Steve’s Almost Zero-Sum Budgeting

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Some friends and I discussed money management, both in general and how to handle it during the Dumb Apocalypse. I use a version of Zero-Sum budgeting they were interested in, so I wrote it up to share it.

You know me – most things I wrote up become blog posts. I’m no expert, so use my advice at your discretion, but I hope it helps.

The basic idea of Zero-Sum budgeting is that you assign purpose to your money – all of your money. In theory, your budget is so perfected you know what you need to save, when you spend it, and every dollar goes somewhere.

Now I’m not trying to make it perfect. I include leeways for error in my method, but the basic idea is something I’ve done for over twenty-five years in one form or another. I never heard of zero-sum budgeting – it’s just what I came up with, and later found it had a name.

THE BASIC IDEA

First, let’s get to the goal – because the only purpose of using this method is to meet a goal. Simply, my idea is to manage my money so I’m aware of how much I have and use it properly, working towards living well and retiring happily.

Here’s the basic idea of my “Zeroish Sum Budgeting”:

  • Know what your expenses are.
  • Assign money to them, essentially setting it aside for appropriate times.
  • Make sure every dollar is assigned (even if it’s “here’s my rainy day fund”).
  • Have a buffer because you may screw it up.
  • Move your money around to reflect these plans.
  • Keep checking this budget and making sure it works.

OK, so how do you do this? Here’s what I do.

FIRST: ASSESS YOUR FINANCES

First, see where you are. That consists of:

  • Assess how much money you have. This should be liquid funds, not investments. I track investments separately, and that’s not my focus.
  • Evaluate your income by year.

Taking this step is simple, but needed – learning what you’ve got to work with.

Next up.

ASSESS WHAT YOU SPEND ON CORE EXPENSES

Core expenses are those things you do to live – food, rent, etc. This is not what you should spend, but what you’re spending now.

Figure out your annual expenses on things like:

  • Rent/home payment
  • Utilities
  • Food
  • Insurance
  • Medical care (on average)
  • Transportation (Gas, etc.)
  • Medical and Dental Care

By the way, notice the last one? That’s kind of iffy, right? Do your best to project what your average medical care will cost per year. Now that may be regular, or it may be something you save up for and tap occasionally. This is where you get into a big thing for Zero-Sum (or whatever I do) – projecting expenses.

How do you find this info? Well, your past expenses, credit card bills, and so on. oMake your best guess – because you’ll improve over time. Just do your best now!

Now that you’ve got these expenses, it’s time to apply my 10/20/30 rule. If you’re a bit unsure of an expense, add 10%. If you’re more unsure, add 20%. If you think you need 30%, then you need to rethink your estimates and try again.

You’ll also see how much money you have after these expenses (which helps you plan further or spend better).

ASSESS WHAT YOU SPEND ON OTHER EXPENSES

Now you’ve got your basics. Not only is that helpful, but it’s also good practice – figuring out your annual expenses for everything else. This will be a challenge.

Some expenses are weekly, like food. Some are monthly, like rent. Some are yearly like insurance. Some stretch over the years, like saving for a car or a computer. Some are unpredictable, like clothing.

Here are some ideas:

  • Home electronics (Computers, phone)
  • Clothes
  • Housewares (blender, silverware)
  • Education
  • Car/car loan
  • Car repair
  • Licenses.

As noted, some of these are unpredictable or spread over time. What I usually do for these is figure out:

  • How much I spend within a timeframe (you purchase a new refrigerator once a decade).
  • Divide that up by how many years it takes.

But as we get here, some of this is unpredictable! Other things may be so far in the future (like a car) inflation may be a worry. This is where my 10-20-30 rule comes in as well.

Notice that we didn’t cover investment or having fun? I save those for later. So anyway, next up.

INVESTMENT AND SAVINGS – AND FUN

At this point, you know what you need to live, what you want to live with, and hopefully, have money left over. Now you figure out how much you can invest and how much I need “for fun.” These are the last numbers, and I hold them for last as they can be variable.

Think that’s it? No! Read on!

REASSESS IT ALL

Now you can set up a spreadsheet with all these numbers, and see how your income is distributed over the year! And you can see if it works. And then you’re going to probably want to rethink it all again.

That’s part of this whole process – assessing and reassessing. Don’t worry, you’ll do this a lot, but over time you won’t do it as much.

Save this spreadsheet. You’ll turn it into a budgeting tool!

