actorartathleteauthorbizcrimecrosspostcustomerservicedirectoredufoodgaminghealthjournalistmedicalmilmodpostmunimusicnewsworthynonprofitotherphilpolretailscispecialisedspecializedtechtourismtravelunique

Director / CrewIamA VFX Artist and Filmmaker who worked in The Jungle Book, Pirates of Caribbean or SUMER shortfilm. AMA!

Oct 31st 2016 by steppenlovo • 41 Questions • 204 Points

My name is Igor Vovkovinskiy. I am a proud Ukrainian, who lives in the US, for medical reasons. I was named the Tallest Living man in 2010 by the Guinness Book of World Records on the Dr. Oz show. And it so happens that after Leonid Stadnyk died in 2014, I became the Tallest Ukrainian. I did an AMA about 2-3 years ago, however, tons of people on Reddit are asking me the same questions, so I would like to do it again.

I know many people don't know how to Google :) so I'll tell you, my height is 7ft 8.33in and you want to know my weight? Well, my friends, it's none of your business! :) Haha

Proof: http://i.imgur.com/e1bONa3.jpg

I will be posting some photos during the AMA, when I choose to do so, however, please do not request photos.

Let's do this.

Thank you all for the questions. I must go. If you wish, you can follow me on Twitter, @Igor2tall I am sorry if I didn't answer your question, or didn't answer it the way you wanted it answered. A couple quick facts. I love to watch MMA, huge UFC fan. I love my homeland, Ukraine, Слава Україні! I love fishing and reading. PC Games, I love Fallout 3 & 4, wish I could get Battlefield 1, but it's way too expensive, and I don't have an income, so that's out of the question. Have a great Sunday!

UPDATE BELOW!!

UPDATE 1 - 10/30/2016 - 11:30PM Central Time LADIES & GENTLEMEN!! I am still fairly new to Reddit, so I am not sure how to keep updating you. I think, perhaps, updating the OP is best? Your response has been overwhelming. Thank you soooo much for all the kind words, suggestions, offers of help. I can't keep track of anything. I will try to answer as many questions as I can. http://i.imgur.com/cdmKp1M.jpg

Q:

Much respect. Is there anyway you would be interested in working on a short film to put into film festivals? I am part of a team that is doing that currently and we would love your input. We currently have a video with 8 million views that we are proud of but we want to go into more serious stuff. (Fantasy action)

A:

What are some of the most common misconceptions Americans have about Buddhism?


Q:

How often do you hit your head on chandeliers?

A:

Hey, thanks! I'm always happy to give feedback to any kind of artistic project. However, I'm spending so much time at work and with my new film that I have to take part of my sleep time... Good luck mate!


Q:

There are quite a few. Firstly I'd like to state that "Buddhism" covers a wide area both geographically and in time, and just like there are a variety of types of Christianity that developed over time, so to are there a large variety of Buddhist traditions, some of which have little connection to each other except for some of the most basic teachings of the Buddha. I will try to be as general as possible in my answer but I do admit to coming from one particular tradition which holds importance on the oldest teachings, so much of my answer may not be 100% accurate across all traditions.

One of the Biggest is regarding the Dalai Lama,whom most westerners, including myself in my pre-buddhist days, viewed as a sort of Buddhist Pope. This is in fact far from the truth as he represents only one school of Tibetan Buddhism which accounts for about 6% of all Buddhists. Like most westerners however the Dalai Lama was my first exposure to Buddhism, and is a respected monastic and public figure.

There is no centralization of power in Buddhism, with the exception of some Buddhist countries like Thailand where government and Religion are so intermeshed that monks hold government ranks and get titles. These powers however hold no sway outside of said countries and have no relation to the actual monastic rules of living passed down for 2600 years. Generally speaking every monastery, and every monk, is a "free agent", so long as they are following the basic vinaya, rules for the monks, and this is essentially done on the honor system. There are no bishops and cardinals and popes, no inquisitions and no excommunications.

Another large one is that Westerners get hung up on rebirth and other things related to the teachings. I think this stems from a judeo-christian upbringing. I myself did 12 years of catholic school, was an altar boy, youth group leader, the whole thing, so when I speak about these things I'm including myself and my own misconceptions as a westerner. In these religions you had to believe, or else you were a sinner, going to hell, etc. I'm a Buddhist monk, and i can't say I 100% believe in rebirth, and thats ok. The Buddha teaches us to question even our most deeply held views and beliefs, like the belief in a soul, a permanent self, let alone something like rebirth. We are called to come and see the truth for ourselves by examining our own experience deeply, and with insight begin to see things as they truly are, not how we wish them to be.

I suggest to many people who are interested in buddhism but get hung up on these kinds of things, that it is ok to shelve them and practice, as you will see the benefits of meditation and living by virtuous principles in the immediacy of your daily life as your mind changes and you become less judgmental, of yourself, and others.

I'll close out by also saying that due to the previously mentioned Judeo-Christian backgrounds, people are looking for something that is "like" a religion, but what you can try to get away with and not call it a religion, but a "philosophy" and things like this. Buddhism has come down to us in Asia through 2600 years and has become a religion, complete with all the trappings of it, rituals and ceremonies etc.

Each person doesn't have to take Buddhism on as a religion, and in deed people can remain whatever religion they were raised and take aspects of Buddhism that help them, this is common.

