Terror of the One-Trick Pony: Thoughts from a frozen roadway
The stars were unusually clear as I left for work on my motorcycle during the predawn hours of November 18, 2011. With the temperature in the mid twenties, all the moisture in the atmosphere was frozen into solids which had fallen back to earth leaving a clear view of the sky above. And with such clarity comes thinking of equal visibility. The movie The Immortals came out last weekend. That film had a production budget of roughly $75 million and as of November 16th, was just shy of grossing $40 million. So the film is on its way to at least being considered profitable. It won’t be a run-a-way success, but it will pay the bills of everyone involved and then some, which is good. The reason The Immortals was on my mind during this crisp morning ride was because I had a hand in that film. To see how, watch the fire whip section of the preview below.
People close to the situation wondered if I was upset that the production team of The Immortals used film clips of my work on the Peter Facinelli short called The Delivery produced by Real D 3D in the footage shown at the link for the Daily Motion, instead of bringing me out to Hollywood to do the stand-in work. Real D 3D was involved in both The Delivery and The Immortals.
(EVERYTHING YOU SEE IN THIS CLIP THAT INVOLVES A BULLWHIP IS ME, EXCEPT WHERE PETER IS JUST HOLDING THE FLAMING WHIP–and you may have to watch a 30 second commercial before the actual video plays. Also, remember the whole purpose was to shoot the short with Real D 3D’s new camera system to show what it could do as a sample of 3D for studio investment)
I also wrote about that experience at this link.
Facinelli was on my mind because this upcoming weekend the new Twilight film is coming out where Peter plays Dr. Carlisle in that series so the two films share a bit of history together. It was Peter who brought me out to Hollywood for the Real D 3D project. Should I be upset that Real D 3D used my clips from that footage shot on The Delivery to allow CGI artists to create the whip effects digitally in The Immortals instead of doing the footage in live action? Well, the answer is consistent with the rest of my comments stated at this site and just because it pertains to me, or some special little talent that I may have, the rule still applies. No, it does not bother me if technology can replace my physical work. In fact, I am happy that my footage was able to be used as reference for the animators to pull off such a feat.
The typical response, especially in Hollywood is to carefully guard their crafts, just as most union oriented occupations are concerned in other fields. The joke on the set during the making of The Delivery was that Hoffman is the only one guaranteed to get work off that feature. At that time, before the first Twilight film was released, it was speculated that even Peter may be overlooked when actual casting took place, because in Hollywood, that’s the way it goes. But the thought was that I was the only guy on the set who could do the whip stunts, and in the country there are only a handful of people to choose from, so I was certain to make a pretty penny off that film when it came out of development and went into production.
But as I told the 6’8” former offensive tackle Mat Willig who was also on the set, “No, even the work I’m doing on this film can be replaced. They’re getting great reference shots off what I’m doing here.”
The first thing most people ask about such projects are, “How much does it pay?” While doing work and getting paid is important, many of the best people I have known in life do not do things for money. Money simply comes as a byproduct of being productive. I seldom ever consider money, and I have often done work completely for free because it gives some little passion of mine an outlet. So when people on that set and in other aspects of the entertainment business encouraged me to keep my talents close to the vest, or to fight the production companies in using CGI animators for live action whip work, such a thought is completely foreign to me and I do not participate. If a production company wishes to not fly me out to a film shoot, pay my fee, my hotel, my travel expenses and all other associated costs, which is the normal expense for such a thing, and would rather hire an animator to sit at a computer and view my material from stock footage and interpret that to a CGI shot, then I’m happy to have provided the footage. Because if a cost savings is achieved, then maybe more production companies will use more whip work in films, and that might encourage more of the public to take up whip arts as a sport, which is my ultimate desire anyway. My goal is not to buy a new car, or take a trip to some foreign country with the money made on such a project. It is to share the art with people who don’t know about it.
“But what if they put you out of business? What if film companies never need a live stuntman to work a bullwhip in front of a camera ever again?” Well, so what. I’ll invent a new talent to use. I’ll evolve into something else as I’ve done many times over my lifetime.
