Guest Post: Zeke Zelker: DIY Days NYC: You Missed An Incredible Gathering Of Incredible People

Why does it still feel amazing that a whole group of people come together to share knowledge, organize that gathering, and take the resulting inspiration out into the world -- and that they do it for free? That question is worthy of a future post, but for now we are here to celebrate DIY DAYS, the event that we must now ordain as a necessary institution. I was a keynote speaker last year. This year Christine Vachon and I discussed our past and hopes for the future. Earlier I ran a post on Chuck Wendig's presentation he did this year on "Where Storytelling & Gaming Collide" . Today we are happy to offer you Zeke Zelker's overview of the event, which at the very least should make sure you plan on joining us next year. Check it out. I promise you will leave wiser and inspired.

It is always exciting going to DIY Days, It’s like main lining a shot of learn-to-know-how adrenaline straight to the heart. There were many things that I took away from last week’s conference, many of which we will be implementing for as we push out the site. is a virtual radio station where bands submit their music to be a part of the playlist, the playlist is created by fan interaction on social media sites and votes.

A couple of highlights from DIY Days that still resonate. Newman’s tell it like it is approach to reclaiming DIY, I just sewed new patches on my britches and am rolling up my sleeves, getting down and dirty with making stuff. Hope and Vachon’s fireside chat on their amazingly prolific careers as the top indie producers, that’s right, each of them have produced 70 films. That’s absolutely amazing. Johnson’s chat about NFC technology that I feel will be another outlet for filmmakers to further expand their storyscape. Weiler’s review of Pandemic 1.0 that we produced at this past year’s Sundance. Chirls introduction of html 5, I’m still wrapping my head around the possibilities of this new programming tool and Clark’s discussion on how he has worked with brands in the past, this opportunity needs to be explored further. There were many others who presented and their insight was worth much more than the price of admission.

The only thing I wish is that more presenters would have been more straight forward on how they do/did things not what they did. I think this would be extremely valuable to those who attend these types of conferences.

When it was my turn with Vlad, who has a really great project, Zenith, it was interesting to see people’s reactions as we discussed our transmedia projects, Vlad’s is wrapping up, mine is just getting started. I take the capitalist money making approach to my filmmaking efforts, where I always encounter push back from the indie film/DIY community. I never understand this. This is show Business people, with a capital B, which is a true balance of art and commerce. Shouldn’t we all take more of a money making approach to our filmmaking? It is truly empowering. Instead of playing the “I hope I can sell my film for big bucks at a festival that I hope I can get into lottery.” Shouldn’t we be more fiscally responsible to our funders? Really. I fund my projects by whatever means possible. Right now I am raising equity, seeking donations, and forging brand partnerships.

I believe that the story telling experience can be augmented for the better with brand interaction. Brands can enable artists to further their storyscape, something that I’m doing with Billboard an Uncommon Contest for Common People! as well as my next three projects. I like giving a big fat hug to responsible corporate brands who can help me further tell my story. We all have those products we love, why not make them a part of, and a device in, the story telling experience? For instance I love my Radius toothbrush, a company with ergonomically correct handles made out of recycled material. Right now I’m brushing my pearly whites with a handle made from recycled U.S. currency. Just living the dream! The company is also from my hometown and these types of things excite me. A great product from my hometown that I’ve partnered with to help tell a story. You can’t get any better than that. How does a toothbrush support a story? Just wait. You’ll see.

Newman Johnson - Hope now here on IndieWire. Archives at Vachon Weiler Chirls Zenith Radius

- Zeke Zelker

Zeke Zelker, filmmaker/entrepreneur, has embarked on his latest transmedia project, Billboard an Uncommon Contest for Common People! a story that transcends various medias as it empowers various artists to be a part of the story telling experience.

PS. If you need a bigger fix, before the DIY DAYS NYC event, way back in 2008, Lance Weiler hosted a DIY DAYS DINNER. I was there and we had the camera running. Check it out here.

Wake Up Early & Join Me Tomorrow...and maybe I will give you a free gift (seriously)...

I know told you before, but why say something once when you can say it two or three or more times? I am here to help. I am here to share what I have learned. I am here to offer some hope. At least for the moment... So tomorrow I am participating in two public events. One is free. The other you have to pay, but the money goes to support a great organization (IFP). And to someone who knows the secret word and meets me at either of the events, I have a gift to give you. So if you come to either....


And by either I mean:

tomorrow's IFP ScriptToScreen conference where I will be moderating a case study of MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE with Borderline films, including writer/director Sean Durkin, and producers Antonio Campos and Josh Mond.

DIY DAYS NYC where I will be conducting a conversation with indie film producing legend Christine Vachon.

Come find me and stand on one foot while you tell me the actual name of the Lou tune that Mike Connel in the movie I did with Greg Mottola butchers the title of, and I will give you a couple of DVDs and other swag, and of course thank you for coming. I might as well as start clearing out those closets, right?

Sometimes I feel like I am an infomercial, so why not give out the indie equivalent of a knife set?

Guest Post: Chuck Wendig "Where Storytelling And Gaming Collide"

Saturday, DIY DAYS comes to NYC, bringing with it filmmakers, game designers, techies, designers, and entrepreneurs -- but mostly it brings a tremendous community that collides where stories begin, are discovered, and get shared. Chuck Wendig speaks so well of why we needs this crash point, it's safe to bet that a full day of such immersion will be nothing short of mindblowing. Hell, why settle for inspiration. Chuck shares after the break.

My Dad used to play softball. I still have his jersey, still have the newspaper clippings.

But the newspaper clippings never told the whole story, and the jersey is just a trophy, just a marker of times past. The real stories came out at the bar afterward. The whole team would head out to a drinking hole called the Buttonwood. They’d bring their families. And for hours they’d drink and recreate the game in a way that went beyond the RBIs, the stolen bases, the errors.

Every player on the team had his own piece of the story to add to the pile because each had different vantage points, different experiences. The way one batter flipped my Dad off as he pitched. The way a ball stung a glove or the wall it rolled along the foul line like a marble along a table’s edge. Was one player drunk? Another, sick? Maybe the team was a rival team, like Kelly’s bar. Maybe the win was sweeter for that, or the loss a bigger tragedy.

The team drank, told their stories. Sometimes I listened. Other times, I went over to the video games and played Arkanoid with my sister, or played a round of pinball. Even there, we had stories to tell: “The ball got stuck in the upper corner of the table.” Or, “I just beat a total stranger’s high score.” Little stories, but they felt epic in their own way. Herculean triumphs. Sisyphean shortfalls.

When we read a book or watch a movie, we’re gathering around the firelight and letting a storyteller tell us his or her story. It’s their world; we’re just looking in. It isn’t our story that matters, and that’s okay.

But with games, it’s our story that matters. And every game affords us the opportunity to experience a new story. Chess is a game that has no overt narrative and yet in every match, a new narrative is born: the ebb-and-flow, the peaks-and-valleys, the two factions warring for dominance over what might be a game board, but what might also be two nations, or two sides of an issue, or two halves of the heart.

In every game we play, we are in some sense the protagonists. Doesn’t matter if the protagonist-as-written is someone else (the Monopoly Scotty, Pac-Man, Halo’s Master Chief): what we experience isn’t their story but ultimately and intimately our own. How we move through a game world and how we conquer the challenges presented within are paths as unique as the maze on a fingerprint.

Traditional storytelling seeks to tell the story of the author, the director, the creator.

But storytelling in games is about empowering the player to experience and tell her own narrative.

What a crazy, wonderful thing. The notion that we each see something different, each undergo our own mini-myths and little legends, offers powerful engagement. It puts us at the core of it. And when you see that, you start to realize that games have the power to be more than just time-killers and fun-machines. Games can show us things from unseen perspectives. Games can teach us things we never thought we’d want to learn. Games can even help reflect and affect social change. (Imagine a game that puts us in the midst of the Egypt revolution, or lets us hack our way through the Wisconsin red tape to see the truth.)

Games don’t just shine a light on these stories; they give us the torch and let us see for ourselves.

At DIY Days in New York – this Saturday, March 5th – I’m going to sit down and have a fireside chat with fellow game designer Greg Trefry (of Gigantic Mechanic) about the intersection of game design and storytelling. We’ll take a look at how designers can think about putting the tools in the hands of the players (like giving them a big bucket of LEGO blocks) to put together the stories and experiences they want to tell. Come by the chat.

-- Chuck Wendig

Chuck Wendig is a novelist, a screenwriter, and a freelance penmonkey. He is represented by Stacia Decker of the Donald Maass Literary Agency.

Don't Do It Yourself: NYC DIY DAYS Keynote

I am giving the keynote today for DIY DAYS.  This is it, devoid of any adlibs. It is inspiring to be in this room with all of you for this: The first edition of DIY DAYS NYC. All of us. Together. Here.

It took me almost 30 years to get here. Thanksgiving Weekend. 1980. The Clash’s Sandinista! Godard’s “Everyman For Himself” and Martin Scorsese’s “Raging Bull” They all came out on the same weekend and I was home freshman year for break. Seeing, hearing, absorbing all that I thought: ”This is what I want to do: intense, hard-hitting, challenging, personal, political self-expression. “ I didn’t know how. I didn’t even know what the first step could be, I just felt that want. That DEEP DEEP need to create something of my own.

Have you ever recognized that you are in the right place at the right time? The exact right place? In the exact right time? With the exact right people? I have felt it, a few times, and that feeling has pushed me, pushed me forward, in a big way that has brought others along with it.

I felt it when I first moved to NYC. 1984. Second wave of Punk Rock. I saw whom I later realized were the Coen Brothers always in the same late night grocery as me trying to decide which cold cereal to buy just like me and my roommates. Cut to: Subway doors. They open and there’s that big mane of stand up grey hair that I late realize is Jim Jarmusch. Music booms: The Replacement’s “Let It Be “– 1st time I realize I am blown away by a band younger than me. Jump to: the front of the movie theater. Spike Lee is passing out flyers for the film that the trailer inside the theater is also pushing me to see.

It is that feeling -- that incredible feeling --that all is within reach. I may not be able to play the guitar but if I can pick it up and scream with feeling and personality, someone may come. It may not have SFX or movie stars, but if I can shoot it and it is real and reaching and new, someone may come.

Eight years later, 1992. Sundance. The movies are great. I’ve a couple now. The filmmakers are all now my friends. We make ‘em cheap. No Budget Revolution #1. We are challenging each other, sharing information. And the People: they are coming. Companies are buying. This thing, this dream of mine, to take French New Wave and Punk Rock attitude and love of art and character and politics might, just might have a chance to be something more than a hobby. It may be a job. It can pay the bills. A vocation – a life sustaining vocation.

I’ve made sixty movies now. It some ways it feels like: “sure, I was in the right place, at the right time, with the right people” I am fortunate. But you know what? You know what I sincerely believe? I wasn’t. I wasn’t where I thought I was yet: it wasn’t the right time or place or people yet.

But I am now: right here with all of you. We can make something happen. Something entirely different. Something the world has never seen or heard or felt ever before. We can have that thing that I always have wanted but never achieved. We’ve never had an opportunity like the one we do right now. But time is short and if we don’t act soon, we are going to blow it.

Do you know what you are feeling right now? It is the feeling of the being in the right place at the right time with the right people.

The question is what are we going to do with it? Where are we taking it? Ask yourself: what sort of world do you want? What sort of culture do you want? One where others tell you what stories can be told? One that requires you to beg others for support to get your work made? One that demands you utilize their resources & techniques to reach and engage audience? One that can turn its back on your offspring and your babies without the bat of an eye? One that can buy those children of yours, for a fraction of their value, for years upon years?

I don’t think so.

We are on the verge of establishing something quite contrary to that horrible vision. The tools and platforms of the digital age can supplant the gatekeeper-controlled, impulse-buy motivated and capital-intensive infrastructure that we’ve played all too long in.. We now have the promise of a newly emerging artist-centric, audience-focused, low-cost collaborative model that can be both achieved and sustained and will deliver us better and more diverse work in a manner both more accessible and participatory than ever before.