You also see today in the 6 Billion dollar mindfulness industry that it is also common to take the teachings of the Buddha and make them clinical and scientific. There is a wide range of practice going on, from the religious to the secular to the scientific, all of which stemming from the teachings of a bald headed guy in robes 2600 years ago.

A:

ohhh jeez...when I go to visit someone, pretty much every time I will hit my head on one of the light fixtures


Q:

Ah i feel ya, awesome, thank you for the response. I will send you a link to some upcoming stuff soon. We have been having a hard time entering the official filmmaking world, we have made dozens on our own budget, but we lack the ability to get our work in front of the right eyes i guess...Do you know anybody interested in a group of low budget filmmakers looking for a producer or somebody we can show our script/pilot/screeplay anything to?

A:

How do you feel about the romanticism of Buddhism here in the west? In North America it seems to be a trendy thing currently - does it bother you to have Buddhism watered down and used as a fad?

On the flip side, for those who are genuinely interested in learning or become Buddhist, what do you recommend?


Q:

Do you ever go to the mall of America?

There is book store there where I think I may come across your path a number of years ago. Short story, as I was looking down thumbing through a book I saw this ginormous foot step next to mine. So I look up to see a mountain of a man. I can only guess this was you, because this gentleman was huge. Pulling books off the the top display shelves with ease, which would have taken anyone else a ladder.

Quite impressive anyway. Have a good weekend.

A:

One the best resources is trying to get a vimeo staff pick with your pitch/shortfilm/proof of concept. That is the best platform to reach most of the producers and managers.


Q:

Frankly i'm not too worried and uptight about these kind of things. I've been hearing this new term "Cultural Appropriation" being thrown around and it seems to be a part of the whole SJW PC culture, of which I was never a fan of to begin with, way too much controlling and forcing, the opposite of Buddhism.The West has always romanticized the East, going back even before Roman and Greek times, so its nothing new or surprising.

This means that there are many many misconceptions, as almost all of us, myself included, grew up in the west and what we knew of Buddhism was from movies like Karate Kid or Kung Fu Panda etc. It is only when we begin to learn about Buddhism and then come into contact with buddhist places and practicing Buddhists, that our misconceptions are dispelled and we see the truth of the matter, often times to the dismay of many who really romanticize Buddhism.

I have been researching how mindfulness has become a 6 billion dollar a year business and how various brandings of Buddhist culture ( usually related to the terms zen, nirvana, and a fat guy who everyone mistakes for buddha) are becoming common in trendy health food stores and the like. I don't spend a minute of my time worrying about these kinds of things, this is just a typical and normal aspect of society.

If your just starting out I highly recommend "good question, good answer", which you can find for free as a pdf here - http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/gqga-5ed.pdf

that website itself http://www.buddhanet.net is also a fantastic general resource for Buddhist education I used myself for years as I was starting out.

There is also this excellent book through which many a western Buddhist began their journey for the past 40 years " what the Buddha taught" - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B003OYIG00/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

also check out youtube, tons of stuff on there. I highly recommend checking out the talks of a monk called Ajahn Brahm, who really tries to integrate the teachings into how they can be used in daily life situations.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jniaUr_7438

lastly feel free to contact me anytime via my links in the original post, I'm always willing to help out people who are interested as I remember my own beginnings.

A:

haha, yeah probably me, I would always go to the Barnes & Noble at the MoA.


Q:

When did you discover that VFX was what you wanted to do for living?

A:

and a fat guy who everyone mistakes for buddha

Lol Bhante, I agree with everything you said, but isn't that supposed to be the next Buddha Maitreya?

Also, congratulations and best wishes on your path!


Q:

Whats the best thing and the worst thing about being that height?

A:

When I was 22 or 23 Officially. I was a personal trainer in a gym but I had always in the background all this 3D stuff waiting for a chance. Since I was kid spent a lot of time doing comics, draws, stopmotion films and playing tons of video-games... But I didn't see it as a professional option until that moment.


Q:

History[edit] According to Chinese history, Budai was an eccentric Chan monk (Chinese: 禅; pinyin: chán)[7] who lived in China during the Later Liang (907–923). He was a native of Zhejiang and his Buddhist name was Qieci (Chinese: 契此; pinyin: qiècǐ; literally: "Promise this").[2] He was considered a man of good and loving character.

Budai or Pu-Tai[1][2] (Chinese and Japanese: 布袋; pinyin: Bùdài; rōmaji: Hotei[3]; Vietnamese: Bố Đại) is a Chinese folkloric deity. His name means "Cloth Sack",[3] and comes from the bag that he is conventionally depicted as carrying. He is usually identified with or seen as an incarnation of Maitreya, the future Buddha, so much so that the Budai image is one of the main forms in which Maitreya is depicted in China.[3] He is almost always shown smiling or laughing, hence his nickname in Chinese, the Laughing Buddha (Chinese: 笑佛; pinyin: Xiào Fó).[1][3][4] In the West, the image of Budai is often mistaken for Gautama Buddha, and is hence called the Fat Buddha (Chinese: 胖佛; pinyin: Pàng Fó).[5]

does seem like this person has been used as a representation of a future buddha, but that was not the origin.

A:

The worst thing is all the medical issues. The best thing? I don't know.... maybe that kids look up to me. I have gone to schools around the area to talk to kids about being tall, being different, about my homeland.


Q:

What are some of the most memorable stuff you've worked on so far and why?

A:

Why would/should all nuns be reprimanded for the greed of another?


Q:

Are the medical issues mostly associated with your joints?

