It’s Alive!

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So, I’m pretty jazzed to announce the Beta launch (translation: soft launch, a.k.a., “it’s brand new so expect a lot of bugs” launch) of the #YegFilm directory app.

This is a project that I’ve had a frustrating, up-and-down relationship with; I finally resigned myself to failure last year, but apparently stubbornness + a brief stint working for WordPress led me to the idea of abandoning the Ruby on Rails version of the app I had built and leveraging WordPress instead.

Yes, now it’s a thing, out there in the internet, and I hope you will give it a try and email me both bugs and feature requests at sally[at]theedmontonianmediaco.com. Obviously I will avoid them at first, complaining that it’s your fault because you used it wrong, but eventually, I really will fix and update the functionality.

1) go to yegfilm.theedmontonianmediaco.com

You’ll be greeted by this login window. Click the teeny-tiny Register link in the lower left.

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2) You’ll be prompted to choose a username and input your email.

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3) After you submit your info, check your email. You should (SHOULD, remember, this is a BETA version so your computer might also just burst into flames) receive an email containing your login information.

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4) Now you can click the link in the email, login, and click the “edit my profile” link in the upper-right to put in your information.

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5) Now, just fill out the fields. Leave anything you don’t have blank. It’s easy to overlook some of the fields, so make sure you complete everything, all the way to the bottom of the page.

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6) Now, if I’ve done my job correctly (and let’s be honest, there’s at least a 40% chance that I have not), you should be able to go to the front page of the site and filter all members based on whether they are available for projects, and which skill sets they possess.

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The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything Fast

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In the latest episode of WTF, Marc Maron talks to one of my very, very favourite standup comics, John Mulaney. Mulaney, who spent years as a staff writer on shows like Important Things with Demetri Martin and, most famously, SNL (he was one of the guys who created Stefon), talks about his early standup career, particularly touring as an emcee for acclaimed comic and filmmaker Mike Birbiglia.

“I went on the road with him for 30 days straight. and that was like a huge turning point. The lesson for me was that before that tour with Mike, I always wanted the show to be cancelled. I always wanted to have done a show. I wanted it behind me. And after doing 30 days straight where I had to emcee every night, I started to want to do the show itself.”

This is a powerful idea. It evokes the 10,000 hour rule popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers (which is now, admittedly, largely debunked): at a certain threshold, you develop your skills enough to become an expert. The Beatles are the most often cited case of the 10,000 hour rule in effect. John Lennon describes a period in their early years where they honed their craft playing German clubs.

“We had to play for hours and hours on end. Every song lasted twenty minutes and had twenty solos in it. That’s what improved the playing.”

Somewhere between 10,000 hours in a German club and 30 days on the road with Mike Birbiglia, though, lies Josh Kaufman’s book, The First 20 Hours.  Continue reading

Quit while you’re ahead

Some of you guys may have gotten an email from me, earlier this week, explaining that I have chosen to abandon the #yegfilm app I was building:

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Click to read

It’s just one of a slate of projects I’m putting on ice, in anticipation of a day when I am better suited technically/financially/emotionally to complete them.

It’s obviously not particularly fun to admit you promised something you couldn’t deliver, but it’s also okay to opt-out of a project when you realize it doesn’t fit your time/skills/resources/schedule. Believe me when I say that your creative resources are finite, but replenishable – you need to protect them, you need to rebuild them, and most of all, you need to enjoy them – and getting pinned under something you can’t or don’t want to finish is the quickest way to drain them.

Here’s a few unsolicited words of advice from someone with a long and storied history of quitting. Continue reading

Writing 3D Characters

It’s tough to breathe life into a character, isn’t it? I often sit down with what I think is going to be basically THE BEST IDEA OF ALL THE IDEAS OF EVER – but it very quickly becomes a super flat, boring predictable mess, which discourages me from pursuing it any further, and which results in my always having like four things half-written at the same time that I’m too destroyed to finish.

Recently, though, I have been revising my approach to characters, or ‘characs’. For a long time, I was under the impression that good character writing was all about volume. “I have 12 pages of externally based facts about this charac,” I would say. “This charac likes ham. She wanted to be a marine biologist, but quit because it was too hard. She works at Dollarama. She went as a spider for halloween.” Fun fact: knowing things like someone’s favorite Jay-Z song does not help you much when you are trying to create compelling plot points.

