My title says everything you need to know about Erin Gaddi’s powerful film How To Be Happy!
For more info visit: www.captivatingcult.com
For irrepressible laughter try: http://www.captivatingcult.co.uk/laugh.html
I knew I had a calling for happiness from a very early age. I was thirty when my father asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I sucked my thumb for a moment, gazed up into his wise, fatherly face, then, withdrawing my thumb and waving it toward the sky, I cried, “President of the world, Pa! That’s what I want to be!”
Pa didn’t stop laughing for almost three hours. Then he took a sedative, swigged at the bottle of gin he always kept in the top drawer of his desk, tweaked my nose, ruffled my hair, and said, “Hey, son, that’s great news. But let me tell you this for sure – whatever you do, don’t ever grow up!”
I tried my best to follow my father’s advice but following Pa’s advice is something I’ve never been good at. Over the intervening years I grew up quite a bit. I’m now seven three (in heels), long in the tooth, greying of hair and widening of girth. In fact I’m almost as wide as I’m tall – and with each year I draw closer to an ideal representation of a sphere… I’ve become, at least in one sense of the word, increasingly worldly as I’ve aged.
Yet none of this has changed my perspective on life. My wild ambition remains undaunted, as does my dedication to being happy and to helping others find happiness too.
After that perplexing yet formative episode I needed to decide what to do with my life prior to becoming world leader. These things don’t just happen all at once, you see. They take planning, preparation and patience, patience, patience. So, as anyone might have predicted, my mind turned to the notion of joining a cult. I had come to see that it was my Ma’s turn to laugh so hard that she needed medication and I was confident that this was the way to do it.
People tell you that you should take your time when preparing to embark on momentous journeys, so I took my time. Years later I researched a few cults. There were some I liked, some I loathed, some I found a little disturbing… and some that weren’t even funny. (“A cult that’s not funny!” I remarked to Ol’ Stephanie, my wife. “What’s the point of that???”) Eventually I joined a cult that claimed that it wasn’t a cult at all. It was called the Church of the Third Veil. After three months of orgies and meditation I went home and told my ma. I couldn’t wait to see her face! “Ma,” I said. “You won’t believe what I’ve gone and done!”
I told her all.
Nothing. No response. It was like talking to a corpse in the final stages of putrefaction.
So I embellished the facts a little. “What d’ya think of that, Ma? Pretty amazing, eh? …Ma?”
When that got me nowhere I embellished the facts a lot: techniques, positions, more techniques, more positions, everything – but to no avail. Ma didn’t even break a smile. “Go to it, son,” was all she said – and “That’s my boy!” and “Give ’em hell!”
So I did.
The Church of the Third Veil sacked me some three years later, by which time I was their Spokesman for Alien Invasions, Hostile Incursions, Renditions, Water Boarding, Foreign Affairs and The Environment. As I later told Ol’ Stephanie, this was quite a blow. For a brief few weeks I suffered a diminution of my normally miraculous “h”-factor. The sense of happiness that had kept me ticking over even when the engine of my life stuttered and stalled was still there, deep inside me, throttling hard, but for a scant year or two it felt muted, dulled, daunted by the tribulations of life and time. Had I taken a wrong turn in life? Had it all gone horribly wrong? Was I plummeting into an abyss from whence I could never return? However, being almost perfectly ball-shaped by then, I bounced back in no time at all and came up with an alternative ploy.
After a most peculiar initiation I joined that sinister and litigious cult, the Savantologists. The Savantologists are a very different kettle of fruit and vegetables from the frankly raving Church of the Third Veil – and their path to enlightenment is a very merry and expensive one. But one thing kept me going. The sight of me, Luke Andreski, being enlightened, would be a sure-fired way of making Ma laugh!
So, poorer, thinner, older and wiser I found enlightenment of the Savantological kind… and went home with a great big smile on my face. I went in to my mom and she was there, in the chair she always sat in, and she looked up at me with that look she always gave me, and I showed her the new, enlightened me. “Look ma! It’s me!”
I even did a twirl.
Ma didn’t laugh.
She didn’t even smile.
She just gave me that mean, beady look that any son knows spells truble and said, “Son, your pa’s not very happy…”
“Pa’s not happy?” I tremoloed – all a tremble with worry and doubt and that extra little tingle of fear that I always got when my pa was mad. (What he did to those neighbours when they parked their car in front of our drive is another story entirely…)
“Wh – why, Ma? Why’s Pa not happy?”
“It’s you, son,” Ma said.
“Me, Ma?” I squeaked.
“Yes, you, son.” She looked at me long and hard, then said, “What’s all this following this and following that, son? What’s all this ‘being this’ and ‘being that’? What all this to-ing and fro-ing and um-ing and ah-ing when you were meant to be a force for good, a leader of men, a finder of truths… president, for crying out loud, of the whole wide world? Isn’t that what you said you were going to be? Isn’t that what you told your pa?”
“Ma!” I said. “Why, Ma – !”
There were tears in my eyes. Then there were tears on my cheeks. Then there were tears dribbling down my chin. I wasn’t completely sure whether they were my tears or Ma’s… but after an hour or so of sobbing I took a grip of myself. It hurt. “Ma!” I cried again. “You’re right! Pa may be away with the fairies and the wrong side of the kitchen but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to make him happy – so that’s just what I’m going to do!”
Ma snorted. She rocked to and fro, back and forth, in that old chair of hers, puffing on her pipe. The fragrant smell of Satan’s Finest Gold Blend filled the room. “Ma!” I yelled. “Put that out! You don’t need that!” And then it hit me. It hit me like a meteorite knocking the earth back to the age of the dinosaurs. It hit me like a sack of calf livers dropped from the highest building in the world. What Ma needed, what everyone needed, and what Pa needed most of all, was a simple straightforward route to happiness – one that didn’t need medication or hallucinogens or weird science… or bizarre beliefs or inner circles or a whole load of money and time… just something simple, just something friendly, just something happy… just something nice!
“Ma!” I said, my brain lighting up like a bowl of fruit beneath an impressionist’s brush – “Ma! I know what I’m going to do! It’s obvious! I should have knowd it all along!”
“Oh yes, son? And what’s that?”
“Ma! Ma! I’m going to start MY OWN CULT!”
Ma pulled her pipe from her lips. Her jaw fell. I think I had surprised her for the first time in her life. She looked like a horse that had recently chewed on a wasp.
“I’m going to start a happy cult, Ma! A nice cult! A captivating cult! A cult of happiness and joy! And why should religious folk have all the fun, Ma? With their hymns and their rituals and all their goings-ons and prayers! Ma! I’m going to invent some rituals and hymns and prayers of my own! Rituals and hymns and prayers for everyone. Rituals and hymns and prayers that atheists can do and sing and pray! Rituals and hymns and prayers that agnostics can do and sing and pray! Rituals and hymns and prayers that Christians and Hindus and Muslims and Jews and – and Zoroastrians and Zarathustrians can do and sing and pray! That everyone and anyone can do and sing and pray just to be a little happier! That’s what I’m going to do, Ma! Just you wait and see!”
And my ma’s chair creaked.
Back and forth.
To and fro.
Creak cra-creak creak.
Creak cra-creak creak.
And then I realised that it wasn’t my ma’s chair creaking at all. No. It was my ma laughing… and my ma laughed like a creaking chair for a very long time.
Happiness – the website:
Happiness – the ebook:
(Elsewhere – just try your local Amazon)
Happiness – the t-shirt:
Dark Green Books
Short Film and Video Competition 2012
Winner – First Place: Passive Tense by Erin Gaddi from the US http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6aKXddSQVI&feature=plcp
Erin Gaddi writes, “I am a junior business management major at Canisius College located in Buffalo, NY. I was born and raised here in Buffalo. I began filmmaking in my senior year of high school and followed my dream through college. What drew me into filmmaking was my senior year film class. It changed the way I saw films. Movies like Chinatown, Casablanca, In Bruges, and Apocalypse Now sparked a fire inside. From the composition to lighting to pace to all of the million little things that create the mood of a scene, I wanted to do it.”
The judges saw this work as a beautiful visualization of Luke Andreski’s poem Passive Tense, effectively dramatizing the themes dealing with the mysteries of love. They felt that the ultra-widescreen image was attractive, with a good use of music to enhance the words of the poetry and the images on the screen.
A fine piece of film making well deserving of its winning position.
Winner – Second Place: Orphan by Carolina Villarreal from Mexico http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QsM298fMhs
Carolina Villarreal writes, “The concept behind my Orphan video is the result of the combination of three ideas from the poem by Luke Andreski. To start at the beginning, at Luke Andreski’s website, where I tried to find the “ideal” passage that I could use for the film. With all honesty I can say that “Orphan” was not the poem that I wanted to use for my work because it didn’t grab my attention at the beginning and I believed that it was going to be complicated to use.
“After reading all the poems I was not able to choose an alternative and for that reason I looked back at the Orphan poem – and that was the moment when I became captivated – trying to analyze all the poem line by line, looking for an emotion or an image that I could use to reflect the words. I even tried to visualize who was narrating the story: a child? an adult? what was the biggest wish of a happy family? After that the ideas started to appear in my mind and I became excited by the possibilities that this poem had. And because of this I made a list based on the emotions that the poem transmitted, and the “hidden” meaning in each line.
“My conclusion was that the wish of the orphan was to have a happy family, to live with his parents, because we all in the end have that desire with our own families. After that what I needed to do was to summaries all the ideas and images in my mind to transmit the message. Because of all the possibilities it became almost impossible to work properly. My solution to that problem was to take a break.
“The next day when I was on my way to College I was very calm and listening to music without thinking about the meaning of the song. And in that moment the idea came to me: Why not try to show a man remembering the best moments of his life? Why not use photos to show all his life? All that I needed to do was to show all his life and show how he got his “perfect” life… but at the end all those images are shattered by another image of a lonely boy with a completely shallow album, with no “real” memory.
“To summarize, it was a very beautiful personal experience to try to make a connection between the people that were going to watch the video and the ‘being’ in the video.”
The judges felt that this was a powerful, insightful dramatization of the themes of Luke Andreski’s poem Orphan, especially notable for using the visuals with only music and sound effects but no narration or on-screen titles with the words of the poem. The first-person imagery was seen as especially effective. They liked the rough cutting feel and handheld effects.
An excellent selection for second place in the 2012 competition.
Winner – Third Place (Tie): Passive Tense by CityVarsity from Cape Town, SA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyGpKKO4m5o&feature=plcp
Cape Town’s CityVarsity write, “Our 1st Year animation students (diploma class of 2012) combined as a group to create a mixed media cut out sequence for The Dark Green Books Short Film and Video Competition 2012. The students were split into six groups and each group was tasked to interpret and then animate a passage from Luke Andreski’s poem “Passive Tense”. We felt with such a powerful poem containing such a variety of emotions and potential visual tones that an organic form of motion graphics would work well. The process of cut out animation is a traditional one which truly allows the student to have a very connected feel with the text. We are very grateful to Dark Green Books for this competition and for the encouragement and support of the author.” (See Author’s Choice, below.)
The judges considered the cut-out animation of the poem’s words and various appropriate shapes to be well made and clever, getting ever better as the film progressed. One judge said he loved the fish hook and the heart-shaped sweet towards the end of the film.
A resonant combination of images and words – well deserving of third place against strong competition.
Winner – Third Place (Tie): Orphan by Andrew Sieciencski from the US http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aA006X1tdyc
Andrew Sieciencski writes, “I first became interested in film production while attending a digital video editing class in my freshman year of high school several years ago. I began producing videos for clients a few years back and have only recently begun to participate in competitions. I am in college now for Communications and Multimedia and I plan to continue my pursuits not only in film but in music production as well.”
The judges viewed Andrew Sieciencski’s film as a touching visualization of the sad poem Orphan. They found the imagery lovely, with an effective switch from black-and-white to colour, and the use of music intensifying the emotion of the words and images. Luke Andreski also says, ‘I would like to mention an utterly stunning shot in the graveyard scene halfway through Andrew Siecienski’s film, beautifully framed by autumnal-coloured trees’.
A very beautiful, evocative and deserving winner.
Author’s Choice: Passive Tense by CityVarsity http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyGpKKO4m5o&feature=plcp
Luke Andreski writes, ‘When I first saw CityVarsity’s Passive Tense I was knocked out by the thought of these brilliant students pooling their talents to create this video!’
Special Mention: Touch Me by Gregory Metcalfe from Bristol, UK http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D69vnSWE4ds&feature=plcp
The judges viewed Gregory Metcalfe’s film as compact, original and well made. They describe it as a well-paced and crafted video which matched the words and sound effectively. They liked the device of the constant human figure and face at the centre of the video and felt that the end graphics were excellent.
Passive Tense by Erin Gaddi won $700 plus seven free downloads from www.lukeandreski.com
Orphan by Carolina Villarreal won $200 (US) plus three free downloads from www.lukeandreski.com
Orphan by Andrew Sieciencski won $100 (US) plus two free downloads from www.lukeandreski.com
Passive Tense by CityVarsity won $100 (US) plus two free downloads from www.lukeandreski.com
Christopher P. Jacobs
Christopher Jacobs is a film instructor and filmmaker based in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Since 1995 he has taught one or more sections of Intro to Film at the University of North Dakota, and occasional other film-related courses such as Creative Movie Production and the UND Summer Movie Camp. He is also the Movies Editor for the High Plains Reader.
