The Hardest Question to Answer: What’s next?

Funding Graph

After an amazing ending to our Kickstarter project, people have been asking me “What’s next?”.

It’s a great question and a hard one to answer. How do we keep up the momentum and gain more support for our project? Films are typically done with little or no interaction from the outside world. Is there a way we can include everyone in the making of this film?

We would love to make the filming process as interesting and engaging as possible. This is something John and I have been talking about at length. We have some ideas about how to accomplish this. For example we want to broadcast as many of our interviews as we can over the internet. This allows everyone to watch and ask questions during each interview. We might do this in a type of web series. We are still trying to figure out what the format of this type of show would be.

I wish I had more of a concrete idea about all of this, but I think this is part of the process. This type of interactive filmmaking is a very new concept, and it’s hard to say what the correct approach should be.

Looking for ideas

Keeping to the ideals of the project, we would love to hear your feedback about any aspect of this project. What would you like to hear about? What would you like to be part of? What parts of the story are most interesting to you?

I’ve talked with friends about everything from what the web series would look like to a music score or the film. If you have some ideas or questions I would love to hear them. Please feel free to contact myself or John if you want to talk about anything.

A Week in El Salvador

This week I’m in El Salvador visiting family. I’m going to go through old family photos and build a list of people to interview. It’s been really interesting reconnecting with everyone. I even learned that my grandfather helped build the Panama Canal!

I’ll have more thoughts and photos from my trip in the next couple days. Hope everyone is doing well and is getting excited for the holidays.

Getting Ready for #140conf LA

Chamillionaire at TC Disrupt

It’s been very busy around here lately. Two weeks ago I spoke at the #140conf in Boston which was a lot of fun. That same day we launched our film project on kickstarter. There has also been a lot going on behind the scenes as we prepare for the next event, #140conf LA.

Sunday I’m back on the road again to spend a week in LA. Monday and Tuesday is the #140conf LA, at The Music Box, where I will be speaking again. I’ll stay in LA for the rest of week so John and I can have some face time to work together.

I’m very excited for the LA conference. I have a feeling there will be a bigger audience than Boston, which is exciting. Also, there will be a couple of well known celebrities, such as Nick Cannon, Michelle Branch, Kevin Pollak and Chamillionaire. I can’t wait to hear their thoughts about technology and how they are using it.

One person I am really interested in seeing is rapper/entertainer Chamillionaire. I have a couple of his songs and I’ve seen videos of him speaking at Stanford and other tech conferences. He recently spoke at TechCrunch Disrupt about what a rapper is doing at tech events. The video is below. I’ll be speaking after him so maybe we will get a chance to chat.

He mentioned that he uses google alerts so posts might show up on his feed. It’s funny how technology makes us so close. I look forward to meeting him and everyone else at the conference. Boston was great and I have a feeling LA will be just as good.

Financing the Dream: Using Kickstarter to Make it a Reality

Exploring Our Options

Making a documentary is no small task, both financially and work wise. It was clear from the start that this project would require a capital investment if it was going to reach the level John and I dreamt of. While the price of video equipment continues to fall, it is still out of reach for most people. Since neither John nor I are independently wealthy, we were going to need to find a way to raise some money. But, where to look?

Traditionally we had few options. We could find some big investors in the TV or film world. John knows and has worked with organizations that might be interested in our story, but that might mean giving up some control. Neither of us like that too much since our goal for the project was to open source it on some level. We could try to pay for it ourselves but that might drag the project out as we scraped together the funds. Thankfully in today’s world, there are better options.

The Kickstarter Revolution is a web site that crowd sources funding of art related projects. Instead of getting a few people to give a lot of money you have a lot of people give a little money. I love this idea because it really takes advantage of the distributed and viral nature of the web. It opens up a whole new dimension of funding to independent projects.

We Are Live!

Over the past month, John and I have been working to apply to kickstarter and get our project idea together. We’ve worked tirelessly over the past few days to get ready. I’m proud to announce that our page is live!

Please check it out and let us know what you think. If you feel like donating to the project that would be awesome, but don’t feel obligated. Even more valuable than money is that you share this project with others. Maybe you aren’t in a position to help (I completely understand whats that’s like), but someone else might be. Spreading the word will help us make the dream come true.

On the Cutting Edge: The Equipment We Are Using, Part 1

With this project, John and I are trying out a number of innovative ideas. Besides open sourcing our thought process, we are looking at filming the documentary with some cutting edge technology. Traditionally, films are made with camcorders specifically designed for video. We are looking at cameras that where designed for still photography.
Photo by v8media

In the past, digital cameras have not been as good as film cameras because of the sensors they use. The sensors in digital cameras are usually smaller than 35mm film and are not as sensitive to light. As the technology has improved, so has the image quality. Now sensors are very close to reproducing film quality and one day could be better.

One feature that journalists and professionals had been asking for was the ability to record video. To satify their best customers, camera manufacturers added the ability to record high definition video. This had an unexpected effect.

Since the cameras had high quality lenses and sensors it was possible to produce professional looking video for a drastically lower price. The combination of lower cost and impressive looking video caught the eye of Hollywood. These cameras are just starting to be used in feature length films.

There are still some drawbacks to using these cameras because the technology is so new. However, there is also a lot of potential. John and I are excited about the possibilities. Stay tuned for part 2 where I’ll be talking about which cameras we are looking at and why.

Start of Something New: Making a Documentary

Sharing Our Story

In 2007 I started this blog with my sister as a way to record our thoughts and help my mother with her book. Over the past three years we’ve posted almost 100 times and talked about everything from adoption to identity. As well as being therapeutic, it’s been a lot of fun.

One of the best parts about sharing our story has been meeting and reconnecting with people who were touched by our words. I’ve heard from people I’ve never met, thanking us for writing about our experiences. I’ve also been reconnected with people from my past.


One of those people who reached out to reconnect was John Younger. John was my counselor at summer camp in 1990. He still remembers when my little brother Derek came to visit. He says it was striking to see how close Derek and I were despite being so different on the outside. That image has stayed with him for all these years.

John was so moved from reading the blog that he offered to help us tell the story. I have been working with him to improve my writing. He also helped with the lighting and testing the setup for the interview I did with my parents. Over the past few weeks we have been talking seriously about creating a documentary related to some aspect of the story.

Making a Documentary

While I’ve done photography for years, I’ve never made a documentary. John has been explaining the ins and outs of the business. We have been talking about everything from a story line, to equipment, to how we are going to finance it. It has been very interesting and I am learning a lot.

There is still a lot of work to do. We need to figure out what exactly it is going to be about, how we are going to shoot it, and how to finance it. As we work out all the details we will be bring you along for the ride.

Doing Something Different

One of the things we really want to do with this project is include all of you. As this project develops I will be updating this blog about its progress. I’ll be sharing just about all of our ideas and decisions as we make them. This will create a type of production journal that people will be able to follow. Maybe one day it will even become a blueprint that other people can use.

Part of the documentary is going to be a series of interviews with different family members. Just like the interview with my parents, we will be broadcasting over the web so all of you can participate. The idea is not only to share everything, but to allow others to be a part of it. If you have any ideas or suggestions for the project we would love to hear them. This is a new journey and we are very excited to see where it takes us!