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San Diego Mayor speaks at national housing conference

 December 6, 2022 at 2:03 PM PST

S1: San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria talks about his meetings in Washington , D.C..

S2: Our my mission here today is to encourage these other cities to follow our lead , because San Diego cannot solve the nation's housing crisis by itself.

S1: I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH with Maggie Perez. This is KPBS midday edition. A city council debrief with outgoing Councilman Chris Cate.

S2: I think one of the things that I had some trepidation and concern about is really having diversity points on the council because there is now a monolithic block of partisanship on the council.

S1: Longtime San Diego LGBTQ activist Nicole Murray Ramirez is honored with a street sign and a San Diego video game star talks about his special line of work. That's ahead on Midday Edition. Our monthly conversation with San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria spans the country today. Mayor Gloria is in Washington , D.C. , speaking at the national housing conference and meeting with the head of Homeland Security. He'll also have meetings about his new executive order to crack down on fentanyl use. Meanwhile , back in San Diego , a swearing in ceremony on Monday will begin a new two year term for the city council and this time with one new member , San Diego will have an unprecedented all-Democratic council. Welcome , Mayor Todd. Gloria.

S2: It's a bit cold here. I'm looking forward to coming home as soon as possible.

S1:

S2: In part because we have an extremely talented housing commission that has been extremely effective at taking some of the federal and state relief funds that we've been provided in getting them into the hands of San Diegans , thereby preventing homelessness and other tragedies. The other thing that we have going for us is a number of market based reforms that are really boosting the number of permits that we're issuing for new home construction. And that is something that not necessarily a lot of cities are doing. Our my mission here today is to encourage these other cities to follow our lead , because San Diego cannot solve the nation's housing crisis by itself. We need other cities helping us. And that's part of why I wanted to be here today.

S1:

S2: And frankly , both are areas of extreme need. And when you look at where we have largely built housing in recent years , it's mostly at the upper end of the economic ladder , a lot of luxury apartments and condominiums. We have had success at building low income housing , but not nearly enough to meet the need. And we've made nearly no progress when it comes to middle income housing. My administration over the last two years that advanced a series of housing reforms to try and address both of those needs more housing for low income people and more housing for middle income people. And I think when you look at our affordable housing density program , as well as some of the innovations we've advanced in accessory dwelling units , what you can see is the production increases in affordable housing , in naturally affordable housing , homes that folks like you and I average everyday. San Diegans can actually afford to live in.

S1: San Diego as well as other cities in California experienced a confusing episode last month when Governor Newsom said he would withhold state funding for homelessness because all the local plans were inadequate. And then he released the funds anyway.

S2: We are too rich of a state to have this many people live unsheltered , and yet we do. And we've put more money towards this than we ever have. And yet we're not seeing the progress that we want to see. So the frustration is understandable. What I was able to do in traveling up to meet with the governor was to explain what we are doing a 40% increase in the number of shelter beds in our city over the last two years. Hundreds of new permanent supportive housing units are funded and under construction. And then standing up at a citywide street outreach team that is helping to get hundreds of people housed with great regularity. The problem , Maureen , is that for every ten people we get housed , 13 people become homeless. So that's why the governor is frustrated by the lack of progress. What we did was committed working even harder , and I shared with him some things I think the state can do to actually help cities like ours make more of an impact. My hope is that he'll listen to those requests and take action very soon.

S1:

S2: Frankly , Maureen , we are using a 2020 baseline year. I don't think that's the right year to use. As your listeners may recall , we can visit our convention center into a massive homeless shelter that really skews our numbers as a result. We've also been asking the state to change the way the incentive structure is made. Cities are incentivized to actually aim low in order to get more money. I think changing that formula is a part of how we're able to get to higher targets. Cities need to be incentivized to aim as high as possible and reach those goals rather than aim as low as possible and miss them. So frankly , we have adjusted our posture. We hope to get thousands more people off the streets. But until we address the causes of homelessness , whether it's the high cost of rent , when a one bedroom apartment goes for 3000 a month in San Diego , it's no surprise we have an explosion in homelessness , as well as the growing mental illness crisis that we're facing and the addiction crisis specifically around methamphetamine and fentanyl. Until we can address those supply side issues , we're going to continue to have this problem. But I will do absolutely everything I can. I will be unrelenting in making sure that we expand our outreach , shelter and housing opportunities so that as few people as possible have to live on our streets.