A:

soft SPOILER:

The Jungle Book final battle between ShereKan and Baloo. I was leading that sequence in the Layout department and was quite intense. Final sequences are always tricky but impressive ones.

I would say also that the personal project I'm doing right now is being quite exciting in terms of ambitions. I'm trying to raise the bar of my past projects, and that makes every single step epic.


Q:

you could say that about almost all the rules really. Although I wouldn't say that all the nuns are "reprimanded", more like a restriction of future use.

But in all honesty I'm no monks rules scholar, so I can't say much more then that.


Q:

What is something about the VFX side of movie making that most people don't know about? What is the most difficult scene you've had to work on and why?

A:

I play a level 6 elemental monk in d&d. What's the difference?


Q:

What are the health concerns associated with being so tall? Do doctors estimate that your life expectancy is likely shorter than that of a man of average height?

A:
  1. It sounds so cliché, but the amount of people, resources and time you need to achieve every single shot is absolutely insane...

  2. The Jungle Book battle between Baloo and Sherekan was a pain in terms of distances, continuity of all the animals, cameras and enviroment... Regarding my personal projects, the sequence in the city of SUMER was quite hard. The more objects you have in the scene, the more stressful became everything.


Q:

It depends on whether the monastic as developed the powers that come with a highly concentrated mind, like being able to use fire to defeat dragons etc, read peoples mind, bend earth, teleport etc, although these kinds of things are usually for level 10 and above, I'm only at about maybe level 3 or 4 myself.

btw I use to play D&D, was a huge gamer and pc nerd, played and loved TT/pc/console RPGs since the 80s, love the question.

A:

many health concerns, blood doesn't flow to the outer extremities very well, meaning my legs, so I have excrutiating pain in my legs and feet, as I have had 25+ surgeries on my left foot & leg. Nothing really helps me with my pain. I am on about level 7-8 out of 10 all the time


Q:

What computer program is the best to learn for VFX? AE, Nuke, Motion, Maya, Cinema4D?

A:

[deleted]


Q:

Jesus, you poor guy. How do you even function with that much pain all the time? It must be so stressful to constantly be in agony. I'm so sorry :(

A:

I would say Maya and Houdini as main softwares are both a solid option to be a Generalist, and then you can point your career to more specific tools depending on your discipline.


Q:

How not very different it is from lay life. People often expect that when they escape to a monastery in the woods they are leaving the world behind, but this is far from the case. Everything you find in the outside world you will find in a monastery, because you bring your own baggage and issues to it like everyone else. You can go out to the woods and be in a nice, silent, peaceful place, yet your mind is chaos, a war zone.

Everyone, everywhere, has what Buddhists call the defilements of greed, hatred, and delusion in our mind, this causes us to not see clearly and not do the most skillful actions in our quest for happiness and peace. This means that there is no place on earth you can escape to and escape greed, hatred, and delusion, even if you are the only living thing within 100 miles, you are still with yourself.

people also tend to think that monks do nothing but sit around and meditate all day, where as we do hours of work on a daily basis and have responsibilities and chores like washing dishes, chopping and managing wood, fixing buildings, etc. Now there may be some places in the world where the monks DO do nothing but meditate all day, but they are in the minority and quite rare.

A:

I don't function, that's the problem. Also, my doctors will not give me enough meds, but I do not want to be on these frikin pills, they kill so many people. But in Minnesota I have no other choices.


Q:

Do you have a bachelors in anything art related? (Vfx, animation, etc

A:

Do you believe that Theravada is the only original/most authentic tradition of Buddhism?


Q:

Have you tried medical marijuana?

A:

I have a one year M.A. Have to say, that there is a wide range of different backgrounds. From Phds, to non academics but with a lot of artistic eye or practice. In my case, I learned how to use the basic tools in the M.A, but most of my knowledge is just my own practice, personal projects and curiosity.


Q:

I use to, but not anymore. I now know that much of Theravada is quite added on later as well. I follow the early buddhist texts as my guide, and that is pre-sectarian, shared across all traditions.

I also realize that what is right for me, is not necessarily right for others. I could never practice Tibetan Buddhism, but I know some people benefit from that type of tradition. I worry about my own practice and let others worry about theirs.

A:

no sir, it's not exactly easy to obtain legally in MN. I really want to try the CBD capsules, but I can't get anyone to let me try it.


Q:

Awesome, that is interesting. I would like to go into the same field myself and am currently in college for software engineering but animate and make art on the side. Thanks for your response, you do great work! :)

A:

Sorry I'm commenting so late, and I certainly don't except a response since the AMA is over. When I first started studying Buddhism I was really pulled to Theravada, and then Zen. I still really like both of those traditions, but I ended up really liking Pure Land and decided it was best for me. Part of what I like about both Theravada and Pure Land is that they don't emphasize the student/teacher relationship as much/in the same way as some other schools. The biggest reason I've avoided Vajrayana Buddhism is because the way they teach the student/teacher relationship seems to be very risky and seems to open the door for dangerous levels of guru worship/personality cult qualities. I'm confident that there are plenty of good Vajrayana teachers and masters, but it can be tough finding the right one, especially if you live in an area with few options.

I was also originally drawn to Theravada for its perceived connection to "early Buddhism" or "original Buddhism," but I became less focused on that as I learned that it was much more nuanced than that. Other than that, I've noticed that Pure Land Buddhism, despite being Mahayana and being severely misunderstood in the West (for example, people may think it is "Christianized" or "Chinese Apocrypha" despite its origination in India), is actually firmly rooted in early Buddhism. For example, Buddha Mindfulness is advocated in the Nikayas (source1 source2) as well as many Mahayana sutras, and Buddha Mindfulness is practiced across many traditions. Pure Land is just a specific development from some of the historical Buddha's original teachings.


Q:

Tallest man typical meal and portion?

A:

Thanks! Keep going, a good balance between technical and artistic stuff is always a safe bet. Good luck!


Q:

well all traditions that came later have some kind of basis in the early buddhist texts. That is where concepts like emptiness and bodhisatta, which don't have any real kind of separate and distinct importance there, but were expanded to great importance in the Mahayana.

I also agree with you about the Guru thing, it is definitely one of the things that gives me pause.

A:

Well. for breakfast, usually a bowl of cereal or 3 eggo waffles with some jelly, and 2 cups of coffee.

For lunch, a sandwich or two. for example: european or Ukrainian bread, little butter, 2-3 pieces of ham or beef or salami and a piece of cheese (Havarti or Provolone or whatever we have, I'm not picky). Or if I have some Borcht or other soup, I'll eat a bowl of that. Or we'll make some fried potatoes with a pork chop or a steak. For dinner, I may make some rice & chicken in the oven or potatoes & chicken in the oven. I don't have any money to eat fancy. I haven't even ever tried fresh lobster or crab. When my fridge is empty I will eat a couple ramen soups.


Q:

What is something about the VFX artists/industry that most people don't know about and would be surprised, or is there a widespread misconception regarding your field of work that you want to set straight?

A:

What's your biggest piece of advice for those considering becoming a monastic?

I've seen from your tumblr that you have a variety of meditation styles like vipassana, mindfulness of death, and metta practice. Do you think it's important to have some level of competence in each of these styles to practice alongside your main meditation technique? (This second question wasn't meant specifically for a those who are monks)


Q:

european or Ukrainian bread

What's this?

A:

At the risk of repeating myself the amount of people you need to deliver one single shot... Storyboarders, Screenwriters, Concept Artists, Modelers, Texturers, Riggers, Lighters, Layout Artists, Crowd Artists, Animators, Technical Animators, FX Artists, Compers, Matchmovers, Look Dev people, 3Dmp... The list is endless, and I'm only talking of Computer Graphics effects.

Most of the cases, you can't see these departments well organized in the credits.


Q:

The Biggest piece of advice is not to rush. To take your time and really find examine your experience, ask yourself if the monastic life is right for you. Get to know monastics and ask any monastic you can what their advice to you would be.

examine also your reasons for wanting to become a monk, aversion to the world is not a skillful reason(aversion is quite different from disenchantment/dispassion), for one example, nor is lack of job prospects and other worldy reasons.

as for the second part, all of those "meditation styles" are part of the overall schematic of the buddha's teaching that can be found in the Sattipatthana sutta, anapanasati and the like. These are all meant to be part of a wholistic approach to right effort, abandoning unskillful habitual tendencies, and abiding in skillful ones.

A:

Uhhhhhh....well if you go to a grocery store bakery, they have bread. And some of it is called European bread. And there are Ukrainian & Eastern European grocery stores in big cities all over the US, they sell hot & freshly baked Ukrainian bread, the kind we ate at home. It's MUCH heavier than the typical American wonderbread type crap, has more substance to it, healthier.


Q:

That sounds like a nightmare.

Having to get something approved by so many different people, each from a different department, with different needs and maybe even artistic vision, there's no way they all agree on something.

A:

Are you worried one day you may not be able to turn back to lay life and live normally again? I.e you may be past the age of relationships kids careers etc?


Q:

Do you know what caused your great height? Was it a tumour on the pituitary gland, like many other extremely tall individuals?

A:

That's a vfx Supervisor / Director job :)


Q:

I was married in my 20s and long before I became a monk the practice lessened my need to attach to another person and I became quite content with myself. I kept myself open to the possibility of a relationship happening, but I never felt the need to go searching for one.

I was also 36 when I moved to the monastery, even if I had a kid now I'd be a senior citizen by the time they graduated high school. I also know that if I ever decide to leave the monkhood I have my previous skills and experiences to fall back on to get by. I'm not worried at all if I have to leave, although this is a fear for some which might keep them in robes even though they don't want to be.

A:

yes, a tumor.


Q:

Thank you for doing this AMA! Have you ever actually met any of the actors and do they appreciate you CG'ing them on the big screen?

A:

How has your general sense of happiness and wellbeing changed since ordination? Also, how has celibacy affected you? I maintain long streaks with zero sexual activity and it always makes me feel powerful and confident.


Q:

Do you want/need a short sidekick? Where shall I send my resumé?

A:

Not me, but definitely some of my colleagues that work on set. Pretty sure some actors are amazed by our digital doubles. :)


Q:

How has your general sense of happiness and wellbeing changed since ordination?

I'd say that because I'm doing something and following a path I feel are important, and much more worthy then basically anything else I could be doing, There is a happiness and contentment related to that.

otherwise becoming a monastic and truly attempting to live this life is very very hard, by far the hardest thing I've ever done, so It's not like I'm in some sort of happily wedded bliss, it's always sobering to face reality :).

Also, how has celibacy affected you? I maintain long streaks with zero sexual activity and it always makes me feel powerful and confident.

I was fairly celibate(maybe 2-3 times a year if that) for a number of years before coming to the monastery due to the meditation practice severely lessening my desire to find a mate and have a relationship and all that.

I've not ever felt this mythical magical "uber amounts of energy" from having no sexual activity though that I hear people talk about.

A:

Yes, I need someone to help me fight crime. Send your resume to my twitter @Igor2tall


Q:

I do vfx too! But for games. I know they are pretty different animals, but a lot of real time effects sort of follow tech from movies, and video games loves hiring movie guys. I guess my question is what sort of film techniques should I learn to be a better game vfx artist? What sort of fundamentals are useful to keep practicing?

A:

Celibate? What does celibacy have to do with finding zen?

To me it would seem like the opposite would be true.


Q:

We can have a battle royale to determine your sidekick.

I'm in.

A:

I honestly think we should learn more from video-game techniques and not in the other way around. You can feel this in previzualitation stuff with unreal, unity and so. We also have LoD systems and real time lighting... as a kind of legacy from that industry. Storytelling and filmmaking skills are good not only to learn how to tell your story, but also to optimize your resources... but again, I can recognize that many videogames tell better stories than many of the full features films.


Q:

I know nothing about "finding zen", not my tradition or anything the Buddha spoke about in the oldest texts.

In what ways would it seem "opposite" to you?

The purpose of a monastic is to end suffering and become awakened, to do that we cleanse our mind of attachments, clinging, and aversion, we in a sense "overcome our programming", one of which is the sexual drive of this human species. The drives to eat, sleep, and procreate are obviously quite strong, they need to be or else the species wouldn't survive to pass on their genes to the next generation and sustain the existence of the species.

That being said however a person can let go and train the mind to the point where innate habitual tendencies are overcome. This leaves the mind in a sate of peace and equanimity that is not caught up in the roller coaster of the typical highs and lows of a mind dominated by natural selection, genes, and an innate habitual tendency of the mind towards greed, hatred, and delusion.

A:

YES!!!!!!!!!! Can someone make a wrestling ring to fit 1,500 people? You all can battle, it will be the sweetest Battle Royale ever!


Q:

Would you agree with the widespread rumor(?) that Hollywood VFX artists are underpaid?

Also, when do you see the limit for practical effects to VFX?

A:

What has been the hardest part of monastic living for you?

Did you follow the eight precepts regularly before becoming an anagarika? If not, was that a big challenge for you?


Q:

Hey, there was a documentary shown on tv here a few weeks ago about gigantism which you were featured in. I remember you said in it that you were a bit of a film buff, what's your favourite movie at the moment? what was the documentary process like?

A:

Nah, it is just a wide range of salaries. Some of them underpaid, some overpaid, some just normal. Another stories if u compare vfx salaries with hollywood stars.

Well, I think the problem is not about using cgi or practical effects, is just about how to use it, when and why. You can see shitty practical effects, as well as cg ones. The percentage of use of this usually is depending of the budget and vision of the director.


Q:

No I didn't. I vaguely remember trying to follow the 8 precepts a few years back but then I realized they are just not really compatible with a regular lay life and were not something I felt was that important to undertake. I was coming to the monastery for retreats of visits every 2-3 months and doing my daily practice, I felt that was enough.

The 8 monastic precepts are really only meant for lay people living at a monastery, or when they practice on uposatha, not for regular daily living, although it is true that there are some rare lay people who do follow it for however long they feel is necessary.

The hardest part of monastic living has been pretty much everything related to food, and getting use to living with other people in tight quarters again.

A:

Hello. I like so many movies... it's so hard to pick one, or 10. Okay, these aren't necessarily the newest films, but I like them very much.

Mad Max Fury Road Dredd LoTR Series The Hobbit Series Apocalypto Eagle Eye Star Trek Beyond Captain America movies


Q:

What is the craziest thing you've ever been asked to animate?

A:

What was your biggest challenge walking away from your normal American life? How did your friends and family respond?


Q:

When's the best time to visit Ukraine?

A:

Before working in the film industry I animated cancer cells, bacteria, viruses and any kind of disgusting things you can imagine.


Q:

without a doubt it was leaving my very close family. You do need to do a lot of letting go of these close connections when you become a monk. This is not to say you won't see them or have a relationship with them, but you are not part of their daily/regular lives anymore, and that is tough both on you and them.

My family and friends knew I was going to do this years before I did, but it didn't hit them until it got real and I really left, it was not easy for them.

A:

Well...I would say summer. Kyiv is best seen on foot. Hundreds of gorgeous churches, old architecture, museums, parks.


Q:

Huge admirer of people in your line of work! What would be some adivce/knowledge you wish you had when you started in the industry?

Also, if you could work on any movie past, present or future what would it be?

A:

Thank you for your response.

What I don't understand is if these forms of existence that you talk about are literal or existential metaphors that aren't literal, but describe what life is like. I think the reason why Westerners would consider these forms of existence, or ghosts, as you put it, supernatural is because, if they are literal, how can we substantiate such claims? If these claims about states of existence are based on introspection, through meditation or changing certain aspects of your lifestyle, then I would say that we are unable to understand them rationally, that is; through the scientific method.

I don't think Buddhist philosophy is problematic as a guide to how to live. But, if these states of existence of Samsara are taken literally, then they make fundamental claims about our reality which would have major consequences for science and philosophy.

