Coordinating and directing all the audio visual elements for Launch Festival was a fun challenge. Fun in the sense that I was able to push the boundaries of what I feel comfortable with technically. My hands were not on all the physical cameras this time around. I had to help keep a lot of plates spinning all at once. Two stages with three full days of content, 3 video content teams, 1 photo content team, and myself all working together to both provide value to the 12k in attendance, the folks watching the live stream, and the hundreds of thousands who will watch this content as This Week In Startups content.
1. 'Future of' Segments
Super Podiums...need I say more? I'm really happy we were able to pull off this idea. "What if we built custom podiums with giant monitors mounted on the front?" -@Jason
Yeah okay, lets do it.
2. Yancey Strickler, cofounder of Kickstarter
It was very fulfilling to open Launch Festival with this interview. This is where the rubber met the road for a lot of our prep work.
3. Pitch Sessions
Launch Festival offers many different live technical challenges. Perhaps the most stressful are the pitch sessions. You have founders taking the stage, launching a new product for the first time to a panel of judges. This year we designed the stage with the understanding that 80% of the companies pitching would have mobile phone applications. The other 20% was a mixture of slide decks and actual hardware products.
2016 Launch Festival will be bigger, it will offer new challenges as we continue to improve the experience for the audience both live and across the world.
If there is one positive note I need to strike, it's that of Bradley Coopers performance. Considering that the first time I saw him was in the movie Wedding Crashers, his progression to this point has been incredible. Cooper ate 6k calories a day for 3 months along side an intense workout schedule. He even went so far as to listen to the real sniper's (Chris Kyle) actual workout music while training for the role. Sadly the films attention to detail begins and ends with Bradley Coopers efforts.
Many people have written about the fake baby being terribly disruptive to the movie. Let us also note that there were many other cases of Hollywood bending the facts. The life of Chris Kyle certainly provides fantastic framework for a well executed film. Clint Eastwood is in the twilight of his career, and I found several parts of this movie to be poorly executed and lazy. I would have loved to see this story in the hands of Kathryn Bigelow. And don't even get me started on the cinematography, that sandstorm scene at the end was really disappointing visually.
In closing I submit you this short clip from Real Time with Bill Maher. The middle panelist Nia-Malika Henderson, made some excellent points in explaining why this movie has done so well. It helped me to understand the commercial success I find troubling. She says in talking about the celebration of war hero's: "when you look beneath the surface its obviously more complicated than that." That is precisely my problem with this film. It celebrates the surface of a man, not the complex issues involving war and its effect on the human brain. It's easier to celebrate the war hero than it is to try and understand the horrible consequences of war. The short term reward is celebrating this man through a film, the long term consequences is what we should be making movies about. For contrast go back and watch the film Hurt Locker and compare it to American Sniper.
Episode 513 of This Week In Startups was a special one for me. Before shooting this interview I was not savvy to Esther Dyson. What an incredible woman she is, and so inspiring to me. She has a curious energy about her. She seems so driven by making the world a better place - No small task for anyone.
My biggest takeaway from this interview is the very simple principle of long term thinking versus short term thinking. She very simply and eloquently states that the fix for everything is long term thinking and an understanding of data/reason. Please take the hour to listen or watch this interview, it is a fantastic use of your time.
Ryan and Peter are awesome guys to work with. Sadly, I just produce this remotely for these fellas and do not get to spend any time recording the episodes. In person is almost more fun technically. What I'm finding as a content producer is that as technology advances my employable skill set is more and more remote.
Nothing flashy here, just the basics. These two are in the tech trenches every day and this podcast is a chance for them to review the week in technology products.
Producing and directing this episode was particularly challenging. The complexity of setting up lighting, cameras, audio, and a live switcher for an audience all while being across town is quite the challenge. Also worth mentioning that I accomplished this with only the help of a hard working production assistant.
What an absolute dream come true it was to have a hand in producing content that had anything to do with Tim Ferriss. Reading 4-hour work week so many years ago deserves some credit for why I live in San Francisco in the first place.
If you desire the audio version of this fantastic episode, you can find it here.
It's a rollicking News Roundtable this week with Jason and guests Ben Parr (DominateFund) and Jessica Lessin (TheInformation). The trio tackles the sudden Ello explosion, Apple angst, splitsville for Ebay & Paypal, and an in-depth discourse on an issue Silicon Valley doesn't know how to talk about -- how are the innovations developed here affecting employment for everyone else in the country?
Also BING Launch of the Week! What cool new device will win over the judges? GripSnap, a magnetic holder for smartphones to capture the perfect selfie; Jibo, the world's first family robot; or Unpocket, the untrackable & unhackable pocket for the surveillance phobic?
The sea of content is growing by the day. Another tech company announces it will be producing original content what seems like every week now. Netflix, Yahoo, Amazon, and YouTube are the companies getting the most press for this. Let us not forget about the more traditional streams in which we can consume content. The major television networks seem to be slowly integrating new creation models in order to stay relevant as the current changes. Oh yeah, remember movie theaters? Apparently, studios are still releasing movies into those as well.
