We are all famous to a few people
I love when the bad guys lose

Reading stories about people getting busted for crimes thanks to social media makes me happy. Really happy. 

The trails we are all leaving on the internet don’t disappear completely.

The town square stretches across states, countries and continents.

Everyone has a camera and posting pictures creates a relational database that can be used to connect people and places.

The bottom line: we won’t be able to hide our public and private personas.

Who we are at home, work and out in the world are now chained together, forever. 

A lack of authenticity will be harder to hide.

Making mistakes, committing crimes, failure of any kind is going to be witnessed by a lot more people. 

Trust, reputation and not being an asshole are finally a valuable commodity!

Because if you’re trustworthy, if you have a good reputation and if you’re nice to people, all the time, for years, good stuff will happen. 

There’s still work to do. You can’t just be a nice person and success rains down on you. But I think the mistake many are making is not acting like who they really are. 

The shortcuts won’t work. The people looking for ways to work a system or be successful quickly are going to fail, most of them that is. 

If we’re all focused on results and not on being a human being, first, the results will be all that matters. Results rarely inspire people when that’s the only part of the story they hear about. 

The advantage is to individual storytellers, artists, musicians and creative humans working in all media. We can be human beings because we are.

The disadvantage is to the giant corporations trying to be human. They can’t. 

That’s the way it works. I think. 

I am psyched out of my mind that I got to see this giant change in storytelling history.

I went “all in” five years ago, seeing that something was happening and it was the riskiest and best decision I’ve ever made. 

And way more fun! 

Is being Indie a club of some kind?

Let me preface this little rant by saying I love people who go out and make stuff happen, without waiting for permission. 

It’s one of my favorite things in human beings, the will to ignore the need for gatekeepers, validation or permission and just create.

I am happy to report there have never been more people going indie to make films, books, art, music, dance and a variety of other creative product in a variety of media.

There has never been a time in the history of humanity when so much was being created and we are lucky to be here, you and me, to see it happen. 

Of course, there’s downsides when a great deal of change happens in a relatively short amount of time and social media appears to be the place where those downsides grow quickly. 

One downside is what appears to be a quid pro quo economy of support growing among indie folk of all kinds. The idea that help or support must be returned to those giving it in the exact same form is a flawed system built on entitlement. 

We gotta be able to give support without expecting *anything* in return, because otherwise a bartering system of support will create resentment. 

Being “Indie” seems to be a label people sometimes use as the sole reason they should be supported, because they’re Indie. Like that’s all they have to say, “I’m indie!”

Yes, we all need help and support in campaigns to create projects and to spread the word when those projects have been created. However, when there are going to be so many more of us makin’ stuff, we all can’t contribute to every single indie campaign and we can’t all retweet every indie project. 

Why?

Brace yourself for some tough love - No one cares about you or your project and you can’t make them care by using the word “indie.” 

"Indie" doesn’t make me care. Does it make you care?

Just that word, indie, doesn’t do a fucking thing.

Here’s why - What does Indie actually mean?

I don’t know why you want to create whatever it is you want to make and it’s not my job to find out. 

"Support Indies!" is a shitty battle cry. 

Like, “support charity!” Which one? Why? 

What if a project is indie but you don’t like it? 

Do you *have* to support it just because it’s indie? 

I get Tweets from people asking me to help their campaign because I’m indie and they’re indie. Keep in mind these are tweets from people I’ve never interacted with before, but since they used the top secret word, “indie,” I must parrot their agenda. 

Who said that’s the rules? 

We can’t *just* be on Twitter when we need something, otherwise it will be a clusterfuck of people yelling, “Watch! Support! Read! Retweet!” and that would suck.  

It takes a long time to be good at anything. 

It takes an even longer amount of time to be good enough at something that other people might notice. 

Add to that the number of distractions asking for our attention and whatever it is you do, it’s going to take years to build any size audience. 

Sorry. 

There is no quick ROI in social media. 

Sorry. 

You gotta put in the time, you gotta hang out, you gotta be a human being and talk to other human beings, talk that isn’t selling them something. Because even when you’re “indie,” you’re not excused from having to put in the time and be a person. 

Indie is not a club and proclaiming yourself to be indie doesn’t do jack shit. 

Again, sorry. 

Be an authentic human that doesn’t solely advertise their projects and do that consistently, for years, and you will see cool stuff happen. 

Honest. 

Groupthink Is Where Innovation Goes To Die

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Who doesn’t love to be surrounded by like-minded people? 

Groupthink can be extremely valuable.

It can make people pour ice water over their heads, myself included, and raise over $100 million for a cause. And yes, I am aware there’s a water shortage. 

I wonder what story people need to tell themselves to solve the worldwide water crisis? What act can individuals make videos of themselves doing that would inspire awareness and donations? 

I am sure that’s a question many have been asking for months. 

You can’t engineer human beings to do what you want and as our attention continues to be fragmented, it’s hard to even get someone’s attention. 

Innovation is disruptive and people hate change, which is why groupthink kills innovation, unless innovation is the goal of the group. And even when it is, social dynamics, hierarchies and egos can still easily crush ideas.

Innovation doesn’t have to be huge. 

When the new employee asks the person training them, “Would BLANK be a faster way to do this?” and the answer is, “That’s just the way we do it,” that’s groupthink.

There’s a story about a tractor-trailer trapped by an underpass that was too low for the height of the trailer and it has all traffic snarled. Cops, firemen and the driver of the truck can’t figure out how to remove the truck without doing more damage to it and the underpass. 

A 5-year old kid is among the people stuck in traffic who got out of their cars to get a closer look.

The kid tugs at a fireman’s coat and tells him he has an idea. The fireman smiles like any adult would at this proposal and with nothing better to do, he bends down to hear the idea, imagining it has to do with a superpower or Transformers. 

"Maybe take the air out of the tires," the 5-year old kid says to the grownup fireman, who is wearing the same uniform as all the other grownups who didn’t have that idea.

The kid was right, it worked.

The world doesn’t need more organizations, more validation systems or more opportunities for groupthink.

The world needs kids of all ages with ideas of all kinds. 

The Future of Storytelling is Fragmentation, Audience Fragmentation

                    

You could be on TV once and be famous. 

That was a true statement in the years when there were three television networks. 

A world where there was one television screen, located in a room where human beings would gather around it to watch one channel, at a certain time.

It genuinely sucked. 

If you missed a show when it aired, you missed it, period.

Gone. No chance of finding it anywhere. Not until that episode is shown again, at a certain time. 

This was also a time when questions like, “Is Abe Vigoda alive?” could not be definitively answered outside of the opinions of those around you. Many of them drunk. 

How many TV shows could you watch right now? On demand, instantly? 

I know I can watch “Barney Miller” on Hulu and see Abe Vigoda.

How many movies could you stream, right now? 

How many social media platforms are you on? 

How much more time are you spending watching videos on Facebook in the last few months? 

How many YouTube channels are you subscribed to? 

How many television series are you going to binge in the future? 

How many commercials do you *actually* watch? 

Are you reading this on your phone while you’re streaming a TV show? 

How many books were published in the last hour? (Yes, hour.) 

How many “networks” are there now? 

How many times did you drive to the movies this summer? 

(According to this article, a whole lotta people stayed home.)

Humanity is very slowly filling the world with their art, music, stories, words and a variety of selfies, videos, vines & cat pictures. 

The internet is an open mic. 

It’s a wall to project on, hang pictures on. 

Individuals can potentially talk to millions of people, almost for free. And some do.

Ideas exchanged faster, across continents, decades, generations and added to at a speed that isn’t slowing down and never will. 

Sharing ideas is human behavior. 

Multiply that by the number of humans online.

Multiply that number by all the individual people who are now telling stories all over the world, who couldn’t have even five years ago. Myself included in that number. 

