We are all famous to a few people
Burnout & Other Byproducts of Doing What You Love

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It’s good to know your weaknesses but if you don’t do anything about them that knowledge is kinda pointless. 

I’m bad at taking time off and always have been. I know that and yet…

Last week I burned out in what initially appeared to be a flu bug thing (body aches, feeling yucky and the like), but was actually just me being extremely tired. 

When I was making visual and performance art, which were unpaid positions, I worked at a hotel and eventually my first ever office job. Days off and vacations were referred to as “studio days,” as in if you need me, I’ll be making art.

Not a bad workflow and it allowed me to cover all my overhead and make stuff.

Making stuff makes me happy. Writing, designing sound, editing video, shooting, hanging out on Twitter and a long list of other things some refer to as work, I genuinely enjoy. 

Other than grants, which I received a few, the work I made in the 90’s was not the kind of work that “generates revenue.” The job I didn’t love that paid created the time to work the job I did love that most of the time didn’t pay. 

When the question “So, you make any money doing that?” was posed, I knew I was talking to someone who didn’t get what I was doing and probably never would. A valuable lesson. 

I feel like the support I receive from the audience makes me want to work harder because I’ve never been in this position before. I’ve never had a group of people from all over the world, most of whom I have never met,  like my work and help me create more. 

After a 46 day campaign, which was 12-18 hours a day non-stop, plus a few weeks of the same getting Vampire Mob set up on IndieGoGo, I took two days off and dove back in. 

That was a mistake because two more weeks of non-stop work on figuring out campaign logistics and launching a new project resulted in the flu bug thing referenced above and I crashed. Lost a few days of productivity and still feel a little run down, but a whole lot better! 

I’m hard on myself because I feel like I’m the engine that’s gotta run a little hotter for a few more years before anything like a vacation can happen. That’s been happening for decades and that “few more years” has resulted in me missing out on some stuff. It’s part of the price one pays to tell stories indie and the balance between life and work is always hard. 

The other factor is fun. I’m really having fun working my ass off. I’d rather spend a day shooting a short film than sitting on the beach, thinking about shooting a short film. 

Taking time off is one thing I need to improve on, that I know. But I’m having so much fun it’s hard to know when, which is why I burnout. 

 

Ten (or more) tips for crowdfunding that don’t completely suck

Do just once what others say you can’t do, and you will never pay attention to their limitations again. - James R. Cook

I have never been here before and it’s way more fun! 

Thank YOU to all the people who have made something happen that has never happened on Kickstarter or Indiegogo for me before, HITTING THE GOAL! 

If you’re thinking about doing a campaign here’s some things to think about:

1) A campaign is way more work than you think it will be, even if you’ve done a campaign before, they will take everything you’ve got.

2) There will be days you completely doubt yourself, your campaign, your project and all of your life decisions. When this happens, go for a walk. It’s not that bad. 

3) Drink more water, you’re probably dehydrated from all that coffee. 

4) Make a really good plan and stick to it.

5) Don’t be afraid to change your really good plan.

6) Always keep in mind that no one cares about your project and you can’t make them care. That’s their choice, just like it’s yours. 

7) Watch this talk by Simon Sinek and figure out *WHY* you’re making your project.  If your why is “to make a movie” or something like that, you’re wrong. 

8) It’s all about the audience, which is made up of human beings, not customers. Please treat people like they’re human.

9) Try stuff. Make it fun for you and the audience. Take ridiculous selfies.

10) Think of perks that can be delivered DURING the campaign. Like selfies with a vampire! 

11) Try to be as creatively repetitive as possible with your posts. Yes, you need to pretty much say that exact same thing for a month or longer, so plan that shit before the campaign starts!! 

12) Have entire conversations with people online and don’t mention your project. No one wants to talk to the person who is always selling, take a knee once in a while and just hang out. Everyone will hate you less.

13) Accept that asking for help is uncomfortable for everyone involved, including you and anyone you ask. 

14) Some people can’t contribute money and they’ll let you know, be cool, they can still help with sharing and that really does help. 

15) Some people *CAN* help but don’t, be cool. They might not be your audience and they might not really care about why you’re making a project. It’s a huge world. 

