Thursday, July 21, 2016

30 Before 30: Day 30 - A New Decade Begins

I would be lying if I said that my life hasn't been interesting, especially the past decade. I would also say that my 20's have been the most interesting, frustrating, challenging, life-changing, adventurous, and revealing time of my life so far. That's why in this series of blog posts I've focused on that time period.

I've had enough experiences in the past decade to write multiple books and who knows how many screenplays that I could make into movies.

Some of those experiences I have put into movies.

But now I'm 30! The "Dirty Thirty" as some people call it. The big 3-0. A new decade to learn even more craziness about life.

Looking back now on the past decade, here's a number of exciting accomplishments:

1. I graduated college with a Bachelor's in Communication Arts.
2. I survived the Army after 3 1/2 grueling years (and made some pretty awesome friends).
3. I made a feature film (written, directed, shot, edited, and sound design done while I was in the Army in Hawaii).
4. I made several short films, multiple which have been in film festivals, a couple which have won awards.
5. I've lived in Chicago, Hawaii, and Los Angeles since leaving Kansas.
6. I was able to visit Ireland and Scotland.
7. I completed a 2-year acting Conservatory.
8. I worked with Bradley Cooper and Cameron Crowe on "Aloha."
9. I finally learned how to talk to network and have met lots of really cool people!

Now for a few things that have been difficult:

1. I've learned the very hard way what it means to have a healthy relationship.
2. I've questioned just about everything I grew up with in order to understand what it is that I believe and who I am rather than just following what I was brought up on.
3. I went into a ton of debt because of my initial time in college.
4. I spent 3 years living in a room with no window, sometimes working a swing shift in a building with no windows.
5. I've messed up at most of the jobs I've had more times than I can count at least once, so horribly that I've felt really bad about it.

Well, that's what I'm remembering right now. But I guess I'm old now, right? So it's okay.

Nah. I'm just starting. I have a lot of friends right now turning 30 this year. Most of them seem to be a bit terrified of moving into that next decade. Me? I feel like I'm just getting started. I'm actually quite excited about the next decade!

One of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis, didn't actually publish the vast majority of his works until after his mid-thirties. Most famous directors we know didn't get their major starts until their 30's.

On top of this, people tell me I only look 24 or 25 so I'm well on my way to being in a good position as an actor as well since I look younger then I am.

And here's the biggest thing I've finally found: confidence.

I used to have none. I had no self-confidence. Because of this I really had no outward confidence. It's still always a bit of a work in progress but it's gotten better. It also helps to not care as much what other people think about you.

I won't go into on this blog because I think I could write a whole book on it (which I just might someday) but there are a lot of things from my formative years growing up that I feel didn't help me as I got older and instead hindered me in certain things.

That's also why I believe we need different people in our lives to help us along and guide us because no one person can do it properly. We're just all too imperfect and different. Sometimes the things that a person needs can't be received from a single person so another person comes into to help out.

I believe God created us to be interactive and communal beings. Whether or not you believe in God or no higher power, some other form of believe, I still think, just from the nature of seeing humans, that we all in some form desire love.

So, my friends, in the end of this blog series, I want you to know you can all be accepted without judgement by at least one person in this life, even though there will always be people who judge us no matter what we do.

And in the words of the wonderful and talented Doug Jones: "There's love."

Sunday, July 17, 2016

30 Before 30: Day 28 - Ambition and Summer Short Films

It took me a long time to realize how ambitious I was. As well as hard working, driven, and passionate.

Just not in everything.

In fact, if something isn't creative it's hard for me to keep an interest and all those traits I just mentioned tend to go out the window.

Math for instance. I ignore it as much as possible, do it when I need to, and turn anything math related into a story to garner interest for myself.

But when it comes to my creative pursuits, which I see as my livelihood, I throw in all those traits. That is why I've now shot 3 short films this year, all of them quite a bit different, but each one very much in my style of filmmaking. One is finished, one is nearing a rough cut, and the third just finished filming.

When I found out I'd be returning to Kansas for a week for my birthday my first thought wasn't anything like, "Awesome! A vacation from all this work!" No, my response was instantly, "A week in Kansas? I can make another movie!" And so I contacted my friend and we figured out a script within about a month, he did all the producing work, and yesterday I shot an entire short film in the middle of the Kansas woods on a hot summer day with a total of 4 actors (including me) as I directed, shot most of it, and had a rotating number of people for grip and sound recording.

In the end I'm pretty sure I got all the footage I needed.

Also, it was fantasy, which may be one of the most difficult things to do on a very low budget. Though, this one we wrote with that in mind. And what I like about filming in Kansas is I can get locations for free. In this case, it was a patch of woods that don't look they belong in Kansas but that's exactly where we were.

So in my ambition I continue to make films and they tend to be pretty intense. I tend to push things pretty hard in the films I make and there tends to be A LOT that is shot in a short period of time. I've learned how to do things on very little and it's worked to my advantage.

I'm just hoping this little short comes together in post. I have a feeling it will when I look back and see how well Winter's Spirit turned out.

So in the coming month look forward to 2 more short films: Red Roses Painted Black and Summer Sonata.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I've enjoyed making them. My stories aren't just for me. They're for you. Without an audience, my stories have no home.

Friday, July 15, 2016

30 Before 30: Day 26 - Directing

My whole life I remember wanting to make movies. And I think acting, too. But especially making movies. But when I was younger I never really thought it was actually a viable option.

I didn't have access to any equipment. I didn't grow up with video cameras. I had no way to actually shoot footage as a little kid like so many major directors have done today. But I did have an imagination and pencil and paper. I created worlds in my head and it was through my imagination I could still live.

And it was through my imagination I would discover in time that I had a unique vision unlike other directors, I just wouldn't find it until my 20's.

I remember when I was a kid watching the BBC Chronicles of Narnia movies. I grew up on these movies as well as the books which are some of my favorite books. I would rank The Silver Chair as one of my favorite books of all time and I would actually say the BBC film was the best of the four films they made. Truthfully, the production value of these films isn't anything exceptional and they certainly feel dated. I still loved them as a kid.

At the same time, I thought to myself back then, "I want to make better versions of these movies." Yes, when I was a kid I wanted to make remakes of The Chronicles of Narnia. I know there are remakes. Two of them I think are pretty well adapted, the third one not so much. I'm hoping someday I still get the opportunity to direct a Narnai film but I'm not holding out hope.

My dream project is actually and adaptation of The Neverending Story. That book is incredible!

In case you haven't realized, I love fantasy. A lot of my films have some kind of whimsical or fantastical feel to it, often times in a darker direction, but not always. I definitely have my own unique vision for films and people who know my films even tell me they can see an "Ian Adema feel" to them.

I didn't actually get a chance to make any movies until high school... at least not my own. Some of my friends did some stuff for fun when I was in Junior High that I "acted" in. And the first things I ever made were not that great. I call it my "training period" but even in that time I had teachers who saw my potential and believed in me.

I would say I didn't make anything truly worth showcasing to the public until I shot Beyond The Mirror in 2009. That's really when I truly found my voice and style. And Whimsical Pictures.

Since then I've still done a lot and learned a lot. I've always been determined to find a way into the industry. I'm the underdog so the cards have been stacked against me.

But I'm persistent, hardworking, and ambitious. Nothing has stopped me from making movies. Not even the Army. In fact, I wrote, shot, edited, directed, produced, and did sound design for a feature film while I was on Active Duty. That's like two full time jobs at the same time.

And I made a short film and wrote the first draft of a novel while in the army.

And tomorrow I'm shooting another short film. I also shot a short film at Christmas. And I shot a short film a couple months ago currently in post.

So to add up: Winter's Spirit, Red Roses Painted Black, and Summer Sonata all shot in 2016.

Yes, I want to direct. It's what I want to do with my life. I love it. I love telling stories.

And I hope someday one of those films inspires somebody in the best way possible.

I tell these stories for people. Not just for myself.

I hope you enjoy them.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

30 Before 30: Day 25 - Castles

I've always loved castles. And fantasy. Lots of fantasy have castles. 
Very old castles. Ancient.

Last fall I finally got the opportunity to achieve one of my dreams... visit castles. After a very well planned trip, I went off to Ireland and Scotland for 2 weeks total. The first castle I saw; Trim Castle.

It turns out, this is actually where they filmed many scenes of Braveheart, even though the film takes place in Scotland.

I definitely would say that I was very fortunate to go on this trip. I saw SO many castles, among other things. But the castles for me were the fulfillment of a childhood dream. Especially growing up on Narnia and fairy tales, there was something about ancient castles, especially castle ruins, that have fascinated me. 
I remember when I was in elementary school building a model of a castle out of old cardboard and discarded tubes from toilet paper and paper towel. At least, that's my memory. For all I know that was actually a dream. But I'm pretty sure I did that. I just I loved castles. 

And there was just something in the history of those castles, something special, something unique that you just don't find quite anywhere else. While on the trip, when we got halfway through Scotland one of my friends said I would get tired of castles. 

I never got tired of castles.

I just found different castles more fascinating then others. But for me castles are very inspiring. It's one of my dream shooting locations and a location I use easily when I write fantasy. They are so rich with history. And there's something magical about them, at least to me.

My dream home is a castle. We can all dream. Sometimes it keeps us going.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

30 Before 30: Day 24 - Dreams

I often have very strange and extremely vivid dreams. I also used to have a lot of deja vu. It's not quite as common now but it still happens. But my dream life has intensified.

Here's an example of a dream I had this year, unedited from when I wrote it down:

Dream Tuesday, April 19, 2016

It started out as a justice mission of some kind. We were in some kind of huge building. I had an M16 again for the first time since the military. First I was on a metal walkway a few floors up looking down on an open area. My comrades and I readied ourselves and the people in charge told me what I needed to do. When the people started coming I soon found myself on a shooting rampage. I moved throughout the compound. At one point an SUV was coming towards us when I was outside the building. I shot out the tires. Another point I shot a driver in the head of another vehicle from a distance. Another point I shot someone in the shoulder without killing them. A bunch of these things happened.

Then suddenly none of my comrades were around and I was still going on this shooting spree. Very soon I was a wanted man. I was on the run. I found myself in a building, which looked like Room 3 of the church I grew up in back home, and I was grabbing clothes, trying to avoid anyone noticing my presence. I packed up quickly, throwing things in a backpack, knowing I needed to get away quickly. Once I packed up, I started to sneak out.

a good bit of time had passed and I was walking down the street, avoiding the gaze of people, because I knew I couldn’t go to jail. It was a sunny day, spring it seemed. I passed a couple kids without looking at them.

Then it was years later and I was at a house. Next door was my old house and I needed to grab clothes from there. I walked across the lawn of the current house and a little girl sat on a swing, her long hair covering her face and flowing down to her knees, head bowed. As I passed her head came up and back, face slightly up toward the sky and her mouth opened wide in a circle, a horrific sight, and a terrible moaning sound escaped her mouth. I ran to the other house, crouching as if that would help me not be seen. I went in and rummaged through the clothes. Not feeling I really had time, I ended up just grabbing a bunch without thinking about what I was taking. When I went back to the first house the girl was still there and she did the same thing. I seemed to imitate her sound as a response, seemingly out of trying to diminish the fear. She continued her open mouthed unnatural moan and as I walked away I flipped her off with both hands. She seemed to laugh in a way. In the middle of all this I realized when I first saw the girl that she was the child of something that had happened earlier, some demented source of something wrong and I think I had something to do with the things creation.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

30 Before 30: Day 23 - Friends Who Disagree

When I was younger, I had this thought in my head that anyone who I was friends with should think and believe similar things to me. I think this came out of the idea that people were trying to teach me that certain people will be good influences and others negative. Instead this lead to the believe that anyone who believed something different shouldn't be my friend.

I definitely don't think this anymore.

In fact, quite the opposite. It might partially be because I'm older, but a large number of the people in my life don't believe the same thing as me and also disagree with me on a number of things.

My blog post from yesterday is just one of those things (a touchy subject I remember calling it).

I appreciate these people. Some of them are my closest friends. It doesn't mean I just change what I believe but it does open a positive discourse. And I have to be careful to make sure "discourse" is what I intend and not "argument."

I dislike arguments and often debates, as they often turn into arguments. But discourse allows for all sides to speak their thoughts and learn from one another what they think. I think this is part of being human.

Having friends in our lives who don't agree with us enriches us if we can have civil conversation.

I cherish all the people in my life who I've developed a bond of friendship with. I have friends from all different walks of life and many of them believe very different things then me. That doesn't mean I can't be friends with them.

That's ridiculous.

But it also doesn't mean I have to agree with them. And that's alright.

But I should still love them.

There are some things I can learn from them and other things they can learn from me. We all can continue to learn as we grow older. I certainly have. I've learned a lot of things, especially in these last ten years, that have made a lot more sense then they did in my teens. I had no idea what I was doing then.

Also, we can't just negate the experiences of others just because we haven't had them. Sometimes it's difficult to understand what someone has gone through just because we haven't. Sometimes people have views on things because of this. And the older we get and the more people we meet, the more experiences we understand.

We're all made up of stories. A life is a number of stories that add up to a whole. We can never know all of the stories. There are too many. But the more time we invest in people, the more stories we hear, the more we understand about the people that surround us. No one single person has the same experiences throughout an entire lifetime but there are things we share. And it's in those things we share, those commonalities, that bonds of friendship are formed.

Now, I leave you with some quotes on friendship:

“However rare true love may be, it is less so than true friendship.” 
― Albert Einstein

"Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow ripening fruit." – Aristotle

"To the Ancients, Friendship seemed the happiest and most fully human of all loves; the crown of life and the school of virtue. The modern world, in comparison, ignores it. . . . Affections and Eros were too obviously connected with our nerves, too obviously shared with the brutes. You could feel these tugging at your guts and fluttering your diaphragm. But in Friendship- in that luminous, tranquil, rational world of relationships freely chosen - you got away from all that."
-C.S. Lewis "The Four Loves"

“The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, not the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship.” 
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.” 
― R.J. PalacioWonder

“One of the tasks of true friendship is to listen compassionately and creatively to the hidden silences. Often secrets are not revealed in words, they lie concealed in the silence between the words or in the depth of what is unsayable between two people.” 
― John O'DonohueAnam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

Monday, July 11, 2016

30 Before 30: Day 22 - Red Roses Painted Black

Creating any film on a touchy subject isn't easy. That's one thing I discovered while producing Red Roses Painted Black.

