Friday, December 22, 2017

Progress on the Hero's Journey

Now that the semester is over, I wanted to detail the differences between what actually happened and what I devised to happen when I came up with the plot for my auto-biography that I had wrote about the plan for the first step in starting the Kickstarter project last May, there is a difference between how you might envision events going for a story, but that isn't usually how they work out in practice. 

Plus the DVD that I worked on most of last July and August got a different reception than I had hoped for, even with all the examples that I put in it.

In order to figure out how it was different, it might be helpful that to put the plans that I made in context in order to "connect the dots" as Steve Jobs explains.

Jobs was right about the importance of connecting the dots from the foundation of choices that allow more significant events to be acted upon later.  But he was wrong about that can only be connected backwards in hindsight to find the dots that are significant in the past. If working toward a desired outcome the steps to be taken to achieve it can be mapped out to connect the dots to get to that future accomplishment and what actions are necessary to achieve it. 

The difference is that the events in the past are solid so that the dots are situated more precisely, but the dots in the future are fluid and more unpredictable so that contingency plans must be made in order to adapt to changes for attaining the desired outcome

The Drama 8 class at Butte has been an adventure with steps along the path of the Hero's Journey as part of the auto-biography that I'm going to write called Achieving Communion. 

I've been documenting a lot of it with video that I've recorded in class and journals that I can use as video logs that describe thoughts along the way for notes to show the progress along the path and the steps I've taken follow the stages of the Hero's Journey.

There were things that I didn't expect before I took the class, the most surprising was how little time I had to talk to the other students about the project, ten minutes or less before class and people quickly left after for places they had to go. It was barely enough to get their attention and not enough to keep it to explain the idea for the video. I had trouble with the DVD player taking so long to load and even when I had a group of people watching it, I ran out of time when Jesse came in to start the class that they didn't get a chance to absorb the ideas in the DVD.

But  when Jesse mentioned the Kickstarter project twice in class it helped a lot to give it some legitimacy among the students and made it a lot easier for me the approach them with the offer to join in. Even if he did make a couple of mistakes like on my midterm exam, he had to correct one answer that marked as wrong which was found to be an error that gave me a perfect score on the test because I had watched all the recordings that I had made of the class. 

The other mistake was that he promised to give a discount for the students in the class on tickets to the Drama Departments play and that he would train the ticket takers to accept half off the price of one ticket if we brought someone to see it. But when I got there and asked for the discount on Mom's ticket they were confused and had to go ask Jesse about it, so he didn't train them well enough as he had promised.

I certainly learned the truth of that Campbell quote from my experience in the class, since I had always had severe stage fright and anxiety over public speaking but facing those fears allowed me to accomplish my goals for the next step in the Kickstarter project.

Jesse did give some helpful instructions and great advice which allowed me to overcome my fears to get me through performing the monologue. By continuing to focus on deep breathing to relax and meditation to bring yourself back to the present moment, it certainly was a huge asset since in the pressure of doing it live in front of an audience, it was easy to forget to breathe and the deep breathing did calm the nerves.

But the biggest problem I had was trying to project my voice loud enough for all the audience to hear, because that took a lot of breath to do, and I had to keep pausing in order to catch my breath. Then about halfway through, I forgot some of my lines from lack of oxygen and had to take some very long pauses to remember them again. Hopefully I was able to be funny and get the joke about a time machine and a Civil War hooker across.

The advice that Jesse gave also helped with my fear of rejection and asking the people in the class for their attention.  I did keep asking myself during the semester "What would a Hero do in this situation?" especially when I got discouraged by the students turning me down and it help give me more determination to keep trying because I knew a Hero would never just give up. That transformation is the essence of moving through the stages of the Hero's Journey and the overcoming of fears to expand the Heroes abilities from facing challenges.

That determination also helped me to take the steps of putting up flyers around the Art building where the students could see them and get their attention so they might get interested in the project

Even so I never did get the hang of doing improv exercises because practicing before hand I could barely handle, but coming up with an idea on the fly was beyond me. When in the Add and Subtract exercise, the only thing I could come up with was chanting at a protest rally for the first time and a preacher doing a sermon to his flock for the second time.

