Share Your Skills

I’ve attempted these past few months to organize a workshop on screenwriting with two community centers. These plans keep falling through so I thought I’d take the initiative and organize something on my own.

There’s an online marketplace called Skillshare where you can find classes to take in your city or post one of your own you’d like to teach.

Their template allows you to quickly create a class and build an audience of potential students. You’re able to follow other teachers and your students are able to leave you feedback.

You can learn more in this short promo of theirs:

I’ve posted three short workshops I feel qualified to teach. We’ll have to wait to see what the response is but it was a great exercise to organize my ‘marketable skills’ and advertise them like this.

You can check out my teaching & classes profile here.

I’m assuming many of you reading this also have skills you can leverage to organize and teach a class of your own. I recommend you do so, as it’s a great way to reenergize your craft, give something back to your community and earn some extra cash to invest in your creative ambitions.

Drop me a line if you do organize a class on Skillshare – I’d like to follow your progress.

2011 in Review

2012 getting closer. Before I make any resolutions, let me first reminisce on this year’s accomplishments and what I’m most proud of:

  • Completed my ‘100 poems in a 100 days‘ project. This was a great teacher of the value of ‘just doing it’ and how our potential creative output is actually a lot greater than we think. And of course there were other insights along the way.
  • Blogged about my Binger Lab experience with Shelter. Those posts became a separate kind of laboratory where I could tinker with ideas I had for the script and how to direct the film.
  • Helped out as a Kickstarter Consultant with funding campaigns for two short films (‘Lunch Date‘, ‘Plato’s Reality Machine‘).  This taught me a great deal about how one can raise funds and might be useful for 2012 if I decide to kickstarter a project of my own.
  • Got back into taking pictures and drawing on a more regular basis. Even rented a studio for a few weeks to paint.
  • Abandoned Facebook and shifted over to Tumblr as my main social media site. A few months ago I found Facebook to be a distracting burden instead of a creative tool, so now I’m using Tumblr as a scrapyard of ideas, both taken from others and original ones, to use later. This shift has forced me to stay in touch with friends more directly, by email and phone.
  • Used MyLanguageExchange.com to start chatting with natives in Egyptian Arabic. This has been quite a workout, as we’re not speaking within the confines of a lesson or class, but rather talking freeform about anything and everything. But I’ve made more progress in the last three months than I have in the last five years; and I’ve reached a higher fluency than ever before. With all the recent events in Egypt we’ve had plenty to talk about.
  • Started treating regular fitness like an adventure, experimented with working outdoors and different tools like iPhone apps, running, kettlebells, etc. For the past few months I’ve been using a great little app called BodyFate. It lets you train with the equipment you have handy, and the workout comes at you in an unpredictable manner as if you’re working with a shuffled deck of exercises. My training now is goalless, it’s just about putting in the time on a regular basis and eating sensibly. Ironically, because I’ve ditched the ‘workout plans’ and fitness gurus, I’m in better shape now than ever before.
  • Bought a Kindle and started reading more often and everywhere. While a digital book can never replace a physical one, the pros do outweigh the cons. I’m able to travel with my entire library and revisit my books and highlights very quickly. It’s also easier for me to draw connections between the different books I’ve read on a particular subject or across disciplines.
  • Last but not least, I got to witness my younger brother get married. It was a beautiful, humbling experience and reminded me of what truly is important in this life.

The irony is that none of these accomplishments came out of a set of resolutions I wrote for myself at the beginning of 2011 – they were simply the result of me following my curiosity and needs as the year went by. Maybe ‘going with the flow’, and simply embracing your questions and interests, pursuing the things you want to be doing more of, is a more useful tool for realizing a resolution than the resolution itself?

I’m excited to see what I achieve with this same, goalless approach for 2012, as I get closer to my 35th birthday.

POETRY UPDATE: 50 done, 50 to go

I’ve somehow completed fifty poems now, twenty more since my last update. I’m glad I decided to continue down this strange road. I’ve regained an ability in the last few days to observe more closely and emotionally the world around me, and a desire to try to squeeze what I can from life.

I’ve decided to continue forward to the next ambitious goal: 100 poems in a 100 days. Wish me luck.

In these next few weeks I will begin a more disciplined reading of the poetry of others – to get inspired, feel part of a community and experience foreign ideas and perspectives for seeing the world.

I’ve also been debating whether or not to do a Kickstarter campaign of my own, like I’ve been recommending to others, to fund a limited edition chapbook printing of my work called ‘Whalebones‘.

I’ve sent out a couple of emails to potential book designers to get an estimate on how much this would cost and how best to present about 30-40 of my poems. So the patrons wouldn’t just be funding the publication of my work but also the work of this other creative individual.

Because my poetry has dealt with my own memories and childhood symbols I think an audience of patrons would be able to identify with the work. I think most of us are on a similar search, digging up moments from our life and trying to make narratives out of them. I think there could be a kind of shared therapy that comes out of reading the poems and then being inspired to write your own.

I’ll keep you updated if I move forward on that.

How to Kickstarter Your Dreams

As a Sundance alumnus, I received an email back in January about a new Sundance-Kickstarter intiative that my lab project is eligible for.

If you haven’t heard of Kickstarter before or aren’t quite sure how it works, some of the basics are covered here. I’ve been following the site for some time now, mystified by the insane success stories like the TikTok Nano Watch that raised nearly a million dollars or the Diaspora social network that exceeded their funding goals by 2000%.

Encouraged by those projects I’ve been offering my help to fellow filmmakers in creating a funding campaign tailored to their project and funding needs.

About a month ago I finally found someone brave enough to take my advice: Sasha Collington, a fellow Binger FilmLab alumnus. She decided to try a Kickstarter campaign to finance her next short film Lunch Date:

I originally planned to write this post as a way to help her get the word out about her campaign. But then she reached her funding goal of $2,100 in less than 48 hours! Since that initial success, Kickstarter featured the project on their homepage which helped skyrocket funding to $5,600!

So instead I’ve decided to write this up as a short case-study to encourage you to try the funding resource yourself and some tips on designing a strong campaign.

I attribute her Kickstarter success to the following reasons:

  1. Even though she is an emerging filmmaker, she has a track record as a storyteller.
  2. The project has a strong team of crew members she’ll be working with whose bio/work she highlights.
  3. A unique pitch video that gives you a sense of the film’s tone and author’s humor in a way that a written description can’t.
  4. A unique set of rewards tailored again for the film’s tone and irony. Some of these rewards, like ebooks, actually extend the story-world of the short film in a crossmedia manner (check my earlier post on crossmedia).
  5. Adequate amount of time for the funding requested.
  6. The campaign was advertised to potential patrons in email-waves: first to her family & friends, and then to her larger network of Facebook contacts as well as those of her fellow crew members.
  7. Original campaign goal wasn’t too greedy, rather the bare minimum that she needs to get the film made. And she honestly spelled out how the money will be spent.
  8. Most importantly, she’s viewing this as one step towards building an audience of patrons who might want to support future projects.
Again, take a look at her page, you might find her example useful and there’s still 3 days to pledge if you’d like to be a part of this unique gem (campaign ended: she raised $5,871!).
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