Blog

With a focus on media and storytelling, I blog about everything from my favorite TV shows to my writing process for A Pink House. Currently, I'm hooked on animation and how illustrations can tell a story in a way that writing can't. If you have anything you want me to discuss in a future blog post, feel free to email me at c.g.mazanec@gmail.com! I'd love to incorporate some of your favorite media/storytelling subjects as well :)

A PINK HOUSE IS NOW LIVE!

Artists, writers, and inventors are all lucky in the same way: after years of work, they get to hold the fruition of that hard work in their hands. All of these people make something, and therefore their hard work is tangible; it's something they can touch and hold and stare at until the purple vein in their head bursts open.

So in this way, I'm lucky that I love to write. Because after 3 years of hard work, my book is finally finished and I can look at it, touch it and hold it. (When the hard copies come in, of course!) This moment is definitely surreal, and I had a lot of help along the way, but let's save that for the acknowledgement's page.

So for my not-so-subtle plug of the post, A Pink House is now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and many other e-reading sites that I'm not hipster enough to know about. If you're interested, check out the links on my home page! Or if you would like a hard copy, email me at c.g.mazanec@gmail.com.

Okay, so enough with the plugs. Mostly, I want to talk about the process of releasing my book. Getting to this point has taken a lot of planning and collaboration, and so it's weird when it's all finally out there. Seeing my book finally "live" feels a lot like when you get a Facebook notification, and its a picture of you doing something ridiculous that your friends tagged for all the world to see. It feels extremely revealing, and the extent to which I'm putting myself out there feels dangerously close to the leak of J.Law's nudes… (too soon?)

But then I went to this talk given by Antonio Garcia, one of the amazingly talented designers at Gravity Tank, a creative consulting company in Chicago. He said something that really stuck with me: "Seek criticism, not compliments."

After hearing Antonio say this, I started worrying less about whether or not people would like it, and focused more on what they thought, and how I could improve my writing for the next book I write! While this might seem like a negative life approach, I've never been more inspired, and never been more ready to start writing another story!

So on that note, please email me/comment below with anything that came to mind while reading A Pink House, good or bad. And all of this being said, I hope you enjoy the book!

Animation 101

So, it's been awhile. I'll admit it. But like most college students, I have been swamped with homework, midterms, more homework, more midterms, even MORE homework and even MORE midterms. (I hope you got the point?) Nevertheless, there are some things that should come before homework and midterms, like sleep, blogging (my b guys), and Red Band Society!

Another one of these things is one of my new favorite extracurricular activities: Lucid. Although the title suggests heavy LSD usage, Lucid is actually a student film project that I'm working on this quarter. Lucid tells the story of a young girl who escapes her fighting parents when she falls asleep and stumbles into the world of her imagination. Once there, epic-ness ensues.

And guess what else? This film is animated. So I'm helping out with this project by In-betweening and rotoscoping. In human terms, I will be drawing each frame between a starting and ending point that the head animator has drawn in order to create motion for "in-betweening", and then will be tracing each frame of real-life film footage for "rotoscoping". This part is actually really cool, so I'll elaborate: over the summer, a few of the students involved in Lucid filmed the scenes grounded in reality with real-live actors and actresses. Then, we take this footage and trace each frame onto a piece of paper in order to animate the scene. AKA, rotoscoping is the bomb.

While this all sounds super technical, I couldn't be more excited to get started. My excitement level has officially burst through the mega-nerd stratosphere, (along with this sentence). So far, I've mostly been finding my way through Photoshop and its steep learning curve, but I'm quickly falling in love with the whole animation process!

Above is a video that our head animator "assigned" to give us the animation fundamentals. Of course, the video was made by none other than the all-knowing, omnipotent Disney Corporation. Somehow, they make watching a white box bounce around a mesmerizing experience. Oh, the power of good animation! So check it out (it's only 2 and a half minutes long), and let me know what you think!

Red Band Society

This is Leo, "the rebel" on Fox's new show, Red Band Society.

This is Leo, "the rebel" on Fox's new show, Red Band Society.