Here are three things I’ve found that help me make characs that I’m happier with, and that I find it much easier to plot arcs for.

Let’s start with two characters, who, at first, will be 2D.  Continue reading

Reading List

As Jeff mentioned in the previous post, I’m scheduled to be on a panel at the Alberta Media Arts Alliance Society Symposium this Friday, May 9, where I’ll be talking with Calgary super-producer Spencer Estabrooks about finding an audience for your work online (check out his spectacular web series One Hit Die here).

While I cannot say definitively how the discussion will go (if I learned one thing in high school, it’s that the only thing you can count on in social situations is getting swirlied and jammed in a locker), there is one thing that is indisputable – I will mention like 8,000 books, because I have a personal believe-y that any problem, no matter how gigantic, somewhere, has a book that can solve it. I will also heavily plug the web app that Samsonite and I have in the works.

So after the jump, find a list of some books I am likely to recommend on the topic of internet distribution, business models and audience acquisition. Continue reading

Bob’s Burgers Table Read

I constantly make the argument (mostly loudly, to myself, in food courts) that if a movie/television show/whatever is well written and well cast, it is virtually impossible to screw up based on any of the other elements. And if the other elements are strong, well then that’s just gravy – like progressive enhancement for the screen.

The following video proves this logic (like most of my logic) infallibly! I’d watch Bob’s Burgers even if it was just a bunch of people reading scripts at a table every week.

We’re planning a redesign!

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Please forgive the appearance of our website. Both Jeff and I are currently spending too much time in the real world working on other projects and not enough time in the INTERNETS, so things around here are really falling apart. The theme is falling out of date and we have like 800 spam comments in Japanese(my sincerest apologies if we’re misreading something and have finally become huge in Japan).

We’re strategizing how to create more content after Christmas, but until then we’re going to get pretty lean by doing even less posting, using this theme, and shutting off the comments. Until we meet again, here are our friendly end of year tips:

1) Graceful by Seth Godin

This is a really powerful little ebook I got from Kobo Books for like 3 bucks, and it’s an inspiring and magical read. My favorite quote:

Believe in what you do because you may have to do it for a long time before it catches on.

2) The Writer’s Room on IFC

I randomly discovered this show, but it’s so great. Jim Rash talks to members of the writing staff from a bunch of critically acclaimed shows: Breaking Bad, Parks & Rec, New Girl, Game of Thrones and more. They talk at length about how their writers’ rooms operate, how they break stories, and more.

3) Justin Halpern’s tumblr

Justin Halpern is the hilarious authour of Shit my Dad Says, I Suck at Girls, and also what is quite possibly the funniest tweet of all time. He’s working on a new show based on I Suck at Girls and is pulling the curtain way back on the process of putting it together. He writes hilarious and highly educational posts about TV writing, producing and more.

Vimeo Video School

Yeah, this one was probably a no-brainer for you Vimeo hipsters, but I roll old school YouTube, and was very pleasantly surprised by the stuff was I’ve been able to pick up from Vimeo’s extremely well-produced Vimeo’s Video School series. My personal favorite was the above video on understanding and achieving depth of field (Samsonite and I are thinking about trying some DSLR shooting) – but whatever your poison, there’s a ton of stuff within these 66 videos, useful whether you’re shooting DSLR, standard HD or even just on your cell phone (which reminds me, we just got an Olloclip, so look for a post about that soon).

Probably an urban legend, but…

Media HintYou did not hear this from us, but rumour has it there MAY be a browser extension somewhere in the internet that magically hides what country you’re in without having to use a VPN, and therefore allows you to access American content sites like NBC, Hulu and more.  If this is true, it’s of great value to any content creator who wants to do some research viewing of hard-to-find shows or classics series TV.

If it’s even true, you guys.

iTunes me? iTunes U!

i tunes adMany, many years ago, when I was young and relevant, I attended a real, actual film school, where I did real actual things like shoot on film, edit on the professional equivalent of two VCRs daisy-chained together, and use this to generate credits. The year was 1997, Third Eye Blind was on the radio, and I wanted desperately to be a filmmaker, so I did the obvious thing and went to film school.  The world was different then – it made sense to follow the appropriate career path – go to school, work as a PA, get into a union, pick your department of choice, get promoted, etc. Continue reading