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DeZ Vylenz Log

A captain's log of activities and projects, affiliations and developments involving the Shadowsnake ship and various guerilla film expeditions. Updated in between storms by DeZ Vylenz, Writer - Director - Martial Arts Choreographer

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Race for Gold

Olympic Games have finished. Didn't have time to watch any of it, although some of the opening ceremony visuals directed by Zhang Yimou were impressive. $ 150 million US balls for that though, while a large majority still lives in poverty.

Michael Phelps with 8 gold medals after ploughing through lots of water and equally explosive on the 100 m, 200m and 4X100m relay: Usain Bolt. What was most striking is the naive spontaneity he broke world records, even when he started celebrating early on the 100 m. This I liked, because it was refreshing from the usual split second races and there was now clearly an athlete who raised the game a few levels up.

With a background in traditional martial arts, I'm not tuned into the competitive side of things, as there will always be somebody or thing better at a certain area. It still is best to compete with the best in one self, so in that sense the nature of sports lies in exactly that element of play and triumph. It's rare to still see that in any area of sport, as it's all too much of a business now, so often the rhythm of it all AND the play feel rather programmed. Which is why seeing excellence can be an aspiring thing, it means people CAN still break the moulds.

Which brings me to the issue of intellectual property, rights, ownership and all that. When I searched for videos of Usain Bolt's winning races, there was not one snippet of footage to be found. It was all removed if it had been posted and it turned out that NBC in the USA had bought the rights to most of these races. It does seem logical that a network paid millions for the rights and needs to recoup that through national viewers.

Yet, there seemed to be angry reactions from a certain site when our legal consultant had merely done his duty and asked a stream to be removed in the USA. They were difficult to contact, so he filed an official take down, which was rather unfortunate for the site in question, but at the same time it is common knowledge that every film, book or record is copyrighted. This is not because of psycho urges to control or own things, but simply because it's a creation and a production that took a lot of investments to make.

There is now a whole generation of people who are taking for granted that films are also very expensive media to produce. Especially in our case as an independent, The Mindscape of Alan Moore absorbed a lot of our resources to get it to the cinematic standards of the industry and not just shoot a cowboy thing on video. So it was good to get supportive emails from numerous fans of the film who'd either purchased it or at least understood the mission impossible guerrilla filmmakers take on.

I also value the free spirit of the Internet, but am also worried that if the current trend continues with more and more people just looking at simply shot videos for entertainment and don't take the time to see a film in the cinema or on a proper DVD, in a decade or less the real art and craft of film making will be lost to the mainstream.

And of course there are new revenue models coming up for media, but a lot of it is advertisement based, which casts doubts on the development of original ideas and stories. We'll see, nobody can really predict what direction this culture will take, but at the moment the whole vibe on this planet is a gigantic rat race.

Posted by DeZ Vylenz  

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Back in Legoland

A longer than usual update after a few weeks of absence on this weblog. That happens when you're on the move and caught in the tropical rhythm of non-stop moving, hypnotized by the sound and the fury of Paramaribo by day and night with intermittently wild space and forest and urban development flashing by the open car windows.

Strange to be back in Europe since 2 August, but yet to find my rhythm back. In Suriname I was shooting or editing from 8 am till late afternoon the last few weeks, driving through streets occasionally congested with rows of impatient cars in the middle of hot weather interrupted by heavy rains in between.

I was involved with several companies and missions, but the main commissioned project was a corporate documentary about a shipping company that I was filming and editing with veteran filmmaker Borger Breeveld, famous from his lead acting role in Wan Pipel, the 1975 film directed by Pim de la Parra (and the inspiration for the later Mississipi Massala by Mira Nair). It was a surprisingly refreshing collaboration with his professionalism and good sense of humour and plenty of action in the middle of port and ship operations. Just filming on the "Sentinel II" alone (the largest ship to come all the way up the Suriname river) was an experience, with the engine room alone covering three stories.

Then with numerous computer crashes slowing down the editing we managed to complete the documentary just in time before Borger had to direct the Suripop XV gala on Friday 1 August, which he kindly enough asked me to assist on. Jorgen Raymann (the Surinamese comedian-presenter, voted as TV personality of the Year in The Netherlands) was presenting with Henk van Vliet, so it was great to learn how a big show like this with singers, dancers and musicians had to be organized and orchestrated from start to finish. Unfortunately I could only experience the general repetition and pre-general rehearsal because the remaining flights were full and with business to do in Europe I couldn't risk getting stuck for the most of August.

So here I was, descending that Saturday onto Schiphol Airport, into a grey Legoland where more Kafka style paperwork would be waiting to fill precious braincells with useless information. Good thing there were also productive meetings and new projects, one being a Dutch horror feature film production where I'll be involved as 2nd unit director and Fight Choreographer.

After a week in Amsterdam I'm finally back in London now after 10 weeks, with a 50 cm stack of post to process. On the underground train it was sad to read that Isaac Hayes died last Sunday, a great composer and as a brilliant arranger a great influence on my filmmaking. From his work it was obvious that a very playful but tightly disciplined (and not to forget Soulful) mind was at work, creating layers of sound and mood into unforgettable albums like the Shaft soundtrack, To be Continued or the brilliant track "Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic" on Hot Buttered Soul. Check it out.

Mister Hayes will be missed by millions of people, respect to the Man and rest in peace.

By the way, last time I didn't activate the Free ride mountain bike clip as a link, so here it is:

Posted by DeZ Vylenz  

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Free Ride Mountain Biking

Most of the last two weeks I've spent in the field, filming in the port of Paramaribo, irregular schedule of ships coming and going, super stackers and forklifts racing past us, containers swinging dangerously close which brought flashbacks of Road Runner and Coyote cartoons of heavy loads flattening characters like post stamps. A welcome change of the usual indoor shoots I do when filming music videos, gigs or drama. I still prefer the sense of reality and danger that you get on location + nothing beats fresh air (although with heavy machinery around there's always a whiff of diesel floating by).

Last Tuesday 1 July was the 145th anniversary of the Emancipation of Slavery in Suriname. Missed most of the festivities as I joined a group on a mountain biking / Freeriding expedition in the jungle. Enjoyed the sharpness of mind needed to race down mountains and jungle paths, canopy gliding and more, similar sharpness a filmmaker needs to get the right shots. In between I filmed as much as possible of the trip, nearly flew out of the 4W drive pick-up a few times and off the bike, but the result is already edited. We went back to the city later in the night after a boat ride with bruised elbows and a mouthful of sand, but it was all worth it.

Check it out:

Posted by DeZ Vylenz  

Friday, June 20, 2008

Greetings from Paramaribo

Been ridiculously busy on the move, so didn't have the time to update the blog for weeks. Thanks for your complaints and queries, I wasn't aware my digital ramblings would be missed. Not only was I sapped by the creative writing and business going on, but I also felt bored with computers (I do most of my writing with a fountain pen and a set of Moleskin notebooks) after spending hours a day machine gun typing on a plastic keyboard.

Since the last update I've experienced a number of things in the field, ranging from a signing with Alan Moore at Orbital Comics, which was full of positive vibes, a radio interview at Resonance, business meetings and proposal for some very interesting future projects, preparing the US launch of The Mindscape DVD, then flying off to Amsterdam where more stuff was going on, jamming with my band Blut Meridian a few hours before embarking on the plane to Suriname.

At the moment I'm in the capital Paramaribo shooting a corporate film, planning a documentary and a feature film for next year. In between those main missions I ended up at an Aucaner Maroon "dede hoso" (a funeral party) with the Maroon reggae band Jah Youth, took some time off to celebrate an uncle's 60th birthday near a creek with a whole range of Javanese food. Next week I need to attend a traditional Hindu wedding of a friend who briefly returned from the Netherlands to get married here. Then there's so much more on the schedule that I sometimes wonder if the computer and the Internet are not heavily overrated, if not overused. Whilst I admit computers are great tools to get certain jobs done, to me they are exactly just that. Tools. Not a way of life.

To me life is breathing fresh oxygen outdoors, moving in the field rather than working in stuffy office buildings, smelling scents from marketplaces, seeing and hearing different cultures, people, characters and so on. So I leave it up to others to adjust their "Mood" on their Facebook and what have you not user based group programs.

But I promise I'll try to keep you posted on the weblog with what's going on. Life is a script you can write for your self. Gotta run, have some writing to do.

Posted by DeZ Vylenz  

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mindscape Reaching Critical Mass

Friends, brethren and sisters, hope all is well. Them Shadowsnake Crazy Commando Missions continue...

For those interested, a quick update from the Shadowsnake frontlines of guerila filmmaking and some dates of things that might be happening near you:


* 28 April was the official UK release of The Mindscape of Alan Moore DVD.

Available in all the main shops, HMV, Zavvi and more.


* 24 May there'll be a signing with Alan Moore and the director for the DVD at Orbital Comics, 14:00. 148 Charing Cross Road, Central London.


* June 25, 7pm. Ośrodek Postaw Twórczych (Creative Art Center) in Wroclaw.


* September: Official US release by The Disinformation Group.


* And on Thursday 15th May, 10.30pm - 11pm.

Radio (internet also) show live + other stuff before about comics.

See below for more info/notice:



> Thursday 15th May, 10.30pm - 11pm.


> Resonance 104.4FM in London or live to listen to on (follow simple instructions on the website).


> James DC interviews highly respected film director Dez Vylenz about his recently released DVD 'The Mindscape Of Alan Moore' (, an esoteric, psychedelic journey into the formidable imagination of one of the worlds most extraordinary literary, all-round talents. Dez will also be talking about some of his new projects, interspersed with clips from the film.



> Thursday 15th May, 5pm - 6pm.


> Resonance 104.4FM in London or live to listen to on (follow simple instructions on the website).


> James DC hosts a special round-table discussion on comic-book god Jack Kirby - the legendary and prodigiously talented genius behind 60 years worth of classic comic strips; his most famous period being the Marvel Comics revolution in the 1960's with such radical characters as The Fantastic Four, Captain America, Hulk, Thor, Spider-Man, Iron Man, X-men and a whole slew of other amazing creations.


> James is joined by highly respected comics artists and alumni Dave Gibbons, Gary Leach, Mike Lake and other special guests, to talk about Kirby's legacy and the recently published Abrams book 'Kirby, King Of Comics' (

Posted by DeZ Vylenz  

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