My film CONNECTED: An Autoblogography about Love, Death & Technology looks at what it means to be connected in the 21st century—both personally and globally. I’m interested in getting a conversation started because it feels like a good time to talk about all of this “connectedness”—the good, the bad and the hope of it all. Here are some lessons I have learned so far…
1. Cutting Your Own Trailer…
Don’t try this. Very dangerous. When you are running at full speed to complete your film on your way to your premiere, don’t fool yourself that you have the perspective to cut your own trailer. We thought we did. At that point we had totally lost perspective and were in no shape to edit the trailer. So after we got our breath, we found someone else to cut it.
2. My Views Are Bigger Than Your Views
We have updated our trailer so many times that there is no way I can care anymore about the view numbers. We had our Sundance version, then the one that was cut afterwards, then we kept tweaking the end slate. This is a very long way of telling you: There will be many versions of your trailer and throw the need to have high video views out the window.
3. E-mail Black Hole
Put an autoresponse on your e-mail while you are in your theatrical whirlwind. It’s quite liberating actually. I am officially 1,000 emails behind since I have been on the road premiering Connected in different cities. The autoresponse sets the expectations correctly and removes some of the pressure. If something is really important, they will find you.
4. Asking for Help
Don’t forget to ask for help from your good friends. At one point I hit a wall and felt completely overwhelmed with everything we had to do. I wrote an email to15 of my closest girlfriends with a big “SOS” in the subject header. The group responses, support and help were amazing… and a lot of them shared that they also feel this way in big projects and never thought to do such a big group e-mail cry for help. It worked.
5. Cloud Filmmaking
We have a wonderful, smart distributor and distribution team. There are a lot of moving parts. Most of our team is in NYC, so coordinating can be a lot. Two tools that have helped enormously in working together: Setting up a weekly process for status reports is essential and Google Docs. Who could live without it? And my newest discovery, wunderlist: An online free to do list that you can share with your team and lives in the cloud and has a great mobile phone app version
6. Go Where the Action Is
Point everyone to Facebook. This one surprised me. We no longer point people to our Website, but to our Facebook page—Connected The Film. There is such an active community there. Everyone that sees the film goes there to post their thoughts and articles relating to ideas in the film. We also post research ideas and updates all the time. We love our Facebook community. We look forward to trying this when Google+ offers this space for films, too. It is a great way to extend the dialogue outward from the film.
For the last seven months, my family takes one complete day off a week from technology. Sundown on Friday night to sundown on Saturday. It has been a very grounding and profound change in my life. During this very busy theatrical period, where I have premieres on Friday nights, I haven’t been able to do it… and I really feel it. (see #4) Cannot wait to return to this weekly re-balancing.
8. N.A.D.—Newsletter Anxiety Disorder
Yes, I have Sending Newsletter Anxiety. For the last decade, I have done a quarterly newsletter called “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” which is a collection of news and information about what my film team and I are working on, as well as a slew of other films, books, events, art shows, etc. I only release these once a season and am mindful about not sending out too much e-mail. With the film opening in a different city each week, we have had to send a lot more e-mails. I always stress about sending yet another update… but whenever we do, we are flooded with support and love and excitement, as well as people helping to spread the word
9. Spell It Out
Send people very clear ways to help. We are all so busy. If you want people to post to their Facebook page about your film, give them the exact info and links that need to be included. It will make it so easy for them to help you.
10. Interdependent Filmmaking
Talk to other filmmakers. I have always felt that the word “Independent filmmaker” doesn’t acknowledge what a supportive and “interdependent” community it is. So many filmmakers have given me great advice and support. Reach out.
I look forward to sharing more with you as I go.
Connected is opening in theaters across the country. It is currently playing in Seattle and opens at The Angelika Film Center on 10/14 and will playing there a week. There are special guests leading discussions after the film including Anna Deveare Smith, designer Todd Oldham, film producer Ted Hope, Meetup.com founder Scott Heiferman, media theorist Paul Levenson and filmmaker Jennie Livingston including many more. You can find out about all screenings and buy tickets on Facebook: http://on.fb.me/nyj26j