Better Use Of Twitter Avatars

Facebook now allows you to select which avatars or photos show up on your profiles as your "friends". This is a useful tool, particularly if you want to drive new traffic to one of your associates. Twitter however does not allow this. Isn't it about time that they did? Write to them and let them know you'd like this. I did.  This is that tweet I wrote:

@Twitter Could you make it so I could select which avatars show up in my Twitter profile? Thanks. I would appreciate that.

Invest in Artists, Not Art; in Individuals, Not Projects

MCN tipped me to this article in Barrons on Creative Capital's practice of investing in the artist, and not the project.

BRENT GREEN WAS 25 AND ABOUT to relinquish his dream of becoming a filmmaker when he discovered Creative Capital.

Green had been looking high and low for a $14,000 grant to finish an animated film. Creative Capital, a nonprofit based in New York, sized him up and offered something entirely different: $43,000 to help support his career over the next three years. It would go toward everything from equipment to transportation to the cost of a publicist. In return, Green would give Creative Capital a small cut of any profits.

In the five years since then, Green's work has been shown at the Sundance Festival and a number of museums and film festivals in North America and Europe. He has even found himself turning down galleries eager to represent his work.

Borrowing ideas from the venture capital industry, Creative Capital is encouraging their grant recipients to become Artrepreneurs, and it is literally paying off.  Out in in the general world of every-day entrepreneurs, several folks have joined together to create Thrust Fund, an online marketplace precisely for such personal investments.

There's only so much creative work any of can do without funding.  Sure, I can cut my overhead and take jobs for hire, but I know that my best work comes when I am collaborating creatively at the earliest stages.  The difficulty with this approach is I DON'T GET PAID FOR IT.  I can not keep doing development because I can't afford to do it.

Producers these days are forced to look for ready to go projects that they can earn a quick production fee on.  Sometimes you can get lucky and find those projects that are aligned with your sensibilities, but that is nothing more than good fortune.  This approach used to work under the idea of "one for them, one for me", but as an agent recently said to me in an effort to explain why I should be happy to receive less than half of my regular fee for similarly budgeted projects "precedent is not even a word we know anymore".  When rates are dropping, what's one to do?  Take more jobs.  When one is forced to work on project after project that they did not development, what happens to the quality of the work?  It gets worse, a great deal worse.

VentureBeat has a good profile on the Thrust Fund including their involvement with at least one filmmaker.  The film biz should take notice of these new investment strategies pioneered by both Creative Capital and the Thrust Fund.  Filmmakers should move off of the one project at a time approach and start looking for investment in the ongoing conversation.

Suffice it say, I am open for offers...  although I do think this sort of thing can move us even closer to a world of indentured servitude.  For better or worse, I have always avoided any debt beyond my mortgage and single picture finance, but hey, there still is such things as good deals.

NYC: When Will The Next Bus Arrive?

It's about time. Now if they only would do it for subways too. And maybe people can be trained not to walk down into the subway when they see people coming up (don't they know a train has just arrived and left the station?!).

Electronic count down displays with expected arrival times will be placed along 34th street:
http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/11/miracle-on-34th-street-your-bus-arrival-time/
How come this can't exist everywhere?

DVDs w/ Cross Platform Commentaries

I have been frustrated how DVDs do not exploit their technology. It is a long list as to what they could do to make better use of it, and hopefully one day I will build that out. In the meantime if you have any suggestions please forward them on to us here. And to tide you over until the day comes with the mega-uber list:

This suggestion from Dan McGuire:
Movie dvds should include a Aiff or Mp3 audio file of the director's commentary, so I can listen to the comments on my ipod or car cd player the day after viewing the film.

How great would that be!

Why Twitter Works

"It seems when you give people easier ways to share information, more good things happen"

Twitter Co-founder Evan Williams speaks at the Ted Conference.  I have been playing with Twitter for about a month now I think.  I still remain unsure of ultimate opinion on it, but Williams makes enough good points for me to keep the experiment going.
The most exciting thing about Twitter is the possibility of real time searches.  What are people thinking about whatever it is you are concerned about right now?  Granted it is a bit like the problem of documentary film: you can only ever film someone being filmed.  Here, with Twitter, it is only what are people who like to tell people what they are thinking about, thinking about X right now.  Still, when my film opens, you know I am going to be doing Twit Searches on the hour.
There seems to be four main types of tweeters: 1) the too much info addict - those that share all they are doing all the time; 2) the large conversation networkers - whether it is subjects or activities shared among large groups (mind you in 140 characters or less); 3) the pushers  - sellers and marketers that want you try what ever they have; and 4) the curators and referral service sorts that offer up what they found.  It's this latter group I subscribe to and follow and so far like where they take me.  I can't consume as much that is out there but like the quick hits I get.   Williams discussion of the intersection of the final two in social action and charitable giving gives me a lot of hope for the platform.
And in this latter group though, I see tremendous growth opportunity.  There's many services that could be provided.  I am excited for what the future will bring.

