Exclusive

Michael Dante DiMartino explores the trials and triumphs of changing art forms and creating his new novel, Rebel Genius.

DiMartino is known across the geek world for co-creating the Nickelodeon animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender, and The Legend of Korra. His new middle-grade novel, Rebel Genius, follows a boy named Giacomo in a Renaissance-inspired world where the creation of art is literally magic — but that magic is ruthlessly banned.

Blending rich world building with cheeky humor and indelibly memorable characters, Rebel Genius is a compelling quest that explores power, grief, love, and the creative spirit that makes us human.

Hypable will be hosting a live Q&A with Michael Dante DiMartino on Wednesday, Oct. 5 at 1:00 p.m. EST/10:00 a.m. PST. You can participate by writing in questions during the live event, leaving a comment on this post, or using the hashtag #RebelGeniusQA on Twitter!

Rebel Genius by Michael Dante DiMartino

The Myth of Creative Bliss: How I learned to make Resistance an ally, not an enemy
By Michael Dante DiMartino

Tackling a creative project is exciting and full of promise, but once we begin, the challenges and self-doubt we encounter can often derail the best of intentions. But once we identify Resistance, and recognize it as part of the creative process, we become more empowered to meet our creative goals.

Into the unknown: From animation to publishing

In December of 2014, the series finale of The Legend of Korra aired. After more than a decade spent breathing life into the Avatar universe, I decided to step away from my nearly twenty-year career in animation and transition onto a new creative path, one that was unfamiliar and uncertain: I planned to write my first novel.

I already had the concept: art as magic. And I had ten years’ worth of notes, ideas, and character sketches to pull from. I planned to call on my own experience as an artist to tell a story in which a group of young artists would set off on a high-stakes adventure, confronting dangerous creatures and villains along the way.

With my intention clear, I couldn’t wait to get started. I envisioned myself blissfully writing for hours, lost in this new fantastical world. Each morning, I fired up my computer, sipped my coffee, and sat down to write. But those blissful moments? They were elusive and impossible to sustain.

Instead, I found my breath shortening, my heartbeat quickening, and my body tensing. Rather than joy, I was met with its opposite: anxiety (and its cousin, overwhelming self-doubt). Why did I ever leave animation? I asked myself. Who was I to think I could write a book? My writing is awful, I told myself over and over. No one is going to want to read this crap.

Shaking hands with Resistance

I’d felt that unease before, but because I was trying something new, the anxiety stabbed more sharply and forcefully. After reading Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art, I learned this feeling has a name: Resistance. It is the embodiment of all our anxieties and self-doubts. It’s the voice that insists we’re not good enough or smart enough or creative enough.

And that voice can be loud. At times, deafening.

But when I put a name to Resistance, I found I could lessen its power. I couldn’t make it go away entirely, and as it turned out, I didn’t want to. Resistance became an essential part of my creative process. Identifying it helped illuminate what would become the theme of my book: How through creative acts, we have the power to transform ourselves and society.

Rebel Genius

‘Rebel Genius’ as metaphor for the creative process

In the Renaissance-inspired world of Rebel Genius, we meet an aspiring artist named Giacomo, a 12-year-old orphan who lives in the sewers underneath the city of Virenzia. One night, after surviving a violent attack, Giacomo discovers that he has a Genius — a birdlike creature that acts as his protector and muse. At first, Giacomo is thrilled to have his own Genius, but immediately panic sets in. Because in Giacomo’s society, there is only one artist who is allowed to have a Genius — the empire’s leader, the authoritarian Supreme Creator.

Giacomo is discovered by three other children who also have Geniuses and they bring him to a secret studio where he studies with an old, blind artist. Giacomo learns how to use his Genius to tap into the energy in the universe and manifest it into powerful, glowing shapes.

He also discovers he has a unique ability to access a potent creative source called the Wellspring. In Rebel Genius, the Wellspring is the primordial ooze of creation and the source of all that we taste, smell, touch, see, and hear. When Giacomo accidentally opens it the first time, he is met with a maelstrom of foul odors, deafening booms, and freezing winds.