I’ve heard the same type of comments about this site, Overmanwarrior’s Wisdom. “You should charge money. Who’s paying you to do all this?” Well, people who ask such questions have missed the point. I do not write hundreds of thousands of words at this site to make money. I do it to help educate my friends, neighbors and enemies. My hope is that by sharing my knowledge and life experience that people MIGHT COPY IT. In fact, I hope they do! I have noticed that people who think like I do tend to charge money for their services, so the cost might be a prohibitive factor in obtaining the knowledge. If my goal is to make society just a little bit smarter, just like with the whip arts it might be to create awareness to the art itself, I am willing to give away my talent so that others might be inspired to grab on and develop their own versions.
Most of the activities I’ve spent my personal time on lately have been like this. Companies do hire me to help them cut costs or find a savings. When a publisher puts out a book I’ve written, like the one that will come out next summer, I will promote it because the book is not just a Rich Hoffman work, it’s the product of a company staffed by the publisher and editors, promotional departments, production divisions, book stores and the rest of the literary industry that are counting on my work to fuel their endeavors. So I will have to focus on money during those times and I will fight to make money for them because money is needed to make the whole industry go forward. But when it’s just me, I do not factor in money when I do something. I do things because I feel a passion for those activities.
I do not understand the union worker who holds back on their production output in order to drive up their wages. I do not understand teachers who make too much and do too little. I do not understand labor strikes, of any kind. I do not understand the concept of stealing content from someone else so that I may profit. I do not understand the whole back-stabbing behavior that goes on in Hollywood where writers hold every idea close to their vest in fear that someone else might steal it. My experience is that the thief will screw up the idea anyway, because the quality of the project is a direct result of the quality of the people working on the project, and if a bunch of thieves and losers pour $60 million into a film idea they stole from another writer, while drinking at a bar in the Americana shopping complex outside of Burbank, the movie will still suck if the people who make the film suck. It’s a very simple formula.
My anger at politicians who cut deals with unions over money, or unions who protest over a 2% to 5% yearly increase forever, and any organization who seeks to put the light of attention exclusively on themselves make me absolutely sick. They behave in this fashion because they have allowed their lives to be one-trick ponies, and they fear being exposed for their lack of adaptability and skill.
If it has been said that I have more talent than I know what to do with, the reason is that I have always adapted to the world around me and constantly learned new skills. I have never dug my fingers into the side of a talent and attempted to force the world to stop at my feet and embrace my talents. I have always learned and adjusted and pushed to become better. I’ve invented, I’ve managed, I’ve politicized, I’ve written, I’ve explored, I’ve fought, I’ve entertained, I’ve loved and I’ve hated. I had chances to be wealthy for the rest of my life several times, and turned it away to maintain my freedom on a daily basis. So as the cold of the morning passed through my cloths and the stars shown above which I observed at the many stop lights on my commute I thought about the hundreds of thousands of light years that light traveled to reach me upon the frozen vista of West Chester—-I silently rooted for the film The Immortals to have a strong second weekend while it competes with the new Twilight film, which I also hope has a strong box office showing. I hope this even though it may mean I never have the opportunity to perform with a fire whip in Hollywood again.
My thoughts simply go to the next project, and the next one after that, because once the mind stops leaning forward, it stops all together. Life isn’t about retirement accounts and medical plans. It’s about living, loving and fighting for the next great idea, which never comes when comfort is the focus of the human mind.
Why do you think I ride a motorcycle in the cold and rain where only the stars can see me? It’s not for my health………………….it’s for the ideas!
The way to avoid being a one-trick pony is to learn more tricks, and that doesn’t just happen on its own. It takes work and commitment, which is something that socialism does not account for, and is why all who live by that “ISM” is doomed to a frail, sickly, pathetic, life limited by the comfort of their personal illusions.
Written by overmanwarrior
November 19, 2011 at 12:00 am
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