Tag Archives: Gary Chou

The Videoblogs Dialogue: Now Live!

When Rebecca and I were in the early stages of planning The Videoblogs, we met at one point with Gary Chou at Orbital in NYC. We’ve come to treat that meeting as a special one, because Gary listened to our plans (which we’ve mostly followed and are still following) but challenged us to see if we couldn’t take them a step further.

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By now, if you’re a reader of this site, you know that we’re making The Videoblogs to contribute to a greater dialogue on mental health in America. And while the hope is that the film itself will become a part of that conversation, Gary’s challenge helped us address a lingering feeling that we weren’t quite taking our plan far enough, in terms of creating a project that not only sparked conversation but encouraged an interactivity that more closer mirrored today’s rising tech-enabled general culture — and its positive potential, more than its dangers.

We’re leveraging and addressing, with The Videoblogs itself, new technologies and new technologically-affected ways of living. And yet the overarching thematic message that we’re seeking to put forth with the story, in these terms, is that we can reach out through the screen to connect, not only virtually, but as a gateway to more of the real-life interaction upon which the human spirit fundamentally subsists — even as technology is making the rest of what goes into subsistence easier and more accessible.

In concrete terms, Gary pushed us to consider how we could take our message and apply it to an active, real-life, two-way solution. The idea greatly appealed to me, as I’ve grown increasingly frustrated by the broadcast-only structure of legacy long-form storytelling. And Rebecca took the challenge head-on. After some back and forth with Gary, we started working to plan The Videoblogs Dialogue in parallel with the production and release of the film.

It took some time to get going (we’re bootstrapping indie filmmakers after all!), but now it’s here. And I’m very excited and very proud and thank Gary and Rebecca for their roles in making it a reality.

Special thanks also to Paul Gilmartin, Grace Parra, Ashely Esqueda and Alice Spivak for lending their time to the contest and the cause. Their early commitments to serve on the jury for The Videoblogs Dialogue helped us gain momentum in the early days of planning, and even though it took some time to get the contest together and now launched, we continue to remain grateful for their help.

And of course thanks also to:

  • Project UROK, an official partner in the project, and an organization that does amazing work encouraging people to talk more openly and honestly about mental health
  • Co-sponsor Seed&Spark, a forward-thinking company that helps empower film and media storytellers, and promotes community and interdependence in the independent film industry
  • And co-sponsor Big Vision Empty Wallet, a film and media incubator that encourages and supports filmmakers working in today’s tech-enabled environment and champions diversity in storytelling

More below. But all the information, including how to enter the contest, can be found on the site for the film. I look forward to seeing what entrants submit. Let’s (safely) talk about this stuff.

thevideoblogsposter (1)The Videoblogs Dialogue is a user-generated video contest, in which participants submit their own videoblogs (3 min or less), pertaining to themes of mental health and/or personal struggle. Participants aged 18-24 are eligible to win a $1,000 Cash Prize and Mentorship package, to be put towards the creation of their own short film on mental health. Anyone age 18 and up can enter for the chance to have their videoblog included in the closing credits of The Videoblogs.

We’re running this contest to contribute to a greater dialogue about mental health in America, and to encourage tomorrow’s artists, filmmakers and performers to bravely engage with what have classically been labeled as difficult subjects (depression, anxiety, trauma) with an ultimate focus on hope.


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Announcing: The Videoblog Monologues + “Phase 2”

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I’m excited to share this with you so let’s jump straight into it.

As many of you know from our pitch video for The Videoblogs, we’re not only making the film in launching this project.

We’re also working to set up “Phase 2” of this overall initiative to engage in a greater dialogue on mental health, the use of communications technology for personal expression, and related topics. Just helping people work up the confidence to speak more openly about difficult issues (or issues American’s aren’t typically comfortable talking about) would mean the world to us, when all is said and done. That’s where “Phase 2” comes in.

We owe a debt of gratitude to Gary Chou at Orbital NYC for helping us arrive at the idea of “Phase 2”. Over the span of a meeting and some follow-up emails, Gary encouraged Rebecca and I to think about how we could do something different that also fell in line with our intentions for the project. In short, he challenged us to take a wider look at what was possible on the practical and tactile side of sparking a greater dialogue, other than making the film and putting it out there. In the end, we decided the best thing to do was to combine an effort at outreach and collaboration with an offer to “pay it forward”.

Hence, “Phase 2”. Which works like this:

  • Shortly after we wrap production on The Videoblogs, we will design a simple user-generated YouTube video contest for young Americans in the age range of 18-24
  • Basic guidelines for submission will be focused on performing and producing an original, short, fiction or non-fiction videoblog that deals with a difficult subject, a mental health issue, etc. Ideally, at the same time, there would be a touch of hopefulness to the narrative of the short piece.
  • Once the entry period has ended, we will post selected semi-finalists to our YouTube channel. Then there will be a voting period, which will produce a list of finalists.
  • When we have our finalists, a jury made up of myself, Rebecca, high-level donors from our Seed&Spark campaign, and hopefully also a few guest judges — will then select three winners.
  • Rebecca and I will mentor the winners in the production of their own short film centered on issues of mental health and the use of technology for personal expression. We will also lend them the small equipment package we will be using to shoot The Videoblogs
  • Whenever possible, we will screen the resultant short ahead of The Videoblogs, perhaps also including it in future distribution. Either way, we’ll continue to support the filmmakers and their work.

But that’s not (exactly) what today’s post, and/or The Videoblog Monologues, is about.

In recognition of the fact that it may be initially daunting to open up on camera, and/or to build momentum and to provide examples while embracing the collaborative spirit of our entire endeavor — we decided to crowdsource some “Phase 2” samples by reaching out to our network for help.

And that worked spectacularly.

Some of you may have seen (or shared, or answered) the Call for Writers I posted last month. Well, we got a nice batch of submissions, and we selected four one-page monologue scripts that we agreed to produce and distribute online in exchange for the writer’s permission to use their work for the aforementioned purpose.

Starting TODAY, we will be releasing one Videoblog Monologue per week, for the next month. Each video will continue to live on our YouTube channel along with Multiverse, our Four Legged Videoblogs, and other content.

Here’s the first one, written by April Austin. The video stars NYC actor Mary Palermo, was directed by our own Rebecca De Ornelas and recorded by Videoblogs Associate Producer Alex Hollock.

We hope you enjoy it. Please Share/Comment/Like/Tweet if you do!

In our first Videoblog Monologue, recently widowed Madison stresses over a rapidly approaching online date.

It's on.

It’s on.

The Videoblogs is an indie feature film about a struggling young woman whose life takes a surprise turn when a troubled teen finds her private video journal. We are currently crowdfunding.