I first heard about Actor/Writer/Producer (storyteller) Kimberly Dilts and her work when I stumbled upon a Film Specific interview with Kim and her husband about the Tugg tour for their film Angel’s Perch. We later connected on Twitter and struck up a fast (remote) friendship.
This interview gets personal — and quickly. Kim and I both open up about the struggles that sometimes come with creating, and/or being a creative. The physical toil. The mental. The spiritual. There is talk of only being able to move a toe while in the midst of a production (you’ll have to listen to find out whose toe).
Other topics we strike at in the conversation include:
The Vulnerability Wave
The difference between bootstrapping a project in your 30s, versus your 20s
How Kim fell into theatre, as a means of finding her tribe and following her broad curiosity
Turning to independent work as a result of frustration with the gatekeeper culture
Telling yourself yes
Learning through pain and running towards fear
And, appropriately, given the title of the episode — laughter as a means of coping with the world
Really enjoyed this talk. Check it out and be sure to let Kim and/or me know what you think on Twitter or right here. You can also follow Kim’s film Auld Lang Syne on Seed&Spark.
As reminders, you can also subscribe to Coffee with Creativeson iTunes and/or support the podcast on Patreon.
We’re in the first block of shorts playing at 11AM at The Producer’s Club Theater, 358 W 44th St, New York, NY.
Director Jaclyn Gramigna will be at the screening, so feel free to say “Hey” to her afterwards if you decide to attend! Tickets will be available beginning Thursday, February 4th, and also at the Producer’s Club box office on the day of the screenings.
Many thanks to the Big Apple Film Festival for screening the film! And thanks again to our supporters on Seed&Spark!
When Rebecca and I were in the early stages of planning The Videoblogs, we met at one point with Gary Chou at Orbital in NYC. We’ve come to treat that meeting as a special one, because Gary listened to our plans (which we’ve mostly followed and are still following) but challenged us to see if we couldn’t take them a step further.
By now, if you’re a reader of this site, you know that we’re making The Videoblogs to contribute to a greater dialogue on mental health in America. And while the hope is that the film itself will become a part of that conversation, Gary’s challenge helped us address a lingering feeling that we weren’t quite taking our plan far enough, in terms of creating a project that not only sparked conversation but encouraged an interactivity that more closer mirrored today’s rising tech-enabled general culture — and its positive potential, more than its dangers.
We’re leveraging and addressing, with The Videoblogs itself, new technologies and new technologically-affected ways of living. And yet the overarching thematic message that we’re seeking to put forth with the story, in these terms, is that we can reach out through the screen to connect, not only virtually, but as a gateway to more of the real-life interaction upon which the human spirit fundamentally subsists — even as technology is making the rest of what goes into subsistence easier and more accessible.
In concrete terms, Gary pushed us to consider how we could take our message and apply it to an active, real-life, two-way solution. The idea greatly appealed to me, as I’ve grown increasingly frustrated by the broadcast-only structure of legacy long-form storytelling. And Rebecca took the challenge head-on. After some back and forth with Gary, we started working to plan The Videoblogs Dialogue in parallel with the production and release of the film.
It took some time to get going (we’re bootstrapping indie filmmakers after all!), but now it’s here. And I’m very excited and very proud and thank Gary and Rebecca for their roles in making it a reality.
Special thanks also to Paul Gilmartin, Grace Parra, Ashely Esqueda and Alice Spivak for lending their time to the contest and the cause. Their early commitments to serve on the jury for The Videoblogs Dialogue helped us gain momentum in the early days of planning, and even though it took some time to get the contest together and now launched, we continue to remain grateful for their help.
And of course thanks also to:
Project UROK, an official partner in the project, and an organization that does amazing work encouraging people to talk more openly and honestly about mental health
Co-sponsor Seed&Spark, a forward-thinking company that helps empower film and media storytellers, and promotes community and interdependence in the independent film industry
And co-sponsor Big Vision Empty Wallet, a film and media incubator that encourages and supports filmmakers working in today’s tech-enabled environment and champions diversity in storytelling
More below. But all the information, including how to enter the contest, can be found on the site for the film. I look forward to seeing what entrants submit. Let’s (safely) talk about this stuff.
The Videoblogs Dialogue is a user-generated video contest, in which participants submit their own videoblogs (3 min or less), pertaining to themes of mental health and/or personal struggle. Participants aged 18-24 are eligible to win a $1,000 Cash Prize and Mentorship package, to be put towards the creation of their own short film on mental health. Anyone age 18 and up can enter for the chance to have their videoblog included in the closing credits of The Videoblogs.
