The Internet is sometimes criticized (usually by parents who think their kids need to be outdoors more often) as leading people to be sitting in front of their computers all day growing bulbous, lethargic and (depending on who you talk to) stupid. I think that the opposite can often be true. My friends and I have recently been inspired to new creative ventures through the time spent online.
I have long been a fan of movies, martial arts movies in particular. It has been said that they’re kind of like the modern musical with finely choreographed dances (although in this case the ‘dance’ is a fight) showing fantastic physical ability, timing, and grace. Recently I have found that there are many online groups of people dedicated to making their own martial arts films. Most of these guys are really talented and I’ve seen film fight scenes that are better than the majority of the American made ‘martial arts’ movies. Where the commercial films focus on special effects, from wirework (attaching wires to an actor in order to allow them to do extraordinary feats) to computer rendered effects (sometimes even using a computer animated actor in fights as seen in ‘The Matrix Reloaded’), these independent groups get out there and make impressive films through sheer physical exertion and amazing ability.
It’s amazing what a bit (well, a lot really) of hard work can do for you. These independent action crews perform wall runs, flips, falls, tumbles, and flying kicks without the use of wires or special effects. There’s no insurance to worry about or studios to get sued so they try some pretty incredible and dangerous things. My favorite stunt crews are ‘The Stunt People’ who can be visited at http://www.thestuntpeople.com, and Zero Gravity Stunts who have their homepage at http://www.zgstunts.com. There are also Jabronie Pictures (http://www.jabroniepictures.com) and VJ Films (some of whose videos can be found at http://www.my5minutes.com/thumbnails.php?album=1115) that are both worth a mention. These sites also provide many links to other similar websites, so your collection of independent short films can be built up to a fearsome size quite quickly.
So, I’ll now get back to the original topic of this article, that being the Internet as a medium to inspire people to become active and creative. These films got me pretty excited. I’d never really thought about just trying to make my own short martial arts film. The world’s largest short film festival held in Australia called ‘Tropfest’ provided a group of friends and I with a valid excuse to behave silly in front of a video camera. I’m not going to lie; the film we produced was relatively low quality. One of the fights we filmed was, well, not bad! There was a decent amount of good mixed in with the not so good, and I have great memories of spraying false blood out of a hose that was wound around a friend’s chest all over my parent’s house when simulating a gunshot. We had no flips and very few tumbles (I myself having the gymnastic ability of a dead walrus) but the point is we got in there and had a great time with an entertaining outcome. We have plans to make more movies and a few other film festivals on the horizon that we may enter. Maybe one day our films will be good…
The Internet has inspired us in other ways as well. In the past I ran a webcomic that unfortunately is now all but dead. However, it too was a lot of fun while it lasted. A friend of mine is currently setting up a web-based design company because he realized just how easy the Internet makes it to go into business for yourself, instead of working your way through university through a variety of often low paying and uninteresting casual job positions. I currently waste too much time playing other people’s games so my newest plan is to learn Flash and make my own online games.
So, while I’m trying to inject some form of gymnastic ability into my gargantuan frame as I attempt to make short films with a decent story, acting, camerawork and so on, why don’t you find something that gets you excited and try it out for yourself? If someone like me can do it, then you can probably work it out with a just a little bit of effort. You may never be as good as the things that inspire you, but it’s a lot of fun trying to emulate them or create your own. Another positive point to mention is that when you get stuck the Internet is full of tutorials written by those in the know to get you through your difficult spots. Even I can try and learn from Tricks Tutorials (http://www.trickstutorials.com). So, see the great possibilities in the Internet and go and have fun broadening your horizons!
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