Posted by & filed under The Problem is Expression

As I ended with last time, friends are who you express yourself to. Only recently, due to a number of examples in my life, this idea finally clarified itself enough that I could articulate it out loud. Like so many ideas we have, we know it unconsciously, but can’t put our finger on it.

Over the past 6 months, I’ve had to watch my girlfriend, whom I love deeply and live with, go through an enormous personal struggle. When boiled down to it’s most basic form, the problem is expression pure and simple. It’s having people you can truly talk to.

Since graduating college, the majority of her friend base has moved out of the NOVA area and started lives in different cities, a few even in different countries. And no matter what technology can do for us, this separation inherently causes a drop in communication. A diminished connection with our friends is a diminished ability to properly express ourselves.

Her stressful, corporate work environment also hasn’t helped her feelings of isolation. She often complains about the difficulty in creating friendships in the professional world, and how the corporate structure seems made to impede that deep strand of connection that turns cordial co-workers into close knit comrades.

These lamentations have been really enlightening for me to hear. As someone who’s always seemed to have a close team of friends to surround himself with, I’m learning to grow more appreciative of the friends in my life, as well as realizing the fact I can count on one hand the new friendships I’ve made since entering the workforce. Zero. I get along with my co-workers, sure. But it’s that discovery where you realize you wouldn’t know these people or have any connection to them if not for business.

Naturally, I worry about my girlfriend’s feelings of isolation and have made efforts to introduce her to my group of friends, beyond the boyfriend-girlfriend obligation. And she fits in very well. But as she’s rightly pointed out, my friends are not her friends.

I didn’t really understand this until she and I went on vacation a few weeks ago. The vacation where I began this blog in fact. While relaxing down on the beach in Kill Devil Hills, I was quickly overcome with an immense feeling of confinement. Being alone. I was with my favorite person in the world, and a whole group of likeminded peers, but I felt cut off. Why? Well, the answer is simple. They were her friends. Not mine. And in that moment, I finally understood.

I wasn’t going to talk movies into the wee hours of the night with these people, I wasn’t going flesh out script ideas like I do with my group. These were her friends; and while I was going to get to know them as best I could, my connection to them wasn’t organic.

As I continue to watch the woman I love battle with this problem, it only cements in my mind that expression is a fundamental necessity in all humans. You don’t have to be a “creative” and you can be the quietest person in the room, but the need to tell someone else what we’re thinking lies within all of us.

More to come.


Zack Gross

Posted by & filed under podcast

In this episode, Grody talks with filmmaker Michael Neal about his latest web series Swords of Insurgency. (On a side note, the audio’s a little rough on this one. Sorry guys :( trying to get a new audio set up going).



I’ve been out of school and fully employed for a little over a year now. At the end of that year, I have to be honest, I was damn tired! F**king tired, in fact. Exhausted.

Right now, I’m imagining all the people older than me laughing at how dumb this statement must seem, saying “uhhh, duh” if they’re late 20s, or “what did you think it was gonna be?” if they’re 30s or my Dad’s “yeah, that’s life Zack” at 60.

At the same time, all the people younger than me are making passive aggressive faces, thinking cynically “yes, I know this already”. But I know they don’t know, because when I was younger I thought I knew too. I had no clue how much I didn’t know though…y’know?

Growing up, I always thought that work was this mostly boring block of your day where a group of people met and got things done. Slowly. I thought the life outside work was the part that drove parents crazy and forced them to go to bed at 8pm. This is probably because that’s the only time I saw my parents. And they always seemed tired. Or angry. My Dad was mostly angry. So like most kids, I took my parents state of being as a reflection of my behavior. They were tired or angry and I made them that way. It wasn’t until my own work began that I realized the impact a job had on your life.

I am one of the very small percentage of people in the country and the world that gets to work a 9 to 5 in his or her field of passion. Is it my dream job? No. Am I apart of the film industry? Yes. Do I film cool shit sometimes. Yes!

However, as the freshness of a new job fades away, the normal gripes you’ve only heard about start to step forward. Your once “boundless” creativity is now tempered by a client’s needs. Little by little, the ability for you to express yourself in your day job shrinks away. You start to knix ideas before they get to your mouth, knowing the idea will not be applicable.

And you learn the true definition of the word traffic. What it really means is: how much time do I get to spend at home?

