Archive for the ‘Me & My Shadow: A Documentary’ Category

Everyone seems overworked this semester.

I met my artistic partner today for an hour-long discussion about our film:

And all of the work we’ll be doing to promote and premiere this guy in the next two months.

This gets me thinking – how much are we all doing? We’re overworked, usually over-caffeinated techno-bots. It’s no surprise we want to step away and experience something more holistic.

I was talking on the phone to my mom today about an offer I received to tutor Afghani refugees here in Muncie – and though I’m over-extended as it is – my thought process was how can I say no?

Exactly. I lined up a writing opportunity for next semester. I was hired back for my teaching position – hoping to work on a creative project as a research assistant.

My point? My ideal philosophy has always been that we’re meant to work hard.

And I may be pushing myself (inevitably too far) – but then… aren’t we supposed to push ourselves?

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The extinction of the self reveals the most potent form of existence.

Nothing has proved that so ardently as the past 10 days. Stripping away the most basic privacies – the skin, the sleep, the idealism.

In talking about the Me & My Shadow trip with my mother, the only phrase that seemed to convey the enormity of the moment is just that – experience.

Christopher McCandless, star of both the film and book Into the Wild, suggested as much –

If you want it, go out and get it.

An addendum, if I may:

See if you can live without it. You’ll teach yourself who you really are.


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I’m not really a sick kid.

At least most of the time. I spent a lot of my youth pretty much playing hooky from school by feigning illness. It’s not a pretty memory – for the difficulty it caused my parents, the lost education, or the embarrassment of acting the whole thing out.

On the other hand, I didn’t miss a single day of high-school. They even threw a breakfast for kids with perfect attendance at the end of my senior year (mediocre food).

So, safe to say, I’m on the up-swing health-wise. But if you’d talked to me yesterday you would have seen a different story. Immersed in the negative degree weather of Canada I felt close to death. I waned, caught up in a cough that rattled every part of my bones. I slept… and slept. It’s a discomforting thought – to flirt with literal harm to your body.

There’s that Franz Kafka story… “The Hunger Artist”, about the man compelled by his own brand of art. We make strange, grave choices to produce something remarkable. And I like to think of myself as someone who pushes – someone immune to bodily harm in favor of something truly transcendant.

How ignorant. And idealistic.

As I wavered on the precipice between solid health and real damage to my body I thought a lot about why this set of blogs matters so much in the first place.

It’s a reminder that life can be snatched from death – but also that life must be lived by virtue of its fragility and purity.

The body, most importantly the heart, is an unfathomable gift.

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Canada, eh?

I’ve been hungry for travel since I visited England six years ago. In fact, I vividly remember the conversation I had with my mother at age eighteen about how much I wanted to get out of the states and see something.

Canada was a step on that path. In the future, the Appalachian Trail could be another.

It’s somewhere between Tennyson and Up. The desire, like Ulysses, to go out and travel once more. That recurring admonition that adventure is indeed out there.

I needed this perspective. I needed to live apart from conventional life again.


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Hello, 2012.

This handcuffed moment comes live from Niagra, Ontario.

A close to 2011, and all that it offered me. Some small highlights to a rousing year:

  • Camping in Hoosier National Forest
  • Finally making it to New York
  • Helping to write the play “The Middletown Theatre Project”
  • Competing at NFA/AFA in Illinois/Nebraska
  • Writing a 40-page Travelogue about my 17 day road trip across the western United States
  • Getting accepted to intern at the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library

And of course, 7 out of 12 days of my handcuffed documentary/road-trip – Me & My Shadow.

I grew up a lot this past year, probably more than any in my past (don’t they always feel that way?) and I can’t wait for the next two. I’ll have completed a play, an internship, and a film by the start of my Junior year of college. Still, I want to do more.

At no other part of my life have I learned more, been more curious, or felt more fully surrounded by art.

This is exhilarating. And I can’t wait.

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I love the sublime (Edmund Burke – look it up).

The whole beauty of the concept was further illustrated as I trekked through the streets of New York for the first time.

To be overwhelmed by the size of a collage of buildings, to catch the art of urban architecture, even to walk through the expanse of Central Park.

People make beautiful art out of this place, and I feel so lucky to be able to engage in it.

This is a weird, convoluted point for Corey and I. Somewhere in-between enthused and thrilled I am, most certainly, dangerously close to breaking. I called this the next phase – the point where I slowly fall apart.

Maybe total intimacy shouldn’t happen… and maybe we’re living out an accelerated relationship. Corey told me yesterday:

Nothing you do surprises me anymore.”

