Category Archives: Arts & Entertainment

Let Pixar teach you how to tell stories! It’s Free!!

Pixar Animation Studios has launched the first of six free online lessons covering the art of storytelling, led by Pete Docter, Mark Andrews, and other filmmakers from the renowned Disney-owned studio.

The new series is available for free through online-education platform… Continue reading Let Pixar teach you how to tell stories! It’s Free!!

Magic

This week, make some magic.

Children have the ability to believe without bias, to find wonder even in the most mundane of places and objects. As adults, we become dulled to the magic inherent to life, and perhaps we stop seeking it altogether. However, as photographers, we have an opportunity to reclaim it. Magic and beauty can be conjured in the simplest of photographs, which may then inspire wonder in the viewer. Continue reading Magic — The Daily Post by Jen H.

7 Super Effective Ways To Ramp Up The Tension In Your Screenplay

Gideon's Screenwriting Tips: Now You're a Screenwriter

Dramatic conflict is the backbone of quality screenplays. What better ways to raise the conflict in your screenwriting than modulating the tension in your story?

Tension in your writing can be defined as a period of elevated emotional intensity.

Here are some ways to effectively utilize tension in your story:

1) BURSTS OF TENSION

Tension can be either short lived or sustained. In order for tension to be effective in your script, it must be ACTIVATED, SUSTAINED and RELEASED. Prolonged tension will only tire and disengage your audience.

2)  MACRO INTENSITY

The levels of tension must be manipulated to hook your audience. Firstly consider the overall level of danger in the story arc.

In the macro story, the tension needs to be escalated in a “SAW TOOTH” format. This is basically the attack-sustain-release model. Think about the set pieces in your story and how they correlate with periods of  tension. My preference is for…

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There’s No Such Thing as ‘Too Old’ or ‘Too Young’ to Be Creative

Read Julia Cameron‘s entire article on Motto 

Ours is a youth-oriented culture. A glance at the tabloids tells us of the exploits of the young. There is not as much of a platform for the artistic achievements and accomplishments of the older or even the middle aged. We falsely believe that creativity belongs to the young, and so, when we pass a certain age, we tell ourselves we are “over the hill.” We ignore the fact that many artists create well into what might be called their “dotage.”

The idea that creativity fades with age is false.

Twenty-five years ago, I wrote a book on creativity called The Artist’s Way. Over four million people have worked with that book. I have taught many live classes and have often found my just-retired students to be the most poignant. Setting out to write a book on creativity and aging, It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again, I discovered that many of us have a fiery passion we long to express in our golden years. As we turn our hand to the page, crafting a memoir of our time on the planet, many dreams surge to the fore. It is not “too late” to begin their pursuit. Often, our life’s experience gives us a “leg up” in creating meaningful art. Comfortable in our own skin, we may find the gift of candor as a passion that has been brewing for decades pushes to the fore with energy and conviction.

We are taught to believe that negative equals realistic and positive equals unrealistic. Nonsense.

Internalizing these destructive messages, we believe we’re “too old,” decide it’s “too late.” But “I’m too old” is something we tell ourselves to save ourselves from the emotional cost of the ego deflation involved in being a beginner.

In the moment of creation, we are ageless. We feel both young at heart and old and wise. “Artists work until the end,” my photographer friend Daniel said to me recently. Yes, they do. This is why retirement from one career— even if it is our major career—is not, by any means, “the end.” Because the act of creating something, anything, renders us timeless, because the act of creation is led by that inner, youthful part of ourselves, we continually reinvent our lives through our art. The capacity to create is as innate as our very life force. I would even say that our creativity and our life force might be one and the same.

Julia Cameron is the author of more than 30 books, including The Artist’s Way, Walking in This World, Finding Water and, most recently, It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again.

Writer Director Tina Gordon Chism on the Creative Process

At a time when it’s so easy and convenient to whip out a smart device to jot down an idea or take notes, it’s refreshing to see that the good ol’ notebook hasn’t gone completely out of style.  In this Creative Spark segment, writer and director Tina Gordon Chism (Drumline, ATL, Peeples) talks about her passion for the “slow burn” of Continue reading Writer Director Tina Gordon Chism on the Creative Process

The Creativity 50: 10th Anniversary Edition

Creativity (formerly a print magazine, now a website) rolled out the first “Creativity 50” list during their 20th Anniversary in 2006. Ten years in, the dynamics of the list seem to have shifted. In the beginning the majority of those who made the list were from the advertising and design world. This year, however, only 16% of the list falls into the advertising category while 42% of the list is comprised of creatives from the entertainment world. Continue reading The Creativity 50: 10th Anniversary Edition

Creative Process by Animator Simon Otto (How to Train Your Dragon 2)

“Creativity is like a dark room. You go in and you start shining light on things and build out from that… (genius) that’s not who I am. (But) I’m capable of letting it evolve and keep adding on to it; keep making it better. To me, creativity is about searching for something. And when you know it’s good, you need to not let it go. “Simon Otto Continue reading Creative Process by Animator Simon Otto (How to Train Your Dragon 2)

JSU Exhibit highlights social issues and tourism in Brazil

During the 2015 summer term, nine art majors in Jackson State University’s College of Liberal Arts had the opportunity to visit Salvador Da Bahia, Brazil, as part of the JSU Passport to the World study abroad program.