It's interesting that you bring up Asia. At the moment I live in Japan teaching English. Buddhism and Shintoism exist somewhat harmoniously side by side. For example, it's not uncommon for Japanese people to visit shrines to commemorate public holidays, while attending Buddhist ceremonies for things like funerals. But, at least here in Japan, the influence of Buddhism is either decreasing or Shintoism has a much larger spiritual role in society. Either that, or perhaps the Westernisation of Japan is changing the spiritual fabric of society. But, based on my somewhat limited understanding of Japan's spiritual history, Buddhism had a much larger role in Japanese society, prior to the militarisation and nationalisation of Japan. After that, Shinto became a much more ingrained part of Japanese society and I don't think that Western society and the aspects of Samsara that you would think accompany it, are mutually exclusive. Don't take my word for it though! This is based on my own personal anecdotal assumptions and is not at all comprehensive. Haha.

I'm sorry for the long answer. Thanks for the AMA.


Q:

Can you touch your toes?

A:

Good question... mmm... cheesy one but true, trust in your ideas and your way of doing things... that is a valuable skill.

Mmmm... Matrix was one of the reason I got crazy with this, so that's the winner. Would love also to touch a Star Wars movie, let see how it goes.


Q:

existential metaphors that aren't literal, but describe what life is like.

Like I said above, this is mostly a more modern view, especially in the west, but some mahayana traditions apparently see things this way as well I just found out recently.

if they are literal, how can we substantiate such claims?

you can't, only with you own experience on the path, through deep levels of concentration and insight. The Scientific method has a very hard time talking about the mind and consciousness, let alone other existences.

But, if these states of existence of Samsara are taken literally, then they make fundamental claims about our reality which would have major consequences for science and philosophy.

I don't think so, a famous Astrophysicist said " I don't think the universe is just stranger then we imagine, I think it's stranger then we CAN imagine". If you look at astrophysics, quantum physics, Multivese theory and all that... the possibilities that are born out by the math are imo much stranger then various states of existence,that we can't happen to see(nor can we see most of the wave lengths of light). The far majority of the universe is made up of something we don't even know what it is, so it's called Dark Matter, not to mention "dark" energy.

Frankly I don't see it as such a stretch, considering multiverse, various dimensions etc, for there to be various beings and various ways to exist. Not only that but the Buddha also spoke of world-systems, ie galaxies of worlds with various beings etc.

So this is why I keep an open mind, I've always been open minded and agnostic, and it's always served me well. I've never gotten to caught up on these things, although I am well aware that rebirth and kamma are major hang-ups for many westerners.

A:

yes


Q:

How do you feel about Cinemagraphs?

A:

Could you explain the Jhanas a little bit? I'm a beginner and they seem very subjective, so it's hard to pinpoint how a person actually experiences them. Thanks!!


Q:

How tall were you in high school?

A:

An improved Gif :)


Q:

I avoided the Jhanas for many years of practice before learning about them. I know much more about them these days but I will say that I am not an experienced Jhannic practitioner so I will only speak in generalities from the ancient discourses.

They are an advanced state of concentration that arise on their own when you set the conditions for their arrival.These conditions are "quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states". This is the temporary suppression of what is called the 5 hindrances (sensual desire, ill-will, sloth and torpor, restlessness and worry, doubt). These hindrances are the primary factors that keep our mind from a calm and tranquil state. When these factors subside, become suppressed, Jhanna naturally arises from there.

When I took a Jhana retreat with my preceptor, Bhante G, out of 9 days he spent 5 on the hindrances. This gives you an idea of how important understanding and working with the hindrances is, especially with regards to Jhana.

So in short, don't worry about the Jhanas, just do the practice. Getting too caught up in them, attached to wanting to get them and all that, is dangerous and is itself a hindrance(part of sensual desire). Continue your practice and Jhana will arise when the conditions are ripe.

A:

I was reaching 7ft 2in in 12th grade


Q:

How do you feel when you see a terrible movie with great vfx? Do you feel bad for those artists? Do the artists care about the ending quality of the movie?

A:

Thanks for the ama, fascinating read. What are your thoughts on the use of marijuana for spiritual practise, specifically related to ancient yogis ingesting it before their yoga sessions?

I as because I smoke and do yoga 2-3 times per week and find that I locate and release anxieties and stress far more vividly and with much more intensity than yoga sober.

Thanks


Q:

Oh my god. How did the 9th graders (or 10th graders some high schools are like that) react when they first saw you?

A:

Oh my... that happens a lot. At some point you just do your shots the best you can and sometimes you don't even see the final results. Another story is when the movie has some historical background, or is directed by some film-making legends.


Q:

Drugs are an escape, they muddle the mind, hence why it is a very basic practice of even lay Buddhist practitioners to avoid all intoxicants.

Now I've seen people tell their stories of how drug trips lead them to becoming buddhists, but almost all of them realized that the drugs were much more a hindrance then a help and gave them up to pursue deeper meditation.

I'm also pretty sure the goals of Buddhism and yoga are quite different, as yoga is more connected with the Hindu end of things. I will admit though to having very limited knowledge of the spiritual side of yoga, I practiced it for a bunch of years, but only for bodily health and used as a mindfulness exercise.

A:

well...in my city the papers published about me so many times since I came to the US for treatment, that pretty much everyone knew me, but some kids were real assholes.


Q:

Where did the idea come from for Sumer Mr. Garcia?

A:

Do you free ball it or do you where underwear?


