February 07, 2011
Arianna Huffington: $300m in Cash, Hmmm, Let Me Think About That One
If you were Arianna Huffington, wouldn't you take the money, even if it meant a relocation to New York as a result? After all, with that kind of exit ($300 million of the $350 million is in cash), you can jet back and forth the 5 hour commute without that much of an inconvenience.
Besides, as part of the deal, she also gets to be in charge of Michael Arrington and his posse at TechCrunch, which should be interesting to watch from the outside -- personally and editorially.
As Kara Swisher points out in her write-up on the AOL acquisition, "the deal gives it a popular branded site that is very good at generating lots of page views and impressions very efficiently–which is the company’s whole thrust these days. That means lots more ad inventory to sell and an injection of content talent, giving AOL the scale it desperately needs."
The projections look good, so the acquisition is no surprise and frankly, many a conversation in my circles have revolved around who they'll ultimately sell out to over the past few years. They increased their ad sales from $ 31 million in 2010 to a projected $60 million this year. Sweet. I guess it was time to hand over the goods to a 'bigger power', at least on paper.
Let's face it, AOL's branding 'magic sauce' hasn't really taken a strong turn yet, so having both Huffington Post and TechCrunch under their wings, gives AOL editorial direction, identity and a sense of purpose, particularly in the eyes of readers and users who are not exactly living on the leading edge of technology.
With Arianna as Editor-in-Chief, things could get interesting....smart move on Armstrong's part. Her compelling combination of smart aggregated content with original content and celebrity names has become a winning formula others haven't been able to replicate.
As part of the deal, Tim Armstrong will take over from Huffington Post's Chief Revenue Officer Greg Coleman and the existing AOL ad sales head Jeff Levic will remain on board.
Paul Carr has an amusing and thoughtful take on the acquisition here. He talks about the potential downside of the SEO implications down the road for them (TechCrunch) and the rest of the world (readers). The other downside is that because Huffington Post doesn't remain solely independent, some things will no doubt have to give over time. Having Huffington in the editorial seat for now reduces the risk at least in the short term.
She will apparently be in charge of Engadget, Mapquest, TechCrunch and Moviefone. If its true that one reason they bought them is because their readers make up a significant number of important women with money to spend, then why not put her in charge of more brands?
Photo Credits: Planetpov.com, All Things D and Bloomberg BusinessWeek.
February 02, 2011
SXSW Film Announces 2011 Features Lineup
The South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Conference and Festival just announce the features lineup for this year’s Festival, March 11–19, 2011 in Austin, Texas. The 2011 lineup continues the SXSW tradition of tapping into the cultural zeitgeist, highlighting emerging talent and breakthrough performances and supporting first-time filmmakers. The Midnighters and SXFantastic feature sections, along with the short film program, will be announced next week.
Over the course of nine days, 130 features will screen at SXSW 2011. The program consists of 60 World Premieres, 12 North American Premieres and 16 U.S. Premieres. These films were selected from a record 1,792 feature-length film submissions composed of 1,323 U.S. and 469 international feature-length films. SXSW saw a 23% increase in its overall submissions over 2010, with a record number of nearly 4,900 total.The festival’s main competition categories once again find eight Narrative Features and eight Documentary Features, vying for their respective Grand Jury Prizes. New for 2011, films in competition will also be eligible for screenplay, editing, cinematography, music and acting awards.
The Narrative Feature Competition includes: 96 MINUTES, directed by Aimée Lagos, A Year in Mooring, directed by Chris Eyre, American Animal, directed by Matt D'Elia, Charlie Casanova, directed by Terry McMahon, FLY AWAY, directed by Janet Grillo, HAPPY NEW YEAR, directed by K. Lorrel Manning, Natural Selection, directed by Robbie Pickering and Small, Beautifully Moving Parts, directed by Annie J. Howell & Lisa Robinson.
The Documentary Feature Competition includes: A Mouthful, directed by Sally Rowe, Better This World, directed by Katie Galloway & Kelly Duane de la Vega, The City Dark, directed by Ian Cheney, DRAGONSLAYER, directed by Tristan Patterson, FIGHTVILLE, directed by Michael Tucker & Petra Epperlein, Kumaré, directed by Vikram Gandhi, LAST DAYS HERE, directed by Don Argott & Demian Fenton and Where Soldiers Come From, directed by Heather Courtney.
The final panel and conference lineup will be announced on February 15. Visit http://www.sxsw.com/film for more information and updates.
The 2011 SXSW Film Festival will feature:
Director & Writer: Aimée Lagos
Four young lives. One night. One terrifying event. These 96 minutes will change everything.
Cast: Brittany Snow, Evan Ross, Christian Serratos, J. Michael Trautmann, and David Oyelowo
A Year in Mooring
Director: Chris Eyre, Writer: Peter Vanderwall
In his first leading dramatic role, Josh Lucas walks an isolated line between solitude and redemption. This quiet cinematic journey tells a of tale grief, solace and peace. Cast: Josh Lucas, Ayelet Zurer, James Cromwell, Jon Tenney, Taylor Nichols (World Premiere)
Director & Writer: Matt D'Elia
Jimmy - eccentric, delusional, dying - feels betrayed when roommate James gets a job. During one night of drinks, drugs and women, a classic battle of wills ensues as James prepares for work and Jimmy goes mad. Cast: Matt D'Elia, Brendan Fletcher, Mircea Monroe, Angela Sarafyan
Charlie Casanova (Ireland)
Director & Writer: Terry McMahon
A ruling class sociopath knocks down a working class girl in a hit-and-run and uses a deck of playing cards to determine his fate. Cast: Emmett J. Scanlan, Leigh Arnold, Damien Hannaway, Ruth McIntyre, Tony Murphy (World Premiere)
Director & Writer: Janet Grillo
A poignant yet humor filled story about a single mother of a teenager with autism, confronting her child’s future. What will sustain her daughter, and herself? A parent/child love story, when love means letting go. Cast: Beth Broderick, Ashley Rickards, Greg Germann, JR Bourne, Reno (World Premiere)
HAPPY NEW YEAR
Director & Writer: K. Lorrel Manning
A war torn marine returns home to face his fiercest battle yet --- the one against himself.
Cast: Michael Cuomo, JD Williams, Monique Gabriela Curnen, Tina Sloan, Alan Dale (World Premiere)
Director & Writer: Robbie Pickering
When a dutiful, albeit barren, housewife discovers that her ailing husband has an illegitimate son, she sets out to find the young man and reunite him with her husband before he dies.
Cast: Rachael Harris, Matt O'Leary, Jon Gries, John Diehl (World Premiere)
Small, Beautifully Moving Parts
Directors & Writers: Annie J. Howell & Lisa Robinson
Technology-obsessed Sarah Sparks is pregnant and ambivalent, afraid she relates better to machines than to people. Looking for answers, she hits the road in search of her estranged mother, now living off the grid. Cast: Anna Margaret Hollyman, André Holland, Sarah Rafferty, Susan Kalechi Watson, Mary Beth Peil (World Premiere)
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION
This year’s 8 films were selected from 808 submissions. Each film is a World Premiere.
Films screening in Documentary Feature Competition are:
Director: Sally Rowe
Considered a rising star of haute cuisine, Paul Liebrandt found his career stalled in New York’s austere environment post 9/11. Paul struggles over the next decade as he tries to make his way back to the top. (World Premiere)
Better This World
Directors: Katie Galloway & Kelly Duane de la Vega
Two childhood friends from Midland, Texas cross a line that changes their lives forever. The result: eight homemade bombs, multiple domestic terrorism charges and a high stakes entrapment defense hinging on a controversial FBI informant. (World Premiere)
The City Dark
Director: Ian Cheney
The film chronicles the disappearance of darkness, following astronomers, cancer researchers, ecologists and philosophers in a quest to understand what is lost in the glare of city lights. (World Premiere)
Director: Tristan Patterson
Killer Films presents the transmissions of a lost kid, falling in love, in the suburbs of Fullerton, California. Featuring skateboarding, the usual drugs, and stray glimpses of unusual beauty.
Directors: Michael Tucker & Petra Epperlein
A documentary about the art and sport of fighting: a microcosm of life, a physical manifestation of that other brutal contest called the American Dream. (World Premiere)
Director: Vikram Gandhi
A documentary about a man who impersonates a wise Indian Guru and builds a following in Arizona. (World Premiere)
LAST DAYS HERE
Directors: Don Argott & Demian Fenton
The film follows middle-aged rocker Bobby Liebling, lead singer of the cult hard rock/heavy metal band Pentagram, as he leaves his parents' basement in search of the life he never lived.
Where Soldiers Come From
Director: Heather Courtney
From a snowy small town in Northern Michigan to the mountains of Afghanistan and back, the film follows the four-year journey of childhood friends and their town, forever changed by a faraway war. (World Premiere)
Big names, big talent: Headliners bring star power to SXSW, featuring red carpet premieres and gala film events with some major and rising names in cinema.
Films screening in Headliners are:
Director: Takashi Miike, Writers: Shoichirou Ikemiya & Daisuke Tengan
Distressed by the Lord’s murderous rampage, top Shogun official Sir Doi secretly calls on esteemed samurai Shinzaemon Shimada to assassinate the evil Naritsugu. Outraged by Lord Naritsugu’s vile acts, Shinzaemon willingly accepts the dangerous mission. Cast: Koji Yakusho, Takayuki Yamada, Yusuke Iseya, Goro Inagaki, Masachika Ichimura
Ain't It Cool News 15th Anniversary Screening
Harry Knowles will curate a surprise screening in honor of the 15th Anniversary of his popular cult website Ain't it Cool News.
Director: Jodie Foster, Writer: Kyle Killen
Two-time Academy Award® winner Jodie Foster directs and co-stars with two-time Academy Award® winner Mel Gibson in an emotional story about a man on a journey to re-discover his family and re-start his life. Plagued by his own demons, Walter Black was once a successful toy executive and family man who now suffers from depression. No matter what he tries, Walter can’t seem to get himself back on track…until a beaver hand puppet enters his life. Cast: Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Anton Yelchin, Jennifer Lawrence, Cherry Jones (World Premiere)
Conan O'Brien Can't Stop
Director: Rodman Flender
Did Conan O'Brien go on tour to connect with his fans or fill a void within himself? Rodman Flender’s documentary captures an artist trained in improvisation at the most improvisational time of his career. (World Premiere)
Director: Greg Mottola, Writers: Simon Pegg & Nick Frost
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost reunite as two geeks who meet an alien named Paul (Seth Rogen) on a pilgrimage to America’s UFO heartland. Their road trip will alter our universe forever. Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Blythe Danner, John Carroll Lynch, with Sigourney Weaver, and Seth Rogen as Paul (North American Premiere)
Director: Duncan Jones, Writer: Ben Ripley
When soldier Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes up in the body of an unknown man, he discovers he’s part of a mission to find the bomber of a Chicago commuter train. In an assignment unlike any he’s ever known, he learns he’s part of a government experiment called the “Source Code,” a computer program that enables him to cross over into another man's identity in the last 8 minutes of his life. Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright (World Premiere)
Director & Writer: James Gunn
In this outlandish dark comedy, James Gunn has created what is perhaps the definitive take on self-reflexive superheroes. Cast: Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, Liv Tyler, Kevin Bacon, Michael Rooker
Director: Tom McCarthy, Writers: Tom McCarthy & Joe Tiboni
Tom McCarthy, acclaimed writer/director of The Visitor and The Station Agent, once again explores the depths and nuances of human relationships in his new film about the allegiances and bonds between unlikely characters. Cast: Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Bobby Cannavale, Jeffrey Tambor, Burt Young, Melanie Lynskey, Alex Schaffer, Margo Martindale, David Thompson
Shining a light on new documentary and narrative features receiving their World, North American or U.S. Premieres at SXSW.
Films screening in Spotlight Premieres are:
A Bag of Hammers
Director: Brian Crano, Writers: Brian Crano & Jake Sandvig
An offbeat comedy about two misfit best friends incapable of growing up, whose direction is tested by an abandoned child, worn beyond his years; together they invent the family they've always needed. Cast: Jason Ritter, Jake Sandvig, Chandler Canterbury, Rebecca Hall, Carrie Preston (World Premiere)
Director: Jeff Myers
In an effort to rekindle his Christmas spirit, Jack decides to spend this season as Santa Claus, but the role of Kris Kringle is more complex than he thinks. (World Premiere)
Writer & Director: Mike Mills
When Oliver (Ewan McGregor) meets the irreverent and unpredictable Anna (Mélanie Laurent) only months after his father Hal (Christopher Plummer) has passed away, this new love floods Oliver with memories of his father who – following 44 years of marriage – came out of the closet at age 75 to live a full, energized, and wonderfully tumultuous gay life. Cast: Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Mélanie Laurent, Goran Visnjic, Kai Lennox (U.S. Premiere)
Bob and The Monster
Director: Keirda Bahruth
A highly compelling portrait of outspoken indie-rock hero Bob Forrest, through his life-threatening struggle with addiction, to his transformation into one of the most influential and controversial drug counselors in the US today. (World Premiere)
Director: Joseph Kahn, Writers: Joseph Kahn & Mark Palermo
A downtrodden 17-year-old girl is sent to detention where she must survive a slasher film killer and save the world in time for prom. Cast: Josh Hutcherson, Dane Cook, Shanley Caswell, Spencer Locke, Aaron David Johnson (World Premiere)
Director: Anne Buford
From a basketball academy in Senegal, to the high-pressure world of American prep schools, the film documents the extraordinary personal journeys of four particularly tall West African Muslim teenage boys with NBA dreams. (World Premiere)
Director: Sara Terry
Victims and perpetrators of Sierra Leone’s brutal war come together for the first time in an unprecedented reconciliation program of grassroots truth-telling and forgiveness ceremonies.
Fubar: Balls to the Wall (Canada)
Director: Michael Dowse, Writers: David Lawrence, Paul J. Spence
Documentarian Farrel Mitchner explores the lives of headbangers Dean Murdoch and Terry Cahill. Cast: Paul J. Spence, David Lawrence (U.S. Premiere)
Girl Walks Into a Bar
Director & Writer: Sebastian Gutierrez
A sharp-witted comedy that follows a group of apparent strangers in interlocking stories taking place in ten different bars during the course of one evening in Los Angeles. Cast: Carla Gugino, Zachary Quinto, Danny DeVito, Josh Hartnett, Rosario Dawson (World Premiere)
Director & Writer: Ti West
Hotel clerks by day, amateur ghost hunters by night, the last two employees of the historic Yankee Pedlar Inn set out to prove that their place of business is as haunted as its reputation.
Cast: Sara Paxton, Pat Healy, Kelly McGillis (World Premiere)
It's About You
Director: Kurt Markus
First-time filmmakers, photographer Kurt Markus and son, Ian, document John Mellencamp’s 2009 summer tour and recording of his latest album. This film celebrates the visual beauty and power of Super8 film and the human voice. (World Premiere)
Director & Writer: Alex Munt
A pop-art film based on the novel “Living Between Fucks” by Cry Bloxsome. It follows Goodchild, a young writer back home for his ex-girlfriend's funeral, The Dead Girl. Love, Loss & Desperation.
Cast: Toby Schmitz, Bianca Chiminello, Gracie Otto, Septimus Caton, April Rose Pengilly
The Other F Word
Director: Andrea Blaugrund Nevins
When the most anti-authoritarian among us become the ultimate authorities... we might just have to use The Other F Word. (World Premiere)
Directors: Victor Köhler & David Dworsky
The first real testimony of the digi-creative revolution. It's an 80 minute global journey capturing how digital technology and mindset has transformed the concept of art and culture.