S1: Speaking of that , recently San Diego and saw two mothers and the. Our children spend a night on the streets after the city towed away the vehicles they were living in.

S2: But the question to me , Maureen , has been can we provide more resources to those folks living in their cars ? The answer is yes , and we're doing that. You may know that we recently expanded one of our safe parking lots to be 24 seven , which was not what it was previously , making it infeasible for many folks to use. We'll be standing up a new parking lot , a fourth one in the Claremont area very soon. And so I will continue to expand the offerings and expect individuals who are living in their car to use them. We have to still enforce our laws , Maureen. And that does apply to people who are sheltered and unsheltered. In this particular case , my hope is that folks who find themselves living in their cars and living in places where they are not permissible or with other vehicle impairments like past registration tags will come to our safe parking lots where we work with providers like Jewish Family Service to actually address those inadequacies , to get repairs done to the cars , to get the registrations updated and allow them to hopefully get back on their feet. That is the solution to this particular problem.

S1: Now , Mayor Gloria , while you're in Washington , you'll be meeting with the head of Homeland Security.

S2: Secretary Marcus has been a friend to San Diego. He's made himself available to me any time I've ever asked. He's visited me several times in San Diego. And what I shared with him this morning was the concerns around the lifting of Title 42 , a Trump era immigration restriction that has kept the numbers of asylees down along our southwestern border with that restriction anticipated to be lifted on December 21st. I want to explain to Secretary America's the need for greater communication , coordination between homeland security and local cities like ours , and also the need for more resources Jewish Family Service , Catholic Charities and others who do incredible work , caring for those who avail themselves of their rights under international law need to have services. And right now I'm concerned they don't have the resources to do that. The secretary was very open. He was very direct. And I'm hopeful that greater communication , along with more resources , will be coming to make sure that as Title 42 is lifted , that communities like San Diego are able to accommodate that restriction change.

S1: You recently issued an executive order to increase action against the use and sale of illegal fentanyl. Will you be discussing that with drug officials in Washington ? Yes.

S2: I have a meeting later today with the White House's Office of Drug Policy to ask for their greater partnership on this issue. I mean , too many San Diegans are dying of fentanyl overdoses. There are folks of all stripes , all classes , and it's been particularly brutal on our homeless population. And a part of why we're seeing a growth in our homeless population. My conversation with our federal partners is going to be very clear. We want to see fentanyl. This is a Schedule one drug making it to the most regulated form of substances that we have. It currently does not enjoy that status. I think that's a problem. I think we also need to have a permanent U.S. attorney. We've had great leadership from Randy Grossman as our interim U.S. attorney. But it's time to have a permanent person , whether it's Randy or someone else , to make sure that these prosecutions continue and that those who prey upon vulnerable people in our community are held accountable. We have to have greater enforcement of our laws around those who are dealing this poison. And that's the message I'll be sending to the White House later today.

S1: You've talked about a city county collaboration against the use of illegal fentanyl.

S2: Particular from a law enforcement perspective. There's something called Team ten , which is local , state and federal partnerships to really go after drug dealers and to trace back the sources of this of this poison. Where I think greater collaboration can come is in prevention and response. And I think particularly in the introduction of Narcan into specific environments where we know it can prevent the overdose deaths that we're seeing.

S1:

S2: The American rescue plan said the city of San Diego , roughly $300 million. These are the dollars we're using to pay police officers. Firefighters , keep our libraries and parks open. My concern is that if we don't have that similar level of cooperation and partnership going forward , that whatever bumps that may be in the road ahead may make those bumps a lot harder for the city of San Diego and other cities across America to navigate. There's been a host of legislative accomplishments that benefit our city. My fear is that this divided control of Congress will prevent such progress on things that we need progress on , whether it's our fentanyl crisis , the need for immigration reform. There's a host of ways that the federal government can be good partners. I'm just hopeful folks will be will. To put aside their partisan differences and allow us to continue on the path forward. The president has had a saw in the last two years.

S1: I've been speaking with San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria. Thank you so much. Thanks for your time.

S2: Thanks for yours. You're welcome.

S3: As the San Diego City Council prepares to swear in its members next week , it will also bid farewell to one notable representative. Councilmember Chris Cate has represented the city six district for eight years and since 2020 has been the sole Republican on the city Council. His departure comes at a time where the political landscape of San Diego looks much different than when he took office in 2014. And he joins us now. Council member Kate , welcome to Midday Edition.

S2: Thank you for having me.

