Be Kind, Fast Forward with Jamie Wilkinson (Episode 81)

Jamie Wilkinson is the co-founder and CEO of VHX, a service that delivers movies online to the customers of filmmakers. They exist in sharp contrast to many video sites — operated by the likes of Amazon, Apple, and others — in that they only deliver films free of digital rights management, take a sliver of the purchase price, and truly facilitate filmmakers reaching their audiences.

Sponsors and patrons

This podcast is made possible through the support of sponsors and patrons.

Thanks to Cards Against Humanity, which is helping underwrite our new indie ads: inexpensive, short advertisements designed for independent artists, makers, programmers, and others. Thanks to Cards Against Humanity, which just launched a site where you can buy directly from them, including their Bigger Blacker Box and their 2012 and 2013 holiday packs, the profits from which are donated to charity.

Our indie advertisers this week are:

  • GaymerX, the inclusive gaming conference for everyone, celebrates the diverse culture and history of gaming. Get $20 off registration with the code "newdisruptors."

  • Pixelwits: hand-crafted pixel portraits. Listen in the show for a chance to win a custom portrait by following @jesselane.

  • DrinkControl helps you to keep track of moderate drinking and your drink expenses.

  • And an ebook novella, Scolding the Winds, is currently being funded, and you can help make it happen.

Thanks also to patrons Ben Werdmuller, Alex Bond, and Garry Pugh for supporting us directly through Patreon! You can back this podcast for as little as $1 per month. At higher levels, we'll thank you on the air and send you mugs and T-shirts!

Show notes

Alex's co-founder is Casey Pugh. He directed Stars Wars Uncut with which Jamie was deeply involved. Jamie also built the Know your Meme system. Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail mentions how many screens on which movies are shown when they are in wide release. The number of movie screens in America has increased in recent years! Andy Baio is one of the guys behind XOXO, which just announced its 2014 line-up and registration. Dave Sifry coined the phrase, "the Magic Middle."

Shane Carruth shoots sometimes on inexpensive gear. I and Jamie mentioned the Red camera and Black Magic Camera.

Julian Velard used PledgeMusic to fundraise for a recent album. Jack Conte of Pomplamoose explained how poorly YouTube pays even with massive traffic in his talk at XOXO 2013. Louis CK solid a concert for $5 and changed the economics of that forever.

I spoke to Adam Cornelius and Chris Higgins about their movies The Tetris Masters (2011) and Coined (upcoming) in last week's episode. Lisanne Pajot is the co-creator of Indie Game: The Movie. Aziz Ansari handled his comedy concert with VHX.

Kickstarter has started to produce reported features on creators, starting with this terrific one about Max Tempkin, friend of the show and one of the creators of Cards Against Humanity.

Jamie and I compared notes about the movie Stripped, which used iTunes, VHX, and Google Play during its launch. The creators of that film were guests on this podcast a few weeks ago. The redemption process for the Veronica Mars movie was kind of a mess, but it all got worked out. They relied on Ultraviolet. VHX posted a case study called "Stripped and the Power of Bonus Content."

It's Like Money You Can't Hold with Chris Higgins and Adam Cornelius (Episode 80)

Adam Cornelius and Chris Higgins are making the film Coined, about the rise of cryptocurrency. They previously worked together on Ecstasy of Order: The Tetris Masters. Adam is a documentary filmmaker; Chris, a journalist. They've just launched a Kickstarter to fund Coined, and have shot quite a bit of footage already. We talk about what they learned on the last film and how they plan to make the next one.

Sponsors & patrons

This podcast is made possible through the support of sponsors and patrons.

Thanks to Cards Against Humanity, which is helping underwrite our new indie ads: inexpensive, short advertisements designed for independent artists, makers, programmers, and others. Thanks to Cards Against Humanity, which just launched a site where you can buy directly from them, including their Bigger Blacker Box and their 2012 and 2013 holiday packs, the profits from which are donated to charity.

Our indie advertisers this week are:

  • In Flux, a new compilations album from Brave Wave by video-game composers. Get 10% off with coupon code DISRUPT.
  • Storming Mortal, an interview podcast with technological celebrities
  • Rainblocks, a fast-paced iOS puzzle game featuring charming pixel art
  • Bee, an issue tracker and timesheet app for the Mac
  • Chroma Videos, a professional promotional video service for Mac and iOS app developers
  • Wordundrum, an iOS game that's like Sudoku with words
  • The Novelist, a quiet introspective game, currently 50% off

Thanks also to patrons GravityFish, Mike Mansor, and George O'Toole for supporting us directly through Patreon! You can back this podcast for as little as $1 per month. At higher levels, we'll thank you on the air and send you mugs and T-shirts!