The other thing that I didn't expect when I took the class was a massive drop in my testosterone levels that was a major obstacle to overcome, but being aware of what the symptoms of depression, lack of energy and pain in my extremities was caused by helped some with my attitude for dealing with it, even if it didn't lessen any of the symptoms. Finally taking large doses of Ginko Biloba did a lot balance out the hormone levels and help my brain function better.

But the hardest part of the whole class was having to memorize lines and the Ginko only helped slightly with that. But I kept at it with the determination of a Hero to face the challenge of remembering the lines and that did encourage me to succeed. When we were rehearsing for the final scene, the releasing of tension by our mistakes was the funniest and most enjoyable part.

I liked the final scene more compared to my monologue because it had more action than just telling a joke, since I had to put more passion and desperation in it from being hunted and begging to die a less painful death, which was a more satisfying performance.

It took until the last class before the finals but I did ultimately get one of the students to agree to act in the video for the Kickstarter project. I showed her the DVD that I made and she got up to the clip I put in, where Reese Witherspoon is accepting her Oscar for her role in Walk the Line then she agreed to help with the project when I reminded her about what Jesse said in class about "people being desperate enough for success" and how Reese started just like this when she was an unknown and went to an open audition for The Man in the Moon. Then I told her about the pay scale that I looked up for what they paid members of SAG and she agreed. So I wrote the script and sent it to them. 

 Jesse had a few inspirational stories that he used as examples of how to discipline yourself in habits that would help you to succeed. Hopefully the rest of the class paid attention to them and could apply them to my offer.

I'm not sure how I'm going to use that footage I shot at the Salmon Festival but I'll probably insert some of the shots of the fish going up the ladder and some of the workers harvesting the eggs from the fish.

So that is pretty good progress through the stages of the Hero's Journey for the last four months, much more than I made in the decade previously. Now onto the next chapter that I outlined last May that covered plans for after taking the class.

When the money from the Kickstarter project is raised then plans for the lessons in My Fair Guru can be implemented like an example of how evolution and stages of development continue from apes to people and then from people to angels .

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Landmarks on the Path

 By using Esalen as a location to shoot episodes of My Fair Guru, it provides more legitimacy from it's decades long reputation being a center for growth and development.


Achieving Communion Plot: Chapter 5

The structure that the environment provides is a focus for a bond in the community of the people filming the show and helps the actors to take the practices more seriously. 

For the audience, that see the actors progress and growth, it provides motivation for those that admire the blondes overcoming the stereotype because they never thought they were capable of it and it inspires them to try also. It is "rooting for the underdog" in the Hero's Journey like in the movie Rudy

For those that resented the blondes in the stereotype it gives them incentive to prove out of spite that if blondes can do it then it should be that much easier for others to do it. But it's still showing them examples of the steps along the path in the journey

Besides the beauty of the natural setting and that of the actors with activities like surfing and yoga on the beach, what would gain a following to make it more entertaining would be the rewards for progress along the path and the showing the landmarks that prove that the actors are growing in their journey. The AQAL Map provides ways of measuring that progress and landmarks like the "psychograph" to show where on the journey the person is. 

By tracking "the center of gravity" of where the actors are on each of the lines of development, the stage of consciousness and the level of their ability to take different perspectives they can show their progress and also how much they can cooperate with the other actors to help each with the practices to get them all to accomplish the same goals with the appropriate amounts of progress to reap bonus rewards.

Wilber uses the idea that the church can be used as a "conveyor belt" through stages of development but that's not the only thing, since The Hero's Journey can also be used for the conveyor belt purpose to provide the myths and the structure to guide people through the stages and popular culture can show people examples from stories on how to navigate the path of growth.

With "reality shows" able to reach those in the most need of growth, that can change the "dominant mode" of society until it can reach a"tipping point" 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Locations Line up

 When I have gotten all the footage that I needed at Yosemite, the next location to shoot would be at the beach in Big Sur

Achieving Communion Plot: Chapter 4

The beach is a great place to show all the ways that waves, rhythms and vibrations interact. 

Surfing is a great method to get in tune with those rhythms and train your reflexes to act in harmony with the waves and the vibrations of nature.

What would be great would be to have a drone with a camera on it to be able to shoot footage of the actors surfing from the angles that would be available from a drone flying close up to the the waves where the actors are that would show all aspects of what they went through in acquiring the skills necessary in the experience and be entertaining to watch.

