Here is Part 2 of our Videoblogs Monologues project. As a refresher, this side-project is being being produced in order to illustrate what we’re aiming to do not only with The Videoblogs but also “Phase 2” of our project. Basically, we’re trying to contribute to a greater dialogue on mental health, while also advocating for the positive use of technology for personal expression.
At the same time, we’re looking to collaborate with other writers and performers to just make stuff 🙂
Writing in with a quick informational update on The Videoblogs — this time to do with casting!
There are three main characters in the film, and today we’re excited to introduce you to the wonderful (and wonderfully talented) actress Phoebe Allegra, who will be playing Vee, a young college student struggling to survive her last years at home before striking out on her own in New York City.
Phoebe delivered a powerful couple of audition scenes during casting, particularly at her callback, when the room got quiet after her performance. Possibly some tears were shed.
So, obviously, Rebecca and I are really looking forward to working with Phoebe. More info about her career to this point appears below.
Please join us in welcoming Phoebe to the team! You can also follow her on Twitter here.
Phoebe Allegra is a young actress currently based in New York City. Born and raised in the small town of Pell City, Alabama, she is your typical small town girl with a big city dreams and heart. Singing before she could talk and dancing before she could walk, Phoebe was consumed with dreams of performing while being influenced every weekend with marathons of Turner Classic Movie Channel, movie musicals such as Doris Days’ By The Light of the Silvery Moon, Shirly Temple’s Curly Top, and Debbie Allen & Phylisha Rashaad’s, Polly.
After graduating from high school, Phoebe enrolled in the University of Alabama’s Theatre Department where she was finally free to study and explore her acting dreams both in school and in community theatre. While still a student at UA, she got her chance at her first leading theatrical role as Mamie Till, in William Bradford Huie’s: Voice of the Voiceless at the BAMA Theatre. After completing her studies and performing in shows such as Big River and City of Angels, Phoebe graduated from UA a semester early and hit the ground running, moving to Los Angeles just two weeks later in January of 2012. Eager to begin her career, she studied film and TV acting techniques at Krater Studios and Brian Reise Studios, and landed roles in indie short films such as “Beachwood Kids” and the webseries “My Roommate the..(Gleek). However, NYC quickly came knocking on the door, and last year she moved to NYC to explore and take on its opportunities. Recently, Phoebe was cast in the feature film The Videoblogs written by Michael DiBiasio, and cannot wait to begin working with such an awesome cast and crew.
We at The Videoblogs are so grateful to everyone who has contributed to our campaign, who has shared links, who has watched Multiverse — the list goes on. We are truly humbled by the great early start we’ve had.
Here’s what happened this week, in case you missed any of it:
1. We kicked off. In style. We were fortunate enough to be able to kick off The Videoblogs by screening Multiverse for 50+ supporters at a sponsored event at the beautiful Crosby Street Hotel Screening room. Many thanks to our gracious host for her support. More photos here.
2. We raised 20% of our goal in our first week. I cannot thank our supporters enough for this. As I have been stating, 80% of campaigns that accomplish this feat go on to success. There’s still a long way ahead, but our early adopters have given us a great gift in terms of moving forward — momentum. THANK YOU.
3. I was forced by our supporters to Rick Roll myself (and Facebook). Earlier this week, I challenged our early contributors to help us get to 10% funded, throwing in the added “bonus” that I would release an embarrassing video on social media if we hit 15%. Unfortunately for me, they delivered.
4. Our cat spoke insolently to Seed&Spark Founder and CEO Emily Best, as well as to Director of Crowdfunding Erica Anderson. We were forced to issue apologies. These were our first two Four Legged Videoblogs (see the campaign for more info) with four more to follow soon. I hope our dog Zelda is nicer to our friends.
5. We had out first public screening, along with Amy Seimetz’s SUN DON’T SHINE, at the Encore Indie Film Showcase in Portland. Reports indicate that it went well (see below). The Q&A portion of the evening, which I participated in over Skype, was also a lot of fun. Many thanks to Encore and to Jason de Parrie-Turner and the Clinton Street Theater for having us.
