Tag Archives: New York City

Hiring: Assistant PMD, The Videoblogs

After the lab, we will set our sights on completing the film and gearing up for next steps.

Team #VideoblogsFilm is on the lookout for an Assistant Producer of Marketing and Distribution (PMD) to join marketing and distribution efforts for our independent film about mental health in today’s busy, tech-enabled environment.

Do you…

  • Feel strongly about advocating for a greater dialogue on mental health in America?
  • Have experience and a great interest in independent film, or a comparable art form?
  • Have room in your schedule to commit to performing specific administrative and research tasks, on a weekly basis, beginning ASAP and continuing through May 2016 (possibly beyond)?
  • Want to gain experience in the marketing and distribution of a truly independent film?
  • Want to establish a working relationship with hard-working producers who release a film at least once per year?
  • Live in the NYC area?

If so, please review the job responsibilities below. Apply via the instructions at the bottom of this post if interested in the position.

Responsibilities

  • Maintain and update project calendar, keep core team on track with deadlines
  • Set meetings, take notes, work with core team to update business plan(s) as appropriate
  • Under direction of Producer of Marketing and Distribution (PMD), research and catalog list of potential partner organizations, on national and local (US city) level
  • Under direction of Creative Producer, assist in research and outreach tasks related to The Videoblogs Dialogue
  • Help coordinate screenings in several cities
  • Assist PMD with digital release strategy implementation
  • Other administrative tasks

Compensation and Timeline

  • $250/wk, from start to May 2016
  • Flexible hours, mostly remote work
  • Potential for continued employment with this project
  • With good performance, strong consideration for larger role in next project produced by same core team

This position is project-based. The weekly amount of hours it will take to perform will depend largely on how long it takes to effectively and efficiently meet deadlines. The Assistant PMD will not be expected to work full-time, but will need to be able to perform tasks on a weekly basis and respond to emails and calls in a timely manner.

Application Instructions

  • Please send a brief cover letter to mdibiasio [at] outlook [dot] com, summarizing relevant experience, your interest in the position, and what your goals would be in performing the role of Assistant PMD.
  • Attach a resume (in PDF form only).
  • Also, at the end of your cover letter, please identify the last great book you read, and include a one-sentence reason why you loved it. Alternatively, you may also tell us about the last great meal you ate (and why you loved it).

Applications that do not follow these instructions will be sugar-shamed and then deleted. We look forward to reviewing your applications!

 

 

Casting Announcement: Phoebe Allegra

Writing in with a quick informational update on The Videoblogs — this time to do with casting!

There are three main characters in the film, and today we’re excited to introduce you to the wonderful (and wonderfully talented) actress Phoebe Allegra, who will be playing Vee, a young college student struggling to survive her last years at home before striking out on her own in New York City.

headshot for phoebe

Phoebe will be playing Vee in The Videoblogs. She’s great. We’re excited.

Phoebe delivered a powerful couple of audition scenes during casting, particularly at her callback, when the room got quiet after her performance. Possibly some tears were shed.

So, obviously, Rebecca and I are really looking forward to working with Phoebe. More info about her career to this point appears below.

Please join us in welcoming Phoebe to the team! You can also follow her on Twitter here.

— 

BIO

Phoebe Allegra is a young actress currently based in New York City. Born and raised in the small town of Pell City, Alabama, she is your typical small town girl with a big city dreams and heart. Singing before she could talk and dancing before she could walk, Phoebe was consumed with dreams of performing while being influenced every weekend with marathons of Turner Classic Movie Channel, movie musicals such as Doris Days’ By The Light of the Silvery Moon, Shirly Temple’s Curly Top, and Debbie Allen & Phylisha Rashaad’s, Polly.

After graduating from high school, Phoebe enrolled in the University of Alabama’s Theatre Department where she was finally free to study and explore her acting dreams both in school and in community theatre. While still a student at UA, she got her chance at her first leading theatrical role as Mamie Till, in William Bradford Huie’s: Voice of the Voiceless at the BAMA Theatre. After completing her studies and performing in shows such as Big River and City of Angels, Phoebe graduated from UA a semester early and hit the ground running, moving to Los Angeles just two weeks later in January of 2012. Eager to begin her career, she studied film and TV acting techniques at Krater Studios and Brian Reise Studios, and landed roles in indie short films such as “Beachwood Kids” and the webseries “My Roommate the..(Gleek). However, NYC quickly came knocking on the door, and last year she moved to NYC to explore and take on its opportunities. Recently, Phoebe was cast in the feature film The Videoblogs written by Michael DiBiasio, and cannot wait to begin working with such an awesome cast and crew.

The Videoblogs is currently crowdfunding on Seed and Spark.

It's on.

It’s on.

Wandering and Deliberation: The Importance of Nothingness

Photo of Birds in Park

I took this a few weeks ago, while wandering in Brooklyn.

My “ideal” state is that of The Wanderer. I don’t know that it makes me much different from most other artists — or writers in particular. But, on many occasions, if I had my way, I would say that I’d like to do little else than wander about New York City with no particular agenda.

Of course, constraints of time and money and responsibility and attachment — make true wandering difficult. Also, wandering too much is almost certainly unhealthy in the long term. This is why being The Wanderer, in the long run, or permanently, is not actually an ideal. Over time, anomie invariably creeps in; the romance of the idea evaporates over time, trails off into the changing, moving air.

On top of this, in terms of the present discussion, I only set up half my point in admitting my wanderlust. Because, when I do take time to walk out into the city with no agenda, I invariably find just as much pleasure in settling down, somewhere, to eat a meal, or drink a cup of coffee, or to people-watch. At this point, the wandering ceases and I’m (usually) able to melt into the fogscape of an least temporarily directionless mind. This sort of break from Time and Place can be peaceful — because it is an embracing of the fact of life’s inevitable march, not an avoidance of it. This sort of break engenders a sort of rare, quiet deliberation. It offers rest to the overworked, active mind.

I grow increasingly distrustful of my active mind, lately. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it here, but I recently realized that, a year or so ago, I had stopped remembering my dreams. That hasn’t been the case for a few months now. My subconscious has apparently decided it’s safe, for the time being, to rejoin the interplay of day-to-day life. This mostly pleases me, even if it sometimes leaves my active mind with a lot of work to do, in terms of unraveling the results of whatever it is that’s been going on in my head while I sleep.

I’ve come to cherish the insights my dreams provide. I’ve had to lean on them. It isn’t easy for me to be with myself, currently, when I’m awake. I’ll admit it. It’s an ironic twist, considering where I’ve gone lately in progressing as a person.

As has probably been made obvious over the past year, one result of the work I’ve been doing both professionally and personally has been the discovery of “new,” tenderer layers of myself that just aren’t resilient to the winds of the outside world quite yet. Just as I’m getting comfortable with not being alone, as a result of making Multiverse, and by keeping up with this site, I find it necessary to force myself to incrementally reengage with solitude anyway.

I know the only way for these new layers to become resilient is through exposure. If I have learned anything in recent months, it’s that lesson. Another lesson, though, that I’m taking some time to truly absorb, is that this process must happen on its own. It cannot be controlled. Only guided — compassionately.

In the past, wandering performed two functions for me. As I have alluded, it was a slower, safer form of running away from life. It allowed me to pretend I was unattached to Time and Place, which was never true — especially in my case. I rarely wandered anywhere for longer than a day, or very far. Usually, I would disappear only for a morning or an afternoon. At the same time, I think I wandered symptomatically. In this way, my walks were arguably healthy — an emotional reset at a time of high anxiety or incredible sadness.

Now, I feel compelled to incrementally resume the incremental wandering for a different reason — for the exposure. I feel that, when I wander now (as it also happened in the past, to an extent), I invariably end up replicating something like the subconscious patterning that happens when I dream — but while in a conscious state. Because my active mind isn’t tasked, it can go where it pleases, or needs to go. Because it isn’t completely at rest, I can more easily trace and recall the resultant paths it takes. This fosters learning.

It can be so easy to lose ourselves with all the somethings we need to do or obtain. It can be maddening, to always have to be somewhere, in pursuit of someone for some reason. Tasks and tactile goals and wants and needs — they all have value. But nothingness, I would argue, has an important role in life as well. Nothingness is not only the terrifying symbol of the mystery of death. It is not only The Void. Nothingness can strip away distraction and falsehood, can expose hollowness. In this way, it is capable of infusing the experience of living with virtue, virtue that comes directly from the self.

Value and virtue are subtly different things, and I wonder often about the space between them that defines their difference. I lately feel compelled to explore that space more fully.

The Fight for The Future is About People

I had some typically unique experiences walking around New York City this week. Experiences typical of New York in their uniqueness.

I don’t even know if I should call all of them experiences. Some are observations. But, then again, many of the observations I make from day to day — especially when walking around the city, which I tend to do a lot — they end up affecting me to such a degree that they take on an aura of the personal. Sometimes this is good, sometimes this is bad. All the time, it’s just the way it is.

I was rushing down 34th Street the other day when I was suddenly stricken by the sight of a young woman, who was standing alone all the way to the edge of the sidewalk on the street side. She stood tucked between a signpost and a phone booth, hunched over a cigarette, which she pulled at with such care and such a look on her face that I knew instantly that it was the only thing in the world, at that moment, that could keep her from bursting into tears.

I can’t explain how I knew this, and neither can I explain my certainty — that this was not only true but exactly true. I didn’t believe she was going to cry. Not at that moment. She had the cigarette; to balance her physicality, and her chemistry at that moment, with the storm going on  behind her eyes. Maybe not a winning formula in the long term, or in the eyes of some people, but it was working.

She was in pain, or crisis, or both. It was striking — but I didn’t feel sorry for her. And it took me until just now to realize why.

I didn’t feel sorry for her because I’ve been there. And, retrospectively, I cherish the fact that I’ve been there. Do you know why?

Because the woman was fucking feeling something. Sure, maybe she was fighting it a bit, in order to keep herself together at that moment (with the help of the cigarette), but, she cared enough about something, someone…enough to bring her eventually to that moment that I witnessed.

I don’t often worry, anymore, about people who are processing their emotions. Feeling their feelings. It doesn’t happen enough, here and now. I know I’ve failed at it in key ways in the past. Just as I know I’m lucky, on several accounts, to have not failed at accessing my emotions in other key ways in the past.

If anything, she should have been proud. Everyone else on the block, myself included, was just rushing around under the spell of some device or another. With her, it was just what was in her head at that moment, and the cigarette. Life and a momentary break from it.

I also had a brief conversation this week with a handicapped drunk man. He was having the time of his life while the Bee Gees played loudly on the boombox he had balanced on the front shelf of a walker he was pushing in front of him. I’ve seen the guy before, talked to him before. He shows up in my building sometimes to visit my neighbor (also handicapped — he’s legless), and as far as I can tell they just visit and sit around and drink and listen to music. Sometimes my neighbor starts without his visitor, and falls asleep and doesn’t hear the bell ring. On those occasions, the visiting man waits in the hall, usually on his back, sleeping occasionally, until his friend wakes or someone else with a key shows up.

Both men love my dog. Last night, I helped the Bee Gees guy pull the walker up the stairs leading to the elevator. It’s interesting, how you have to go up and down stairs to get to the elevator, in a building where one of the tenants (on the top floor) has no legs. I’ve helped carry my neighbor to the roof before, to get to the other elevator in the building, when the one on our side isn’t working.

The last time I talked to him, he asked me a bunch of questions about Zelda (my dog) and then started telling me about a dog he had once, who was a little mean but protected his apartment. The Bee Gees guy never liked dogs until he met Zelda — just this week. That’s what he told me at least. He played with her a bit and said: “Now I know why they say they’re man’s best friend. Look how happy she is to be with us.”

