Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Addiction: How I Conquered Mine

"That's $8.95 sir...", interrupted my gaze across the restaurant.  I turned back around, "I'm sorry?".... "Dude, $8.95.", 'Jeff' (according to his name badge) says yet again to my obliviousness.  I fumble trying to grab my wallet out of my pocket and pull out my credit card, it's quite dusty.  "Thank you!" I say proudly, hoping the injection of some positivity will brighten his day.  "You're welcome.", actually looking at me and cracking a very small (yet still existent) smirk.  PJ = 1, 'Jeff's' Bad Day = 0.  I take my food and go over to a seat, continuing my 'gaze' across everyone.  There's two roofing guys in front of me, a family behind, and a few business people.  The setting?  A In-N-Out burger in Reno, NV.

The family behind me were talking about how their life is going to be changing.  "So me and your dad are having to get some more jobs to help pay bills."  They paused... Dead silence.  "While we're working during the week you'll be staying at Aunt Jackie's place."  The youngest started crying.  She reached up with her arms and her dad took her, saying.. "Honey, it's going to be ok.  We'll still see you every Sunday."

That hurt me.  Pretty bad.  I looked down at my food and saw the receipt.  $8.95 it says.  I wasn't 'used' to paying actually, it's incredible what one week out of 'the economy' does to your perception of the world.  My "why can't I have more" turned to "why don't we all 'have' more".   That all happened the previous week at Burning Man, which (I'm sure) you already have a plethora opinions and images soaring through your mind, by simply reading that word.   But this is what that week was to me...

Through a vacation from the economy, I found that the 'we' of us as one species is far more important than 'me'.  We are all the same, from every political leader, to every celebrity, to every homeless.  We are all in this together.

What a profound change in my life.  My addiction... It was to the 'me'.  I was addicted to my own advancement, my own 'beat out the pack' competitive mentality.  I was chasing reward like a junkie chasing their next fix.  Me vs. you.  Me vs. those roofing guys... Me vs. that family.  I worked and pay bills, why can't they?  .... That, to me, seems to be a disastrous mentality.  Why can't they pay bills 'and' be a family?  If I do well, why can't I spend a little more and maybe 'Jeff' can make a extra dollar an hour?  

"There is a law in nature where nothing takes more than what it needs to survive.  However we as a society break that everyday.  Things that don't follow that law?  Things that have unregulated growth and pull everything in?  Cancer." (Tom Shadyac)

So this New Years, when you raise up your champagne flutes to salute 2014, this is what I'll be saying.. Instead of "[I will] workout more", "[I will] work to be a better happier person" "[I will]... blank".  It'll be "[We will]..."  We are all in this together.

"A lot has changed in the past 300 years.
People are no longer obsessed with the accumulation 
of things.  We've eliminated hunger, want, 
the need for possessions.
We've grown out of our infancy."

--Capt. Jean-Luc Picard

To everyone...
I hope you have a fantastic 2014.

Have a great day!
--Paul Jacob Evans

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013: The Thanksgiving Cut Short

"We killed that Turkey!"  Steve belts from the kitchen.  His first attempt at cooking one, and did a damn fine job at it.  There's five of us at Steve's, having a small Thanksgiving gathering for those who can't go home for the holidays.  For me, if you can't spend the holidays with family, getting a group of great friends and food is the next best.  Sweet potatoes, mac-n-cheese, and something called 'Watergate salad' by Rachel who made all three.  The latter was a dish of pistachio pudding, whip cream and marshmallows.  I dig whip cream and sugar, so I happily dug into the alien green custard.  Really good times, we even went around the table to give 3 things that each of us were thankful for, something I've never done at Thanksgiving.  It reminded me of the holidays back when I was growing up, southern-style food and good times.

We all sat down on the couch watching the game, and random YouTube videos after the meal for the obligatory turkey induced coma.  "PJ, can you take me home?"  I paused as it took a second for the statement to register.  "You need to go?", I asked.  "Yeah, I have to work at 7 am tomorrow for Black Friday.", Samantha with a mildly defeated look.  "Yeah, no problem... I'll take you home."  So I did.

After I dropped her off, I went through my friends in my head.... One after the other I'm finding that they are nearly all working massive shifts today (Black Friday).  One friend who works at Sears is required to work 3 consecutive shifts today.  Oh, and he is not allowed to take 'any' time off between now and the new year.  Guess he won't be seeing his family this year, or next, or after that.

I guess all I want to ask is this...  Are we happy?  Is all of this worth it so some corporations can turn a profit today?  Are we doing the right thing?  What has happened to us as a people?  

Are we willing to let go of the only holiday where we are grateful for what we have, and replace it with this:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5S6UKRaM5fA

"Sounds kinda crazy.  They act like animals.  Just to buy something for $5, save $5, they actually murdered this guy.  You know, it's ridiculous."  

You know what man, it is kinda crazy and I think it should change.

Have a fantastic holiday,
and please take a moment to be grateful today.

Thank you,
--Paul Jacob Evans

New Shorts!

Smash Out Pumpkin!

Kathy Ketchup!

Have a fantastic day!
--Paul Jacob Evans

Friday, October 25, 2013

A Bully From My Past

I'm waiting to go to my acting class.  Sitting at a restaurant literally feet from Ventura Blvd watching cars race by during rush hour.  My phone chirps and I take a quick peek, expecting the usual flurry of 'so-and-so invited you to ...' notices that I tend to skip over.  I smile once I find out that one of my old friends from school found a blog post that I did and reposted it, which is something where I'll pause to take in the gratefulness that gave me.  In the comments of his post was a name I haven't seen for nearly 15 years. My heart froze.  I haven't heard his ridicule or felt his punch in decades, yet that fear is still dormant in me.  I immediately felt that I was being chased down on the playground right after lunch, all from seeing his name in a Facebook comment.

I take in a breath before clicking on his name to take a cautious look at his profile, only to see a post he made that morning. At the end, there's this word he puts out there and my jaw hits the floor.  Surely this titan that was solely responsible for most of the emotional scars of my youth didn't write this. I went through his page and saw that he seems to be a fantastic father, husband, and all around great guy.  I'm floored by all this.  "Him!?", I scream in my head, "Really?! HIM!", with each thought becoming more and more desperate.  More and more like the child I was when he tormented me.

His word that sent me into a tailspin of emotions?  Namaste. 

This really bothered me, I imagine seeing Dick Cheney in a soup kitchen helping the needy, it's just something that you stare at, hoping a camera hops out and yells "punked!"  I keep looking at that word, maybe it'll finally turn into the joke he must have been intending, yet another ploy to get unsuspecting PJ into some awkward situation... Yeah. Been there, done that.  I sigh a bit, then decide to click back on my news feed.  And that's when 'it' happens.  A post at the top of my screen...

"Others in life are the direct reflection of who you are on the inside."

I wish I could have seen the look on my face when I read that. I'm sure it was part 'you have 6 months to live' and part 'you ARE the father'.  I locked my phone and stowed it away, leaned back into my chair to soak in this moment for whatever lesson there is to be learned.  I hear a screech and turn to watch a car almost hit a bicyclist, whom ran a red light on Ventura. The bicyclist yelled out "asshole!" and shook his fist in the air.  Time almost froze, that post came back into my mind, "Others in life are the direct reflection of who you are on the inside."

I was at a park yesterday and saw two dogs being walked, they kept their eyes locked on each other, then it started.  One would get tense, the other got tense... One started growling, the other started growling.  This continued on till they were nearly about to fight full force.  Then a third dog (one of the owners second dog) came up and licked the other with a out-worldly calmness. The fighting dogs immediately relaxed and started not to mind the others existence.  The entire episode ended with a single curious lick.

It was a fantastic lesson for the day, and a gorgeous day at that.  It'll be a lesson that I need to constantly work on.  When others come into my life and try to bring in the anger, frustration, emotions that don't serve me;  I need to bring to them the calm, relaxation, and peace that helps me.  If you allow them to over-power you, you become part of the dogfight that will inevitably happen.  News got you down?  Turn it off.  Tired of listening to your co-worker complain?  Tell them a good story instead of listening to theirs.  If you keep listening to the thoughts and emotions of how life gets you down, don't be surprised that you are under life's foot.  Be the one who doesn't listen to the noise, be the one who steps above the chaos everyone else is trapped in.  You want to help the world?  Contribute one happy and healthy person to it.  It really is that simple.

I guess you can learn a lot from a dog.  Have a fantastic day!

--Paul Jacob Evans

Thursday, October 24, 2013

New Shorts! (Agent Stone & Murder for Dummies)

Hey Everyone!  I've been hard at work making shorts for FilmFights.com!  Here are a few of my latest ones.

Agent Stone: The Feast of Shadow

Dr. Nightmare has Agent Stone in her secret underground lair.  Agent Stone has the launch codes, but the Dr. knows Stone's one and only crippling fear.

Action ZERO!
Genre: Action
Time Limit: 1:30
'An absolutely badass action hero turns out to have an irrational fear of "blank".  Does it get in the way of a mission?  How does he react?  If so what happens?


Murder for Dummies

A Scorned Ex-lover takes the ultimate revenge.  It's a bad idea to piss off a witch.

Friday the 13th Haiku
Genre: Haiku
Time Limit: 0:17
Create a "Friday the 13th" themed VIDEO HAIKU! Bad things normally happen on Friday the 13th.  A video haiku is a 3 shot film.  1st shot is 5 sec., next shot is 7 sec, final shot is 5 seconds.


Have a fantastic day!
--Paul Jacob Evans

Sunday, September 29, 2013

What Holds You Back?

I'm running a bit down Sunset Blvd trying to get to the corner in a hurry.  I open the door and walk into a small black box theater, take my seat and turn my phone off.  The presenter stands up and starts asking what we think holds us back.  Everyone starts out with the usual gament of feedback:  money.... time.... roadblocks.... other people.... etc etc etc.  She takes those, and says 'Yeah, ok... lets put those in a single box.  What's that box called?'  The class now had a difficult time seeing where this was going, I raised my hand and said 'Failure?'.  She replied, 'No... That goes in the box too.  What's the box called?'  A few more answers were given out, and again... 'No... That goes IN the box too.  But what's the box called?'  The class is looking around at each other, not seeing what I'm now going to call the elephant in the room.  She smiles a bit, and says she now wants to play a game...

(In her class it was simply the test video), and we were simply told do not pay attention to the black shirt team, just count the white shirt team.  We played it twice arguing about how many passes they made.  I even discussed what I thought was a cross-team swap that didn't happen.  We literally talked about this for 10-15 minutes, then she simply asked... "Anyone see the gorilla?".  Class went silent.  "Oh yeah... He was there... Enters from the right, goes center, beats on his chest and leaves on the left."  Nobody said a word.  "Honestly, did anyone see the gorilla when we watched this video twice?"  Nobody, and now most of the class is chuckling at the absurdity that was missed.

"This is selective attention, and it's coming from your conditioned mind.  Remember that box?  That's what it really is, your conditioned mind.  That laser focus you have, or you think you have, keeps you from seeing opportunity that's right in front of you.  Have you ever noticed that when something unexpected happens, your mind mind goes into chaos?  And we have found two facts pertaining to this.  A.) When chaos happens, your defenses take over to keep you safe.  This is your conditioned mind.  and B.) Your success depends on how well you deal with this chaos.  Do you run and become defensive?  Or do you embrace it?"

She further really defined what 'chaos' is.  It's changes that are being requested of you, outside of your 'mental temperature zone'.  The larger outside of the zone, the bigger the chaos you experience.  There's stories of people she's studied that have turned down massive promotions at work, to blowing their winnings from a lottery, to rejecting a booking into a premiere role.  And all because the chaos was too much for them and they went into protection mode.

And it's this 'protection mode' that is the problem.  It's job is to keep you safe, and more importantly at status-quo.