Okay, so a lot of content is being created. From web series to feature length big budget. There is a lot to choose from out there. Keeping things positive, my opinion is that there is more exceptional content then one person could even hope to consume. Yes, there is still a ton of bullshit out there. The internet gives voice - If its bullshit, you should be able to learn of it way before you even give it a chance.
I'm blessed with having some film nerd friends who are very vocal when a fantastic movie is in theaters and worth the price of admission. If you have friends with horrible taste...here are three of my tricks to finding movies, television, and web content worth my time.
Vimeo Staff Picks - http://vimeo.com/channels/staffpicks
This is a great place to find new videos and content creators. Sometimes I'll find myself checking this spot daily just to see the few videos they have posted for the day. Vimeo's staff "gets it" in terms of esthetics and style.
Indiewire Blog - The Playlist - http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/
Maybe a little nerdariffic for the normal content consumer. This a great place and I appreciate the viewpoint.
Twitter - twitter.com/jacobbeemer
Use your twitter feed! Follow people with viewpoints and taste that seem to be in line with your own. It is my most valued source for information. Even more detailed, I build my feed around internets. Its insane how many links people post to content they want you to see.
Jon Favreau takes a break from producing and directing massive movies to tell a smaller story. According to Jon, he even took a bath on his salary to make sure the film was made. Before seeing the movie I had listened to his interview on KCRW's The Business podcast. Mr Favreau had some insightful things to say about making movies, the studio system, and telling smaller stories.
After seeing Chef, I was reminded that Favreau and his team have a great talent for telling "feel-good" stories. The structure of the film is so simple, no big surprises for me. He avoids trying to make some heavy artistic statement and just tells a good story with a happy ending. Our hero is challenged and rises to the occasion. Worth mentioning was the performance of Emjay Anthony. A ten year old playing a ten year old, something I feel does not happen too often when casting such a part. The on screen chemistry between Emjay and Jon is perfect, and in my opinion the linch pin that makes the movie a success in my eyes.
The supporting cast really comes through - In what I'm assuming was Favreau asking some actor friends for some favors. John Leguizamo is totally clutch, I had forgotten what an amazing talent this man is. If my opinion held any weight, I would make sure Leguizamo had more roles written specifically for him.
Do not expect anything profound, this story sticks to the basics. Just like the actual film, sometimes returning to the basics and/or your roots can have a profound effect on your spirit. Put a smile on your face and go see this movie.
On my way back from Menlo Park I stopped off at the Ferry Building. Strange and interesting sights are never in short supply in this part of town. Today I decided to just focus on the skateboarder kids.
For a couple weeks now I have been working with style blogger TipandTink. The experience has been largely positive and a great learning experience. It keeps me in a cadence of shooting frequently. The challenge becomes creating work that is more "from-the-hip" and quick. For me, fashion blog photos by necessity cannot take up a lot of time. In order to provide a steady stream of content you need to shoot all the time. For someone like Casi and her TipandTink blog, she is just getting started. The images are important, but I would argue that more important in quantity and diversity of photos.
Fun locations, different moods, and a light hearted approach is important. As a photographer, it is easy to get caught up in all the technical aspects of image capture. For instance our most recent shoot together I really needed something to diffuse the direct sunlight but had no resources. I was able to turn it into a positive experience by learning some new exposure tricks within Adobe Lightroom.
Creation continues regardless of obstacles!
With an image like that, maybe all I need to say is; Ray Winstone. For those that need further convincing I will go into things a bit more.
Darren Aronofsky fought with Paramount throughout the entire process making this film. What I would call a win for Aronofsky, he was able to finish the final edit on his terms. Free from the suggestions to soften his take on the story of Noah, so as not to upset select religious groups. Finally, nearly a week ago Paramount announced it will be airing a religious declaimer in the beginning title sequence.
When religious groups get all butt hurt about this stuff its nothing short of hilarious. The entire thing is historical fiction at best, regardless of how the story is being told. I think most of us understand that no man built a wooden boat and put two of every living thing on board. Once on board the creator of the entire universe proceeded to completely wipe out every living thing on the planet with a massive flood. For someone with a basic set of a critical thinking skills, I quickly understand this was highly unlikely to have happened.
Everything aside, the story of Noah as its told in the bible provides a compelling story structure. In the hands of filmmaker Darren Aronofsky I can only drool thinking about where he will take us. As always I also eagerly anticipate the score from legendary Clint Mansell.
It is important you see this film because it sends a message to the filmmaking community. Aronofsky fought for the movie he wanted and the story he wanted to tell. As artists I think we all have a desire to be understood. In some ways we want people to feel what we are feeling and see a story from a new lens.
