“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.” – Shunryu Suzuki
Since I work in social media as well as writing, many people ask why I still take social media courses. The answer is because no matter how much I think I know, there is always someone who knows more. There are also always ideas that I forget in the daily drill of content marketing. I learn so much from simply listening to other experiences. For instance, when I tune in to Stark Social’s podcast, I am reminded of core strategies and learn about important social updates. (Deanna and Nathan are also incredibly charming and fun.)
In the case of Christina Farley’s “Master Your Marketing” class, I wanted to focus on branding and social media myself as a writer and not a hyphenate. Recently I moved towards my freelance income being half writing and half social media consulting. The deeper I delved, the clearer it became that the social media jobs will come: I have a reputation there and when I finish a job for one client, another seems to arrive to replace it.
Most of what I love about social media is the creativity and strategic writing that it requires. My goal is to make most of my living as a writer. So how to be sure that when someone finds me online, they see a writer? After taking Farley’s course on branding and researching other writer’s sites (Melissa Hung has a great overview), I understood that my website needed a strong overhaul. Farley calls it the “central station of all your social media,” and mine had basically become a mess in recent months. I need to keep my past blog posts because companies still link to them, but turn that section into more of a writing portfolio. Encouraged by the worksheets I used in Farley’s course, I found the right theme to use and it all fell into place. I spent a whole weekend updating categories and tags that are relevant to my current work. I only have published articles at the moment, not novels, so it’s a little different than Farley’s website. Streamlining the categories also helped me focus on the topics that typically interest me enough to write.
Now, to turn to social media. Her second course in the series focuses on that aspect of marketing and I used her expertise and careful focus on writers to understand how I can build up my @FairyFolkMyth personality. After revamping my categories on my blog, I realized that the categories are the hashtags I need to use as well. For instance, #WAHMRealities is a common instagram tag for me that encompasses both writing, working and parenting. I have a lot of ideas for writing about parenting, but don’t want that to be my focus. With this hashtag, I can give a hat tip to that important part of my life but still focus on the fact that I am doing the work.
Then there is the #fairyfolkmyth brand, the main topics of writing for which I want to be known. Those often overlap with #bookreviews and #artreviews, so there are my 1-2 hashtags per twitter post that Farley suggests. More often than not recently, I also find that fairy tales relate to parenting, and my TYA (Theatre for Young Audiences) column specifically.
She had some great confirmation on my ideas about tumblr and snapchat. Hearing Farley’s advice for using Pinterest reminded me that I need to clean my Pinterest pages up or hire Brit McGinnis to do it for me.
I completely agree with Farley that if you are on YouTube towards a marketing end goal, you need “to have an experience with people.” She certainly delivers on that idea. I’ve spent years experimenting with YouTube to deliver new audiences to artists, and have very high standards on that front. It may be time to re-evaluate how I use it, but I’m going to let that idea simmer and return to it down the road.
Farley gave some excellent recommendations for keywords to use on each platform. I personally use twitter differently on my main account but am now re-thinking the @FairyFolkMyth account. It has more of a clear purpose, a niche purpose, and I need to be more deliberate with that twitter personality. I’ve been motivated enough to create a spreadsheet towards that goal; now to populate it.
Farley’s third course was focused on attending events as a writer. She has a great philosophy and I’ll delve into those ideas in a later post!
The year is 2010. I sit in the Antaeus office, likely working through academy auditions or casting for an upcoming reading. Downstairs in the library, sounds of hope and peer encouragement mingle with the Salesforce training. I can hear a tangible optimism, a desire for all those development, general manager, box office folks to jump right into a new software and finally organize those years of Excel lists or poorly photocopied box office reports.
I sit in numerous staff meetings and hear our development associate and office manager essentially plead for someone, anyone, to use this new system. I hear them. I respect them. I understand their point.
I discovered the Writer’s Atelier through NanOrlando, when they hosted a series of NaNoWriMo prep sessions. (I didn’t use NaNo for its strict purpose of writing this year, but as a motivator to continue with my Horatio edits.) I was struck with how useful and supportive their community is. Without knowing me, they welcomed my then 2 month-old into a write-in, and everyone there truly enjoyed his presence and helped me feel comfortable.
So of course I looked at their other activities, and the online class Master Your Marketingwith Christina Farley caught my eye. Last fall, three of my editing/social media clients asked my advice on building a platform for their nonfiction works, and that raised new questions for me. Farley looks to address a lot of these questions along with some basics of social media.
I asked Farley the questions that my clients asked me, to see what I might learn from her course. Below are her answers.
CMJ: What does a writer’s brand mean to you?
CF: I like to think that a writer’s brand symbolizes who you are as a writer. It not only ties in with your books and writing style, but it draws from who you are as a person. Also a well-developed author brand is more than just the cover of the book or a Twitter header. It delves deeper into all the aspects of the persona of you as a writer. A true test of this is a reader/editor/agent/ should be able to in one glance at any aspect of your writer’s persona grasp a clear concept of who you are as a writer.
CMJ: What does “platform” mean to you? As in, when a publisher says they’ll read a proposal or manuscript if a writer builds their platform?
CF: An author’s platform is essentially like the ‘auditorium’ (if you will) where your voice as an author is heard. Imagine you standing on the stage (scary for some of us introverted writers!) and those sitting in the audience are all of the people excited and eager to hear what you have to say. What you are displaying on the stage and how many people sitting in your audience is what the publishers are interested. An author’s platform is a key component for the nonfiction writer, and though not as important for the fiction writer, it can still be a valuable resource if utilized effectively.
CMJ: How do you divide writing and marketing time?
CF: Writing must always come first. Every time. But there are hours in your day that your brain needs a creative reprieve. That’s when you can spend time on your marketing. The key is to prioritize what is most important and essential to your marketing needs. From there, you can break down a plan and schedule yourself so you aren’t overwhelmed and your writing doesn’t goes by the wayside.
CHRISTINA FARLEYis the author of the bestselling Gilded series, a YA contemporary fantasy series set in Korea and upcoming middle grade, THE PRINCESS & THE PAGE, set in France. GILDED was nominated for Korea’s Morning Calm, Ohio’s Buckeye award, and the Tome’s It List. It also was hailed in Epic Read’s anticipated reads, PriceStyle’s recommended summer reads, Book Riot’s favorite myth inspired reads, and BuzzFeed’s 21 amazing series they’ll miss. She is a certified teacher holding a master’s degree in education and has taught writing workshops worldwide.
I will always jump on learning a new way of social marketing, and will report back here on each of her courses*. You can register for the entire seriesor a’la carte, and also include one-on-one mentoring.
*DISCLOSURE: I arranged a discount to the courses in exchange for reporting on each one.
I have a Passion/Any Planner meeting with friends on Sunday, and I offered to help some people ahead of time who I thought could use it.
One person walked me through her 3-month Gamechanger, which involved cleaning her house and getting it ready for a big move. She calmly proceeded to review all the piles she had: beads and jewelry making supplies she’ll never use again, art to hang on the walls of their new house that can’t be hung at their current place, bags and boxes to donate (that have been there for months), etc.
She was calm and I started having a mild panic attack. Now, I am well aware that when you help people with their mental or physical clutter, you take some of their stress onto yourself. Yet she had no stress in her voice; I did.
I took a moment to review the image of her Goal mapping that she had sent, and then it clicked:
She had fallen into the typical trap of treating her Goal Map like a To Do List.
Here’s what I said to her:
Your Goal Map to clean/clear your house doesn’t end at “Donate old clothes to Goodwill.” You have to add the time it takes to fully get rid of every single bag, such as:
Load the bags into car – 15 minutes
Drive to Goodwill then to work – 1 hour
Calendar the time into a specific day (this is perhaps the last step to every Goal Map) -10 minutes
Then we got to her beads and jewelry supplies. These are more than just things; these are lost hopes of an etsy store, fun times with her best friend, a creative outlet through bad times — I think we all have this sort of collection somewhere.
She is donating them to her friend in Texas who makes jewelry to benefit a dog shelter:
Send to Texas
Pick up boxes from _____ – 30 minutes
Package and box all supplies – 2 hours (I always overestimate how long this will take because emotions tend to slow down the process).
Load car with boxes – 20 minutes
Drive to post office and send – 30 minutes
Calendar this time into a specific day – 15 minutes
Until you go into this much detail and calendar it into your planner, the goals are still just wishes. A map doesn’t just say you go from Home to Work; it tells you every turn and how long it will take.
That’s how detailed you have to get, how deep you have to go.
I’m the first to admit that I didn’t use the Passion Planner exactly how it’s meant to be
used. I didn’t always follow my Goal Mapping or have the correct focus detailed at the top of each day.
I was able to track my time better, and specifically how I spend my time – not just the reality but also to see plainly where I actually spent my time vs where I want to spend my time.
While I have three weeks left to 2016, I’ll use this time to really detail my Gamechangers, and follow through on giving each task an amount of time needed to complete, then a spot in my calendar. Already this has shown me where my focus needs to go in terms of hustling for specific kinds of work and not just work in general (ah, the freelance life).
I also was inconsistent with the monthly reflections, which is partly because I had an undated planner but also because the time to do that needs to be calendared, and I just didn’t. However, I’m taking the advice that Passion Planner gives and expanding upon it. They suggest finding a PP buddy to keep each other accountable. I found some of my friends on Facebook who have or want to use a Passion Planner (or another system that’s close), and we’ll have monthly check-ins to help one another. We’re starting next week and I honestly can’t wait (except I can, because I have so much Goal Mapping to do before then).
That is our first task before we meet:
Finish the Wish List as detailed in the Passion Planner’s first pages.
Detailed Gamechanger Goal Mapping for at least 3 months, 1 year, 3 years and Lifetime.
Share in the Facebook Event as they’re finished.
When we do our video check-ins, we’ll go over any questions about the process and obstacles we found. Then review one Gamechanger apiece and share ideas.
We’ll see how this goes. I know that only using their methods part-time worked well, so I look forward to being more organized with my time. I already feel much clearer mentally.
I have no affiliation with Passion Planner except I’m a fan. You can find their free downloads here to try it out.
I guess being a parent really does affect how I view art. Yesterday two articles I wrote dropped on different publications, Better Lemons and Dwarf+Giant, a blog of The Last Bookstore LA. I didn’t realize until I shared them to Facebook that both show how I view art differently since becoming a parent.
The other is the first in a series, What Theaters Need to Know: Courting Families on Better Lemons, a relaunched Los Angeles arts website. Here I detail how small changes and larger ones can go a long way towards making families feel welcome at your programming. Until you’ve had to change your child’s diaper on a nasty restroom floor while other audience members bang on the door during intermission, you really haven’t lived as a parent.
Stay tuned for some more interesting articles from me……
This cover reveal is a little late, but hey, I had a baby.
I’m on page 162 of Covalent Bonds. I do not normally gravitate towards romance as a genre, but Covalent Bonds is a geek romance anthology. It won’t be released until February 14, 2017, so I honestly should be reading another book whose review will be published sooner, but this is too much fun. If I had been into conventions or gaming as a teen, these would be my fantasies.
Trysh Thompson has written just about every form of non-fiction you can think of—everything from news, movie reviews, magazine columns, marketing hype, software manuals, and was even an editorial assistant on a gardening book no one has ever read (The 7-Minute Organic Garden—see, you’ve never heard of it, have you?). To keep from being slowly and torturously bored to death by her day job, she turned to fiction as means of escape—reading it, writing it, and editing it.
Wendy Sparrow’s first forays into fiction earned her time-outs, punishment, and “how many times have I told you the Boy Who Cried Wolf story?” But, she persevered. She’s stubborn like that. Now, all her stories have a happily ever after and the lies are sexier and more elaborate. Sometimes, they even contain wolves. (Ha, mom! So there!) She’s active in OCD and autism communities and writes on her blog to support awareness in both. If she’s not writing or wrangling kids, she’s on Twitter, @WendySparrow, where she’ll chat with anyone about anything.
From New Mexico to Nebraska to New York to Indiana to Qatar to Washington D.C., Jeremiah Murphy has lived everywhere. And he writes a lot. His work can be found in anthologies such as Fae Fatales, The Dark Lane Anthology, From the Corner of Your Eye, Pagan, and others, as well as at http://www.jrmhmurphy.com.
Charlotte M. Ray splits her time between all kinds of gaming, reading and being a wife. Oh, and writing down all those stories that keep plopping up in her mind and won’t leave her alone. She lives (physically) in Finland with her husband and their computers, and (mentally) in whichever imaginary world she is currently occupied with.
Marie Piper writes steamy western historical romance, so getting her geek on in Covalent Bonds has been a delight. Her trilogy, Fires of Cricket Bend, is being published by Limitless Publishing, and her short stories have appeared in collections from LoveSlave, House of Erotica, Torquere Press, NineStar Press, and Coming Together. Maidens & Monsters, Marie’s 5-novella old west mystery girl squad serial, is out now. For more information, visit mariepiper.com or @mariepiperbooks
Laura VanArendonk Baugh was born at a very early age and never looked back. She overcame childhood deficiencies of having been born without teeth or developed motor skills, and by the time she matured into a recognizable adult she had become a behavior analyst, an internationally-recognized and award-winning animal trainer, a popular costumer/cosplayer, a tabletop gamer, a chocolate addict, and of course a writer. Find her at http://www.LauraVanArendonkBaugh.com
Cori Vidae is an editor, anthologist and the founder of Pen and Kink Publishing. She works as an Assistant Editor at World Weaver Press and also occasionally finds time to write things (often Under Glass).
Mara Malins is an English writer of romance who battles spreadsheets by day and fiction by night. She lives in Manchester with her menagerie of three cats, two turtles and a long-term partner. She has work forthcoming with Pen and Kink Publishing.
YA and New Adult romantic comedy author because her first kiss sucked and she’s compensating.
Firm believer that some of the best stories happen when love meets comedy and awkwardness ensues.
Both a hopeless romantic and total cynic, Tellulah Darling is all about the happily-ever-after, with a huge dose of hilarity along the way. Her romcoms come in a variety of heat levels and flavors; straight up romantic comedy, shaken with Greek mythology or stirred with urban fantasy.
G.G. Andrew writes quirky romantic comedy—stories about people who fall in love with the most unlikely person, and who stumble through some awkwardness and ill-advised kisses along the way. An avid nerd, she is a book blogger and host of the Writers Who Read interview series, which features writers sharing what’s on their shelf.
Then head on over to Story Forward, a fantastic podcast I just discovered. Noah J. Nelson of No Pro is on a panel discussing the ethics of immersive experiences. Whether you approach it as an audience member or creator, this is a great listen.
If you’re interested in knowing about immersive productions, escape rooms, etc in your area, here’s where to find NoPro. There’s an expansion to other cities in the works:
After the Sandy Hook massacre, I created a social media policy for handling mass shootings in progress, tailoring it to each of my clients at that time.
It took me until Tamir Rice to create a policy for when an unarmed Black person is killed by police.
After Charlie Hebdo attacks, I adjusted the mass shootings policy to include terrorist attacks. Why that didn’t start earlier and why it mostly only focuses on attacks in the western world is a topic for another post.
What to do when we wake up each day to horrible news, or at the very least, weekly?
How to continue business on social media outlets when you need to acknowledge, or at least respect, but life also must continue?
How to let some light into the dark, either through happy photos, good news or commentary?
How to continue your work and your life without sounding like you are ignoring the devastating news of the day? Without sounding selfish, or privileged enough not to be confronted with the fear every minute, either because of where you live or the color of your skin?
I think about this a lot. It even makes me pause sometimes from posting the cycle of gun control, of Black Lives Matter, of how to raise a white child without white privilege: because in a matter of days, I can start to sprinkle more photos of my happy toddler or outreach advice or activism through art.
And then a new outrage will occur.
It’s much too easy to ignore before the next horrendous headline enters my morning Facebook feed.
After the brutal month of June and early July 2016, I decided the only solution is to stop letting myself ignore it on days that it isn’t in my face. Many people fight these inequalities and face these horrors every day. I need to make the real effort to be more than an ally, and I need to make it every day. There are times for self-care, but I cannot retreat into it. I need to not only post “What You Can Do” articles, but hold myself accountable and post when I actually do make those calls to Congress and inquire/fight for proper police procedure. Feeling jumbled, as in my July 8 Facebook post, is not enough. I also greatly respect those who are not as public with their feelings or actions. Silence is complicity, certainly, but just because I don’t see you touting your feelings or actions on social media doesn’t mean you aren’t doing the work in real life. Posting something just so you are seen as aware often makes it sound trite, no matter how genuine the feelings behind it. I worried about that with every other post that ran through my brain on July 8th, and so just focused on my exact feelings at that exact time. I still worry it could sound trite, but at least I know it was the truth and not me trying to make something more out of the truth that I felt at that moment.
Now this is only for my personal social media platforms. What about brands, entrepreneurs, businesses? There are ways to mirror mission with current events for nonprofits, but others? Right now,I just take it case by case. In much of my work, I ghost write social media posts for people, and I take my cues from their personal pages, or send that all too familiar email:
“In light of recent events, I would like to post something along these lines:” and then I say something relatively simple without making any real statement: the brand version of “Thoughts and prayers”. For a local Orlando business, I barely even mentioned the actual massacre, but focused on the helpers in Orlando and particularly helping Orlando businesses.
I take it day by day, adjusting social media protocols as necessary but mostly winging it, collaborating when I have a team. Sometimes it is best just to stay silent. You don’t want to feel like you’re trying to draw attention to your brand through tragedies, even if it is to express sympathy. Yet, with these events happening so often (or at least our awareness of them amplified by access to media), how can you stay silent?
There are no real answers, just conscience and judgement and the ability to feel ignorant and ask questions of those more knowledgeable more I.
How do you handle your personal social media and business accounts lately?
It requires a lot of dedication, a lot of planning to the minute detail and date as to how you will accomplish your goals. It takes a focused amount of time every week to not only organize your life by the half hour, but also to evaluate how successful you were in implementing your plan.
Here is the main thing I saw from using a Passion Planner that no other planner thus far has done for me:
It helps me understand exactly how much time my various activities take and how much time I have left.
I gained a real understanding of my limits, but more importantly, I clarified my priorities. In order to continue with both my Outreach Nerd consulting, revising my novel-in-progress, keeping my toddler and I active, and eating as healthily as possible, I had to get real on my time commitments.
In no particular order, here are my concrete takeaways using the Passion Planner:
I have to focus on one writing project at a time. Decide whether I want short term gratification (blog) or to get absorbed into revisions, and plan my writing time that day accordingly (even if it is only an hour).
Schedule time to prepare food and eat it.
Plan on Sunday for the following week and discuss the work schedule with my husband where it overlaps with our time at home together.
Plan on 1-2 days where we don’t take the car and enjoy the lack of structured activities to let my son lead our playtime. This also means his nap isn’t overlapping with driving time and I then get at least an extra half hour of work time.
Take pleasure in highlighting the items I finish.
Schedule time to shower.
Perhaps most importantly: This is not a to-do list. Each line represents a half hour of my life, and some tasks take longer, some take less time. Adjust accordingly.
If you need better time management in your life and have multiple projects to juggle (including household and relationship ones), then I strongly suggest downloading some sample pages and testing it out for at least a month. I ended up buying the undated planner and it is working very well for me.
I am in no way associated with the Passion Planner and was not solicited to write this review in any manner. If you do want to try one, I would appreciate it if you say you were referred by firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll eventually get a discount.
After I detail the work needed to accomplish a client’s goal, whether that be attendees at an event, audience at a show, Facebook Likes, Twitter followers, YouTube subscribers…..
“That seems like an awful lot of work.”
Then I hold in a sigh and brace myself for the inevitable question:
“Can’t We Just…..”
Blast to our email list?
Post it on Facebook?
Put out a bunch of tweets?
Offer free tickets?
Throw out a Facebook Ad?
Ask people to Retweet?…….
My answer is always the same. If you want the same results, then by all means, keep doing the same things.
However, you hired me so that you, and your business, could accomplish more. You know you need more.
The truth is…..
Right now, we are marketed to all the time. Day and night. What used to be interruption marketing is now simply our existence.
Blasts, tweets, status updates….they all serve a purpose. The main thing to remember now is that relationships matter. The personal touch matters. Making your audience feel as though they matter to you and are not just a number, not just a sale.
I know it sounds like a lot of work. That’s because it is.
Audience/customer development is a lot of work.
Just getting people’s attention is a lot of work.
You must invite people to the party. Invite them as an individual, and have reasons why that person would like what you offer, not why just anyone who follows you on Instagram should buy it. Then you convince them to stay, and keep them interested.
It’s work. Consistent work.
The same old blasts won’t do the job.
It takes time to find and nurture new customers, and even more time and care to make them feel like more than just a sale, and get them to feel part of a community where they are wanted and valued for more than their checkbook.
So the next time you feel the words “Can’t we just….” about to come out of your mouth, please stop and consider whether what you are about to suggest is exactly what hasn’t been working, exactly the reasons why you felt you needed my – or someone else’s – help.
I’ve enjoyed attending the Hollywood Fringe Festival since it started, and always searched for more ways to let audiences in on the fun. Now living in a new city, I understand even more how it’s hard to just jump into a Fringe Festival, even if you’re really into it.
These are the shows that I would put on my #HFF16 Dance Card during this first week of previews and through opening, if I were in town. Click the title to find the show on the Fringe website.
Neva “People are dying of hunger in the streets and you want to put on a play?” I saw this play (different production) at CalArts REDCAT in 2011 and was thrilled to see Diana Wyenn directing it now.
Patriot Act is written and performed by Michael Schlitt, whose show Jesus Ride I adored a few years ago at Fringe. He is incredibly sharp, funny and theatrical. I would not miss this if I were in town.
Thug Tunnel by Robot Teammate and the Accidental Party. They had a great show last year and this one doesn’t look like it will disappoint: In the not-so-distant-future, greed, pollution, and The Ancient Fire of Death and Despair have made Earth’s surface uninhabitable, forcing the human race to survive underground in a criminal society known as THUG TUNNEL.
Simon Coronel: Alien of Extraordinary Ability. That’s how he’s designated by the U.S. Department of Immigration. An Australian Illusionist who often frequents the Hollywood Fringe, Simon always entertains. Sometimes, he throws his knowledge of Mandarin in there, too.
BullandSmoke are both by Rogue Machine, who never seem to disappoint with new plays.
Just Because I Dig This Kind of Thing
TroyBefore I knew it was a Fountain Theatre production (looks like part of a development series), this is a rare instance of the play description gripping me. (It should be noted that I am a Greek geek to the extreme.)
Photojournalist and war correspondent, Arthur Hess, has made his living taking photos of some of the world’s most violent places. But when his eldest daughter is publicly murdered, it is the photo he takes of her corpse that threatens to destroy both his family and his name. Inspired by The Oresteia, TROY is a play about the perplexity of grief in a war that is happening both far away and in our living rooms.
Fairy Tales Against Humanity Like children’s theatre gone horribly wrong, “Fairy Tales Against Humanity” is a new half-scripted/half-improvised show. This is one of those big Fringe #ChanceIt shows. It could be horrendous but it could be hilarious. I’d probably #DrinkBeforeIt.
2012 was the first year since 2005 that my April hadn’t been all about promoting awareness of the nuclear accident at Chernobyl. The history of the project is longer than the piece itself, and explore this site for more information. I adapted the play from 2015 Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich’s book Voices From Chernobyl.
For the thirtieth anniversary of the accident, I’ll tweet the entire script during the month of April. Follow @VoicesChornobyl to read.
Below is a sample of the script and a demo video we produced for the 2007 International Chernobyl Conference. We used to promote awareness and raise funds for Chernobyl charities by doing readings around Los Angeles. If you are interested, please contact me.
Valentina (A Lonely Human Voice), Wife of a Clean-up Crew Member (Daryl Dickerson)
At times the characters speak to their Interviewer and at times they are back in the moment. If there is a slash (/) on one line, then the following line should overlap at the point of the slash (/).
VOICES FROM CHORNOBYL
Adapted by Cindy Marie Jenkins
From the book by Svetlana Alexievich
You’re writing a book, but so far no book has helped, explained it to me. No more than the theater or the movies. I figure it out without them. By myself.
There was no sign.
We’re all going through this alone, and we don’t know what to do.
Sometimes, your palm itches and you know to get ready. But today, no signs.
We don’t know what to do. I want to love, I try to love! I pray for my love! And—-
My first reaction was to call my wife and warn her. But all our telephones at the Institute were bugged. That eternal fear, beaten into us through the decades.
The first fear came out of the blue, over water—
My family didn’t know.
My father is particularly bewildered.
My daughter – at this moment she would be walking to school. With friends. Outside.
He always taught me to live by books. And suddenly books cannot help. My parents are confused. My father does not know how to live without the counsel of books. Without Chekhov and Tolstoy, and the old Greek masters.
Remember? I want to remember and at the same time I don’t.
Shut the windows.
I remember my mother’s phone call in the early morning.
There’s a fire at the atomic station. Orders are to keep the radio on.
We lived in Pripyat, just three miles from the reactor. I was born and bred there.
Listen to me very closely.
What are you talking about?
Quiet. Shut the windows. Put all the food in plastic bags.
Put on rubber gloves and wipe every surface with a wet rag. Then put the rag in a plastic bag and get rid of it. The laundry drying on the balcony has to be washed again.
What’s happened ther—
I hung up. She was in medicine. She was bound to understand.
Remember? Perhaps it’s better not to. Just in case. We saw the fire—
–and we figured it was temporary, and no one was worried about it. We didn’t know about atoms, I swear! One nightingale sang all night—that means a sunny day.
In the middle of the night, I heard a noise. I –I don’t know what to tell you about! Death or love? Or is it one and the same? What shall I tell you? We were newlyweds. We still held hands in the street, even if we were just going to the store. I told him: “I love you.” But I didn’t even know how much. I had no idea. We lived in the hostel of the fire station where he worked. Below us, on the first floor, were the fire engines.
Red fire engines. That was his work. That was all he ever wanted to do.
(Takes a deep breath) In the middle of the night, I heard a noise. I looked out the window. He saw me and said, “Shut the windows and get back to sleep. There’s a fire at the reactor. I’ll be back soon.”
I did not see the explosion itself. Only the flames. Everything seemed to flow.
People took their small children outside, lifted them up and said, “Look, how beautiful! Don’t forget this.” We stood in that horrible black smoke.
The whole sky. The flames were high. And smoke. Horrible heat.
The smoke over the station was not black or yellow, it was light blue.
We did not know that Death could be so beautiful.
The police and the military set up roadblocks, they were letting no one out. We spent all day watching TV, waiting for Gorbachev to speak. The authorities were silent.
I stared all day out of the closed window. It was just an ordinary fire, being put out by ordinary firemen.
And he was still out. They went off to the fire without their protective gear, just in their shirt sleeves. They were summoned as if to a normal fire. I sat and waited. Four o’clock.
I’d go to church, where it was so quiet.
The way it is in the mountains sometimes.
So quiet. You can forget your life in there. But in the mornings, I’d wake up. I’d wake up and feel around for him. Where is he? I’d shut my eyes and think about him until I fell asleep. In my sleep, he would come to me, but very quickly. Vanish immediately.
Where is he? I can’t tell you what it is like. I don’t know how I manage to stay alive.
At seven they informed me that he was in the hospital. I ran over there, but police would not let anyone in. Only ambulances could drive in. The policemen shouted: the ambulances are radioactive, don’t’ get close. I was not alone, all the wives whose husbands were at the reactor that night, were there. I grabbed onto a Doctor as she walked by—“Get me inside!”
IRINA & LUDMILA
I can’t. He’s in a bad way. They all are.
Pleas! Just to see him.
(Hands her a form)
Do you have children?
I thought, I have to say yes. If I say no, they won’t let me see him.
A boy and a girl.
Now listen. The central nervous system is completely damaged, the bone marrow is completely destroyed.
AL right, so he’ll be a bit nervous…….
IRINA & LUDMILA
If you cry, I’ll throw you out right away. You may not hug or kiss. Don’t come close.
I’ll give you half an hour.
That day, April 26th, I was in Moscow. On a business trip.
The first fear was…..in the morning we found dead moles in the garden. Who killed them?
We’re all going through this alone, and we don’t know what to do. I cannot comprehend it with my mind. My grandmother said she had no childhood. She had the war. Their childhood is the war and mine is Chornobyl.
I had just returned from Afghanistan. I wanted to live, to get married. I wanted to get married right away. And instead I got a notice with a red stripe
Meaning “Special Draft.” Show up with your things at the following address within an hour. My mother started weeping. She thought they were sending me to war again.
At the time I was thinking about something else. This will seem strange to you.
(To ARKADY) Get in the van.
But just then I was getting a divorce from my wife. Everything else seemed minor. They would come suddenly and a special van was waiting downstairs. Just like 1937.
I loved him madly. Maybe you shouldn’t use my name.
I called once, two, three times, but they wouldn’t put me through.
There are secrets. People say prayers in private. Whispering.
I found an assistant. “I’m calling from Moscow. I have urgent information. About an accident!” As soon as I started talking about the accident, they disconnected me.
No, use my name. Say it to God.
I heard that there was a fire there, and it’s been put out.
That’s a lie! Deceit!
It’s a serious accident. According to my calculations, the radioactive cloud is moving towards us. Towards Belarussia. We must immediately give prophylactic iodine treatment to the population and move out everyone living close to the station. People and animals within 100 kilometers have to be moved away.
Had a phone call. From the Kremlin. From Gorbachev. Something about not starting a panic in Belarussia. The West are making too much of it already.
I applied for a grant recently. I didn’t get it, but was forced to detail how I went from a theatrical director to digital media consultant and now straddle writing with my consultant freelancing and being the primary caretaker of my son (Lil’ Pirate Dude).
It’s a little long, which I’ll fix for the next round of grant applications, but I thought it might be of interest to tie together all of my interests.
I am Cindy Marie Jenkins, CMJ to many. I am a Storyteller, Outreach Nerd, Parenting Nerd, Mama to Lil’ Pirate Dude, Theme Park Wife, Former Theatre Director, Fairy Folk Myth Nerd, and Recent Transplant to Orlando (remember the Theme Park Wife part)?
For a decade, I’ve been obsessed with building new audiences for theatre. This began when I realized I was sick of doing all that work just for my family and friends to see. Sure, we can enrich one another, but art within the echo chamber is not enough for me.
Through a six year project Voices From Chornobyl, I found success in reaching people through a theme, a topic rather than people showing up to “support theatre” just for the sake of it, or because our friends are in it, or because we all work in it. At the same time, I was in charge of marketing for a small classical theater who had a stellar reputation but still struggled for audience and funding. It became clear to me that the ways that marketing had worked for decades were not nearly as effective with the age of the internet, and artists were falling behind the times faster than newspapers. Keep in mind, this was way back in 2009 when you still had to convince a theater company to go onto Facebook; the mere suggestion that you had to think beyond a press release was a battle, uphill both ways. I heard many artistic leaders take the simple route of blaming smartphones instead of exploring them, and condemning audiences rather than investigating their strategies, or even talking to them.
I reconciled my dreams with the fact that the typical theatrical career path is not for me. I always knew that art could serve a real purpose in changing how people think. Through and beyond empathy, showing how others live and think can go a long way towards opening minds. I didn’t want to direct whatever came my way just to grow my career. I enjoy entertainment for entertainment’s sake, but I want to create art that holds great value beyond the production. I want to use stories as a bridge towards greater empathy in the world. Every time I chose a project based on the greater good it could do for society, I worked at my best and was happiest. Every time I took a gig for any other reason than great passion, I felt limited by the story’s (lack of) need to exist, my lack of connection as to why, and didn’t do my best work.
Then in 2009, through an outreach project called Imagine East Hollywood, I worked closely with the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council and identified that local government faces the main two issues as most theaters had: (1) they only reach the same people and (2) if you don’t know they exist, then you can’t show up, never mind get involved. Beyond that lie at least ten hassle factors to stop someone from attending either. Most people didn’t even know they lived in East Hollywood. I used a film project, interactive visual art display, outreach tables at LA wide events and an immersive theatre experience to help people understand the agenda and workings of a neighborhood council, plus learn how their ideas could help their neighborhood and turn them from passive residents into active stakeholders.
These experiences led me to train myself (with guidance from Enci Box and Tamara
Krinsky) in social media, new communications models, and generally critique most vague, short term attempts to develop audience. I became an Outreach Nerd and trained individuals, then groups of self producers, and quickly added nonprofits, the City of LA and small business owners to my clients.
This quest for the audience led me to Manchester England, where I gave a keynote speech to Chernobyl charities on using my play, adapted from a book of interviews, to raise awareness and funds for their work. A 9-minute demo film was used to entice new donors. By 2006, the 25th Anniversary of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, two groups in the UK did perform the piece, and my own ensemble led a series of readings throughout LA and San Diego. We also produced a workshop of Voices From Chornobyl Jr at local libraries and the Hollywood Fringe Festival.
This desire led me to brand myself a Storyteller AND Outreach Nerd, to align the idea of writing and stories into audience building, tying my name to “outreach” rather than “marketing” in an effort to change the direction of people’s thinking about their audience development.
This obsession led me to 24th STreet Theatre, where I could focus on acting as concierge for families to find quality art they enjoy together, while finding the correct medium to share stories that happen every day in this converted carriage house in South LA.
This need to find and engage arts-adjacent folks while feeling increasingly frustrated with theatre as an industry also led me to the longest crisis of faith I’ve ever experienced. Just as I was seeking a new direction, theaters called on my “marketing” (cringe) skills more and more. The more I was expected to just do the short term work that I knew didn’t last and that I so despise, the more I understood that my current path was not working for me. I don’t just want to be the one training artists to change their mindset on audiences; I don’t just want to be the ambassador to new audiences anymore. I also need to create the art that draws new audiences in the door simply by being good and meeting audiences where they live. In many cases, that requires me to move my creative writing as far away from a theater as possible.
Currently I freelance as a Consultant and Writer while raising my beautiful son.
This article was the sixth in a series of Audience Building articles on Ms in the Biz, where I go into depth on the sticking points, the places where I see people take short cuts but are quite vital.
This is how to find and build new audiences, not just promoting without annoying your family and friends.
When I first began this work in 2009, most people boxed it into “marketing,” “social media,” or “waste of time.” I was careful to imprint the word “outreach” into everyone’s mind. You must reach out and invite strangers. As a verb, “outreach” is even defined “to surpass in reach” or “extend.”
So let’s surpass the reach of what you think audience building entails. The first parts to this series detail finding new audience and talking to them online. Now take it offline.
I do that, you may think. I go out. I leave the house.
Yes, but do you insert yourself into social and community organizations that are not directly related to your art? It is there you will find the potential audience for your work. When I consult with filmmakers who say their target audience is other filmmakers, warning bells clang inside my head. That is a lazy answer and will never move your work beyond family and friends.
Few strangers have the time, will or knowledge of [insert your industry here]to find their varied choices, never mind find the exact choice that excites them enough to partake of your art and follow your future work.
Therein lies The Gap. The Gap between your potential audience and your art.
Mind The Gap.*
I first encountered this massive gap while working full time at a theatre and a politically-engaged friend of mine encouraged me to talk to the local neighborhood council.
Here’s how the conversations went:
Neighborhood Council Rep: “Oh, that building’s a theater?”
Leader of Theater: “Neighborhood council? What’s a Neighborhood Council?
That is when I saw it. Not just a gap, but a gaseous-asphalt-deadly desert-Mordor-sized gap on both sides of the fence. All too often, we simply are not aware of each other, nor do we understand what potential audience/strangers care about.
Bridge That Gap.
Build a bridge out of rope, tame an eagle, make a canoe, throw a dwarf – just do it. Andsame guidelines apply as online: relationships before promotion.
Here are some starting points:
Neighborhood Councils**. I don’t suggest joining a Board of Directors unless you want a full-time volunteer job, but attend a meeting. Dip your toes into it and just attend a Sub-Committee Meeting. Many councils have an Arts and Humanities or Cultural type of Sub Committee.
You can meet people.
Maybe you just make friends who then may support your work.
NASA Socials. We’ll go into more detail on these soon, but you can apply to attend cool info sessions and viewings of space-related events, and socialize. You do not need to be fluent or even knowledgeable of all the latest science news; that is actually the point.
My first one was the Mars Rover Curiosity launch, and three years later, I’m still friends with these people around the world. They are intelligent, arts-interested folk who support people’s passions. You want them on your side, and many are very supportive of my work since meeting at the Social.
Also: science is fricking cool and inspiring.
Immediate Community. There is an elementary school near 24th ST Theatre who always invites us to their Health Fairs. They consider the arts to be part of a healthy lifestyle, and this is thanks to years of relationship building on part of both groups. From 24th ST’s end, it is the result of Community Engager Allegra Padilla (There is a full time staff member whose title is Community Engager. Let that sink into your brain.)
At one Health Fair, we had a table where Allegra and I:
-took reservations for upcoming performances..
-talked to families who knew nothing about us and described our programs and mission.
-met parents and siblings of youth who attend(ed) our After ‘Cool program
-visited every other booth and tweeted, instagrammed, Facebooked photos of the community resources present at the fair
-met the people behind these tables and invited them to the theater. Our presence gave a face to the theatre’s name (if they knew it was a theater at all. Most of the responses we get are “Oh, that’s what’s in that building? I walk by it all the time and always wondered!”)***
-when we made ticket reservations, we gave them a business card that had all the show info on it. This was a pilot program after we realized that no-shows from the neighborhood can’t always their email (so our email reminders wouldn’t work). Here in their hands was a physical reminder including how to let us know if they can’t make it.**** And here is how my favorite audience member arrived, proudly displaying her reservation:
Local businesses. Have meetings at local businesses and tweet about them. Have a place where you always order lunch or get your afternoon caffeine? Talk to the workers and tell your own online audience about them. The smart businesses notice who talks about them. You’ll get discounts, special treatment, but above all you will build relationships. Soon they’ll donate or discount goods or space. They’ll cross promote, but I suggest you do it informally as a matter of course before asking anything in return. Businesses need word of mouth and you need partnerships and people who care enough to tell everyone they know about your work. Seems like a no brainer if you find a good fit.
These are just starting points to meet the people surrounding your art who could have an interest. If not your immediate project, then perhaps another one down the line. You have to stay involved, though, and attend some of their events as well as invite them to yours.
Comment with your questions or tweet them to @CindyMarieJ. I’ll answer or address it in a later post.
*Come on, I had to.
**Find your Neighborhood Council HERE by adding your address.
***Remember not to judge people for their ignorance of your lifestyle. How many buildings do you pass every day and not notice or know what happens inside of them?
****It takes a lot more than even these actions. Invitations are one thing. Feeling welcome is entirely different. Since kids depend on their parents to take them to arts events, 24th ST Theatre embarked on a massive program to break down the barrier between the adults in their community and the theatrical space.
I started to rewrite popular movie/TV log-lines as if they’re on the back of a theater postcard (or described on a website) to hear how boring they sound. It was meant to be a joke on Facebook, but got so much attention that it might become a regular series.
I can’t tell you how often a theatrical production attracts my attention, then my eyes glaze over when I read the description. I have no solution to this chronic marketing problem except for testing different versions with samples of your target audience(s).
I wrote the first three, then friends joined into the fun:
Selfish spoiled playboy Tony Stark has done nothing with his life since inheriting his father’s fortune. After his life changing experience in Afghanistan where he is confronted by both the true consequence of his empire and his own mortality, Stark finally realized how the power of his own intelligence can be used to help the world. His old friends and investors, however, don’t always have the humanity’s best interests in mind, and Stark must make the choice between those he’s trusted his whole life and his own conscience.
Dreamer Dorothy Gale has no love for her farm life in Kansas, with its pig pens and farmhands who
always seem to watch her a little too closely for her comfort as she grows up. When a tornado knocks her out, she finally travels to the world in her head over the rainbow, where she encounters talking beasts, vertically challenged villages and pagan wannabes who challenge her ideas of right and wrong. Will she stay with them and finally meet the mysterious Wizard of Oz, or will she find her way home to seek out happiness among the family she loves?
The well off Hobbit Frodo has settled into his calm life of leisure, brews and nature. The biggest challenge is keeping his estate-hungry cousins away from BagEnd. But then his Uncle Bilbo disappears at his own birthday party, and the trusted if suspicious family friend, a Wizard, throws him out the door in a quest to hide a magical (possibly evil) ring in the land of the elves. Constantly caught between his new adventures, true friends, inevitable betrayals and his humble Hobbit nature, Frodo must decide: stay within a group of warriors sworn to protect him or take a small boat towards a destiny that almost surely will prove to be fatal?
Twentysomething hacker Neo has a boring job and no family to speak of. One day, a mysterious cell phone arrives on his desk, and Neo has a series of interactions with fascinating strangers, eventually leading to his immersion in a topsy-turvy turbulent alternate universe. The previously apathetic Neo is forced to confront his own humanity and role in the human race as he enters an evil computer program and hacks it from the inside out! Contains drug use and adult situations.
After encountering a rebellious group of women in a post-apocalyptic landscape, guilt-ridden drifter Max is forced to confront his own humanity. Exploring themes of environmentalism, reproductive rights, and the human condition, this piece asks the question: what is the responsibility of an individual in the absence of civilization?
What does it mean to be a father? What does it mean to be a son?
These are the questions tackled by this compelling and transformative new work about a young orphan living with his uncle and aunt on a farm far from ‘civilization.’ He spends his days repairing equipment and pining to join his friends on their adventures. Until one day, one of his machines is lost in the desert and is found by an old man, who, long ago, knew the boy’s late father and how he died. The two set off to return the machine to its original owner, and after encountering some truly zany characters, find themselves at odds with the society in which they live, and in search of the force that binds them together.
Lot and his family live in a great little part of town, but something about this town is… unique. Unique? More like crazy! His neighbors are total hellions! Until one day, a gorgeous man in white arrives at Job’s door and asks to stay the night. When his neighbors knock on the door and make an ‘indecent proposal,’ and after a strange weather pattern settles in, laying waste to everything he loves dear, Lot and his wife decide it’s time to get out of Dodge. This dramedy about loss and faith is for the whole family, and surely worth its salt!
Ever have one of those days? What about one of those YEARS?
Job is a pious man, with one problem – the God he worships is kiiiiind of a dick. After making a bet with the devil (played by One Life to Live’s Kevin Conway!) Job’s deity decides to really mess with his life, in the most unexpected ways! Join us for a night of laughs, and tears, brought forth by this timeless story of the saddest man that God forsook.
Do you have ideas on this? Add your own versions or ideas in the comments.
I used to be on their Steering Committee and it’s a great opportunity for Stage Directors and Choreographers:
Presenting The 16th Annual
in association with the Pasadena Playhouse,
and the Stage Directors & Choreographers Society
DirectorsLabWest brings together dedicated emerging and mid-career theatre directors and choreographers with master artists for an eight-day long intensive Saturday, May 23 through Saturday, May 30, 2015, enabling them to inspire each other to dream and create the future of American Theatre.
The deadline to submit the application is Friday, March 6, 2015 at 5 pm PST.
What is DirectorsLabWest?
The Lab is a week-long summer intensive for stage directors and choreographers. Part conference, part workshop, part focused discussion, all theatre, all directing and all fun! The wellspring of the Lab is to provide a place for directors to meet and exchange ideas.
When is DirectorsLabWest?
May 23 to May 30, 2015 with events scheduled from 10 am until 10 pm that you won’t want to miss.
Where is DirectorsLabWest?
For the majority of the years of DirectorsLabWest, The Pasadena Playhouse in the historic California State Theatre has been and continues to be our dedicated and supportive partner, but we also hold sessions at a variety of theaters in and around Los Angeles.
Who can attend DirectorsLabWest?
By application only, the Lab is open to directors and choreographers committed to the art and creation of theatre. (Note: The Lab is not open to students or those planning to return to school. It is designed for emerging directors who are working professionals, who have finished their studies. And studies are not required—many Labdirectors are working directors who have never gone to college.)
Who has presented at DirectorsLabWest?
The list is long, but here is a sampling… Sheldon Epps (Pasadena Playhouse), Des MacAnuff (La Jolla Playhouse), Michael Ritchie (Center Theatre Group), Anne Cattaneo (Lincoln Center Theater), Jack O’Brien (The Old Globe), Martin Benson (South Coast Rep), Tim Dang (East West Players), David Ira Goldstein (Arizona Theatre Company), Andrew Barnicle (Laguna Playhouse), Erik Ehn (CalArts), Stephen Wadsworth (Director), John Bowab (Director), Kay Cole (Choreographer), David Lee (Director), Mark Medoff (Playwright), Randy Newman (Composer), Jose Rivera (Playwright), George Furth (Playwright), Richard Thomas (Actor), Eddie Levi Lee (Actor/Playwright), Charlayne Woodard (Actor/Playwright), Tonya Pinkins (Actor), Henry Winkler (Actor), Ming Cho Lee (Scenic Designer), plus many more.
How much does DirectorsLabWest cost?
Participation in the Lab is FREE thanks to the generous support of the Stage Directors & Choreographers Society, partners like the Pasadena Playhouse and all the artists, who donate their time and share their talents each year’s Lab participants.
Even as Latino communities have long been essential parts of our society and culture, it seems that only recently national marketers and political pollsters have noticed that one-sixth of the U.S. population is of Latino or Hispanic heritage. Or that the United States is the second-largest Spanish-speaking country in the world, trailing only Mexico.
This is old news in California, where Latinos constitute nearly 40 percent, and yet the demographic group remains vastly underrepresented in many sectors—including arts and culture institutions. Why is this the case and what can be done about it?
These questions are considered by a distinguished panel of artists and cultural leaders that includes filmmaker Rodrigo García (Albert Nobbs, Nine Lives), LACMA Associate Curator Rita Gonzalez (Phantom Sightings: Art after the Chicano Movement), writer Jeff Chang (Who We Be: The Colorization of America), Center Theatre Group Associate Artistic Director Diane Rodriguez, and will be moderated by CalArts President Steven D. Lavine.
Follow along with me tomorrow night as I see the opening night of Half Life. I’m always interested in what REDCAT offers, but this story hits close to my creative home. From their press release:
Weaving together narrative and abstract modes of storytelling, Half Life explores the psychological fallout of global disaster, and how it affects our emotions and imaginations. It’s story centers around two women who literally and figuratively live on opposite sides of the world. When an unknown cataclysmic force disrupts both of their lives, each is compelled to embark on a journey to locate its source.
I have a history with shows about nuclear fallout. From 2004-2011, much of my life was consumed by one project, Voices From Chornobyl. During those years, it had been presented in both the US and the UK to raise money and awareness of the nuclear accident (inspired by Svetlana Alexievich‘s interviews). Its companion piece Voices From Chornobyl Jr. premiered and won Best of 2011 Fringe.
I found the experience both fascinating and frustrating, to bring ‘awareness’ to a time in history when the Ukrainian people’s lives changed forever, and so few of us had any clue (so few of them, for that matter). I stuck with the project because of my complete ignorance before reading Alexievich’s book. Then in 2011 at the 25th anniversary events, Fukushima happened and it seemed almost too immediate, too relevant for our times. I scheduled talkbacks to explain the difference between the two accidents and fallout, so we could feel the impact of Chernobyl but not make our audiences run out and buy iodine.
So I’m interested to see how this project attacks its subject.
REDCAT Presents the World Premiere of Half Life
The newest work from Los Angeles Multimedia Collective Cloud Eye Control
Thursday, January 15, 2015 to Sunday, January 18, 2015
NOTE: They sold out the entire weekend and so added a Saturday matinee at 4 p.m. on January 17th.
Photo Courtesy the Artist.
(Los Angeles, CA) — REDCAT, CalArts’ Downtown Center for Contemporary Arts, presents the World Premiere of Half Life, the newest work by Los Angeles multimedia ensemble Cloud Eye Control, Thursday, January 15 to Sunday, January 18, 2015.
Cloud Eye Control was formed in 2006 by the Los Angeles based trio of animator and media artist Miwa Matreyek; composer, writer, and performer Anna Oxygen (Anna Huff); and theater director Chi-wang Yang, all known internationally for their stunning work individually and as a multimedia collective.
A deeply expressive lamentation of fierce urgency, the latest multimedia production from Cloud Eye Control is an imagistic, visceral work inspired by the nervous fear felt in the wake the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. It features Cloud Eye Control’s signature hybrid performance style that mixes projected animation, live performance, and a live soundtrack of original electronic music.
Cloud Eye Control transforms the stage into an imaginative landscape with several customized, moveable screens full of lush animations where live actors interact in the layered space to create imaginative and odd encounters between the virtual and the physical. The original score, sung by the performers with a live band, brings a rock concert dynamism to the moody and atmospheric world.
Cloud Eye Control’s Half Life is part of a continued supportive relationship with REDCAT. Cloud Eye Control’sUnder Polaris, anepic journey across a vast arctic expanse was co-commissioned and premiered by REDCAT in 2009. The piece went on to tour nationally and internationally, to Chile and France, and helped establish Cloud Eye Control as “transcendently spectacular theater” – Los Angeles Times.
In 2014 REDCAT presented Cloud Eye Control member Miwa Matreyek’s magical, visually rich fusion of intricate video animation and solo performance to sold out audiences that were left spellbound.
Miwa Matreyek is an internationally recognized animator, designer, and multimedia artist based in Los Angeles. She creates animated short films as well as live works that integrate animation, performance, and video installation. Arriving to animation from a background in collage, her work explores how animation transforms when it is combined with body, both physically in her performance pieces, as well as a composited video element in her short films. Her work has been shown internationally at animation/film festivals, theater festivals, performance festivals, as well as art galleries, science museums, tech conferences, universities, and more.http://www.semihemisphere.com
Anna Oxygen is the stage name of multi-media artist, composer and performer Anna Huff. She has extensively toured Europe and the United States performing musical and interactive performance pieces. She has released several albums of electronic and acoustic music, most recently This is an Exercise on indie label Kill Rock Stars. Her performance and video work has been presented at PS1 MOMA Contemporary, The Seattle Art Museum, LACMA (LA), NYU, The Armory Center for the Arts (Pasadena), The Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, and the Rohsska Museet in Gothenburg, Sweden among others. http://www.annaoxygen.com
Chi-wang Yang is a Los Angeles-based director of theater and performance. Whether in the form of plays, operas, concerts or installation; his work is physical, experimental, and collaborative. He is committed to expanding notions of identity and theatrical form and to exploring the unstable intersections of body, narrative and technology. His work has been presented at theaters and galleries internationally, including REDCAT, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Havana International Film Festival and the Edinburgh International Festival Fringe. Recent directorial projects include They Are Dying Out, by Peter Handke, and The Closest Farthest Away/La Entrañable Lejanía, a groundbreaking international collaboration between American and Cuban artists.http://mysteriously.org
“Magical…unlike anything you’ve seen before… transcendently spectacular theater” —Los Angeles Times
Cloud Eye Control: Half Life
Thursday, January 15–Saturday, January 17, 8:30 p.m. and
Sunday, January 18, 3:00p.m.
NOTE: They sold out the entire weekend and so added a Saturday matinee at 4 p.m. on January 17th.
Location: REDCAT | 631 West 2nd St. Los Angeles, CA 90012
Half Life is produced with Los Angeles Performance Practice, and was made possible in part by a creative residency with the CalArts Center for New Performance.
Half Life is funded in part by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Theater Project with lead funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; the LEF Foundation; and The MAP Fund, a program of Creative Capital, primarily supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
*Trigger warning (rape and sexual harassment, stalking):
A YA author asked for sightly less than minimum wage…
…to write a sequel for her fans who wanted it, after the publisher passed on the book.
For daring to ask for money for her work (all $10 pledges received a copy of the book when finished) she received rape threats (which triggered memories of her own past rape) and was emailed photos of her home among other harassment.
Her response: “Jealousy rots and corrupts your creative soul and feeding your social media presence by hunting out controversy, feeding the flames, and then pretending you are simply fostering discussion is poisonous and empty. You create nothing but spite in a world that is already full of it and in desperate need of kindness.” Read her full response.
This is the second in a series of Audience Building articles, where I go into depth on the sticking points, the places where I see people take short cuts but are actually quite vital.
These are all methods on how to find and build new audiences, not just promoting without annoying your family and friends. Everyone has to actively attract and sustain new people in order to grow their audience, whether for your personal career, web series, feature film, blog, play, book, business, jewelry store…..you get the idea.
Typical Question from Client: “When should I start promoting?”
My Answer: “When did you get the idea?”
Although a tad hyperbolic, I do mean it, just not in the typical sense. Throw most of what you’ve heard about “promoting” or “marketing” out the window. Start from scratch, because we all know when we’re being sold something, and most of us have miles to go before we’re Amanda Palmer.
What I mean is that the more time you have before an actual product “launches,” or whatever your industry equivalent is, the better. Start your research into your audience. Start your conversations within fan groups similar to your work (note that I said conversations, not promotions). Get inside your audience’s heads, become a key player inside their world and find others to become your ambassadors.
STEP 0.5 : Understand how to organize yourself to avoid overwhelm. Are you a spreadsheet kind of person? Do you prefer a messy worksheet document that is organized later? Or would you rather pin all your research to a private Pinterest board before figuring out how to organize it? Because I now work babe-in-arms or babe-on-floor, large Post-it notes are sometimes my best way. [photo 1]
Whatever works for you. Just pick one way and stick to it, or change midstream to a method of organization that makes sense to you. Keep your research moving.
STEP 1 : Choose one of the Audience groups from your target exercise and start your research. Let’s use “people interested in re-tellings of fairy tales” as an example. Whatever target group you’re researching, the core questions remain the same:
What do they read (blogs, books, etc)?
Who do they follow/Who are their Influencers?
Where do they hang (on and offline)?
What do they watch?
What twitter chats do they frequent?
What social platforms do they use and how?
When can you pursue, and when might you consider finding an ambassador? (For instance, most parent groups won’t allow you into them if you aren’t a parent.)
STEP 2 : Fall into the rabbit hole of research. Sometimes all you need is one good lead to set you off on an adventure. While researching fairy tales via genre-related twitter chats, I found@inkgypsy and her website Once Upon a Blog.
(I’ll just give you a few hours to read all her research, thoughtful reviews and commentary. I ended up on her site for thirty minutes after visiting there just to get the link.)
So, how does @inkgypsy help you find the answers to our seven audience questions? Start with her own research. Use those questions as mere guideposts for what you can learn about your audience. She is a great example because she is equal parts a fan, expert and potential ambassador. Some examples:
Use her Blogroll to find more Bloggers and Influencers. Repeat the cycle.
Use her Pinterest Boards to generate even more Leads.
STEP 3 : Track and Connect with all relevant Leads. Here are a few fun ways to track Audience Leads (choose based on your comfort level as described in STEP 0.5):
Follow and/or add Leads to a Twitter List (private one if your own feed doesn’t yet reflect the topic of fairy tales, public if it’s obvious why you follow them.)
Create a tracking spreadsheet and add as many places where these Leads live online as you can find, including but not limited to: website, email, twitter, facebook (page or profile, but always add to an Interest List so you can easily find them later), Pinterest, You Tube or vimeo, etc. If you notice there is a social platform that many of your Leads frequent but you are not on that platform, consider building a profile there. For now, just note it.
Pin all their websites and blogs to a Pinterest Board (As with twitter, private one if your own feed doesn’t yet reflect the topic of fairy tales, public if it’s obvious why you follow them.)
Just toss their website links into a document to parse out later (using the above).
STEP 4 : Set reasonable goals for yourself. I always like to offer the Rule of Five. If you can devote five days out of seven to research at least five potential members of an audience group, then not only will you find more inspiration for your project but you will begin to understand how your potential audience makes decisions.
STEP 5: DON’T SELL YOURSELF. Don’t pitch, don’t promote, or anything close to that. (If someone asks directly, that is a different story.) You are starting the process of building relationships so your potential audience trusts you enough to believe that your work is worth their time. Finding Your Audience is only the beginning. In future articles, I’ll show how to develop and nurture these potential audience groups to the point at which you can start inviting them into your work.
Have questions? Leave them in the comments or tweet me @cindymarie and I’ll answer.
This is the first in a series of Audience Building articles that were originally posted on Ms in the Biz.
I don’t just want to give you a punch list of how to build a devoted fan base; you can easily google some perfectly fine pointers. I will go into depth on the sticking points, the places where I see people take short cuts but are actually quite vital.
These are all methods on how to find and build new audiences, not just promoting without annoying your family and friends. Everyone has to actively attract and sustain new people in order to grow their audience, whether for your personal career, web series, feature film, blog, play, book, business, jewelry store…..you get the idea.
UPDATED 12/12/2014: I changed a reference from Bill Cosby to Tina Fey, so as not to distract from the topic.
Audience Building 101
Know thyself. (In 160 characters or less.)
One thing I love about Twitter (and there many) is that the profile picture and bio are great examples of how quickly you must explain yourself to someone new. This is a freedom, not a restriction. You shape exactly how people think of you visually and tell them what you do and your personal mission. Go through these Brainstorms for Twitter and it can help you everywhere else, including in-person introductions.
When I change my twitter photo, it is very deliberate. Once, someone with whom I’d had lengthy conversations on twitter but never met in person didn’t recognize me because I wasn’t wearing a green cap (like in my previous profile photo). Last summer, I’d tried in vain to explain where I was in a crowded bar to a playwright, and he found me based on my glasses, front and center in my new one. How do you know the right photo to use?
Brainstorm: What do I want people to know about me? I find 3-5 specific words do the trick. (Using myself as an example:)
2. Nerdy (my freelance business name is Outreach Nerd & I also write about parenting on @ParentingNerd)
4. (optional) Honest
Brainstorm: How do I want people to feel when they see my photo? Keep these as simple as possible, and be sure they reflect emotions.
2. Safe (they can trust me)
How can you possibly describe yourself in 160 characters or less?
1. Find one or two words that brand you in a unique way (based on the above brainstorms)
2. What you DO (Could be job title and/or personal mission)
3. Your associations, projects, related twitter handles and/or hashtags
Show to a few people and ask them if it sounds like you. Picture wearing your bio plastered on a sandwich board at a conference or an opening gala – are you that comfortable with it? It will be a lot of people’s first impression of you, and you want it right, and you want it current.
I can’t tell you how many times I go to someone’s twitter profile to find information about their new show, and the website listed directs me to an outdated page that has no bearing on the information I want to know right now. You lost my interest. If your current project has a twitter handle and/or hashtag, put it in the bio. Keep it current; keep yourself relevant. Direct people exactly where you want them to look. You have the power. Use it.
Know Thy Audience.
The very first step to this endeavor is narrowing it down. “Everybody who likes comedy/likes to laugh” is not specific enough. Is your comedy akin to Steve Martin, Chelsea Peretti, Louis CK, John Oliver, Sarah Silverman? Is it tweetable, or more long form? (Time-sucker Tangent: see Patton Oswalt if you want a stellar example of using limitations to create comedy that also shows insight into society)
With all of my clients, I place an image of a target and markers in front of them. Be sure to use markers. They make everything more fun.
Begin in the center of the target: who are the guarantees, the people you know are devoted to you and will share anything just because you ask? People who usually go in the center include the following:
Donors (if you fund-raised)
That person who Likes everything you post on Facebook and sometimes it’s a little creepy, but you really think they mean well and aren’t stalkers.
Then begin moving to the outer circles. In the circle just outside the center target, your potential audiences here may include:
Collaborators (They are often considered a given for your main audience, but are not always reliable. Collaborators usually work on multiple projects and their performance or comfort level with promoting in general may contribute to how much they hustle the project. You also have to give them the tools necessary to make it easy, which I’ll cover in a later post)
Colleagues/Associates (People who understand that you need help and may ask for it in return.)
Note that you want to consider how close the potential audience is to both your product (people who love the genre of your film, for example) and how close your current real connection is to them. If you want to target Firefly lovers but haven’t been active in any forums, blogs, etc, then move them further away from the center than if you’re a familiar face around the fanbase. It will take time to gain their trust.
Here is how I coach people through completing their target audience list:
Don’t think too much about it. This is a brainstorm. Write every thought that comes into your head and don’t edit. You’ll appreciate it later.
You can always move people, so don’t obsess over where they go in the target either.
Get as general and as specific as comes to you in the moment. “People who like Tina Fey” are different than “People who like 30 Rock”, though they overlap. But if all you can think is “Tina Fey,” write that and go into detail later.
Peel apart every part of your product that might attract people: genre, themes, sub themes, locations, hobbies of characters, actors, etc
Use a soft focus on the project to see it from a different angle. Ask people not familiar to read/watch and give you a new perspective into their personal hook.
If you take the time to fill in each outer circle with as many details as you can, it will avoid overwhelm later. Imagine you are sitting at home, and you feel like you should do something but you don’t know what. Don’t just post a soulless status update that sounds too sales-y even for your tastes. Sit down and focus on just one of these potential audience groups. Where do they live online? Who influences them? Where do they find their entertainment? It is so much easier to find a specific potential target than just think “I need more people! Say something witty right now”
I put out the call for Work-at-Home-Parents, and seven wonderful people answered! They represent a variety of careers, their children are all different ages, and Thursday’s Round Table is sure to be lively and helpful.
has worked on numerous independent productions as director, producer, cinematographer, editor and writer. His work has been featured in numerous international film festivals and broadcast nationally on cable television, and CEO of Hachitan Entertainment, specializing in Creative Production of Film & Video content for broadcast, marketing and entertainment.
I put out the call for Work-at-Home-Parents, and seven wonderful people answered! They represent a variety of careers, their children are all different ages, and Thursday’s Round Table is sure to be lively and helpful.
an actress, voice over artist and producer, recorded her first audiobook when 7 months pregnant, in a make-shift booth of blankets and towels, in the hot month of June. Now, a mom of a toddler, she’s recording audiobooks from her professional booth at home and learning to strike the balance with work and family on a daily basis. www.deeptigupta.com
Watch the trailer for her film Happy and You Know It.