Clearly updates here have become few and far between, and regardless of how many promises I've made that there will be more, it seems that I would need more than one Gauntlet (or more than two arms) just to keep up with how many projects are in the works at the moment. So I figured, why not divulge what's cooking in the kitchen, and what media is being manifested in tandem to this blog.
Generally speaking, pretty much all of the creative content and online media I've created, or have been a part of creating, has only come to fruition due to one overarching premise, which is: Put as many pokers into as many fires as possible, 'cuz there's no way of knowing which script, film project, promo, piece of music / music video, website, industry membership, or Youtube channel, will be the one that reels in that one powerful "white knight" who is capable of discerning the artistic gold mine of merit and marketability which has remained untapped, and that they can be the "tapper".
Obviously I had recorded music and written short stories and articles going back to late childhood and though the 1980's, but I believe this process started in earnest in the early-to-mid-1990's as I settled into post-college life on the Upper West Side of New York City. At that time (and in addition to my day job), I was attempting to start a multi-media brick-and-mortar live international music performance venue while at the same time being part of a trio that was writing what I would later call "my first script". My interest in graphic art as well as playing and recording my own music (btw, I do have degrees in both art and music) was being further pushed to the background as these pursuits took its place, and so, like any other artist who is comfortable wearing too many hats but lacks the time, I embraced the process.
While the first couple of scripts ended up not being bought by Paramount, and the venue didn't come into existence, I quickly pivoted and convinced myself that my real best destiny was to write the next great American novel. But being who I am, this novel soon became a series of novels, and that became two series of novels which accounted for fifteen distinct books and novellas, and no shock - there were other books in the works as well. And so, around 2008 I started marketing my fiction writing, but once again to no avail, and after thousands of pitch letters to literary agents and publishers I still failed to establish that "golden relationship".
I must admit it was extremely frustrating putting the finishing touches on a book only have it just sit in my computer hard drive for only a few close friends and family members to read. But I convinced myself that this was no different than other businesses I had attempted to create not getting off the ground. It must have been that I was out of sync with the market, or that the market was out of sync with me. Perhaps I was a visionary - too far ahead, or maybe lagging behind what people were looking for "in the now". Perhaps I was too intellectual, or too moralistic, in a era defined by a general dumbing down and a pathological fear of judgment. But, this happened repeatedly.
For example, I would write an Epic Fantasy, and then Game of Thrones suddenly became a big hit, or even more disturbing, I would write about a global pandemic that isolated people emotionally, and then years later we would experienced an actual viral pandemic which isolated people emotionally in real life. Likewise a number of other ideas, and even the names of characters I created would suddenly be in a product in the marketplace - as if we were all channeling into the same God-Art source. Hmm. Still, no agents, producers, or distributors, were barking up my / our proverbial tree.
Starting in 2011-2012 the intellectual property company I co-founded - Nevekari Enterprises, started cranking out series and feature film scripts, and as a "proof of concept" we entered a number of them into screenplay competitions on global film festival circuit. I'm still very proud to say that in the 2015-2016 season we received over twenty winning and placing awards in such diverse genres as adapted drama, crime, suspense, spec scripts, and science-fiction. It felt good to know that we were competing not with the thousands who entered along with us, but really only the top 35%. Nonetheless, this confirmation bias feather in our cap once again failed to propel our holistically developed projects onto the big and small screen.
Thus, I realized, it must be my utter incompetence at marketing that was to blame. The "powers-that-be" just didn't know that I even existed, and I could not fathom how to change that paradigm. Hell, I still don't.
Not possessing the resources to hire a great public relations firm, a marketing manager, or even dedicated employees, I ramped up the screenplay writing, but also increased my music output - which had come back around as we started creating short films as vehicles to feature our award-winning writing. After all, they needed score, right? Likewise, I pushed ahead by creating the Nevekari Enterprises Youtube Channel, Nevekari's website, and this blog, the Gauntlet of Balthazar - its name taken from an odd piece of "magical" technology featured in a Nevekari series called "Steam".
Anyway, older websites fell by the wayside, and content filled these outlets, never to gain amazing traction. I guess I just had to face it - no multiple million views or listens were coming our way anytime soon, and so at the very end of 2019, I kind of imploded. I had spent months editing a short film that even now has less than a thousand views on Youtube. I have to say that I find it incredible painful to know now first-hand that a huge percentage of able creators spend months or even years working on a project tirelessly, only to have viewers and listeners not even make it all the way through a short film or song without skipping ahead or bailing. Thanks Google Analytics. Ironically, I hear people complain all the time that the "big companies" have too much control of media and aren't doing a good job, but then they don't support the "little guy". It's the same with people talking a big game about supporting small American businesses, as they shop at Costco and order Chinese goods online. So much for patriotism.
Anyway, I digress...
Happily (I guess) my psychological implosion came just before I caught what I can only assume was the first wave of CoVid-19, and the lock-down's began. I must say that (aside from being ill for a couple of weeks) I was very happy at that time. It allowed me to take a break, hunker down and re-group, and bonus - no one would judge a lack of new content because everyone was on "pause". But, this couldn't go on forever, and soon I immersed myself in new projects, both in writing and music. This amounted to the release of nine digital albums, EP's, and singles on 391 & the Army of Astraea's Bandcamp page between October 2020 and October 2022. In addition to some script doctoring it also meant that fully developed Nevekari series such as the biblical drama-comedy "Abraham's Brother", the military sci-fi "Alpha One", and the hard sci-fi epic "Sovereignty" were either created or elaborated on with a number of episode scripts, series bibles, and pitch decks added to (if I do say so myself) their awesome pilots.
With the completion of the series bible and fourth episode script of "Abraham's Brother" as well as the release of the 391 & the Army of Astraea Six-Track "Whiteface EP" that pretty much brings us up to today. However, this sadly brought me back to online representation. One might assume correctly that this blog might have benefited from some new content, or that the Nevekari Enterprises' Youtube channel, or Facebook page, or official website could have promoted some new content, but instead I looked to new projects, and soon came up with a Youtube Gaming channel - Traditionalist Gaming (featured here just in September), as well as revising Stubborn God Production's Youtube presence. The latter channel had been up for about six years with only minimal content, so I took it upon myself to to revise the page and add some new stuff, including Official Audio and Live Videos. I expect to continue adding content continuously from now on.
So what's coming up next? Well, new media avenues include one of my fantasy novellas; "The Song of Umeztad", landing as a print-on-demand / kindle product on Amazon (hopefully before the year ends), as well as the positioning of a 391 & the Army of Astraea Spotify Channel. These new endeavors by no means should be seen as a cause to diminish any new film and series scripts, or new and back-catalogue music releases - quite the contrary. I'm kinda in this for the long haul.
I know this foray into the trials and tribulations of a "starving artist" might just be a little too dear and lengthy for some, and bonus - I offer no clear solutions, or even the usual tips on how to improve in your writing, but if you're weary of formulaic music churned out by what remains of the major labels and are equally revolted by films whose authors and producers are more interested in lecturing the audience instead of engaging them in meaningful ideas and compelling drama, I can't encourage you enough to support the work featured (or linked to) here.
So please visit the sites and pages via the links embedded below, and check out the slowly growing playlists, subscribe, hit notifications, like, and comment.
I really appreciate the support and interaction, and if you're an equally frustrated writer or film maker wrestling with the creativity vs. marketing quandary please share your feelings in a response.
Also, my son has started his own gaming channel called Hellchange War Robots Gaming. It features similar content to my Traditionalist Gaming channel (same game), but as a young man with special needs I feel this might be a good outlet for him to explore, and who knows, maybe it could even be a career of sorts for him, so please check out his channel as well, and of course, like and subscribe. It would mean a lot.
I will hopefully be back here soon with a writing / media review of Disney's Star Wars: Andor, which (spoiler alert) I quite like, so stay tuned, and as always - Till next time.