Q:

If I was your size and someone was an asshole to me, I'd squash them. But you seem like a really nice guy and I respect you for that.

A:

Sumer is the first known civilization on Earth. The city in the short film is ironically the last one. I just wanted to play with the idea of a world with no resources and hope, where only kids curiosity are able to discover new worlds and ways to resolve dramatic situations.


Q:

over asked boring question! got to think of something more crazy then that lol.

When you wear robes, you feel so free you never want to go back to pants again ;).

A:

I hit a guy once, after about 3 years of taking shit from him. He folded into a locker. They had to replace the locker door and maybe his liver. HAHA. no, I didn't hit him as hard as I could. But he did fall back into the lockers and bent the door.


Q:

Where do you get the patience for VFX work, is it a very numerical process?

A:

How do you deal with regret and/or guilt?


Q:

Do you get sick of people asking if you play basketball?

A:

Sometimes it is more technical than others. But despite we have a lot of repetitive tasks, there is always some "hero" shots that grabs you and keeps your motivation up.


Q:

This response from another question might be helpful. if you have any further questions about regret/guilt post below and I'll answer.

My answer probably wont be very useful but even before I was a Buddhist I had the mindset to view my experiences as a lesson to learn and grow from, so I can't really remember in my adult life ever regretting anything major I've done.

Of course growing up you do stupid things and maybe your caught and punished and you regret the action in that respect, that is a sense of moral shame which is a good thing as it helps to steer you in the right direction. everything that has happened to me and that I've experienced has been a stepping stone to bettering myself, creating a more wise, friendly, and compassionate person inch by inch. I still have quite a ways to go down this Journey, but it's all about baby steps. It's important to have compassion and understanding for yourself as well as others, to drop the harsh judgment we often have about ourselves and what we've done. This short Q&A answer I did might be helpful in further explaining how to deal with remorse and regret - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IF9pUSVRRho

AFL - Acknowledge what you've done, forgive yourself(and others) and make amends for your action, and learn from it so you do better next time. Of course this is all easier said then done, which is why it takes practice in changing our habitual tendencies.

A:

yes! The most annoying this is that 99% of people think that they are the first person to think of that question.


Q:

I remember hearing a while ago that for 4k releases of many films, the CGI isn't actually re-rendered at a higher resolution for the release, but is rather just upscale/interpolated up; is that accurate?

I'd have imagined, if anything, when you guys do the final master render for the production, it's already rendered at an absurd resolution so it's "future proofed" for future format releases and it's merely downscaled for the normal 1080p release?

Bonus question: You ever used blender? Is it's UI as terrible to you as it is to me?

A:

Do you have any hobbies? Can you play video games or watch tv every once in a while or are those things you were required to give up?


Q:

So... do you?

A:

Never used Blender, but yeah, it seems untidy under my pov.

Mmmm, a comper or lighter would answer better that question... but I can say that sometimes is the other way around... If we are doing a 2k movie, we do need to add extra pixels beyond the frame, called overscan, to add later camerashake or reframes/reracks.

Not sure about 4K one, and how much compers scale that up with smaller resolutions. Sometimes I guess it's depending on the project and deliveries.


Q:

video games, tv etc are all entertainments. It is against the rules to partake in these kinds of things as they are distractions. They are however among the most minor of rules, even among the minor rules that are confessed.

Sometimes when you are out in the world, or visiting family and friends, you can't really escape these things, so its really more about desire and intention.

I've known monks to watch movies, but it's not something that is really condoned. Some traditions of Buddhism are much more loose though and there are Shambala monks who watch movies, play baseball etc.

it is fine though for monks to watch non-fiction. We can watch stuff about history and science and things like this, but even still we have to watch how we are using it and how much. there are monks who go to college and get their degrees and even PH.Ds.

Monks can have hobbies, I've known a few that draw, some tinker with mechanical stuff, others write. I was told by a senior monk when asked for Advice that a hobby is a good thing for a monk to have.

most of what I do is buddhist related, I do videos, write on a blog, work with a media team for the monastery etc. I also like to learn about astronomy and science. I'm currently learning spanish as well as the buddhist language of Pali for ancient text learning.

A:

I used to, in grade school and middle school.


Q:

Is the "Wonder Woman" you mention the new one? If so, what is it like working with Patty Jenkins and Warner Bros?

A:

Is there a difference between mindfulness and Buddhism, and what is it about Buddhism (theravada) that drew you in as opposed to other sects (vajrayana/mahayana/zen) or other religions with similar practices like Jainism or Taoism?


Q:

and how is the weather up there?

A:

Yeah, the new one. It's being great :)

Can't tell so much until is released though :P


Q:

that depends on what you mean by mindfulness.

as for what drew me to Theravada, I felt it was closer to the truth, closer to the Buddha. Turns out I wasn't exactly right, but I don't really consider myself a Theravadin these days, I follow the early buddhist texts.

as I stated in a previous thread, i've studied most all major religions, and as a truth seeker i've not found a truth even remotely match my experience of reality more then the Buddha's Four Noble Truths.

A:

Excellent. Sometimes foggy, but great right now.


Q:

[deleted]

A:

Is there a Buddhist perspective on building a mars colony? (Keyword "Space X")


Q:

Have you ever been asked by to get an item on the high shelves while in a store?

A:

We don't know the "deep" Hollywood so I can't answer that question.


Q:

I follow Astronomy and have joked about being one of the first buddhist monks on mars. I also follow Space X's journey. It's not really conducive to enlightenment, but it is an indulgence I grant myself as thinking about space does help in various aspects of my practice.

