Coffee with Creatives: Be Who You Are

Comedian/Actor/Singer Rick Younger brings the funny (and some fake opera) to Coffee with Creatives.
Comedian/Actor/Singer Rick Younger brings the funny (and some fake opera) to Coffee with Creatives.

As he explains in this latest episode of Coffee With Creatives, Rick Younger identifies first and foremost as a Comedian.

But you may have also seen him in commercials, on The Today Show (as a panelist on Guys Tell All), or on stage in New York City — acting, telling stories, or singing.

Among other topics, Rick and I talked:

  • The importance of finding your own path and voice as a creative
  • The phone call from Tracy Morgan than helped Rick gain new insights into his writing and his act
  • How he and his wife have begun to share their experiences, as an interracial couple, to foster more dialogue (through art) about race
  • The awesomeness of working on a film set with the likes of Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton

I wanted to get this episode out a little earlier than planned, so that listeners in and around the NYC area, who dig what Rick has to say, have time to check out his upcoming show (aptly named The Rick Younger Show) on Friday, July 10th. I plan on being there, so join me and we’ll laugh at Rick and then later we can high-five.

Thanks to everyone who has been listening to the podcast so far. It’s been a fun and rewarding new enterprise. As a reminder, if you’re enjoying the show and want to show your support, you can become a monthly supporter on Patreon, can make a one-time donation via PayPal, or — and this is the best way — you can share a link to this page (or to your episode(s) of choice) via iTunes.

Until next time, Coffee Heads.

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Just Make Films: Coffee with Creatives “Bonus” Episode

diane3

I scare the quotes around “bonus” (did it again!) because my talk with Sundance award-winning filmmaker Diane Bell has already been released in text form.

I decided to re-release it as an extra podcast episode in case anyone missed it the first time around, wants to revisit some of Diane’s great advice, and/or feels like hearing my side of the conversation.

As I said when I published the text interview — I think Diane is great. If you haven’t yet listened to what she has to say, particularly about focusing on process (as opposed to results) and about not waiting around for permission or (certain forms of) outside validation to make films (or any art) — I would recommend you do so.

Thanks to everyone listening! If you’re getting something out of the interviews, please consider contributing to my Patreon campaign for the podcast.

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What I Liked This Week: Hustler Edition

No. Not the nudie mag. Not even the iconic film.

This week, I’m highlighting three resources I stumbled upon, or sought out, that helped me hustle. As in work. Hard. Quickly. Efficiently.

Fractured Atlas Space Finder

It took me all of five minutes to find a space and book it. That's how it should go.
It took me all of five minutes to find a space and book it. That’s how it should go.
I did not know this existed. It’s fantastic. From Fractured Atlas:

For artists, the process of finding work space can be frustrating and inefficient. Meanwhile, venues have limited resources to spend finding new renters. Earned revenue is critical for creative venues yet many rental spaces are tragically underutilized. Through the SpaceFinder program, Fractured Atlas is increasing visibility of rental options, helping artists find the space they need, and helping venues promote and rent their spaces.

What happened was that I needed a space to record my Coffee with Creatives interview with Rick Younger (Coming Soon).

When I meet people in the city, especially when they’re doing something kind like meeting me to talk, I like to try to find a place or a space that’s easily accessible to them and either halfway between where we’re both going afterwards or at least fairly close. This time around, I was in a bit of a rush to find a spot, and didn’t know of too many spaces, off-hand, that would be quiet enough to record a podcast. The Space Finder allowed me to find something, quickly. It’s a great resource and I appreciate that it exists.

Filmmakers, actors, performers should check it out.

A Different Kind of Meditation: An Analysis of Word of Mouth (WOM) Marketing

Up is down and down is up.
WOM starts with doing something different.
I believe I stumbled upon Lincoln Murphy’s great Medium piece on WOM via GrowthHackers.

Anyone interested in authentically building an audience, and then smartly and honestly growing that audience, would do well to read it. Murphy specializes in Software as a Service (SaaS) but rightly points out that his observations apply universally to most companies.

I’d take that further, and hitch it up to the “Filmmaker as Entrepreneur” argument, to include anyone whose work would and does benefit from WOM.

The biggest take-away, in my opinion — WOM starts with a great product. From there, it’s about talking to your audience, and asking them what they like and want. It’s about participating in a relationship — not simply selling.

I shared the post with Seed and Spark’s #FilmCurious crew, and people seemed to agree with me that all this is relevant to what we do. For me, that seems to prove Murphy’s point.

Speaking of the #FilmCurious…

Click the image to read a transcript of the chat
Click the image to read a transcript of the chat
This conversation couldn’t have been more appropriate for me. First, contributing towards a new and more equitable business model for indie film is my greatest obsession after contributing towards a greater dialogue about empathy and equality (through storytelling). In addition to that, after bringing The Videoblogs to Big Vision Empty Wallet’s (BVEW) 2015 Distribution Lab — I and the #VideoblogsFilm team are now working hard to iterate our business plan, finish the film, and get it out into the world.

Chat guests Jon Reiss and Adam Leipzig were very helpful, and gave a lot of great advice during the chat. As usual, the #FilmCurious crew also brought their own juice to the discussion. I brought fruit punch. It may have been spiked.

Good read. Get on it.

And have a good week.

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Coffee with Creatives: Boy Turns Into Dog

Edward_PomerantzEdward Pomerantz taught me screenwriting.

I took his workshop two or three times while working through the Creative Writing Program at Columbia University when I was there. Eddie helped me adapt my first published short story into what would become my first film, Over Easy. That film wouldn’t have been a success, and I may not have “caught the bug” after making it, if I didn’t spend an entire semester workshopping the adaptation with Eddie and my classmates. His passion for writing and, more than that, about authentic storytelling, is infectious. I was very glad that he agreed to come on the podcast.