This little short film, which should be released later this year, is all about a guy who's fighting a porn addiction. This is probably my most courageous and important film I've ever done, both as a actor and director. There are films a director feels they want to make and then there are the ones they feel they need to.

This is that story.

The short follows a character named Tom right at the point when he's decided he needs to make a change and seeks out therapy. We then see how his addiction is affecting his life between his therapist, best friend, and new girlfriend.

Now, this was a difficult short for me to get to making because of how personal it is for me. Of course, sometimes those make the best stories. They also make the most terrifying stories because now you're pouring yourself out to the world.

This post alone is very revealing and difficult to write but I've found that the things we hold secret often hold power over us. You may ask, why do I care so much about this topic? Short answer, because I've lived it. I've had a lot of friends who say to me, "No, you're not addicted to porn." No, not so much addicted anymore but I certainly used to be.

When it all started in junior high, I missed meeting, private musical lessons, isolated myself from people, and didn't seek out healthy relationships. I worked hard to look at women as human but more often than not I saw them as objects.

Yes, there was always part of me that could still see a human side, but at the same time I was scared; scared they would find out who I was, scared that I wasn't worth anything if they did, and scared of any and all rejection from anyone knowing about this dirty little secret.

And yes, my family knows about this and has for years. In various ways they found out. I'm sure at times one of us did not handle the situation with the correct response but the love still continues.

And that's the thing about porn. It kills love. One of my favorite organizations is "Fight the New Drug" (

Their slogan is "Porn Kills Love."

Part of what I love about this organization is that it has no affiliation. Why do I think that's important? Because they can take an approach to the harmful effects of porn that reaches out to everyone, no matter what they believe. Scientific studies have shown how porn alters brain chemistry and therefore affects how a person approaches society and relationships.

Fight the New Drug posts articles from porn addicts, significant others, family members, and porn stars who share their stories of the damage that porn has done in their lives. It's a lucrative business that pays a lot of money... and destroys natural relationships.

People are meant to love and be loved. There is nothing in porn that showcases love. It causes people to see others at objects instead of human. You wonder why in a porn saturated society people say men only think of sex? Well, I can tell you that porn is not helping. Truth is, we all have more going on in our brains then just sex, even if there is a biological drive there.

I didn't really understand what healthy relationships were growing up. I think I learned a lot of things on my own... a lot of things that were wrong. Over the years, through some intense romantic relationships, some of which I was trying to find a way out of a porn addiction, I very slowly started to understand what a healthy relationship meant.

There is nothing about porn that really makes you feel "good" other than the quick sexual release. Outside of the that, it's a tornado of negative emotions and thoughts. You start thinking you're not good enough, you're a horrible person, there's something wrong with you.

It's Shame.

It controls life and brings you down. See, love is a natural human response. We're made to love. We may have different ways of loving but we still all need love. It took me a long time to actually convince myself that I wasn't worthless. How long? Most of my 20's.

I spent a lot of my life bringing myself down. Even when I made friends, I'd still bring myself down. If something didn't go my way, I'd tell myself people didn't like me. When my girlfriend wasn't loving on me, I'd tell myself everything is wrong. I put my self-worth in everybody around me and then when I didn't feel like I found it, I turned to porn. It was always there, waiting to tell me that I was accepted.

But I wasn't really accepted. It was all a front. It was fake. A false intimacy.

There was nothing real about it. I was never really fulfilled by it. It was like being led on, dragged deeper into a hole I could never get out of. I was in such despair in my teenage years that I shed more tears than I care to admit, wishing it would just go away, not realizing that I had to do something about it.

I would need to reprogram my brain. I had to tell myself I was worth it. I had to find my confidence. I especially had to stop telling myself that if anything happened I was a terrible person. No one else could do it for me. And it doesn't happen over night.

It's still a good thing to get affirmation from others but we also have to take control of ourselves. Really, porn is a crutch and it doesn't create a healthy outlook on life or sexuality. If you don't take my word for it, just check out some of the testimonies at Fight the New Drug. Trust me, their powerful.

That's just a start to why I made a move about porn addiction. It's a passionate topic to me. It's important. A lot of people think it's harmless. Studies and testimonies prove otherwise.

This can't be taken lightly. And there needs to be love.