You know this – or at least recognize this. That is why you are here today. That is why we all are.

But we are also in danger of losing this incredibly glorious and generous opportunity before the roots take hold and the seeds truly spread. Why? Because we all look to ourselves, and not just primarily, but often, far too often, exclusively. If we want to protect ourselves, promote ourselves, the time is now to focus on community first.

Now there are great examples before us, and they offer the better alternative. This is what this day – DIY DAYS --is all about. Look at what Lance Weiler and everyone over at the Workbook Project have done for all of us, with all of us. This event. That website. They are free. They are open. They are participatory. And they are incredibly useful. They are the start and they are the model. We are all the future, and we all are – or should be – incredibly thankful.

Which one do you want? The old, closed, gatekeeper model? Or the new one that is artist and audience centric that can usher in a true middle class of artist entrepreneurs?

How do we do that? By working together. By sharing. By recognizing that today’s definition of being an artist requires that you be there all the time, from beginning to end – but not alone, not by yourself. You can’t abandon your babies. You can have the child support. Just ask the person sitting next to you today.

Our job description requires that we curate, educate, and aggregate – and not just create and produce. We have to embrace all six pillars of cinema -- of all art forms --and not just the pillars of creation and execution, but also discovery, promotion, appreciation, and presentation. It’s a lot of work, but that problem is also the answer.

Don’t be hesitant. Look at the old way: The only people that benefited from those lines drawn between art and commerce, between marketing and content, are the very same people who are now enjoying the good business opportunity before them now when creators license their work for low fees for low terms on an exclusive basis without access to any of the data their work generates. We have to stop this process. • We have to stop this practice where content is free, but the hardware to play it is extremely expensive. • We have to prevent a world where the aggregators get rich but the creators get a pittance. • We must insist that the data and fans that our work generates is ours, in the fullest sense of the word “ownership”. We have to help each other. We can not settle for the world that has been offered, but must reach for the one that we have dreamed of and can now obtain.

I came here today because I want to ask you all to do one thing, really to beg of you all to do one thing. And that one thing I truly believe can change our world. That one thing can bring the new world, the artist-centric, creator-empowered & participatory culture into being. That one thing is simple: Do not leave here today without committing to do at least one thing for another person that is in this room right here right now, to do something for them and their work.

Commit to curate. Commit to promote. Commit to educate, to program, to organize and to facilitate. To Collaborate. Pledge your help. Give it as a badge of honor for you both to wear. Link up. Do it now. Do it later. Just do it today. Offer your help to someone here today.

We have to build the infrastructure to support a challenging and diverse culture. It may not be as fun as creating yet another movie or game or music or book, but we must accept it as part of our job description. It requires giving and it requires accepting. We can all leave here stronger, wiser, with more potential. But it depends on you.

If you don’t want to help and work together: we can stop referring to it as the film industry, the music business, the comics trade – and instead the next time we get together, we can discuss our hobbies.

The good news is that these are not Do It Yourself Days. You are not alone. We are going to build it better together. Make it better together. It just requires us to reach out. Please make your pledge to help someone else while you are here today. Let’s not squander this opportunity. Tell us what we can do for you. Tell others what you can do for them. Let DIY DAYS be about truly working together. Accept this gift from Lance and The Workbook Project and pass it along. It’s going to be how it works, this new gift economy of ours: the more you share, the more power and value you are going to generate.

Pledge your help to someone here today.

Jon Reiss on The New Way To Think Of Theatrical

I wasn't at DIY Days. If I had been, perhaps I could have saved some time that I just spent brainstorming and writing it all down. Dang.

Jon puts a lot of good stuff out there. With most of the new crop of Sundance films having gotten their golden tickets this week, their makers would do well to listen up to the words that Mr. Reiss speaks. Is that you?
And if you look at the list of To Dos that I served up on that last post, you would do wise to heed his advice and fire your DP and hire a Producer of Distribution & Marketing. Open your ears:

And here's a nice round up of Jon's talk from Sheri Candler.