“It’s actually one of the only places that I wanted to go (to), so when they brought up the opportunity I just took it.” senior Chris Skipper says. Daria Davis, also a senior adds “It was surreal. It was nothing that I expected it to be.” Continue reading JSU Exhibit highlights social issues and tourism in Brazil

Dexter Allen: Just a Country Boy with a Little Talent

2014 was quite a year for blues artist Dexter Allen and there are no signs that he’ll be slowing down anytime soon. After playing lead guitar on and off for the legendary Bobby Rush for 14 years- four of which he spent traveling the world as his band leader, Allen had a proposition for Rush; his fourth project entitled “Bluez of My Soul.” Allen wanted it released on Rush’s Deep Rush Records label.

dexer allen and bobby rush on stageRush liked the idea and the CD was released in April of 2014 making Allen the first, and so far the only, artist to join Rush on the label. 2014 was also the year Allen made his big screen debut portraying Sam Thomas in the James Brown bio-pic “Get on Up“. Explaining his character he says “[Thomas] was the bassist for James Brown in 1964 [and] played for [Brown] on the T.A.M.I. Show.” dexer allen get on up

Allen is currently marketing and promoting his second release on Deep Rush Records called “Trilogy of My Bluez” available since June 2015. On the title Allen says, “you’ve got some traditional, you’ve got some R&B, you’ve got some soul…three different types of blues all rolled up into one.”

Click to hear samples on Amazon.com
Click image to hear samples. Photo from Amazon.com.

Local fans grooved to some of Allen’s new tunes at the Third Annual Jackson Rhythm & Blues Festival this past August. This year marked Allen’s second time performing the event. Before the festival Allen said “I’m excited about meeting the fans, old ones and new ones. And I think this event is so good for the city of Jackson. We haven’t had anything like it since Jubilee Jam.” He added “I’m also looking forward to reconnecting with friends I haven’t seen in a long time.” Allen’s hour-long set included “the new single “Put Your Bluez on Me” and some of the old stuff too.”

Allen’s passion for the blues isn’t relegated to just playing and singing, he loves to educate as well. His philanthropic interests were first peaked in 2010 when Peggy Brown- currently the board chairman of the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame, introduced him to Blues in the Schools. Brown says, “He did a great job. He interacted with [the kids] and they loved him.” From there Allen did a workshop with autistic children. He was nervous in the beginning. “I didn’t know if my program was going to suffice, not knowing it was just what was needed. It was a humbling experience,” he says. Now, “every time I have an opportunity to work with autistic children or even autistic young adults, I take (it).”dexer allen and kids

Allen recently took on yet another philanthropic endeavor when he was elected to the Board of Directors of The Blues Foundation in Memphis Tennessee, Allen. A personal goal during his term is keeping the blues alive through education. He plans to create platforms that allow artist worldwide to collaborate, thus increasing visibility and ensuring longevity of the genre.

Allen’s work has been impressive to say the lease, but something tells me this self-described “little country boy with a little talent,” is just getting started.

Get show schedule and more at dexterallen.com.

Dexter Allen Trivia

  • He’s been married for 20 years
  • He has 3 sons all of whom are musically inclined. Allen says “I told them to get degrees first and then we can discuss music careers if they want to.”
    • Proud Poppa bragging rights:
      • 25 year old Dexter J. Allen plays football at JSU and plays drums at church
      • 19 year old Devin T. Allen is a band scholarship recipient at JSU. He plays keyboards and drums at church in addition to singing
      • 16 year old Deon M. Allen is an 11th grader at Terry High School. He’s in band and plays football
  • Allen spent 3 days on the set filming his scenes for Get On Up.
  • Allen has 5 albums but only the last two are on Deep Rush
  • Allen will serve a 3-year term on the Board of Directors of the Blues Foundation in Memphis Tennessee
  • Recently signed on with a new booking agent: Muzik 4 You Entertainment, LLC
  • In February of last year Allen received a resolution from his hometown of Crystal Springs. Less than a month later, in a resolution adopted by the Mississippi House of Representatives and Senate, Allen was described as a “Blues artists extraordinaire.” The resolutions commend the multi-instrumentalist and vocalist for his talents, accomplishments, and contributions to the music industry.

All photos courtesy of dexterallen.com except where noted.

A version of this article first appeared in Jackson Free Press Vol 13 No 49.