Fearing its power, Giacomo steers clear of the Wellspring, though over the course of the book, he learns more about it and how to gain some control over it. Metaphorically, the Wellspring represents the creative process – a swirling cacophony of sound and color that an artist must learn to tame.

After realizing the scope of his talents, Giacomo has a unique insight into the location of the first of three Sacred Tools – powerful objects that have the potential to create or destroy. But when he is asked to go on this quest, Giacomo balks. He doesn’t think he’s ready. He’s inexperienced, unsure of himself, and full of anxiety.

Sound familiar?

Rebel Genius

Trust the process

Living a creative life means we will inevitably have to embrace uncertainty. When we embark on a new creative project (or a new adventure, like Giacomo), it is because we have a burning desire to know something or to discover something about ourselves and the world we live in. But when we set out, we have only a vague idea where we are headed. We may have a destination in mind, but achieving that goal can often feel daunting and overwhelming. Maybe it’s safer to sit out the journey, we tell ourselves.

And if we do muster up the courage to take those first steps on the creative path, you can be sure that Resistance will be lurking around every turn. It will try to frighten you away from your dreams. Giacomo faces vicious creatures and cunning villains on his adventure, which causes him to question himself and whether the goal he seeks is worth the cost. That’s his form of meeting Resistance.

For me, Resistance appeared with each sentence and at the start of every chapter. Some days I was able to fight past the Resistance and write pages I was satisfied with. Other times, Resistance won and I had to regroup and come back to fight it again the next day.

I realized there is no shortcut around the anxiety (believe me, I looked). Any time we forge into the unknown, it is impossible to predict what will happen, so there is bound to be fear. We have no idea if Resistance is going to trounce us, or we will subdue it. In order to continue creating, we have to trust that no matter how hard Resistance tries, it won’t prevail in the long run.

Finishing the book and seeing the first printed copy of it was a proud moment. I felt like I had weathered Resistance and won, or at least survived. But the war isn’t over. Rebel Genius is the first book in a series and a few weeks after completing it, I settled in to tackle the sequel. And sure enough, my old nemesis, Resistance, was waiting for me once again.

But this time, I’m more prepared for it. And even though my writing day is still fraught with self-doubt, I try not to let Resistance get the better of me. My intention is keep moving forwards on this new creative path. I’ll face Resistance whenever it appears and remind myself that the reason it’s there is because I’m venturing into new, creative territory.

And that is exactly where I want to be.

Learn more about Rebel Genius and Michael Dante DiMartino on Tumblr. Rebel Genius will be available on Oct. 4 from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and your local independent bookstore.

Here are the 2017 Oscars winners and losers

8:25 pm EST, February 26, 2017

The 2017 Oscars took place Sunday night in Hollywood and found La La Land cleaning up with six wins. Here are the Academy Award winners!

ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel hosted the 2017 Oscars, which took place at the Dolby Theater. The event featured live performances of all five Oscar-nominated songs.

2017 Oscar winners list

Read full article

The 2017 Oscars took place Sunday night in Hollywood and found La La Land cleaning up with six wins. Here are the Academy Award winners!

ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel hosted the 2017 Oscars, which took place at the Dolby Theater. The event featured live performances of all five Oscar-nominated songs.

2017 Oscar winners list

Related: We asked our parents to describe the 2017 Oscar nominees

Below is a complete list of Oscar winner and losers.

2017 Oscar winner list

Note: The final winner of the night was originally announced to be La La Land, but the announcement was actually an error — Moonlight won Best Picture. Awkward.

