You Have A Voice. Use It.

Two or three decades ago, it was not easy to speak your mind – and nearly impossible to be heard. That’s not the case anymore. With the internet, we have an opportunity to share our thoughts, opinions and work on a global scale. We can express ourselves publicly, anonymously or under a pseudonym. While it’s not always easy to be heard online, it’s easier than ever to express yourself. I will never encourage you to add to the noise just for the sake of adding to the noise. But I do encourage you to use the web as a platform to let your mind and heart run free.

I know far too many closet writers, actors, film directors and artists who have great voices that need to be heard. Many of them are too lazy, shy or proud to share directly with the world. I know ten times more people who want to hone their voices and fear an audience. Keeping your mouth shut will not help you advertise. If you don’t put yourself out there, no one will know that you exist. Ever.

If you are concerned about operating online under your real name, simply make up another. Nine times out of ten, quality content online takes precedence over name or brand power anyway. If you can engage audiences with your voice through genuine content, you will win.

Say what you need to say. Don’t be afraid. What’s the worst that could happen?

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There’s a System for That

If you’re having organizational trouble or find yourself doing the same mundane task over and over, chances are pretty high that someone else out there shares your pain. With a little bit of research, you may even find someone who has already conquered your problem. At any rate, it’s worth a look. The internet is a pretty big place these days. There are apps for everything.

As times change, brand new problems crop up all the time that may not yet have structured solutions. Depending on the complexity of your problem and processes, other people’s solutions may not serve your own. If you cannot find a solution, it’s up to you to build one. Given the challenges and material complexity of designing solutions (be they software, logistical or cost), most people opt out and choose to continue suffering. Don’t do that. Don’t settle for the mundane. You should never have to do the same thing more than once – unless you want to.

Don’t Waste Gatherings

Time together is a valuable commodity. Our Constitution honors the freedom to assemble in the very First Amendment. Time together should not be wasted on passive consumption. Active minds together exchange ideas and experiences that, when combined, can overrule the sum of their parts. The classroom, conference room, or venue should be reserved for collaboration, discussion, or audience involvement. Dialogue should be a two-way street, a symmetrical relationship. With the Internet more ubiquitous than ever, we have the freedom to access, share, and consume information whenever and wherever we want. We can connect with lectures, sermons, and updates asymmetrically on our private time. We should never waste the opportunity to commingle when sharing a room together. Spend private time well; spend time together better.

Goodbye, Los Angeles

Dear friends, I am taking a long break from Los Angeles. By the end of this week, I will no longer live in this city. My drive to help shape the web has inspired me to relocate to a city with greater density in the technology sector. With my passion for the Internet and ambition to smooth it into the future of the entertainment industry, It finally makes professional sense for me to move on. Moreover, I have resolved on a personal level to pursue a complete change of pace. I am young, have little to lose, and eager to explore the world outside Hollywood. I need to mix life up a little to challenge myself and grow.

After leaving Alloy Entertainment, my time filled with personal projects, rest, interviews, the exploration of Los Angeles, and time with friends. Last night, we threw a little going away party and had a blast. I have made so many great friends here over the last five years and desperately love you all. Please embrace the marvels of modern technology to stay in touch!

Film Friday: How to Listen to Your Audience Online

In digital filmmaking, you have many tools at your disposal to help better-understand the work you create.  The Internet offers an unparalleled platform for distribution and audience feedback. It is easier than ever for audiences to actively and passively communicate what works and does not work about your film.

A under-utilized and invaluable tool for filmmakers looking to grow through their body of work is YouTube Hot Spots (available in the insight section for “My Videos”). These graphs map audience attention to your videos throughout their duration by tracking drop-out rates, mouse clicks and rewinds. You are able to pinpoint moments in your video that are more or less successful than others.

A year ago, I posted a comedy music video called Cocaine Crazy. While it only has 8,000 hits, those impressions shaped an extremely informative portrait of successful and unsuccessful aspects of the video.

 Cocaine Crazy Hot Spots

  • The opening skit was the least successful attention grabber (a large mistake considering the opening is key to hooking web audiences from frame one).
  • The choruses became redundant as the video went on (except for the second half of the third chorus when cocaine started to fly everywhere).
  • The joke and rhyme-packed verses anchored the video and had high rewind power.

Self analysis is invaluable. No where else have I seen a tool that can tell you when moments are dragging, redundant, funny, not funny or downright failures. More often than not, this data will merely support intuition. But in a few instances in my career, this data has redefined major structural changes to development material.

Pay attention to your audience.

Can Newspapers Survive? Bring on Newsographics!

It is official: more people consume news online than from newspapers.  Print is failing to compete with the saturated blogosphere. While the value of digital media is evolving, the blog network is still disorganized and fragmented.  The need for staffed, credible and organized newsrooms has never been higher.

Print outlets have not sufficiently adapted to the Internet.  It should not be as simple as porting text to a webpage – your platform (the computer monitor, mobile device, etc.) is completely different than newsprint. Few people enjoy reading on their monitors, want to load full paragraphs of text on mobile, or feel sufficiently engaged by content on the ever-interactive tablet form factor. The format of digital news presentation needs to be completely re-imagined.

USA Today became popular because it had a higher volume of images than other newspapers. While a picture may be worth a thousand words, it lacks quantitative and qualitative information essential to quality news reporting. Incorporate graphical representations of story information and a healthy dose of interactivity into images and you could have something really special.  I call it the “Newsographic.”

I have been very impressed with the New York Times coverage of Japan’s tragedy. On top of diligent email updates and consistent reporting, they continue to introduce extremely informative interactive features and multimedia presentations that paint a more vivid picture of the event.  You can find some of their newsographics below:

Data visualization hit the Internet mainstream with a vengeance. Unlike text blocks, infographics are more inviting, quicker to consume, and can help make complex information easier to interpret. Bringing imagery to life with a layer of interactivity enhances the reader’s engagement with the material tenfold. Top a visualization off with live updating power and you have yourself a very powerful news medium. 

Newsographics are the future. Unlike most individual blog authors, larger news organizations have the talent and resources available to generate these presentations.  I am convinced rich multimedia will be the only way major outlets can stay competitive in this arena. The tablet is a perfect opportunity for newsographic-only sources to stake major claim in the news market. I still think major news companies have a place in the media landscape – but they cannot rely on the written word alone. They must evolve.