Creating in COVID-19 Times

In these uncertain times, I know that I’ve started to automatically tune out anything that begins with those four words: “In these uncertain times”, so please forgive me. COVID-19 turned the world upside down for over six months and counting as of this writing. Everyone’s plans for 2020 were postponed in an effort to social distance and flatten the curve. Meanwhile, I’m over here– as Ted Kendrick and Artificial Ink Creative– still looking towards a creative future, keeping my head down, trying not to cause too much trouble, and use the pause from the pandemic to write and create as much as possible while the free time has presented itself.

Participating in the Producer’s panel for AVLFilm.com‘s February 2020 mixer was one of the last normal things that I did this year, and it was definitely a privilege to chat about the film production process alongside James Suttles of The Asheville Studio and SuttleFilm, and Jennifer Trudrung of Night Frizz Productions. I was booked to work as a Production Coordinator on a TV web-series that was scheduled for production from May to July 2020, but postponed until 2021 because of the pandemic, and while I’m still welcome to the position, I am unsure as to what 2021 has in store for me. In any case, I took the time to be certified by Safe Sets International in their COVID-19 (Level A) training for the film and video production industry in preparation for the inevitable and eventual return to set.

Some projects were still possible to undertake in pandemic times. For example, during the summer, I collaborated with my brother Joe Kendrick to create an informational video for my father’s law firm NWKT in Birmingham, Alabama, which featured firm partner William McKenzie, to assist plaintiffs in their COVID-19 legal strategies. We captured the video in the mock courtroom as you can see in the behind-the-scenes image embedded below. Other blog posts have shared details on the work that I did for the Watchtower Database around the same time as well.

What I saw at the beginning of 2020 as a devastating blow to my routine, being laid off my day job in early January after the entire office was shut down in order to outsource work from another city, actually turned out to be somewhat of a saving grace. Otherwise I may not have been as easily eligible to receive financial aid in unemployment insurance, which kept me afloat while I turned my attention towards writing and developing multiple projects, including five short film scripts written in collaboration with Rome Widenhouse such as the long-teased THE REPLICA RAID III, and some I have not mentioned on the blog before: sci-fi shorts 4SIGHT and A DRIVE-THROUGH WINDOW TO THE MULTIVERSE, as well as surreal horror shorts AUTOTOMY and THRESHOLD. I’ve also dipped back into songwriting and music recording, an art that I used to focus on more prolifically, in early production on a potential outdoors comedy web-series, and in development on a comic book passion project, the psychedelic noir romance ADDITIVITY. Keep an eye on this blog and follow @artificial.ink.creative on social media for updates.

2020 Film Fest Follow Up

The “Cat Fly and Chill” livestream event from Cat Fly Film Fest ran from May 29th to the 31st. Ted Kendrick worked in extras casting and festival strategy on Kira Bursky’s BEAUTIFUL MESS short that played on opening night, as well as multiple projects on the second night including DOUBLE AGENT which was written and directed by Kendrick, who was also a producer on MOMHEART starring Gunner Willis and directed by Joe Naylor and Joe Pellegrino, and “Elevator Went” music video for the band Wyla which was directed by Rome Widenhouse. Artificial Ink Creative sponsored the event, which included the following funny promo spot that played on the third night, created by festival hosts Jeff Alexander and Drez Ryan.

Later in the summer, DOUBLE AGENT played at the Lanett City Film Festival in Alabama on Friday, August 14th, which also occurred in its first livestream format, considering the COVID crisis. Ted Kendrick was privileged to participate in a Q&A over a Zoom call to chat for half an hour with festival director Eric B. Wright. Though there may still be a $10 paywall, the festival is available to view online.

The ConCarolinas Short Film Festival touring screenings were unfortunately cancelled along with most comic book conventions in 2020 because, again, for the pandemic– but! The ConCarolinas programming team readjusted and scheduled a screening at the Knight Drive-In in Salisbury, NC. THE REPLICA RAID II was scheduled to play on Friday, September 11th from 8-12pm. Given that the short involves a car chase sequence, what better place to watch it than at a drive-in?

What better place to watch our car chase action short film #TheReplicaRaid♊️ than at a drive-in?

Posted by Artificial Ink Creative on Monday, July 13, 2020

WDb on TWITCH!

Watchtower Database is streaming weekly on Twitch! James Strecker spends every Tuesday reading an issue of JUSTICE LEAGUE ADVENTURES and taking detailed notes, every Wednesday involves myself attempting to blind play some DC Animated Universe related video game for the first time, and Thursday features Mattie Washburn, currently reading through the novelization of BATMAN: RISE OF SIN TZU. You can stream for free on Twitch, either live or later in the archive collections which are embedded below. Subscribe on the Twitch channel or follow @dcauwatchtower across social media so you don’t miss any reminder posts.

I will be first to admit, it took me a few weeks to figure out how to best facilitate the stream. My laptop is eight years old and could barely handle streaming and video game softwares simultaneously, but I upgraded my hardware for more powerful processing, purchased a wireless controller, and slowly but surely learned how to best manage the lifestream. Some of the first few videos playing through BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES on Game Boy were a little wonky, but I got the hang of it eventually, and now it’s become something that I greatly enjoy.

Once I completed that game over six episode installments, I played SUPERMAN, also for Game Boy, which I beat over an hour and a half in a single session, though I won’t ignore that I had to use cheat codes in order to stay alive to the end. The game was based on SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES and released in 1997 just before Game Boy upgraded in quality, so the gameplay doesn’t totally hold up, but certainly not as terrible as the infamous SUPERMAN 64 video game for Nintendo 64. I’m sure viewers got a kick out of me stumbling my way through it anyway.

I moved on to BATMAN BEYOND: RETURN OF THE JOKER for Game Boy Color next, and beat the game after two sessions with no cheat codes! I found that this was the easiest out of all the games so far. If I died, I could respawn with all three lives and full health out of the last door that I had entered, so it was simple to pick up wherever I left off. Interestingly, the game did not completely follow the same events as the animated feature film that it was adapted from, including various scenes that never happened like Batman Beyond fighting through the Arkham Asylum ruins, and glancing over the death of the Joker, a flashback event that was depicted differently in both the traditional and uncut releases of the film.

Next on the lineup, I plan to tackle THE ADVENTURES OF BATMAN & ROBIN on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (aka SNES). I played this game when I was a child, so I’m looking forward to returning to it again. THE ADVENTURES OF BATMAN & ROBIN was also released on SEGA CD, SEGA Genesis, and Game Gear, which were all slightly different in plot and design, so I’ll be working my way through each of them in time, but alternating with other DCAU games so the extensive BATMAN & ROBIN comparison content doesn’t eventually become confusing. You’ll just have to see for yourself, every Wednesday at 12pm PT / 3pm ET for the foreseeable future only on the Watchtower Database Twitch channel!

Update on the WATCHTOWER DATABASE

The Watchtower Database continues to grow and evolve! Despite being in the middle of a pandemic, we’ve been lucky to continue creating steady content, and a lot of that energy and excitement goes to my channel cohorts James Strecker and Mattie Washburn. Bi-weekly coverage on BATMAN: THE ADVENTURES CONTINUE digital comic book series by Paul Dini, Alan Burnett and Ty Templeton has provided a consistent topic for coverage, and time in the zeitgeist for this niche fandom.

In light of the “12th Level Intellects” podcast, we have also conducted interviews with various creatives who worked on DC Comics animated series, such as writer Eric Carrasco and director Sam Liu from JUSTICE LEAGUE VS. FATAL FIVE feature film, as well as director Dan Riba who worked on animated series like BATMAN, SUPERMAN, BATMAN BEYOND, STATIC SHOCK, and JUSTICE LEAGUE. Such an incredible opportunity to discuss the craft with these cartoonists, and we’ve got even more on the way. The Dan Riba video was only part one of three, and we also spoke with writer Randy Rogel about his work on BATMAN and ANIMANIACS.

Aside from interviews, I also worked on several other videos, particularly a preliminary reading list for BATMAN: THE ADVENTURES CONTINUE where I compiled various books that Paul Dini and Ty Templeton had worked on in the animated DC Universe, and was joined by Owen Likes Comics who handled the latter half of the video where he revealed some of the mainstream Batman comics that featured characters like Deathstroke, Azrael, and Jason Tood who were set to appear in the DCAU for the first time in BATMAN: THE ADVENTURES CONTINUE.

Near the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, the Watchtower Database participated in the first At Home Comic Con. We spearheaded a panel with guests Chris Lord and Cameron Dexter from the Timm Talk podcast where we read through the script for THE NEW BATMAN ADVENTURES episode “Legends of the Dark Knight.” I was the voice of classic chummy Batman, Mattie was an excellent Joker, James Strecker was an A+ narrator, and the Timm Talk fellas were pretty funny too. At Home Comic Con was organized by Comic Drake, Matt Draper, and Owen Likes Comics, and featured many other prominent comics based YouTube channels, some you may even know yourself. I don’t know what you watch on the internet.

My most recent video essay was all about Batman and Superman aka the “World’s Finest.” I wrote a gigantic script tracing all of the team-ups between the two superheroes throughout the DC Animated Universe before their more regular meetings in the JUSTICE LEAGUE cartoon, which casual fans will recall was only three or four episodes, but I found many more obscure moments to relate.

Watchtower Database shares weekly free videos every Sunday on YouTube, but available earlier for supporters on Patreon. We have also started live streaming weekly on Twitch where every Tuesday, James Strecker reads an issue of JUSTICE LEAGUE ADVENTURES to determine its canonicity with the animated series, every Wednesday is a live video game played by me (usually for the first time, so it can be funny feeling it out in front of an audience), and Thursdays with Mattie Washburn, currently working through a reading of the BATMAN: RISE OF SIN TZU video game novelization. Good times are happening on the Twitch channel these days.

I have more video essays in the works right now; the history of Wonder Woman in the DCAU and the long road before her appearance on JUSTICE LEAGUE (timed to coincide with the release of WONDER WOMAN 84 in October), also an essay on director Tim Burton’s early influence and involvement on BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, another “Casting Call” episode spotlighting various voice actors in the DCAU on Elfrem Zimbalist Jr. who played Alfred and Tara Strong who has voiced Batgirl and Harley Quinn, and speculation on what the “Rann/Thanagar War” might have looked like in the DCAU, all leading up to a big livestream event to celebrate the channel’s five year anniversary on September 17th. Be sure to follow @dcauwatchtower on social media so you don’t miss that announcement and more!

“A Sonnet for the Spoils” poem

Ted Kendrick recently wrote a poem, “A Sonnet for the Spoils” after a day spent cleaning up the grandparents’ farmhouse in Prattville, Alabama which was built in the late 1970s, but has not been lived in for several years. Continued cleaning has been an endeavor, but there were several poetic elements from the day which were arranged in the following piece. Find the poem embedded below via Instagram:

The farmhouse is still beautiful, even though it’s no longer in its heyday. You can see various spots on the property that were loved by the extended Kendrick family, but have now rusted in age, like the basketball net over the grass or the loveseat swing. To aid in the poem visual, check out some photos taken on the cleaning day.

Artificial Ink in 2020 Film Fests

During the COVID-19 pandemic, most film festivals are postponing their events or switching to an online streaming format. Artificial Ink Creative worked on a few creative projects that have recently been selected for screening in late May 2020, particularly Cat Fly Film Festival‘s “Cat Fly and Chill” event as well as ConCarolinas Short Film Festival, not to mention festival strategy work for other filmmakers.

“Cat Fly and Chill” is the latest event from Cat Fly Film Festival, originally intended as a three day screening in Asheville, North Carolina, though now rescheduled as an online streaming event. Ted Kendrick assisted Kira Bursky in extras casting and festival strategy for BEAUTIFUL MESS short film which plays on the first day, May 29th. The second day on May 30th will showcase multiple film projects produced by Ted Kendrick including the DOUBLE AGENT short film which was also written and directed by Kendrick, MOMHEART short film starring Gunner Willis and directed by Joe Naylor and Joe Pellegrino, as well as the “Elevator Went” music video for the Asheville based band Wyla which was directed by Rome Widenhouse.

THE REPLICA RAID II short film starring Jeff Alexander was written, directed, and produced by Ted Kendrick, and will play at the 2020 ConCarolinas Short Film Festival, which is traditionally paired with a comic and gaming convention in Charlotte, NC but will stream online this year in response to the pandemic. THE REPLICA RAID III final installment is in pre-production with the hope to film ASAP.

Follow both Cat Fly Film Fest and ConCarolinas Short Film Festival on social media for more information on the upcoming screening schedules, and tune in to the online livestreams at the end of May 2020 in an effort to support indie filmmaking.

LOST DOMINION #1 comic book release

LOST DOMINION is a newly released space western comic book series written by Adam Mullen, illustrated by Mike Lombardo, and published by Lumo Station LLC. In the distant future where a devastating forty year long war brought humanity to its knees, an uneasy peace between two spacefaring empires, the Skran Imperium and the Naams Protectorate, hangs in the balance. On the brink of Interstellar War, a group of unlikely allies must join together to reclaim their LOST DOMINION.

LOST DOMINION is now available for digital download reading on Amazon.com’s ComiXology. The book consists of 48 pages for $4.99. Print issues will soon be available via KaBlam’s IndyPlanet direct printing and shipping service. Check it out, and if you enjoy the comic, please rate the book five stars, and share with a friend!

Click the cover to read LOST DOMINION #1!

I was hired as Editor by Adam Mullen to reconstruct LOST DOMINION from a prose short story to comic script format. Over a few years, I helped strategize the comic’s construction from production to its eventual release. Along with James Strecker and Valentina Viesti on coloring, I assisted in the art department as Letterer, designing the word balloons and sound effects for the entire first issue. Check out the book if it sounds like your thing, and follow @lostdominioncomic on Instagram for updates on the series and additional chapter releases in the future!

DOUBLE AGENT update

The DOUBLE AGENT short comedy film was written, directed and produced by myself, Ted Kendrick, for Aputure’s Light This Location contest, with Garin Wilson as Director of Photography, Absolute Grip. Co. on lighting, Rome Widenhouse as Editor, and various other volunteer crew. The short features Erich Reinhard as Jim Tackman, and Zach Echols and Tyler Buckner as the two gangsters. Although the film didn’t the win, DOUBLE AGENT is currently in consideration to play at multiple film festivals, which I hope to share more info soon. Despite uploading a version of the film online in November 2019, I asked composer, Tony Mozz, to revisit the first minute of music in an effort to strike more of a balance between the piano and dialogue, and create the new version, which is embedded below.

WATCHTOWER DATABASE video essays

Since the conclusion of GRAPHIC CONTENT, and continued brainstorming before the relaunch of the 12TH LEVEL INTELLECTS podcast, I’ve been creating random video essays for the WATCHTOWER DATABASE. Most recently, I focused on voice actor Mark Hamill, who played various characters in DC Animation like Solomon Grundy, the Trickster, Swamp Thing, and most notably, The Joker from BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES. This video might read a bit like an audible IMDb page, but that’s exactly the purpose behind WDb’s CASTING CALL series which spotlights various voice actors who have participated in the DC Animated Universe.

I also lent my voice to a recurring character called Dr. ManHatTed, an amalgam of WATCHMEN’s Dr. Manhattan and the Mr. Nobody villain from DOOM PATROL, who has been interfering in the cosmic construction of the WATCHTOWER DATABASE video continuity in an extensive story that began with Mattie Washburn’s missing chair, and made its way into the chaotic rant that is the following video. Naturally, the character is a man, myself Ted, wearing a hat, with a deep voice modulation.

Lastly, I also recently wrote the script, and narrated the below video essay spotlighting characters from the traditional JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK, a superhero team made up of magical characters that take on cases too mysterious or disturbing for the primary Justice League to handle. Since the JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK did not premiere until 2011, and the JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED cartoon wrapped in 2004, the team was never showcased in the DC Animated Universe (DCAU), though many of its members, such as Zatanna, Etrigan, and Deadman appeared in multiple episodes, and the team received their own animated feature film in 2017 as part of the DC Animated Movie Universe (DCAMU) continuity.