Tag Archives: Paul Gilmartin

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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What I Liked This Week: Mental Health Edition

Zelda (showing off her Boyhood pose here) has improved my mental health by about 2,000%.

Zelda (showing off her Boyhood pose here) has improved my mental health by about 2,000 percent.

As promised in last week’s relaunch of this feature, I will be attempting to keep What I Liked This Week relatively short, from here forward. If I end up responding to something in a profoundly major way, I may break that rule again, but for now — here goes!

This wasn’t planned, but this week, the things I liked the most all fell into a single category: Mental Health.  I’m glad it shook out this way — especially because May is National Mental Health Awareness month.

Here are three things you might want to check out:

Tim Ferriss Talks About Suicide

I’m a big fan of Tim’s work, which has helped me take control of my life in many ways. Tim’s blog post, “ Some Practical Thoughts About Suicide,” is a good read. I can relate to quite a bit of what he shares. But what I like most about the piece is that it comes from a highly-visible person, with a large following of fans who often listen very seriously to what he has to say. It’s good, on a very basic level, that this is now “out there”.

The Mental Illness Happy Hour

I have been listening to comedian Paul Gilmartin’s podcast for a while now, especially after we reached out to him last year while assembling the jury for The Videoblogs Dialogue. That contest will launch soon (we’re a bit delayed) but I have especially been getting a lot out of the podcast lately and wanted to made sure readers know it’s out there.  Paul does a great job managing the process of conversing about difficult subjects in each episode, not only with guests or when speaking personally but also while reading anonymous surveys filled out by listeners “on air”.

I’m not always able to listen to the show — sometimes it gets a little too painful — but lately I’ve been listening more often and I just really appreciate that it’s out there. I also really like how funny it can be. Paul is funny on his own, but laughing at the darkness with him and his guests is frequently a great salve for me, that really helps in between other sources of relief.

More Money Towards Mental Health System in NYC

Finally, I liked seeing that the deBlasio administration in New York City is seeking to budget for and implement additional mental health services around the city.

We desperately need a better infrastructure for mental health programs (around the country). Regardless of your political leanings (mine have tumbled in recent years into a loose pile of centrist debris), once you acknowledge this fact (it’s a fact) it stands to reason that trying anything at all — is a good thing.

Trying things cost money, and requires patience. I don’t believe the government should be solely responsible for either reform or maintaining/improving our current infrastructure of mental health programs or services. I wouldn’t work so hard personally to produce art that advocates for dealing with mental health issues if I did feel that way.

Like most things on such a scale, addressing this major national issue will take a mix of solutions, probably customized to the individual. First, though, those solutions need to be available (to everyone). I know, personally, that there are non-governmental systems and groups that exist, to help people when they’re suffering. The above-two examples are free resources that don’t necessarily solve anything on their own, but do provide information, comfort and hope.

Still, in an age where politics and government appear frequently callous and ineffective, it’s nice to believe that something like this could arrive soon, to help us combat The Mental Health Crisis as well.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to hit me up with questions/concerns in the comments.

What I Liked This Week is a weekly site  feature in which I briefly summarize three things I liked recently, that I would like to call to readers’ attention. They aren’t always recent to this week or even necessarily things. An experience can be a thing. The point is that I like them and you might, too!

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Gilmartin, Esqueda, Spivak Join Videoblogs Dialogue

Host/Actress/Writer Grace Parra Also Signs On as Juror for Video Contest Centered Around Mental Health and Personal Expression

Jurors signed on for The Videoblogs Dialogue

Jurors signed on for The Videoblogs Dialogue

(New York, NY) – Brooklyn-based indie filmmakers Michael DiBiasio and Rebecca De Ornelas are delighted to announce Paul Gilmartin (The Mental Illness Happy Hour, TBS’ Dinner and a Movie), Ashley Esqueda (Senior Editor, C-NET TV, Tomorrow Daily), Alice Spivak (OnTheRoad Rep, How to Rehearse When There is No Rehearsal), and Grace Parra (“The Collective”, Pretty Strong Opinions) as the first four jurors for The Videoblogs Dialogue, formerly known as “Phase 2” of the filmmakers’ overall initiative to contribute to a greater dialogue on mental health and to advocate for the positive use of technology for personal expression. Bios for each juror appear below.

