Topics » “Et Cetera”

A Letter to People Who Work @ Companies

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Dear People who work at companies,

We write the jokes.  We write your music.  We start the companies that fail, but sometimes succeed.  We produce your reality [television].     WE are the people who take the chances.  We also in most cases have to go it alone.  We ARE the CREATIVE MINORITY.

YET– We, together, have virtually no special representation in government.   We are taxed more.  We don’t have an interest group.

We DO have power though.  We’re the ones that step out of line.  We know how to write the jokes.  We know how to effect your minds through imagery.  When we DO get together you notice things, but just like atheists, we tend to not all pray to the same god (or any god at all).  As the ones who may not even realize our powers of manipulation, those of us who do are often afraid to use them for our own purposes because we think its tacky.  We CREATE things.  Without us– nothing new.  Yes Jesus himself started out this way.

This is the Creative Minority.

So when Bill Clinton said that Obama should honor his repeated commitments to let us keep our health insurance, and mentioned the young people involved here– let me put more of a face on this issue.

In my past, I have clearly supported Barack Obama.  I worked on his 08′ campaign.  I even openly and early (when it counted because I had something to lose) warned President Obama that the people he was “paling around with” on technology were not inclusive of the best of us from that era.   This type of risk, at best made the people that circle him act weird to me, at worst, privately try to destroy the progress we genuinely tried to create.  I believe Obama when he says they didn’t tell him the website was busted– they are good at covering their tracks while not doing things, I’m only sorry that it may have just undermined the central argument of liberalism for a generation, that the government can DO things:

So My insurance was canceled.  I was incredibly happy with my plan.  I had over $200k in medical bills in February because of a ‘surfing accident’(I know its not like I had cancer) – it cost me $6000 out of pocket and I paid only $139 a month.   This was a fucking AMAZING plan.

In the new plan that’s ‘better for me’ because I was getting ripped off somehow with the old one, my premiums more than doubled.  Services I didnt think should be covered like acupuncture were(no offense to accupuncture, I’d just rather pay out of pocket, its cheaper!), other things were cut, like the size of my network of doctors.  I was willing to deal with this when I got the notice two months ago.     The Media which doesn’t really mediate anymore but follows SHINY OBJECTS didnt report on the cancellations back then.  THEY are being PLAYED right now.

I have spoken to two groups of friends in this market of which I clearly have many.   There are those of us who, like myself, are good soldiers and are willing to pay more to help other people get health care and remove the pre-existing condition even if it means we’re the ones shouldering the costs yet again.  Then there are others who rightfully are pissed off or in denial about what’s going on with them.  The website fix won’t help this, the information is actually out there for those who want to find it.  When they find it, you can’t just tell them they’re wrong.

What bothers me is not this increase.  It bothers me when they try to belittle this meager 5% of the population of several million people(we’re roughly larger than the proper populations of NYC, LOS ANGELES, CHICAGO & SF put together).  We exist.  We shoulder a lot of things and don’t complain about them, or threaten any politicians.  We don’t start campaigns to purely help ourselves.   We continue to take risks for ALL of society because that’s the way we do things.

It would be nice if they kept their word on letting us keep what we had.  We were the good ones who HAD health insurance and paid our bills. But what would be better is they didn’t openly & continually shit on us like we don’t matter as they try to get out of their self-made political problems.   It’s offensive.

Thanks.

Obvious Places have Obvious Faces

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Part one in a long series on Obvious Faces and their Obvious Places.. 

I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked at some very popular, well known places– AT TIMES when they were reaching the peak of something.  Most of the time I had very little directly to do with these moments– but the truth is, most of the people around me didn’t either.

For ABC News (I’m picking on this one now its an E-Z target, but clearly Obama’s 2008 campaign was incredibly obvious, but its obvious issues are still being played out) — for my generation, I fashioned myself as someone who at least gave a fuck about the specifics of the history of that institution, with most of its mandate was derived from a Three Channel Era and nice brown hair-dos.  It came from a time & place when even in third place, they garnered recognition by default and you could not avoid knowing them.

The way people got jobs there when I started there about 10 years ago this month, was not often based on talent, but because either they knew someone or were related to someone or they interned there, based on being known by someone, coming from a really known place or being related to someone known– the obvious ivy league was big then(I dont think its a place those obvious graduates would bother much with anymore).  This employment process and particularly the process for advancing your career at that place produced the results we see today of an institution that even when they put all their smoke together all at the same time has a hard time making a cloud anyone would notice on their own block.

ABC News, in its time, was an obvious place.  A household name of all household names!  In certain parlance an OMGAA place!

It was easy to find.  A Paul Rand Logo to boot!  It wasn’t where you would really find anything interesting going on.  And normally, once a place is that obvious there really isn’t much further upwards it can go (google sounds like this to me, in some cases its worse because of the implied expectations for greatness, at the end of the day, even people @ ABC in its day knew they were often “SSTM” or “Shoveling Shit to Mules”).

Obvious places attract obvious faces.  They have great PR departments because they are the ones who can obviously afford them.  And the faces they attract, if they had less obvious things to do, they still wouldn’t go to those places because those dark things are scary.  A lot of an obvious person’s self worth, whether it be from society, nature or nurture, is tied into being OBVIOUS.

This is all well and good and the obvious people wouldn’t be a problem if they didn’t enforce the OBVIOUS so hard core and in doing so, prevent more obvious places from being created out of obscurity so they can have more places to work at, defend, be proud of and utterly ruin(thus the cycle of life and capitalistic economic concerns).

They can also really become a problem when their obvious place is really obviously wrong, such as the SS during World War II(oh but they didn’t know it was so bad @ the time).  By nature, the obvious faces tend to make it harder to see the truth at all costs.  They’re so well invested in these places, they’ll ignore just about anything to keep things obvious!

We’ll go into this further about what happens at a COOL PLACE, when the obvious people show up (well there isn’t much further to go into there, its time for you to leave!).  Obvi.!

 

NEW NARROW SHOW: Just In Time For Easter!

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

By now, probably most of you are all sick and tired by now of hanging out with your families. The judgements, the awkward silences, the chore of having to figure out relatively benign things to do together?

The good news is, you won’t have to do it again until the spring! You have the long cold winter, the anticipation of the uncelebrated holiday of January 23rd, known as the ‘most depressing day of the year’, when all your holiday shopping credit card bills are due!

Fortunately, considering how long it takes us to make these Narrow Show’s, its egg references will be somewhat seasonally relevant for a good 4 months! Did we plan this on purpose–of course not– further there’s no Easter reference directly whatsoever! The truth is, we never really know when these things are coming, but since we’ve got this one out before the big EGG Holiday we hope you’ll enjoy it over and over again over some Cadbury Creme Eggs(which should be out now already?)

The Narrow Show: Egg, Cicada, Secada

From the entire Schmooru Community, thanks for a GREAT YEAR!

Schmooru Network Breaks Top 5 of All Youtube Partners!

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Last week, schmooru, through our network of independent distribution partners took the #4 spot on Comscore’s listing of youtube partner channels by unique viewers. What this means is after 2 and half years in the trenches–with no bags of money or Hollywood connections, the little network that could, built up by a community of professional creatives is breaking through.

What makes us even more proud, is the programming we’ve been able to distribute over our network. For instance, since its inception, our Art as Life project, inspired by the continental philosophies of Martin Heidegger, with the intention of bringing art to the masses, has been viewed over 30 million times.

Ask Dr. Esther’s midwestern mental health series has covered serious topics ranging from Depression, Marital Infidelity, How to Find True Love and of course, How to Have Good Sex, among others!

Basically, what we’re saying here is, along with the help of our viewer community, we’ve been able to get this hard fought #4 spot–beating out some serious players & interests, through hard work and doing it our way. We consider this email list our ‘inner circle’ & we thank you for your ongoing support.

We’re not finished yet, in fact–we’re just getting started. In time for Christmas expect an All New Narrow Show on the “Incredible Edible Egg” & Dr. Esther explains how to get out of the closet.

RATED: What Would Ralph Nader Do?

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

It was the 2000 Presidential Debate at Washington University in St. Louis. The match up, Al Gore’s ‘lock box’ Vs. George W. Bush ‘compassionate conservatism’. Protestors occupied the baseball field across from the Field House–before there was anything to really protest about.

I was the guy in charge of WUTV– the campus television station and this was the biggest thing that ever happened to me. We had wall to wall coverage, analysis– and yes a SCANDAL! Ralph Nader wanted to get into those debates. Now I don’t know whether he should have been allowed to debate or not–some blame RALPH for deep sixing Gore. All I know is we had extra tickets, and we’re able to get people next to the field house to interview them as part of our extensive WUTV coverage (playing closed circuited only on campus–but maybe CNN was watching?).

The end of the story is, we got Ralph Nader tickets to get to his interview with WUTV and as soon as he showed up, he was prevented from coming on campus. I haven’t spoke publicly about this until now–our shenanigans were mostly overshadowed by the Governor of the State of Missouri dying in a plane crash earlier that morning.

What I can tell you is that Ralph Nader got us all the seat belt which is RATED on this new installment of RATED (and I think maybe he should have stopped there).

Al Gore Time Machine

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Many people may not know this, however, quite a few do– that Al Gore in many respects is the inspiration upon which our community of creatives was founded. Many of us have worked directly for an Al Gore concern, and so, in making this new series, something I consider to be a tragic comedy, we are not doing so to add to the pile of deprecation on this heavily misunderstood man.

This deprecation, in many respects is a contribution to a larger problem.

Al Gore Time Machine is a story about a man who finds himself at the precipice of history time and time again, with the opportunity to make something happen, only to fail at the last minute, attributed to poor taste or judgement.

If you look at Al Gore’s life and accomplishments, it is actually much more tragic than this– with very few laugh lines. He has brought the world’s attention to the encroaching climate crisis only to stop short of any systemic change, he won the presidency of the United States & an in our corner of the woods, he came up with an idea similar to Yotube before Youtube was hatched–mostly in reaction to the media that traumatizes him, while failing to seize the true opportunity due to a paranoia developed from his enemies who he’s allowed to define and consume him.

We’ve all seen those moments of greatest in Al– the times when he’s said something that’s clicked when it appeared as though he was presenting himself as himself. That’s really all anyone ever wanted from him. And time and time again he’s let his enemies define him to the public– and instead of doubling down on the person he really is, a true visionary in many respects especially when you consider where he came from.

In many respects, Al may, without his knowing, be ahead of the times once again. We all hope that the new movements taking to the streets throughout the world is the true visualization of a democratized, leaderless media. If we are to enter into a post-leader era, one where we don’t have to rely on the personal deficiencies of otherwise productive people, we all may be better to seize these historic moments.

The responsibility won’t rest on Al’s wide shoulders to direct a movement he started to its full and total completion.

I hope that becomes the case. I think Al probably does too.

In closing, this is not a partisan hackery job here. We are working up a similar series call “Dick & Don Time Machine” — a story about a tragic duo that travels back in time to make the world a more terrible place based on their own paranoia around self preservation. Compared to those fascinating trwerps at least it seemed like Al was trying to make things better for all living creatures, not just his own tribe at all costs and “go fuck yourself” to the rest (an argument could be made for Dick & Don, of course, that they were just trying to keep things real).

Until then, green power to the people.

Schmooru of the Month- Steve Ogden

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

Hi Steve, thank you for taking the time to talk with Schmooru.

Are you aware that there is a Steve Ogden in Texas who is a member of the Texas Senate?

Yes, it’s unfortunate. Almost as much so as the MTV stuntman I share a nickname with.

If you answered yes, how many times a day do you google your self?

Hmmm. Not in a long time, let’s see… Yikes! Damn you Senator!

Your design reel is really impressive, how did you first get started working with After Effects?

We touched on it a bit in school, but I think it was when I saw the film titling of Kyle Cooper (Se7en) that I got excited about motion and really dug into After Effects myself.

Are you self taught?

Yeah I guess mostly self taught in terms of After Effects itself, but I’m super appreciative of my design education at CCA. It was more about concept and the creative and visual aspects than the tools.

You say on your website “I’m big on stylistic non-monogamy” Stylistic Non-Monogamy could be the title of an article in the New Yorker. . . what do you mean by this? Break it down for us.

Hmm, you’re right. I think I’ll reword that. How about ‘versatility of style’. Basically I’m just saying that… because I tend to approach design problems from a strategic, concept-driven angle, rather than a stylistic or trend-based angle, it has forced me to learn to work in more and more new styles, rather than ‘sticking to what I know’, or using some new effect I got, just because it’s cool.  I first think about the message, the audience, the delivery, and then propose visual directions that work well toward those goals.

3D technology in the past few years has grown from professional use to consumer, with 3D televisions, video cameras. . . .etc. Is this technology really here to stay or is it all hype?

It’s definitely not all hype, but it will be interesting to see how it goes. I started doing a lot more stereoscopic work, even for corporate videos and documentaries. I initially thought of stereoscopic as an adrenalin thing, and scoffed at the idea of talking heads, yakking on about this or that “IN 3D!”, but I realized it really does put you closer to the subject and can even make pretty boring information more interesting. It won’t go as quickly the SD to HD shift though – every aspect of stereoscopic work takes a bit of knowledge and skill, it’s not just a switch on the camera. So it’ll take some time, and the technology will continue to morph, and the silly glasses are a big downside.

It’s interesting because a lot of your work has a humanitarian edge to it, do you have a preference in the type of client you work with?

The majority of my clients are probably corporate and entertainment, but I try to show-off more of the do-gooder stuff, because that’s the work I feel best about and that I’d like to get more of. Also that strategy-based thing I mentioned, and my passion for the visual-communication, comes into play with that kind of work. I like working on projects with an actual message more than something that’s just applying the latest design trend to a cliché ad blurb.

Your house is on fire, you have five minutes to grab your belongings, what do you grab?

My fire extinguishers. I have several.
If that fails, my cat, my RAID drives with all my work, and a couple paintings.

You worked a lot with the Obama 08 campaign, can you talk a little about that?

It was kinda like summer camp, except working 16 hours and drinking at bars for most of the rest. Lots of really smart people with very different backgrounds than me. Lots of bonding and camaraderie and the hourly emotional roller-coaster that came along with the latest poll or headline. I designed and animated a lot of little special purpose web videos, like for specific constituencies. I got to co-direct a couple bigger projects that got a lot of play, and that felt good. The interesting thing is how it changed my perspective on politics, I gained a certain patience and tolerance for it. There are so many people with so many different views, even within your own party, it’s like why draw lines around parties in the first place?  As much as I disagree with the way things are, I started to feel like they’re exactly how they are supposed to be, at this moment in civilization.

What advice to you have to aspiring graphic design/after affect gurus?

Hmm, it might sound kinda harsh, but I guess I’d say, if they’re really into the animation/after effects aspect, become an animator, there’s plenty of work and you’ll be valued as a specialist who knows their tools. If they’re really into the design aspect, become a designer, It’s competitive, so be inspired, passionate, dedicated and patient. If you really want to do both, prepare to put in the extra hours for the first few years.

To see Steve Ogden’s work, check out steveo.tv

Schmooru Of the Month- Mimi Cave

Friday, June 24th, 2011

Meet our Schmooru of the Month — Mimi Cave: Director, Yoga master, Dancer and all-around awesome girl. We are happy to have in our community!

Your last name is Cave, that’s rad. (not a question, just a statement- but feel free to respond).

I like my last name because it always reminds me of my dad, an amazing human being. I carry it with pride.

Your work is such an eclectic mix, from performance art to rockband to zen’d out Yogi … what’s your secret to keeping the balance in all this?

Um, I don’t think I’m too calculated about my approach to things so everything I do is very new. Projects are never the same and so each one brings new excitement, disappoint, and energy. What I’m really trying to say though is Humor and Yoga. Good tools for balance.

You studied at Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts Center in Colorado, it seems your focus was all about dance, when / how did you cross over into the film world?

Seemed like a natural shift in college, however I always wish I was performing more. I feel like myself the most when I’m on stage. Performing is more thrilling because you’re in the moment and no matter what happens, when it’s over, it’s over. For me, Film provides another vehicle of expression and an opportunity to mess with time. So, I love both and still feel very connected to both.

Let’s talk about the tUnE-yArDs music video you just Directed and Produced. Did you come up with the concept?

Yes but it evolved with each person that entered into the collaboration. There’s a little glimpse of everyone’s psyche in it.

Can you tell us a little bit more about directing the video?

It was very fun and continually inspiring. I was fortunate enough to work with a lot of good friends and people that have since become good friends. We had a few challenges throughout the process but nothing major. We were all determined to make it great… a testament to Merrill’s music.

What was it like working with all those kids?

Great. Exhausting, but great.

Will the world end in 2012?

Of course.

As a filmmaker what evokes more validation, landing a commercial gig or having a video blow up in the blogsphere and gain half a million hits. What feels better?

Neither, actually. The aftermath is less satisfying than when you’re actually in the chaos, making decisions that somehow find their way out of your mouth, working with talented people, and seeing your strange visualizations come to life before your eyes.

People always think if you want to be in the “industry” you have to be in LA, but you live in beautiful San Francisco, tell us about the film community there?

There are really talented folks here and in LA. I believe that where you live does influence what you do and how you do it, but you can make it work a lot of different places. You have to find a community that inspires you and lay down some roots. LA has a lot more opportunities in the industry but is also a lot more cut-throat from what I’ve been told. Personally, I live in San Francisco because I like walking to where I’m going and seeing familiar faces. Plus, it’s the City of Love.

And the hippie scene?

Did you say burrito scene? Yes, go to Papalote for the fish burrito or Faralito for a late-night super burrito. Wash either down with a house margarita from Velvet Cantina. All within a 3 block radius.

Last time you rode a cable car?

June 10th

How do you have 5 different “jobs” and stay sane?

Busyness tends to keep me sane. I often feel more calm the more I have going on and if there’s idle time I sort of lose it. However, I’m feel like I’m starting to appreciate simplicity more and more. Too much is too much and eventually you’re left with zero energy. Slowing down sometimes is key.

What advice do you have for folks who want to do it all, be the teacher, the producer and the student?

If you find yourself in a situation where you don’t know what you’re doing, speak up and ask for help. The gray area between inexperience and overconfidence is large, so just make sure you clarify your intentions no matter what role your in and always show humility. As for fear of failure, it’s not a question of if you will fail but how you will handle it when you do. Everyone fails, but not everyone can brush it off. Ego is a bitch.

Mimi Cave’s website: littlecaveofwonders.com

Meet Tyler Manson — Our Schmooru of the Month

Monday, May 16th, 2011

I met up with the most radical dude, Tyler Manson, a director whose range of work from surf films to commercials is sure to impress. I asked, and he answered.

When you first started working in this industry what was your biggest concern about “making it”? What the hell does “making it” mean anyways?
To be honest, I don’t think I realized I was a member of “the industry” until fairly recently. I’ve always felt like an outsider, and I think that might be my strength, so don’t blow my cover. I just enjoyed making short films and that led into commercial directing in a very random and organic way. I don’t think I’ve “made it” by any means, but “making it” probably means being able to do whatever you want and enjoy the process.

What is your spirit animal?
I have no damn idea.

You did a pretty rad show for VICE, can you talk a little about that and what it was like to be able to create content for VICE?
I really enjoyed making Hi Shredability. It was a time in my life that was free and full of discovery. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but was surrounded by interesting people willing to open up to me and share a sliver of their world each week. VICE is always leagues ahead of the rest, and I’ll always be a big fan of their work. Especially their international reporting.

Did you choose this career path or did it choose you?
I was just a kid making skate and surf films and it led to the commercial world, so I guess it chose me. I’m pretty oblivious to be honest and I don’t really think of myself as a commercial director. I’m still the guy just making movies, but now a few more people watch them. I guess I just do what I do and the rest comes. I’m open to happy accidents.

As a director and collaborating with different folks all the time, what do think is the most important thing when working with other creative people?
Filmmaking is 100% a collaborative art, so the most important thing is having a strong POV and not compromising. I’ve slowly been growing my gang, and I now have a go-to group of creative people that I admire and trust.

You collaborate a lot with all kinds of characters, who are some of your favorite people you have worked with?
Thomas Campbell took me under his wing at an early age and for that I’ll be forever grateful. Lately my DoP Joseph Aguirre has been a huge collaborator and creative partner as well.

Kim Jong-il invades America and takes all photo and video equipment away, you have one contraband camera…what is it?
Alexa.

New York Pizza or California Burrito?
New York Pizza.

It seems like you’ve always done it your way. What advice do you have for aspiring directors who don’t want to compromise?
I’ve made more compromises than I’d like to admit, but I guess just do what makes you happy. The creative is and will always be more powerful than the paycheck. It’s all about the idea.


Tyler’s work can be seen here: http://www.tylermanson.com/ (and you most definitely should check it out!)

SXSW — Friday Recap

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

Despite it being the first full week of Daylight Saving Time, the days here at SXSW are getting progressively shorter while the nights grow much, much longer. The Austin sunshine wasn’t doing much to help my throbbing headache yesterday, so I ducked into the Alamo theatre for a screening of the new Foo Fighters documentary. I must admit, I was a huge fan of this band when I was 16, but lost interest after their first album. I had absolutely no clue they had grown into one of the biggest bands in the world (the clips of their Wembley Stadium concert are borderline ridiculous). Dave Grohl comes across at times very charming and sincere, but I left the film with the prevailing feeling that this is a guy that made cutthroat decisions against, perhaps, his own moral compass in the pursuit of mega-stardom. (more…)