Thursday, June 26, 2014

Transition

Hey all!

Im moving this blog over to my website: www.JoeyStamp.com. So if you have any interest in keeping up with me, check out my website over there. I wont be updating here anymore. Thanks for reading! Until Next Time!

-Joey

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Distractions

Photographer Andrew More once told me that that there are so many opportunities in New York City that it can distract from what you actually want to do.

Recently I have felt distracted by comfort. I love my new job and I am finally somewhat sustaining myself in this city. This has made me get lazy in a few respects. For one, I don't need to scramble to try and find work to pay the bills. I am comfortable and happy with my one job. Two, I realize that I won't realistically be able to pay the bills solely as an artist. Finally, and personally, sitting at my computer and watching Tv or playing video games is much easier that trying to put a project together.

Some say that struggle and suffering inspires good art. I can for sure say that with little suffering, being comfortable and happy, has certainly caused me to not make art.

So what I am going to do now is focus. Make myself hungry again. I feel worthless when I am not creating, so I am forcing myself to create to find meaning in my life. 

As you know from my blog post in April, I am working on a comic. This is still moving forward, but is mostly in the hands of the artist now. So I am going to start my next project. My first professional attempt at a short film.

My brother Zach came to me with the idea of making a short film based off of a short story he read called Psychosis that he found on a website called Creepypasta which hosts scary paranormal stories and short horror microfiction. He reached out to the author and got the go ahead to develop a script, which he wrote and sent to me. I looked it over and really liked it. It was simple, didn't require a lot of resources, and was the kind of story I enjoy telling. 

I reached out to my friend Vern Wilson, who recently graduated and wants to move to LA to pursue film acting, and asked him if he would play the lead role to which he accepted. Since the movie only requires one visible actor and three non-visible actors, who are only seen or heard off camera, it felt like the movie was 80% casted! After I secured the actor to play the lead role, I started to feel really good about the project. 

So here I sit at my computer, reflecting, and realizing that these past few months I have been distracting myself with things that make me comfortable, like video games, binge watching TV shows, and other hobbies. These things distract me and make me feel happy enough in the moment, but depressed in the long run. The real reason I surround myself with these things goes deeper I think.

Ultimately I am afraid to fail. Filmmaking has been something I have wanted to do since I was twelve and picked up a Sony Handycam camcorder and started making movie with my brothers. It has been my dream for so long I am afraid to try and and fail or worse, be rejected. My mind has been telling me that if I fail at this, like I do with many other things in my life, that my purpose and meaning will be empty. 

It seems that life for me is a sequence of weeding and growing. For every bit I grow, weeds spring up around me. So I have to take time to cut these weeds out of my life so I can grow more. I think I am finally ready to take filmmaking seriously. I have camera, I have the desire, everything else I will find along the way. Wish me luck. Until Next Time.




“People have to really suffer before they can risk doing what they love.”  

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A Poem

Recently published in the 2014 Clarke University Tenth Muse Literary Magazine, here is a poem I wrote about life in New York City:


earthwork

The soothing cement massages my worn souls,
as my feet and I approach the parapet of dreams.

I pass an old man on the street,
who's beard is so encrusted,
with the old age of time,
that smoking is as easy as breathing,
to him.

The parapet is closer.

I look up to the sky and see,
Men and women turning gears,
Grinding their way to the top,
Hoping to build their own glass house.

The parapet is closer.

Motion and demotion
Existing as one.
Fat cats and holy rats
Sitting on piles of believers bones.

The parapet is closer.

Plebeians and the proletariat,
What’s in and out,
While their value is,
Lifted from their pockets.

The parapet is near.

My feet touch what I think is my destination
Only to find no ground beneath.
I fall until falling stops and I look around to see
I am just one drop in a sea of drops.

The glass is full,
The water is wide,
And the end is neigh.

Bottoms up.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Looking Back, Looking Forward

It’s been awhile since I wrote one of these and I've missed it.  The last post I wrote was dated February 27th. I was in the midst of trying to find a job and had really long hair. It took me nearly and entire month after that to find one and without the outpouring of support I received from my family and friends I would not have been able to keep going.

I am beyond thrilled to let you all know that I got a hair cut and a job! I was hired back on at Actors Equity as: The Associate of Finance and Administration. Equity is a great company to
See, short hair.
work for and I couldn't be happier. They are taking care of me and I can finally take time and money to take care of myself.

Now you are probably wondering the exact same thing I’m wondering. What’s next?. Short answer: Exciting Things. Long Answer: More time and ability to start doing thing things I want to do without the worry of not being able to do them finically, artistically, or otherwise.