Christopher Jacobs has been a film buff and collector since his junior high school days, with a particular interest in the silent cinema. The lure of film history eventually took precedence over an equal interest in filmmaking, although he has made several short films on 8mm and 16mm, and several feature-length movies on video (both analog and digital). He earned a Master’s Degree in Film and Dramatic Production Criticism from the University of North Dakota. He has taught a Creative Writing class focusing on screenwriting and currently teaches an Art of Moviemaking course covering screenwriting and production techniques.
Tim Eastop, formerly Acting Director of Visual Arts for Arts Council England, specialises in artists’ research, commissions, and organisational development. His most recent clients include Calvert 22 Foundation, Institute of Contemporary Art, Cultural Leadership Programme, National Trust, Royal Society of the Arts, University of Arts London and the University for the Creative Arts. He is also co-Director for two initiatives: Difference Exchange, a partnership of associates working across disciplines placing critical artistic practice in disruptive contexts; and The Collective, a scheme providing professional advice on how to build art collections in groups.
Tim has worked with national and international institutes: Ashmolean; Arts Council of Wales; A Foundation; British Council; British Antarctic Survey; Contemporary Arts Society; Courtauld; King’s College; Rijksakademie; Pistoletto Foundation; Tate; Triangle Trust; and Visiting Arts.
The poems on which these films are based can be found in Luke Andreski’s collection Being Left Behind, available from www.lukeandreski.com or Amazon.
Short Film and Video Competition 2013
If you have students, colleagues, family or friends with a talent for film production, please tell them about the Dark Green Books Short Film and Video Competition 2013!
The competition is easy to access, open to submissions from anywhere in the world and free to enter.
Submissions from schools, colleges and universities are welcome, as are multiple submissions.
To view last year’s winning entries take a look at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6aKXddSQVI&feature=plcp (from the US)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QsM298fMhs (from Mexico)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyGpKKO4m5o&feature=plcp (from Cape Town, SA)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aA006X1tdyc (from the US)
The caliber we are seeking speaks for itself.
For the 2013 competition rules visit: http://wp.me/p2pCeG-S.
The First Prize is $700 / Second Prize $200 / Third Prize $100.
If you have any queries please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Short Film and Video Competition 2014
The 2014 competition will be similar to the two earlier competitions but will use the work of multiple authors to form the basis of the submitted short films and videos. If you or an author you represent would like to participate in this competition please email email@example.com. Participants will contribute to the prize.
The winner of the Dark Green Books Short Film and Video Competition is shortly to be announced (10th Jan!).
Here are some examples of the wonderful shortlisted entries:
From Cape Town, SA:
From the US:
From Bristol, UK:
For more videos see http://www.youtube.com/user/VideoAndFilmComp2012.
The First Prize is $700 / Second Prize $200 / Third Prize $100.
More news to follow!
One for a beautiful life
Two for a beautiful wife
Three for children who laugh
Four for a welcoming hearth
Five for a poem that sings
Six for a love without strings
Seven for wisdom and health
Eight for liberty and wealth
Nine for a homeland without prophets or kings
Ten for the man who has all of these things
www.hunchthenovel.com; www.greenmessiah.com; www.tothebridge.info; www.nowwearegreen.com; www.portnoysdefence.com; www.agreenphilosophy.net; www.beingleftbehind.com; www.thebookofnewcreation.com; www.speakinginamonotone.com; www.swogstongue.com; www.theoutskirtsofmymind.com, www.amazon.com, www.amazon.co.uk.
Dear friends, colleagues and fellow lovers of the written word, a brief dispatch from the frontier between writing and film:
We have just uploaded a new film onto the channel for the Dark Green Books video competition. The link for this three minute indie flick by Erin Gaddi and Nick Breeser is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6aKXddSQVI&feature=plcp . I would love you to take a look. Please ‘like’ and share freely!
The prizes for the competition are:
First Prize $700
Second Prize $200
Third Prize $100
The competition rules and submission guidelines are available from http://shortfilmandvideoaward.wordpress.com/ .
Please let your budding film-maker friends know all about it!
With thanks and best wishes,
www.hunchthenovel.com ; www.greenmessiah.com ; www.tothebridge.info ; www.nowwearegreen.com ; www.portnoysdefence.com ; www.agreenphilosophy.net ; www.beingleftbehind.com ; www.thebookofnewcreation.com ; www.speakinginamonotone.com ; www.swogstongue.com ; www.theoutskirtsofmymind.com , www.amazon.com , www.amazon.co.uk .