█ Hi, I’m Chris Norstrom
I’m a 25 year old self taught user interface designer and inventor with a recklessly creative imagination, who would like to become a film maker and game designer one day. I’m also an introvert, so while I love talking to people, I feel my best and think clearly when I’m alone and free of distractions.
After about 3 frustrating years of trying to learn to code so I can launch my startups, I did the right thing and gave up (something I wish parents taught their kids more). I decided to change focus and started building a portfolio of all the things I’m good at, inventing and designing, instead of worrying about my startups. I’m trying to get a job on the west coast so I can save up money to patent 7 inventions and eventually get started on some of my web startups. There’s nothing more satisfying to me than crafting an experience, emotion, or invention for other people and watching them use and enjoy it.
I’ve worked shortly in the Entertainment Industry, then burnt out as a freelance web /designer developer, worked in Tree Removal Services, and am now at the crossroads of life. I consider myself a Logician and big advocate of science, astronomy, and education because they’ve helped me through a lot.
█ Personal Life – from Happy to Miserable and back to Normal in 12 years.
I went from being a happy outgoing kid to a miserable social-phobic recluse over a 10 year period. All from a combination of religious extremist friends, overly loving parents who kept me caged up, insecurities, and low self esteem. It took 2 years for me to dig myself out of the pit I fell in and find out who I was and what I wanted to do in life.
I overcame several child-to-adulthood issues including, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Extreme Social Phobia and Social Withdrawl (Hikikomori), a gender identity crisis, and a 5 year battle with being a brainwashed, paranoid, anti-logic Christian Extremist. For about 5 years, the only thing on my mind was how to save the world from an imaginary satan, and how to plan for the Rapture and the threat of the Anti-Christ’s new world government. I spoke in tounges (which was really just gibberish) and lived entirely in an imaginary world where everything was either holy or demonic. If it wasn’t Christian, it was evil. Every symbol, every object, every person. I was extremely judgemental to non-Christians and even used to pass out little books that told people they were going to hell because they didn’t believe in god, or because they listened to rock and roll, or celebrated Holloween, or beleived in evolution.
My religious views, low self esteem, and lack of social skills isolated me even more when I moved out to go to college. In turn, I became negative, miserable, and seriously depressed. At one point, I was so depressed that I had lost weight and was down to 110 pounds (I actually have pictures of me) and developed a stomach ulcer.
After college, a month before I was about to move in with my best friend, I became so negative and miserable that my 2 roommates, and former friends, literally couldn’t take me anymore, apologized, and kicked me out and put all my stuff outside. Looking back, I don’t blame them. So my best friend rented his spare room to me for 3 years. During that time I became an extremely depressed and miserable recluse who didn’t leave the apartment for months on end. The self hatred I had for myself, brought on by body dysmorphia, worsened so much that I refused to interact with anyone other than my roomate, never went anywhere without a hat, and only went grocery shopping at 4 AM (when there was the least amount of people at Walmart) because I was horrified that people would see my face and be disgusted by me.
I fell into depression even deeper when I went to work at Universal Studios Orlando. I was so miserable that my co-workers would avoid me. And because I was alone and couldn’t code, all my efforts to launch web startups failed, one after the other. I felt worthless and defective. At that point, I just wanted to die and get it over with but the love my family back home had for me kept me from being suicidal. I didn’t want to hurt them so I avoided suicide as a way out.
Little by little, thanks to the uncensored internet and my curiosity, I began questioning the world around me and over the course of a few years, slowly, I freed myself from religion, stopped looking at the world from a black and white point of view, opened my mind, and developed a deep and profound love of science, astronomy, and understanding humanity. Science, logic, and curiosity saved me. Asking myself “Why?” was the most important thing I did in life. That was the turning point.
After my best friend and room mate moved away to Japan I was completely alone for a year, and I began talking to myself for 8-12 hours a day. I did it mostly to talk out my problems and issues, but in the process came up with ideas for inventions, websites, movies, games, anything. I still have big stacks of notebooks and paper with all my designs and inventions from then. During that year alone, I dug up and brought out all my issues and problems and found logical reasons for why I was the way I was. Over the course of a few months I completely overcame my body dysmorphic disorder and social phobia and started going to php developer meetings I found on meetup.com. I met and talked to complete strangers all by myself, something I was unable to do for years. I re-learned how to greet people and say “Hi” and respond “I’m fine, how about you?” back to them (sounds funny, I know). Eventually I was able to look people in the eyes when I talked to them.
Slowly, I learned why I was failing and why I had low self esteem. This was the turning point in my life, everything started changing like crazy. The world around me stayed the same, but my understanding of the world around me and myself was what changed. Little by little I became friendly and goofy, like I was when I was a little kid. And things really started to look up for me.
In 2009 I moved back home, met up with friends from long ago, and got a part-time job working my ass off in “Tree Removal Services” which really taught me discipline, self worth, and value. I’ve been designing, inventing, and working on getting this online portfolio together so I can eventually get a job doing what I love.
I feel like I’ve been asleep for 10 years and just finally woke up. That was a hell of a nightmare but I learned an INSANE amount of things about myself and about people. Basically, it was totally worth it. I know who I am and what I want in life, I’m extremely happy and was lucky enough to learn this at a very young age. There’s a lot of people out there who are in their 40s and 50s and still have serious insecurities, childhood issues, and don’t know themselves or why they’re unhappy.
I’m 24, unconditionally satisfied with my life, got over all my “shit” at an early age, have 7 inventions to patent, a giant stack of ideas and designs on paper (with new ones constantly coming in) that I’m working on publishing online, and I’m getting more and more creative as time goes by. I’m putting together a huge private portfolio (posts won’t show up on this blog) for when I apply for a job at Valve, Linked In, Google, and Facebook this spring. I can’t wait for the interviews.
Thank you Science and Psychology, my role models Neil Tyson and Carl Sagan, PsychologyToday and Reddit, and you too 4Chan. (/b/ offered me a truly uncensored look at humanity)
█ College 2004-2005
In 2004, I got suckered into going to Full Sail University for an Associates in Game Design & Development. This was a big mistake as the classes and teachers were completely new, and 90%+ of my classmates dropped out of the program when Full Sail tried to teach us Advanced Algebra in 1 month, then Calculus the next month, then Physics the next month (with only 10 class days per month). Each class was about $3,000 at a time, so failing an exam cost you 3 grand every time. I regret not quitting sooner. (Later on, after overwhelming complaints, Full Sail drastically changed their courses. They split the program into 2 different programs, “Game Art” and “Game Development” with major course and admission requirements changes)
In 2005, I dropped out of Game Development with everyone else and changed to the Associates in Film and Television Production degree and graduated in 2006 and immediately got an intern job working on RoboDoc from National Lampoon.
(The degree was NOT worth it, by the way. Anyone who wants to work in the film industry, just move to Los Angeles/Chicago/Toronto/other hot spots, pick up a copy of the local “Film Book” directory which lists every Director, Writer, Production Assistant Lead, Project Manager, UPM, Script Supervisor, Prop Manager, Gaffer, etc…, contact 5 people and offer them $2,000 to take you under their wing and teach you. You’ll learn a hell of a lot more than any Film School will teach you + you’ll have real working experience, contacts, and a chance at a real job. Degrees don’t matter in the Entertainment industry. No one will ask you for one. So I encourage you to stay away from Film School.)
█ Entertainment Industry 2006-2008
I worked on a total of 14 different gigs as a Craft Services Assistant and Production Assistant (running errands, picking up actors, rental cars, manual labor, Starbucks Coffee runs)
Most memorable gigs:
- Robodoc (feature film) with Alan Thicke (Growing Pains), David Faustino (Married with Children). Someone stole all the money we had saved up for the interns. One of the gaffers installed a train horn in his pick up and decided to scare the shit out of me when I walked by, lol.
- Strokes (TV Pilot) with Ajay Naidu (Office Space), Jim R. Coleman (you’ve seen him everywhere). This is when I realized that producers and actors from New York almost always bring some kind of flu virus down from up north.
- Tiger Woods / Gatorade “on the moon” (commercial) Watch Here. Everything around Tiger Woods is CGI except for all the moon dust and it was a pain in the ass to get rid of after the shoot. We sort of illegally dumped it afterwards. Tiger does all his commercials in a week when he visits Florida, so a few days before, my friend Ian in Tampa got to teach Tiger how to play Nintendo Wii for a Tiger Woods Wii game commercial. Tiger had such a strict shooting schedule that everyone was forced to sign contracts not to bother him for autographs or photos.
- ESPN Rock Opera (commercial)
- Seriesse Cosmetics (commercial) with the lovely Jennifer Flavin Stallone.
- Bass Pro / Tracker Boats (commercial) we were out on beautiful lakes in central Florida for a week. Also going 50+ mph in a boat was awesome. All the heavy equipment nearly made the dock sink (with us on it) at both locations.
- Playhouse Disney Live (commercial) The giant camera boom that flies over the audience and records reactions had a serious mechanical glitch that basically reversed the remote record/stop button. So the camera would stop recording when you pressed record and would start recording when you pressed stop. The recordings were rubish, so it all had to be filmed twice.
- Little Big Town – A Little More You (Music Video) Watch Here The whole thing was filmed in a natural spring in Central Florida that was inside of a cattle ranch. It was beautiful but there was cow poop absolutely everywhere.
- To Be Or Not To Be (Failed Reality Show) Oh Lawd have mercy, I volunteered (differed payment) as a Production Assistant & occasional Craft Services, was told that I was coming with the crew and contestants to France and was advised to spent $300 to rush process my US Passport so I could join them, I did, then I was told I couldn’t go afterward, and when they came back one of the producers asked me “It was so awesome, Chris, why didn’t you come with us?” lol, Since then I’ve learned to spot a poorly planed production from a mile away. Amazing learning experience and was worth it.
- Sydney White and the Seven Dorks (feature film) with Amanda Bynes. The film was being shot at Full Sail’s tiny but cheap sound stages so I showed up on set to say hi to some crew and ended up staying and helping out. So I’m uncredited but I did get the T-shirt and tons of pics. Amanda Bynes was really nice, between sets she’d go back to her trailer and autograph things people brought her. Her family was very nice as well. I kept a balloon from her 21st birthday which was the day before we wrapped up shooting.
Yeeeeeeeaaaaaaaahhh! I was scheduled to work on an episode of “CSI: Miami”…
Nooooooooooo! but was replaced last minute because I wasn’t in the local union. I learned there is a hole in the “Right to Work” state legislature that allows that.
What I liked:
- The immense amount of freedom and responsibility. Everything is on a project by project basis. Freelance basically. You are responsible for getting your next gig set up, if you want to take off 2 months you can do that. You vacation whenever you want to. You are responsible for your career.
- People count on you. I was driving around actors, picking up rental cars, delivering thousands of dollars of film, driving hundreds of miles to pick up one of a kind wardrobes, and a lot of people depended on me. I felt like I had a voice and I mattered.
- No baby sitting. The deadlines were strict of course but you decided how exactly you wanted to tackle tasks. I answered to whoever I worked under and 99% of the time they trust you and don’t manage you. They give you orders, you find a way to do them. No corporate culture, no managers.
- $200/day was nice :)
- Different gig, different crew, different location every week. Nothing stayed the same. There was nothing to get bored of.
- I had to be quick and on my feet, and I felt like I learned something new each gig.
- Craft Services fed you throughout the whole day :).
What I hated:
- Work in Central Florida was extremely sporadic. Sometimes I had work, most times I didn’t.
- I couldn’t compete with already established crew without joining a union and paying dues which I couldn’t afford because work for me wasn’t stable.
- You can’t get a part-time job AND work as a production assistant. You’d have to work for someone who was willing to give you a few weeks off every other month and those types of employers don’t exist.
- There was a complete lack of emotional connection to the people I worked with. After every shoot, everything got torn down, actors left, crew split up and went their separate ways, everything disappeared as if it never happened. Because everything was so temporary, friendships never formed around the people you work with. The workoholic atmosphere combined with temporary freelance style careers meant that people didn’t want to care about you because they knew they’d probably never see you again. Yet on set there was an insane amount of family-like trust and bonding. I’m not against working my ass off but when there’s no social reward, it’s just not worth it.
- No time for life. There were days when I’d work 16 hours on my feet without sitting down, my commute to the set/location was 1 hour in each direction, and I got 4 & 1/2 hours of sleep. It was crazy. You’d live on set, and after a month you’d feel mentally and physically worn out. Movies and games would get released and you wouldn’t even know it. It feels like a month of your life is gone. All talk and chatter on set was about previous gigs, gossip about gigs, and upcoming gigs. Young guys my age would talk about nothing but the “next gig”. I couldn’t even start up a conversation with them. My whole life, I was the one kid who didn’t “have a life”, suddenly I was surrounded by others who were worse off than I was.
Why I Left the Entertainment Industry:
- I had no future or job stability. I was one of the few young crew working at many of these gigs. The older crew would occasionally tell me how much they wished they worked at 9-5 jobs. My friend Ian (my age) despite having much better connections, took the hint and quit. He moved to Tampa and went to work for the Home Shopping Network which offered stable 9-5 work. I was about to replace him by starting work with the Art Department guys he recommended me to, when then they gathered up and told me something. “You’ll spend the first half of your life trying to get into this business and the last half trying to get out“. They all looked worn out as hell. I quit the entertainment industry and haven’t looked back since.