S3:

S2: Mira mesa is a vibrant , diverse community , a huge employment center in the region in Kearny Mesa , along with the convoy district , is really a hub for our API community , and so setting the stage for allowing more vibrancy and opportunity for the convoy district and the Christmas area as a whole is really a huge accomplishment in and of itself. Additionally , we worked really closely with our API businesses and tried to really encourage them and support them , especially during the midst of the pandemic when our API owned businesses were going through a really difficult time , both financially as well as culturally and having to deal with some of the backlash from the pandemic and an API hate. So supporting our own businesses in this community as a whole was really important for me. Being a loan API on the City council and representing the API influence district. So aside from from from those larger policy goals , I think supporting our neighborhoods and seeing park projects go through fixing our dilapidated infrastructure throughout the district and really setting the tone for what's to come in the future.

S3: Your district for sure was rich in diversity.

S2: You know , I think it's been one of success in that we were able to build coalitions to support various policy ideas or setting the vision for various communities. Fortunately , living in Mira mesa , I've been able to work very closely with various community leaders throughout our district and try to really be a servant to them in terms of of fulfilling their requests and trying to get things through the budget process and the bureaucracy at the city to ensure that projects that were important to them got done. And I think it's because we've been able to be a very positive coalition builder working across party lines to get things done.

S3: The council itself has seen significant change throughout the years.

S2: I hope that doesn't prevent a discussion , dialogue of diverse viewpoints , that ideas and philosophies when it comes to the various policy measures that are being debated at the Council. I don't think it's anyone's best interest to have a set of groupthink on different policy ideas. I'm positive that will not be the case that I think the colleagues that I work with now are are great and open and wanting to have a conversation. I think the last two years has proven that my being alone Republican on the Council and bringing that perspective differs from them more often than not , and being able to work with my colleagues to get things done. And I was sometimes a lone dissenting voice on on on certain policy ideas , which is , which is okay. But at least I was able to present a viewpoint and represent a viewpoint that may not have been heard otherwise on the dais.

S3: As you just mentioned , there will soon be a90 Democratic majority The Times They Are A-Changin.

S2: Elections have consequences , right ? And I think the pendulum always swings back as well , too. So while we went from what was more of a conservative city to now more of a progressive city , especially represented on the council , things swung back. And , you know , I still have a positive outlook that things will moderate and will have representation from the Republican Party on the city council at some point in time in the future. How soon that. To be told. But will , I think well , we'll we'll get back to some balance in the near term and hopefully again , that doesn't dissuade having that voice being heard or considered when it comes to voting on different policy issues at the council.

S3:

S2: I mean , those are been the top two issues , one and two for a number of years now. And I think you see a council that's one , have bigger conversations about housing in general and building more homes for San Diego residents and how that correlates with addressing our homelessness situation. I think what we are experiencing on the streets of San Diego is something that everybody sees and how can we address , whether it's mental health issues , subsidies , issues or just again , lack of lack of housing supply in general. How do we address those issues so that we can act humanely and not continue to have individuals living on the streets , tents in the streets , and really impacting their quality of life , as well as the surrounding neighborhoods as well , too ? And and finding that right balance and finding solutions is a difficult one , but a challenge that we're not only facing here as a city , but throughout the region and the state in the country as well.

S3:

S2: You know , I'm I'm going to continue to be involved locally , make sure my voice is heard and whatever format that is. But right now , the near-term plan is to spend more time with my family , my wife and my three young kids. This job doesn't allow for very much time because of the commitments and involved with serving my community. And so my hope is to to to bank a lot more time back with with my kids and and see them grow up and be present for them more than anything else. I think that's the most important job I'll ever have. And I embrace that and want to make sure I do a good job at that job.

S3: Well , then , happy holidays and best of luck. I have been speaking with outgoing San Diego City Council member Chris Cate , who represents the City sixth District Council member Cate. Thank you.

S2: Thank you so much for having me.

S1: This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH with Meg Perez in for Jade Heineman at the Salk Institute. There is one researcher who is able to see himself in the genetic science. He does. KPBS science and technology reporter Thomas Fudge has this story about a biologist whose own experience gives him a deep understanding of the science and the culture of deafness.

S4: Ori Manor does more than one thing at the Salk Institute. On one hand , he's a specialist in microscopic photography. Recently , he showed me a hallway near his office that is lined with his photos of cells. One photo shows so-called hair cells that inhabit the inner ear and vibrate in response to sound , sending signals to the auditory nerve. Problems with those cells can cause deafness. And that is what Manar , a cell biologist , studies in his lab.