Show notes

Dogecoin is a cryptocurrency that "forked" from Bitcoin, and uses the same open-source underlying code. It was meant as a bit of a joke, and now represents a somewhat illiquid equivalent of tens of millions of US dollars. The Dogecoin community, highly active on Reddit, threw a party in New York in February that Adam and Chris attended to film. Billy Marcus forked Dogecoin.

We talked about a bunch of documentaries:

The inimitable Jason Scott documents (in NSFW language) the extent to which King of Kong was problematic in its narrative and treatment of its subjects. A Harper's article about the controversy is locked in its archives. Twin Galaxies, the definitive video game achievement site, is currently up!

Adam Cornelius not only made a movie about competitive Tetris, he co-created the Classic Tetris World Championship, which returns for its fifth iteration in Portland this October. Chris wrote an article for The Magazine, "Playing to Lose," about the event.

Dogecoin has a tipbot on Reddit that makes it easy to be generous. Berkshire Hathaway is $190,347 a share at this writing (for its "A" shares; its "B" tracking shares are $127 each). When Dogecoin's "reward" — the coins received for mining — halves, it's called the Halvening.

Creativity, Inc, a great book by Pixar co-chief Ed Catmull about dealing with failure, documents how the animation studio nearly lost all of Toy Story 2 because of a failure to have good backups.

VHX works with filmmakers to distribute their work digitally. Next week's episode (81) of The New Disruptors is an interview with co-founder and CEO Jamie Wilkinson. A monopsony is a market in which there is a single buyer for goods or services that can dictate terms to sellers. This is like Amazon being the dominant seller of DVDs and Blu-Rays on line holding Warner Home Video over a barrel (as it is now) to negotiate prices.

Humble Bundle creates packages of digital media (games, books, movies, and more) and lets buyers set their price, a portion of which goes to charity. If one pays above the average price, one gets additional parts of the bundle.

Lisanne Pajot, the co-creator of Indie Game, recently was hired by VHX as its filmmaker ambassador. She and James Swirsky, her partner on the film, finally had the time to get married after years of constant work on the movie!

Sara Benincasa is nearing the end of her Kickstarter for her "This Tour Is So Gay" project, which is a live storytelling show.

See You in the Funny Webpages with Dave Kellett and Fred Schroeder (Episode 68)

Dave Kellett and Fred Schroeder created the movie Stripped about the past, present, and future of comic strips and their creators. Dave is the creator and cartoonist of two webcomics titles, Sheldon and Drive, and the co-author of How To Make Webcomics. He is one of a small but growing group of webcomics artists who are self-sufficient. Fred is a veteran cinemographer, nominated for Best Cinematography at Sundance for his work on Four Sheets to the Wind. He has been shooting commercials for much of his career.

Together, they matched Fred's filmmaking skills with Dave's personal knowledge of the field and his contacts to create the first feature-length documentary on the topic, funded in part through two Kickstarter campaigns. They don't pull punches about the difficulties of being a comic-strip artist, but they show all the joy and love that goes into the work along with many potential bright lights already illuminating parts of the field and shining on the horizon.

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Media Temple: Web hosting for artists, designers, and Web developers since 1998. World-class support available 24x7 through phone and chat—and even Twitter. Sign up with coupon code "tnd" to get 25% off your first month of hosting.

Creative VIP is the exclusive membership club for creative professionals, writers, and designers. Membership includes discounts on world-class online services and apps, and access to a growing library of graphics, vectors, icons and themes. You can also get a regular goodie bag on your doorstep. Save 25% on your membership, forever, by visiting http://creativevip.net/disrupt

 

Abraham Finberg, CPA: From dealing with those pesky 1099Ks to complex accounting needs, go to finbergcpa.com for all your financial support. Services can be as simple as a 15-minute phone consultation session all the way up to outsourcing your whole internal accounting office. Use promotion code DISRUPT to get a free phone consultation today!

What do Project for Awesome, the world’s most compact e­vehicle, and a baby have in common? They've all been crowdfunded on Indiegogo! Indiegogo has hosted over 100,000 campaigns since 2008 and distributes millions of dollars every week around the globe. Individuals can start raising funds immediately. Listeners visit tnd.indiegogo.com to receive a 25% discount on fees.

 

Thanks this week to patrons Greg Hayes, Neil Richler, and Abraham Finberg for supporting us directly through Patreon! You can back this podcast for as little as $1 per month. At higher levels, we'll thank you on the air and send you mugs and T-shirts.

Show Notes

You can watch a short preview of Stripped on YouTube.

Bill Watterson created the poster for the movie! He's interviewed by audio (as we discuss).

