A Longish Post of Recent Work

The past year has been a whirlwind, or just a normal year, sometimes it’s hard to tell. I had some technical difficulties with the blog, some work difficulties (in that, I had to) and ultimately some time difficulties – in that, I didn’t have time to update anything longer than 140 characters on Twitter. I took a couple of screenwriting courses, wrote two spec scripts and one original, and because of work, had the opportunity to work on some very cool things.

As I ease back into this, I wanted to share a couple of those very cool things that I’m especially excited to have been a part.

This is what it looks like when you’re happy on set being boss.

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Branded Content: CMT Music Awards 2016 + Aveeno 
I work on a lot of branded content and to be honest, it’s some of my favorite work, and not just because there’s usually very cool talent (like country artist Cam). Branded content is an opportunity to engage with viewers by connecting them with brands that fit their lifestyle, plus the idea is that it’s mutually beneficial for all involved. That was exactly the idea I tried to communicate in writing this Aveeno piece, which had very few script revisions. It’s rare to be one and done, but as an Aveeno user and about the same age as Cam, sometimes it just clicks.

The spot was shot by the awesome Dave Ogle, a great DP in Nashville who also shot a spot I wrote and produced last year for CMT’s Next Women of Country + Toyota. We edited in house at CMT and gratefully, were able to use Cam’s single at the time “Mayday”. Honestly, I might be most proud of the line “hanging with my best gal” which is something I say all the time, and always in reference to my own puppy.

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Conversations with actors

One of my new favorite places online is the SAG Foundation‘s YouTube channel. Founded in 1985, the Screen Actors Guild Foundation, is meant to “enhance the lives of performers by investing in programs which help them in their professional endeavors and the communities in which they live.” Fortunately for us, not only do these events happen often — sometimes multiple events in a day — but the bulk of them are published here. No SAG card needed.

The pieces range from a series called “Conversations” — wherein an artist, or the cast of a production (from Portlandia to Broadway’s Something Rotten!) — take part in a moderated solo or panel discussion — “The Business” which focuses, not surprisingly, on the business aspects of production, as well as many pieces on casting, independent film production and distribution, marketing, auditioning, etc. It’s really a great resource, and the best part (for me) is that it’s not another run-of-the-mill panel that talks surface layer plot devices. Because it’s geared at actors and industry-heads, it gets down to the minutiae of production, casting, storytelling and loads of other behind-the-scenes moments you don’t typically find anywhere else.

Here are some favorites:




HONDA’S OTHER SIDE

Have you seen Honda’s new interactive ad? Created by Wieden + Kennedy London, The Other Side is a “double-sided story” on YouTube, that allows users to alternate between two parallel storylines when you hold down the R key. The premise is essentially about who you are when you drive – are you the responsible Father-type in the cool and family-friendly Honda Civic or are you the rebel without a cause, raisin’ Hell and speeding away in the sportier Civic Type R?

What’s great about this spot is not simply that it’s interactive – though, that’s primarily the reason I sent it around — but that the focus doesn’t shift from the car. It feels like you’re jumping from a film to a video game and back again. It’s an intriguing way to utilize marketing dollars since you ultimately generate three individual spots. I’m posting the trailer below – but you really need to go to YouTube and check it our yourself (the function will only work on the dual spot).

MAIN TITLE SEQUENCES

Showtime

In case you missed it,  last week Showtime released the main title sequence for their new show The Affair – which was exciting less because of the show itself (although, it doesn’t look bad) – but because it features new music (the previously unreleased “Container”) by Fiona Apple, a personal favorite. Title sequences are an ever-evolving art, especially in relation to television, which has been and still is pretty formulaic for most shows. The formula runs something like this: A non-identifiable instrumental track runs under rotating clips from actual episodes of the show as the principal players are featured – typically with name and picture – and these run in what is essentially a montage of best moments (think Law & Order, CSI, NCIS, Bones, etc.). As television has evolved in the past several years to take on elements we’re used to seeing in feature length films, you see a creative boost and an appreciation in all aspects of television production and I love it.

Check out the main titles for The Affair, produced by the Thomas Cobb Group.

Here’s the great title sequence for the first season of HBO’s True Detective, produced by Antibody. I really love the use of silhouettes and dual exposure. It reminded me of the Hype Williams-directed Kanye West video for Homecomingwhich I love. Dual exposure may be the it thing to do these days, but so far, the results are gorgeous.

The most recent titles for FX’s American Horror Story: Freak Show, produced by Prologue. This show always takes it up a notch – each season, and title sequence, a bit creepier than the one before. I really love seeing how the designers and storytellers approach each new season.

Netflix’s Orange is the New Black is a fascinating sequence and features real, formerly-incarcerated women. Creator Jenji Cohen “wanted a title sequence suggesting the show would tell many incarcerated women’s stories, not just Piper’s.” This one is also produced by the Thomas Cobb Group.

I feel like I have to include the sequence of HBO’s True Blood – it really blew my mind back in 2008 (here’s a fun “Making of“). At the time, I thought they were using vintage footage – but all of it was created specifically for the open. This one was produced by Digital Kitchen.

Any titles grabbing your attention?

THE CREATIVE SPARK

I have always loved learning about the way other people work. It sounds a little weird, but I feel more motivated and inspired to do work myself, when I know I’m not alone, out there on an island thinking big thoughts, even if I’m doing exactly that. Earlier this year, I poured through Stephen King’s memoir On Writing, I read and post articles all the time about how things were created or where writers/filmmakers say they do their best work. My fascination isn’t simply restricted to the creative world – I pour over, with equal enthusiasm, blogs and tweets and books and photographs, of scientists and doctors and car mechanics talking about education and evolution in their respective fields. It doesn’t necessarily make me smarter about any of those things, but it does clue me in as to how other people think, where they begin, and how they overcome blocks.

When I was younger, I might have tried to imitate these creative do-ers. My bedroom was an ever-changing example of trying to get just the right “room with a view” that would produce page after page or scene after scene of whatever I was delving into at the moment. As I grew older, my process became less about how my room was arranged and more about making things make sense and whittling down big stories into smaller ones – in my current job, that can mean whittling down a story into 60, 30 and sometimes 15 seconds. But still, I’m incredibly motivated and inspired when I hear people talk about the way they work from seeing the photographs of the messy desk of Ray Bradbury to watching these mini-docs produced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (aka, the Oscars) – on these screenwriter/filmmakers on their creative processes:

 

DON’T COMPLAIN, CREATE + 99u

99u

Back in May, I attended the 99u Conference – a two-day event with some of the best minds in the creative/design community talking about one big thing: making ideas happen. I’d read co-founder Scott Belsky’s book Making Ideas Happen several years ago, and I quote from the 99u blog/workbook and their collection of books all the time. If you read this blog frequently, I’m sure at this point you’re saying: I get it.

But lately, I’ve been able to talk quite a bit about 99u to my co-workers, and I realized that there’s never a bad time to champion for great ideas. The conference is like and unlike other conferences I’ve been to in the past – several people speak, laughs are had, a-has are a-ha’d and you get a pretty nice totebag of goodies to take home. Where it’s different is in the type and quality of speakers – this is the conference about making idea happen, about creativity, about innovation – but it’s not just John Maeda and Scott Belsky, Seth Godin and Todd Henry (although this is a seriously awesome group) – it’s also Wendy MacNaughton and Shantanu Starick, Andy Didorosi and Susan Gregg Koger, and more. The creatives in this group were illustrators as well as photographers, they are urban planners as well as entrepreneurs who started their million-dollar businesses in their college dorm rooms. And better than that – most of the speakers had only twenty minutes to get it all out. It was about inspiration, but it was more about the perspiration – enjoying success as well as the tough work it took to get there.

My favorite talk was Tina Roth Eisenberg’s, which is why, when it became available to view recently, I sent it out to all my co-workers. It’s officially called “5 Rules For Making an Impact” but more importantly “DON’T COMPLAIN, CREATE.” The best part about this advice is that it transcends the creative industry and is just plainly good life advice. Take or leave it but watch this: