“Finally,” CNBC declared about the mockumentary False Profit. “A comedy movie about the financial crisis.” I met one of the producers on this film, Dan Abrams, because we’d both been fans of and guests on a podcast called asymco. It’s host is Horace Dediu and Horace studies Apple and its competitors. It’s an example of the ways in which stories, digital media, and Apple are coming together for me. Dan’s current project is a mockumentary called False Profit, and it’s an indie film project in that he is seeking his own financing, partially done through a website called Kickstarter. To read more about that and potentially help fund the project (and pick up some swag in the process) you can click here.
When I asked Dan about his process for writing the story for False Profit, he said he wrote collaboratively, something that comes from his connections to the Second City comedy theater. He talked about a way of writing (and maybe it’s an improv technique too) called the “Yes And” method. I couldn’t figure out what he was saying on the podcast until I later saw it in writing. His example of the technique went something like this:
“It’s raining frogs.”
As the fellow writer, I am to accept that it is raining by thinking yes and and then going with it. “Finally,” I might say, “we’ve been having a terrible drought of frogs this summer.”
On the audio podcast, Dan and I debated the social merits of Will Ferrell movies. I thought mostly funny but also usually just silly and maybe even homophobic, and Dan mounted a satire-themed defense. From there, we discussed the Bailout, Chekhov, George Bush, and whether or not Republicans and Democrats alike might enjoy the film False Profit.
Dan is using Kickstarter to help finance his film and he explained how that works. I asked about Vimeo or YouTube for the sort of work I’m doing, and I had a lot of questions about copyright when it comes to news footage, the legal contracts in securing images and music, and all sorts of questions when it comes to film festivals and indie film distribution.
If you take the time to give the podcast a listen, I hope you’ll help me learn about some of this. I’m almost done with my documentary film For the Love of Books and I’m sensing that there’s more work ahead than completed when it comes to actually getting the film in front of audiences to where they can view it.
On iTunes, the podcast is called the “Read, Write, and Teach Digital Book Club.” If you look down the right side of this page, you can click on the file for download. I’d love to just have it ready for streaming play, maybe one of you can tell me how to set that up. Is it possible to do it while paying to go ad free on WordPress or do I need to run my own site? Thanks in advance for the help!
At the request of Campus Activities I agreed to participate in what is called “Storm Talks.” It seems the goal of the project is to initiate conversation between students and professors. I talked briefly on video and invited students to tell me about their writing before, during, and after the first year writing course. The video was published via YouTube and Facebook. Questions came in. Here’s one of them: “Any advice for a young writer?”
I usually answer that question by saying that the writer should read and write a lot. I suppose it’s a philosophy–PRACTICE– that I used back when I was eighteen years old and cared about my free throw percentage. Okay, I still care about how many I’d make out of 100 if I were to go shoot tomorrow morning, but what I’m getting at is that in order to shoot free throws well, part of that process was that I shot a lot of them. I remember in Donald Murray’s book, Write to Learn, he quotes writer (and Google fighter) Ursula Le Guin about this notion of practice:
“If you want to be a tuba player you get a tuba, and some tuba music…And you probably get a tuba teacher, because there are a lot of rules and techniques to both written music and to tuba performance. And then you sit down and you play the tuba, every day, every week, every month, year after year, until you are good at playing the tuba; until you can–if you desire–play the truth on the tuba.”
Right after I suggest reading and writing to the person who has asked for advice (who am I really to give it?) I say that the writer needs to learn how to read. People often laugh and think I’m joking, but I’m not. As a student at Georgia College in Milledgeville, a generous faculty helped me to begin to read like a writer. I learned to see that when Flannery O’Connor wrote “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” she made a choice for conflict in her first sentence: “The grandmother didn’t want to go to Florida.” O’Connor had many choices when it came to the beginning of her story. She could have delivered dialogue, oriented readers to the setting, or perhaps written images for the purpose of developing character. As I began to read in this way, all of the texts that surround me became my potential teachers, and I can read for lessons connected to dialogue, structure, endings, word choice, and many, many more.
So when asked to give advice I say to read and write a lot, and I say to learn how to read. That feels like a pretty “DUH” thing for me to write. Do you think so? If you’re in position to ever be asks the question, how do you answer it?