Best Picture:
Arrival
Fences
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land

Lion
Manchester By the Sea
Moonlight

Best Actress:
Isabelle Huppert – Elle
Ruth Negga – Loving
Natalie Portman – Jackie
Emma Stone – La La Land
Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins

Best Actor:
Casey Affleck – Manchester By the Sea
Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling – La La Land
Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington – Fences

Best Director:
Damien Chazelle – La La Land
Mel Gibson – Hacksaw Ridge
Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester By the Sea
Denis Villeneuve – Arrival

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Arrival – Eric Heisserer
Fences – August Wilson
Hidden Figures – Allison Schroeder, Theodore Melfi
Lion – Luke Davies
Moonlight – Barry Jenkins

Best Original Screenplay:
20th Century Women – Mike Mills
Hell or High Water – Taylor Sheridan
La La Land – Damien Chazelle
The Lobster – Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthymis Filippou
Manchester By the Sea – Kenneth Lonergan

Best Original Song:
“Audition” – La La Land
“Can’t Stop the Feeling” – Trolls
“City of Stars” – La La Land
“The Empty Chair” – Jim: The James Foley Story
“How Far I’ll Go” – Moana

Best Score:
Jackie
La La Land
Lion
Moonlight
Passengers

Best Cinematography:
Bradford Young – Arrival
Linus Sandgren – La La Land
Grieg Fraser – Lion
James Laxton – Moonlight
Rodrigo Prieto – Silence

Best Live Action Short Film
Timecode
Sing
Silent Nights
Ennemis Interieurs
La Femme et le TGV

Best Documentary, Short Subject:
4.1 Miles
Extremis
Joe’s Violin
Watani: My Homeland
The White Helmets

Best Editing:
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Moonlight

Best Visual Effects:
Deepwater Horizon
Doctor Strange
The Jungle Book
Kubo and the Two Strings
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Best Production Design:
Arrival
Hail, Caesar!
La La Land
Passengers
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Best Animated Feature:
Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana
My Life as a Zucchini
The Red Turtle
Zootopia

Best Animated Short:
Blind Vaysha
Borrowed Time
Pear Cider and Cigarettes
Pearl
Piper

Best Foreign Language Film:
Land of Mine, Denmark
The Salesman, Iran
A Man Called Ove, Sweden
Tanna, Australia
Toni Erdmann, Germany

Best Supporting Actress:
Viola Davis – Fences
Naomie Harris – Moonlight
Nicole Kidman – Lion
Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams – Manchester By the Sea

Best Sound Mixing:
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
13 Hours

Best Sound Editing:
Arrival
Deepwater Horizon
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Sully

Best Documentary Feature:
Fire at Sea
I Am Not Your Negro
Life Animated
O.J.: Made in America
13th

Best Costume Design:
Allied
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Florence Foster Jenkins
Jackie
La La Land

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Star Trek Beyond
Suicide Squad
A Man Called Ove

Best Supporting Actor:
Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea
Dev Patel – Lion
Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals

Tags: 2017 Oscars

Arrival has been nominated for Best Picture in this year’s Oscars, but it’s Jóhann Jóhannsson’s exceptional score that might earn it a win.

Stepping off from the common trope of ‘aliens arriving on Earth,’ Arrival takes all our human expectations, examines them closely, and then subverts them with remarkable simplicity. Ultimately, it’s a story about choice: the choice to make sacrifices, to trust, to stand united.

It’s an important subject, and a timely one. Amy Adams’ portrayal of Louise Banks, a linguist called to do the ultimate translation job, is breathtaking in its realism and its vulnerability. The cinematography is stunning, and the pacing of the story takes us on a journey that, although walking the much-treaded road of sci-fi, manages to make us feel as if we are exploring entirely new territory.

Read full article

Arrival has been nominated for Best Picture in this year’s Oscars, but it’s Jóhann Jóhannsson’s exceptional score that might earn it a win.

Stepping off from the common trope of ‘aliens arriving on Earth,’ Arrival takes all our human expectations, examines them closely, and then subverts them with remarkable simplicity. Ultimately, it’s a story about choice: the choice to make sacrifices, to trust, to stand united.

It’s an important subject, and a timely one. Amy Adams’ portrayal of Louise Banks, a linguist called to do the ultimate translation job, is breathtaking in its realism and its vulnerability. The cinematography is stunning, and the pacing of the story takes us on a journey that, although walking the much-treaded road of sci-fi, manages to make us feel as if we are exploring entirely new territory.

It should come as no surprise that Arrival is being considered for Best Picture in the upcoming Academy Awards. Director Denis Villeneuve has made a name for himself with movies such as Prisoners and Sicario, known for combining raw humanity with breakneck intensity. But although Villeneuve is an extremely talented director, and is accompanied by an excellent cast, it’s Arrival’s score that succeeds in bringing all the delicate pieces of the film together in one cohesive whole… and drawing the audience in.

Jóhann Jóhannsson is an Icelandic composer that has collaborated with Villeneuve repeatedly, and received Academy Award nominations for his work on movies such as The Theory of Everything and Sicario. Unfortunately, Arrival’s score, although arguably his best work yet, is not eligible for nomination this year. In an exclusive report, Variety explained:

“The Academy’s music branch ruled unanimously that voters would be influenced by the use of borrowed material in determining the value of Johann Jóhannsson’s original contributions to Denis Villeneuve’s alien invasion psychodrama.

“Per Rule 15 II E of the Academy’s rules and eligibility guidelines, a score ‘shall not be eligible if it has been diluted by the use of pre-existing music, or it has been diminished in impact by the predominant use of songs or any music not composed specifically for the film by the submitting composer’”

With the director choosing to place Max Richter’s “On the Nature of Daylight” in the beginning and ending sequences of the film (a song which was also a part of Shutter Island’s score), Jóhannsson’s work sadly lost its chance at an Oscar nomination. According to Variety, “it was determined that there would be no way for the audience to distinguish those cues, which bookend the film, from Jóhannsson’s score cues.”

In an interview with Slash Film, Jóhannsson said that he initially wrote his own alternative to the track, while knowing that Villaneuve was considering “On the Nature of Daylight” as well, although it was very different, as he didn’t “really want to do a knock-off of the music.” Ultimately, Jóhannsson says that he supports the choice, because it “works beautifully and it supplies a very strong contrast to the rest of the score.” But it’s a pity that artistic decisions like this one can cost an exceptional composer an Oscar.

For Arrival, his ability to grip the listener with only a few sounds and rhythms, gradually building up to something of massive proportions, was perfectly harnessed once again to create something truly new. The composer told the Guardian: “People are hungry for new sounds, and for the experience of listening to unfamiliar music that you don’t hear on commercials and in every TV show.”

Composers for sci-fi movies tend to favor epic soundtracks to draw audiences into the scene and make them feel the full blow of the story’s emotions. Jóhannsson, however, entirely avoided using orchestras and sounds in the way that we’re familiar with. His quiet buildup is much more powerful. The track “First Encounter,” for example, is mysterious, ominous, and ultimately overwhelming when the sound suddenly comes to life.

“In mainstream cinema, there’s usually too much music,” he said. “In Arrival, the use of space and silence is extremely important. When music is needed, it’s really there and it serves a purpose.”

The music fits in so well that it becomes hard to know when you’re listening to the score, and when you’re listening to the scene. Both elements mesh so well together that they become nearly indistinguishable. And the quietness that is the underlying current of most tracks is a marvelous replica of human emotion — in the case of First Encounter, of what a mind in shock feels like when faced with an experience it can’t understand.

To achieve the unfamiliar sounds that surround Arrival’s alien ships and their mysterious passengers, Jóhannsson brought together vocalists and choirs, to experiment with what could be done with voices, and combining them with cellos, horns, and wood sounds. He explained to Slash Film:

“The reason I wanted voices was really motivated by the script and the story. It’s a story about communication. It’s a story about language. It’s a story about communicating with an alien species. How do we communicate with an intelligent species with who we have no common point of reference? It was this anthropological aspect, this linguistic aspect, that really influences my choice of orchestration and instrumentation.”

It makes for a truly fascinating combination of sounds. Jóhannsson somehow manages to make simple vocal exercises into music that can be anywhere between heartbreaking and heart-wrenchingly hopeful, turning vocal harmony into something almost tangible, and shedding a small ray of light into the mystery of achieving unity in diversity.

This isn’t a horror-movie score — it’s something transporting, yet ambiguous; a difficult task to achieve nowadays. With decades of listening to scores with similar patterns, it takes a lot to leave audience members in the dark about what is about to happen. We’ve become used to screeching violins meaning impending terror, to drums meaning action scenes, to lengthy orchestra pieces surrounding the climax of the film.

We’re used to hearing Hans Zimmer and John William’s epic orchestras, and while beloved and immortalized for their loveliness, they are no longer as revolutionary. We know the swelling sound of strings and the beating of drums, and we have learned to associate certain sounds with victory, and other sounds with fear.

With Jóhannsson, on the other hand, we don’t know what to expect — is the thrumming noise and the horns in the distance leading us to a scene of horror and destruction, or are we about to discover something beautiful? The score leads us into the ship itself, into the arrival, and poses the same questions with music that the movie does with words and breathtaking cinematography.

And yet, despite the unfamiliarity and ambiguity, the result is still something that feels inherently personal. It’s an emotional experience, even in the silences — a difficult task to achieve with such a minimalist style as Jóhannsson’s — and it’s marvelously memorable. It manages to do exactly what Arrival did for us as a film: draw us in with the promise of alien appearances on Earth, and then steal our hearts with the uniquely human experience of choice, trust, love and death.

Interstellar has tried to do this before — melding human vulnerability with world-defining stakes — but critics are split on whether or not it was a success. With Arrival, however, there’s no doubt that the balance between the intimate and the epic was perfectly reached; and it was because of Johann Jóhannsson.

Arrival has been nominated for Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Mixing – the closest we’ll get to a soundtrack Academy Award — as well as Best Picture, and many others.

Jóhannsson is currently working on the score for Blade Runner 2049 (also directed by Villeneuve), which is expected to premiere this October.

Doctor Who season 10 finally has an air date and not only that, so does its spinoff, Class!

It’s time to celebrate because we finally know when we’ll see Peter Capaldi back in the T.A.R.D.I.S. as the Doctor! BBC America will premiere Doctor Who season 10 on Saturday, April 15 at 9/8c. Check out the brand new trailer promoting the series, narrated by the brand new companion, Bill:

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Doctor Who season 10 finally has an air date and not only that, so does its spinoff, Class!

It’s time to celebrate because we finally know when we’ll see Peter Capaldi back in the T.A.R.D.I.S. as the Doctor! BBC America will premiere Doctor Who season 10 on Saturday, April 15 at 9/8c. Check out the brand new trailer promoting the series, narrated by the brand new companion, Bill:

No word on if the U.K. will be seeing the same air date but it’s more than likely they will since it’s been like that in years past.

This will be Peter Capaldi’s last season as the Doctor, along with Steven Moffat’s last season running the show. After this we’ll be seeing Chris Chibnall taking the reins with a clean slate, and we’re so curious about how the series will go. How will the Doctor regenerate? Will this be Bill’s first and last season on the show as well? Who’s going to be the next Doctor? We’ve got so many questions! But they’ll all be answered in due time… we hope.

And that’s not all! Fans in the U.K. have already had the chance to enjoy the brand new spinoff series, Class, and after Doctor Who premieres on April 15 Americans will finally witness it as well.

Set to air directly after Doctor Who at 10/9c, Class is helmed by award-winning YA writer and executive producer, Patrick Ness. The series follows a group of students at Coal Hill School as they deal aliens, invasions and awkward social dilemmas.

Having seen Class in its entirety we can tell you that it’s got the perfect Doctor Who vibe and should fit in perfectly after you watch the season 10 premiere. Although not everyone loved the premiere, the series as whole definitely grows on you. You’ll just have to check it out for yourself!

Are you excited for ‘Doctor Who’ season 10?