Arbor, Art & Sharks

Over the Summer, board sport company Arbor Collective teamed up with Pangea Seed to bring us The Great West Coast Migration, a series of art shows up & down the West Coast put on to raise awareness about shark finning & ocean conservation. Arbor had worked with me before & contacted me about capturing the first two events for a film they’ll be producing. After a bit of discussion, he & I also decided to produce a teaser for the rest of the series.


Everyone involved was a delight to work with & we couldn’t have asked for a smoother experience producing a piece like this. Shooting took place here in Seattle & Portland, which is an interesting town, to say the least. The art work was tight, The Pangea seed crew was a great group of passionate individuals & Arbor is company whose brand & culture I can get behind. Their aim to conduct business in the most sustainable way possible while producing a dope product is admirable. Definitely look forward to working with them again in the future.

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7 Lessons in Crowdfunding

I’m two for two when it comes to crowdfunding. Last year I helped drive Ben Union’s KickStarter campaign to success by producing the video content for it. More recently, I managed to get my own RocketHub campaign fueled for my next film. I can’t take all the credit for running a successful crowdfunding project. The majority of the credit must be given to my contributors (or fuelers). What I can take credit for is being calculated & strategic when conducting the campaign.

Before launching my project, I did a tremendous amount of research about what it takes to succeed at crowdfunding. This post is me adding to the pool of information in the hopes that it will inspire & help someone looking to launch a successful project. When I first heard of sites like KickStarter, RocketHub & IndiGoGo, I was excited to see what was possible, only to realize that in reality, just a small percentage of these projects actually hit their goal. I’ve found that it’s because they’re not willing to really put in the work and because their campaigns generally suck. Or at least they’re perceived to suck. The following are a few things I can speak to out of experience & from research on how not to suck.

1) Tell them your story.
Who are you & what have you done? I see a lot of crowdfunding projects that don’t explain this, so people have no way to trust that you’ll do well with their money, or just as important, that you’ll even do a good job. Crowdfunding is not charity. You’ll get a few friends & family members contribute because they love you, but the general public doesn’t trust nor care about you unless you give them a reason to. One simple way to build trust is by letting them know who you are as a creative & what you’ve done. That second part is clutch. If you’re looking to get a book published, why should they help you if you’ve never written a book, an article, an essay, or a piece of poetry or whatever? They need to know that you’ve accomplished something. If you’ve had something published, tell them. If your band has performed at sold out venues, tell them. If you’ve produced a film that’s been recognized, tell them. You have to be validated as a creative somehow, so don’t be too modest. Luckily for me, I had my last film to point back to. If you have nothing to point to, like genuinely have nothing to point to, ask yourself if it’s too soon to be asking people for money. If it is, produce something good without money & build a reputation from that. This ties into point two.

2) Build a brand.
I’m learning more & more how important this is, not just for crowdfunding, but for career & business development in general. When I say let them know who you are, a big part of what that means is building a brand for yourself. If you have a website, blog, a portfolio, Facebook or Twitter page, that all counts. Give them ways to find you to see what you’ve been up to & what you’re all about. And make sure all these aspects of your brand are congruent.

3) Tell them what you’ll do with their money.
This might be the biggest thing that plays into the trust factor. It’s good to go into how you’ll be using the funds (without constricting yourself too much or spoiling anything creatively). For example,  I let my audience know that $1500 will be going towards a music license, then I’ll be using the funds towards a motion graphics specialist, paying a couple giving birth to allow a camera in the room, a photographer & gas, etc.. I also let them know that I’ll be using some of my own money to produce the film as well, which is definitely the case now.

4) Use, but don’t abuse your social network.
This may be one of the trickiest parts of crowdfunding. Come to grips with the fact early on that most of the people on your Facebook friend list will not contribute to your project, so don’t push them. When your project launches, ask your good friends personally to contribute & share. These are the people who genuinely want to see you succeed or the people who are enthusiastically into your work, not because they’re your friends, but because they admire what you create.  From there, let them help create the bandwagon that will make others want to hop on. You should reach out seldomly & when you do, it should be calculated & different from the last time. Bring them new news about an article that was written about what you’re doing, or how someone featured you on a podcast talking about your project. Once people on your social network see that there is some momentum behind your project, they too will want to come aboard.

5) Create momentum.
Bugging people on Facebook & Twitter to contribute is not creating momentum. It’s just bugging them. A way to create momentum is to get influential people to talk about what you’re doing. In my case, I got interviewed by RocketHub and was featured on a podcast. In addition, the band whose song I’m using agreed to spread the word on their social network, which definitely helped. Much of this work should take place before the launch of your project!

The harsh reality of all this is that if you have no past work that validates you as a creative, the likelihood of someone influential wanting to talk about your current project is slim. This goes back to points 1 & 2.

6) Timing is everything.
One of the big things I’ve been learning is that creating & capitalizing on hype is of the utmost importance. Striking while the iron’s hot could be the difference between success & a lack thereof. If I had the foresight to capitalize on the buzz generated by my last film, I could have been able to raise more money for my next project or brought in so much business for my company. But the fact is, at the time, I did not have my next project lined up, nor did I even have a company, a website, or a personal brand built around myself in any way. In the show Entourage, super agent Ari Gold talks to his client about the importance of using the hype for your current project to help get you your next project. I didn’t start to understand the importance of that concept until I’d been in this industry for a while. For myself, moving forward, I likely won’t be releasing the film I’m working on now until I’ve started the fundraising process for my next project. You see? Foresight.

7) Don’t sell yourself short.
In the interest of being ‘realistic’ I set my goal to a low figure that I believed was attainable: $2500. This number was a bare bones figure & I knew that if I only raised this amount, making the film would be a hassle, but possible nonetheless. I considered anything above this icing on the cake.  Within twenty-four hours of launching the campaign, I saw that hitting the goal was going to be easy, but getting beyond that goal will be a challenge. So in a way, I shot myself in the foot. I tried to push a second goal of $3500, so I can get some gear to make the production process a little easier. I found that reaching that second goal was a bit of a challenge, since the official goal for the project was still $2500 and cannot be changed. There was a large number of people who visited the project’s page, quickly saw that the goal had been reached & assumed that there was nothing else to be done, so their motivation to contribute dwindled. I ended up hitting my ‘second goal’, but knowing what I know now, I would have set the official goal to $4500 to cover more gear & un-expected expenses. I’m confident we would have been able to reach that figure.

If you do all these things right, you’ll be shocked at how your project will take off.

Now, get to work.

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VENUE :: Travis Tyler

Venue Ballard is awesome! Travis Tyler is awesome! Naturally I was stoked to make a video promoting both. Travis is a good friend & an exceptional artist who’s super talented with a camera. Venue’s a cool boutique in Seattle where artists can create & the public can see them in their element, check out the work & buy it! Back in May, Venue featured Travis as their artist of the month for Ballard’s monthly Art Walk. This video showcases Travis’s process in making & displaying the work. Check it out!


For a little while longer, you can see Travis’s work at Venue, in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, or you can check out the work on his Etsy page & order directly from him!

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This is the Future…

… of video advertising! Interactive! I’ve seen it twice in recent months & I guarantee we’ll be seeing more of it in the near future. I guarantee this is what many large & the mid-sized companies will start investing their advertising money into. And I guarantee that if you’re in commercial video production & you don’t have the foresight to hop on this train, you’ll start getting passed up for others who did, if you haven’t already.

Earlier this year, the Red Hot Chili Peppers teamed up with Therapy Studios &  Axis Studios to come out with an interactive music video for their song Look Around

The video’s story is pretty basic, really. It’s just the band members dinking around in their own individual rooms. Big whoop… But the concept & format of the music video (which is a form of advertising) is groundbreaking. The audience is now involved in the viewing experience as oppose to merely being observers. They choose which scene to watch at any given point, and what’s more, they’ll watch it again to see what they missed and show their friends. You can have multiple stories progressing in one video, all intersecting at some point, and the viewer will immerse themselves in each one, multiple times. Think about how the viewing experience is changed for the consumer. And think about the boundaries you can push with this, creatively!

Another bunch of people pushing the envelope are those folks at Uncle Grey in Denmark, who made The Liberation for Only Jeans

In this piece, the viewer’s not just an observer who chooses what to watch, but they become a character who drives the story. In other words, the story does not progress without the viewer’s participation. This has surely been done before, but it’s brilliant. Despite the ridiculously juvenile & suggestive storyline, I gotta give it up for Uncle Grey for making something captivating, fun & effective! They’re reaching their target audience with this & having a profound effect, no doubt. Stuff like this will be what drives commercial video into the next generation.

By no means am I saying that agencies will tank if they don’t adapt & pick up on these new forms of video. I am saying that in the months & years to come, it would be a far cry to say they’re on the cutting edge if they’re not pushing the boundaries with projects like these, or coming up with something entirely new, whatever that might be.

I’m fortunate enough to be in a profession where ideas & creativity are major assets. My mind is consumed with ideas for what can be done with these concepts & I’m determined to meet others who are like-minded & driven to bring these projects to fruition. Where are you people?!

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New Business. New Website. New Haircut. New Everything.

This is fun… Starting a company. It’s fun. Coming up with a name & developing a business plan… Fun. Even the monotony of applying for a business license & getting a UBI number, getting a Federal Tax ID number, and getting licensed to run a business in the city of Seattle doesn’t bother me in the least.

Coming up with a name proved to be a time-consuming affair. It took a lot of time in dictionaries & thesauruses and checking online to see which domains were available. As it turned out, my top ideas for business names were already taken in one form or another. After a couple days of coming up with ideas & running them across friends, I finally realized that the process could go on for days or even weeks & I had to decide on something. Finally I settled on PIXELtechnics. I’m stoked about it & I think it works well. I like that it’s a play on pyrotechnics & I can develop a new term out of it, the definition for which is on the home page of my site. Ultimately, I will be coming up with other trade names/brands to operate under as time progresses & we start producing content geared towards different demographics.

Developing a website, Facebook page, new email account & getting them to work in cohesion with each other, my Vimeo page & this blog has been a interesting endeavor as well. It’s fascinating seeing how all those faces of the company work together… I also have to mention how much I’ve been loving Squarespace for how fun & simple their service is & how awesome their Support Team is. I quickly became loyal to them & recommend them to anybody looking to build a simple site.

Business cards, Twitter & LinkedIn pages coming soon…

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ADIDAS ‘All In’ Campaign

Last night I went to my first Sounders FC match & it was so dope! Since some of my European friends got me to watch the Euro Cup in ’08, I’m slowly becoming more & more of a soccer fan after 20+ years of not caring about the sport at all. So, in light of this & last night’s 2-0 Sounders victory, I’m gonna take a break from blabbing about my own work & focus on some work I’ve been admiring as of late.

The Adidas “All In” ad campaign has been rocking me! They’ve been utilizing a mix of cutting edge creativity & old fashion tricks to get viewers stoked! The first vid’ I wanna share is a 30 second MLS spot, which features a lot of Seattle & our incredible fan base, which I’m just now becoming a part of…

Next is a video I’d actually mentioned in a previous post. French phenom director Romain Gavras came out with this one early last year. Like most of the work I’ve seen from him, it packs a punch & gets you amped! The music, choice of shots, quick cuts & amplified real audio make me want to buy Adidas gear & brawl with the Green Street Hooligans.

Lastly, I wanted to showcase a piece that came out of Germany a few months ago… I once heard a song by NAS where he told a story in reverse. Though my appreciation for rap music’s been crumbling since the early 2000’s, the creativity of that song astounded me. It’s such a simple concept, but it was so awesome… I’ve wanted to see a story told using that same narrative structure on film. Though I’m not saying it’s never been done before (“Momento” was similar), this is the first time I’d seen it, and it really excites me.

Side note, it’s funny how good video advertising has been increasingly appealing to me lately. I think it just speaks to the direction I’m heading in life. I sit & analyze how & why certain commercial video content is effective & I become a fan of the people who produce it. It’s a lot like how many people are with feature films (myself still included). So now, in addition to watching the Oscars, I’ll also be following what goes down at the Clio’s… Ha!

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The Story Behind “(270) Seconds of Summer”

Summer goes by quickly in Washington. You’re so busy enjoying it with friends & family, then all of a sudden the rain comes & you’re left with memories… Screw that. This year I wanted to breathe some life onto those memories & make ’em last, so over the course of Summer 2011 I took my camera around & gathered nearly 100 GB worth of footage (Somewhere in the ballpark of 20 hours). I wanted the final video to be fast pace yet nostalgic, so I chose a song that reflected that: Stay Close by Delorean (RAC remix). After I-don’t-know-how-many hours of editing in my spare time, this was the outcome…

(Watch in HD on Vimeo!)

Many of those editing hours were spent experimenting. For example, the tracking text on the animals took a day to learn & another day to implement. Creating the split-screen intro was like assembling a mind bending puzzle! All that’s nothing compared to the amount of time spent organizing & cutting clips. Taking 20 hours of footage & squeezing it into 4 minutes & 30 seconds is an achievement in itself.

The film’s supposed to make people feel something. The goal was goosebumps. Excitement. Dopamine in the bloodstream. The intro’s meant to keep the viewer mildly interested while the music builds to the beat kicking at :58. That’s the point at which I wanted them to be drawn in, and if they weren’t, the introduction of real audio at 1:57 was meant to hook them. The tracking text on the animals was a set-up for a joke, the punchline for which is at 3:48. I wanted the cuts to be quick so viewer’s left with a feeling that they missed so much they have to go back & watch it again, thus making the piece a little more interactive… and making the viewer feel a little more involved.

Inspiration: The title alone was inspired by Marc Webb’s mind-bogglingly creative (500) Days of Summer (Written by Neustadter/Weber). Though the title was a bite, the content in (270) was unrelated. The use of real audio was inspired, in part, by Romain Gavras’s Adidas, All In video, which gets me amped every time I watch it!

(270) blew up & went viral three days after I posted it on Vimeo. It’s gotten a bit of press, being featured as a Curator’s Choice on and being featured on a nationally syndicated television show called Right This Minute (which I never even got to see). It’s all very flattering, really, googling the title & seeing write-ups on hundreds of websites, in so many languages. It’s nice to know that my work can transcend borders & cultures, and inspire & touch all of humanity… and for that I’m grateful.

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