(North American Premiere)
Directors: Dan Geller & Dayna Goldfine
Apple. Intel. Genentech. Cisco. Atari. This film tells the story of a handful of risk-takers who alongside visionary entrepreneurs created these revolutionary companies, and in the process ignited the industry known as venture capital. (World Premiere)
Director: Billy Corben
A colorful portrait of Miami's pot smugglin' scene of the 1970s, populated with redneck pirates, a ganja-smoking church, and the longest serving marijuana prisoner in American history.
Directors: Dan Lindsay & T.J. Martin
A volunteer coach helps a neglected inner-city football team in their quest to win the first playoff game in the high school's history. (World Premiere)
Yelling to the Sky
Director & Writer: Victoria Mahoney
As her family falls apart, seventeen year old Sweetness O’Hara is left to fend for herself in a neighborhood where her survival is uncertain. Cast: Zoe Kravitz, Jason Clarke, Antonique Smith, Gabourey Sidibe, Tim Blake Nelson (U.S. Premiere)
YOU INSTEAD (Scotland)
Director: David Mackenzie, Writer: Thomas Leveritt
Two rival musicians find themselves handcuffed together at the world renowned music festival, T in the Park, where they are both scheduled to perform. Cast: Luke Treadaway, Natalia Tena, Sophie Wu, Ruta Gedmintas, Kari Corbett (North American Premiere)
Innovation and creativity from new and emerging feature filmmakers, showcasing raw talent in documentary and narratives of varying premiere status.
Films screening in Emerging Visions are:
Director & Writer: Dustin Guy Defa
A humorless loner attempts to win the admiration of a drifter with his debut performance at the local comedy club. Cast: Kentucker Audley, Eléonore Hendricks, Annette Wright, Allison Baar
The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye
Director: Marie Losier
A portrait of the life and work of ground-breaking performance artist and music pioneer Genesis Breyer P-Orridge (Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV) and his wife Lady Jaye, centered around their sexual transformations for their “Pandrogyne” project. (North American Premiere)
Director & Writer: Evan Glodell
A love story with apocalyptic stakes. Cast: Evan Glodell, Jessie Wiseman, Tyler Dawson, Rebekah Brandes, Vincent Grashaw
The Catechism Cataclysm
Director & Writer: Todd Rohal
Father William Smoortser drops his bible into a toilet at a rest stop just before embarking on a day-long canoe trip, breaking loose all glorious hell. Cast: Steve Little, Robert Longstreet, Walter Dalton, Miki Ann Maddox, Koko Lanham, Rico
Caught Inside (Australia)
Director: Adam Blaiklock, Writers: Adam Blaiklock & Matt Tomaszewski
A surfing holiday turns deadly when a group of friends fight over a beautiful woman. Cast: Ben Oxenbould, Daisy Betts, Sam Lyndon, Simon Lyndon, Peter Phelps (North American Premiere)
Director: Jarred Alterman
Artist Christiaan Zwanikken resurrects deceased wildlife by reanimating the skeletal remains with servomotors and robotics. He breeds these new species in a 400-year-old monastery in Portugal, restored from ruins and converted into his laboratory. (North American Premiere)
The Dish & The Spoon
Director: Alison Bagnall, Writers: Alison Bagnall, Andrew Lewis
In this poignant comedy, Rose (Greta Gerwig), reeling from her husband's affair, collides and forms an unexpected bond with a marooned teenager from England (exciting newcomer Olly Alexander) in a boarded-up Delaware beach town. Cast: Greta Gerwig, Olly Alexander, Eleonore Hendricks, Amy Seimetz, Adam Rothenberg (World Premiere)
Fuck my life (Chile)
Director & Writer: Nicolás López
Love in the times of Facebook is worst than love in the times of cholera.
Cast: Ariel Levy, Lucy Cominetti, Andrea Velasco, Paz Bascuñan, Leonor Varela (U.S. Premiere)
Director & Writer: Sophia Takal
An intimate friendship between two women dissolves as they are drawn into an irrational, destructive spiral of jealousy and paranoid fantasy in this haunting examination of the female psyche.
Cast: Kate Lyn Sheil, Sophia Takal, Lawrence Michael Levine (World Premiere)
THE KEY MAN
Director & Writer: Peter Himmelstein
Bobby Scheinman is an insurance salesman struggling to provide for his family. Enter Vincent and Irving, two con men who convince Bobby to join them for a moneymaking scheme that quickly spirals out of control. Cast: Jack Davenport, Hugo Weaving, Brian Cox, Judy Greer, Ben Shenkman
Director: R. Alverson, Writers: R. Alverson & Colm O'Leary
Ike (Will Oldham), an Evangelical Christian, befriends Sean, an Irish immigrant, and attempts to ensure his salvation. A meditation on the allure and limitations of modern utopian belief. Cast: Will Oldham, Colm O'Leary, Thomas Bowles, Walter Scott, Roxanne Ferris (North American Premiere)
No Matter What
Director & Writer: Cherie Saulter
The story of Nick and Joey, two best friends living in the crumbling landscape of rural Florida, whose lives and friendship are changed by the journey to find Joey’s mother. Cast: Matt Webb, Waylan Gross, Amy Seimetz (World Premiere)
Our Day Will Come (France)
Director: Romain Gavras, Writers: Romain Gavras & Karim Boucherka
Two outcast redheads set off on a roadtrip of hate, violence and self-destruction. The time for revenge has come... Cast: Vincent Cassel, Olivier Barthelemy (U.S. Premiere)
Director: Gustavo Pizzi, Writers: Gustavo Pizzi & Karine Teles
What's the importance of luck in life? Is luck part of the craft? Cast: Karine Teles, Camilo Pellegrini, Dany Roland, Otavio Muller (North American Premiere)
Director & Writer: Michael Tully
A reclusive sports hustler returns home to his family farm after years of absence to reunite with his two eccentric, unhinged and emotionally damaged brothers. Cast: Robert Longstreet, Onur Tukel, Michael Tully, Rachel Korine, Mark Darby Robinson
Director & Writer: Joe Swanberg
Filmmaking and life converge around a werewolf film. Cast: Kate Lyn Sheil, Ti West, Amy Seimetz, Joe Swanberg, Jane Adams (North American Premiere)
Director: Dave Boyle, Writers: Dave Boyle, Joel Clark, & Goh Nakamura
Musician Goh Nakamura is hired to teach TV actor Danny Turner how to walk and talk like a rock star for his new movie. Cast: Goh Nakamura, Chadd Stoops, Lynn Chen, Mary Cavett, Joy Osmanski (World Premiere)
Director & Writer: Kyle Smith
Ten friends gather to play an annual game of touch football in this real-time comedy.
Cast: Morgan Beck, Adam Benic, Kerry Bishé, Troy Buchanan, Tom DiMenna (World Premiere)
Director & Writer: Andrew Haigh
A one-night stand that becomes something else, something important - a (sort of) love story between two guys trying to take control of their lives. Cast: Tom Cullen, Chris New (World Premiere)
LONE STAR STATES
Texas proud! Documentaries and Narratives with a special connection to the Lone Star State.
Films screening in Lone Star States are:
Director: Aaron Rottinghaus, Writers: Aaron Rottinghaus & Josh Danziger
Young love is derailed by a rare psychological disorder known as icd-10 F24. Cast: Olesya Rulin, Josh Danziger, Michael Bowen, Bruce McGill, Joey Lauren Adams (World Premiere)
Director & Writer: Aaron Burns
Sad, fat, black, latino, nerd. It doesn't get any worse than that. Cast: Austin Marshall, Devyn Ray, Tiger Sheu, Danny Trejo, Jeff Fahey (World Premiere)
Director: Turk Pipkin
Filmmaker Turk Pipkin’s promise to help build the first high school for a remote African community connects Americans and Kenyans in this true story. (World Premiere)
Five Time Champion
Director & Writer: Berndt Mader
A film about love, hope, petty theft, adultery, and the boundless opportunities presented by science. Cast: Betty Buckley, Dana Wheeler Nicholson, Jon Gries, Ryan Akin, Robert Longstreet
INCENDIARY: The Willingham Case
Directors: Steve Mims & Joe Bailey, Jr.
