To Network or Vacation?

With the exception of larger family trips, Eliza and I tend to only plan vacations when we’ve gotten PoPS into festivals. That’s all well and good, but then a question of priorities arises. How much time do we spend at the festival and how much time do we spend exploring the new city in which we find ourselves?

When I was a little younger, I spent all my time at the festivals. Maybe it’s because several of them were close to home or in a less exploration-inspiring location like a small town in Ohio, but I found the experience often disappointing. Some of the people I ended up talking with were super cool, but many seemed overly impressed with themselves, were clearly not interested in anything the rest of us had to say on any subject—always glancing around the room, and constantly peppered the conversation with embellishments of what they were undertaking next.

Like I said, I’ve met some great people as well, and had many fantastic and exciting conversations with like-minded creators, but over the course of attending these events, the festivals started becoming more a catalyst for a great vacation and less a networking opportunity.

When we went to LA Webfest, I have so many great memories of hanging out all over LA: Driving down the PCH to an awesome bookstore in Malibu and a beachfront restaurant in Paradise Cove, going to the New Beverly movie theater for the first time, meeting our YouTube friends Joe and Tessa in person for the first time, driving the winding hills of Mulholland Drive while preposterously listening to opera, and walking the hidden staircases of the Hollywood Hills. I have one great memory of the festival itself, hanging out with Christopher Leone, a writer/director I really admire. Everything else we attended at the festival ended up being a little lackluster. Nobody seemed to care about the screenings, all of the functions were less about hanging out than about dressing up and pretending to be big shots, and the awards ceremony seemed to be geared way more toward getting the LA Webfest brand name out into the world than awarding actual quality or merit. It was a great trip, but more because of the time we spent away from the festival.

Similarly, when I attended the Streamy Awards, all of my favorite memories cluster outside of the time I spent at the organized events. Hanging out in Los Feliz with my friend Rob, rewriting my script in a coffee shop in Silver Lake, and reading a great book in the California sunshine.

Vidcon in Anaheim was a good time and we got to meet a lot of people who enjoy our show, but ask me about that trip and I’ll tell you about me and Lize walking around a little street in South Pasadena, eating gourmet grilled cheese, popping into yarn and video stores, and taking our picture in front of the Myers house from John Carpenter’s Halloween.

The first time I’ve felt conflicted about this philosophy is with our Austin Webfest trip. That fest was outstanding, and we did not get to spend enough time with it. Hold up! Does this mean I regret any of things I did while in Austin? Not even for a second. I had the greatest time. The tone of that city is awesome, the weather was great (I like it hot), and everything we did was really, really cool. Eliza did a bunch of Austin research before we went and we didn’t even get to hit half of the places she had on her list. So why the conflict?

Quite simply, the festival did everything right. Every time we did interact with the organized events, I had a great time. The festival hosts and other creators were outstanding and engaging, nothing but awesome conversation; and none of it felt like posturing. We were all just hanging out talking excitedly about making stuff, movies we like, and our processes. It was the best. The festival itself was in a doggone Alamo Drafthouse, making it the absolute pinnacle of our public screening experiences. I would have loved to spend many more hours there. Having gone to the fantastic opening night party I wish we could have gone to more of the “unofficial” parties they had every night, but I don’t regret checking out the bars and restaurants from Eliza’s list either, because they were all so cool. And the awards ceremony. Looking at the pictures, it looks like so much fun, and they did it the right way instead of the LA Webfest model. I wish we could have gone. But how do I pass up Jaws on the Water? For real? Just look again at the footage from that event toward the end of the last video update and tell me I could have done something differently. Have you met me?!

Anyway. Austin is a great town and Austin Webfest is now my festival to beat. What a great time.

On another note, that freelance job I did was a promotional video for Lake County, Illinois, and they finally have it up on YouTube. Between the YouTube views and the Facebook views they ended up over 70,000 views so far, so that’s great. They sent me another email this week saying how happy they are with it. Here it is if you want to check it out:

Thanks for reading, y’all.

–Jake

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