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.

“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.

GRAPHIC CONTENT conclusion

My comic book and graphic novel review show GRAPHIC CONTENT has officially come to a close after its 26th and final episode, which fulfills a complete biweekly year long run on the Watchtower Database YouTube channel. The following episodes showcase creator owned original series like UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY and NO ONE LEFT TO FIGHT, an independent graphic novel by Jeff Lemire titled FROGCATCHERS, and Batman focused comics like THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS written by Scott Snyder with art by Jock, and THE BATMAN ADVENTURES HOLIDAY SPECIAL by Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, and Glen Murakami. The first two episodes immediately below were also filmed at a friends’ house in front of an extensive collection of DC Comics Archives editions which made a great backdrop.

The last few episodes focused on books like GREEN LANTERN: BLACKSTARS which was an interlude mini-series before the launch of GREEN LANTERN SEASON TWO by Grant Morrison, then the first of an original graphic novel series from Image Comics titled NOVEMBER written by Matt Fraction with art by Elsa Charretier, Gail Simone’s run on BIRDS OF PREY that inspired the film adaptation which featured Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn (and my episode coincided with the film release date), the MARTIAN MANHUNTER origin retelling mini-series written by Steve Orlando with art by Riley Rossmo, and ended with an episode on MAGE by Matt Wagner who wrote and illustrated the Image Comics series over several decades.

I’ve been lucky to have a forum to share my appreciation and speculation regarding what books I have been following, and grateful for the thousands of people who tuned in each episode to watch my take. Despite some experience in podcasting, being a talking head and internet personality took some adjusting for me, and even then I didn’t always correctly set the video focus or sound levels, but I grew and enjoyed the endeavor nonetheless, and look forward to continuing to produce content for the Watchtower Database. Catch me chatting with James Strecker and Mattie Washburn in the reboot of the 13TH LEVEL INTELLECTS podcast, and read my work in upcoming issues of the LEGACIES OF THE DCAU webcomic.

LEGACIES #9 // “2019”

LEGACIES OF THE DCAU released another six-page issue in the “Anno Domini” storyline. Anno Domini translates to “the year of our lord” in Latin which is used as a reference to an ominous ‘dark king’ on the final page cliffhanger. The subtitle “2019” reveals the setting, an important time in the DC Animated Universe since it was the canonical final year that Bruce Wayne operated as Batman, as expanded upon in the previous LEGACIES issue “Prebirth”. The “2019” issue was written by myself Ted Kendrick, pencilled by James Strecker, and cover art by Rick Celis.

“2019” occurs several months after the events of “Prebirth”, and centers around Superman giving a speech commemorating the ten year anniversary of the disastrous Near Apocalypse of ’09, a mysterious event involving Ra’s Al Ghul that was referenced several times in BATMAN BEYOND storylines. Page 3 even reveals imagery with my take on that crisis. One of the most fun aspects of this issue was dreaming up the Justice League of 2019. I included Superman and Big Barda as direct references to the team from BATMAN BEYOND, along with The Atom, Green Lantern, and Static there as nods to the far future as well. Starfire and Plastic Man were fun additions since neither had truly been seen in the DC Animated Universe before, though page 2 shows where all of the original Justice Leaguers such as Wonder Woman, John Stewart, The Flash, and J’onn J’onzz are during this issue.

Click the cover to read “Anno Domini: 2019”!

A few weeks after the issue, James Strecker and I recorded a behind-the-scenes video looking at the process of creating the issue. We broke down the scenes, identified the easter eggs, and called out elements that reference previous issues or set up future events. We have a lot of story to tell, and a few more chapters set in the year 2019, which is 15 years after the end of JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED, but 20 years before the start of BATMAN BEYOND. The core mission statement behind LEGACIES has always been to fill in the missing gaps between those shows. Check out the BTS video below, and click the link above to read the full issue.

DOUBLE AGENT short film

Jim Tackman is kidnapped by gangsters who suspect him to be a DOUBLE AGENT. The action comedy short film featured Erich Reinhard, Zach Echols, and Tyler Buckner, and was written, directed, and produced by myself Ted Kendrick. Garin Wilson was Director of Photography, Rome Widenhouse was editor, and original soundtrack was composed by Tony Mozz. The short was made for Aputure Tech’s #LightThisLocation international film challenge. Unfortunately the entry was not selected as a finalist, but I still greatly enjoyed the production process alongside Wilson’s Productions, Absolute Grip Co., and the rest of the cast and crew.

The challenge required that the short film be no more than 5 minutes in length, occur in a single location, and include the secret word “accent”, with bonus points awarded if the film used plenty of brand sponsored gear and equipment, and we certainly did as you will find in the behind-the-scenes video embedded below, edited by Garin Wilson with footage captured by videographer Steve Howard.

The Lighting Floor Plan was another final deliverable required by the competition. Erik Kitchens of Absolute Grip Co. was the Gaffer in charge of light design, and drew a rough lighting floor plan on the back of a script. The floor plan was recreated by Ted Kendrick in Adobe Photoshop with a consistent and intelligible color palette, naturally accomplished in the familiar Artificial Ink font style.

With DOUBLE AGENT now out of competition and already released online, Artificial Ink Creative will submit and send the film through the independent film festival circuit. The official poster is embedded below, designed by Ted Kendrick, and guaranteed to look even better after flaunting a few film festival laurels.

COMPASSION poster

COMPASSION short film anthology by Corpening Media released its official poster. Ted Kendrick collaborated closely with Jeff Corpening and Betsy Cardwell to produce “Part 1: Knowledge,” and assisted in the production of the other chapters. COMPASSION celebrates its local premiere on Saturday, December 14th at 10am at Asheville Fine Arts Theater. Admission is free, but you must RSVP in advance.