Ever since that meeting every time I've felt the chaos and my protection mode kick on, I simply turned it off and embrace the change.  As actors/directors/filmmakers we are confronted by both opportunity and change on a daily basis, I'd say that it is part of the job if you choose to be in this field.  And now armed with this knowledge, it's a much easier hurdle to cross.

Hope this helps you in your endeavors!  :)

Have a great day!!!
--Paul Jacob Evans

PS.  My first short!  In under 24 hours: wrote, shot, lit, directed, edited, and composed this mini short for FilmFights.com: 

Friday, August 23, 2013

My Friend Bob

"Hi!  How are you today?", the voice rips through my concentration that I have centered on my phone.  I pause for a second or two while staring at my apple pie in mild hopes that this attempted connection will move off to someone else.  "How nice this weather has been for us for the past weeks...", he continues.  Nope, didn't move off.  I now dash some looks around to finally see a elderly gentleman seated two seats too my left who was looking at me.

Donning a red baseball cap, red flannel shirt, red windbreaker, and red shoes sits this man with a apparent obsession with the fore mentioned color.  "Hi there, my name's Bob."  

There's a instinct to resist his connection in me, I think something our current world has instilled in us. This instinct wants me to brush if off with a 'Hi' back then right back to my phone closed off from the world and his desire to connect.  'Why is he bothering me?', a voice in my subconscious asks.  But something else was calling out that I should connect back.  So that's exactly what I did. "Hi Bob, my name is PJ"

Bob smiled, "Well hello there PJ."  He opened up and happily told me his life story.  He's a Los Angeles native, born 1934 in the Westlake district.  We talked a lot about the weather and spectacular views, which I oddly found very interesting.  He talked about the LA 7-9 year downpour season, "...it's like being in Seattle", he said with a smile. "It causes a lot of problems, everything is so flat up here in the valley and the ground is so dry.  So the valley just goes into a massive flood within hours.". Bob reflecting... "I remember being a kid and riding in the car with my family during one of these storms. You couldn't see a damn thing outside the windows. My mom is yelling at my dad to stop and after a brief fight he finally does.  We get out in the rain to see the bridge that we were just about to go over isn't there.  If my dad didn't stop we would have gone into the current and surely drowned.", he tags on the end, "That was my first brush with death."

We chatted for two hours in the diner.  Talked about sights around Los Angeles and how things have changed over the past 80 years. One story in particular really struck me, It was 1942 and Bob was 8. A neighbor across the street died and Bob and his family went to the funeral.  Here's the story in Bobs' words...

"We're at the cemetery, over there at Forrest Lawn in Glendale.  And the widow is at the fence griping it with her black gloves on, looking out towards the lake crying. I walk up to her and say, 'Please don't cry, when I grow up I'll marry you'.", Bob smiled with a tearful reflection, "That was the first time I've been to Forrest Lawn, my favorite place in all of Los Angeles."

I had a meeting I needed to get to so we said our goodbyes and I left.  "Ok now, you have a good day. I'm here everyday. Goodbye PJ.", he smiled again and waved goodbye. 

As I'm walking to my car I start to wonder if in life today I don't allow the unexpected to happen. I'm so used to allowing life to happen as I see fit.  If I'm not looking to engage with others, I don't. Usually I would have brushed off Bob and got back to the mindlessness of the online social worlds.  I guess I do this for a false feeling of control over my own life. But what Bob taught me is that I end up not allowing the unexpected to happen, and that's where 'life story' truly exists, in the unexpected.

So the next time some random person tries to connect with you, connect back, you just might be allowing your life story to happen.

Here's to you Bob.  Thanks for being unexpected.   :)

Have a fantastic day!
--Paul Jacob Evans

Thursday, July 25, 2013

My 5 Little Secrets

I'm sitting in a diner, having a slice of apple pie and iced tea for breakfast.  The walls are covered with pictures and artifacts from film and tv of the 50s and 60s.  The diner has this warm vibe with a after-glow of positive support of a by-gone era.  As I'm conducting my daily ritual, the waitress comes by and refills my small iced tea.  Two seats to my left are some older gentleman, and by their interactions with the staff appear to have been coming here as regulars for a long time. Over at a table behind me are some industry folks laughing and talking about a idea that they'd like to pilot.  As I'm scanning the room looking for this oddity that I'm feeling, something that I'm not used to, something seems marvelously different.  Then, a magical observation comes to light.

Nobody is angry.  Nobody is upset. Nobody is complaining.  In fact, nobody is being negative at all.  Which is shocking since moments ago I was on my iPhone facebooking as so many of us do, with post after post about financial market failures, political who said what's, and why I should despise so-and-so for who-knows-what.  Today though while I looked at my news feed it just felt out of place, so I put my phone away and looked around soaking in this isolated incident of happiness and tranquility.

Then it hit me, why do we lust so much after negativity?  It's as if we have some societal addiction with anger itself.  And this addiction for us has become self feeding, like a compulsive hoarder or eater.  "I'm angry because they're angry" who are angry "because they are being angry already at us!"  A deafening spiral of contempt that we are drowning in.

I laugh a bit when I realize this, the waitress dashed a look over and smirked, as if she 'knew' what I've stumbled upon.  Bathing in the moment, with a clear happiness from the understanding and acceptance of my new discovery.  Kinda like how a alcoholic laughs at the absurdity of their issue, once they can truly see their addiction. Then I look down at my writing tablet and begin my ritual...  Something I've found that has completely transformed my life for the better.  Seems as it could be a cure for this addiction, and something anyone can enjoy.

Write down 5 things you are grateful for.

That's it, there's nothing else to it. Every morning I have a tablet and will write down 5 things that I'm grateful for. I might even read the past weeks posts, which is awesome considering that's 35 individual items i'm truly grateful for. With each item really feeling the surge of positivity that comes with that gratefulness.  If you do this for 30 days, you'll be blown away how your life starts aligning and the magic that you'll experience. 

So if you, or someone you know has a addiction with negativity. Share this with them, it might just be the intervention they were needing. 

Have a fantastic day!
--Paul Jacob Evans

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Waiter Test

How to Administer "The Waiter Test"

Before I agree to work with anyone, whether it's a collaborator, potential client, or an agent or manager, I give them "The Waiter Test" (it's capitalized because I've administered the test for years, and it never fails to give me a sound answer to my questions of character).

Taking a leap of faith with a new person professionally can be intimidating, there’s always worry that they’re not in alignment with my standards. What if this person is controlling, or non-committal, or worse – arrogant? The Waiter Test answers all these questions. It is an important aspect of my professional life and it’s saved me from blindly stepping in line with the wrong person many times. 

Here’s how the Waiter Test works, in three steps.

1. Invite Potential Collaborator to a Nice Restaurant and Observe

Usually I’ll ask them to meet in person, and lunch is a great option. Nice restaurants are my favorite places to meet, because a fancier atmosphere can be an invitation for elitist behavior. I believe if a person is disposed to arrogance, an upscale restaurant is probably the most likely place I’ll see that type of behavior before he and I hit the trenches together and it’s too late.

I always get there at least fifteen minutes early so I can observe how Potential Collaborator makes his entrance. Does he nod to the hostess when he comes in, or does he breeze by and ignore her greeting? I want to work with people who extend themselves and are friendly, even to strangers, so I really watch for this.

2. Let’s Order Drinks

Since I came early, I've already ordered my drink but now it’s time for Potential Collaborator to order his. To me, there’s a huge difference between saying, “I’d like a water, please” and “I need water.” One of those sentences is rude and demanding, while the other is polite and respectful. Which person would you rather work with?

3. Watch and Learn

From here on out, Potential Collaborator will make or break our future together. Snapping his fingers to get a waiter’s attention would drive me nuts and that would be the end of the relationship. But treating the waiter as an equal human being? That’s what I’m looking for in a working partnership.

What I've learned from the Waiter Test is that someone who really has their life together doesn't have to tell you about it. They show you through action. I’m looking to surround myself with these kinds of people, because that’s the kind of worker I am.

Go out and try "The Waiter Test" yourself! I bet you’ll be surprised by how much you learn.

Have a fantastic day!
--Paul Jacob Evans