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Chris: Yeah, and I think Mike, you’re also driving at something that we just briefly glossed over at the beginning of this talk which is honesty and being radically deeply honest in your own work. And it would be easy to ask okay great, but how do I make something timeless and I think just like you’ve said several times in this interview, that’s where you have to start. It always has to come from that place of honesty, am I right?
Mike: Yeah, well in a way we’re all building films unless it’s a bio pic, we’re building films that are miffs or stories or lies in a way, so the more substance and value and honesty that comes out of it, I think the more connection it’s going to have to folks. Because I mean if you look at a painting and you look at another one that’s a fake, you’re going to be able to tell the difference in quality. So just like again with any digital artist out there and things like that, it’s not the first…I mean for some of them maybe it’s the first one there but the ones you come back to with great works of art, there are things that have been refined and there are years and years of experience. So that’s why I feel like only at the age of thirty, I’m just starting. Like, I’m realizing okay, this is a real sophomore effort. But I’ve still got several grades and post graduate to go.
Chris: I wish more art students understood that on a visceral level. I get…this is one of the main things whether it’s email or Twitter, and they’re just in this panic and then I find out they’re 22.
Ryan: I get a lot of emails from high school students and college students and they’re almost always asking about their career and not about their work.
Chris: Yeah, all the time.
Ryan: And they have it backwards and that’s what I tell them. I said, “You’re in music school to learn how to write great music, you should be listening to Miles Davis and going to concerts, you should not be printing business cards and diddling with your website. Like that’s not going to make you fantastic.”
Mike: But it’s kind of tricky that way, I mean life has lots of different avenues and whether you go to a four year college, whether you just go to a JC and that’s it or whether you don’t go to college at all or you just create whatever you want, as long as you believe in what you’re doing and you put in the effort and you’re creating something of value, I think people take notice, especially now in this day and age where you can put anything up on Vimeo and YouTube and you’re going to get an agent calling you if it’s of quality. So it’s not like, I wouldn’t say that it’s not tough but at the same time it’s like you’ve just got to understand that the doors are much…there’s many more doors that you can open, it’s just to get someone’s attention it’s still just as difficult because there’s plenty of people who know how to use those applications and can create cool looking things. But again, like I said at the very beginning, it comes back to, how good is your script? How good is your story, those characters? And that stuff has to come from within and things that inspire you or else you’re just going to turn something in that’s not of you.
Chris: Yeah, and it’s such an inspiration that you didn’t go to USC.
Mike: I’ve got to tell you though, I would have loved to have gone. It was actually a money thing. My parents, I love my parents and they support me so much and they would give me anything if they could. But you know, we come from like a middle class kind of a household and so them paying for a college for me just wasn’t an option. And then for me to also take out the loans and stuff, I had that choice right after I made the reason and was at the end of work at an agency and going to a JC. Do I basically go off and make my project or do I go to a four year? And then I imagined what it would be like transferring and going to a four year and I was just like I’m done with college. Like, I don’t want to do it anymore and so I took that money and I threw it into Arbiter and I just started assembling the team and I said let’s do it. And I respect a lot of filmmakers like James Cameron, Quentin Tarantino, Stanley Cooper – guys where they’re just like, some of their films aren’t necessarily the most popular but it’s still them. And to me, I would rather make a movie once every three to four years or even five years and just make something that really says something than create something every year or every two years, it’s like alright here’s the next one, you know? I don’t know, money and status is not the end goal, to me creating something that’s like classic that I can look back and say wow, that 57 Chevy is still sick. I guess I have a more casual approach to careers but as long as you’re with people you like and it’s a good time, then there you go.
Chris: Well and that’s the thing, you’re making films and I run into this with character design. I have people write me all the time, “I want to be a character designer, I want to be a character designer,” and it’s like well show me your characters. “Well I have this drawing of my cat…” and it’s like wait no, no, no. Just design characters, there’s literally nothing stopping you. If you can’t afford a pencil, go walk down the street long enough, you’ll find one on the roadside.
Mike: I think that’s what’s so funny about a lot of our culture, people just they want to be it but they don’t know what it is. It’s like once you get there, it’s like okay, you want status, then sure you’ve got status but do you have happiness? Like, get your priorities straight and I think a lot of that comes from our western culture. If you look at like Europe and things like that, they just relish over folks that are over 50 that have gray hair and experience. And I think that’s the coolest thing because those are people that have actually have something to say, why don’t we listen and right now in western culture we give all the credit to the consumer because we’re creating all these inventive different ways to talk to each other and be desperate and look at each others’ Facebook pages which is cool to see what my family is doing up in northern California but at the same time if I’m already seeing it on Facebook, why am I not traveling up there to see them as much? It’s kind of backwards to me.
Chris: Well uh, speaking of next things before we go, tell us a little bit about momentum.
Mike: Yeah, actually kind of cool, it was right when I moved out to LA about a year and a half ago, my good friend Robert Simons who designed the Arbiter suit and started hanging out with him out here and just became even better friends and he started to tell me about this project and they had a director attached to it but he wasn’t really taking it in the direction that they wanted. So I kind of consider it my first film that I’ve been hired on to, it’s just I didn’t get paid for it. But it’s all good because I love the concept which it’s basically set thirty years in the future called Momentum and it centers around a father who’s an ex-fighter pilot, kind of like the Right Stuff style. And he was replaced by a drone kind of like A.I. and the story centers around him kind of reeling back from that and the loss of his wife and trying to reconnect with his daughter in this landscape of this brave kind of new America which is riddled with economic crisis and more importantly, weather anomalies. So there’s this new type of technology called Magla and it’s created by this guy named Constantine and he comes from China but he was born and raised here in the United States and as an entrepreneur he creates this UFC style race, basically all the best in racing – Formula One, Trophy Truck, all that kind of stuff and pulling them together into an ultimate rally race that goes from San Francisco to New York in less than twelve hours. And so it’s a high endurance race and yeah, we follow this main character, the trials off the track with his daughter and what she’s getting into and then also his partner Dustin who is basically his racing partner and the kind of rivalry that starts to create out of that. It’s pretty cool, we shot a concept short back in May of this year. It’s kind of funny, with Arbiter and Momentum I somehow end up shooting for only a week but I always shoot on my birthday. So I turned thirty shooting this film and it was the coolest birthday actually being on set and sharing it with everybody. Yeah, we shot it and we’re just in post right now. We’ve probably got about another I’d say like six to eight months and we’re doing both a concept short which is like a seven minute version which plays kind of like that Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, the elongated trailer, so you get a real nice core section of the film. And so we shot full scenes and put those together, and we’re also doing a three minute trailer and also taking that to market. That and plenty others!
Chris: Yeah, that’s awesome. Tell the good people where we can find you guys online.
Mike: Yeah, you can find me on MichaelChance.com or ProjectArbiter.com and we’ve got a lot of activity on Facebook. We’re taking it out to festivals right now, we just premiered…had our world premier at Comic Con which is amazing and just showed at LA Shorts Fest and a few other festivals hoping to get into over the next half year here. And then Momentum, if you want to check that out, it’s MomentumRally.com and you’ll see all the latest stuff coming out there as well.
Chris: Okay, and who are you on Instagram?
Mike: Uh, just Burning Ideas, that’s kind of the banner I go under and then also on Facebook you can look up Burning Ideas, I’ve got a page there or just Michael R Chance.
Chris: How about you Ryan?
Ryan: The easiest place is RyanLeach.com, and I tweet, I like Twitter. My handle is @rwmleach.
Mike: I might have to get a Twitter account just to follow Ryan.
Chris: You should, that’s good stuff.
Ryan: I don’t tweet very often anymore, but…
Chris: I need more tutorials, Ryan. I need more inversion tutorials.
Ryan: I just did one about scoring for comedy.
Chris: Oh, I missed that!
Ryan: I forgot to tweet about it.
Chris: Oh, that’s why.
Mike: I also want to let everybody know, like you know, I know it’s been a while to actually see this but I really hope you enjoy it, I hope the wait hasn’t been too long for you. We try to share as much as we can and some new things, not just filler stuff and throwing it out there all the time but yeah, I really hope you guys enjoy it once you get to see it and it should be out here pretty soon. So thanks for waiting.
Chris: Well it’s a gorgeous film, it’s just amazingly visceral and exciting and a remarkable, remarkable accomplishment fellas. Beautiful score, love it!
Mike: Awesome, thanks Chris!
Chris: So what did you think of the interview? Have Mike and Ryan inspired you? Are you working on a personal project? Tell me about it. If you’re not, what’s stopping you? I’m really trying to get an idea of how interested you are in podcast episodes and blog posts about DIY projects like Project Arbiter or any of the other projects that we’ve been writing about in our ongoing series called Will Your Personal Project Make Money? And as a quick side note, if you have not read that series, go to ChrisOatley.com/ProjectMoney. There’s no dash in this – ChrisOatley.com/ProjectMoney. So yes, I really want to hear your feedback on this episode and the topic of DIY projects in general. So please go to ChrisOatley.com/Project-Arbiter and join the conversation in the comments. And while you’re there, click on the link the same post to download our free e-book called Creating Conflict – Rediscovering the Storytellers Missed Opportunity. So again, ChrisOatley.com/Project-Arbiter.
On the next episode of the Artcast, we will talk to concept artists Robert Simons about his work on Project Arbiter as well as huge feature films like Ender’s Game and The Amazing Spiderman 2.