S3: You can imagine , then.

S2: That just a little alteration in the instructions , which is the DNA on how to construct that hair.

S3: Can cause it to have a.

S2: Different enough shape that it no longer functions properly.

S4: Or he manner has been profoundly hard of hearing since birth. He has never been able to hear properly without hearing aids , something his parents realized when he was two years old and still could not talk. And though he's not deaf , he kind of knows what it's like.

S3: You know , as someone who wears hearing.

S2: Aids , I actually kind of go back and forth between the two worlds of deaf and hearing , because.

S3: When I turn my hearing aids off , it's over.

S2: I don't hear you anymore.

S4: Deafness and being hard of hearing takes many forms. We all lose hearing with age , loud music , and our noisy mechanized society also damage hearing manner inherited from his parents who were not hard of hearing the genes for profound congenital hearing loss. A member of Manor is lab research scientist David Rosenberg lost his hearing in one ear. He remembers when it happened in college.

S2: I was sitting for a physics exam and heard this very loud ringing. Turns out that the ringing was coming from my from my head , from my ear. And it was the first sort of symptom I had of a vestibular Schwann coma.

S4: Meaning a tumor had developed on his auditory nerve. It was surgically removed , but by then he had basically lost hearing in his right ear. Rosenberg and Mann are now writing a grant proposal to fund research that could find a way to prevent the growth or even shrink those tumors by implanting in people a working copy of a crucial gene. Hi , Ada.

S1: Hi , Dad. Hi , big girl.

S4: A video produced by the Mayo Clinic shows a woman holding her deaf baby who has had its cochlear implant turned on for the first time , allowing it to hear its parents voices. The baby smiles. Manar , the father of four kids , says seeing a similar video caused him to break down in tears. But he says some reactions to it on social media were very negative , including one who called it cultural genocide. It's a common term that suggests efforts to cure deafness are undermining a community that has its own language and ways. The California Association for the Deaf didn't respond to my effort to get them to comment. Manners says for deaf people , sign language , the culture and the community.

S2: For many of them , it's been a lifesaver. I join the deaf community and then they have this whole world of technology and language and people who understand them. Many of them feel that , you know , this idea of curing or treating or whatever or even calling them disabled is offensive.

S4: Banner says he's become careful to say he is not trying to cure deafness. He's trying to give people the option to be able to hear. Babies these days don't have to wait until they're two years old for their parents to realize they are functionally deaf. Tests are done on newborns. Yeah. I have.

S2: Pictures of my daughters in the hospital wearing special headphones that can measure whether.

S3: Their ears are working properly.

S4: Manor says the gene mutations that cause deafness are recessive , which means kids have to get them from both parents to be affected. Manor says none of his kids are hard of hearing. Thomas Fudge , KPBS News.

S3: He is the honorary mayor of Hillcrest and a champion of social justice for the Latino and gay community and just about any other marginalized group he feels needs representation and respect. Nicole Marie Ramirez was recognized by the city of San Diego last Saturday with a portion of Harvey Milk Street in Hillcrest designated as honorary Nicole Marie Ramirez Way. That's an honor the city reserves for a person who has performed an exemplary act or achievement of lasting interest to their community. Reflecting positively on San Diego , He certainly has done that an endless number of times over the years and joins us now. Nicole , welcome.

S2: What a day. Good morning.

S3: So full disclosure , I have known you over 30 years. But you were already fighting for gay rights more than a decade before that.

S2: My father was a Latino activist and he was involved with the American GI Reform , which was the first national Latino organization in the United States for a Latino veterans. And part of it , obviously , the component of that was pushing for civil rights.

S3: As I mentioned , you are the honorary mayor of Hillcrest. Do you consider yourself a politician ? No.

S2: I really consider myself an advocate for social justice and activists. But , you know , all that politics is isn't the core of just have to get involved in politics. And I learned that quickly once again from my father , who got involved with the election of the first Latino councilman in Riverside , which was a very conservative city at that time.

S3:

S2: I met Richard Nixon as vice president and also his family as president. And I got involved in politics and supporting Richard Nixon for president and also for governor.

S3:

S2: And we had a president who could not say the word and six years of his administration. So it was just too much for me because I had people dying all around me and the government wasn't doing anything about it.