6. We released our first video for our crowdsourced Videoblogs Monologues project. There will be three additional entries. These are being produced as samples of what we’re looking to do with “Phase 2” of this overall initiative to contribute to a greater dialogue on mental health and the positive use of technology for personal expression. More here.
So, yeah, it’s been a busy week — full of awesome. Wouldn’t have happened without all of you, and, because of that…
I’m excited to share this with you so let’s jump straight into it.
As many of you know from our pitch video for The Videoblogs, we’re not only making the film in launching this project.
We’re also working to set up “Phase 2” of this overall initiative to engage in a greater dialogue on mental health, the use of communications technology for personal expression, and related topics. Just helping people work up the confidence to speak more openly about difficult issues (or issues American’s aren’t typically comfortable talking about) would mean the world to us, when all is said and done. That’s where “Phase 2” comes in.
We owe a debt of gratitude to Gary Chou at Orbital NYC for helping us arrive at the idea of “Phase 2”. Over the span of a meeting and some follow-up emails, Gary encouraged Rebecca and I to think about how we could do something different that also fell in line with our intentions for the project. In short, he challenged us to take a wider look at what was possible on the practical and tactile side of sparking a greater dialogue, other than making the film and putting it out there. In the end, we decided the best thing to do was to combine an effort at outreach and collaboration with an offer to “pay it forward”.
Hence, “Phase 2”. Which works like this:
Shortly after we wrap production on The Videoblogs, we will design a simple user-generated YouTube video contest for young Americans in the age range of 18-24
Basic guidelines for submission will be focused on performing and producing an original, short, fiction or non-fiction videoblog that deals with a difficult subject, a mental health issue, etc. Ideally, at the same time, there would be a touch of hopefulness to the narrative of the short piece.
Once the entry period has ended, we will post selected semi-finalists to our YouTube channel. Then there will be a voting period, which will produce a list of finalists.
When we have our finalists, a jury made up of myself, Rebecca, high-level donors from our Seed&Spark campaign, and hopefully also a few guest judges — will then select three winners.
Rebecca and I will mentor the winners in the production of their own short film centered on issues of mental health and the use of technology for personal expression. We will also lend them the small equipment package we will be using to shoot The Videoblogs
Whenever possible, we will screen the resultant short ahead of The Videoblogs, perhaps also including it in future distribution. Either way, we’ll continue to support the filmmakers and their work.
But that’s not (exactly) what today’s post, and/or The Videoblog Monologues, is about.
In recognition of the fact that it may be initially daunting to open up on camera, and/or to build momentum and to provide examples while embracing the collaborative spirit of our entire endeavor — we decided to crowdsource some “Phase 2” samples by reaching out to our network for help.
And that worked spectacularly.
Some of you may have seen (or shared, or answered) the Call for Writers I posted last month. Well, we got a nice batch of submissions, and we selected four one-page monologue scripts that we agreed to produce and distribute online in exchange for the writer’s permission to use their work for the aforementioned purpose.
Starting TODAY, we will be releasing one Videoblog Monologue per week, for the next month. Each video will continue to live on our YouTube channel along with Multiverse, our Four Legged Videoblogs, and other content.
Rebecca and I are proud to announce that we have been in preproduction on our first feature film, The Videoblogs, since June.
We’re currently crowfunding for the minimum amount of funds we need to pay for things like food, insurance, hard drives, etc. Everything else is being done in accordance with a bootstrapped experimental production model that I will write about in more detail soon.
Finally, we could sure use your help spreading the word. Friend me and Rebecca on Facebook, if we aren’t friends already. Follow us on Twitter (me here, her here).
If you can help financially, that would be wonderful, too. Every little bit makes a big difference. And there are plenty of cool perks to donating, like advanced copies of the film — or a personal videoblog from our cat or dog.
