The Nine Creative Projects I’m Proudest Of

The 12 Monkeys website

Like you, I've worked on some great projects, some projects that didn't live up to their potential, and some projects that were, shall we say, doomed. Of all the creative endeavors that I've been involved with over the years, here are nine that fill me with the most pride. This "pride" is based on the following criteria: 1) they were good ideas to start with; 2) I was inspired towards perfectionism; 3) my collaborators (if any) were talented; 4) I had sufficient creative freedom; 5) I had fun; 6) everything turned out the way I hoped it would, if not better. I hope this list will inspire you to look back and think about those projects that you yourself take pride in. If you're not proud of anything thus far, get crackin' - life is short. In chronological order:

  1. "Orchestral Architecture", 1988. This was a Prismacolor pencil drawing I did when I was a senior in high school. My art teacher Mr. Rushton entered this in the district art show (and renamed it "Dischord"), where it won me a $500 scholarship. Some 15-20 years later, a friend of mine in Hong Kong actually liked the drawing so much that he bought it from me and put it on his business card. Alas, the only image I can show you now is a poor scan of his card. The original art was pretty big - about 12"x18".
  2. The 12 Monkeys website, 1995. In the '90s, I got to design sites for some cool clients who gave me a lot of free rein: Conan O'Brien, SegaSoft, etc. But I'm still proudest of the site I made for Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys. I collaborated with my then-boss and now good friend Thomas Lakeman, who was the brains behind the concept and did all the writing. I made the photo-real graphics from scratch. (See some here, here, and here. And yes, I actually designed them at 450x290 pixels. Most monitors were just 640x480 back then!) Gilliam loved it, and it won some Cool Site award.
  3. The print ads, 1999-2001. While I was art director at Paramount's web division, I also got to design some print stuff for the official Star Trek site. We were always given the back cover in some quarterly Star Trek magazine, so I went to town with the famous "delta" logo on multiple occasions. (Like this, this, and this.) I also got to design some fun retro-themed postcards for fan conventions. Check them out here, here, here, and here.
  4. The Closest Thing to Time Travel, 2006. You may have noticed that I didn't include my feature films Foreign Correspondents and Claustrophobia on this list. Here's why: Although I am extremely happy with various aspects of both films - I truly love certain scenes, and I worked with some wonderful cast and crew - my overall satisfaction is tainted by bad memories: uncooperative actors, budget woes, legal issues. But everything went well with this short film, my 60-second entry in a Getty Images competition. (You can watch it on this page.) And I'd say the same thing even if I didn't win Grand Prize for it - though that definitely sweetened the experience.
  5. Medialocate's find-the-errors postcard, 2007. This is an oddity. For several years I provided freelance print and web design for Medialocate, a mid-sized language translation company in Monterey, CA. This direct mail postcard employed an idea that I'd longed to do for years. Can you find all 15 mistakes? (This is heavily Photoshopped, by the way; I actually really enjoy photo manipulation, and wish I could do it more often.)
  6. The Cloverfield Blu-ray, 2008. For over five years now, I've been doing a lot of freelance copywriting work for 1K Studios, who produce additional content for DVDs, Blu-rays, and now "second screen" apps - all for major Hollywood releases. Most of these writing gigs were interesting, but thus far nothing has topped the first, where I got to write a ton of "fictional trivia" for Cloverfield, a found footage-style monster movie produced by J.J. Abrams. I even got to map out the monster's locations in real time! Everybody I met at Abrams' Bad Robot production company was trusting and encouraging of my creativity. They are good people.
  7. Ron and Nancy, 2010. You know how aging rock stars will always say, as they promote some boring new album 20 years after their heyday, "I think this is my best work"? Well, I used to think they were lying, but I get it now. As an artist, you're always growing - even if your audience prefers your old stuff. That's why I love my short film Ron and Nancy (view it on this page), even if others found it trifling. I concede that it's a silly, weird, inconsequential little comedy. But my point is that I succeeded at everything I hoped to do with it. Wouldn't change a thing.
  8. State Shirt's "The Road to Hana" video, 2011. Again with the recent work. (You can view this on my short films page as well.) I'm including this because I wanted to direct a music video ever since I was 11. I worked off a great song, which helped. Filming in a car on the freeway had its challenges, but it was still fun. Again, the masses don't seem as fond of the finished product as I am. But who cares? I like it.
  9. My Screenwriting Fundamentals course, 2013. My mentioning this totally sounds like self-promotion, since the course just launched. But I worked very hard on this for many months, the team who put this together at Lynda was creative and supportive, and I had a fabulous time filming. I love screenwriting, I love talking about movies, and I love giving advice to people. So this course was like the culmination of 20+ years of opinions and ideas.