The Videoblogs Dialogue is a user-generated video contest aimed at helping tomorrow’s filmmakers and performers tackle difficult subjects with an ultimate focus on hope. It’s also a way for DiBiasio and De Ornelas to pay it forward, by ultimately mentoring younger filmmakers in the creation of their own work on these subjects.

DiBiasio explains: “We’re making The Videoblogs because we want to contribute to a greater dialogue on mental health, particularly in America. We think this is needed, and we think there’s plenty of evidence that it’s needed. Beyond that, as people who have benefited greatly from taking the important step of admitting we needed help — we want more people to know not only that it’s okay to do that, but that it may be in everyone’s best interest that those of us who need to are able to reach out without fear of judgment.”

“Still, we realized that just making a statement with the film wasn’t going to be enough. The film itself is about reaching out through today’s communication technology as a bridge to more community in real life. Taking the responsibility of that message seriously, we determined to come up with something more engaging.”

De Ornelas adds: “As you get older and progress as an artist, it’s not enough (at least for me) to just make statements with your art, like: ‘Here’s me! Here’s what I think! Hope you like it!’. Your responsibility changes and grows to something greater than just saying things. We want our work to be part of a dialogue. That connection through art, we feel, is exactly what artists are seeking, and that’s what we are hoping to establish with The Videoblogs Dialogue.”

Gilmartin, Esqueda, Spivak and Parra will join other jurors (including high-level contributors to the film’s funding campaign on Seed and Spark) in selecting finalists for the contest, from which an ultimate winner or winners will be chosen by DiBiasio and De Ornelas. The filmmakers will then mentor and assist the winner or winners towards the creation of their own short film about mental health and reaching out via technology.

In recognition of the possible hurdles that may come up as potential entrants attempt to craft their submissions, DiBiasio and De Ornelas crowdsourced the production of sample videos from a network of colleagues. Here is the latest sample:

Written by Asmara Bhattacharya
Starring Kari Nicolle
Shot by Alex Hollock
Directed by Rebecca De Ornelas

The filmmakers also reached out to NAMI-NYC (National Alliance on Mental Illness, New York City Metro) about The Videoblogs Dialogue, and the organization would like participants to know that:

NAMI-NYC provides support groups and is available to direct people towards any care they may need in dealing with any difficult subjects. Please call their resource helpline at 212-684-3264 or visit their website at: http://naminycmetro.org. Entrants outside the NYC Metro area are encouraged to call The National Information Helpline: 1 (800) 950-NAMI (6264).

The preceding message will also be delivered to all entrants in the contest and will be posted as the first comment on every video for which comments are enabled (at each creator’s discretion).

The Videoblogs project is currently in its final week of funding. To learn how you can help, please visit: www.seedandspark.com/studio/videoblogs.


Paul Gilmartin

Paul Gilmartin co-hosted TBS’ Dinner and a Movie from 1995 to 2011, and has been a stand-up comedian since 1987. His credits include Comedy Central Presents: Paul Gilmartin, numerous Bob and Tom albums, comedy festivals and the Late Show with Craig Ferguson. He is also a frequent guest on the Adam Carolla podcast, performing political satire as right-wing Congressman Richard Martin.

Paul was thrilled to be diagnosed with clinical depression in 1999 because it meant he wasn’t just an asshole. By 2003, he realized he was still an asshole and an alcoholic. Since 2003 he has been sober, mostly happy and a tiny bit less of an asshole. He leads a happy life in Los Angeles with a patient, loving wife and two spoiled dogs.


Ashley Esqueda

Ashley Esqueda is a geek of many talents: She’s currently a Senior Editor at CNET, hosting the futuristic and fun daily talk show “Tomorrow Daily.” She previously created content for other high-profile online publications, including G4, Technobuffalo, The Escapist, and more. She has a penchant for all things tech, ranging from mobile technology to video games to pop culture, offering a wide variety of knowledge across various topics.

In addition to hosting, she has written a variety of articles, scripts, and punchlines for many outlets, including two consecutive years as co-head writer for The Geekie Awards, an awards show celebrating indie creators in nerd culture. She also sits on the board of Take This, a non-profit charity dedicated to mental health advocacy for gamers and geeks.

Ashley serves charismatic and witty realness in the tech scene, and has charmed celebrities, CEOs, and consumers on red carpets, trade conventions, and the streets. There’s nowhere she won’t go for a laugh, especially at her own expense. In her spare time, she is the Queen of an unnamed island nation and enjoys including one outrageously false fact about herself in her bio.

Alice Spivak

Alice Spivak

Alice Spivak began her acting career at an early age, joining Actors’ Equity in 1956, Screen Actors Guild in ‘59, and AFTRA in the early 60’s. Having trained at the HB Studio with Herbert Berghof and Uta Hagen, she was made a teacher there in 1962, and taught on their faculty for fifteen years. Since that time, she has been a popular free-lance acting teacher and coach in NYC, currently teaching Advanced Scene Study Classes while also serving as Aristic Director for OnTheRoad Rep, founded in collaboration with her advanced and professional acting students.

She has acted extensively off-Broadway and in regional theatre (receiving the Joseph Jefferson Award in Chicago in 1975 for Neil Simon’s Plaza Suite). On television, audiences have seen her more recently in Law & Order, Sex & The City, Law & Order CI, and as a regular performer on Sidney Lumet’s 100 Centre Street. as well as television commercials and voiceovers. Her more recent film appearances are in The Waiting Game and Find Me Guilty. and Only The Devil Knows You’re Dead.  She has also been seen in Woody Allen’s Stardust Memories and Another Woman. Two of her favorite movie roles were Jenny in Privilege by Yvonne Rainer, which premiered at the New York Film Festival in 1991, and Louise, an American tourist, in An Electric Moon, written by Arundhati Roy, directed by Pradip Krishen, and made in India.

She has coached on numerous feature films, Broadway shows, regional shows, TV mini-series, pilots, etc., receiving technical credits on quite a few, including The Fan, Buck & The Preacher, Harem, Now & Forever, etc. She also taught Film Directing Workshops and was a recipient of the Indie Award by The Association of Video and Filmmakers in 1977.  In 1981, she was on the faculty of NYU Film Grad School, teaching the course, Directing Actors. Spike Lee was her student there. In 2003-4, she again taught this course, this time at Columbia Film Grad School. She is co-writer and director of a short film comedy, Working For Peanuts and the author of: HOW TO REHEARSE WHEN THERE IS NO REHEARSAL – ACTING AND THE MEDIA (Limelight Editions), which has received glowing reviews.

Grace Parra

Grace Parra

Grace Parra is a Mexican-American writer/host/actress based in Los Angeles.  She’s originally from Houston, TX and graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Political Science. Screen credits include: How I Met Your Mother, Zeke & Luther, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Farah Goes Bang, The Bonnie Hunt Show, Greenberg, and many more. You can catch her in commercials for HONDA, OLAY, COFFEE BEAN, BLUE CROSS/BLUE SHIELD, HOME DEPOT and several others.

She’s presently the comedic host of NUVO’s “THE COLLECTIVE” produced by Jennifer Lopez. On the side, she writes and hosts the brand-new PRETTY STRONG OPINIONS WITH GRACE PARRA, where she created her very own political comedy series in the vein of The Daily Show, presenting a POV on all the political and social topics that differ wildly from your Stewarts/Colberts/Olivers. She also hosts live talk shows in LA including PARRA’S PINATA PARTY and “The Really Late Morning Show,” interviewing hundreds of celebrities and creating sketches for sold-out shows on a monthly basis.  She created and starred in the webseries FRIDA KAHLO, JUNIOR MARKETING EXEC, a semi-finalist in the 2013 New York Television Festival, and was a cast member in the prestigious 2013 CBS DIVERSITY SHOWCASE.

Grace is also an accomplished TV comedy writer, whose credits include ABC’s Work It, TBS’s Glory Daze, and Disney’s Jonas LA. She recently developed and sold a pilot to MTV produced by Jennifer Lopez and Nuyorican Productions.