ASSIGN YOUR CURRENT FUNDS

Now you have an idea of what you’ll be spending and saving over the years, so take that money you’ve saved and assign it to those categories you came up with. How much is in food? Rent? etc. Do your best with that, and stick that in savings.

An important note – I leave a buffer fund of about half a paycheck to half a month of money in checking.

Initially I didn’t keep everything in savings and spend from there – things like rent and food I kept in my checking account because it was predictable enough. But the Pandemic, which has altered a lot of my spending patterns, has made me see the virtue of tracking more tightly.

ALLOCATING FUNDS

So here’s what I do to track my funds week by week.

First, I set up a spreadsheet that lets me see what I should allocate weekly to my expenses. This way I know how my money is supposed to be saved.

Then, every week, I allocate money, moving it to savings. As you can guess, that’s a lot of categories to keep track of, so I just set up a spreadsheet to update itself with a simple cut and paste. I see what’s currently allocated to each category, what I add each week, and what it should be – then take the latter and copy it to the allocation column.

Then, guess what? I move that money once a week! That way I see where it’s going! But . . .

I also see if I have anything wrong. Did I cross my buffer? Did I have more left than thought? Was there some surprise? Each week provides me more feedback!

Plus you get feedback when you spend money!

SPEND MONEY

As noted I’d take money out weekly for things like food, but in general, what I did was put things on a credit card or write a check. To cover those, I’d use my spreadsheet to figure out how much money had to come out of savings and go into paying those things. That way, I see where my money is going every month or more.

By spending money you get feedback. Did I spend too much? Less? How is my savings going in categories that aren’t going to be touched for years?

I find that except for basic expenses (like food), its hard to track things every day, so I usually do weeks and months. If you can do daily great, but don’t drive yourself nuts.

MOVE MONEY

Sometimes, like in the case of investment, you have to move money too. I won’t go into investment (I’m a max-out-the-401k/403b type guy into index funds otherwise). But that is something you set up as needed. For instance, in our current crisis and stock ups and downs, I held off on investing.

LEARN

Finally, you should always, always learn and check your money. If something is suspicious, go over your numbers. If you need to rethink expenses, do so – prices change.

A personal example from recent events; I noticed some gaps in my spending – my cash flow had a weird anomaly of a few hundred dollars. That’s when I realized I hadn’t worked in changes to retirement – I became eligible for a matching plan and had more money taken out of my paycheck. Then forgot to update my spreadsheet.

AND THAT’S IT

Look, you can probably find some books and guides and articles. But this is what I do. Just me, some calculations, and a spreadsheet.

It won’t solve all your problems. It will help you track your money, so you have a chance to deal with those problems.

Steven Savage

Steve’s Work From Home Findings: Please Rethink Meetings

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

So if we all work from home more, we still have to talk to people. That means meetings, and not just the usual ones. This is something that the Pandemic is teaching us, and reality is a harsh teacher and a harsher grader.

If you’re working from home, you’ve probably encountered this: you start holding more meetings! You can’t find people because you can’t walk to their desk and everyone’s schedule is now different! So what do you do? You schedule a meeting.

So if you’re anything like me, suddenly all your day is meetings. Sure, they’re meetings to do things you’d usually do anyway, but they’re still meetings with all that entails. Me, after having a day with six and a half hours of meetings, I realized we’ve got to rethink meetings for Work From Home.

Which leads to this blog post, because again, I had six and a half hours of meetings

We have to acknowledge that meetings are not always the best tool for people to connect. Meetings are good to brainstorm, to sign off on consensus, to train, and for Q&A. Many times we use them just because we can’t get someone, or to ensure everyone talks to everyone, and so on. We use meetings as a patch because we’re not doing better.

This isn’t just draining, as meetings can be, having too many meetings ruins the joy of human contact. That’s bad as it is, but during a Pandemic, when we’re alone, having so many meetings you’re glad to be isolated isn’t healthy.

Now, once we admit that, what can we do? What can we do to communicate and not schedule a ton of meetings? I’m glad I asked for you!

First, we have to ask why we hold the meetings we do and what the goal is. We should ask why we have to do it and then what we really need to happen and why. Then we can move on to better methods – or just not doing things.

Secondly, we need to find ways to make our tools and processes work so we don’t need elaborate meetings. Good project planning tools like Rally, Jira, and Service now can save time. We need automated forms and orders, and so on that we can fill out. Literally, we should minimize unneeded human contact to focus on the needed.