There is no "buddhist perspective on space", but I say we should of been there long ago already.

A:

yes, quite often. Usually by older people. They are always very nice about it. I'm happy to help.


Q:

Did you work on Pirates 3? Why didn't anyone stop the giant lady from turning into crabs? It was so stupid. Like, ruining the franchise, stupid.

A:

What's with the shaved heads and the robes?

And any Lord that's going to punish you for eating garlic seems a bit petty to me. Are there other rules that you believe are odd/nonsensical?


Q:

Do you have a record of your progression of growth? Has it been constant or have there been phases where you shot up a lot?

A:

Hahaha. Nope. I worked on the fifth one. Can't remember that moment though...


Q:

the shaved head and robes was the traditional method of distinction for the samanas of ancient india. These were ascetics and renunciates who renounced the tradition brahmanic culture and went out into the wilderness to do a variety of practices.

it is from this samana tradition that the Buddha came and begun the teachings, so the bald head and robes predates buddhism in ancient India.

others have already posted various reasons given, from lessening attachment, to lice, etc. These are all valid reasons traditionally given for the why, and they all make sense for the most part.

as for the "lord" again someone else mentioned this is just a 100 year old translation that someone decided to take from western culture and attribute to a word used for the Buddha. There are plenty of rules that seem odd today, and all the rules come with a story as to why they were put in place in the first place. Some monks adhere strictly to all the rules, others make allowances for modernity, there is a wide variety of ways monastics follow the rules, and differences in the rules themselves as they crossed time and space.

A:

not really. Never kept a written record. But I'll tell you this Thecpoepoe, at 7 years old, I was 6ft tall


Q:

Fucking hell. Were you bullied as a kid? Kids are mean little shits and will poke fun at anything different, and you're sure as shit different. But at the same time I can't imagine anyone, even kids, being dumb enough to make fun of someone so much bigger than them.

A:

I hated high school. Never had a single friend. Every football player made sure my life was shit


Q:

How big is your bed? Also (sorry if your uncomfortable with this) how does the sex work?

A:

my bed is about 9ft by 6ft. Well... I read a book about sex, I can send you an amazon link if you want. :)


Q:

What does a 7ft 8 inch man do for a career and how has your height helped/hindered your work life?

A:

I haven't been able to have a normal work life, I haven't worked in a traditional setting since 2005, mostly because I had to have so many surgeries, but also because I have excrutiating pain in my legs and feet.


Q:

You worked at Sam's Club in Rochester, MN didn't you? I remember meeting you when I was about 11 or 12 years old and shaking your hand!

A:

Yes!! :)


Q:

Growing up in Austin, Minnesota I remember seeing TV reports about you. I was happy that you immigrated to this country so you could receive medical treatment.

Since I have to ask a question, what is your favorite NFL team?

A:

Hello!! Well... if I say anything else, my house will be egged, so Minnesota Vikings!! No, but really, I like the Vikes.


Q:

Have you ever met the shortest man in America? If so, what was it like?

A:

nope, never met the shortest person, however in college I had a little person in one of my classes, she was about 3ft 8in. It felt strange, but I never dwell on things like that, because I'm sure she is sick of people starring at her, just like I am sick of it.


Q:

What vehicle do you drive/ride in?

A:

a full size van


Q:

Why do you have 5 inch soles under your shoes?

A:

not my choice, it's what I had to have at the time to heal my feet


Q:

How tall are your parents?

A:

my mother is about 5ft 6in, and my dad is about 6ft


Q:

What is the one thing you wish you would be able to experience that you can't because of your height? And also as a fellow Ukrainian living in western country does people ever comment when you make бутерброд? If you do so of course :)

A:

I want to be able to just get into a car and drive. Right now, I desperately need to replace my vehicle. But Ford will not answer my tweets nor my calls. None of the dealers in MN, WI, or IL have the Ford Transit passenger van in the size I am looking for. I can't fit into any other type of vehicles.

Я себе сделал бутерброд час назад, украинский хлеб и кровянка. Так вкусно! Здесь люди не понимают кровянку.


Q:

Have you done or have you ever been asked to do any kind of film or television work? With all the new Star Wars movies coming, I'd bet they'll need a really tall guy to play....something.

A:

I had a 8 second part in the movie Hall Pass http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2912972/ and here is the trailer, it should start at my part https://youtu.be/UIMYNVkZBSo?t=2m12s


Q:

Are you subscribed to /r/tall?

A:

yes!


Q:

How old were you when you actually stopped growing?

A:

around 18-19


Q:

do you have a picture of u standing up?


Q:

Are you married? If you are, how tall is your wife? Do you care about the height of the women you date? How tall was the tallest women you've dated and how short was the shortest?

Also, how have you modified your living spaces to be more comfortable? I know my parents have their kitchen counters raised and it's really nice.

A:

I am not married. Most women I've dated have been above 6ft, some taller than 6ft 6in.

We built our home with some things modified, our doors are tall, I have a large shower, and our ceilings are tall. I have a specially made bed, about 9ft long and 6ft wide


Q:

What's your favorite kind of music?

A:

70's 80's 90's Rock. Tom Petty, Clapton, Eagles, John Mellencamp, Doors, Nirvana, stuff like that


Q:

in what ways does your height effect you, i.e. do you need to eat more?

A:

my diet is about 1800-2100 calories per day