For those of you who don't know, those lucky few who aren't subjected to my constant Leo fan-girling, I have recently become addicted to the show, Red Band SocietyRed Band Society is one of Fox's new shows for this fall that tells the story of six teenagers who live in a pediatric hospital for a variety of reasons. The show's ensemble cast, including the awe-inspiring Octavia Spencer, rings of a Breakfast Club premise, but with a fresh new twist and heartthrobs worthy of the most adamant, Twilight-level fan-girling.

Although I could go on forever about how great this show is, and how all of you should watch it (subtle plug), I'm going to stop myself here. Partially because I want all of you to see how amazing this show is for yourselves. You don't need me to tell you about it, just turn on your TV, sit down, and devote an hour of your free time to this show. (okay, not-so-subtle plug) I'm like one of those cliffhangers at the end of a book that makes you want to go out and buy the sequel right now. (I'm talking about you, The Maze Runner!)

But I also want to stop myself from talking about Red Band Society for another reason: to tell you how I found out about The Clairity Project and why you should find out about it too. So after my first Red Band Society episode, I couldn't get enough. I had to hear more about the show, and did NOT have the patience to wait another week for more information. And so, like most college students avoiding their piles of homework, I went to YouTube. This is when I first found Claire's videos.

Claire, of The Clairity Project, is a senior in high school with Cystic Fibrosis who talks about her experiences with CF and how there can actually be benefits to having a chronic illness if you have the right attitude. (This may sound strange, I mean, how can their be benefits of having a long-term illness? Claire addresses this question beautifully in her 2 TED Talks, which I encourage you to look up on YouTube as well!)

Since one of the characters on Red Band Society also has CF, Claire has been uploading weekly reviews of each episode, and how they relate to/ stray from her personal experiences in and out of pediatric hospitals. This all might sound a bit morbid, but that's just the point (of both Red Band Society and The Clairity Project): it doesn't have to be. You can still have heartthrobs and heartbreaks, nerds and cheerleader bitches, homecomings and cafeteria politics while in a hospital. In fact, some of the best lines in the show are snarky/hilarious comments made by Kara, "the queen B-word."

To get real with you all for a moment, I have to say that this is some of the best writing I've seen on TV in a while (since the glorious days of Friday Night Lights). The episodes are evenly mixed with jokes and genuine sentiment, and I end up experiencing all of the feels by the end of each Wednesday night. And Claire's commentary is spot-on, extremely insightful and always upbeat. I look forward to her videos just as much as the actual show at this point, and that's because she is an amazing speaker. So below I've posted a clip of one of Claire's reviews to get you all on my fan-girl level. Seriously, please get on my level; you won't regret it!

Crossing the Line

ISIS makes an iMovie denouncing all things American...

(This is the final draft of a cartoon I drew for one of Northwestern's student papers.)

(This is the final draft of a cartoon I drew for one of Northwestern's student papers.)

The worst part about crossing the line is that you don't know when you've crossed it until it's too late. But let me back up… why is this girl showing us her slightly/ maybe-more-than-slightly insensitive cartoon about an ISIS member eating KFC?

Well, for starters, I was recently staffed as a cartoonist for my school's daily newspaper, The Daily. (Hence the title.) Although its only been a week since I started drawing for The Daily, I've already learned so much about drawing, deadlines, political humor, and most importantly, anticipating the reactions of your audience.

Since I started drawing for The Daily's opinion section, I have gained a newfound respect for the great political comedians of today: Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. (Shout-out to the NU alum!) It is really hard to combine humor and topical events without crossing the line, and both of these talk show hosts have certainly mastered the technique. (Albeit, they do have a team of interns and writers to steer them in the right direction, and I am solely relying on my CNN twitter feed.)

Nevertheless, they make hard work look easy, and I am here to tell you that it is not. It is NOT easy to joke around about a sensitive issue without stepping on any toes. And my cartoon pictured above is a testament to that realization.

I know they say that talking about why something is funny sucks all of the humor out of it, not to mention that doing so bores its listeners, but I feel that I have to make this point. With my cartoon, I was not trying to downplay the horrific Youtube videos ISIS has been posting of the brutal beheadings. Instead, my cartoon was an attempt to point out the irony of a terrorist group that denounces all westernization while simultaneously using its technology to make their point. I mean, how hypocritical, amirite?