- The industry itself is just set up in a way where its crews and film makers get treated like shit. It’s not anyone’s fault necessarily. It’s just the nature of the business. The way things work. The industry is very de-centralized, so information, talent, know-how, and methods of doing things are attached to people, not companies or patents. This means it scales up and down very well. But a stable job is out of the reach of many.
- Everyone in the industry is a work-o-holic. I’ve never been on drugs but If I had to guess what an crack addiction was like I’d guess it’s something like working in the entertainment industry. You are over stimulated and constantly looking for your next high (gig). Friendships on set are shallow at best, even with people you’ve worked with for decades. You have no personal life, you live and breath on set, and you don’t realize you’re suffocating yourself until you too, look back decades later and wish you had a 9-5 job.
█ Jobs 2007-2011
2007 – 2009 I worked at Universal Studios Orlando. First at the Poseidon Ride in the control room for a few months and the remainder of the time being in charge of the Super Hero’s ATVs at Marvel Super Hero Island. I wasn’t very talkative at the time and didn’t take advantage of the moment but the people I worked with where amazing. They were talented, hilarious, and most deserved their own show to be honest with you. I have quiet a few interesting stories. I miss them and wish I got to know them better because they were everything I would want in co-workers. Just to give you an example, one of the Spider-man’s would put on Storm’s or Betty Boop’s Wig and parade around the break room. The epic fart battles between the guys took it a bit too far but in the end, fun was had by all. Angie (played Storm), I learned a lot from our talks, thank you, and I miss you.
2010-2011 I worked at A-Z Tree Services / Koenen Tree Care. Wow did I work my ass off. During the summer it’d be 100 degrees outside, I’d be out there with John, the owner of the business, in white pants and a long sleeve shirt (otherwise you’d get torn up by the tree branches) sweating my ass off hauling limbs and branches up hills and across long, shadeless, “rich people” yards. We avoided working when it was below 35 degrees but I still went out there when it was cold and got caught a few times during a cold front when it started snowing. Honestly, I’ve never worked so hard in my life. I’m 5’8, 125 pounds, so I’m not built for this work. But I’d do my best hauling 80+ pound tree branches and tree trunk logs to the chipper. The worst is when you have to haul them UP hill. I learned a lot and it definitely changed me for life. In April 2011, A-Z went out of business after 20+ years of service. I was the small business’s last employee. I helped John (the owner) move out and watched as he sold off decades worth of blood (literally) and sweat and closed up shop permanently. I learned a lot from the stories and experiences he shared those last few days.
I’m an extreme introvert so I love spending lots of time alone. I’d rather watch movies alone, go on vacation alone, and on my birthday I actually love to be alone and ponder about where I’ve been and where my life will go. I have an insane amount of thoughts going through my mind every day and I find people to be distracting. So I’ll spend time with people but then quickly retreat to a quiet place away from everyone so I can internalize the information, think about it, and understand it.
Because I’m an introvert, friendship wise, I have very very few friends, but the ones I do have I trust and stay with for a long time. Quality over quantity.
I love to get lost in music. And I actually take the time to do so. No multitasking, no checking email, just listening with the lights off and taking a vacation in the world of sound. Ambient, Chillout, Video Game Soundtracks, Indie, Mainstream, t.A.T.u., Rihanna, Britney, Imogen, Uffie, Drake, Nelly Furtado, Aqua, Kelis, Whitney Houstin, Russian, English, it doesn’t matter. If the song has technical balance, creates an atmosphere, an emotion, or tells a story. Genre wise, I’m open to anything BUT I am very picky, so I don’t assume I’ll listen to anything. Most of the time I only like 1-3 songs from an artist’s entire discography.
Quiet, isolated places with greenery are my favorite (beaches, streams, forests, plains, mountains). If I had it my way, I’d live out in the middle of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, or some other state that no one knows anyone from. I do love the busy city too, I just get overloaded with it. I get mentally stimulated very easily, so I charge up very quickly and don’t like to stick around in busy energetic places too long.
I have a collection of 100,000+ images that I’ve saved over the last 10 years of being online. Everything from screenshots of well designed websites to good photography. Anything I see online that has nice colors or designs is getting saved. If you have a flickr photo that I like, I’mma nab it. Disabled downloading? I’ll Printscreen it.
I hate distractions and interruptions. I hate loud places, bars, clubs, restaurants. If we ever have to meet up somewhere please choose a quiet location, that means no Olive Garden. I also hate owning more than what I need because eventually it all ends up owning me. All the possessions you have make you their bitch and you have to organize them, clean them, take care of them, and haul them around when you move. I had to move 4 times in 4 years in Orlando. So I’m all about minimal living.
* I’ll populate this list later.
* I’ll populate this list later.
* I’ll populate this list later.