I often feel I have to explain my existence as an internet filmmaker. Most people don’t get it. And then when you tell them it’s your job - well, it gets very, very confusing.
So let’s bust a couple myths: most of us don’t do feature length films. Sure, we would probably like to someday, but until then, we are all trying to reach millions in our own way. And yes there is a way to make a living from it. Most of the time, the film itself doesn’t make a ton. Maybe a couple hundred bucks off advertising within the player if you have 1 Million or more views. BUT, that doesn’t happen very often. For me, it’s how I attract clients who then hire me to make documentary shorts about their organization. And yes, it’s all legit. There are definitely a lot of people making internet videos for fun. BUT, there’s also just as many of us making internet videos for a living. That means we have to think about things like sound, good lighting and composition. We care about quality because we want people to see it.
Now that we’ve covered those bases, I’d like to introduce you to a couple people making truly incredible stuff who do all the things I just talked about:
The Planets is an ongoing web series by Andy Martin that takes viewers to a new planet each month. In each episode we are introduce to a new landscape, new characters, distinct problems or challenges - and we’re also treated to deft animation and gorgeous character execution. There’s nothing about this series I don’t love. Each piece stands on its own as a film, but together, they bring a planetary experience that makes you wish these creatures were real. If you fall in love with a specific planet, you can even buy a print from Andy’s shop.
Leigh is not a stranger around here. We featured here a few weeks back as one of the Lady Geeks of the Week, but since then, she has been absolutely churning out a regular hail storm of internet and geek culture critiques that are one point every. single. time. It’s truly impressive. If you are not a YouTube subscriber, you are really missing out.
Jonathan doesn’t have a regular set of shorts coming out right now, but his pieces are beautiful and one in particular, Requiem for Romance, features some truly gorgeous visuals. The execution is superb and the music breathtaking. What else could you want? You can check out his Vimeo channel here.
In trying to make a list of just three people, I’m realizingthis is an area of focus I need to spend more time on. So if you like it, let me know and I’ll be sure to write more posts on the amazing internet films I discover while trolling the internet at all hours. I also recommend ShortoftheWeek.com. Bookmark it!
This sweet little man belongs to two of my closest friends. And he has a very special place in my heart. We chilled this week. And he impressed me greatly with his recognition of colors. The development of a brain is a remarkable thing - Milo reminded me of that.
Two of my best friends are starting new jobs next week, so we went to the nail salon and got manicures to celebrate on Wednesday night. In life, I must remember to cherish these moments more often, because there will undoubtedly be a day when partners and jobs and kids will make these kinds of moments harder to coordinate.
3. I have friends who get it.
When I wrote this post earlier this week, I sincerely worried people would think I was a whiny whiner. They didn’t. Instead, they rallied. They shared their stories. Sent me their contacts. Helped me connect with organizations who still pay a livable wage and reminded me that I have the power to say no. They didn’t have to do all that - but they get it. I hope it’s the start of something for all of us. Most importantly, I learned a lesson. I can’t allow myself to forget the power of community.
4. Cyber Sales
I know I shouldn’t be jazzed about online shopping, but hear me out. I got a very nice new light kit for 50% off, which I will be able to use on a couple upcoming video shoots and my new glasses cost me less than $40. I call that a win-win.
I also write elsewhere. This week:
This happened about a week ago:
I have been trying to figure out how to blog about this without it turning into an angry Hulk rant, but it’s not possible, because I am angry. I work hard. I follow the rules. I network. I even work for free when I need to. All because I’d like to start my own business.
And receiving emails like this - and being offered jobs like this - makes me wonder why.
I’ve signed up for all the professional associations. I’ve met with editors. I’ve started working out my future with a financial planner. I’ve reached out to a variety of former colleagues and friends and offered up my services. Some of this has been fruitful. Some of this has been helpful. But this was the fruit of a series of laborious emails and it’s down right infuriating.
It all started with a posting on MediaBistro. They have a message board for freelancers looking for opportunities and posted a generic link to video opportunities. After weeks of effort, I had finally made contact with a senior member of the responsible unnamed media organization who distributes their video content to a wide range of traditional media and aggregate sites. Our conversations were positive and the team there liked my work - so they offered to send some projects my way. I was delighted. Ongoing commitments are the key to making it as a freelancer in the long run. But then I saw what they were offering.
Safe pool exercises for the elderly (video): $35
So I had to ask… “you want me to identify talent, secure a location, develop a script, travel to the location, shoot, edit and deliver - all for $35?”
When I decided I wanted to be a journalist, I knew I was not going to make a lot of money. My parents, my mentor and my professors all warned me. I had no delusions of making six figures or having a second home in my lifetime. I still don’t. But fuck me if I didn’t think I’d make more per hour as a grown, educated, experienced adult than I did on my newspaper route as a 15 year old girl.
There are organizations out there that pay well. I have worked with and for these people and I appreciate them. But they are shrinking in number and size and it’s threatening the livelihood of writers and creators and storytellers like me. And yet, we are ignoring this as if it’s not indicative of a larger trend in this country. As if it’s a separate “industry specific” issue. And so I present you with an alternative view:
Just as outsourcing has devalued the respect and pay we give to skilled craftsman - the Internet, with its free flowing spigot of content, has devalued the work of skilled journalists and storytellers.
If we are not careful, this disease will spread. For a long time, the “educated” classes have assumed they were safe from outsourcing, because someone else couldn’t do what they do. This is the false truth under which journalists operated while the web flourished. And look what has happened. Right now, there is a writer sitting at his computer (which he paid for) looking through postings on a media site for jobs that pay $5 per post. Or $10 if he is lucky. He probably has a four year degree, a mountain of college debt and a tiny apartment. And he is going to eagerly work away at $5 posts all day - hoping he can crank out two to three per hour so he can make enough to pay his bills.
Is this really the business model we want for our industry?
And more importantly: is this the content we need to be producing?
The content business has long been metric focused. 100,000 page views is better than 1,000 page views. But who is looking? What do they do next? How long are they reading?
We have access to this data and for many writers, we know the answer: write SEO friendly content. Except, I have a hard time believing “SEO friendly” content is the best content. If $5 stories are getting 100,000 page views that’s great for the business paying a menial wage to a professional for those clicks. However, they aren’t seeing the bigger picture: people don’t read these stories. If you are a regular user of the Internet you know these are often the stories you land on and then promptly click away from because they were designed for this exact purpose.
The second option is to go the sponsored content route. I am not opposed to this model, but I worry about it. Advertisers shouldn’t have control over content and too often, this is the slippery slope many creators can’t resist.
Why don’t we care about passion and engagement anymore? I have long said I would rather have 100 passionate, consistent readers than 10,000 occasional, uncommitted readers. Why? Because it makes me a better creator and a better steward of your time. I’m not trying to convince or deceive you through some SEO trick, I’m earnestly working through every sentence trying to win your appreciation and respect.
All of this is indicative of a change in our cultural thought about the value of work. Work is no longer done to provide a wage, support an economy or fill a void in the lives of others WHILE making a profit. Instead, the pursuit of profit has completely skewed our perception to the point that we no longer care about the pursuit of truth or poignancy or professionalism. It seems all we are supposed to care about is clicks.
And so I ask:
How long before a software program replaces engineers?
Look at the Amanda Palmer tour hub-bub. She initially planned to pay her back-up musicians in “beer and hugs” on her crowd-sourced tour of the United States. She raised a million dollars to do so - so you can imagine why people were a little upset that the musicians who made it possible for her to work weren’t being paid for their contributions. But you know what she did? The right thing. She decided to pay the musicians. They are professionals. They have families. They have bills to pay. And they probably got beer and hugs too.
I want beers and hugs sometimes, but I need to be able to support myself. I want to do this job. But if this continues, who will want to work in media? Who will want to consume it? Will the truth ever get out? Will good stories get told?
I don’t know the answer, but Wired’s Daniel Roth called one media site’s approach the equivalent of “Day laborers waiting in front of Home Depot.” I’m not sure I want to work in an industry that treats me this way.
Yes, there are exceptions. But today, I’m talking about the rule. And after writing about it - I’m no longer angry. I’m sad.
You can buy the featured image from the artist - which would be really nice of you. It’s $12 at Est1986.)
Feel like the internet is ruining your brain? Do you refresh Facebook every 3 seconds? Are you endlessly scrolling through tumblr gif sets of Tom Hiddleston? (GUILTY, RIGHT HERE!) In fact, I think I’ve developed a weird eye thing from all the Tumblr scrolling.
Sarah Von of Yes and Yes agreed to contribute a guest post to Being Geek Chic on the topic of increasing your attention span in a world full of distractions.
If you’re as bad as me, you need this advice.
You guys, the internet is breaking my brain.
Several weeks ago I decided to join the world of Serious Bloggers and put together a newsletter/email list. In order to put together said newsletter, I had to watch a ten minute instructional video on MailChimp.
And after about three minutes of watching this video? I had completely lost interest.
I could not handle watching a well-edited, informative, funny video that would teach something I needed to know. Because that video required me to really pay attention to something for more than three minutes.
Twitter/facebook/google, I blame you. Also, I blame myself. I don’t want to be the person who can’t sit still for more than ten minutes and won’t read things without bullet points! I don’t want my instant reaction to a tough bit of code, an unpleasant email or some uneditable writing to be “Ugh. Has anything popped up in Google reader? I’m going to see if anyone has responded to my latest hilarious facebook update!” Puke.
So! Let’s talk about ways to increase our attention spans! And let’s bold those ideas so we can skim them as quickly as possible and then get back to our Facebook refreshing.
Most hippie-dippie things make me roll my eyes and groan. I’m deeply pragmatic and if you try to talk to me about your chakras I’ll get all uncomfortable and slowly back away. With that said, meditation has been scientifically proven to make you calmer, more focused and less likely to be depressed. And you don’t need to view it as a spiritual practice. Simply set the timer on your phone for five minutes, sit with you back against the wall, close your eyes and actively empty your mind. Ommmm-chanting and incense-burning not required!
Do a bit of physical activity
We’ve all heard it a million times - physical activity makes you happier, calmer, more focused and generally more awesome. You don’t have to join a gym or do a Gillian Michael’s caliber workout to see the effects. Just a ten minute walk through the park, a bit of stretching a few rounds of sun salutations or even just a dance break can do wonders. Sometimes when I’m feeling listless, sleepy or unfocused, I’ll pull up the She Wolf video, put it on repeat and dance around the kitchen for ten minutes. I am not kidding at all.
Set a timer
Have you heard of the Pomodoro technique? It will change your life. The crux is this: set a timer for 25 minutes and then do one thing for those 25 minutes. When the timer dings, you get a five minute break to do whatever you want, then you set the timer again and keep going. And no multitasking! Here’s another variation on this technique that uses boredom as a motivator.
Do five more
Your attention span is like a muscle - the more you exercise it, the better it gets. So if you hit a wall (like losing interest in a useful instructional video) force yourself to do five more. Read for five more minutes, do five more problems, write five more sentences. You might catch a second wind and if you don’t? At least, you’ve been slightly more productive and you’ve stretched your attention span muscle.
Limit your screen time
In my fantasy life - in which my self control is about triple what it is now - I stop watching TV or using my computer after 7 pm. I’d love to spend my evenings hanging with friends, making dinner, reading, going out or creating things with my hands rather than my computer. I bet we could all be better about this, eh?
Have a snack
Kiddos aren’t the only ones who get cranky and shifty when their blood sugar is low. I rarely produce anything worth reading after 3 pm but if I eat some nuts or fruit, I can usually string sentences together till at least 6:00!
Think of happy stuff
If you can’t concentrate because half of your brain is obsessing over your botched work presentation or that thing your frenemy said, take a break and think of good stuff. Look at the sky for two minutes. Check out CuteRoulette. Send a sweet email to a friend. Write down all the different ways you can deal with that thing that’s bugging you and then imagine you’re pushing that problem out the door and turning your key in the lock.
These won’t actually cure your jacked up attention span - but they will put a cute Hello Kitty bandaid on it.
This free Mozilla add-on is gonna change your life, friends. You can set it to block specific website between set hours, on certain days or to cut you off after a designated amount of time. So you can set it to block you from Facebook-stalking after 1:00 am on Saturdays or just cut you off after you’ve been on there for 3 hours straight. Handy!
Wifi-free coffee shops
I’m fairly sure these still exist, somewhere in rural America. Or, um, most places in Wellington, New Zealand. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish when you don’t have the option to access the internet!
Stick with good ol’ fashioned, non-wifi internet at home
I know a self-employed couple whose lives slowly devolved into working on their laptops from bed, 18 hours a day. So they reverted to a one-internet-cable household and now if they want to work together, they make an active choice to find a wifi coffee shop, set a time frame and get to work. And if they want to use the internet at home, they can use it one-at-a-time, sitting at a desk. How novel!
Seriously. I know that coffee makes some people jittery and insane, but for me it’s Liquid Ambition.
How’s your attention span? Any tricks to share?
Sarah Von is a world-traveler, mighty blogger at Yes and Yes and MSPer who I totally admire.
In her own words: she wants to see the world, save the dolphins and read The New Yorker while wearing cute outfits and eating bon bons.