S3: Some of your most significant achievements over the years came in the early devastation of the AIDS crisis here in California and San Diego specifically. COVID and Impacts brought all of those haunting memories back , didn't they ? Yes.

S2: In fact , I never thought I would have to wipe out a name in my telephone book. I was hoping for old age or whatever after AIDS , but when this came , I had to cross out a few more names.

S3: There were vaccines made available within months of COVID. There's still not an AIDS vaccine.

S2: People don't think that it's still around. And of course , it's still around. HIV and AIDS is is living here. And it's sad. I always say , you know , everyone celebrates the launching of of rockets and ships into space. And talk about also , we'll go to Mars. Well , we can even live at Mars. You know , my outlook as if we would spend the money that we are spending on these space and so forth. I think we will find a cure for AIDS and cancer. But we've seen to put our priorities in different ways.

S3: The community has blossomed into a much more diverse group known as the LGBTQ plus community.

S2: I always kind of chuckle when I in that many people of color organizations or attending events and they we are LGBTQ people are in every aspect of every ethnic community. We are a global community and we are everyone , every religion and so forth. It's interesting that studies and surveys taken that a vast majority of LGBTQ people are religious are spiritual , though many of the churches have turned away and also very patriotic know people don't even realize that across the street from the White House , there's only five statues , and one of them is it's an openly gay Revolutionary War hero , which Baron von Steuben , who was brought over by Benjamin Franklin after he told George Washington what a good drill instructor and a military expert he was and he came over openly gay , brought his lover , is part of history. And people don't realize we've been in the fabric of not only America as a whole , but in our history.

S3: You have also done lots of. Charitable work. It's the holidays. You have a partner in crime who has helped you through the years. Raising donations for the community. Big Mike Phillips. You and Big Mike have a toy drive underway.

S2: And I thought last night our great city attorney , Maya Elliot , has a program for battered women , battered men and families. And so last night , we delivered not only toys , but gift cards for the families. We're going to go this week to another run by , I believe , the Interfaith Network for Battered Families. And it's interesting that our toy drive you got to know this history that we started in 1975 because we had actually raised toys for Toys for Tots for the Marines , and we called them to come pick it up. And when they found out we were homosexual organization , they refused to come and pick up the toys. So we started our own. I'm glad to say the Marines have absolutely changed and they will chip toys and so forth. But I and Big Mike and others have never forgotten that. So we reach out to organizations that may not be your station and so forth that may not get some focus.

S3: I've been talking with Nicole Murray Ramirez , beloved LGBTQ activist , honorary mayor of Hillcrest , and now he has a street with his name on it. Nicole , thank you.

S2: Well , thank you. And have a great day.

S1: A new mystery novel , A History of Fear , tells the story of a convicted murderer , a young post-grad in Scotland who claims he worked at the behest of the devil. Novelist Luke Dumas , who grew up in San Diego , tells the story through a riveting series of interviews , evidence , law and the murderer's first person manifesto. Dumas will celebrate the launch of his debut novel Tonight at Seven at Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore. He spoke with KPBS arts producer and editor Julia Dixon Evans. Luke , can you tell us who Grayson Hale is and why we care about him ? Because it's not often we care about a narrator who is supposed to be a murderer. Yeah.

S2: Yeah. Grayson Hale is a 25 year old graduate student at the University of Edinburgh. He's actually from San Diego. He grew up in Point Loma. And he is the son of a minister. Sort of born into a family of a home based ministry. Very intense , almost cultlike , where he was raised to fear the devil and to fear his own innate evil in pretty much everything he did. And so that has really become ingrained in him. And , you know , as he grows up , he struggles with fear. Fear of the devil in particular , satanic phobia. He has this intense phobia that the devil is actually after him trying to get him , trying to corrupt him. And that leads to visions of being pursued by demonic servants called fiends. You know , ultimately , Grayson is trying to please his dad and his minister father and try to live up to his expectations as the son of a minister. And that really wreaks havoc on his psyche. And that plays out in a really sort of brutal way within this story.

S1: And in the book , before we get to hear directly from Grayson with his manifesto , we start with this kind of unsettlingly realistic. Editor's note It almost sent me to Google to see if it was real.

S2: So I sort of used that format , and I really wanted it to feel like true crime at the beginning. And then for this editor to sort of how I found this manuscript , Grayson's manuscript , after he's been found hanged in his prison cell , this manuscript is found and the editor sort of presenting it as a work of journalism. But there's a lot that's not clear. And Grayson is an extremely unreliable narrator. And so as she's sort of presenting his first person account of what happened leading up to the murder , she sort of inserts these emails and court transcripts and interviews that she has done to sort of give another angle and to sort of expose that there's more going on in the story.

