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Archive for March, 2009

It’s a lot of time and energy to keep up your profile on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Linkedin, Ning sites and dozens of other social networking sites. However, if you’re trying to make a living in the creative arts, be it an independent filmmaker, musician, artist, then you’ve got to look at it as part of the job.

Here’s just one recent example with my short film “Travelin’ Trains.” A few weeks back I notice Greg Sarni has become a Facebook friend with my sister Lindsay Mofford. Now I remember Greg, not well, but I remember drinking beer and hanging out with him at Emerson College. We reconnect, become online friends. On his Facebook site are photographs and notes about his days running the Boston Blues Festival. I mention “Travelin’ Trains,” my short blues film about a boy in search of his father in the Depression-era South. It’s full of traditional, acoustic blues. He wants to see it, especially because one of the stars is Chicago Bob Nelson.  A few years back, Bob collected the Blues Trust Lifetime Achievement Award. Greg is a fan of his music and makes mention of the prize and film in his online newsletter, Blues Trust. He also adds the Cacchi link where you can see my film for free.  The film gets a jump in views including a recommendation on Twitter by the famous Ash Grove bar in Los Angeles. I see the text and Twitter back that we need to do a documentary on the history of one of the most important folk clubs in the country. Discussions and developments begin. Thanks Greg.

Do you see where I’m going with all this? At Unconventional South in Nashville, we are constantly talking to an incredible roster of talented musicians who know that the old ways of creating an audience no longer apply.  Brian Adams knows this and is developing the network television series “Stone Cold Sober in Music City” with an online home base. You can read more about that venture in a previous blog.  We’ve also been exploring that with Billy Falcon, his daughter Rose Falcon and The Sowing Circle on Ustream.  A wonderful write up at indiemusictech.com covers what a musician has to do these days to get their music heard.  It was also a big issue of discussion at the SXSW music conference as referenced in Wired magazine.

Mashable.com is a wealth of information of guidelines, with success and failure stories of what works for artists and entrepreneurs. The write up about Ning job networks and entrepreneur networks are two of my favorite resources. How do I know when there is a new article? I follow them on Twitter. When a new story is online, they’ll put a link on Twitter. I can access it if I’m interested. This process is exactly the same for all us artists. You release a new song, photograph, film, art show and let people know it is there. The fans decide if they want to access it or not. They hear or see it and your network spreads the word. If they’re not spreading the word then something isn’t grabbing their attention.

Now everyone has their own set of rules of what and how they want to communicate via the web. I use MySpace mostly for listening to new bands and keeping track of gigs via bulletins. I reserve Facebook for my actual friends, mainly because I’ve got some friends on there that I’ve known since Junior High School.  I’d rather not share those old stories with someone I just met at a networking event. In those cases, I stay linked to the business contacts, new and old, via LinkedIn. And for me, Twitter is all about the RSS feed. I’m following you because either I like what you have to say, play, write or communicate. If you’ve got a suggestion, I want the link. I hope those that follow me feel the same way about my “tweets.”

Now I know there are dozens of other social networks including “Ning” sites like my Brother-in-Laws site, All Hands on Board, which can be very specialized. I just don’t feel like I need to be on all of them.  It might look like some sort of desperate need to be noticed. You see, there is a fine line and only you can decide what is needed to get the word out and what is too much.  We each make our own rules and that, my online friend, has got to be one of the greatest things about social networks.

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It was reported last week in the trades that Michel Gondry had been hired by Sony Pictures to direct the feature “Green Hornet” starring Seth Rogen.  Between Rogen and Gondry, I’ve got a feeling this won’t be your usual Superhero comic book movie.  I’m interested in what Michel Gondry does with the material, I’ll tell you why.

Many, many years ago, I worked as the 1st AD for Gondry on a Sheryl Crow music video, “A Change Would Do You Good.”  At the time I was doing a lot of big budget music videos, usually for the production company, Propaganda Films.  This was my first with Gondry, although he already had a great reputation for making interesting, artistic videos, especially for Bjork.

The concept for “Change” was that Sheryl Crow was a “Bewitch”-like character, shaking up the lives of people, give them a chance to step into someone else’s shoes before returning to reflect on their own life.  Big concept for a three minute song, especially when you start including an all star cast.  Of course, at they time, most of them, other then Ellen Degeneres, were hardly known.  Heather Matarazzo had just been discovered in “Welcome to the Dollhouse.”  Molly Shannon had only a few seasons of Saturday Night Live under her belt.  Jeff Garlin had not yet co-starred with Larry David in “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”  Years later I had the opportunity to work with Mary Lynn Rajskub as Chloe O’Brian on a few seasons of “24” and with Andy Dick on a whole series of comedy shorts for the MTV Movie Awards, but at this time, they were basically “unknowns.”  BTW, most of those short films are up on YouTube.

It was a difficult shoot, coordinating everyone’s schedules around the various stage sets and their other gigs.  Michel, who is originally from Versailles, France (and was still struggling with English), was having a hard time communicating his vision or I was having a hard time understanding, which slowed things down.  I think, for me, the highlight was when Sheryl came to the set and for whatever reason felt I had adjusted the schedule to accommodate her, so she gave me a big, wet kiss, which I’ll never forget.  I liked her instantly!

Now before I get lost in sentimental memories, the reason I’m writing is because of Michel and his desire to direct a feature film.  This was way before “Human Nature” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”  He wanted to direct a feature film and at the time, the one he wanted to direct was “Green Hornet.”  It was a different script, but based on the same comic book.  Any time he wasn’t working on prep for the music video, he was meeting with his assistant, breaking down ideas and storyboarding his vision of the “Green Hornet.”  I wonder how many of those ideas from over ten years ago will find their way to the upcoming production?  I guess things really do come around if you want them bad enough.

I think about these things and relate them to my own life, my own projects.  I believe everyone has their own projects that at different times get put on the back burner.  I have my directing projects like “Press>Play” that I’ve tried to launch for almost as long, or in the case of “Witness Trees” even longer.  I get frustrated when it isn’t moving forward, but just like Michel Gondry, I’ve taken other great projects offered to me to keep the creative juices productive and to bring in some finances.  It’s nice to know that sometimes the pet projects return, even bigger and better then you ever dreamed, even if they now star Seth Rogen.  Either way, a change has done me good, looks like some great stuff is brewing for Unconventional Media, even though it’s not originally mine. At least I’ll always have Sheryl’s kiss.

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