We mentioned Topataco, a company that helps fulfill webcomics' artists books and other material. I spoke to Topatoco's Holly Rowland a year ago.

Fair use is an incredibly fraught topic because there's no simple and inexpensive way to determine in advance whether a creator's use of copyrighted stuff would be covered by the legal principles! I wrote about Stripped and its second Kickstarter for clearance-rights funds for the Economist.

We also talked about errors and omission (E&O) insurance that movie theatres require in order to let your film be shown in their venues. The Documentary Film Program at Stanford University provides advice about fair use to filmmakers as well as helping them obtain insurance plus find pro bono or reduced-rate legal assistance.

David Malki and his chums took Machine of Death to the top rank among books sold at Amazon.com as part of a concerted effort among their fans. They beat out Glenn Beck, who was not happy about it at all. I talked to David about this, his comic strip, and the second book in the Machine series last August.

VHX is the DRM-free streaming/download service that helped Indie Game: The Movie deliver to its backers and later buyers, and did and is doing the same for Stripped. The makers of Indie Game were among my first guests, and I checked in with them last December to talk about the aftermath of the film's release and the production of their deluxe edition.

However, if you're a regular iTunes user, you can help boost Stripped to No. 1 in the iTunes movie or documentary rankings by pre-ordering a copy by April 1!

They're Coming to Make Him a Film Ha Ha! with Devin Lucas (Episode 44)

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This interview with the Dr. Demento director
Should be a marvelous hit
But if anything goes wrong with the Skyping
I'll wind up in a big pile of —
Shaving cream! Be nice and clean! Shave every day, and you'll always look keen!

Devin Lucas is a writer and director from Southern California, who has made plenty of movies in the past, but nothing quite like the upcoming Under the Smogberry Trees, the true story of Dr Demento and Mr Hansen. He's part of Meep Morp Studio with Christine McDonald and Scott McKenzie, which is producing the film.

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Show notes

Barret Hansen is Dr. Demento's true identity. Dave Kellett and Fred Schroeder, makers of Stripped, had two Kickstarters: first for the initial funding and second for the payments for copyright clearance. "I'm My Own Grandpa" is a story of intergenerational, multi-family marriages.

Indie Game: The Movie just finished delivering the special edition set. Linotype: The Movie was produced as first-time effort by its time; they'd never made a full-length movie before.

"Fish Heads" by Barnes and Barnes (Billy Mumy and Robert Haimer) and "They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!" by Napoleon XIV (Jerry Samuels) are two of the better-known songs across Dr. Demento's long run. "Weird" Al Yankovic got his start on Dr. Demento. P.D.Q. Bach (invented by Peter Schickele) is a parody of classical music. Paul Reubens ("Pee-Wee Herman") called to offer his help.

Comedy music is part of the annual MarsCon (March 2014 in Minnesota), while the Funny Music Project will product the first FuMPFest in June 2014 in Illinois. Dr. Demento is the guest of honor. PAX Prime is the largest convention by for gamers in America, with over 70,000 attending in Seattle; there are bigger ones outside the United States.

Episode 36: Machine of Breadth with David Malki

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David Malki's biography would take five minutes to read out. You may know him best as the perpetrator of the cartoon Wondermark, but he's also a filmmaker, a movie trailer editor, an author, an entrepreneur, and the Supreme Commander of Publicity & Promotions at TopatoCo, a firm that handles merchandise primarily for webcomics. He's available for weddings and bar mitzvahs. We talk about making films, making cartoons, and making books, and having a great time at all of it.

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 Show notes

David Lynch's peculiar cartoon strip, The Angriest Dog in the World. Penny Arcade is one of the most popular Web comics. Zach Weinersmith's Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal dates back to that era (we talked in Episode 15), as does Diesel Sweeties by Rich Stevens.

I received a copy of Chris Ware's Building Stories from my wife for Christmas, but his work makes me realize the keenness of life too fiercely. Or something. Dinosaur Comics is produced by David's friend Ryan North. It has the same drawing every day; the dialog is all that changes. Jeff and Holly Rowland run TopatoCo. Holly was my guest on Episode #21, in which we talked about Make That Thing! New England Web Comics Weekend took place in 2009 and again in 2010 and was hosted by TopatoCo.

Machine of Death was inspired by this episode of Dinosaur Comics. Futurama had a "death clock" in an episode in 1999, but David points out the death-predition thing is as old as the Greeks. David Pogue tried an experiment in removing DRM from an ebook in 2009; sold a lot more books. But he didn't like the outcome.

Machine of Death spawned a game funded on Kickstarter and a second collection of stories just out called This Is How You Die.

You can find David at GenCon in Indianapolis this weekend (August 15–18), and at PAX in Seattle August 30–September 2.