Competition Is THE Solution

Okay, this contradicts what we said here, but why not let the crowds find the answer for you?  

CrowdSpring creates contests for logos and other design work.  It not only will save you money, but it opens the doors for young designers worldwide.  For me I already see many different ways to use this site.  We always need logos for each new film company and each new blog or website. Every film I am involved with needs logos for all the fake products and magazines we create. 
I have often wished the film biz would have a repository for cleared logos and maybe this is a good first step.  Each production could hold a contest on CrowdSpring for a new product logo, pay the designer $200, and provide an open license to any other filmmaker who supplies an open license logo that year.
Any ways, Forbes has a story on CrowdSpring.  They also mention competitors that are essentially freelance service marketplaces like Elance.com and Guru.com where you can get bids on everything from design work to legal to accounting.  Forbes points out the issues that come from folks speccing out jobs, but here in Filmland where every project I engage in, I do so on a spec basis, it's hard to not opt for an open door policy.
Thanks to Armano for the tip!

Endangered Species Ringtones

I got this email from my sister Abbey:

I just downloaded the authentic sound of an orca as my new ringtone on my mobile phone! It was free and serves as a reminder to listeners about our endangered species of animals. There are loads of choices, from grey wolf to elk, to rare frogs. Check it out at this user-friendly website:

Even if you don't want to download this to your phone it's fun to just listen to the calls (and you can tease your puppy or kitty with it.)
I personally chose the Houston Toad.

Recycle Something New This Year

Well, not new.  I mean recycle something you have never recycled before.  I am going to start with some of those old cell phones that I haven't ever been able to figure out what to do with.  

Secure The Call is a website you can use to do just that: recycle your cell phone.  It's not that they recycle it in that they don't break it down.  They repurpose it:
We're a non-profit coalition of Police Departments, Sheriff's Offices, Battered Women's Shelters, Neighborhood Watch Groups, Community Service Organizations and Senior Citizen Centers. We take your donated phone and convert it into a 911 emergency only phone and give it back to our coalition partners for distribution.

If you don't want to stop there and want to start to e-cycle the rest of your electronics, the EPA maintains partnerships with a whole bunch of retailers where you can take your stuff to discard of properly.  The list is here.

Or maybe you want to donate your old computer to a school or organization that needs it.  The National Christina Foundation is a not-for-profit dedicated to the support of training through donated equipment.  You can donate your computer to them.

Zwaggle: Parent Exchange

Now that would be a good idea that I am sure a lot of children would like.  In fact I think there already is a few reality shows mining that topic.

Zwaggle is another sort of parent exchange.  I have been intrigued with the general Free movement -- I mean why not just give it away?  Imagine what it would be like if you had a close group in your area that freely exchanged hand-me-downs without any need to barter for what you get back in exchange.  Just give in good faith.  After awhile doesn't everyone out-grow everything (other than their loved ones, family, and friends that is).

Free Rice: Win & Feed The World

Free Rice is one of those sites where you click on it and you do something good.  Although with Free Rice you do more than just click.  You play a game and the more answers you get right, the more people you have fed.  You leave with knowledge and the UN has supplied more hungry people with more food.  Everybody wins!

You know you made one of your New Year's resolutions to do more good for the world, right? Well, here's a way if you don't actually want to get up to do it!
Happy New Year!

It's That Time Of The Year Again

When the NYTimes publishes its Year In Ideas issue, its time for rejoicing.  Outside of an election year like this one, nothing helps me get excited for the future like this little round up (well, on a non-personal level that is).  

Wondering about how to spend your weekend or what to read on the john today, read the Year In Ideas.  Well, I guess on the latter option, you should go out and buy the newspaper (remember those?).
I hope to follow up on some of the ideas listed in this issue in the weeks ahead, but they have lots of good ones: the bio-mechanical energy harvester, the bus-wait formula, the climate change defense, the dog-poop DNA bank, fast-food zoning, plants' rights,  and vending machines for crows, in addition to lots of interesting observations, like the glass cliff women are often asked to jump off of and the reach of wage inequality.