But, honestly, if you like our pitch — it would provide a huge boost if you could share the project with your nearest and dearest. Since you seem to like us (at least a little bit) our hope is that maybe a few of them will like us, too.
Here are sample messages you can copy and paste in seconds:
Share on Facebook!
Check out #VideoblogsFilm, an #indie feature about a struggling young woman whose life takes a surprise turn when a troubled teen finds her private video journal. Now funding on Seed&Spark! Incentives for contributing include advanced access to the film and vlogs from animals! http://bit.ly/1pvk1ct
Oh. And, also, since you’re so cool, feel free to watch our recently completed short film, Multiverse, for free. Right. Now. Hope you like it.
Share Multiverse on Facebook!
Check out #Multiverse, a creepy #scifi #drama about a reclusive young woman braves a night out in NYC and is confronted by an increasingly isolating series of strange events. The team behind it is crowdfunding their first feature on Seed&Spark! http://bit.ly/1nu5v7W
Thank you, sincerely, for your time and any help in spreading the word!
UPDATE: Thank you to everyone who helped spread the word (and to all who expressed interest). We’re no longer looking to fill these positions.
Hi, again, everyone. Rebecca and I are once more on the lookout for some help, and since you all have been very helpful so far with referrals for our as yet unannounced project, I thought I would try asking around here and via social media before we go the old fashioned route in terms of filling the positions mentioned in the title of this post.
Details below. Any questions, please feel free to ask. If you’re interested or know someone who might be interested, please contact me via Twitter, FB, or via this site.
Finally, in the interests of transparency, these are (basically) low-no pay positions. I wish they weren’t, but we’ll do what we can to repay the favor of any friends of friends who have the skills to help out for a day or two and wouldn’t mind giving us a hand.
Event Photographer Needed for Evening of 7/18 (NYC)
We’re looking for someone to take candid shots during a programmed presentation and while mingling in the crowd before and after the presentation. The hours would be from about 6:45PM to 9:00PM on 7/18.
Ideally, candidates will have some experience with this type of photography, and their own equipment.
As per usual, unfortunately, we have very little available in terms of budget. We’re definitely asking for a favor, which would be returned in the form of future paid work (if/when we have other gigs and more of a budget), referrals and public praise.
That being said, if you’re a pro and are perhaps interested, feel free to contact us with a proposed modest fee in mind for the use of your equipment and for processing. You’d also be free to enjoy the event as you are able, in between snapping shots.
Graphic Artist Needed for Quick Photoshop Job (NYC, Remote Possible)
We’re also looking for a decently experienced graphic artist. I can’t yet release the full details of what we need done in terms of the gig, but the ideal candidate will have experience with layering and basic visual effects work in addition to general photo editing skills.
The artist would need to be available to complete this work by 7/19 or 7/20, after delivery of assets on 7/18. I can provide more specific details to interested applicants.
As with the photographer role, we’re unfortunately very limited in terms of budget. We would return the favor with future paid work (if/when we have other gigs and more of a budget), referrals and public praise. This project may also provide you with some interesting work samples for your portfolio.
Again, if you’re interested and could be persuaded to perform this work for a modest, flat fee, please don’t hesitate to apply.
This job would probably go more smoothly if the eventual artist were based in NYC, but remote work could be possible.
That’s what it feels like, much of the time, right? Whether we’re (seemingly) safe and comfortable, or (seemingly) dangling over a precipice between survival and some (perceived) point of no return — it can feel that way, right? Us against chaos. We’re biologically conditioned to expect it.
For me, I’m learning that this natural reaction can be tempered, that there are perhaps different types of instinct, other than the one that’s always prepared for chaos. A conscious voice and an unconscious one, at minimum. I don’t pretend to always know which should be listened to at any given moment. I think probably it depends on circumstance and on how far each of us is willing to go in the direction of either abandonment or control.
This most recent non-committal point reminds me of the filmmaking process. If filmmaking is anything, in my opinion, it is a dance between abandonment and control.