Smaller and smaller groups of humanity, dividing and fragmenting into even smaller groups of humanity.  

Divided by the sheer number of options that call for our attention. Options that will never grow smaller, only larger and at a faster pace. 

If you’re an indie storyteller, think in years and embrace the tiny fragment of humanity who likes what you do. Be available to them, say hi. 

If you need millions of people to do something at the same time in order to support your story, I wish you luck. 

You are going to need it. 

The house in the hills kinda sucked

               The “Chemosphere,” a sight I got used to seeing.

The stories we tell ourselves about how life will be when something happens, are just that, stories.  

You can miss a lot waiting for the life you imagined to happen. 

I know I did, which is why I’m writing this, so maybe you won’t. 

"When X happens, that’s when I’ll do Y."

Apologies for using algebra analogies for those who are anti-algebra, including me! 

Like most people, I’ve told myself stories about how life was going to be and it’s rarely worked out the way I thought. 

Some of those stories included working as a photojournalist traveling the world taking pictures of humanity at its worst. The hope was that the pictures might help. Simplistic and idealistic, but a damn good story. 

Glad that one didn’t work out. 

When I moved to LA, the story I told myself was that I was going to make a living writing and acting and doing stand up comedy. The story changed to just writing movies, a rewrite to my story that was tactical. I was spread too thin doing too many things. 

The result of this story was going to be paychecks that would buy a house in the hills and time for KZ and me to make art and do cool stuff. It was a bad plan, but I didn’t know it yet. 

As the result of an odd string of events, none of which had to do with selling a script, we ended up living in a house in the hills. Justin Timberlake was our neighbor and lived on same street. Never met him, but often said hello to his security guard. 

The house was actually an apartment that was part of a house in the hills and it was cheap! 

Leaving Hollywood after a decade and change of all that comes with being in that neighborhood - hookers, gang bullshit, squatters, just for starters - I felt like we moved to a national park.

Hovering police choppers were replaced by circling hawks by day and owls hooting at night. 

There were downsides to living far from civilization, one being you started to refer to where other people lived as “civilization.” 

I hated having to drive anytime I needed anything, like a cup of coffee, something that had been in walking distance since I moved out of my parents suburban house.

Growing up in a working class, blue collar household, where work ethic was the law of the land, money was seen as a solution to a whole lotta problems. And it is a solution, just not to as many problems as we think. 

Money definitely doesn’t buy you happiness and I’ve had the luck of knowing a few people who were loaded and miserable. 

Rich people have a lot of the same problems as people who aren’t rich, it’s just way more fun to distract yourself with the “stuff” you can buy while being rich and miserable. 

KZ and me driving down that street in a 1994 Honda Civic, which is still going, for over three years that we lived there was always a fun contrast to the millions of dollars in real estate. 

I did love walking on Mulholland Drive every day. It would often be the only thing I would see when I was putting in long hours editing Vampire Mob.

The house in the picture above was on my street and I walked by it so many times it became just another house on the street. One that looks like a spaceship. 

I’m glad we no longer live there and should I win the lottery or suddenly find myself swimming in cash, I will never buy a house in the hills. 

I like living where I can walk out my front door to a place where they sell coffee. 

I like observing humans in their natural habitat. 

That’s part of what makes me happy about living in a city. 

I’m extremely lucky that I got to see what a story I told myself would be like and that it was actually a lie. 

Happiness isn’t as hard to find as you might think and it’s a lot cheaper.

You just need to tell yourself that story, the true story of what *actually* makes you happy, not the fantasy of what *will* make you happy, once X happens. 






It’s all about the audience

Whatever you create, art, books, films, music, it is made for the audience. 

The days of “stars” is over. 

The days of being entitled are over. 

The future is about small town business tactics practiced on the internet, for YEARS because that’s how long it takes indie artists to build an audience. 

The audience will never fire you, unless you’re an asshole.

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.