And then, finally, I had a sad experience yesterday morning with a man on the street. He startled me, by grabbing my bag from behind — not a great tactic when you’re looking for a signature, which was what he was doing. I move quick, so I was a little thrown and upset by the resultant yank. I was minimally caffeinated and focused on fighting the day.

Essentially, what I’m saying, is that — prior to his talking to me — I didn’t feel like hearing what this man had to say.

Those of you who live in the city probably know the feeling — there are just too many people vying for your attention (and your money), for too many causes, as you move from place to place. If you stop, and you’re a decent person, your contact information and maybe some of your cash is going to go to whatever cause birthed the clipboard that the stopper person is holding. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, or that causes aren’t worthy — but I am saying that they can be wearying on a macro level. Especially when most of the time and resources you have already go into fighting for many of these causes in a different way.

So I started moving again, as soon as I saw what the man was presumably about.

And then he pushed the folder (it was a folder, not a clipboard) into my face. There was just a legal pad there, with some names and other information scribbled on it in ink. There was also a picture of a kid clipped to one side of the folder.

“This kid got killed two days ago,” he said. “Don’t you want to help?”

It all happened very fast. I said I was sorry and I kept walking.

I felt bad. But I didn’t see how anything I could do, then and there, was going to help that dead kid get undead. Also, to be honest, all things considered, I wasn’t sure the man was legit.

I had been in a typically frenzied head space when he had yanked me, thinking about Sophia, thinking about all the many reasons why I must tell her story, and, related to that, why I do what I do. I was thinking of all the big things I want to do with my life, to help contribute to the creation of a better place for myself and for others than the one we see in front of us these days.

And the man had upset me with the yanking, and then again by shoving the folder in my face, and…he even seemed a little combative…and…

…I don’t know.

Sometimes I can handle these things. On other occasions, I can’t. Sometimes, it’s just too much, too quickly, and there’s not much more that can be said about it.

But I wonder what it says, about me and about us, that the overwhelming weight of the fight — and of our lives within it — can cause us to fear the time it would take to stop for a moment and listen to and communicate with someone who is right there, in the flesh, and needs help. Or needs help helping.

Then again, New York City is a big place, throbbing with life, with more joy and more pain that any one person can absorb and parse at any one time. The girl with the cigarette was okay. The drunk guy with the walker was mostly okay. He only needed a little help, and maybe, a little companionship. The kid, if he really is dead, has already been lost.

Which leaves me just where I started, if a little wiser. I guess what I’m saying is that this week I was reminded that the fight for a better future doesn’t exist only in the abstract. It’s not about statistics, it’s not about what you see on the news, or about what’s trending on your social media channels.

It’s about people.

Have a good week, everyone. Get angry and speak up.

I Am The Anger (Somebody Pushed Me)

When I get on the subway in the morning to go to work, especially if I’m on time – and I am increasingly on time these days due to the steps I’ve been taking to exert more control over my health – I often make the insane decision to follow the rules and step all the way into the train.

By this I mean that I walk into the middle of the car, or as close to the middle as space allows. I rarely sit, even on the rare occasions when there are seats to be had, because whenever I do I start thinking about how much sitting I’m forced to do at my desk during the day, which isn’t good for your body. Also, standing burns extra calories. Standing occasionally, during relatively short intervals when you might otherwise sit, makes a big difference over the course of a year, in terms of fitness. This especially holds true if you “force” yourself to do a little extra walking each day, or opt for stairs more often than elevators or escalators. And so on.

I digress. I don’t want to talk about standing. I want to talk about the angry old man who got up in my face on the train yesterday.

Another reason why I move into the middle of the train is because my stop is a bit further out into Brooklyn, resulting in a situation where “enough space” to stand in becomes “no space,” as larger crowds of people pile in as we near the bridge to Manhattan. As a logical procedure, moving all the way into the train works quite well to minimize the effects of the tight squeeze that each car becomes, despite the general fear some New Yorkers seem to hold onto – that they will get stuck inside when they arrive at their stop, as neighbors swarm on and off, and will thus be forced to get off at the next stop, after which they will be late(r) to work, and then they are going to get fired, and on top of that spanked, then defiled by a fusillade of pigeon shit, and finally zombie apocalypse.

But I have a second, more selfish (or more self-aware) reason for moving towards the middle of the car and away from the doors. It allows me to exert a small measure of control over a situation I can’t control: the coming onslaught of The Crowd.

I have had an aversion to crowds since I was about eight or nine years old. I remember standing in the school yard during recess at that age, with a handful of friends, and watching from afar as many other students congregated together, laughing and screaming and generally having a great time. I wasn’t an outcast per se. In fact, I was friends with many of the children who made up the group – on an individual level. But the crowd unnerved me, at least in terms of being unable to easily join it without feeling a rush of anxiety or insecurity or just general discomfort with the idea of joining the group. I just didn’t understand it. I didn’t feel whatever it was that they were feeling, that compelled them to congregate. 

The psychology of such events can probably be unwrapped and analyzed a few times over, but for the present purpose I mean only to point out the necessity, in adulthood, for people like me to do something about a situation in which discomfort or anxiety is going to come whether you like it or not. Such feelings don’t often go away.

I live in New York City. I cannot ever avoid crowds. But, to a degree, I can avoid crowding, which is one of the reasons why I live deep in Brooklyn, where I can get more space for the same money that I would pay to live somewhere closer to the epicenter of the city – which doesn’t want people like me anyway (we lack capital).

In truth, certain parts of Brooklyn don’t want me either. This doesn’t surprise me, because the majority of the people living in such parts live in bubbles. Since I can be a bit prickly, there’s just going to be a lack of hugs all around when it comes to me and them. They don’t want to endanger their bubble and I don’t want to get sticky.

That’s all a long preamble to the additional fact that I also choose to move into the middle of the car as a means of exerting a small degree of control over my fate, as the crowd of bodies swells into a current and the jostling and pushing and crushing begins. I try to put myself preemptively out of the range of too much contact or too much crowding. When I know the crowding is imminent, I spread my legs a little farther than normal and stand slightly farther back from the people closest to me than I otherwise have to, in order to maintain comfort. This way, when the squeezing comes, I have a little extra space to play with. I know. I’m brilliant. It’s not at all ironic that I’m talking about creating my own bubble.

So what happened yesterday? Why do I go into so much detail about something so apparently mundane? Would it make you feel like you’ve been making a good use of your time reading this, if I told you that, in the midst of a situation typical of the above testimony, that I was suddenly accosted by an angry old (white) man?

Isn’t that kind of appropriate?

He got on at a particular stop in one of those neighborhoods in Brooklyn. A neighborhood famous (in my eyes) for the overwhelming percentage of genteel oblivious fuckheads whose behavior, movements, and general carriage belie an intrinsic belief that they (and their children) are more important than everyone else around them. Sticking to the example of the subway, these are the people who get on the train and act as if it’s your job to not be in their way, or in the way of the e-reader or iPad or magazine or book that they are going to hold out in front of them at a comfortable arms length even as others struggle to find room in the car. They are adept at holding their coffee in front of your face and hitting you repeatedly with their bags (in fairness, you are in the way of their bag). They also don’t mind chattering loudly about some of the most boring topics known to man while surrounded by a crowd of quiet fellow commuters who just want a few more minutes of peace before the furor of their day begins.

I was in the middle of the car. Minding my business. Reading. With my book in my face only. Shortly after we arrived at that stop, in that neighborhood in Brooklyn – I felt pressure at my back. The crowd. I stopped reading for a moment, to make room as best I could.

I should mention, at this point, that I travel to work with a backpack. One that is often bulging with lunch and filmmaking. I should also mention that I have a spinal condition that leaves me sensitive to pressure at certain angles. For instance, when someone pushes against my bag, adding extra relative weight from the top down – I feel it a little bit more than you do, because the curve of my spine is more acute than yours, from back to front. It’s like a more glamorous form of scoliosis.

So, when I felt unnecessary pressure on my back (the train wasn’t that crowded), I looked to see what was going on.

What I saw was an angry old man, who also had a large bag, grumbling about the reality that was the prior existence of other people on the train. For whatever reason, though there was room elsewhere, he had decided to stand right behind me – which placed large bag up against large bag. He pushed me a little, seemingly on purpose.

I had already relinquished all the extra room I had saved for dealing with The Crowd, and I wasn’t about to force discomfort on myself and the woman seated in front of me by straddling her legs. I also wasn’t going to allow the man to weigh my back down with the weight of his bag. So I held my ground against the pushing. Again – not my job to get out of your way.

I heard and felt his annoyance, but I didn’t care. He could have gone somewhere else. I would have. There was room. But, as it turns out, none of this mattered. The man would soon prove that he wasn’t concerned with anything other than being mad. For the time being, I focused on my book and listened to music through my headphones and stopped worrying about him because I was fine.

A few stops later, he turned around and shoved a hand into my shoulder. I also turned around, pulled my headphones down around my neck, and looked at him.

“Your umbrella is poking out of your bag! It’s all over the place!”

The words were delivered acidly, manically. I looked down at my umbrella. It was facing away from him, on the other side of my bag from the one he was closest to, and though it was dangling a bit from where I keep it secured to the outside of the bag, a quick glance at the people around us confirmed that the man was overreacting or creating a situation where there wasn’t one. He had spoken loudly, and was glaring at me, and since the train had been quiet (as it often is in the morning) everyone was looking at us.

I did the right thing before I even knew I was doing it. I told the man, in a kind but firm tone of voice, to calm down, and that everything was going to be okay.

This is a new tactic I have been using whenever someone comes at me with anger. I tell them, emphatically, that everything is going to be okay. I illustrate this fact through my tone, and via the look in my eyes. I often repeat the phrase, if they bark again. Everything is going to be okay.

He turned around immediately, and said nothing. He seemed embarrassed, perhaps because, after everyone had turned to look at us, I had immediately redirected their attention to where it was deserved, with him only. This was his problem.

I double-checked the umbrella and went back to my book.

Outside the realm of general politeness – when politeness is called for – it is the job of no one to get out of the way of someone else. This especially holds true when dealing with someone who is always in their own way, and is merely swapping you in, in place of themselves, as a means of spasmodically releasing their anger or dissatisfaction with their own self…while as the same time holding onto it for dear life.

Too much of what keeps too many of us perpetually dissatisfied with our lives, here in America, in my opinion, is the general default attitude we take when confronted by angry, childish bullies. What other explanation can there be for our current depressed state, wherein few of us are satisfied, or feel represented or free, and yet, as a daily rule, on average, we continue to acquiesce to a metastasized old world status quo in which the few dictate the lives of the many? Here, in a supposedly free democracy, this is the norm. Will this be the legacy of our time? Silent capitulation to screaming old men who want what they want, and you better get out of their way? Is this not a serious, widespread problem of courage?

These small stories add up. They are not separate from the larger picture.

As early as a year ago, I might have had a different reaction to the attack of that old, self-important man. I might have told him to fuck off, taking his bait, turning myself into a part of the show. I might have become fodder for the crowd I simply wanted to avoid. Depending on my mood, I might have also just taken the abuse, mostly ignoring him on the surface while privately fuming on the inside. Hell, on another day, even further back in my life, I could have even been that guy.

Now, I have more important things to do. I am no longer a man who deals in irrational anger. Except when we are here, on this site. Here, the anger is rational. Here, to borrow a phrase (while lopping off a key consonant): I am the anger.

This is a place where we get angry and speak up. Here, the energy can go somewhere useful.

Don’t let angry fuckheads throw you off track. And don’t be an angry fuckhead. Life’s crowded. Shit’s going to be in the way of the ideal. Deal with it and keep going.

It’s going to be okay.