Ganbatte Anime Convention Was Awesome!

So, I recently went to the Ganbatte Anime Convention here in Saskatoon! While it was a week ago, I felt I’d still try to get a post out on it regardless. I had heard of Ganbatte quite a bit over the past few years, but had never attended it before. I already go to a different comic book convention, and I find that these cons get pretty pricey. Regardless, I wanted to at least give Ganbatte Con a shot.

What did I think of it? Well, I thought it was pretty awesome! For one thing, I liked that the convention hall was a lot more segmented than others I’ve been to. There isn’t just one giant hall where you shuffle awkwardly around the crowd, but rather several different rooms spread across the building. This made it much easier to navigate, which I very much appreciated.

While the guests weren’t that well-known, it was still fun getting to meet Brendan Hunter again, who did voice-acting in a ton of the shows I watched growing up. I ended up getting an autograph from him, which looks pretty nifty! I also got some other cool stuff, which I’ll post down below:

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The first thing you may notice is a copy of “Dragon Quest Builders 2”. I didn’t actually buy this at the convention, but rather at a video-game store near it. It’s a pretty awesome game about crafting and exploration, one which I’ll definitely have to talk about at a later date! It also came with some fridge magnets, which I ended up giving to my beloved niece.

I also got a couple of manga: Rune Soldier Louie and Wolverine: Prodigal Son. Louie is a comedic spinoff of the “Record of Lodoss War” anime, while Wolverine: Prodigal Son is a manga-styled adaptation of the classic comic book character. Again, I’ll be sure to talk more about these later on as well.

I also this nifty autographed picture from Brendan, as well as a Harry Potter wallet. The second one was especially helpful, since I’ve been needing a new wallet for quite some time. Regardless, this was a great convention! I’m glad I took the plunge and attended the event this year. I hope that next year’s event is just as good! I leave you with this pic of me hanging out with a guy in a dragon suit:

Con Dragon

Al TV: The Weirdest Series To Ever Air on MTV

My interest in music has taught me many things over the past couple decades of my life. It taught me that there’s good music in every genre, that music videos can be a good supplement to a great song, and that Weird Al ages like a fine wine. I mean, just look at the guy! The dude’s nearly 60 and he looks like a man in his late 30s or early 40s! Here’s hoping I look that good when I’m his age!

Regardless, Weird Al Yankovic is a man who needs know introduction. Al has been known for making parodies of popular songs for decades now. His brand of weirdness permeates throughout his parodies, while making them truly entertaining jams to listen to. In some cases, his parodies are event better than the original! A big example of this is “I Lost On Jeopardy”, which is way more popular than the original song by the Greg Kihn Band: “Jeopardy”.

Suffice to say, Weird Al’s material is extremely entertaining. Due to this, it’s only natural he’d get his own TV show! Most people will probably think of “The Weird Al Show”, at least when it comes to shows featuring Al. However, Weird Al also has a series of specials on MTV called “Al TV”.

These 10 episodes were aired sporadically from 1984 to 2006, which is pretty insane when you think about it. It’s crazy to think that even after MTV went off the deep end in terms of quality that they would still make new Al TV specials. To be fair, the later specials definitely had lower budgets.

So what was Al TV exactly? This is something that’s quite hard to describe. Al TV was conceived as a parody of MTV, which had just started around that time. The show was hosted by Weird Al himself and often focused on him making a ton of surreal gags while talking to the audience. Al would also show plenty of music videos, a fair amount of which featured songs made by him.

The early episodes had a lot of music videos from other stars at the time, but they were eventually phased out. I’m glad they did this, since I feel having real music videos in this show takes away from Al’s content. Al does his best work when he’s poking fun at something, rather than just showing something unedited/unchanged.

Each episode of Al TV took songs from a different Weird Al album. The only exception to this were the first two episodes, which were both based off Al’s second album: “In 3-D”. I always liked the idea of basing each episode off a separate album, since it allows for each episode to have its own unique taste.