Photo by Joshin Yamada. 

Episode 35: Outstanding in His Depth of Field with Adam Lisagor

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Adam Lisagor didn't set out to be the face of app advertising, but his acting and directing style mesh perfectly with the zeitgeist. It's a bit of irony without the snark. It's charming, straightforward, quiet, and informative. You've almost certainly seen his work repeatedly, and once you follow this link to Sandwich Video and watch some of his studio's work, you'll be able to recognize his work from now on. From his first video to promote an app he was co-developing to the massive amount of work done since, Adam has defined a style that others now aspire to. But this wasn't a plan. We'll talk about how he got here. (Adam is on Twitter and App.net.)

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Show notes

The Glif Kickstarter video featured a camero by Adam. (I interviewed the guys behind Glif, Dan Provost and Tom Gerhardt, in Episode 26 on June 6, 2013.) AJAX (asynchronous JavaScript and XML) started appearing in the early 2000s, and it created a new kind of interactivity that allowed fully functional in-browser Web apps that felt something like native apps. We stopped using it as a term because it essentially became necessary. You can tell when you go to a site without it, as every, action, takes, a, page, load.

Merlin Mann, force of nature, inspires us all. Douglas Adams told a story about falling asleep under a tree and coming up with the idea for Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy so many times that he said it was eventually erased from his actual recall. (Don't read the fifth book in the trilogy, Mostly Harmless; he was depressed when he wrote it, and it will make you feel sad about the first four books.)

Greg Pak is the writer of the current Batman/Superman run, and it's magnificent. Go to Comixology and buy it or find your local comic-book store through them. Greg created a movie called Robot Stories before he went into comic-book writing. (I talked to him and Jonathan Coulton in Episode #25 on May 29, 2013.)

I talk to David Malki next week, but due to the rotation of the earth and time dilation, I say that I had talked to him before this podcast. (Did I mention we tape somewhat in advance?)

Walter Benjamin wrote "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" (1936) in which he writes things like, "The violation of the masses, whom Fascism, with its Führer cult, forces to their knees, has its counterpart in the violation of an apparatus which is pressed into the production of ritual values." But it's a great read that challenges our notions of what reproduction means.

The MōVI is a new motion-stabilizing camera rig. Peter Jackson shot a wonderful explanation of how they used RED cameras and 3D rigs to make The Hobbit's three parts. The Hobbit's high-frame rate (HFR) of 48 frames per second could be garish and directors have to get used to it and change their methods.

Birdhouse is an app that lets you compose tweets and not send them until you've perfected them. Adam's programming collaborator is Cameron Hunt. In the early days of Twitter, the company anointed people on a recommended-to-follow list that brought folks like Tim Siedell (@badbanana), Michele Catalano (@inthefade), and Jason Sween (@sween) to the attentions of many hundreds of thousands. John Moltz is funny guy. You read him.

L'esprit d l'escalier is the clever retort you remember to say after you've left and are on the staircase ("spirit of the staircase"). When Adam tries to say l'esprit d l'escalier, he turns to previous guest, Stéphan Angoulvant of Lumi, to help with the pronunciation. The coincidence of Stéphan being there is that Lumi shares its business office space with Sandwich Video. Stéphan and his business partner Jesse Genet appear in Episode #11: Expose Yourself to Art, February 20, 2013.

Do you remember the horrible old days in which you couldn't copy and paste on an iPhone? Me neither.

The Algonquin Round Table was a literally round table at the Algonquin Hotel in Manhattan where wits of the day would gather and exchange bon mots. I've always modeled myself after Alexander Woollcott (the model himself for the unwanted guest in The Man Who Came to Dinner. Adam liked to read anthologies of humor as a kid, and particularly called out Woody Allen and Fran Lebowitz. As mentioned in many previous podcasts, Clay Shirky's "Power Laws, Weblogs, and Inequality."

Scott Simpson, Merlin Mann, and Adam were the podcast You Look Nice Today, currently on indefinite hiatus due to circumstances beyond conventional physics. The German movie I was thinking of is called Viktor Vogel — Commercial Man (in the German release! released in America as Advertising Rules).

Episode 1: Pac-Man Fever with Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky

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Filmmakers Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky discovered the rich stories behind independently produced videogames, and turned some preliminary interviews into first one Kickstarter campaign, and then another. The resulting film, Indie Game: The Movie, won an award at the Sundance Film Festival in early 2012. But then, rather than accept deals for conventional film distribution, the two organized their own tour, renting theatres and meeting Kickstarter backers around North America. They ultimately controlled their own digital distribution as well. We discuss their journey of the last two years, which remains underway as they ready special features.

               

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