Third, we need to consider ways to leverage existing communications tools like Slack, Zoom, etc. better in ways that don’t necessarily involve meetings. Channels for specific check-ins, open offices, and the like. We need to decide how to use tools better because we’re doing things by habit not a strategy.

Fourth, we need to consider meeting alternatives – the “meeting-like” if you will. This could be some people having Open Offices where anyone can “drop into” the meeting. This could be timed check-ins to determine if a meeting is necessary to save time. Just shoving everyone into a virtual room isn’t the way; we need alternatives.

Fifth, we need to improve our business processes constantly to minimize unneeded meetings and anything else unneeded. Our goal should be to get better, period.

Work From Home is something we need more of; meetings are not something we necessarily to increase. We need to rethink them in the hopefully better world to come out of this mess.

Though I don’t mind holding a few meetings to figure how to get rid of them.

Steven Savage

Steve’s Books 8/11/2020

I write a lot and have quite a few books.  So now and then I’m going to post a roundup of them for interested parties!

My sites:

Fiction

I’ve been returning to fiction with a techno-fantasy setting of several planets orbiting a star called Avenoth.  Take a typical fantasy world of magic and gods, and let it evolve into the space age and internet age . . .

  • A Bridge To The Quiet Planet – Two future teachers of Techno-Magical safety find trying to earn their credentials hunting odd artifacts backfires when you’re hired to put some back . . . on a planet where gods go to die!

The Way With Worlds Series

This is what I do a lot of – writing on worldbuilding!.  You can find all of my books at www.WayWithWorlds.com

The core books of the series will help you get going:

  • Way With Worlds Book 1 – Discusses my philosophy of worldbuilding and world creation essentials.
  • Way With Worlds Book 2 – Looks at common subjects of worldbuilding like conflicts in your setting, skills for being a good worldbuilder, and more!

When you need to focus on specifics of worldbuilding, I have an ever-growing series of deep dive minibooks.  Each provides fifty questions with additional exercises and ideas to help you focus on one subject important to you!

The current subjects are:

Creativity

I’m the kind of person that studies how creativity works, and I’ve distilled my findings and advice into some helpful books!

  • The Power Of Creative Paths – Explores my theories of the Five Types of Creativity, how you can find yours, and how to expand your creative skills to use more Types of Creativity.
  • Agile Creativity – I take the Agile Manifesto, a guide to adaptable project development, and show how it can help creatives improve their work – and stay organized without being overwhelmed.
  • The Art of The Brainstorm Book – A quick guide to using a simple notebook to improve brainstorming, reduce the stress around having new ideas, and prioritize your latest inspirations.
  • Chance’s Muse – I take everything I learned at Seventh Sanctum and my love of random tables and charts and detail how randomness can produce inspiration!

Careers

Being a “Professional Geek” is what I do – I turned my interests into a career and have been doing my best to turn that into advice.  The following books are my ways of helping out!

  • Fan To Pro – My “flagship” book on using hobbies and interests in your career – and not always in ways you’d think!
  • Skill Portability – A quick guide to how to move skills from one job to another, or even from hobbies into your job.  Try out my “DARE” system and asses your abilities!
  • Resume Plus – A guide to jazzing up a resume, sometimes to extreme measures.
  • Epic Resume Go! – Make a resume a creative act so it’s both better and more enjoyable to make!
  • Quest For Employment – Where I distill down my job search experiences and ways to take the search further.
  • Cosplay, Costuming, and Careers – An interview-driven book about ways to leverage cosplay interests to help your career!
  • Fanart, Fanartists, and Careers – My second interview-driven book about ways to leverage fanart to help your career!
  • Convention Career Connection – A system for coming up with good career panels for conventions!

Culture

  • Her Eternal Moonlight – My co-author Bonnie and I analyze the impact Sailor Moon had on women’s lives when it first came to North America.  Based on a series of interviews, there’s a lot to analyze here, and surprisingly consistent themes . . .

Steve’s Work From Home Findings: We need To Rethink Our Weeks And Days

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Based on my experiences in Work From Home (WFH) during the Pandemic, I’m going through my findings about work from home. Let me get more radical – WFH in many ways proves we need to rethink the idea of the workweek and work days.

In fact, we don’t need to do it just for WFH, but I digress. Maybe I’ll digress more digressively at another time.

Anyway, the Pandemic has massively disrupted work schedules. We’re trying to deal with fear, the kids being home, schedule changes, etc. We’re somehow surviving during all of this and stuff keeps running. This leads to other questions.

Is the 40 hour workweek (and inevitable overtime) a good idea? Is there any basis in reality? Do we need that? Do we accomplish as much? Is it healthy for society? For that matter, do the days we have in the weekday really work well for us?

Is the eight hour day ideal? Ever had days where you did four hours of work and found yourself exhausted – or have a day where you could go for twelve and be just cruising? The problem with an eight hour day is for many, the value of each hour isn’t the same, and it’s not the same day to day.

We’re working in an industrial/factory work situation with no connection to reality or what we need. At best this is habit, at worst this is a situation that makes us vulnerable to having time extorted. Having to upend our usual work days and work weeks, is a good time to question just what our ideal work schedules should be.

It sounds idelaistic, but we should ask just how long people should stay on the job, how to optimize jobs, and what is good for society. Let’s ask what needs to be done, how to get it done, and how to make sure people have time.

Honestly, I think we need to consider work as:

  • First of all, we’ve just learned how we have to rethink life and work. We need to focus a hell of a lot more on life.
  • People when possible should have at least two days off, maybe more. We need that. Organizations could focus on days people should be available, or groups can find the best times.
  • We should reconsider the eight hour work day and, when possible, allow people to find the ideal day and time for them. Of course some places require certain times – so let’s work on that. Maybe there’s not workdays, but only “days we must be here” or “selection of days we must be here.”
  • And, again, to those that must be on shift, in public, in phyiscal space, they deserve proper reimbursement and support.

Yeah, I know to do this will require people to be active. We’d need to push for it. But it’ll be worth it.

Besides, we’ve just learned our ways of thinking don’t work. They never really did.

Steven Savage

Physical Space, New Perspective

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

As of this blog posting, I’ve been working from home nearly five months. This has required many adjustments, from a different schedule to trying not to eat everything that has any form of chocolate in it. But as I’m likely here for quite awhile longer, with my girlfriend, and that there will likely be more changes, I worked a way to rearrange the house.

This was really instructive. I hadn’t thought about the space I live until I had to work there. Then I realized I could set up this space better not just for the work, but for my projects like writing and programming.

Honestly, it’s something we should think about more. I mean how many of us move into a place, mostly unpack, shove the remaining boxes under the desk, and don’t think about it? I imagine a lot of us – you know that painting you haven’t hung or that chair you really should replace.

But now I’m seeing the many reasons to improve my working and creating space. So I wanted to share a few.

We need space that gives us room. A classic piece of advice is if at all possible, don’t work in your bedroom as it can mess with your sleep. You may also live with someone and need space away from them to work. Set up your work areas to give you the mental and physical distance you need.

We need the right space to work. That may mean you have one space for your job and one for writing, or one for art and one for writing, etc. We also need the right equipment and setting or we’re just wasting our efforts.

We may need to make that space adaptable. If we can’t have, say, an art room and a programming room, we need a way to alter that space efficiently. We may also get a new computer, buy new reference books or other things we need available – and we need our workspace to reflect that.

We need to make that space something we can reconfigure efficiently. Your needs are going to change, you’re going to get a new roommate, etc. Getting furniture you an break down and move or a desk you can raise and lower will save time and stress.

We need to back up important work supplies. This is something I realized recently during the Pandemic – we should have important work supplies available so we don’t need to dash out for them. This could be an extra computer power cable, or a backup pen, extra printer paper, etc.

We need to engage those that live with us – or visit. Don’t assume your roommate, SO, or guests (when we finally have them) appreciates your needs or your layout. Ask them, get advice, think things over. You don’t want to get a lot of great furniture then find it doesn’t work for others.

So those are my thoughts about physical space and working. Maybe I’ll let you know how my plans go, because I’ve got a few things to purchase, even more to move, and a lot to do . . .

Steven Savage

Steve’s Work From Home Findings: Look, It’s Possible

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

I’ve been interested in Work From Home for some time – about twenty years. I’ve done it now and then for over fifteen years, and as of late all the time (involuntarily, admittedly). So can people work from home, well my answer is obviously yes.

Let’s look over what we have:

  • We’ve had email for decades, and we’ve used that for business for the same.
  • We’ve got multiple possible chat programs.
  • We’ve got multiple possible conference programs.
  • We’ve got tons of collaboration software, from things like Google Docs to Jira to Rally.
  • We’ve had the phone for how long? We can just use that sometime, even if to most people “phone” means “handheld PC” by now.

Honestly, there’s no reason not to at least try to have every office, admin, coding, executive, etc. job from home. There’s no reason to drag ourselves into an office or even have one. We can do it, and reap all the benefits.