16) Don’t tweet everyone who follows you a link to your project and a request for help. That’s spam and it’s the fastest way to let your audience know you don’t care about them and that they’re a customer base to you.

17) Crowdsourced funding is not a lottery ticket and it is not an ATM. If you put up only a trailer or a still image and we never see you and you expect help, you’re an asshole. 

18) Every once in a while, take a look at your feeds. If it’s only you talking about your campaign with links to your campaign for hours on end, time to mix it up.

19) Don’t engage the haters while campaigning. You don’t have time. 

20) If you think celebrity fundraising campaigns or any involving potato salad are having an impact on contributions to your campaign, take off the foil hat, jackass. 

I could never do that!

Sometimes the only reason you can’t do something is because you tell yourself that you can’t. 

What if that story isn’t true and you can? 

What if you’re wrong? 

What if you’ve been lying to yourself this entire time?

What if all you needed to do was start? 

What if all that’s stopping you is all the bullshit you’re telling yourself?

What if you *could* do that?

What’s the story you tell yourself everyday? 

3 Top Tips to Stop Believing Top Tips

1) What’s the agenda behind the tip? 

2) How old is the tip?

3) If everyone is doing this top tip, won’t we all be the same?

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Yes, there’s some sarcasm at play in that list up there.  

However, tips, rules, systems, all the “quick” and “easy” ways to succeed ignore the inherent falsity of what quick and easy creates. 

Trust isn’t quick and easy. 

Nor is a reputation. 

Tips are ideas to be considered, perhaps reengineered and mixed with other ideas, like your own. 

Here’s my tip, feel free to consider, reengineer or remix:

You can’t *make* anyone care. 

That is something we all do for a variety of reasons and tweeting a link to the existence of something you made won’t make anyone care you made it. 

Here’s the “sitch” (I hate “sitch, and yet, there it is)…

The world is a gigantic place.

There’s room for all the storytellers to tell stories, artist’s to make art, music, absolutely anything that can be shared on the internet, made by one person or a few people can now be seen by a fuckton of humanity. 

(A fuckton is larger than a shitton.)

No one’s paying attention because there’s so much to pay attention to.

Think in years.

Know WHY you do what you do.

Keep going. 

I’m not afraid to fail - Confessions of a Lucky Storyteller

The other F-word, failure, has a power to it and it always will, if we let it.

Unless we stop treating failure like a deep well of inescapable shame, we are never going to do anything. 

Our “permanent record” and the idea of failing a final exam, a grade in school, a driving test, twice, all that shit’s hardwired into us. Hard-wired. 

I have failed, huge, in front of live audiences as a stand up comedian and on the internet, in front of *lots* people & guess what? 

I survived. So will you. 

Inspiring someone is not something I know how to do, but when people tell me I’ve inspired them, that’s very fucking cool. 

I’ll take that over any award, anytime. 

And what’s interesting, is how much failure I have on my “permanent record.”

Life’s not about failure or success, that’s just a story we’ve been taught. 

Let’s take a look at my permanent record regarding raising budgets for projects on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, shall we? 

Number of success on Kickstarter and IndieGogo = ZERO.

I never have reached a goal on either. Not once. 

All I did was keep going

"Improvise, adapt & overcome" - *that* shit works! 

 

How to Create a Graphic Novel From a Live Action Series (Part 3) - Confessions of a Lucky Storyteller

Vampire Mob, Issue 1, Page one, by JM Ringuet.

As I stated in Part Two of this series, I still don’t know how to do what the title says, yet!

When I was trying to wrap my head around the graphic novel/comic book script form, Corey Blake, who is the creative consultant for VMob Issue 1, described it as “writing a letter to an artist.” 

That helped a lot!

Whenever I write scripts, I’m thinking about the audience. Not whether the audience will like what I’m writing, but how they might respond. With laughter, surprise, did I make them jump? They’re gonna love this! That kinda thing. 

Now that I was writing a script that was a “letter to the artist,” I had a couple more things to think about. The audience and the artist who would be talking to them with pictures. 

Staring at a page that was to be moving images, with sound, and making it four to six panels on one page is an interesting mind-fuck of a puzzle. 

