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Tampa Bay model Lisa Marie Lowrey photographed by Tampa Bay photographer C. A. Passinault during a photography session for Tampa Bay modeling resource site Independent Modeling in 2003. Photography by Aurora PhotoArts photography and design Tampa Bay - Tampa Bay Film Festival PictureTampa actress and model Sarah Bray photographed poolside in Tampa Palms (New Tampa) by Tampa Bay photographer C. A. Passinault in 2002. Photography by Aurora PhotoArts photography and design Tampa Bay A Dancer in a Tampa Bay event photographed by Tampa Bay photographer C. A. Passinault. Photography by Aurora PhotoArts photography and design Tampa Bay - Tampa Bay Film Festival PictureTampa filmmaker Chris Woods headshot by Tampa headshot photographer C. A. Passinault, Aurora PhotoArts Tampa Photography and Design.Tampa Bay model, dancer, and choreographer Melissa Maxim photographed with Lance, a nightclub dancer, in a Ybor City nightclub by Tampa Bay photographer C. A. Passinault in 2002. Photography by Aurora PhotoArts photography and design Tampa Bay Tampa model and actress Roxanne Kowalska (right) and singer Michelle pose for a pre-production shoot of the short indie film “The Pledge”, in a preproduction photography session with the original cast by C. A. Passinault. Both Roxanne Kowalska and “Lowie” Laura Narvaez (not pictured) were scouted for the film at a Passinault audition. Casting crew for Passinault Entertainment Group conducting auditions for the Reverence feature film.Tampa audition photograph of actresses reading roles from the Reverence feature indie film project by Dream Nine Studios.Two actresses read during an audition for the Reverence feature film, a Passinault indie film.Tampa actress and model Harmony Layne poses for pictures to be used in the Tampa indie film, The Quiet Place. Photograph by Tampa photographer C. A. Passinault, Aurora PhotoArts Tampa photography and design.Tampa singer, model, actress, television host, pageant title holder, and entertainer Ann Poonkasem serenades an audience near Brandon, Florida, in the Tampa Bay area. Photograph taken by Tampa photographer C. A. Passinault, who was sitting in the front row judging the beauty pageant with a camera and a long, 300 MM lense.Tampa actor Rob Mussell headshot by Tampa headshot photographer C. A. Passinault. Tampa model and actress Sarah Bray during a modeling shoot with Tampa modeling portfolio photographer C. A. Passinault in Riverview, Florida, in the Tampa Bay area.Scream At The Wall Cameraman at the Horror and Hotties film festival in Tampa, Florida.


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Underground Film Festival Status - Dream Nine Studios Site Updated

Thursday, March 11, 2010 - 4:00 PM - Tampa Indie Film Log for Filmmaker C. A. Passinault

All The Time In The World

I believe that the line above is from a James Bond movie (In her majesty’s secret service, the one with Diana Rigg, if I am not mistaken), but it fits here, too. Simply put, the Tampa indie film scene is close to where it needs to be to finally make some progress, but we are not quite there, yet.
Another reason why my film festivals and other projects are on hold. With the film festivals, too, I don’t want to do any of the more conventional ones until I have films to show. Also, I might point out, that I don't answer to anyone but myself, as investors are not involved, yet. I will not be making films and producing revolutionary film festivals to "prove" myself, but, rather, because it is in my best interest to do so (I have noting to prove to anyone, and I will not be goaded into doing anything prematurely; the few who are complaining are in no position to effect me one way or another). It's not a question of if, but rather when. All this is going to happen. It'll just happen when I choose for it to happen. I don't rush anything, or cut corners. I am in the position to do what I want to, at the pace that I dictate, and, as a result, whatever I do will be the best in the market.
There sure are a lot of film festivals in Tampa, and despite the large number of them, none of them have been that effective, especially for Tampa filmmakers. Right now, the market is quite cluttered. This said, I'm going to take my time; I am in no rush to do anything. Whatever shall I do before I proceed with the film festivals?
My event planning and stage production companies will not be limited to producing film festivals, although those film festivals will be the best that Florida has ever seen. We’ll be doing other types of events, too, and all those events will cross-promote each other. Lately, for those of you who do not know, I've been working on a video game festival. What does this have to do with me as a filmmaker? Well, I will become one of the best indie filmmakers, and a leader in the industry, but what most may not know is that I am one of the rare few who are equally proficient with video games (one of my greatest advantages is that I have experience in a wide variety of diverse fields and industries, and I have a talent for adapting ideas between them- good luck trying to follow my path. If you're really smart, and really talented, expect to spend at least ten years becoming professionally certified in each industry. I did in 20 different professions, and it wasn't easy, despite my advantages with my early education, talent, and IQ. If you start now, I can expect competition in the next ten to twenty years- if things work out, it'll be too late to compete with me in less than five). I’ll be able to do equally significant work in both the indie film and video game industries; in some instances, too, I’ll be able to do some crossover projects between the two, too.
My main media production company, Dream Nine Studios, is an independent film production company, a video game developer, and a record label. Besides the independent publishing business, my company will be making high quality, innovative media projects which will be marketed in a variety of ways.
Regarding video games, I have some rather unique concepts in new types of video games which have not been done before, at least not in the way that we will be doing them. Rather than focus on the type of 3D crap currently dominating modern video game hardware such as the Playstation 3 and the Xbox 360, I’m going to focus on older styles of games, sprite-based 2D games, which are about gameplay, and, well, playing around with the games. Game designer Jeff Minter (Tempest 2000, Defender 2000, Space Giraffe) coined the phrase "Retro Evolved", if I'm not mistaken. A lot of my video games will be retro evolved types of games, arcade games like they used to make in the 1980's, but made with modern technology and new ideas. My games will have stellar gameplay, lots of innovation, will be customizable, and instead of relying on patterns and standard AI subroutines, we will be incorporating things like artificial life and ingenious ways of introducing random elements to the games (with computers, it is presently impossible to generate genuine random numbers because of the nature of computers, not counting some innovations in fuzzy logic. I have figured out ways of introducing true random variables into games. Sure, games like the NES Castlevania are cool, and hold a certain charm, with their predictive patterns, but an even better game experience can be achieved if the game experience was more focused on actual gameplay, and there were no patterns which could be predicted. Also note that I love, and still play, those games).
In artificial intelligence circles, computer science has attempted to solve the myriad problems associated with AI with sheer computational power and scripted subroutines. This has not worked, and science needs to take cues from nature (you'd be surprised by how much watching nature work has taught me about business.... weird, but true. Most animals would starve to death if they didn't work smart routines every day, and be truly independent in most cases). In nature, higher intelligence is built upon by the building blocks of simpler biological processes. From the interactions of these processes arise the unpredictable, and fluid, nature of intelligence.
The key to artificial intelligence is artificial life.
I recall a simple exercise in artificial life that I experimented with using a Commodore 64 in the late 1980's, when I was in school. It was an experiment with variables, statistics, and interactions which were unpredictable because of the way that the variables interacted (also keep in mind that this has nothing to do with my concepts for introducing true random variables, and that this experiment is done with conventional computer subroutines and “random” numbers taken from the system clock upon boot. The interactions of those variables, however, become quite complex, and the results are quite unpredictable).
At any rate, I had read about the exercise in Omni, and replicated it with my computer. It proved to be really interesting, as well as eye opening. In the experiment, a computer program creates a type of “game” which “plays” itself. It is a virtual ecosystem, where you have resources such as land. On the land you have edible vegetation and water, and you start out with some rabbits. You also add foxes. For the population to grow, you have to have two genders, of course, and resources like food and water to sustain life. So, you add four rabbits, two females, and two males. You add three foxes, a male and two females (and pray that the male fox is able to survive long enough to have offspring with the females; I’ve seen instances where the male fox starved to death before he could reproduce, and the foxes died off, allowing the rabbits to overtake the limited environment, eat all of the vegetation, and starve themselves into extinction themselves). To make it interesting, you’d make is so that you could make a map with trees and other terrain features, and the game had simple behavioral rules based on input and output, and and /or subroutines. The game would have a time cycle, of course, with each real-time “turn” representing one day. For example, the rabbits could move two to three spaces per turn, and would have to navigate around obstacles in their way. Certain terrain slowed them down, too. The foxes also had to be able to move, and were limited to one to two spaces per turn. Each “animal” had perceptual abilities, too, like in real life. The rabbits could only see two spaces in front of them and one to the sides. They could hear for two spaces all around, though, and the noise that any animal made depended upon their speed and the terrain that they were moving over. You also had other variables taking into account things such as hunger, food consumption, etc. So, the rabbits roamed around, eating vegetation and drinking water. The foxes hunted the rabbits, which, in turn, were not as fast as the rabbits, but were successful in eating them when more successful tactics, such as ambushes, were stumbled upon. The foxes which ran around and couldn’t catch the rabbits starved, and didn’t pass on their “learned behaviors”. Thus, the game became populated with foxes who snuck around and ambushed the rabbits, rather than chase them around. The rabbits, on the other hand, learned, too. The rabbits when were not constantly looking around for dangers became dinner. The ones which did, survived, and passed those behavior subroutines to their offspring.
You get the concept. I programmed that scenario, with crude graphics representing the land, the animals, and other things, and let it rip. No two scenarios played out the same, and you had a “game” which took on a life of its own. The smallest changes would have significant long-term results. Sometimes, the rabbits outnumbered the foxes, consuming all of the natural resources. The rabbits, in turn, died off... mostly because, once they starved, they were slower and much less alert, becoming easy dinner for the foxes. The rabbit population declined, the fox population grew, and the vegetation recovered. The foxes would then outnumber the rabbits, starve because of a lack of prey, and the rabbits would rebound. Sometimes, things got out of balance, with the foxes eating all of the rabbits, and then dying off as they starved, leading to mass extinction.
I found that the best scenarios spread out the risks, where more animal types and behaviors were introduced. The more variables, the more unpredictable the scenario became. Most of the time, the scenarios would keep going indefinitely, achieving and maintaining a balance.
Most interestingly, when you allowed the computer animals to retain the solutions to behaviors that they stumbled upon, and pass them on to their offspring, the animals were able to achieve that balance on their own over time.
With more complex sets of interacting variables, resulting in subroutines which could learn the best solutions, you begin to have the building blocks of artificial intelligence which does not depend upon scripted scenarios, but is rather fluid and unpredictable.
Video games which use such processes are the future, as are games where the players can customize the games to suit their preferences, and games which allow the players to create their own content (I realized the custom game concept years before games such as Little Big Planet came about, too.) Games should offer total and complete freedom; sure, you can play it as-is, and have fun, but you should also be able to get under the hood and tinker with it as little, or as much, as you wish.
At this point, some of you may be wondering what advanced video game theory has to do with indie film. Well, that depends upon the scenario, now, doesn’t it?
In the video game industry, it has long been the case where video games based upon films generally suck (and vice versa), with a few notable exceptions (The Nintendo 64 game Goldeneye being one of them). This, of course, is because of incompatible differences between the entertainment formats. Video games are interactive entertainment, and they are all "cause and effect". Films are passive entertainment, where the participant can only watch, and is along for the ride. Video games based upon films often make the mistake of trying to shoehorn the established plot and sequence of events into the game, so that the “player” can “experience” what happened in the film themselves. This does not work. What video games should do is to take the premise of the film, and then allow the player to define their own experience through playing the game, allowing the “plot” to unfold within the limitations of the interactive medium of the video game.
Limitations of the interactive medium? What’s that?
Two examples. Yuji Naki and his Sonic Team created “Nights”, a 3D platformer, for the Sega Saturn. Nights was a fast paced game when the character transformed into Nights and flew around, but was a slower paced walk when the character was on the ground. On the ground, you could move in 3D, just about anywhere on the map. Because of the fast pace of the flying portion, though, the game designers decided to limit where they player could go to pre-determined 2D invisible “tracks”, as it was deemed that full 3D flight would make things too complex, and make the flying much less fun. They were right; by limiting where the player could fly, the gameplay was polished to perfection, making a more entertaining, and fun, game than a game where you could fly all over the place (incidentally, Nights also uses artificial life with the creatures that populate the world. The creatures interact with each other using natural cause and effect subroutines, and can even cross-breed to form hybrid creatures and new type of creatures. Such AL features were also included in later Sonic Team games such as the Dreamcast hit Sonic Adventure).
Shiguru Myamoto’s Super Mario 64, for the Nintendo 64, also enhanced the game experience by limiting what the player could do. There are levels where it looks like the player can go anywhere, but where you have to stick to paths in order to proceed in the game. Those limitations, which enhance the focus of the gameplay and the game experience, are implemented so brilliantly, in fact, that the player never realizes that they never have the freedom that the game teases them with.
As my friend Rachel Eaglin used to tell me, structure (limitation) frees you; a saying that she used to describe the limitations of the screenwriting format.
The key with both passive and interactive media is to figure out what they are really optimized to do, and then play up to what they are good for; to play to their strengths.
At any rate, the reason that I am posting about video games on my film blog is that I am thinking about doing a video game festival before I debut my film festivals. I have all the time in the world to do film festivals, especially when I have to have some of my short films done first. There are a lot of film festivals here in Tampa, but not a single dedicated video game festival or event. I'll probably just circle the wagons with other types of events, first, demonstrating how advanced those events are, before moving in and taking the Tampa film festival market.
And, with that, I have to go now.


UPDATED 01/03/11

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