S1:

S2: The thing I needed more than anything. It was night and a hatefully cold one for September. The wind ripped at my body like an ocean breeze turned inside out , its softness frozen over into a shrill and ragged edge. I shook my fists in my pockets and pushed on toward my destination. I didn't know what it looked like. The pub where he had asked to meet only its name. My eyes flicked up to check the signage over every passing doorway to my left. The wide four lane street buzzed with a steady stream of cars and double decker buses. The sidewalk was busy with cruisers and tourists. A gaggle of teenagers in mini dresses , braid and thick accents. Unfazed by the chill on their bare skin , I weaved between them , desperate to find the place , eager to escape more than just the nightmare. For at that moment , I found myself gripped by a subtle anxiety , which quickened my pace to a hurried clip and rained sweat down my forehead. Despite the cold , I was being followed.

S1: Thank you.

S2: And before that I did a full academic year as an undergrad there. And it was just such a stunning place. I mean , I truly fell in love with it. It's hard not to be inspired by Edinburgh in particular. I mean , this is incredible sort of gothic spires and cobblestone streets and these really creepy , shadowy alleyways all over the place. And while I was there , I was taking these incredible Scottish literature classes and learning more about Scottish demonic fiction , which I had never heard about. But it is a literary tradition that goes back centuries. It was very different than what we sort of think of as demonic fiction here. Or maybe we think of like exorcism or possession. And in Scotland , it's a little bit more of an internalised view of evil. And the devil is often a character that will appear in the story as a principal character , often depicted as a man dressed in black. And he's a trickster. He's always trying to find the righteous and guide them to evil , sort of using their own fears and their own traumas and pain and desire. And I just found that a really , really interesting concept and love to the idea of putting sort of an American twist on that Scottish genre.

S1: That was Luke Dumas , author of A History of Fear , speaking with KPBS arts producer Julia Dixon Evans. Dumas will launch the book at 7 p.m. tonight at Mysterious Galaxy Books.

S3: I'm M.G. Perez with Maureen CAVANAUGH. You're listening to KPBS Midday edition. Last month , PlayStation released God of War Ragnarok , an action adventure game developed by Santa monica studio. If you had played the game , then you have probably killed San Diego stuntmen. Fernando J. Wears no more than once. KPBS arts reporter Beth ACCOMANDO has work with wortO on some of his 48 hour film projects and spoke to him about doing mocap or motion captive work for the video game.

S1: J When most people think about stunt work , they may think about the fall guy or Burt Reynolds and Hooper.

S4:

S1: Now , for stunt work , you've done things like jump off of buildings and get into fights and get kicked across rooms. So that's probably not the kind of thing that most people think about doing as a career.

S4: Like I saw him in Rumble in the Bronx for the first time and I decided like , Hey , I want to do that. That looks cool.

S1: Now , what are the most recent things you've done ? Is mocap work for a video game called God of War ? Now mocap is motion capture. So before we talk about the game , just tell me a little bit about what does motion capture actually entail.

S4: So motion capture entails movement for video games or even TV and movies. So they put this suit on you that has reflective markers or LED lights , depending on the system , and it records the performers movements and the programmers and the animators and director. They can put it directly into the scene in the game using Unreal Engine or whatever type of software or program that they use to create their project.

S1: So what is it like for you as a stunt person to be acting in this kind of suit where you're not really in the real world.

S4: Doing stunts in motion ? Capture is heaven. You don't have to hide pads. It could be right there. And the software is not going to capture that. They're only going to capture what's reflected on the markers that are on your suit. So I could get hit the ground all day for 8 hours a day , and I'm still fine and I'm not banged up for the next day of work.

S1: So for this particular game , God of War , what kind of motion capture work did you do.

S4: For God of War , Ragnarok for PlayStation five and PlayStation four ? I had to do a lot of reactions and I had to sell a lot of the hits for the player character Kratos , the character that , you know , the gamer controls. So I'm taking the hits like From the Axe or The Chaos Blades , and I'm just doing 8 hours of like doing different reactions , like getting slash , getting my head lopped off , getting my body like split in half by creators with the axe. So it's just me just trying to figure out , okay , how am I going to how do I sell this animation ? So it's like that. It's also problem solving. How do I sell this hit ? How do I sell this hit that's over the top or it's not realistic. No. Physics. You know , you you know , you just have to use your imagination and then let the animators take it from there.