In crafting recorded narratives, and even in viewing and consuming them, we play god. This is a point that perhaps gets lost among the race to “produce content” — which almost anyone can join at this point, in certain terms. We pretend another world, usually one that’s like ours in at least some accessible way, is real. Depending on what side of the narrative we are on, we then either pretend to be able to capture and populate a world — and lives within it — or we accept it’s reality as a witness to these built worlds.
Personally, as I’ve already discussed, I believe we’ve drifted, on the whole, a little too far from our actual reality, while as a population we participate perhaps too frequently in patterns of “world hopping”, in the preceding terms. But I have already discussed that. I’ve also made it clear what I believe needs to be done, here and now, in terms of what kind of narratives we would create and absorb. If I were running the world. Which, luckily, I’m not.
But. For real.
In so many words, I think The Moment that is coming — for us, here in America at least — is one of reflection. And, hopefully, increasingly, discussion as well.
As a filmmaker, this becomes a complicated proposition for me. In today’s environment, it’s actually very easy to enter discussion. In a way, we’re discussing ideas right now. It’s been a great positive change in my life, having this site to turn to regularly, and having you here reading and, sometimes, reflecting back at me. Now that I’m almost a year and a half into this endeavor, whatever it is, I can’t see not having this space — and you — in my life.
I’ve been overwhelmed for the past several days, and not exactly in a bad way. For a few hours last night, for example, I became overwhelmed emotionally by the small flood of interest in our recent call for collaborators. But I’ve also felt exhausted. Already.
I’m working hard on something. I don’t know how much of a secret that is by now. This project feels important and I know working on it is going to continue to be hard. Thus, we arrive, finally, at the title of this post. I’m having incremental trouble focusing on the line between preparation and control.
As I said, it’s a dance, this filmmaking game. At low budgets — and even at high ones, I suspect — it’s also a test of endurance and the ability of a person to practice self-care. You can’t make films if you can’t stand up. Although I did once “direct” a scene while crumpled in a sitting position in a corner of a room. Won’t forget that day.
So, I was thinking about all this, recently, and I actually started to feel better. Just by reflecting. And for that, I feel grateful. It’s taken years to be able to (sometimes) relax about this stuff.
I have this space to turn to, and you to talk with. I know a fair percentage of readers here are artists. I suspect you understand what I’m talking about. I bet everyone else does, too. Everyone has their own dance.
We battle chaos. But we’re together in this battle. Further, while the real world is certainly not so neat and perfect as it sometimes appears to be from our screens, it also contains it’s fair share of grace.
I think that’s a fair point to make. Filmmaking, with its fictional worlds made up of parts of our own, even the real world, as seen through so many different lenses — the processes of it not about control. Not ultimately.
It’s about preparation. And then collaboration. Creativity.
UPDATE: This call for submissions is now closed. Thanks to everyone who sent in a script!
So Rebecca De Ornelas and I are looking for some help with a fun project that we think could also be a cool way to spark some quick and easy collaboration.
I can’t release the specific details publicly, but here are the basics:
We’re looking for several original one page monologues (screenplay format) that tell a difficult story in an honest, perhaps even semi-comedic way.
We would like to see a strong cross-section of diverse voices submitting (and please feel free to spread the word on that front).
We would like to see a strong cross-section of diverse characters (in terms of age, gender, background) in submissions
There is no compensation, however…
Selected scripts will be produced and delivered to a few different audiences (including mine on this site).
Selected writers must be willing to sign a release that grants us the right to distribute the finished product only within the parameters of our project (you’ll get details).
Selected writers will be given a final copy of the video and will retain all copy rights to the produced and written material.
Please do not send any scripts at this time. If you are interested in submitting, or would like more detailed information, let me (Michael) know via Private Message on Twitter or Facebook, or via this site. Twitter and Facebook will get to me faster. Please include your email address at this stage. That is how I will get in contact with you.