The episodes also have plenty of skits, several of which are still entertaining to this day. My favorite one has to be a fake sweepstakes put on by Al, which goes by the name of “Lost Weekend”. The gist of it is that you win a trip in a Limo with Al, but neither you nor Al know where you’re going. You end up completely lost, and without money. At least you got to hang out with Weird Al and that’s what really matters here!

In all seriousness, I feel that the jokes on this show were pretty great for the time. They still hold up surprisingly well to this day, even decades after the fact. However, Al TV couldn’t go on forever. We were given the last episode of Al TV in 2006, and it definitely was the weakest one in the series.

A lot of the music videos made for the final episode were from random TV shows that featured Al or videos that were made with relatively small budgets. Heck, some music videos were even made in rudimentary Flash animation! Honestly, I just did not like that last episode much at all.

However, I do have to give props for Weird Al to do this show for over 2 decades. It’s especially surprising when you consider the fact that MTV stopped showing music videos long before this. Seeing a show centered around music on MTV in the mid-2000s was an absolute rarity, so it was nice seeing Al try to bring back the original spirit of the channel even if it didn’t change anything in the long run.

With that being said, what are my thoughts on this show as a whole? I’d say this series of specials is great despite the lackluster final episode. However, watching the series in its entirely can prove to be difficult. Several of the episodes of the series are floating around YouTube, albeit in a heavily edited form. Most of the episodes on YouTube have the music videos edited out of them due to copyright, which is a definite shame. Still, I can highly recommend this series to anyone with even a passing interest in Weird Al Yankovic! If you’re a fan of his brand of weirdness, then I suggest checking this series out ASAP!

Interview With Tyson Poulin, Aspiring Filmmaker

Interview With Tyson Poulin, Aspiring Filmmaker:

Hello, everyone! The concept of filmmaking has been around for ages, constantly evolving and growing with each passing decade. Filmmaking is a craft all its own, which requires meticulous planning and skill. Of course, I’m no expert in film production. I know some techniques and terms, but I’m not super knowledgeable on what goes into them.

That’s why I’ve decided to ask someone who knows a lot about films, and what goes into making them. Today, I have an aspiring filmmaker with me to share his craft with you all. Allow me to introduce you to a good friend of mine and a great filmmaker, Tyson Poulin.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, how about you tell us about yourself?

I am a 23 year old independent Saskatchewan filmmaker who does it out of passion. I see filmmaking as the best form of storytelling in the world. From the stories, the characters, the emotions film can evoke, to everything that goes into making a film, there’s a lot involved. I’m also a 2018 graduate of the Recording Arts Institute of Saskatoon’s Motion Picture Arts program and work a full-time job to pay bills and support my passion. I’m a semi-hardcore gamer (PlayStation for life), am the eldest of three brothers, both of whom I am at least 10 years older than. They also have the ability to make me feel old whenever they like, but they are amazing kids and I love them to death.

What inspired you to get into film in the first place? Was it a movie you saw, or just general interest in the medium itself?

Some of it came from general interest. I was a huge nerd growing up and loved watching things like Star Wars, or the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films. I also really enjoyed Disney classics like Toy Story, Tarzan, or Monsters Inc. I was fascinated with those characters’ stories, the worlds I would get taken to, and in some cases the action. I love good action scenes in movies and TV.

However, a majority of my interest comes from life experience in creative arts. My entire life I’ve been involved with drama. From school to community theatre, I’ve always been involved somehow. Growing up. being a drama geek felt like the only safe place I could be myself. I played a few sports, Softball mostly. It was fun, but it never gave me the feeling I had whenever I had fun rehearsing and screwing up lines with my fellow actors, or whenever I performed on a stage.

While attending Tommy Douglas Collegiate in Grade 10, myself and a few people I knew got together and started making short YouTube videos that I acted in. It was during that time I also developed an interest in editing. The guys I made the skits with never let me do any of that. I was also a huge wrestling nerd at the time and in the slightly older WWE games, there was an option to export short twenty second gameplay highlights to YouTube. So with that, a YouTube downloader, and Windows Movie Maker I learned basic editing while making dream match highlight reels. From The Rock vs Shawn Michaels, to The Undertaker vs Sting, to Stone Cold Steve Austin vs CM Punk; I had a lot of fun making those. Then I moved to Warman for my Grade eleven year. When I was going through electives, there was an option for computer media. It was in that class that I learned some more advanced editing as well as some visual effects in Adobe Premiere and After Effects. I started to make live action videos of my own from there.

On top of my like of acting and editing, I also enjoyed creative writing as well. So with this trio of things I enjoyed doing, I wanted to make a movie. So, just before graduating high school, a few friends of mine helped me make my first film called Impulse. It was a 40 minute movie that I starred in, wrote, directed, and edited. The experience and enjoyment I had making that movie, as well as all my other previous experiences made me realize that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.

I imagine making your first film to be a rather daunting experience. What was it like making your first film, and what are the biggest takeaways you got from it?

As much as I enjoyed it, yes, it was a little daunting. At that time, just the idea of making a movie felt nerve-racking. I remember on one of the days we were shooting, the thought came across my mind was “We are actually doing this!”. However, just like whenever I was in drama, I always had fun with my friends on set. One of the things that made the decision to go into film much easier was how familiar some aspects of it felt to prior experiences I’ve had in my life.

The biggest takeaway I got from making Impulse was the certainty of wanting to be in film the rest of my life. Despite everything I did in creative arts up to that point, for some reason I wasn’t sure about it being the thing I wanted to pursue full-time. There were times where I would’ve wanted to be a teacher, or a video game tester, or even a professional wrestler at one point. Impulse changed that for me. I’ve been 100 percent certain since that day that this is what I want to do with my life.

Is there any specific film or project you’ve worked on in the past that has left a lasting impact on your filmmaking?
As someone who likes playing with visual effects, two action films I did called Resistance and Retired, taught me that if I’m going to do an effect, to do it well. Both films featured some terribly done 3D helicopters or drones. Next time I do any 3D object stuff I know to be more careful and if it doesn’t work, then toss it out.

My most recent film, The Confessional, on the other hand has taught me my biggest lesson to date. One of the biggest essentials to film is community. You can’t do it alone. Before then, I was always doing too much, from the acting to the directing, as well as everything else. I remember a conversation I had with a friend after making Impulse, and when I told him I did just about everything, he said “Holy crap, that’s a lot! You should get some help.” Over the last few years, I’ve had little to no success. I have a bad habit of carrying too much on my shoulders and doing it all myself. Then in the Confessional, I had help from the very beginning. When I was going through my idea for the project with a friend that would become my Co-Producer for the project, she jumped on board right away and took so much weight off my shoulders, that I don’t think I would have done this film without her. I still wrote, directed, edited, and shot the film. However, I didn’t act in this one. My Co-Producer casted, scouted locations, called people in to help. With her help, as well as the help of a few others, I know what it feels like to not have to carry it all on my own and that I have people in my life who are here and are as committed to this as I am.

When you started making films, what kind of issues did you face? Is there anything you’d go back and change about said films if you had the time/budget?

Finding people to commit to films alongside me. That probably was the reason why I developed the bad habit I mentioned of carrying too much on my shoulders. I knew little to no one when I started that were fully committed to film like me. I also faced then other character flaws like rushing to get certain things done. If I can go back to any projects I rushed when I started, I would take more time with them. I sometimes wish I could go back and either fix or get rid of terribly done effects that I wanted in there, because I wanted to do something cool. There’s a number of things I wish I could change with the proper time, budget and other resources. We’re all human, and we all have things we’ve done in our pasts that we would want to change. However, what I try to do is instead of spending time wishing I did this differently in one of my projects, I accept my film for what it is and learn for next time. I’ve learned from personal experience that I can’t keep looking back at everything that has happened and keep wishing for something else. It’s not how I want to live my life. Same goes for my film career.