My advice:

Don’t think about the panels on the page as you would a storyboard, they are so much more powerful. 

The old screenwriting saying, “show it, don’t say it,” really came in handy! 

What’s important on the live-action script page? That was a good place to start.

What could be lost in the script that wouldn’t take away from the story? 

There were a couple minor storylines I wanted to weave into the live-action version of Vampire Mob episode one, season three, the script I’m adapting.

I tried drawing, poorly, how the panels might look. Even just that little experiment had me pointed in a better direction. 

I needed to lose those minor storylines and focus on getting the most important one to dominate. 

I quickly could see that they were just a diversion from the task at hand, introducing the story to those new to VMob and reintroducing Don & co. to the folks who know VMob. 

There was some darling killing, serial killing! 

Less was definitely more. 

I’ve had the pleasure of personally editing everything I’ve shot since 2006 and that has also given me another opportunity to rewrite. That opportunity would not exist telling stories in this form, at least not in the same way. 

Two quick tips I learned: 

1) Don’t try to fit too many things in one panel. The image doesn’t move, so you can’t have a character doing a laundry list of movements in one panel. 

2) Think about who is talking on the page and who is reacting to those words. Something I like to do in the stories I shoot is to see the character who isn’t speaking listening to the character who is, but off-screen. 

(OFF-PANEL) in graphic novel script form becomes the O.S. (Off Screen) equivalent in screenwriting. 

Sound effects are the other thing you will be typing and that takes some getting used to. Google for lists of comic book sound effects and you will find a whole lotta stuff on it. 

How much story can you tell in the provided space becomes the next game you play, and it’s a fun one! 

IN PART FOUR, I’ll type words about how I got the script locked down and the process of working with JM Ringuet, the artist, in creating the cover and first 3 pages! 

Help me tell this story and get your name in the damn book, plus an eBook of the damn book, plus a meatball recipe!! 

http://igg.me/at/VMob/x/32430

How to Create a Graphic Novel From a Live Action Series (Part 2) - Confessions of a Lucky Storyteller

                    A slate made by my pal Pam DuMond

The second part of this series will start like the first, with this blatant admission: I still don’t know how to adapt a live action series into a graphic novel, yet. 

I’d suggest reading part one of what I don’t know before continuing reading this part of what I don’t know. 

What I do know is that, according to my sources, there isn’t an absolute agreed on format for a graphic novel or comic book script. 

                       Virginia Jones by JM Ringuet.     

1) But what the hell’s the script format?

Like feature film scripts, sitcom scripts, hour-dramas, plays and the rest, there’s all kinds of formatting differences, but there’s also many basic similarities: character, action, dialogue, explosions!! Well, maybe not in sitcoms and plays. 

When I started learning how to write TV and film scripts, I read scripts of shows and movies I knew to get an idea of how things look on the script page and the screen. I recommend doing something similar if you’re trying to wrap your head around writing a story in the graphic novel format. 

Hit Google and find some scripts for graphic novels and comic books! Also, take a look-see at this web comic - http://www.ineffableaether.com/. The script page is on each page of the comic for reference! And it’s on every single page! 

                                   Don Grigioni by JM Ringuet.

2) Yeah, but WTF is the format? 

I *really* don’t care about screenwriting programs and don’t recommend one over the other. With that said, I use “Movie Magic Screenwriter” because I won it from a film festival and I’m cheap. 

There is a comic book script template as part of the version I’m using, which is not new. 

I’m guessing you will find something if you’re using one or maybe you can just write in an ANY program and format it yourself. 

You can figure it out. I’m rooting for you! 

                                 Annie Grigioni by JM Ringuet.

3) Can you tell a good story?

I’ll leave the answer up to you. 

Can you tell a story without any dialogue and only images, still images? 

How ‘bout a story with only dialogue and no images? 

Like when you got home from work and told that story about your co-worker blowing up the break room? 

What parts did you tell? What did you leave out? What’s needed in that story to understand what’s happening?

I’m asking these questions for a reason, to get your brain tuned into the task at hand. 

There’s lot of challenges to telling a story in any form and a lot of those challenges are the same regardless of form.  

What I’m finding telling a story in the graphic novel format is choosing what’s important is the name of the game. 

