Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 2 Corinthians 9:6
If you clicked on the link looking for a free gift. You're in the right place. It’s coming, just a few paragraphs further down. In the new ‘free economy’, made possible by the Internet's near-zero distribution costs, learning how to master the business of generosity is a vital part of learning to thrive in the modern world. Hopefully this post will help you on your way to sowing and reaping generously.
Chris Anderson’s excellent book Free opens with a great story of the history of Jell-O, which, for all its current day fame and glory, had a rather ragged start in life. Invented in 1895 by Pearle Wait, a carpenter looking to get into the then-new packaged food business, the product just wouldn't sell, even after Wait’s mould breaking idea of selling powered gelatin fruit flavored and ready to mix (it originally came plain for greater flexibility for the cook). Dejected after 4 years of trying, Wait sold the company lock-stock and barrel to a local businessman, Frank Woodward for $450.
Woodward himself travailed for a further three years to flog Jell-O for all its worth but failed to do so. He was faced with so much unsold stock that he even tried to pass the company on for a measly $35. But then, in 1902, he struck upon the idea that would change everything. With a failing business he knew he couldn't afford to give away his product for free and he couldn't go door to door selling his stock without an expensive license but he struck upon a way to give something away for free that, within a few years, would bring in millions of dollars in annual sales. So what did he give away?
Woodward would hit a town going door to door giving away free Jell-O recipe cookbooks and then target the local stores in town telling them they had better stock up for a coming wave of people looking for ‘America’s most famous desert’ – Jell-O. And it worked every time. Today over 300 million boxes of Jell-O are sold in the US each year.
In organisational psychologist Adam Grant’s new book Give and Take he also highlights the critical importance of a generous nature in creating career success.
'Tis graduation season for high school and college alike (except my high school was weird and went 'til June… and I guess some schools are year round now)… whatever, it's symbolic. I've officially been out of college for four years and I thought about what advice I could share with a new college graduate. But you know, four years isn't an accurate sample size for providing wisdom in the real world. I've got some things but I'm mostly still figuring it out. Ask someone else, and let me know what they say please?
But HIGH SCHOOL grads? Sure, I got this. Eight years since high school means it's been long enough to get some useful thoughts together, but not so long that I've forgotten everything in my old age. It's getting fuzzy and some of the negative stuff has probably been effectively blocked out only to be retrieved by some serious therapy or maybe Ambien. But it's around, at least enough to make this realistic.
Alright, so you're graduating this month. For some ridiculous reason you've decided you want to join our industry. You've also decided that you want to earn a college degree in your pursuit of being a video person. You've got some living plans for the fall, an orientation on your calendar, and you're salivating at the idea of all that freedom that's about to hit you.
Twain Richardson is an Editor who lives in Kingston Jamaica. You may know him on Twitter and #PostChat as @Frame_Reference or through his blog Frame of Reference, where he interviews some of the best editors in the world.
To date, he has published 42 interviews, and he has many more just waiting to be shared. I thought it was high-time to speak with Twain to see what kinds of useful nuggets of information he has extracted from his interviewees and how these interviews have shaped how he edits.
It's an impossible job to cram all this information into one interview, so next time things are rendering you should jump on over to his blog and pick up some tips from your peers. Your time will be rewarded.
What type of projects have you been working on lately?
I've worked on short films, documentaries, television series, corporate videos and promos for a wide variety of clients ranging from broadcast to cable networks. My last couple of projects have been The Wray & Nephew Contender, Magnum Kings & Queens of Dancehall, Digicel Rising Stars, College Lifestyle and The Innovators.
Currently I'm working on Season 3 of The Innovators and Digicel Rising Stars.
This interview series is a fantastic resource for the editing and post community. What got you started?
I've always wanted to do a blog, but I had no idea what to blog about. I realized that there were a lot of blogs about tutorials but none that spoke specifically to or about Editors. I then made the decision to start blogging and the result is a website with some amazing interviews.
After Innocente won an Academy Award, I wrote that one of the big barriers that Indy Filmmakers still face is distributing their work.
This challenge can be broadly be broken down into two components; creating awareness of your film so that people know it exists, and the logistics of getting your film into people's hands (thanks to @TWEAK for commenting on our blog about this).
As I'll examine in more detail below, the logistics are getting easier, but real challenge for most is going to be marketing and generating awareness.
Why Direct Distribution
The traditional route of working with distributors, can take care of both marketing and distribution. When it works, it can work very well. They will craft a PR and marketing strategy, and will also take care of distributing to theaters, broadcasters / cable networks, iTunes, Netflix, or wherever else makes sense through the life-cycle of the film.
Unfortunately, it doesn't always work. Not every release is going to get the same promotional push. Resources are scarce and will be allocated where there seems to be the most promise. This means that many great productions that are picked up by distributors don't get the attention they deserve. It also means that many others don't even get picked up. The net effect is that many people don't see an economic return for their creative efforts.
Some might say that admitting a mistake is weak. In reality, it's a great indicator of a solid, confident editor.
I mean, if you weren't completely confident in your skills, would you tell everyone about that time you did that thing that really screwed you over? Probably not.
I co-host a podcast called The Track Matte Moment, which is a post-production confessional of editors sharing mistakes and the lessons they learned from the mistakes. The podcast is meant to be a learning and cleansing environment. The editor comes on and confesses their post sins, we listen and offer comfort, and listeners gain some knowledge they may not have considered. Surely some will politely decline an invitation to come on the podcast, and to them I say meh, cowards!
Admitting your mistakes is a great skill for an editor to learn. Once you own your mistake, you can truly learn from it and avoid ever making that error (or any related error) again. By being honest about the things we screwed up, we not only help ourselves, but our peers too. You may have wasted 4 hours, but someone else may learn from you and make their deadline.
The worst thing you can do as an editor is try to cover your tracks or blame someone else for an error. If you're in a facility where you have a direct superior, you should come clean to the mistake, briefly apologize, and say what you are doing to fix it. Don't try to hide it or shift blame. I'd say even if it isn't entirely your fault, take care of fixing it first before you ever address the source of the mistake unless it's an on-going issue. There's work to be done, and it's often on a deadline. There's no point in starting a finger-pointing session when post needs to happen.
So come on, if you make a mistake, let people know about it. Maybe not the instant you make it on every occasion, but at some point it might be worth sharing. Nobody believes that you're a flawless editor who never does anything wrong. Come on now, don't kid yourself. The best lessons are learned from the times we screw up!
Have a mistake you want to fess up to? Let me know in the comments, or better yet, on our podcast!
On my morning walk I was struck by a series of ads for a dog walking service. It's interesting, because I'm not a dog owner, nor am I looking to become one.
The thing that resonated with me was how compelling these ads were.
Usually ads on telephone poles look a lot like the one below. Boilerplate, made in a hurry, with tattered little phone numbers to pull off. Price and the details of the service feature prominently.
This one was different because it told the story of Kona, one of the "many happy clients". The ad makes it easy for a prospective client to imagine how happy their dog would be heading out for a daily walk with Oh My Dog.
Rather than chewing up shoes and pining for its owner, the dog would be running free through the park with its favorite toy. Plus, it would be learning proper dog manners. Could there be a better way to treat man's best friend?
Beneath the surface, this advertisement does a great job of taping into the emotions of dog owners as they go through the buying process. How many of them feel guilty about leaving their dog behind each day, or how many worry that their dog is pacing around the house waiting for them to come home (rather than the more likely reality of them sleeping peacefully on the sofa they aren't allowed on).
With Oh My Dog's service they don't need to worry about any this. It's like their dog is going to a better place each day. Nothing like leaving your pooch with someone that may do a better job caring for it than you will. It's clear that this dog walker knows their customer and their emotional state as they go through the purchase process
3 Lessons from Successful Creatives on How to be More Productive
1. Create a routine and follow it
In a recent interview for Fast Co Create, David S Goyer a writer and director best known for penning of The Dark Knight Trilogy, Man of Steel and Call of Duty Black Ops shared some insights into how he is able to be so rigorously productive in such demanding creative fields:
When I started out, I would work on only one thing [at a time] but as the years have progressed—I’ve been working professionally for 26 years—I’ve developed an ability to multitask, and I like it. I like moving from one thing to another on any given day. I can work on four different projects. I [block out the time]; I’m very rigorous that way. I find that a lot of the more successful, creative people I admire are rigorous about the work; they treat it as a job. So I say, ‘From 9 to 11 I’m going to work on Man of Steel. From 11 to 1, I’m going to work on Da Vinci, then I’m going take an hour for lunch and get back to it. And I pretty much stick to it.