The Esalen Institute has a 50 year long tradition of being the "Olympics of the mind, heart, body, spirit, and community, committing themselves to a deeper, richer, more enduring in the fellowship of other seekers." that makes it the perfect location for shooting episodes of My Fair Guru with ten actors attending all the workshops  to show the progress they make in growth and development in Stages, States, Levels and Lines of the AQAL Map.

So the area around Big Sur is the best way to show how all the actors can practice the elements that make up Integral Life Practice because it allows for all the modules to be pursued. 

Yoga and Surfing for the Body Module,  the workshops at Esalen for the Mind Module, the expansive vistas and effects of the waves on meditation for the Spirit Module and the community around a campfire on the beach for sharing in the Shadow Module.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Roles Reinforced

 With the funding accomplished to enable the production with the actors hired from wherever is best then the shooting on location can begin.

Achieving Communion Plot: Chapter 3

Since the locations include places like Yosemite, it would be more effective to bring my trailer along to be able to have all the necessities of shelter, food and supplies all in one place that is easily transportable and close to the wilderness areas that will be chosen for the production. It's a lot more comfortable than just camping and easier to hold everything needed.

Taking the trailer along would even allow a green screen studio to be set up inside with appropriate lighting and also have my computer equipment easily accessible as close to the shooting locations as possible to be able to animate, composite and edit the footage to be certain that the production had what it needed while we were there.

The first thing to shoot at Yosemite is the Mist Trail to Vernal Falls since it will give a chance to show the importance of maps to be able to find your way, how to check for landmarks to make sure the map shows is translated to what you experience and how different maps show different information that can be used in different ways.

Some maps are easier to follow but show less information, it depends on how much is needed to reach the destination, then add in the lesson of how this relates to the Scientific Method that following the path from a map is like following the injunction, straying from the path is like checking for falsity to find out if the map is accurate and asking others that have used the map and reached the destination without incident is like verifying the results of an experiment and gotten the same data from a "community of the adequate" 

That shows the need for context because a map of California would be too general and won't give the details of how to find your way around Yosemite and a map of only Curry Village is too specific to show what is outside of it's range to find anything else. In every facet of perception like getting information from shadows, the amount of context is crucial because that knowledge and how to apply it will be the difference between wisdom and mistakes

Context is also important in being able to tell the difference between theory and practice when you can have all the knowledge of the optics that makes rainbows but that won't give you the wisdom that comes from actually experiencing them. 

People could tell you all they want about the double rainbows at Vernal Falls and even show video but that's not nearly the same as experiencing it yourself. I remember when I first saw them and my reaction was profound even if it wasn't as extreme as some others.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Chapters Converging

There are a few more branches that the plot could take after first chapter depending on how committed the actor is or if they'll just  agree to only performing in the video for the Kickstarter campaign

Achieving Communion Plot: Chapter 2

When I've found someone in the acting class that is willing to perform in the video, I'll take them to the spot next to the Nature Center to use the water fall next to the salmon hatchery as a back drop, so that will have some impact for the exercise with the naming of the different shades of green and use the picnic tables for the examples of the different categories to put objects according to different parameters. 

In addition to the examples of things not being only one thing, I can use the fish ladder as an example of the Hero's Journey that the fish take from the hatchery to the ocean and back through all the stages and challenges they face that can be described by the formulas in the the Hero's Journey that I can illustrate in the video. 

It has a lot better chance to have a positive impact on people with better actor than I was even with that good of a background. 

So the thing is that if I can convince at least one actor to help me with the video then they can do a much better job to convince everyone else. Especially because it's a lot more difficult to convince strangers on the internet to put their money into something than it is to convince someone that you've gotten to know in person to put some time and effort into help with a project.

But getting an actor to show how sincere the people are that want to project to succeed so that it can be made would go a long way to convince those strangers to put money in it.

After putting in the graphics and editing the video together to fit in with the other details on the project page, the next thing would be to promote the campaign to get donations. Hopefully the other people in the class would help spread the news on social media among their friends and the actor that appeared in the video would have a good reason to get the word out about it, like the other film and video projects that get featured and were funded

That's where the branches in the plot come in when the project is funded, would the actor be willing to go on to perform in the next phase of shooting on locations at Yosemite, Big Sur and Vasquez Rocks? Also when there is more money to hire more qualified actors should that be considered instead? What would be the amount of dedication of those who were in it from the start? Would that be of more benefit to the project than the qualifications and experience of professional actors?