An attack upon our ability to tell stories is not just censorship - it is a crime against our nature as human beings. - Salman Rushdie
Once the pilot opportunity fell through this interview remained on a hard drive for nearly two years. I've found myself living with a music producer and an afternoon to get some editing done. So I cut what was about two hours of me trying to not be terrible at giving an interview. It was not helpful that I was also getting a tattoo on my forearm. Still a great exercise for me to become a more talented editor and storyteller.
A massive thank you to my friends who helped me put this together. James Spooner is an awesome guy and he just opened up the first all vegan tattoo spot in Los Angeles, Check him out.
Ellen said it best at the beginning of the show. If 12 Years a Slave was not to win best picture we would all be racists. I'm not suggesting that is exactly the situation, just an example of how safe everything was. 12 Years A Slave was the big statement and "important" film of the year. Seems that whichever film is able to market itself that way fairs the best. Ellen was clearly very calculated in attempting to make our stars seem human and approachable. SEE they are just like us, eating pizza and everything. OOO they even take selfies like me. I will stop the sarcasm and negativity right there.
Rather than go on and on about Bruce Dern and what an amazing film Nebraska was, Im going to reference a tweet by Patton Oswald.
Another thing I found troubling was that Blue Is The Warmest Color was not nominated in the foreign film category. Only to discover with a quick google search that it was released 9 days too late. Blue Is The Warmest Color was the best foreign film of the year. Great Beauty was good but I found the ending to lack something.
Finally, the final thing I want to mention is the documentary short category. This category is fantastic and I hope they never get rid of it. Given the current state of how we as a population consume media, this has to be the most relevant and relatable category. The Woman in Number 6: Music Saved My Life was a beautiful and moving tale of the oldest living holocaust survivor. She was 109 nine years old when they made the film and STILL rocking out on the piano. Completely amazing woman who has compassion and love for everything, to a point that I can barley understand how she wielded such joy after going through so many impossible challenges. The Cave Digger was another short doc that I suggest all my fellow artists take 40min and watch. The story of this mans work from his own words, I was truly moved by his heart and passion for what he was doing. Got me thinking that part of being an artist is struggling, just for the sake of the struggle. Might take me some time to come to terms with that.
Overall I feel as though I'm responding and thinking similar things to what I always feel and say after every show. Some great films got overlooked like they always do. There were a few surprises that I was both happy and unhappy with. Some of the speeches made me cringe at how self indulgent they were (Matthew Mcconaughey) and some people made me so happy; BILL FUCKING MURRAY.
It is with great pleasure I present this labor of love. MACAJEY and I instantly hit it off when we met a couple months ago. A fellow artist in a similar place, it was a pleasure collaborating on this. Even with very limited resources we were able to achieve our vision and convey an emotion.
A huge thank you must go out to everyone who helped me make this video. I pulled in a lot of favors on this one and I'm so grateful to have so many kind people in my life. Molly and Ian, thank you both so much for letting us use your houses. Mason thank you for hooking it up with some gear. Our bikers; Josh and Andrew, we could not have done this without you. Borrow Lenses for being an awesome way to rent lenses with massive security deposits. Filmmaking is an awesome opportunity for artistic collaboration. Producing this music video was a reminder what can be done with a humble amount of resources.
Director of Photography: Michael Anthony
B Camera: Nick Johnston
What a fantastic and incredible story. A film made is 1932 is still just as relevant an example of great storytelling. Directed by Frank Borzage and starring Helen Hayes, Gary Cooper, and Adolphe Menjou. It is an absolute joy to watch films like these. As a society we have evolved our perspectives on love and romance. Some would argue we have made things more complex with our stories. A Farewell To Arms has simple elements in contrast to a more modern love story. For me, this allows a chance to study other elements of the film.
The film was shot by Charles Lang. Take five minutes to read his wikipedia page and you will have some idea of what a badass he was. He made over 100 films and collaborated with the best filmmakers of the last century. A Farewell To Arms was an early success for Lang. Some of the camera movement in this film complements story perfectly.
The challenges filmmakers faced back when this film was released were enormous. The technical processes for exposing light to film was just that; highly technical. The lengths in which film crews had to go to produce moving images was vast. Today we all walk around with super computers in our pockets with more filmmaking capabilities then Frank Borzage ever had. More then ever before its about the story. More then ever before, it is possible to do great work. I find this exciting because the only thing we must master as filmmakers is now ourselves.
Very recently I set to out to learn more about the newer filmmaking apps popping up in the App store. One that has caught my attention is the app Cameo. I think there is something really cool about a social site with a similar UI as Instagram BUT just for video. Also I enjoy that this app and others like it put an emphasis on story structure. As a director myself I think this a great way to practice my craft and hone my skills.
Another similar app is Directr - Its a well built app and easy to use. I would say this app does a more thorough job of providing a framework for creation. Something about the sex appeal of Cameo has me more interested. If you have not checked these out yet I encourage you to download them. AND don't forget to follow me on both: @jacobbeemer