We’re running this contest to contribute to a greater dialogue about mental health in America, and to encourage tomorrow’s artists, filmmakers and performers to bravely engage with what have classically been labeled as difficult subjects (depression, anxiety, trauma) with an ultimate focus on hope.
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Our pitch video is probably the funniest I’ve been a part of, after two other campaigns. If you do anything, check it out to hear some (unsettling) confessions from cast, crew and friends
Please note that we’re only funding for two weeks. If you dig what we’re doing, please consider contributing today. Every dollar helps, and will go towards paying creators to makes something fun/funny for you, quickly and directly.
We’re a Staff Pick on Seed&Spark. I must confess, we’re honored to have been selected again (The Videoblogswas similarly chosen) and are exciting to be working with once more with the S&S team.
In case you missed it, we also have some cool incentives lined up for our gracious supporters. We’re sending out the first batch in the below two categories today:
If you’re able to help at all, we’d appreciate any and all support. Even if you just like our silly video — please consider sharing on Twitter or Facebook.
Here are some samples you can copy and paste:
Listen to these embarrassing confessions — and then please join me in helping these sad people! http://bit.ly/1NIWzYU
Oof. I cringed listening to these confessions. Check it out and then please join me in helping these sad people! http://www.seedandspark.com/studio/confession
Thanks for being cool. I confess — it would really mean a lot to us to make another project for you while we put the finishing touched on The Videoblogs!
A short drama (with some humor)
Writer: Michael DiBiasio / Director: Jaclyn Gramigna / Starring: Rebecca De Ornelas
Jacob just spent the night at Ellen’s for the first time. The still-new couple wanders into Brooklyn the next morning, to hang out. Jacob acts strange. Ellen wonders why. A confession is coming. And it’s not what you expect.
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.
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
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…
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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As many of you probably know, we wrapped production on The Videoblogs late last month. Years of general preparation and months of work for this specific production culminated in a few weeks of shooting. Overall, I’m proud and happy to say, things went very well.
Also, some temporary stress-related weight gain aside, I also made it out of the process fairly unscathed (if a bit exhausted). This is good. This was a goal.
I’m almost as happy about how generally smooth it all went as I am with the fact that it happened at all. As promised, I will write more (relatively) soon about the entire experience of making the film, but for the moment I think it’s worthwhile to reflect once again at how grateful we at The Videoblogs feel to be in this position. It’s taken a lot of hard work, but we seem to have squeaked things out by prioritizing what’s important (story, performance, and the health of ourselves and our collaborators) at the expense of, say, a more expensive equipment list or a more elaborate plot structure. In all seriousness, it was a production engineered for and by both its cast and crew…and its audience.
For instance, as an example of this relationship at work…
More than once while shooting The Videoblogs, a cast or a crew member thanked me for something simple like providing a decent meal.
First of all, it surprised me greatly to hear that there are still producers and filmmakers out there NOT providing decent meals. “Feeding your team well” is the second most basic rule in filmmaking after “make sure to have a camera”. Not only is it the decent thing to do – it’s just not smart to keep working while anyone (including you) is hungry. Even when pushing to complete a scene. I’m not even going to waste any more time talking about this.
Except to say that I didn’t accept the thanks – not personally. I explicitly made sure to recognize our supporters on Seed and Spark instead.
They (or you, as the case may be) deserve the thanks. And I want to talk for a moment about what that means not only to me personally but on a larger level.
I’d like to put forth the notion that a crowdfunded film isn’t only “cool” and “disruptive” but, also –- graceful.
For me, it felt more invigorating to credit our supporters for the means to make The Videoblogs than it did to accept the thanks myself.
Because the thanks don’t belong to me. They belong to you — to anyone and everyone who has contributed to the film in any way, whether monetarily or by spreading the word. Even by reading this or other posts on my site, you’re helping me and my collaborators to keep moving.
Last month, I accomplished one of the major dreams of my life. I successfully shot a feature film that I’m proud to stamp with my name. I don’t even have to edit it to know that. I don’t need any more validation than what we’ve already received by reaching (eclipsing) our goal on Seed and Spark — until it’s time to deliver the film to this same group. I am thrilled to be able to continue my journey as a filmmaker by bringing a cut of The Videoblogs to our supporters as soon as possible.