This episode was a pleasure to record. Eddie has had a long and varied career as a screenwriter, novelist, playwright, and teacher. He also recently directed his first film, La Comida, which has so far played at four film festivals.

Topics we cover in the conversation include:

  • The necessity of having a clear reason for telling each story you sit down to write
  • The importance of only taking writing assignments you can make your own
  • The parallel importance of not looking down at an assignment that can be made your own with a little thought and consideration
  • Why Eddie believes Robert McKee ruined screenwriting
  • The differences between writing something and directing something
  • Listening to the needs of the story, rather than trying to force something to happen
  • “Keeping the ball in the air” as long and as effectively as possible
  • Bringing an element of danger into your work
  • And much, much more

Beatriz De La Cruz stars in La Comida, a funny and poignant short Written and Directed by Eddie.
Beatriz De La Cruz (La Comida)
It’s basically a crash course in how to leave it all on the table, in service of whatever it is that your story needs. I hope you like the interview.

Please feel free to drop a note in the comments if you have anything to add, or have any follow-up questions you’d like to ask.

You can find more about Eddie at his site: http://edwardpomerantz.com/.

Coffee with Creatives is also available on iTunes.

What I Liked This Week: Gratitude Edition

It took me a few years to realize that the climb can be as good as the view.
It took me a few years to realize that the climb has as much value as the view.

Hello Handsome People.

I’m sitting here trying to think of my list for the week and I’m having trouble because life has been hectic. But I know well enough by now (most of the time), to not fall into The Busyness Trap — and that, further, I can choose to look at the situation in a different way.

Which is why today’s WILTW this week is about gratitude.

Something Collin Schiffli said during our interview has stuck with me. When I asked him what he was most proud of in his life, he answered by reflecting upon the fact that — despite circumstances not yet being “perfect” — he is doing what he loves.

And so am I, really. I feel the same way.

Plain Old Regular Adulthood

That which I feared in my twenties has come to pass.

Most days, I get up, go to work, come home and eat and go to bed and then I do it again. My younger self failed to realize that this is — it’s just life. And while I don’t mean to oversimplify, and could say a lot more about this, the fact remains that this pattern…is mostly it.

This is why I believe what we do (and who we spend our time with) is almost as important as who we are. It’s also why I believe in fighting for better conditions, for more people, to be able to pursue the sort of contentedness that I’ve been able to build in recent years — it’s an alleged “right” in this country that’s been tied down and ensnared by innumerable qualifiers that mostly stem from class, privilege, race, and gender.

So, first, I feel fortunate to be able to say that I agree with Collin. When I get up and go to work, it’s not simple. I have many jobs, most of which I have given myself. But when I do get around to sleeping, it’s a lot easier than it used to be, when I wasn’t doing at least the best I could to keep creating and to make the art-life balance work for me.

The other part of plain old regular adulthood that I like is that I’m sharing it with someone who loves me. And an old lady cat and a young lady dog who the pair of us both love, too. And there are plenty of other wonderful people in my life, from days old and new.

Not everyone has that, though we all deserve it.

Sometimes, lately, I just stop in the middle of my apartment and I think of where I’ve been and where I am now and I allow myself to feel happy. It’s still a fairly new experience but I like it.

Coffee with Creatives

I held at least six separate positions during production of The Videoblogs. Why? Because it had to be done to keep things moving.
What came first, the caffeine or the creativity?

The interviews have been more fun than I expected. And more fulfilling. It’s really great to sit down with people, some of whom I know and some who I don’t, and have an hour-long conversation about — basically what I just wrote above — balancing life with purpose.

Coffee with Creatives will morph into a podcast soon. It’s already costing a bit of money, and I want to do it right, so I probably will have to build some fundraising into the endeavor to keep it viable. We’ll figure out a way.

Feedback on Coffee with Creatives has been very positive so far. Thanks to everyone reading and sharing the interviews. I hope this is just the beginning.

I’m very grateful to my guests as well. They’ve all been great.

The Generosity of Others

I was approaching a street corner in Manhattan the other day, when I passed a homeless woman who was asking for help with getting some food. I didn’t have any, couldn’t give her cash, and wouldn’t have an opportunity to grab something for her on my way back from the errand I was on — which I would otherwise have tried to do.

Privately, I wished that someone else would help her soon. It was a sincere hope, not a means of assuaging guilt.

Then a second, work-casually dressed woman approached the corner, and offered a single-serve box of Cheerios to the homeless woman, who eagerly accepted it, expressed her thanks, opened the package and started eating.

A few days later, a similar scene transpired.

I was running to the pharmacy. As I approached the entrance, I saw three people sitting on the street, against the building, asking for help. I was just making a mental note, to pick up some food to offer them while inside, when I saw a young boy approach each, one by one, with a proffered brown bag lunch. All three graciously accepted.

When he was out of bags, he returned to a small group of women, who must have been supervising the effort, and they gave him more bags and he quickly found a few additional people who needed and accepted the food — people I hadn’t even noticed among the heavy pedestrian traffic of the area.

Do these sort of actions solve the world’s problems? Of course not. Are they humane, and immediately recognizable as kind, good things to do? Yes.

It honestly felt great, to see that, when it wasn’t immediately easy for me to help, that I could still hope for help to be given, and witness that hope quickly fulfilled.

I suspect, as well, that these sort of stories are playing out, in plain sight, all around us, in New York City and beyond, and that maybe we’d notice them more often if we let go at least temporarily of the drama and dread fed to us by the culture via the mainstream media.

I’m finding, more and more as I continue to age, that it can be that simple. And, a lot of the time, it can be enough.

Have a good week.