The barrier is that some are reuluctant to switch over to work from home as you have to do things differently. Schedules change. Methods change. Record keeping changes. Moving to work from home requires people to rethink how their work is done.

I think there’s some reluctance to admit WFH is possible as so many people pushed back against it for bad reason. Many people who’d faced illness, family challenges, or disability have asked for it – and gotten rejected. If we head for more WFH, it will require a moral reckoning.

This is scary enough, but truth be told business processes and job methods probably do need to be thought over. Why are things stored a certain why, why is some business done in person, why did we turn down this request, etc. It’s a good idea to ask if what you do works anyway, and when you look at Work From Home, it requires you to rethink everything. Work from home just requires asking a lot of uncomfortable questions all at once.

The thing is during COVID-19, people seemed to have answered those questions, removed those rejections, and modified those processes pretty damn fast. The Pandemic has proven we can restructure work and work processes in an emergency, so we might as well run with it.

We’ve been able to do this for years. We proved we could. Let’s go do it.

Steven Savage

Debating A Podcast

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

I’ve been debating starting a podcast. Yes, I know we’re all locked indoors so probably everyone is thinking of starting a podcast. But this is going beyond being stir-crazy.

Anyway I was thinking that ta podcast could be pretty interesting. Plus yeah, there’s that missing human contact thing.

First, I have a lot I can talk on. It probably wouldn’t be careers, but I could speak on a variety of creative subjects.

Secondly, it would be a good compliment to my blogging. I’d probably replace a few blog posts with podcasts instead, say one every other week or something.

Third, it would be a new challenge. I could learn podcasting technology. I might even do it by video as well to have double the audience.

Fourth, it would open a new world. There’s lots of great podcasts I listen to, I might eventually team up with people or suppor good ones.

So just a few thoughts going around. If you want, message me and give me your feedback.

Steven Savage

Steve’s Work From Home Findings: Those Who Can’t WFH Deserve More

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

So I’d like to sit down and discuss what I’ve learned about Work From Home over the last few months. I am of the firm belief that more people can work from home, should work from home, and there are great benefits. I think we need to shift our businesses to more work from home. But this brings up my first finding: those who can’t Work From Home deserve a lot more.

A LOT.

This isn’t just about people in essential jobs deserve to be paid more. This isn’t just about these jobs require a lot of skills. This is that those in these hands-on, be-on-premises jobs, deserve more PERIOD.

They deserve to be paid more – and most of us are pretty underpaid as is. This is pretty much a given. But let’s look at what essential people face;

  • They have to travel to a job, disrupting their life and schedule.
  • They have to deal with all the problems of being tied to a location, which as we’ve seen has challenges.
  • Work tied to a location often has inconvenient schedules, where many of us get standard weekday work.

And consider what many “on-site people” have to do. These are skilled jobs:

  • They have to deal with people person-to-person. If you have ever seen a cashier, stocker, etc. deal with an irate or curious or lost customer, that is serious knowledge and emotional labor being deployed.
  • They have to deal with physical infrastructure: traveling in an area, dealing with physical inventory, installing computer components, etc. There is physical, mental, and skilled labor here.
  • Dealing with physical infrastructure often has risks: chemicals, heavy equipment, disease exposure, etc. Doing that right, being safe requires work – and compensation.

These people deserve more money and of course proper benefits. But they also deserve more.

They deserve respect. We’ve just found that those who can’t work from home are people we often depend on, and they deserve to be respected. They do not deserve to be abused by angry customers, or people that won’t observe health advice, and so on.

They deserve a career. We need so many people who can’t WFH and they deserve to have a life, with a career. Not just because they do work, but they’re DAMN GOOD at what they do, so let’s make sure they have a path. Some do have a career, of course.

They deserve support. Medical care on site. Health services. Meal services. Anything that helps them do their jobs dealing with US the annoying public.

This applies to people from store stockers and baristas to doctors and nurses. We rely on these people to be intimately involved in our lives and help us out. They deserve a lot more.

And if this makes you realize your doctor and the barista who has your coffee are similar, good. Because that doctor who deals with your hypochondria and that barista who remembers your order and gives you a kind word, are both supporting you. Keep that in mind.

Now, my future writing is going mostly go to us who can work from home. But keep in mind those that can’t deserve MORE.

Steven Savage

Your Creative Contribution

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Those of us who want to create want to have an effect. We want to reach people, inspire people shock people, to somehow change people. We’re catalysts, producing change (and perhaps being changed by the interaction).

But we must also remember that we creatives have different effects. This is important as we can become obsessed with having one kind of effect, and forget the many others. If we focus on having a specific type of effect, we loose our chance to be much more, or be who we are.

Think of all the different ways you can effect people with our creativity. Imagine life as a building – where does your creativity come in?

We can be foundations. Our creativity can provide people something to build on in the world, giving them something solid on which to make more. We’ve all read that good novel that made us go “yes, and now.” We’ve all seen that documentary that said “I get it, and now see where to go next.” You can be that solidity that lets others grow.

We can be pillars. We can create that work that is seminal, that people refer to for years, decades, or centuries. We can stand as an example people rally around. This may seem challenging, but if you’re a specialist in your area, no matter how minor, you may be a pillar. That novel you wrote that is very specific may truly be the best of its kinds for a hundred years.

We can be the roof. Our work my be that which protects people, creative stories that heal the soul or provide comfort. It is these works that restore and heal, that shield the mind against despair and hopelessness.

We can be the alchemy. Our works can interact with the creativity of others, to simulate them into thinking and growing. Your story, your advice book may explore and challenge ideas, and thus lead others to think deeper. Such works inspire new ones, and create even stronger creative results.

We can be the decorations. A light and frivolous film is fun, and fun is important to cheer us and to inspire us and relax us. We may create something that is inspiringly artistic, a monument to what can be done. We can enhance the experience of others, such as when a story explores common tropes in a new way.

Your creative results may be one of these – or perhaps one I haven’t come up with in these simple metaphors. You may aim to achieve a specific kind of creative result, which is laudable. Focus is important for success.

But keep in mind that your creative path may lead you to other areas. The epic novel you write to stand the test of time may turn out to be more comforting to others, and that is still an achievement. The light short story we created can turn out to be timeless, a pillar which rallies others. Be open to your creative work having different results than intended.

But as always, keep creating and keep seeking the best results for others.

Steven Savage

A Worthy Remake

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

A meme I’ve seen going round repeatedly can be best summed up as “don’t remake good films, remake bad films” with the idea that you should give good ideas badly done a chance.

Now first, despite having good friends that study remakes, I do get a bit tired of them. But there are also times remakes are a good idea, and I think this may be one of them.

So when is “it was bad but it could be good” a good reason to remake something.

Is There Something There?

There are quite a few films and shows out there that may not have been good but have some seed elements that are actually interesting. Think of all those bad movies or cheesy shows or not-great-but-interesting novels that we may critique but somehow like. We connect with it, there is something in there that’s worth it.

Now just because we like it, it doesn’t mean it’s remake-worthy. But if a story of some kind has good seeds, we should ask if these are things worth sharing. Would a remake bring benefit to others if we made it?

If you’ve ever tried to explain the “magic” of a not-really-good thing to someone, you get the idea. Imagine if something could be remade so the magic comes out!

The Artistic Value

When remaking something there’s little value in just doing it the same. Just updating a film or rewriting a book is really more polishing something. It may be good to bring out the magic, but I think more value comes if there is some artistic challenge or improvement.

Change Of Media: Maybe a bad book is better as a comic or movie.

Change Of Style: A poorly done movie might be better done if there’s a change in genre or shooting style.

Change Of Sequence: A bad TV series could be better as a movie to tell the whole story – or a TV series might be better done as a serial show.

The Challenge: A good writer or actor, giving a flawed but interesting work or remake, may grow if given that challenge. So a remake of a bad piece of work could bring out the skills of others.

A Few Examples

Finally, a few remakes I’d like to see – most of them courtesy of Rifftrax/MST3K

Manos: The Hands Of Fate – This infamous cheesy film had a certain charm, mixing cult fears, horror, and some occult/eldrich god stuff. That’s an interesting mix, and I think a remake could do something with this.

Space Mutiny – The oft riffed film is interesting for two reasons. One, there was clearly some larger storytelling there that got shuffled around due to the many crises on set. Secondly, it rested on the easygoing charisma of Reb Brown. A remake as a miniseries, with the right lead, and a retro sensibility would be fun – and allow name recognition to promote a good lead.

Gamera – Gamera, the famous Godzilla ripoff, got a remake as some darned good kaiju films. But I feel that it actually could be redone one more time – as a TV series. There are some continuing plot elements in the film, and a story of people ant their relationship to this protective/destructive kaiju would be incredible.

So there you go folks. What would you remake?

Steven Savage