S1:

S4: It's usually the animators , the director and the stunt coordinator communicating to us what is happening. So my buddy Eric Jacobus , who also hired me onto the project , he plays Kratos , the character that the the player controls. So he gives me the direction on what to do is like , I'm going to do this hit and this hit. I'm like , okay , I'll sell it this way and this way. What do you think ? It's like , okay , yeah , let's let's , let's do it. And then the animators and directors , they guide us from there and adjust anything that they need us to do.

S1:

S4: So getting to see my work , I mean , actually playing the game , being a fan and I get to play Kratos and I get to kill me in a way. I think this is this is one of my scenes. Yup , that's me. That is me. Because like , I'm doing the reactions to all the hits. So I'm like , I'm mostly I think I'm a lot of the characters since I'm just reacting to hits. So I'm like , Oh , I'm killing myself here , killing myself. This is so weird to think about , really.

S1: Now , your stunt work has also brought you to some interesting places. One thing you've done as a stunt person in a theme show is you ended up in China. Yeah.

S4: Yeah. During the pandemic , my job at Universal , it was down for the season. I mean , because of COVID , of course. And so this opportunity came up. Where they were looking for stunt performers like myself to do a show that I actually did previs on over here in the States , over in Beijing and Universal Studios , Beijing. And I also got to help open the park. Being there , yeah , as a lot of stunt performers , they do overseas contracts , arena shows like stunt arena shows all over the world. And that's one thing that stunt people do. And I , I guess I followed that path a bit. Then it was really fun , I have to tell you , like it was a thrill getting to open a park and be part of a franchise. You know how to train your dragon and be in this amazing production with Toothless flying around the audience. And then , Oh , yeah , that's my coworker just flying up there. It's just it's wild to think about. And it was just such a good time , really.

S1: And what is doing live stunt work like ? Because that seems like a different kind of challenge.

S4: Yeah , doing live shows is a different challenge because you're doing this like four or five times a day , like the same movement or the same crash or whatever. It's a little harder on the body because it's almost like four or five days a week. So yeah , I feel like it's pretty hard , just like pro wrestling. I mean , film and TV stunts is a different beast in itself is different challenge , different types of thing , but they don't have to do it like 365 days a year. So it's a great experience and it helps you become a better professional when you transition to movies and television.

S1:

S4: Previously to that , I worked on the commuter Liam Neeson's Flick , But yeah , Get Out and US , they were great films. I mean , Get Out won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. So being a part of the you know , the creative process is such a thrill. Like , it's like , when do you get a chance to work on an Oscar winning film ? And also the great Jordan Peele , who's amazing in horror.

S1: And in addition to your stunt work , you're also a filmmaker yourself , and you do a lot of films on your own. You made a fan film for Harley Quinn that has done incredibly well on YouTube. Talk a little bit about that Harley Quinn film.

S4: I'm a huge fan of Harley Quinn and I've been a fan since the animated series. And then when the Suicide Squad movie , when the trailer came out , I was like , Oh my God , I could we could , we could totally do that. I have a friend who looks like her. Kind of sounds like her.

S1: I'm the one holding the baseball bat right now. And that means.

S4: I get to and I've been training her since college , so I'm like , we should just do a fan film.

S1: For Table for two.

S4: I'm an action filmmakers and I know Harley's abilities , so I'm like , okay , she's super straight from Poison Ivy. You know , she's she does gymnastics and she has a bag of tricks. So I'm like , Oh , yeah , she could totally fight. So I was like , Oh , we could totally do it. Like a martial arts style Harley Quinn fight , you know , in the vein of Batman v Superman , the Ben Affleck Batman fight in the warehouse. You do something like that ? Oh , yeah. I get the most satisfaction making my own films because I have control. Even doing , doing , doing films and television in Hollywood is is great. You know , I love it so much , but I can't be as creative. So I love both. But for my personal projects , you know , it's just more fun just because I'm with friends.

S1: All right. Well , I want to thank you very much for talking about star work.

S4: Thank you , Beth.

S3: That was Beth ACCOMANDO speaking with Fernando Jay. Weirdo God of War Ragnarok became Playstation's fastest selling game. You can see where toes work on his YouTube channel Giambrone pictures.

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