Film has a ton of genres and sub-genres, so I imagine it could be taxing to someone starting out in the field. Do you think there’s specific genres one should avoid when starting out, or should a new filmmaker just go with the flow and try any genre?

Do genres you are comfortable with at the start before challenging yourself with genres you are less comfortable with. As you are starting out, you want to build a solid foundation for yourself and have an idea of what you are doing in the filmmaking process. If you challenge yourself right away with a genre you’re not comfortable with, you could get overwhelmed and even say to yourself, “This isn’t for me”. It’s like going to the gym for the first time, going crazy in your first workout, and then being unmotivated to go again, because you are too worn out from that first work out. You need to start easy.

Adaptations are pretty common in film nowadays. With that being said, have you ever adapted anything from a different medium into a film?

Not as of yet. With all the adaptations and remakes Hollywood is dishing out, I’d like to stick to original stories. With that being said, should the right story come along, I would love to make an adaptation out of it. It just has to be the right one.

Should someone starting out on their first project go all-out and make something big, or start off with something small?

This goes back to starting with what you’re comfortable with. You could be like me and go with a 40 minute sci-fi film where you’re blasting lighting out of your hands. You could also start with something small, like one which involves you having trouble studying for a test. It all depends on you, your skill level, and what you are comfortable with doing.

I imagine every film being difficult to make in its own right, but is there any specific thing that’s hard to get right in any film?

Personally, I would say it’s the script. If you have a terrible script, then not even the best acting, cinematography, and editing may be enough to save your film. While those things are also extremely important, the script is the main foundation of a film. It takes a lot of time and effort to write a fantastic story that makes sense, has great well written characters, and that has the least amount of plot holes as possible. There are so many things that can go wrong with a script. If you are not careful, bad writing can bleed all over a film and people will see that.

Alright, so we’re at the end here. It’s been a wild ride and I’m glad you could answer all my questions, Tyson! Anything else you’d like to add?
For any one starting out, one last thing I would like to make clear is that your first number of films will suck. Impulse and several of my other projects are not great. And that’s ok. Every filmmaker makes bad movies, especially at the beginning. Christopher Nolan’s first film wasn’t The Dark Knight. George Lucas’ first film wasn’t Star Wars. Filmmaking is something you learn to get better at with time and practice. Good film isn’t easy to make. Filmmaking is the ultimate creative art form. If you do it, do it because you love it.

Well spoken, Tyson! I’d like to thank you for answering all my questions, and providing some great tips for filmmaking beginners. I’m glad you could provide some insight into filmmaking for both my audience, and me as well. It’s good to have you on the blog, and I hope you have a good one!

I’ll conclude this interview by showing you Tyson’s website, which contains a ton of his amazing work:

https://www.tpoproductions.com/?fbclid=IwAR1sg8yeqAQYA69kGS2gqDtjY8Oho0o8sQMCzWh066wBVaYmx4x8JLWzaOo

I’m Heading To Ganbatte Anime Convention This Year!

I’ll be honest, I try to be a “one convention a year” kind of guy. I like to save money, and I usually don’t feel the need to attend conventions too often. However, a friend convinced me to head to “Ganbatte Anime Convention” this year. This is a con that’s been going on for the past few years, but I’ve never had a distinct interest in it.

After some fine convincing from a good friend of mine, I’ve decided to take the plunge and attend this year. There’ll be tons of awesomeness at this year’s event, such as a guest appearance from my favorite voice actor: Brendan Hunter! This is a guy who’s been voice-acting for years, but sadly goes unnoticed by the general populace. I’ll talk more about him in a later post, but for now I’ll just say that he’s super talented!

I hope to also find some sweet loot at this convention, preferably some cheap anime! The first anime convention I ever did had cheap anime by the bucket-loads, which was much appreciated. Here’s hoping this convention does the same! I plan on talking to all the voice-actors and writers as well. I have a feeling this event will be fulfilling, and I hope to see you all there!

Midnight Pulp: A Truly Interesting and Awesome Streaming Service

We live in an age where modern media is getting considerably dumbed down. A lot of the newer TV shows and movies are getting censored, while removing a lot of the edginess and weirdness of older franchises. As a result, the shows we consume nowadays feel watered down. I’m a guy who likes his media to have some kick to it, which is why I’m a huge fan of a streaming website called “Midnight Pulp”.

For those of you don’t know what that is, Midnight Pulp is a streaming website that focuses on showcasing the weirder and pulpier side of media. In fact, their slogan is “Streaming All Things Strange”. Midnight Pulp lives up to that name, and provides the viewing audience with a ton of old and extremely out there movies and TV shows.

It’s got old and obscure horror films, like Basket Case. It’s got a ton of forgotten old-school anime, such as Golgo 13. Heck, it’s even got the Toriko anime movie on its platform! There’s so much on this streaming platform that isn’t available on Netflix, or Amazon Prime.  What makes the site so great is that it feels like you’re attending some kind of late midnight screening of old pulpy films.

Another thing I like about Midnight Pulp is the fact that it’s free, for the most part. You have the free version, which enables you to watch a fair portion of their library without paying anything. However, they have a ton of stuff you can only access through “Midnight Pulp Plus”. It’s only 5 dollars a month for a subscription, and it gives you access to their library of strange and surreal TV shows and movies.

That’s why I can wholeheartedly recommend Midnight Pulp, since it hearkens back to that older time when the surreal and strange was more accepted by mass media. I love watching something that’s odd, strange, or bizarre. As such, I highly recommend Midnight Pulp!

Also, I’m not affiliated with Midnight Pulp in any way. I do not work for them, and I’m not being sponsored by them. I just like their service and want to talk more about it! Also, keep in mind that not every show/movie on the service is acceptable for people of all ages.

A lot of the things on the service are horror films, gory anime, or schlock action movies, so it’s to be expected that they’d have a lot of kick to them. Still, if you’re like me and love old pulpy movies, this is the place to go! Show your support for the grit and dirt of old shows and moves by checking out this awesome app/website!

The website can be found here: https://www.midnightpulp.com/

No Man’s Sky Is One Interesting Game

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This is the best E.T. Simulator ever!

If there’s one thing that most people can agree on hating, it would have to be the concept of “disappointment”. No one likes being disappointed, especially after being given promises of something grand and interesting. That’s the problem a lot of people were faced with upon the release of “No Man’s Sky”. No Man’s Sky was hyped up as being this incredible video-game about space exploration. The game’s developer, Hello Games, was hyping this game up a ton!

After several delays, the game was released to the public. Unfortunately for the people who bought the game, they were given an incomplete package. No Man’s Sky was missing a large percentage of its advertised features, and was considered a very underwhelming game as a result of this.

The lack of features, the simplistic gameplay, and the bland story were all big contention points for most people. Still, Hello Games didn’t give up on the game. Sure, they released a bad game, but they weren’t content with just leaving it in that state. Over the course of three years, they got to work on updating and fixing the game.

At this point, it barely resembles what it started out as. It’s still a grind-heavy exploration game in space, but it now has many features that made it more approachable. Character creation was added, along with a new story mode. You could now command a massive freighter and a group of frigates.

I’ve started playing No Man’s Sky just a week ago, and I’m enjoying this newer version of the game. While I’ve never played the old version, I can definitely see why it was so bad. Gameplay videos of the game’s previous version would put me to sleep every time I watched it. However, playing this new version fills me with a sense of wonder that I haven’t felt in ages.

Flying through space in my personal spaceship is definitely a fun experience! Being able to mine on planets, hunt for rare treasures, and buy new gear just helps add to this already great game. There’s so much to do and see, even if the game becomes extremely grind-heavy in just an hour or two.

I’m still in the early stages of the game, so I’m not going to review it until I’m far enough into it. I’ll say that it is a solid experience, and I genuinely enjoy this game! I’ll be sure to talk more about it in a week or two. Keep your eyes peeled for the full review!