Because I work for Actors Equity I cannot do any kind of work in Theatre, and I am totally ok with this. The reason is because it is a conflict of interest for the union and also kind of illegal on the federal level. See, working for a union has its own set of rules that it has to abide by. Its kind of like working for a non-profit in that we don’t exist to make a profit; but additionally we exist in service of our members. Union employees can’t impact the ability of their members to find work, positively or negatively. For me to work in theatre, even non-union, it would be seen as impacting our member’s ability to find work.  So I am making a personal sacrifice to forgo working in theatre for a while, but without my passion for theatre I wouldn’t of been able to make it this far.

So the question still remains: What’s next? At my core I am a story teller. I love hearing stories, seeing stories, reading stories, and creating stories. This past year has taught me that last one. I like writing. I love it in fact. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a terribly frustrating process and there is a reason why writers become alcoholics, but for me it’s totally worth it. Now that I am able to afford to live and work in New York I am able to take time to really focus on my writing, which leads me to my next exciting project…

I am partnering with artist Janet Sung and together we are going to create a 5-page comic proposal to send out to major publishing companies. This was a project I started almost a year ago while I was living in Chinatown. The idea for a story about a young Korean girl from New York City who accidentally overthrows the government in an online video game, with the help of her blind brother, hit me and started streaming through my head. I almost couldn't keep up taking notes on my iPhone with my large fat thumbs as images were flashing in my head. When I finished typing I promptly put my phone away and forgot about the entire thing. I came back to it a few weeks later I was trying to figure out what medium this story would fit into. Theatre was out, the scope was too big, film was out, the costs were too prohibitive, I was (and still am) working on a novel and I didn't want to try to do two novels at the same time. Then the idea to make it into a comic hit me and once I started envisioning it on colorful pages of paper I knew that was were it was meant to be.
AWESOMENESS

I then promptly forgot about the entire thing again and went about having an awesome summer with Michael Stamp, the boy wonder. A few months ago I dug out the story and started working on it. Creating a plot, researching comic publishing, and organizing character arcs. I read lots of example of comic scripts (basically comics without any pictures) from writers like Frank Miller, Alan Moore, and Robert Kirkman, to get an idea of the format. I decided to take Kirkman's approach and create a 5 page comic proposal along with a cover letter to create a sort of “proof of concept” to send out to publishers.

Then I put out my art net to find an artist who I thought would be able to capture what I was envisioning and through the graces of the cosmos and craigslist I found Janet. Once I saw her art I knew she was the one. Seriously, she is amazing. Check out her stuff: janetsungart.com. She was eager to jump onto the project and loved the story. Right now she is working on preliminary character design and pre-production things. My goal is to have a finished 5 page proposal completed by august to send out to major publishers.

It’s exciting to see a project start to come to life. It makes me excited for what the future may hold. All I know is right now I am happy and without this job I have none of it would be possible. But more importantly without the love and support you and everyone sent my way I wouldn’t be possible. Until Next Time.

"I think that we need mythology. We need a bedrock of story and legend in order to live our lives coherently."

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Twitch Plays Pokemon

Right now there are 70,000 people controlling a single character from a hand held video game made in 1998. It’s a phenomenon that has taken the internet by storm for the past 15 days and it’s called Twitch PlaysPokémon.  For those not yet swept up in the madness, Twitch Plays Pokemon is a replaying of the 1998 GameBoy game Pokemon Red being emulated on a computer, streamed to the masses. Those who tune in can enter the game's commands – up, down, left, right, A, B, start – in the Twitch channel chat, and said commands will be translated into in-game results.

You type "up," the main character moves up. Simple, right? Not quite when you have 70,000 people typing out often-contradictory commands. The infinite monkey theorem – a mathematical principle that has existed in some form or interpretation since Aristotle – has often been taken to mean, "If an infinite number of monkeys were to use an infinite number of typewriters, sooner or later you get Shakespeare."

The goal of the game is quite simple: Catch Pokémon and raise them to be strong to defeat other characters in the game and, eventually after much time and effort, defeat the strongest 4 characters in the game, the Elite Four, with the Pokémon you raised. When I played the game in 1998 with my brothers we were obsessed with it and played to constantly, each arguing over who had the better or stronger Pokémon and spending hours playing, trading, and training these little pets. So I don’t think I am the only one who is flooded with nostalgia when watching this. Infact I think nostalgia is one of the main reasons TPP is becoming so popular

Imagine a football stadium filled with people all controlling a single person on the field and trying to get them to walk from one end to the other. It would be chaos right? You would think that
This is how many people are playing
70,000 people would be wanting 70,000 different things and this player would never move.  Not only has the character in TPP moved, but it has been making remarkable progress in a seemingly chaotic environment.

There have been setbacks along the way. Favorite pokemon have accidentally been destroyed. We have tossed valuable items, and lost many battles from poorly issued commands. There are also countless hours spent moving back and forth and seemingly not moving anywhere and falling off ledges.  But miraculously the game and its players continually march forwards towards the end goal. 

Even more surprisingly: forms of democracy and anarchy have been created and have inspired hundreds of discussions on the political theories of wither or not democracy will help us take a step forward or whether anarchy will help us win this battle. Religions based on "Helix" Worshipers and "Dome" worshipers have sprung up and become major factors.  And countless amounts of original art and writings have been created based around this internet phenomenon.

Pigeot "Bird-Jesus"
TPP has truly and enlightened the way I look at the world. Even in a game controlled by 70,000 strangers with hundreds of thousands of different back stories, locations in the world, religious beliefs, whatever, it is still marching on and being very successful in its goals. This gives me hope for life. Even though there 7 billion random people on our planet now, with seemingly 7 billion different wants and desires I think we all of us can strive forward on our weird, and seemingly random collaborative journey, and achieve greatness. I mean look at us now. We live in a country that is free for the expression of any man, woman, and child. The people are constantly marching towards good, equality, freedom, peace, and justice. There are setbacks along the ways. Random people who try and ruin it for the rest of us, and yet humans persevere.

This gives me personal hope because I feel lost in my life right now: like I'm wandering. I am beginning to believe that even then, even in my darkest and most confused moments, as long as my feet are moving and I haven’t given up, I'm moving towards the right direction. I don’t yet know what I want from life. I know I have a handful of skills that I am good at, and I know I have a lot of things I am bad at. So where I go from there I am not sure. Sometimes it feels like there are 70,000 different things I should be doing or need to be doing. But at least I haven't fallen off the ledge yet. Until Next Time!

" I see now the circumstances of ones birth are irrelevant. It is what you do with the gift of life that determines who you are."



Monday, January 27, 2014

Get On

Hey. Its been awhile. Last I wrote I was about to embark on Julie Taymor’s A Midsummer Nights Dream. Well I did. It happened. It was incredible. It was frustrating. It was beautiful. It was exhausting. Now the dream is over. I’m so full of stories and thoughts and experiences I want to share with you all that there is no way a blog post would do it justice. So, if you ever want to hear about the whole thing and how it affected me, let me know. Lets head to a bar, grab a drink, and swap some stories.

In the mean time, let us get on with life.

When I left home for the first and last time in 2008 I made a promise to myself that I would never move back in. Not because I didn't love my supportive parents or my stupid brothers, I love them all very much, but I made this promise more so for myself so that I could  force myself to take risks and find my independence. So I moved to Dubuque and lived there for 4 years, working at various jobs every summer and living and various home and rooms. I managed to support myself through school by taking on work-study jobs. By the time I hit my final semester of senior year I was working at 4 different on campus jobs just to save up to move to New York.

Now that I am here I have managed to pay rent every month. My goal remains the same, don’t move home. I could very easily give up, fly home, and live in the basement playing video games and watching movies all day long, dreaming of the day when…. But I’d rather be here, broke, unemployed, and struggling than at home, comfortable, and hating myself.

A wise person once said: “If you don’t have a job, your job is to spend eight hours a day finding one.” I am in that situation now: completely and utterly unemployed. I also find myself at a crossroads with four paths ahead of me, and one, twisted and winding, behind me. I like doing four things: Photography, Theatre, Film, and Writing. I am struggling on trying to figure out how to fit all of them into my life, and pay the bills.

ISPA 2014 Awards Dinner
Photography has been my most plentiful when it comes to making money AND being artistic. I am usually doing one or two headshot sessions a week to bring in income. Last week I had the extreme honor of being the event photographer for the 2014 ISPA conference, which was a blast. I was able to photograph the Keynote Speaker Tan Dun on Tuesday, a red-carpet-esq “Step and Repeat” on Wednesday, and then the awards banquet later that night. I got to meet some interesting people and, most importantly, flex my photography skill. It felt really good to have the weight of the camera around my neck and my eyes moving, looking for the next best shot, capturing it, and then running around looking for the next. I realized that I love that feeling, the intense feeling of trying to capture an entire story in one frame, in about 3 seconds. I walked away from it all with some awesome photos which will be on Facebook very soon.

Directing Theatre and Film are my favorite mediums to tell stories in. They are also my least plentiful in terms of opportunity and paying the bills. I apply to any and everything that comes across my screen, but as of yet I have not been hired for anything. The “Catch 22” is that people hiring directors want people with years of experience, great schooling, tons of references, and to pay them next to nothing for it. That last bit is part of a greater problem when it comes to paying artists and undervaluing their work, but I don’t want to get into that with this post. The point is that either I have to work hard at playing this application game, or just start making my own films and theatre with my brothers. I am more partial to the ladder.

Writing is something completely new to me. I started working on Marley a year ago, and have since completed writing the first draft of that musical that was produced last summer. I’ve also had 2 short plays produced in New York and had 2 short stories published in a digital literature magazine. I have found that I really enjoy writing and telling these stories that I feel I have to tell. Now when I say I enjoy writing, I don’t mean the process. The actual process of putting words on a blank page sucks so hard a black hole would say, “Nah bro, that’s not within my event horizon.” Writing, like everything else, is hard work. Anyone who thinks it fun and easy has never tried writing. That said, I enjoy everything else about it enough to make the hard work with doing. Having actors sit down for the first time and be excited to do a read through of your work is better than any high I have experienced so far. Seeing on stage is even better. So while I continue to write almost daily working on plays, poetry, short stories, and even a novel, it has yet to pay any bills.

While logging countless hours on Midsummer, I had lots of time to think. One of the biggest things that weighed on me was my innate ability to put others before myself and put my wants and needs down, as if they are unimportant and stupid. I care a lot about what other people think about me and I’ve found that it not only hinders my life but more importantly it hinders my art. If there is one thing I am walking away from Midsummer with, it is now the drive to find work, creative work, where I can pay rent AND be myself… Mostly because I don’t want to cut my hair.

So, thought it’s a bit late, here’s to 2014! A Year of No Excuses. A Year of No Self-Putdowns. A Year of Paying The Bills.A Year of Long Hair.  A Year of Creativity.


“I've got a mountain of dreams to climb
'Fore I get to that house on the hill.”

Ozark Mountain Daredevils - It Probably Always Will



Monday, October 7, 2013

Hello, Goodbye

If you have ever heard anyone tell you that New York is a small town, they are absolutely, unequivocally, correct. This is something that I have been told before by my experienced New York friends, but I never really saw it until it happen to me until this past weekend.

To begin with, I went to see a play that my friend Sarah Lahue was stage managing called  Lickspittles, Buttonholers and Damned Pernicious Go-Betweens by Johnna Adams. Sarah told me I had to see because it was funny, had amazing actors, and was written entirely in verse. I was intrigued and decided to go see it, but it wasn't until I was sitting in the audience that I realized I knew one of the actors in the show. And then I recognized another, and another… But the one who really caught my attention was Chris Weikel, with whom I worked with a year ago at the Lark Play Development Center.

A snapshot of Chris and I from a year ago.
I staged managed two play readings during the Lark’s playwright’s week. One was Denny and Lila by August Schulenburg and the other was Secret Identity by Chris Weikel. I hadn't seen or heard from Chris in over a year because New York, and then I got to see him perform wonderfully in a hilarious show. Not only that, but afterwards when I was talking to him I was introduced to the playwright of Lickspittles and we discovered that we both knew each other. She starred as the narrator in August Schulenburg’s play, Denny and Lila. So not only did I meet two people with him I had previously worked with during the same week a year ago, but I met them both on the same night. Crazy!

Believe me when I tell you: New York is a small world. Last year I worked as an ASM on Restoration Comedy at The Flea theatre. While on this run, I worked one night with the resident director at the time Liz Carlson. She ran the front of house, and I was the go between helping her and getting the show ready. We had a splendid time and kept in touch.

This past weekend I was emailed about a job opportunity that Liz had referred me for.  This job opportunity was one that was so good, so amazing, that I quit my job at Actors Equity today to be able to do. I am excited to tell you all that I will be working as a stage hand on Julie Taymor’s upcoming show A Midsummer Nights Dream. Now I am sure many of you are asking yourself the same question I have been asking myself:

“Joey, are you stupid? Why did you quit your full time job to work as a stage hand on a show?”

Left to right: Oberon, Julie Taymor, Puck
Well, first off, don’t call me stupid, and I did it because Julie Taymor is an award winning director and one of the greatest directors of her time. Getting to observe her work, even from the sidelines, is a once-in-a-life-time opportunity that I, as a learning director, can’t pass up.  

What this means is that for the next four weeks I will be working on the show in some intense morning to evening hours. Then once we open I will be working the shows until January. These next four weeks are going to be busy and I will be working ever day, 10 am to 11 pm, except Monday's. So until we open, I am going to be nearly silent on the digital front. No blogging. 

Once the show officially opens and my days will return to normal I plan to write a big blog post about my experiences, so be sure to check back in November. Truly, I am very excited for this amazing opportunity. I can't wait to see what the future holds and what awesome people I will meet. Until next time!

"Lord, what fools these mortals be!"
Puck (Robin Goodfellow)A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act 3 scene 2