You can follow her on Twitter @yesandyes
Could someone please point me to another good or service that we as consumers buy at the PRICE WE WANT, in the DELIVERY FORMAT WE PREFER, for our CONSUMPTION WHENEVER WE PLEASE?
This is essentially what we are asking HBO for with the new #takemymoneyhbo movement.
When it comes to the web, there are two things that really get under my skin: first, people who believe it’s OK to pirate content and second, people who believe that all content should be free and/or ridiculously cheap. The standard excuse: I don’t want to wait to see Game of Thrones Season 2!” isn’t good enough. Imagine if I said to a police officer: “I don’t want to wait to have enough money to buy this Chanel handbag, so I’m just going to take it.”
Stealing is stealing. Just because something exists doesn’t mean you have a right to it.
The HBO Go debate is now rocketing through the web thanks to #takemymoneyhbo and the myriad blog posts that have come out of it. I’ll proudly say that I fall solidly on the unpopular opinion side of this debate.
If HBO told you, dear internet masses, that HBO GO could be delivered to you for a monthly fee of $44.95 a month, would you pay it?
They won’t say this, because in fact you can get HBO GO with your cable subscription for roughly $75 a month. And here’s why: HBO is subsidized by the cable companies. The marketing, delivery, technical installation and support, etc. are on the books of the cable companies. They pay those bills. As a result, HBO can focus on what they do best: creating stellar content.
I’m a cable subscriber and I pay $60 a month for the standard channels. I then pay an additional $15.99 for HBO, which I watch 5 times per week. That’s a grand total of $75.99 per month (plus tax) divided by 27 episodes of my favorite shows (5 on HBO, one on HGTV, one on PBS) for a grand total of $2.81 per episode per month. (I won’t even factor in that my boyfriend watches all these shows with me PLUS several History Channel programs, so it effectively cuts our costs in half.) And you know what? I am happy to pay this premium because I know that these programs cost a ton to make. Why do I hand over my hard-earned money for my cable subscription each month? First, because I think it’s entirely fair that a person who is PAYING GOOD MONEY to watch something first should be able to watch it before people who don’t want to pay for it. Second, I can’t help but notice the similarities between the models many of you suggest and the destruction of the newspaper industry. For the sake of transparency, I started my career as a journalist.
The news industry has been destroyed by the proliferation of “free content” on the web. Remember that idea about subsidizing content? Before newspapers went to the web, advertising and classifieds essentially subsidized the business of making news content. Large publishing houses owned newspapers across the country and split the pot to support the content.
Then, the Internet demanded that the model change. Except, as it turns out, the model can’t be sustained by the current strategies utilized on the web. If you think the New York Times has the answer because of their paywall, you’re wrong there too, because sites like the Huffington Post (which is subsidized by advertising) can now win a Pulitzer for aggregating that content and offering it up for free.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the web. I WANT it to be easy and affordable to consume what I need. But we as a society have to understand that making GREAT SHIT COSTS a SHIT TON.
For years, people have said: “Oh, if I COULD pay for quality content online, I WOULD.” Take My Money HBO proves that this sentiment lives on. Unfortunately, it turns out that majority of you would pay on average just $12 a month for that content. The price you are willing to pay doesn’t actually add up.
Think about it: The first season of Game of Thrones has a production budget of $60 million. If you are all willing to pay $12 a month, it takes 5 million people just to pay for Game of Thrones. Never mind ALL the other programming, marketing, technical support, etc. that HBO would have to cough up to deliver it to your laptop. And I won’t even begin to address the fact that HBO currently airs no advertising. HBO would be losing the TV revenues generated by being tied to the cable companies.
I’m convinced that the American public would like to turn content production into the dollar menu at McDonald’s. We are addicted to cheap, cheap, cheap in this country and it’s simply unsustainable.
I’ll leave you with this: if you want HBO GO, you can get it. NO ONE is stopping you. It will probably cost $60-$80 a month, depending on where you live. But guess what? It’s worth it.
Sometimes I do this thing where I go on domain name shopping sprees. I sincerely wish I was joking when I say this, but I’m not… It’s like an internet nerd compulsion. I get it in my head that I have a great idea and somehow the idea that I can use that URL at some point to make the idea a reality feels like I have my grasp on the possibilities.
Tonight, I bought:
A few weeks ago, on a previous binge, I snapped up:
Maybe one of the awesome ideas behind these things will happen some day? I sure hope so… because it would make for great content on this here blog. The big question of the night is:
Am I the only one that does this? Someone else please tell me they own 100+ URLs like me!?