best this way and can accomplish a whole lot more per day if I just set aside at least two hours in the morning to work. This is something that I plan on just doing indefinitely with my various projects because it’s been incredibly effective and I’m excited to keep going.

Also the current working title for the novel is //.Machina, however I think that I’m going to rename it. Dot Machina is the title that I originally used about eight years ago when the idea was conceived, but I think with several other movies having a similar title, I might have to go with something else. 😛 I’m not entirely sure what the title will end up being, it might be the same, but I’m considering a few different options.

Next time, at the end of the month, I’m going to be giving a breakdown of my writing process, from conception of the idea, to the writing and so on.

Live long and prosper, suckers!

~Nathan

Nathan Seals is an independent filmmaker, artist, and author who has created various comic books, films, role-playing systems, and card and board games throughout the years. He’s either insane, or a genius. Either way he’s having fun.

So here is what happens when I try to write at night;

This is what happens when I write when I'm tired

 

Image result for fantastic four comics

I had several ideas on how I would write the Fantastic Four movie, basically showcasing the Fantastic Four as a team of heroes trying to make ends meet through company sponsorship and showcasing Doctor Doom as a more evil version of Tony Stark. The Fantastic Four have always been an ‘adventury’ team of explorers and I want to try and capture that with this story. Think of it like, ‘Superheroes meet Raiders of the Lost Ark mixed with Journey to the Center of the Earth’. Seriously, this is a cool idea and I’m sad it can’t be a thing.
#PlsMarvel #HireMePls

 

Nathan Seals’ The Fantastic Four

The four are firmly established as explorers who are seeking to discover the mysteries that the world has to offer. These expeditions are mostly led by Mister Fantastic with Ben Grimm as the muscle and the others usually accompanying him for support. Previously the Storm family helped to financially support Reed and his expeditions, including the failed one that resulted in their mutations.

 

We find the Fantastic Four in the snowy mountains seeking to uncover an ancient city that was buried there centuries ago. They happen upon a journal of an explorer called Doctor Elder who claims to have discovered the hollow earth theory to be true before disappearing a year later; plus a map to the entrance of Subterrania.

 

Back in New York, Reed and Grimm are trying to unlock the mysteries of the map and need money to fund their next expedition. The four are struggling to pay rent in the Baxter building and are using any means necessary to get Reeds latest project off of the ground. They need to find the diamond so that they can be financially independent for a while and establish their own company.

 

Reed and the Fantastic Four are seeking corporate sponsorship from companies in order to fund their expeditions and all of them usually wear various companies’ logos. Basically they engage in superheroics (basically a huge PR stunt for the police force) to pay the bills and cover the damages caused by their super exploits in New York. The extra cash goes to Reed to go on his discovery expeditions around the world in an attempt to find other dimensions and realities, his true passion.

 

However, the companies have started to draw out, as they’re causing a lot of damage and costing the companies a lot of money. It looks like they are out of luck but they contacted by a woman working for a technology company in Latveria who is willing to fund the expedition so long as he provides the man power and if they uncover a magical artifact that is rumored to be hidden deep underground. Reed agrees. They begin drilling underground from a place called ‘Monster Island’ while using their powers to help the explorer team move through the various perils of the underworld as they make their way down to their destination; Subterrania.

The team is quickly intercepted by a tribe of underground Moloids who live on and inside of a giant underground mountain called Lechuguilla. The team quickly befriends when they discover that the leader of the tribe is actually the previously thought to be dead (and now blind) Doctor Elder. It is revealed that the source of their ability to live in such harsh conditions is directly related to their ability to use the diamonds to manipulate the earth and its creatures. They are also told that they are not allowed to see where the diamonds are located.

That night, Mole Man shows Reed the neighboring Savage Land. Both he and Sue explore the opening area of the Jurassic wilderness with the Mole Man and several other Moloids and explorers. Mole Man explains to them that they live in peace here, one with the earth as god intended. Reed discovers that the land around them is not safe and the quakes they’ve been experiencing might be the volcano about to erupt; the one the Moloids are living on. The benefactor of the expedition insists that they get as many of the diamonds as possible and leave Subterrania before it self-destructs. The Moloids refuse and the benefactor is not happy.

After this, the benefactor suits up in high tech armor and Johnny catches him as he makes his way into the central chamber to steal the staff of Mole Man to open the Valley of Diamonds. The armored man subdues Johnny and reveals himself as Doctor Doom and the explorers that came with the Fantastic Four are revealed to be Doombots. He then kills Johnny with the staff right in front of the others and makes Reed take him to the volcanic chamber gateway where the diamonds are located under threat of eliminating Sue. Doom uses the staff to open the door and they are nearly killed by the bright energy when they open. It’s revealed that there are thousands of diamonds in the room all surging with power. Sue holds the power back with her force shields and allows them to enter the chamber.

 

Doom claims the central diamond and declares that the legendary diamond will grant him great magical power and infinite wealth and says that he’ll use the diamond to bring peace to his kingdom by finally claiming the throne of Latveria for himself. After the team unsuccessfully tries to stop him from infusing the diamond with his suit, Sue drops the force shields while they attempt to lock him into the chamber.

 

They try to convince Mole Man to abandon the city in an effort to save them all from destruction; Sue gets frustrated with his refusal to comply and calls him ‘little man’. Mole Man yells at her that he does not trust the surface world, nor will he ever now that Doom has revealed his true nature. He now plans on using the power of the diamond to power a machine that they had been building to mine minerals from the volcano to use the volcano and route lava above; destroying the cruel world that abandoned him and recreating it in his image.

 

Doom, his armor now fused with the diamond, uses his newfound magical powers to blast open the chamber gates and attacks Mole Man, holding him over the volcano. Doom tells Reed that this is for the Moloids own good, that he is going to create an enemy out of the Moloids for humanity to unite against and will use the volcano weapon as it was intended while he uses the diamonds to harness the power of other dimensions; Doom then drops Mole Man into the volcano and declares that he’s going to rule the world.

 

Johnny Storm blasts him with fire and the team rallies to defeat Doom one final time inside of the volcano. Johnny reveals that he was just teleported into another area with the blast, as the diamonds have extra-dimensional teleportation properties and something rings in Reeds head. Reed attempts to build a nullifier to reverse the effects of the device as it powers up, basically throwing it into a black hole. The group fights to protect Reed as he finishes the device and Doom tries to stop them. Ben Grimm ends up having to drop into the lava to place the nullifier into the machine and shut it down before the eruption fills the chamber with lava and begins pouring up into the over world through their only escape.

 

The entire chamber, including the machine and the lava disappear into space and the chamber around it starts to collapse, crushing Doom. The team climbs out of the rubble and back onto Monster Island. They are victorious! Reed kisses Sue, Thing watches proudly and Johnny has a diamond that they use to help fund the company that they want to start.

 

Alright, that’s it, lemme know what you all think. What would you change? What would your story be? Meanwhile, I also have a treatment for what I think Doctor Strange should be as well, if you wanna read that, let me know! 

Nathan Seals is an independent filmmaker, artist, and author who has created various comic books, films, role-playing systems, and card and board games throughout the years. He’s either insane, or a genius. Either way he’s having fun.