The other big part of the game is separating action. 

         
                 Vampire Mob graphic novel script, Issue 1, page 1.

4) Just tell me how to do it!

Okay! 

I’ve got a 150-page live action script written that was to be shot with cameras. I was going to direct, operate one of those cameras and I was also going to do the video editing. 

I can’t draw for shit. 

Corey Blake, the creative consultant for VMob Issue 1, who knows a lot more about comic books and graphic novels than I do, described the graphic novel script as “a letter to the artist.” 

That helped my brain wrap around the intent of the script and I began writing a letter to an artist. 

In part 3 of How to adapt a live action series into a graphic novel, writing a letter to an artist and serial killing darlings. 

When I was a… - Confessions of a Lucky Storyteller

When I was a photographer, pre-internet, the only way someone could see my work, without being in the same room with a picture, was for it to be printed in a magazine or newspaper.

When I was a visual artist, the only way someone could see my work was to be in the same room with it. 

When I was a comedian, the only way someone could hear a joke I told was to be in the same room with me or see it online. 

When I tell stories online, the only way someone can see them, worldwide via the net, is to press play.

Those who choose to continue watching, that’s my demographic. 

How to Create a Graphic Novel From a Live Action Series (Part 1) - Confessions of a Lucky Storyteller

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      Sneak peek of the Vampire Mob graphic novel cover by JM Ringuet.

I don’t know how to create a graphic novel from a live action series.

I know, shitty title for a blog if that’s the first line.

If you Googled your way over here looking how to create a graphic novel from a live action series, let me tell you this, I don’t know how, yet.

After I learned how to write, shoot, edit, direct, mix sound and color correct video (and continue learning!) I decided to tell a story in a form I know almost nothing about, the graphic novel. 

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      Working with Marcia Wallace on the set of Vampire Mob, season two.

Why?

I wanted to continue telling the story of Vampire Mob and I wrote a gigantic script for season three. The death of Marcia Wallace, who is all over the script for S3, made that seem impossible.

All the ideas to work around her character’s absence didn’t feel right because I created that role with Marcia in mind from the start, before even asking her. Marcia did me a giant favor by being a part of this show, twice, and I couldn’t imagine anyone else in her role. 

Keeping her character “alive” in graphic novel form would allow us all to imagine Marcia Wallace saying the words on the page and that did feel right.

Where to start? 

Step one in the process of creating a graphic novel from a live action series should be learning. 

I know, sounds simple but it isn’t. 

If you think a graphic novel is just a storyboard with nicer images, you’re an asshole. Way more to this form of storytelling. 

1) Ask people for help.

I started asking people who did know about this form for recommendations and each conversation would head me down a new path, filled with ideas. 

One recommendation given to me was to read Scott McCloud’s books: Understanding Comics, Making Comics & Reinventing Comics.

2) Read Scott McCloud’s Books.

To be honest, I wish I had read McCloud’s books a long time ago because I think anyone who writes stories in any form would get a lot out of them. I did! 

The next short film script I wrote after reading McCloud was greatly influenced by his ideas. 

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                  Detail from Vampire Mob, Issue 1 by JM Ringuet.

3) READ graphic novels and comics.

I got an account on Comixology, where you can read a lot of free comics and also purchase digital versions. 

There are also webcomics  you can read for free! I highly recommend Tim Gibson’s Moth City and also Lady Sabre & The Pirates of Ineffable Aether.

I read some that looked like they had some things in common with VMob and many that didn’t, just to wrap my head around the form, which I barely do. 

Part two of How to Create a Graphic Novel From a Live Action Series will talk about the next part, the graphic novel script form. 

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Did you read this fucking thing?

Lemme know below or on The Twitter!

@VampireMob. 

"If this gives you any impetus or hope or encouragement to go your own way, tell your own story, you have the means to do that now better than you ever had before.

Instead of getting caught up in the system. Instead of going to work “for the man” as we used to call it. Please know that it’s possible, please know that we did it, please know that what you do can hang around a while if you go that way. 

And take it from us, it’ll make your life better and richer, and you’ll meet great people that you’ll know for the rest of your life.”

- Mark Frost (co-creator of Twin Peaks) - January 27, 2013