Building a schedule that will serve you is a really important part of being able to maintain creativity day after day, year after year. Routines allow you to develop a rhythm that will be not only be sustainable over the long run but help fix you into a pattern of creativity. Your routine will become a series of triggers that will coerce you into getting down to work. Novelist Haruki Murakami has built a personal routine that has carried him through 27 years of award winning writing:
When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at 4:00 am and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for 10km or swim for 1500m (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at 9:00 pm. I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind.
Video production is a collaborative effort. Whether you are a client, a producer, or an editor, providing feedback to others is part of the game.
This post is meant to be a cheat sheet that you can share with clients. Giving them guidelines on how to give feedback effectively will improve project communication and will make your life easier. While it's written with clients in mind, there may be some tips in here that could also be helpful for pros when it comes time to share your opinions with others.
Please feel free to take this post, adapt it, and share it with others. If you have any tips that I've missed, let me know what you would add, so that I can update this and share.
Relate feedback to the objectives of the project
Think back to the beginning of the project and the objectives that you agreed upon. What was the wording in the creative brief? What did you discuss in terms of tone, mood, pace, style? Your notes from the pre-production phase of the project will be helpful here, so that you can check how elements of the video align with the initial vision.
When you provide feedback, make sure that you tie it back to these objectives. If the production is a recruitment video for a university, you want to keep asking yourself if this video is going to get students to apply to your school? If an element in the video doesn't work, it's much more helpful to express your concerns in terms of how they line up to the overall project goals than it is to frame them as more abstract stylistic points.
By relating all of your feedback to the goals of the project, it becomes much easier to keep personal preferences from getting in the way of providing great feedback.
Review the video through the lens of your target audience
If you are the target audience for the video that's awesome. It makes life much easier.
Often you aren't the target, so you are going to have to put yourself in their shoes. Look at it through the lens of the target demographic. If you don't think something is going to work for your target market, you will want to explain why.
I shouldn't have to wait 6 hours to upload and share a trailer cut with a director.
That's what I said to myself at 2AM, while I was waiting for Vimeo to process my file. I wanted to pass my editor's cut to Josh before I went to bed because his schedule would allow him to provide feedback while I was asleep. We wanted to get the trailer out as soon as possible. This wasn't helping.
The trailer was for The Impersonators, a comedy feature film directed by Joshua Hull. It had wrapped a couple weeks earlier, and I had turned around a teaser in time for Labor Day Weekend. Still being early in the process, there were things in the post workflow that were being worked out. One of those things was sending screeners and previews to Josh for feedback. While we're both in Indiana, he's close to an hour away from my apartment. He was also on an opposite work schedule from me, and I was cutting at night anyway. There simply wasn't much, if any, time to get together for reviews. I was uploading previews to him, and he would be watching them mostly on mobile devices -- Android phone, iPhone, iPad. Rarely a desktop.
So I tried Vimeo a couple of times. I liked that I could password protect it. Even though it was optimized for their player, the playback was terrible on his end, particularly on the Android phone. He had to wait to watch until he could find an iOS device. And this was if Vimeo even bothered to upload the file.
We like talking with video pros — editors, producers, VFX shops, colorists, distributors, pretty much anyone working with digital video. Doing so has allowed us to get an idea of both the diversity of the video production that gets done as well as the diversity of those involved in production and post-production. With a service like ScreenLight, having customers that range from the solo freelancer to the in house video department of a large corporation means that we need to come up with price plans to meet their differing budgets while still ensuring that we cover our costs.
As a young company ourselves, we understand the challenges of running a new business and the trade-off of putting in long hours of hard work now with the hope that we can build something that will hopefully pay us back sometime down the road. We also often come across services that while clearly useful, are priced out of our budget. If our only cost was the $49/mo. being asked for some service, then that wouldn't be a problem. The problem is that you never just need one of these services and signing up for all of them is a sure way to come up short at month's end.