Cameron Todd Willingham: A martyr for anti-death penalty activists, a 'monster' for right-wing politicians and a flash point for an astonishing twenty-first century fight between science and folklore. (World Premiere)
Inside America (Austria)
Director & Writer: Barbara Eder
A portrait of six teenagers during their senior year at Hanna High School in Brownsville and “a relentless, downbeat but convincing indictment of a small Texas high school.” Cast: Raul Juarez, Aimeé Lizette Saldivar, Zuleyma Jaime, Luis De Los Santos, Carlos Benavides, Patty Barrera
My Sucky Teen Romance
Director & Writer: Emily Hagins
In a culture that is currently overrun with romanticized vampires, it is up to four geeky teenagers to defend their friend and beloved sci-fi convention from a group of very real, blood-thirsty vampires.
Cast: Elaine Hurt, Patrick Delgado, Santiago Dietche, Lauren Lee, Tony Vespe (World Premiere)
Otis Under Sky
Director: Anlo Sepulveda, Writers: Anlo Sepulveda, Anis Mojgani, Roberta Colindrez
Otis is a socially inept web artist who struggles to connect with people. He falls into unrequited love with Ursula, and his world is turned upside down. Cast: Anis Mojgani, Roberta Colindrez, Tony Jackson, Jacqueline Leal, Ruth Sepulveda (World Premiere)
Director & Writer: Clay Liford
A high school teacher is severely beaten by his own students. Too embarrassed to inform the authorities, he plots his own revenge. Cast: Nate Rubin, Alicia Anthony, Alex Karpovsky, Jonny Mars, Tony Hale (World Premiere)
24 BEATS PER SECOND
Showcasing the sounds, culture and influence of music and musicians, with an emphasis on documentary.
Films screening in 24 Beats Per Second are:
Benda Bilili! (France)
Directors: Renaud Barret & Florent de La Tullaye
Ricky dreams of making Staff Benda Bilili the best band in Congo Kinshasa. Roger wants to join these stars of the ghetto. Together, they must avoid the pitfalls of the street and believe in music. (U.S. Premiere)
Director: James Moll
The definitive documentary of the last great American rock n’ roll band: chronicling Foo Fighters’ 16 year history from their first club gigs to the recording of their new album in Dave Grohl's garage.
Le Tigre: On Tour
Director: Kerthy Fix
A concert film that follows a feminist electronic band across 4 continents and 10 countries and provides an unusual peek behind the curtain of the contemporary pop machine. (World Premiere)
Live at Preservation Hall: Louisiana Fairytale
Director: Danny Clinch
The film documents the collaboration between New Orleans's legendary Preservation Hall Jazz Band and American rock band My Morning Jacket, demonstrating the power of Preservation Hall to inspire a whole new generation of musicians. (World Premiere)
Love Shines (Canada)
Director: Douglas Arrowsmith
Love Shines follows Canadian singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith as he makes his latest studio album with legendary producer Bob Rock. (U.S. Premiere)
NYMAN IN PROGRESS (Germany/England)
Director: Silvia Beck
A documentary about composer and artist Michael Nyman, who at 65, surprises the world with a new insight into his creativity. (U.S. Premiere)
Outside Industry: The Story of SXSW
Director: Alan Berg
Four guys living on next to nothing created a music event in the hopes of giving bands a way of connecting with music insiders. The result was the biggest music industry event in the world.
Sound It Out (England)
Director: Jeanie Finlay
A documentary portrait of the very last record shop in Teesside. A distinctive, funny and intimate film about men, the North of England and the irreplaceable role of music in our lives. (World Premiere)
Taken By Storm: The Art of Storm Thorgerson and Hipgnosis
Director: Roddy Bogawa
Real? Surreal? Iconic? Impossible? The album art of Storm Thorgerson is so far deeply embedded into our psyche, it’s hard to believe it all came from one mind. (World Premiere)
UPSIDE DOWN: THE CREATION RECORDS STORY (England)
Director: Danny O'Connor
The definitive and fully authorized documentary of the highs and lows of the UK's most inspired and dissolute independent record label - Creation Records. (North American Premiere)
A diverse panorama of international filmmaking talent, including premieres, interactive documentaries and shorts.
Films screening in SX Global are:
Director & Writer: Assaf Tager
In a post-industrial world people are no longer able to dream. Sarah, the single surviving dreamer, sets out to the only place that can provide answers to her strange night visions: the dream factory.
Cast: Sarah Adler, David Fire, Liron Levo, Nicole Veronica (North American Premiere)
Director: Janus Metz
Following a group of Danish solders on a 2009 tour of Afghanistan, Janus Metz’s acclaimed documentary is a gripping, visually stunning probe into the psychology of young men in the midst of a senseless war.
Beats of Freedom (Poland)
Directors: Leszek Gnoinski & Wojciech Slota
A captivating film about the birth of rock music in Poland.
El Ambulante (Argentina)
Directors & Writers: Eduardo de la Serna, Lucas Marcheggiano and Adriana Yurcovich
A traveler arrives at a village and proposes to make a feature film - but only the villagers will act in the film.
El Bulli - Cooking in Progress (Germany)
Director: Gereon Wetzel
The starred chef Ferran Adrià is known as the best, most innovative and craziest cook in the world. Every year, the restaurant closes for six months and Adrià and his creative team retire to their cooking laboratory in Barcelona, to create a new menu for the following season. Everything is allowed – except copying themselves.
Heaven Hell (Czech Republic)
Director: David Calek
A documentary film dealing with human diversity that doesn't necessarily lead to hell even though it might seem like that from the outsider's point of view. (U.S. Premiere)
IDFA DocLab presents: New Documentary Narratives
For the third year in a row, SXSW has invited IDFA DocLab (www.idfa.nl/doclab) to organize a panel and a special live cinema screening. IDFA DocLab is the new media program of the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. Since 2008, IDFA DocLab showcases the many new and unexpected forms of documentary storytelling made possible by digital technology. In Europe, the program has become a platform for transmedia and multiplatform projects, ranging from interactive webdocs to documentary media art.
My Life With Carlos (Chile/Germany/Spain)
Director: German Berger-Hertz
The film chronicles the journey of a son (director German Berger-Hertz) trying to learn the truth about his father, who was killed in 1973 in Pinochet's Chile.
Reindeer Spotting (Finland)
Director: Joonas Neuvonen
Without moralizing the film shows the real life of a group of friends in the Arctic Circle, dabbling in petty crime and hard drugs. Disturbing, brutal and beautifully honest. Trainspotting in Santa Land.
(North American Premiere)
Self Made (England)
Director: Gillian Wearing
A diverse group of British people respond to an ad from artist Gillian Wearing. Taking part in an experiment with Method acting, they find themselves for the first time confronting their innermost personal truths.
Viva Riva! (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Director & Writer: Djo Tunda Wa Munga
The first major film out of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the story follows fast-living hustler Riva. While being pursued by Kinshasa’s dangerous underworld, Riva finds himself inextricably drawn to a gangster’s seductive, kept woman. Cast: Patsha Bay, Manie Malone, Hoji Fortuna, Marlene Longage, Diplome Amekindra, Alex Herabo (U.S. Premiere)
WAY OF THE MORRIS (England)
Directors: Tim Plester & Rob Curry
Filmmaker Tim Plester journeys from the English village green to the killing fields of The Somme, in search of a connection with the much-maligned native dance traditions that run deep in his blood. (World Premiere)
Acclaimed standouts and selected previous premieres from festivals around the world.
Films screening in Festival Favorites are:
Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey
Director: Constance A. Marks
Elmo is one of the most beloved characters among children across the globe. Meet the unlikely man behind the puppet - the heart and soul of Elmo - Kevin Clash. Narrated by Whoopi Goldberg, this documentary includes rare archival footage and offers a behind-the-scenes look at Sesame Street and the Jim Henson Workshop.
CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS (France)
Director: Werner Herzog
Filming in 3D, Herzog captures the wonder and beauty of one of the most awe-inspiring sites on earth.
Director & Writer: Max Winkler
Sam Davis convinces his former best friend to spend a weekend with him to rekindle their friendship at an elegant beachside estate but he is forced to realize how complicated love and friendship can be. Cast: Michael Angarano, Uma Thurman, Reece Thompson, Lee Pace, Jake Johnson
The First Movie (Canada/England)
Director: Mark Cousins
What’s it like to be a child in war – not when the conflict is raging, but when the war tide is out, as it were, when kids are telling stories or playing games?
Director: Spencer Susser, Writers: Spencer Susser & David Michôd
Loud music. Pornography. Burning shit down – just a few of Hesher’s favorite things. And it’s just this kind of anarchy that’s needed to shake the burdens of sorrow from a boy and his father.
Cast: Natalie Portman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rainn Wilson, Devin Brochu, Piper Laurie
How to Die in Oregon
Director: Peter D. Richardson
The film tells the complex stories of terminally ill Oregonians, their families, doctors and friends, as they decide whether to end their life by lethal overdose under Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act.
In a Better World (Denmark)
Director: Susanne Bier, Writer: Anders Thomas Jensen, based on a story by Susanne Bier and Anders Thomas Jensen
Golden Globe® Award winner and Academy Award® nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, and told from the two very different worlds of an idyllic Danish town and an African refugee camp, a doctor and his family are faced with conflicts that force them to make difficult choices between revenge and forgiveness. Cast: Mikael Persbrandt, Trine Dyrholm, Ulrich Thomsen, Markus Rygaard, William Jøhnk Nielsen
Director & Writer: Denis Villenueve
Academy Award® nominee for Best Foreign Language Film and adaptation of Wajdi Mouawad’s acclaimed play, Incendies tells the story of two siblings who set out to the Middle East to understand the life of their deceased enigmatic mother, who has left them with a mystery only they can piece together. Cast: Lubna Azabal, Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin, Maxim Gaudette, Rémy Girard
Page One: A Year Inside The New York Times
Director: Andrew Rossi
Unprecedented access to the New York Times newsroom yields a complex view of a media landscape fraught with both peril and opportunity.
POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
Director: Morgan Spurlock
Morgan Spurlock (Oscar nominee, Super Size Me) explores the world of product placement, marketing and advertising in POM Wonderful Presents: THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER SOLD, a film fully financed through product placement.
ROAD TO NOWHERE
Director: Monte Hellman, Writer: Steven Gaydos
Illusion is the First of all Pleasures. Cast: Shannyn Sossamon, Tygh Runyan, Dominique Swain, Cliff De Young, Waylon Payne
Sound of My Voice
Director: Zal Batmanglij, Writers: Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling
A young couple infiltrate a cult that meets in the San Fernando Valley. Cast: Brit Marling, Christopher Denham, Nicole Vicius
Director: Errol Morris
Errol Morris further redefines and pushes the boundaries of documentary film with the tale of Joyce McKinney and the infamous “Case of the Manacled Mormon."
Director: Azazel Jacobs, Writer: Patrick deWitt
A moving and often funny film about a big kid in a small town that doesn’t seem to have room for anyone who is different. Cast: Jacob Wysocki, John C. Reilly, Creed Bratton, Olivia Crocicchia, Bridger Zadina
Wasted on the Young (Australia)
Director & Writer: Ben C. Lucas
An incident at a high school party sets off a dramatic chain of events and two brothers must place their lives at the mercy of popular opinion. Cast: Oliver Ackland, Adelaide Clemens, Alex Russell
Live Soundtracks, cult re-issues and much more. Our Special Events section offers unusual, unexpected and unique film event one-offs.
Films screening in Special Events are:
Directors: Edward Sedgwick & Buster Keaton, Writer: Clyde Bruckman
Buster Keaton plays a bumbling street photographer who tries his hand as a newsreel cameraman to impress a girl. Austin jazz/rock band Bee vs. Moth plays their original score live. Presented in partnership with the Alamo Drafthouse. Cast: Buster Keaton, Marceline Day, Harold Goodwin, Sidney Bracey, Harry Gribbon
Director: Michael Dowse, Writers: Dave Lawrence, Paul J. Spence, Michael Dowse
SXSW presents the cult classic Fubar to celebrate the screening of SXSW 2011 Official Selection, Fubar: Balls to the Wall. Cast: Dave Lawrence, Paul J. Spence, Gordon Skilling, Andrew Sparacino, Tracy Lawrence
The National Parks Project (Canada)
A stunning collection of short films that represents the breadth of Canada's artistic talent and diversity of the country’s landscape, as it’s never been seen before. Cast: Sarah Harmer, Cadence Weapon, Bry Webb, Melissa Auf der Maur, Sam Roberts (U.S. Premiere)
Red Riding Hood - Special Screening
Director: Catherine Hardwicke, Writer: David Leslie Johnson
Catherine Hardwicke will be present for Q&A following this special screening of her latest film, on Thursday, March 10 at midnight. In the film, a werewolf terrorizes a small village, especially when the people discover that, by day, the beast could be anyone. And one young woman discovers that she has a unique connection to the wolf that makes her both suspect…and bait.
Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Billy Burke, Shiloh Fernandez, Max Irons
The Rime of the Modern Mariner (England)
Director & Writer: Mark Donne
A documentary set to a spellbinding live musical score - which examines the nature of relationship between a nation state and the seas in a globalized world. Cast: Mark Donne, Carl Barat (The Libertines), Anthony Rossomando (The Klaxons) (U.S. Premiere)
January 26, 2011
Peter Guber: How to Use Storytelling to Build Relationships for Life
Film producer and Mandalay Entertainment CEO and Chairman Peter Guber is a man of passion. He inspires people by sharing his stories about success and failures. He's well known for a number of Hollywood successes but most noted ones include Rain Man, Batman, The Color Purple, Midnight Express, Gorillas in the Mist: The Story of Dian Fossey, The Witches of Eastwick, Missing and Flashdance, all of which have led to more than 50 Academy Award nominations.
"You can't look at failure as something that cripples you, you have to look at failure as your partner, because with it comes great opportunities," says Peter.
"Stories are not the icing on the cake, it's the cake - it's everything," he adds. "Stories are the way we make sense of our world." And what are stories made of? Stories are our dreams he reminds and adds, "hits are not born in the head, they're born in the gut and the heart. The idea is when you're trying to get someone to do something, you need to connect to them viscerally and emotionally."
How do you create relationships for life? he asks. What is key he asserts is telling Purposeful stories. You first must have a purpose, and with conviction and heart, you then "tell" that story in a way that will motivate your audience to action. It's a combination of having great content, passion and purpose.
He then talks about motivation. He quotes Arianna Huffington and says he feels the same way about motivation and getting things done. To really get something done, you must get into the same room with the other person, breathe the same air as the person and then be congruent.
In other words, don't go into the room unless you really show up....show up and be congruent, because if you're not congruent and not in alignment, including the minute details, such as your breathe, your audience will know.
Once you're congruent and you're ready to to motivate, it's key, he says, "to motivate yourself first." "When you walk into the room and before you open your mouth, you're already telling your story. Your intention shows up first, long before your words do."
He encourages us to rethink our roles and what business we're in. He says that we're all in the Emotional Transformation Business. It's our job to transform, motivate and move people to action. Clients don't want to just be called clients, they want relationships. They want connection.
Connection starts with the dance you do the moment you walk in the room. Once you're in the room with an audience, they don't want a conversation, they want an 'experience.' Make the emotional connection first, not second.
He moves into the topic of preparation and presentations, encouraging people not to use notes when they give a presentation. He says he likes notes because they provide a good reference point to refer back to, but not to have it as the basis of your presentation. Once you begin your talk, he says you should speak from the heart and just see what comes out of you, "be spontaneous and let the canvas open up in front of you."
The key to get action from your 'story' is not just to be purposeful but to also have an end goal. All purposeful storytelling has a Goal. Peter says, "your role is not to hide it but to pride it. If you hide it, people will know and not trust it." In other words, the more generous your goals are, goals that include the "we," where they win too, they're much more likely to take the risk and dive in.
He also emphasizes the importance of Transparency in your story. It's important that your goals are completely transparent because people will feel and know what your true intention is.
Peter tells a touching story about a call he received from Nelson Mandela after he got out of prison, who called him directly to ask for his help. Mandela's mission was to come to the states to have two parties, with the following goal in mind: to get businesses and entrepreneurs involved in willingly helping South Africa through their transition.
Peter talks about the transparency and congruency of his pitch and because his pitch was authentic and with purpose, people opened up their wallets and moved to action. He said with conviction that if the world doesn't get involved, that "we" will keep their dreams in prison.
The fourth key component to storytelling is Interactivity. "The best storytelling is interactive," he says. It's not a monologue, it's a dialogue. When it's a dialogue, you metabolize it, you get your audience to own it in their bodies.
He tells people to Surrender Control. Peter says, "you're not in control of what your audience is going to do and how they're going to feel. When you surrender control, magic happens. When they own what you tell them, they pay it forward.
They become advocates for your proposition and then, they become your army. And, when you surrender control, you create space for them to come forward and act on their own. Detach yourself from judgment and just trust that the rest will take care of itself - that's part of the elegance of it, he says.
Now for the Story itself. Finding stories is easy, he says. "They're everywhere. There's no magic in it - stories are everywhere, they're the stories of our lives. They're all around us - use your nose, your eyes and your ears. It's really that easy." He says, "no gift from me to you, you already have it. It's the way we're all wired."
When we discover what our story is or what one we want to use, he says, "ask yourself, is it generous. Is it congruent with who you are? Is it transparent? Is it authentic?"
Stories live in your head - that's an experience. Stories live in your heart - that's an experience. Peter says that when the stories come from your own experience and we are reliving that expeirence in real-time in front of people, they will feel it. That's what I mean by us being in the "emotional transformation business," he says. "If you really own that story, then you will move people." The Methodology of the Tell is What Makes the Difference.
Wherever there is emotion, there's a story. In other words, there must be an emotional palette when you engage with someone. Essentially, you're trying to get people to Go on a Journey with you. He says, "I always look for a place where I can connect to a story I hear."
The stories we hear and that we tell ourselves are bits and pieces of data that we metabolize and soon, we become those stories. The narrative that we tell ourselves over and over again are the reality and belief systems we create. In other words, create empowering stories that inspire and invoke change for the better. "Tell a better story than the stories you hear around you. Don't we owe that to ourselves?" says Peter.
He reaffirms with conviction and passion: do it, enjoy it, own it and tell your story from that place and the story will be paid forward.
Photo Credit: UCLA School of Theatre and Television. Second image credit: http://janecanstant
January 19, 2011
Ray Kurzweil's The Transcendent Man
The Transcendent Man, the movie, is previewing starting in early February, beginning on the east coast in New York.
This documentary film is about the life and ideas of Ray Kurzweil who continues to travel the world offering his vision of a future in which we will merge with our machines, can live forever, and are billions of times more intelligent...all within the next thirty years.
Each program will include opening remarks or presentation by Ray Kurzweil, the film screening itself, a
Q&A with Ray Kurzweil and director Barry Ptolemy and of course, the program will vary slightly from city-to-city.
The schedule of where and when the movie is playing is below.
December 31, 2010
2010: The Year of Multiple Digital Personas
This past year was one of my busiest years, largely because of 4 factors: I re-launched two sites, started shooting more (note: Canon 7D purchase), I seemed to be on the road non-stop and clients expected more than ever and yet they want to pay less for results.
Let's start by looking at some of the technology trends and mindshifts in 2010 which led to such a chaotic schedule.
Social media tools exploded. Living in Silicon Valley, you get hit with more beta trials than anywhere else in the world and testing new shit out is what I do among other things, so it's no surprise that I was hit with more than one person could possibly digest. Yet, some of those tools started to go mainstream, so suddenly things that were on my back burner couldn't go unnoticed anymore. For one, location-based services started to get a lot of attention.
Last January, I found myself in a hotel room in Munich desperate to connect and "check in" before heading out for a stroll in the fresh fallen snow.
How F-Ked up is that? Foursquare doesn't seem to want to acknowledge that I'm in another country when I am, regardless of how decent "connectivity" is, yet I can't seem to give in to technology controlling my environment even when it doesn't work. What's wrong with acknowledging that I'm not an engineer, don't try to fix this.....just let things/it be?"
Later in the year, I went through something similar in Paris. Refer to my blog post: When in Paris, BE in Paris, Disconnect.
That brings me to Part B of this story. Technology DID in fact control my environment more than any year in my life.
I relaunched We Blog the World this year because of its organic growth and growing interest from bloggers around the globe who wanted to contribute.
Launching a site isn't what it used to be because of the fact that a site isn't just a site anymore - it's connected to multiple digital personas on the web.
With the site had to be a Facebook "fan" page or whatever they now call it, a Twitter update to match the look-and-feel of the revamped site, as well as photo and video online personas to go with the rest of it.
Then there's maps, mobile optimization, geo-location, custom RSS feeds, online newsletters and editing to ensure the world sees what you want them to see rather than poorly curated clutter on the web. (see Linda Stone/continuous partial attention -- not new to 2010 but still highly relevant).
Enter the growing focus on curation. We're long overdue for attention on intellectual and relevant curation of content that matters to us most.
Since tools can't curate content automatically in a way that is useful to us yet, human curation needs to be part of the process and for anyone who has spent time curating and tagging content on the web knows, it's bloody time consuming. Pearltrees, a curation tool, was a big part of my life this year and I spent time alerting content creators in various vertical markets about the aspect and value of human curation as an integral part of their workflow.
I switched to Chrome this year as my main browser, suddenly I ended up with three phones, one of which was a Google phone that simplified my local calls and texting when in Europe, and I was nearly tempted to buy an iPad so I could carry around yet another device with me to ensure I was connected 24/7 just in case the three phones and two laptops were not enough.
What's important to note is how the 'always on' part of my life which used to largely happen in my office and to and from meetings during my work day migrated into every aspect of my life.
Not only were my digital personas growing in numbers, but so was my attention to them. Suddenly I had a flash page (see about.me, currently still in beta), 3 new sites, 3 new Facebook pages, 4 new Twitter personas, Foursquare and a growing number of international connections to "manage."
By summer, I was seriously feeling the effect of The Shallows (see Nicholas Carr's book: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains). In synthesizing recent cognitive research, he shares his own experiences, something that I could personally relate to. Carr writes "I've had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something has been tinkering iwth my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn't going -- so far as I can tell -- but it's changing."
By late July, I found that I couldn't sit still when I was out without a device and moreso, my attention span had shortened dramatically. The same thing was happening to others around me. We couldn't concentrate for long without new digital stimuli, even if that be a simple text message. My reading moved from reading whole books to skimming them, the rest left for online editorial only.
Reading and re-reading books have always brought a sense of calm to my otherwise chaotic world and yet, I had stopped reading novels for awhile. Instead, my reading time was filled with learning how social media was changing our lives and the impact it was having and will continue to have on business and the world. I read about new tools, solutions and trends. Of course, none of it had heart and soul but it was great insight for what to adopt early on.
Carr asserts that "every technology is an expression of human will. Through our tools, we seek to expand our power and control over our circumstances -- over nature, over time and distance, over one another."
And so, with this growing tension between feeling and fearing that my brain was actually changing chemically and the need to be "always" be connected to some device at any given time, I decided to leave the country in August without a device.
Off to South America I went with a friend who brought a Blackberry with her and I, a netbook, largely to be used for checking email once every couple of days, but moreso to offload photos from camera to hard drive. So, while technology wasn't off limits for me, having a device in my hands so I could be reachable and in turn reach out whenever and wherever, was not an option.
When you have close to ten online digital personas you are 'managing' at any given time, not being connected for a few weeks is highly uncomfortable. As I was boarding a plane from Miami to Guyaquil, I noticed how many people fidgeted when the pilot told them to turn their electronic devices off.
Some people stared down at their devices as if they would give them something stimulating even though the screen was blank. A few picked up magazines but flipped through as if bored without the energy of their device, their "adult" pacifier.
I found myself going through the same awkwardness, yet because the device was "home" and not an option when we landed, I was forced to find both my energy and my calm from a static page of a book or an old fashioned notebook which I brought to record thoughts using an actual physical pen.
Since I was with someone who had not made the same choice, I was somewhat forced into the digital world by watching her fiddle with her Blackberry, nose down into its addictive energy while we were driving past the Amazon jungle. It was astonishing that she could get a connection up there and because she 'could,' she did.
There was a moment where I felt like asking her for "it" to check into the Amazon on Foursquare for the world to see, as somewhat of a novelty. There was a moment where I felt like asking her for "it" to tweet out to the world that the Amazon was in trouble and attach a photo of chain saws on the side of the road with piles of timber lined up in rows a couple hundred miles away from the nearest big town.
I had to refocus my energy away from the device and her fingers upon it and onto the lush green wildness out my right window and as soon as I did, slowly but surely, my center found calm. It found presence. It found wonder. It found marvel. It found gratitude. It found wow. It found real physical life that was breathing its beauty into me as I decided to participate IN IT rather than watch or engage with it on a screen.
I didn't blog about my experience that week since we were camping in the middle of the jungle, but I also decided not to blog about it as soon as we were connected in another town. I waited until I returned to the states, and for multiple reasons, it was the right thing to do. Reflections followed - here, here and here. I also wrote about my detaching experience called Hey Digital Maven, How Okay Are You With Silence?
Being present and recalling that presence later on because I had time to reflect on gratitude was key. Being constantly connected doesn't give us the time or more importantly, the 'space' to reflect and go deeper. Our ability to go deeper is limited because of what this constant digital stimuli is doing to our brains, and in turn, our behavior.
As Carr reflects from the discovery he made through his research, "while we know that our brain is an exquisitely sensitive monitor of experience, we want to believe that it lies beyond the influence of experience.
We want to believe that the impressions our brain records as sensations and stores as memories leave no physical imprint on its own structure. To believe otherwise would, we feel, call into question the integrity of the self."
Having a break from managing digital personas for a few weeks reminded me of the essential need for balance -- not just life/play and work balance but digital balance.
While I found that others were going through the same thing, the addictive quality of the lifestyle shift is gradual, and people often find it hard to talk about or perhaps explain.
When I first picked up the iPad and browsed through my blog using Flipboard, a wave of excitement flew through me as the pictures I created in the real world came to life on the screen. A beautiful screen.
The display was magical and an actual device was re-sorting or curating if you like, the content....my content. It was telling my story in its own way and the stories of other bloggers I knew and respected. I thought about how "cool" it would be to have this experience with me at all times, so wherever I was, I could have that dynamic engaging experience rather than a much blander web page.
Yet, when all I sometimes need is the information on the web, having that extra visual pleasure brings me into the web experience more than it does my physical surroundings. When I choose "it" more often than the people around me in the physical world, I'm losing something valuable as well am I not?
Digital addicts will argue not of course since for them, the additional dimension of what these devices bring to their online life (where they spend 90% of their time) is so much greater that they would argue making another choice is 'halting a change' that is not only inevitable but critical.
Inevitable as it is, it doesn't mean we can't be more aware on the impact it is having on our daily lives and decide with our human brains during this explosive evolution and revolution, that human interaction without a digital pacifier at our side, does still hold tremendous value.
Being present without anything in our hands or a list of "online to dos" on our mind makes us so much more aware of a friend's breath across the table as they listen to our words and the intensity in their eyes as they dance with a story they're sharing.
As more and more moves online and away from physical paper and objects, we're reminded of privacy concerns and location-based services knowing our every move and offering products to us as soon as we walk into a store or cafe.
We're reminded that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was a runner-up for Time’s most important Person of the Year regardless of whether you see him as a hero or a villain.
We're reminded that the world has changed as we know it and there's no moving back in time.
While I'm certainly not proposing that we fight the inevitable, or stop technological progress and advancement, I'd like to offer some suggestions as a way to have more physical experiences in our lives amidst the growth of all things digital:
1. Pick a Day a Week to Disconnect from the Digital World: Remember we're talking about only one day a week. Use that day to engage with the physical world - trust me, it still exists. Choose something you're passionate about that is physical and doesn't have a digital extension to it, i.e., skiing down a mountain, cycling through a forest without your cell in your pocket, playing with a child on the beach, or discussing philosophy over dinner at the table with a friend without your iPad or iPhone in a bag by your feet.
2. Practice Using Your Brain Not Just Your Digital Pacifier: When you're tempted to rely on something digital to get you through an experience, choose a time when you don't need to rely on it and use your brain instead. A great example is your car navigation system.
The time to do this is obviously when you're not in a hurry to get from A to B. It's an interesting exercise for those who have relied on a nav system for awhile now. Male friends have commented that they have lost their acute directional sense since they put that part of their brain to rest for awhile. It's not unlike what happened with the introduction of calculators and over time, discovering how hard it was to do math on the fly.
3. Automate some of your Digital Life: While it's important to have a presence on the web if you run a company or work for one, and as part of it, engage, engage, engage, some of it can be automated. Focus on the voices and conversations that matter to you most and automate the rest.
The more scattered your presence, the less you can truly engage and prioritize on the people and passions you most identify with. It's not just about numbers. Quality matters and quality takes time, concerted time and effort.
4. Become the Artist you're Designed to be and Backburner the Rest: Create don't react. Remember that you don't have to respond to everything and everyone all the time. When we're constantly responding to things on our screen, the "lizard brain" is taking over, not the genius inside us. When we're reacting to online chatter, there's less time to "create our true art," which is our gift to the planet while we're alive to share it. In other words, our purpose.
As Seth Godin writes in Linchpins, one of my favorite books this year, "the Lizard Brain often sabotages the progress we have made and stops us from creating our best work." Refer to a great post Seth wrote on 'quieting the lizard brain.'
In my opinion, albeit one of the most useful things to hit this decade, social media has given us so many distractions, that it's difficult to take a step back and realize that we don't have to choose and use it all.
Make the time to create the art you're designed to create and the life you want to have.
Once we realize that we have a choice to pick and choose what's most useful for us and leave the rest, we'll create an opening to create our best art. Let's remember that our digital personas are not the whole picture of our lives, just a piece of it.
As a wise Nepalese elderly man once said to me on my way up a long Annapurna trail many years ago, Patience on your journey grasshopper, patience.
December 31, 2010 in America The Free, Books, Entertainment/Media, Europe, On Blogging, On Branding, On Geo-Location, On Mobile & Wireless, On People & Life, On RSS, On Science, On Technology, On the Future, Reflections, Social Media, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
November 11, 2010
Tunepresto's Video Music Maker
I met with Tunepresto's marketing guru Owen Cooney in Dublin and our briefing was a bit scattered, but in a good way: partly over food and partly under an umbrella on a walk through Dublin. The guy knows more about the history and myths of Ireland than the last country tour guide I encountered. And, more importantly, is passionate about it. (graffiti, art, legends, and murals too).