Beyond ideas of validation, the crowdfunding process is also fun. It’s my favorite sort of fun, too. Mischievous fun. Because, by so many (false, cynical) measures — this should not have worked.
It was not easy shooting a feature film for $20,000. I know people have done it for less. I salute them until my arm falls off, and then I salute them with the other arm until it too falls off.
Still, The Videoblogs is a rouge’s film. I feel fairly confident saying that (whatever it means). We bit, scratched, and clawed to eke it out over the course of a limited number of shooting days. Everyone on the cast and crew, and all of our producers, sacrificed to make it happen. I’m immensely proud to have come out the other side mostly intact. I still can’t feel one foot, sometimes, but as long as it continues to work for now I think I’m good. Right?
But back to the mischievousness. And the grace.
They are one in the same, as far as I’m concerned.
I know the journey isn’t over, by a stretch, but I can’t help it. I feel as if we (all of us) have gotten away with something here.
The Videoblogs isn’t special, by crowdfunding standards. We gave it a try and we thankfully seemed to have pulled it off. But, damn, does it feel good to be doing this in true independent (interdependent) fashion.
Regardless of how the rest of this plays out, I and my team are privileged enough to be making a film — to say it again — for our audience made possible by our audience.
That’s powerful. And beautiful. And it feels right. In today’s difficult indie film environment, it even feels…graceful.
I thank you. Not for the last time.
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Here is the final installment in The Videoblogs Monologues. As a reminder, these videos were crowdsourced and produced as examples of what we’re aiming to accomplish with “Phase 2” or our project, which has been renamed The Videoblogs Dialogue.
Also, today is our last day of funding for the film. We’re hugely grateful to be over 100% funded on Seed and Spark. But any additional contributions still make a difference and are appreciated. Reasons as to why can be found near the bottom of this post.
Written by Kim Chinh
Starring Shyko Amos
Shot by Liam Billingham
Directed by Rebecca De Ornelas
How did we get here? The short answer is that a generous supporter, in the words of a pal, helped us “kick the door down”. We went from about 62% to 102% funded in an instant.
This was not planned or expected.
Before that, two friends from college had each contributed at a high level, to bring us to that previous point of 62%. What they had to say to me when I rushed out my sincere and surprised thanks — left me in tears.
Rebecca and I (and the whole team) are so very grateful for all of you. I cannot express that sentiment enough.
Thank you. Your support means the world to us. It serves as validation, and a reminder, that the struggle and the fighting is worth it. As I have said before — we promise to bring a great film to you.
So, where do we go from here?
Well, for the next few days, we would still encourage you to contribute if you can.
We’re already operating at a very limited budget level for a feature film. This is not at all a problem and we continue to be grateful to be in this position, but any additional funds past our goal WILL be similarly stretched to make challenges (and they will come) less challenging.
We want you to see the film first. As summarized here, this film is also an experiment in helping to arrive at a model for sustainable, empowered indie filmmaking. Every person who simply “purchases” advance access to The Videoblogs via a $10 or $20 contribution is voting for this model. What does this mean? It means you’re helping us make the films that a growing subset of people want to see but which aren’t getting made by big business. We’re going to get The Videoblogs to you quickly, because you are our supporters. After that, who knows? It could take a year or longer before the film is otherwise made available.
In line with our bootstrapped approach, we have not budgeted much money for post-production (editing) or marketing. This is because I can do most of it if I have to do it. But I am simply not as skilled or as efficient at certain elements of post as a professional editor, colorist, marketer, etc. And, even so, the completion of these tasks cost money. We may have to fundraise again next year for theses stages. I can promise you that if we end up with even a small surplus this time around, it will be stocked away to make that process easier.
It feels awkward to keep “the ask” open for these final days, despite our position, but these are in fact legitimate reasons. We would be doing the film, and those of you who have already supported us, a disservice by failing to be transparent about the fact that every additional little bit still helps.
The urgency, of course, is gone. I literally dreamed of puppies and kittens last night. And a few dead birds, because there are always going to be some dark corners in there.
But, let’s choose to focus on the brightness today. At least in this one regard. That’s not going to be a problem for me, I don’t think. Because all of you have made me proud to do what I do.
We’re getting there, but we still need your help to get the Green Light on Seed and Spark.
If you’re able to contribute, please consider doing so today to help us build momentum heading into Friday. What we’d most like to do is show you the film. For $10, we’ll send you a download when it’s finished. For $20, we’ll mail a DVD.
In the meantime, here’s our very own Masha King (Cass) answering some questions about her role in the film: