Archive for August, 2013

Determining Internet Worth

Posted in Hypothesis the 8th on August 29, 2013 by PoPS blog

You know why the studio system entertainment industry is fantastic? Other than the incredibly large canvas they tend to work with and the theatrically large brush made out of money that they paint with. Division of labor, man. People who know about making money handle the money, people who know about making hype make hype, and people who know about telling stories tell stories. That’s the design at least. Sometimes the money people try to tell stories and they look like Disney-animatronic versions of stories. They look pretty solid from a distance, but they’re really stiff and devoid of any true personality. Sometimes hype’rs can gather some dough and spin an interesting tale, so they’re positioned pretty well for a life filled with creatively satisfying money raking. But their entire gig centers on the perception of masses. Trying to influence, shift, or predict mob mentality is like blindfolding yourself before trying to drive somewhere you’ve never been. Without GPS. It might be a little exciting, but the odds are severely stacked against you. Sounds stressful. Watching the story guys try to make money or hype though is pretty sad. That’s worse than trying to teach a one-trick pony a new trick. That’s like setting a one-trick pony on fire and locking it in a room with a fire extinguisher. It’s seen it before, it knows the principles involved, but IT’S GOT NO THUMBS!! It’s just gonna kick the fire extinguisher around the room while it burns.

I’m burning, man. And I just keep kicking that fire extinguisher. Some internet-folk are really good at juggling money, hype, and the work. They extinguish the fire, learn how to work the doorknob in the room, and start touring the world as a 3-to-5-trick pony while the rest of us burn. And even though the internet can be a frustrating locked room for us to slowly char in, at least it has a very large window so we can tap dance for a worldwide audience and burn in style.

Slight subject shift, I know I’ve talked about what makes internet content worthwhile before, a funny make-up tutorial will get millions of views versus our effects-driven web series getting a few thousand. It’s easy for your perspective to get warped by internet numbers and start thinking the thing you love and work so hard on isn’t as worthwhile as a 45-second video of a kitten falling asleep. Some of you may be familiar with a young internet pioneer named Charlie McDonnell. He’s a British YouTube sensation, and his latest video is about just that.

The internet is a weird place to spend a significant amount of time. Things are easy to come by but really hard to hang onto. Perspective is one of those things.

Thanks for reading, guys.

–Jake

PoPS video update 169-We Became a Business

Posted in Hypothesis the 8th on August 25, 2013 by PoPS blog

Winning Best Series at Gen Con

Posted in Hypothesis the 8th on August 22, 2013 by PoPS blog

I realize for those of you who watch all the video updates, “like” the PoPS page on Facebook, and follow me at @PoPSJakeJarvi on Twitter that this is seriously old news, but I want to take a minute to actually reflect on winning Best Series at Gen Con. But, in order to do that, I’m going to take you through our whole Gen Con experience.

We left Chicago for Indianapolis at about 9 on Friday morning. With minimal stops and an eternity looking for parking in a city hosting a massive gaming convention at the convention center and a round of the World Championship MotoGP at the Indianapolis Speedway all in the same weekend, we had our Gen Con badges in hand four hours later. It was at that point that my phone informed me that there’s a time-change between Chicago and Indianapolis. It was 2 p.m. and our screening had just begun. We raced to the screening and entered the massive ballroom it was showing in before the opening credits. Attendance was very light, but it was actually better than I expected. A couple of people already knew about the show and were there to support it, but the others had just found it in the event book and decided to check it out. I was really surprised by that. There are thousands of things to do in the book they hand out. I’m not even joking, it’s like the white pages with smaller type. I handed out PoPS pins and thanked everyone for showing up and we headed into the Expo Hall to see what Gen Con was all about. Glorious geekdom. That’s what’s going on at Gen Con. The video doesn’t do it justice. The wide angle lens on the GoPro does an adequate job of projecting how huge the space feels, but it does nothing to convey the sea of enthusiastic people all around and how crowded it is. But even as you bump into and step on one another, it’s the politest ginormous crowd you’ll ever run into.

We looked at steampunk stuff, role-playing game accessories, anime, fantasy and super-hero artwork, so many costumes, all sorts of geekcore movie and TV merch, zombie stuff, a surprising amount centered around Lovecraft, costume accessories from corsets to tails to detailed foam weaponry, so many Cosplayers (definition: Costume Player; one who creates a detailed costume to pose as a fictional or famous character in a public forum), and the games. The games were everywhere. The room of board games was actually more like three interconnected football fields, all of fold out tables with board games or card games on them.

That first night we decided to do it up right and we tried D&D for the first time. It was a lot of fun. Then we ended up in the console video game room and our group split up between a Halo tournament and round-robin Super Smash Bros. games.

By the afternoon of the second day, we were totally burnt out. It turns out that two big conventions in just under three weeks is a little overwhelming. Especially for people like Eliza and myself, who are more accustomed to sitting at home, working, and watching things. We played a great game of Settlers of Catan, made rounds in the Expo hall again, marveled at more Cosplayers, and tried another game of D&D. This time we had the WORST Dungeon Master ever leading the game. He kept getting distracted, wouldn’t answer questions, spoke in D&D terms that were over our heads despite our apparent novice, ignored Eliza, and tried to kill us at every turn with what seemed like vindictive focus. Added to that, the other people we were playing with hung us out to dry and most of them would never engage in battle. Look, I know how this sounds. It sounds kind of silly. But when you’re trying to buy in to the experience it was really a downer and a total waste of two hours.

After that, we were done for. We were all beat. We grabbed lunch at one of the greatest restaurants ever–Granite City needs to come to the Chicago area. We checked out the Costume Contest, which was in turns really amazing and really awkward. We bugged out and caught a showing of Elysium, and then headed back to the film festival for some more solid indie content. A highlight of that was finally seeing my friends’ excellent performances in the film Cheery Point.

By the end of the day we were in a daze. Convention overload.

The next morning was the award ceremony. We showed up and sat in the back. I had no expectations. There were web series there that were way better integrated into the Gen Con proceedings, and others that were much better about promoting themselves. So, there I sat ready to applaud all the winners, even as I knew we would get passed over for another worthy series. After all, everyone in that room is the same. We all dedicate a ton of ourselves to making a story exist and we all do it for the love of the game. When Chuck Budreau, the man responsible for the film festival, said, “The Platoon of…” I couldn’t believe it. I made my way up there desperately trying to think of something to say at the microphone. Recipients had been making little speeches. All I could think of to say was, “Open up YouTube. Pineappleboyfims. The Platoon of Power Squadron. Thanks.” And I started heading back to my seat. As I was heading down the aisle I finally had the presence of mind to turn back to Chuck and say, “This is amazing. Thank you,” which is exactly what I should have said at the podium.

So the prize is a check for $100 dollars and a free booth in the Expo hall next year, which costs like $1500 and the potential for exposure is outstanding. Now, we just need to figure out what to display there and have at least a couple things for sale.

Our half month of convention’ing has come to an end. Time to write the next episode and fall back into a little bit more of a routine. I know I’m pushing it when I get to my job on a Monday and think–Oh, thank God, I’m at work. I can relax a little. For real. I’ve been thinking that every day this week.

Thanks for reading.

–Jake

PoPS video update 168-Gen Con 2013

Posted in Hypothesis the 8th on August 18, 2013 by PoPS blog

Procrastination

Posted in Hypothesis the 8th on August 15, 2013 by PoPS blog

It has been a busy week. So busy I almost forgot to do a blog post.

We got back from LA, went back to our regular jobs, the weekend was spent planning and executing a series of videos reaching out to potential low-level sponsors–as well as going to a friend’s boutique opening and having meals with our lovely families, I’ve had day-job work follow me home three nights this week breaking into prime PoPS-work time, last night I recorded a podcast interview with Eric from Why I Love Comics, I had to get a cashier’s check on my lunch break today because I’m signing the paperwork on making Pineapple Boy Productions a Limited Liability Limited Partnership company tonight, and then tomorrow morning we’re shipping off to Gen Con for the weekend. I left that a ridiculously long run-on sentence because it’s felt like a ridiculously cramped run-on week.

I’ve also been trying to force myself to sit down and write episode 8 of PoPS. So far I have 6 pages. Usually, I’m fairly good about making myself work on the show. I wasn’t during school. I was a champion homework procrastinator throughout my entire education, but since no one is making me do PoPS, I can usually take the necessary steps to force it upon myself. It’s easiest to procrastinate during pre-production though. Writing feels like a lot of work sometimes. I think it’s the biggest payoff too, I never feel more accomplished than picking up a completed first draft as it shoots out of a printer. I think that’s probably the purest feeling of creation in the picture-making process. A story didn’t exist. Now, it does. You can hand it to someone else and they can experience it. The payoff is completely worth the effort, but it’s also the easiest part to distract yourself from. Anytime you’re opting into a period of intense concentration, I think it takes a little convincing. Even if it’s only for a short burst. The amazing writer Jane Espensen of Buffy/Angel/Firefly/Gilmore Girls/Battlestar…/Once Upon…/Husbands does hour-long writing sprints probably for just this purpose. Yes, you’re giving yourself over to what feels like a difficult task, but it’s only for an hour and then you can watch TV. I prefer to have a long period of time set aside with the hopes of being able to get into the zone where it no longer feels like work. Writing can be fun and it’s always fulfilling, but it’s rare that it doesn’t feel like work.

So I’ve been battling that this week. It’s only been easier to procrastinate with all the other stuff going on that I’ve been trying my best to juggle. Once I do have a completed script comes the two other easiest-to-procrastinate processes: scheduling and shot listing. It’s all that careful planning that ultimately makes the show so satisfying that’s the hardest to sit down and do.

Thanks for reading.

–Jake

PoPS video update 167-Donor Gifts

Posted in Hypothesis the 7th on August 11, 2013 by PoPS blog

Vidcon 2013

Posted in Non Ep Specific on August 8, 2013 by PoPS blog

The video below is our step-by-step jaunt through Vidcon last week.Vidcon was a lot of fun. We saw a lot of people and discovered some awesome new ones. I heard some of the people who had been there previous years voicing concerns that at 12,000 attendees, the conference had gotten too big and impersonal. That wasn’t my experience at all. Everyone was so friendly and accommodating. I think they were talking primarily about having less one-on-one time with the bigger YouTube personalities, but even then there are opportunities through panels, signings, and main stage performances to at least get brief face time. It might not be the best environment for in-depth conversations, but those are pretty rare anyway when you meet someone for the first time. Having said that, we had the opportunity to speak at length with a few people and it was outstanding. Most of my longer interactions included some version of this, “Why don’t you have more views? You should market yourself better,” or “Why don’t you get your show on TV, you should talk to the TV people.” Those things always make me realize that I’m seriously handicapped in the promotion, marketing, and business side of this new media thing, and it makes me feel like I’m being crushed and like it’s hard to breathe. So that’s probably a good thing. Then I stop thinking about the entire world of online video, the money raising, and the self-promotion, and just narrow my focus back to telling our one little story.

So, yeah. Vidcon was fun, but did nothing to assuage my promotional anxiety. It just helped me realign my priorities again as I realized that we’ll always be a little channel. But as long as I keep focused on the storytelling, we’ll be a happy little channel.

Thanks for reading and watching, guys.

–Jake