But before I get stalked by the CIA or FBI for googling "ISIS" too many times (in order to draw the cartoon above), I'll end with this: Yes, I may have crossed a line. Or at least, I certainly stuck my leg out over it. But the points that are the most uncomfortable to make are sometimes also necessary to point out. And maybe one of you will gain something from it, or at the least, maybe it will get a half-hearted chuckle out of you.

However, I also don't want to offend any of my readers (or lookers? gazers?), and so in the end, I'm glad that it was pulled from The Daily. And hopefully next week I can channel my fellow Wildcat, Stephen Colbert (did I mention he went here?), and keep my toes on the right side of the line.

Design For America

DFA logo on logo on logo on logo

DFA logo on logo on logo on logo

When I first arrived at Northwestern in 2013, there were many things that I saw myself doing; experiences that the overly enthusiastic tour guides claimed were "Northwestern musts." I pictured myself painting the rock, dancing for 3543564758768 hours during Dance Marathon, and joining every single film-related club on campus.

However, instead of doing all these things, I joined DFA. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Design for America (who haven't personally experienced a Carolyn DFA geek-out where DFA facts come up like word vomit), DFA is a student-group on campus that tackles current issues in the local community with the human-centered design process.

In other words, we get into small groups and brainstorm solutions to existing problems that effect the community we live in. On campus, DFA is commonly called "one of the Engineering clubs", which is why my involvement in DFA both shocked my parents and also gave them hope that I might actually find a job after college (their fear being that I will graduate and become another homeless film major trying to make it in LA).

To be totally honest (or tbh for those of you who only speak in text-worthy abbreviations), I was surprised I joined DFA too. Surrounding yourself with engineers is always an intimidating experience, especially when your knowledge of science stops at Velocity = Mass times Acceleration. But it's also been one of the best experiences I've had at Northwestern so far.

"Oh no, she's getting sappy," you're thinking. Please, tell us how this experience has changed you and made you a better person than before and yadda yadda yadda. Don't worry; I won't go there. (Even though it has, and yadda yadda yadda.) Being on paragraph number 5, I'll make my high school English teachers proud and restate my thesis/ get to my conclusion. So, thesis: DFA is cool/ some of the best experiences are ones you don't plan for. And conclusion: watch this video about it for more info/ because if a picture says a thousand words, a YouTube video must say a billion.


BoJack Horseman

This is BoJack from the new Netflix original, BoJack Horseman.

This is BoJack from the new Netflix original, BoJack Horseman.

When my sister saw a picture of BoJack Horseman for the first time, she screamed. Well, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration. Let's just say she thought this horse/man was not so easy on the eyes. The new Netflix original series, BoJack Horseman, does not shy away from the gross, the ugly, the pathetic.

Will Arnett plays BoJack, a has-been 90's sitcom star who has since become an alcoholic with a biting sarcasm that covers up his low self-esteem. Ouch, I know. That was harsh, especially when BoJack mirrors so many of today's 90s has-beens, like John Stamos (despite his comeback in the Yogurt Advertising business). Although BoJack subtly snubs our favorite TV uncles, it's sharp humor and beautiful animations have kept me glued to my computer for the past few weeks.

With a similar feel to a Family Guy or a South ParkBoJack Horseman hits all the right notes when it comes to below-the-belt comedy. And although I hate fan-girling, especially over an animated horse/man, BoJack has changed my life.

Okay, again with the exaggerations. But he's definitely altered it. Ever since watching the show, I've rededicated myself to sketching. Using pictures from the internet, I've tried to imitate some of the best animators in the business. Because who knows, maybe I could be the next Seth MacFarlane? (Although that goal is a little daunting… maybe I'll first focus on being the girl who gets coffee for the girl who gets coffee for Seth MacFarlane.)

Whether or not I follow in the Family Guy father's footsteps, I think everyone who has made it this far in my lengthy blog post should definitely watch BoJack Horseman and become obsessed like me. If I haven't sold you yet, this theme song by Grouplove should convince you!