My morning commute from Centreville to Alexandria Virginia is between an hour to an hour and a half depending on what day it is and what mood Washington D.C. is in. Add that to the back end going home, and suddenly that 8 hour day has expanded into a 10 to 11 hour day. To get a proper amount of sleep, i’m usually heading to bed around 10:30pm to get back up at 6:00 the next morning. With all these factors combined, that hardy 24 hours a day very quickly is hacked down to 5 or 6 to get all other life besides work accomplished.

Now before I go on, let me stop right here and say I realize there are billions of people all around the globe who do not have the privileges I have in life or work; people who get paid a measly amount for working twice as hard. Single parents or normal parents who work two, three, or more jobs to make sure the bills are paid. These people work so hard that they don’t have the time to stop and contemplate whether they should or shouldn’t have to. They can only do. So in terms of expression, while you read my analysis and my grappling with the issue, please keep those in mind who do not have the luxury.

With only 5 or 6 hours left in the day, you start to become more precious with how you spend your time. Weeknights and weekends become more about de stressing; recouping lost energies. Get togethers with friends turn into obligations as your time with them, that endlessly ongoing time where you really got to know them, is now curtailed. Either by schedules, your energy level, or other commitments.

A perfect example of this necessity for time was shown to me just recently. I sat with two other friends over dinner one Saturday. After all our “shop talk” had been burned through, one turned to the other and asked  how his love life had been going.

Honestly, in that moment, I was stunned. Not because the question was inappropriate. No, all three of us are close. Stunned because, in that moment, it made me cognizant of how rarely I ever asked such a deep question of my close friends anymore. Stunned, because it pinpointed how absent and disconnected I had been to them this past year.

But what did this moment have that the past year of hangouts hadn’t? Time. The time to open up any avenue of conversation and disregard the lateness of the hour. For me, the same need applies for my creativity. I need that open-ended time that allows you to think, write, reread, rewrite, and take that 5 minute detour on Youtube occasionally. If other tasks need getting done, those will come first so my mind is clear. If there is a “thing” in a couple of hours, I may get a little done, but most of it will be spent counting down how many hours or minutes I have left before I must get ready.

While it hurt a little to learn how cut off I had been from my friends, even if they didn’t consciously know it, the lesson identified two things. I need to take back some of that time, the uncapped hours, to pursue my writing again and express myself. The other, to make a more concerted effort to spend time with friends. These are the people who reinvigorate and inspire me to continue on in my pursuits. If I’m not deeply connected with them, then it’s no wonder why I have problems expressing myself. They’re are who I express myself to.


Zack Gross

Posted by & filed under Blog Posts, The Problem is Expression

I find it very hard to write unless I know it’s for a purpose. My main output is scripts; or script outlines, breakdowns, budgets, schedules, etc. But I find I can’t really get behind a script unless I know I’m going into production soon. Paperwork for my day job I tend to put off until it’s absolutely needed. Even school papers in college wouldn’t get done till a couple hours before (when they got turned in at all). The last one, I realize, is nothing new. But the deadlines focus me and force me to concentrate.

In the past few months however, I’ve found myself stressing over the fact I simply cannot get to writing. Multiple times I’ve cut out a few hours of my weekend, sat with a cup of coffee in silence, had all my materials and story notes ready, but nothing came out. After enough times, you freeze up, and all that pent up creative energy that you wish to express now doesn’t have the outlet it used to. You feel like everything you put down is crap. And so you shrink away from the blank page, keeping it inside.

When reading the two paragraphs above back, I know I would normally think “oh God, another Buzzfeed writer with first world problems.” But what I think I’ve realized is that this example of my inability to write has become indicative of a larger problem going on in my life. It’s not the writing, it’s expression.

But we’ll get to that big topic “expression” soon. I have to let you in on my purpose first. As said before, I find it hard to write without one. These ideas I’ve thought, grappled with, and formulated over the past year I need to say, because the more I express them, the better I feel. But to justify putting my ramblings on paper (the digital kind), I’ve created a purpose. Two actually.

First is to finally get me writing. Get my ass off the couch. Break the ice. There’s no excuse not to write when there’s nothing to wait on. No notes, no outlines, nothing to put it off. Just thoughts to express.

And second, because this site always needs content and there is only so many podcasts a film company can produce.

To end on point, in becoming part of the normal working world, it’s increasingly clear through my own problems and those I notice in others that expression is key. What disturbs me is how few people seem to consciously understand our need for it, but unconsciously crave it.

Lastly, as I write this, I’m listening to Steven Jablonksky’s score for Micheal Bay’s “Pain & Gain”. Highly recommended.


Zack Gross