And while I doubt he still feels that way (bombshells were dropped), I know the timbre of that comment. The walls are wearing thin.

And there lies what Eliot called “the overwhelming question”…

Am I in too deep?

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Says it all, right?

Me & My Shadow and While I was Dying are totally different projects. Merging them is weird.

But this challenging, exhausting process is teaching me the sort of daily lessons I thought I’d have to search deep to find within myself.

At this very moment it’s about the collaborative process. You can’t make a (good) movie alone. I work with different facets of my six-person crew at all hours of the day. We fight, we talk, we laugh. Corey and I wouldn’t have a project without them – we’re as much at their behest as vice-versa. And really, as Corey and I are to one another.

Nothing teaches you quite so forcefully as working with others. Each member gives me something –

  • Chloe Anagnos: Is a very dedicated producer. Not that everything is easy when we’re trying to make directorial/production choices – but we’re doing our best to make it work. More than anything, you have to respect someone who does their best to keep things on track. That’s a tough one for artists…
  • Danny Delaney: Is about the sweetest kid you’ve ever met. Genuine, passionate, and kind. He wants to keep filming, and I want him to achieve that dream. He’s really something special, and someone I’m so happy could brighten my day up while I’m cuffed.
  • Patrick Ball: Is the man. No – seriously. Pat and I knew each other very little before we started, but four days of consistent filming changes that pretty quickly. Driving through the hills of West Virginia at 3 AM also helps. While Pat and I were talking I got a sense of just what a real, likable guy he happens to be. He’s also a talented, consumate professional. Okay – now I’m gushing. Look, he’s really cool.
  • Marcus Carroll: Sort of my heart. I call Marcus the moral compass – and with good reason. He’s a consistently good person – one who has stuck by my side since we met early in highschool. He, like Danny, has a very special, very genuine quality about him. I’m excited to see the sort of man he becomes, but also tremendously heartened by our bonding in this trip. As the trip began, I would have described my feelings for Marcus as a strong like – transformed through trying times into love. He’s a good person – and that is a rarer thing than you can possibly imagine.
  • Corey Rudell: Something very strange. There aren’t really words, and there won’t be even once the project is done. I couldn’t handcuff myself to anyone else. And I don’t want to speak too soon, but I already know Corey and I have done something incredible. Infuriating, maddening, and wild, Corey breathes life into everything he touches. That alone is remarkable. I feel privileged be a part of it.


That’s us. For better, worse, and tomorrow. Everyone needs a family – clan – place to be. We made one, and that means more than any movie.

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Still handcuffed. Awesome.

Today, I talked to some wonderful women who happen to be lesbians. I know that sounds like a weird distinction to make… but it meant a lot to me.

In fact, the whole day had the air of disclosure. These women were willing to share one of the most personal facets of their life, with a sincere passion for the civil rights they so undoubtedly deserve.

Their honesty and passion truly impressed me. More than that, they made me want to tell my story. Each entry is a part of that – each story reveals another shard of what it means to be alive.

One of the best parts of this project is the sheer opportunity to meet and talk to people. That’s not an American thing – the cute blonde girl I met two days ago (underage) at a bar in Philly told me as much – and I’m continually baffled by the results one nets through sheer perseverance.

There’s life outside. I’ve fervently believed that for a few years now, but living it changes the dynamic. It opens up the world in the same way as my previous journey into the West.

We need to communicate – it’s our lifeblood. Otherwise we are consumed by our personal divisions, destined to segment and fragment into eternity.

Go out – Talk – Experience.

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I reconnected with an old friend today.

And it was on of the best decision I’ve made in so long.

My childhood best-friend Ben and I fell off as friends after I moved to Indiana in 7th grade. He did his best to stay connected with me and, frankly, I was confused and scared by the idea a relationship could exist long-distance.

I was younger – and wrong.

Today, as we sat and talked about the missing years, I re-discovered a bit about growing up. Good relationships change, morph, and develop. At their best you can reach out and re-make them. We were able to reconnect through the trip – I was able to do better.

I’ve never been so happy to be wrong. Things can return.

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I’m typing this with one hand.


The part where your art meets your idealism is a tricky one. And having to re-type a sentence is no simple feat.

I embarked on this adventure to see its inherent artistic value. And about four hours into cuffing myself to Corey I considered throwing the whole thing away.

I know, I know. Age isn’t making me more reasonable.

Okay. You have no idea how long this has taken to type…

It’s home for the next two weeks. Make the best of it, accept the message, find the meaning, and grow.

I’m about to go stand in line at a McDonalds handcuffed to my co-director…

What a terrible mistake.

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