Currently, Tunepresto, a video 'music maker,' is a Mac download only, although it is slated to be a web-based solution later this month. Essentially, Tunepresto uses the colors in your video to create royalty free music, perfectly timed to your video or slideshow. I can think of tons of places where you could use a solution like this, so the value-add for me was immediate.While I haven't tried it yet (waiting for the web version), it's so damn easy to understand the benefits. Additionally, their website walks you through every possible scenario where adding music via Tunepresto would give you a 'win' to a creation you're working on. Refreshing.
How many times do you go to a website and know immediately what the company is about and how to use their product? Tunepresto's site makes it incredibly easy to figure out: left is a download, right is a learn more video. Also, they have this fabulous screenshot which walks you through different ways to use their product.
November 11, 2010 in America The Free, Entertainment/Media, Europe, Music, On Australia, On Blogging, On Education, On Technology, On Video, Social Gigs & Parties, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
November 07, 2010
Amulet Remote to Record/Watch TV, Listen to Music & More Using Voice
I took a shining to Dublin-based Amulet Devices after a chat and a demo in Dublin last week. Many will remember my days with Dragon Systems/L&H and thereafter a handful of other speech-related companies, so it's no surprise when presented with a slick voice remote that controls your Windows Media Center, my ears might just perk up.
Dublin-based, five people are based on home turf and one person is based in of all places, Boise, Idaho. The company has been showing prototypes at the last two CES's although they just started shipping this past September.
They are currently being funded by Enterprise Ireland and some angel investors. Co-founder Eddy Carroll tells me more in an interview I did with him in a Dublin conference room, which unlike an American west coast one, had tons of mahogany, Victorian-colored carpets, drapes and leather couches.
Today, they're both a hardware and software company, although for anyone who has been in the hardware business, they know its much harder and more expensive than a software download or a SaaS solution.
They’ve been working on building a reseller network in the states and it looks like from their State Dealer Index, that they're well on their way to some serious distribution.
Interestingly enough, they're not using Nuance, the dominating speech recognition leader who has been gobbling up voice companies for years.
The engine behind the voice commands is from Microsoft, which frankly, given its limited vocabulary and the fact that it only needs to tap into a database of 200-300 base control commands, it doesn't have to be the most robust solution on the market. The main questions for consumers will be: is it accurate, respond to me quickly and easy-to-use?
While the full vocabulary may include anywhere from 5,000-10,000 individual matches, most people will end up using the same commands to control their entertainment center again and again.
Furthermore, the system learns from your voice over time, improving the accuracy and tweaking the acoustic model every time you use it.
You can record and watch TV, listen to your favorite music, and view DVDs, videos and photos, all using simple voice commands. For example, you could simply say "Watch Channel NBC" to change the TV channel to NBC. To view an episode of Mad Men recorded last night, say "Watch Program Mad Men". If you want to listen to music, could simply say "Play Artist U2".
They're exploring the set-top market and cloud computing space to see what kind of opportunities lie there in the future. For now, it's about distribution and getting new customers. Below, Eddy talks about some of the features and shows us how easy it is to get set up and use. Initial price point is $259.
October 20, 2010
Barnett, Carolla, Jillette, Hayzlett and Lewis on New Media & Success: #BWE10The Blog World Expo closing 'talk show' panel included Rob Barnett, Adam Corolla, Penn Jillette from Penn & Teller, Cali Lewis and Jeff Hayzlett. What's their secret? Why do they blog? What do they tweet? What is happening with new media and how does it impact them? Listen to hear what these five illuminaries and entertainers think. Says Penn, "Twitter is one of the most intimate ways we can communicate today." The video is in three parts: Part I, Part II and Part III.
October 18, 2010
Digital Hollywood's Monetizing Original Media
On Thursday, October 21, 2010, there's a monetizing digital panel at Digital Hollywood in Los Angeles. The event will be held at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, 1700 Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, California. In a session entitled: Monetizing Original Media: Broadband, Viral, Episodic Programming, Content & Advertising, Robin Rowe will moderate the following panelist line up.....
* Nathan Anderson, Managing Director, Envelop Entertainment (Australia)
* Joe Ferreira, SVP network and Studio Liaison, CBS Interactive
* Todd Green, digital media guru
* Burnes Hollyman, President and & CEO, the digital entertainment alliance
* Christopher Kubasik, Creator The Booth
* Jason Peterson, founder and president, GoDigital
A Recap of the 2010 Tudou Video Festival
Tudou.com (which means “couch potato” in Chinese) is China’s first, and now one of the country’s largest (aside from rival Youku.com), video sharing portals. Launched in 2005, Tudou follows a similar model to Google Inc.’s video Web site, YouTube.
Tudou also hosts videos that push the boundaries of sensitivity on the country’s censored Internet. It was the first portal, for example, to show the “War of Internet Addiction,” a 64-minute computer animation film on government Web controls, Tudou co-founder Gary Wang said. The film, produced by a network engineer who goes by the name “Sexy Corn,” won the top award at this year's festival.
Aspiring filmmakers, actresses and actors, animators and amateur videographers from around China (all mostly in their mid- to late-20s) showcased their work at the festival held at an art complex in Beijing, with aorund one thousand people in attendance.
Of the more than 5,000 entries, 94 made it to the final round of nominations.
“Two to three years ago, the works were really amateur,” Wang said. “Now people are taking it much more seriously.”
Now, traditional media along with advertisers are starting to take the content on Tudou much more seriously, too. Hung Huang, a blogge experiences working as a journalist in China won the “Golden Camera Award," and Hitch-hike Diary won the documentary category. The film, by a video blogger who goes by the name Tomato-Han Da Ka, is the story of a hiking trip on the border regions of Sichuan province and Tibet.
He is the producer of the “War of Internet Addiction,” an animated film shot entirely within the video game, World of Warcraft (it is a filming technique known as machinima, which involves making animated movies using real-time images recorded from video games). The movie won the top award at the Tudou festival.
The film centers on World of Warcraft gamers who are frustrated that a new version of the game was banned in China. However it also contains deeper themes about Internet freedom in the country. It has been viewed millions of times.
Video Link: http://www.tudou.com/programs/view/8w0z0Q_TAQI/
Cai Chen-Shu (Video Blogger Name: Love Vacation)
“It Seems to Rain” centers on a high school boy and his struggles to accept himself as a homosexual. “I have always wanted to make a movie about same sex relationships and how a teenager becomes comfortable with his own identity.
Cai said the film received a lot of criticism when it was first posted online in China because “the movie is from Taiwan and those kinds of things.” He now works for a film production company in Taipei. “I don’t consider myself a movie producer at all,” he said. “It was just an assignment.” However Cai says one day he does hope to become a famous director of a disaster film.
Video Link: http://www.tudou.com/programs/view/O_GQhEIvCsA/
Zhou ended up pursuing his filmmaking dream. He is now studying at the Beijing Film Academy. And his 22-minute film, “Lost in Paradise,” was nominated for best drama at the Tudou awards ceremony. The film is about a driver who loses 10 patients he is taking to a mental institution when he stops to see a prostitute along the way.
Zhou says his next film will center on love between parents and their son in honor of the support his family eventually gave him to pursue his dream. “Crying is not weak,” he said. “”Crying is because we are moved by each other.”
Read more: 2010 Tudou Video Festival awards: The best of China's online films | CNNGo.com http://www.cnngo.com/explorations/none/chinese-video-portal-tudoucom-holds-annual-awards-beijing-706382#ixzz12mBMxeHL
October 18, 2010 in Entertainment/Media, Events, On Blogging, On Branding, On China, On Innovation, On People & Life, On Video, Photography, Social Media, Travel, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack