Interviews Yesterday

Sometimes I put off eating my lunch so I can think of something to write about. When I am at work, anyway, because I use my lunch break to write, usually.

I am hungry, though, and can’t think of anything specific I want to say except that I am hella tired, so I’ll talk about my evening yesterday and that’ll help explain why I’m even more tired today.

I was already pretty exhausted and rundown yesterday, but was able to leave work early and go chat in the studio for the first time in ages. Our guests were two lovely ladies from Dark Matter – one I sort of already knew, and one I’d only met briefly before during Comicon in March. I was ridiculously excited to see them and knew that their friendship alone would mean that there would be a ton of energy and laughter during our conversation.

Then I found out – basically right before they arrived – that we were also going live for the first time in…I don’t even know how long. That added an extra level of fun because some people were watching and interacting with us on Twitter as we were recording. Sometimes it not only added to the conversation, but also sort of directed its flow, too. It was very cool, and I always love when things happen more organically like that.

As well, we were of course silly and joked around a lot, as we do, but we also had some pretty amazing conversations about things that just sort of came up. Our “interviews” pretty much always turn into more of a conversation than anything else, but this one was even more so. The girls asked us questions, too, which led to opinions and thoughts being shared on some really interesting topics. Things like race and gender as portrayed on television and in film – and asked for specifically during the casting process, or character development, how series and films are marketed to the public, and how they are received by said public around the world. There were comparisons between Canada, the US and the UK, and the kind of content each produce, as well as my general dislike of the phrase “strong female character”. I can’t even remember everything right now, just that my mind was still working some things out last night, and apparently overnight, because I had some kind of weird and involved dreams.

It was all very engaging, and entertaining (at least for us), and had me feeling all energized and wired by the time we left to go do Hot Docs interviews. Which we almost had to rush for, because we’d also all completely lost track of time! Usually we try to go about a half hour to 40 minutes as the “long version”, which gets posted on iTunes as an audio file later. Then we follow with a 10-15 minute sort of recap, but slightly more focused, and that gets posted on YouTube as a video file. This time, though, we realized at just over an hour that we should probably wrap it up and get our butts in gear so we wouldn’t be late for the Hot Docs side of things!

As if that wasn’t amazing enough, we ended up having two incredible (though much shorter) conversations with the people we spoke to about their respective films after! Up first was the one I’ve been looking forward to from the start, with the subject and one of the directors of the film, Wizard Mode. I was only about two minutes into the screener when I texted Tim to tell him I already loved the young subject, pinball champion Robert Gagno. Robert has the sweetest smile ever, is very introspective and eloquent with the thoughts he chooses to share, and obviously a badass pinball master. He’s also on the Autism spectrum, which makes his accomplishments all the more remarkable. But the pinball aspect wasn’t what sold me on the film overall. It was Robert himself. It was his eyes, and his smile, and his curly hair – and most of all it was how much he had to say. Not to mention how much of it was relateable for me. It was how young he is, and how hard he tries to express himself, and how incredibly good he is at it. So many of the things he talked about in the film, I felt I could really relate to and understand – and I was kind of shocked at how much better he is at expressing some of that stuff than I am. He kid’s, like, what – 20-something? And so introspective and self-aware that it puts most of us to shame, really. I guess that comes from existing so much inside your own head, but still.

Getting to shake his hand and look him in the eye and talk to him was pretty awesome on its own, but even better was watching him light up every time he talked about pinball. I love watching people express their passion for something, even if I don’t share it. I mean, I could have challenged Robert to a game of pinball, but it would be like him playing against, say, a tree. No contest. But man, I’d love to watch him play in person. Even on film it’s amazing. I can’t even imagine being there to see it live.

I feel like, for me – and this comes from someone who knows next to nothing about living on the spectrum – the very coolest part of the whole block of time we got to spend with Robert was right near the end when he opted to tell us that he thought he might go out to eat after, because he was hungry. It’s just a little thing, but I felt like it was something personal he’d chosen to share with us. Every other time he spoke, he’d been prompted to, either by one of us or the director, Nathan Drillot. That statement, though, that was all Robert just deciding on his own that he wanted to tell us something, and since I get the feeling he doesn’t just randomly share with strangers all the time, it meant the most to me. It made me think he was at least a little more comfortable with us by that point than he was at the start, and I love that possibility.

Our last interview was about a film whose subject is so devastating to me we almost couldn’t talk about it without getting choked up. Homeless people and their dogs. I chose to leave Kate the Kitten behind in Colorado because I’d planned to couch surf and couldn’t take her along, and also because I thought it would just be for a few weeks. It took about five months to find a crappy apartment and get moved into it before I could have her flown back to Toronto, and it sucked pretty hardcore, I must say. Never want to have to do that again, any of it.

Now with three cats and a doggie counting on me to provide them with a home and food and love? I honestly don’t know what I would do. I am not sure I could live without them…give them up to someone else to look after. But I don’t know how I could live with myself if I made them remain homeless with me. Even now, I make sure I have enough food and stuff for them each month, and if I’m cutting things close financially, I’ll eat less, or more cheaply or go without anything I don’t really need. They come first, because they are my responsibility. But what if I really couldn’t provide food and shelter for any of us anymore? Would it be selfish to keep them with me? Or would it be selfish to leave them to be someone else’s responisbility and just focus on taking care of myself? Would they even thrive elsewhere? Flynn alone requires much more patience than most people would be willing to give, and she and Piper at least would have to stay together. The boys would probably be okay without me specifically, but not necessarily. I’m really the only person Jack’s ever known, because he’s been my baby boy since he was 9 weeks old. I don’t know what the better choice would be for them, and I’m the only one who could make it for them.

I can’t imagine what that choice would be like; what it would do to a person. I hope to never find out.

Stagnating

Hot Docs (Toronto’s amazing documentary film festival) is getting underway tonight, and yesterday evening, Tim and I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing some of the ladies responsible for the opening night film, The League of Exotique Dancers – director Rama Rau, and Legends of Burlesque Camille 2000 and Judith Stein.

Now, let’s face it, as soon as we heard we’d gotten this interview, Tim and I both knew it would be a lot of fun. What we couldn’t have predicted was exactly how amazing it would be! You can see our ridiculous chat with those wonderful women here.

Our second interview of the evening was also fun and amazing, but in a different way. The thing is, though, it made both of us want more. We left the hotel last night on an absolute high, having just spent an hour or so doing something we both love, and meeting some incredible individuals in the meantime. You just can’t beat that – the energy, the laughter, the moments of connection, conversation and shared experiences.

The handshakes that turn to hugs.

I think I can say that, for both of us, the evening strengthened our resolve to get things moving forward with the Mind Reels again. Or even get them moving at all, at this point, as we’ve been pretty stagnant for much of 2016 so far. I mean, we’ve been doing things. Tim’s posting on the blog every day at least once, and we’ve done some on-location interviews, like the ones last night, but they are always for events – like Comicon, the CSA’s and now Hot Docs. We haven’t gotten back to doing regular studio interviews or anything like that for a long time, and we have yet to really strategize some of the other features we are hoping to add to our brand, let alone implement them.

In other words, every time I think it might be time to get off the pot, I realize that I still want to shit.

So, operating under the hope that this feeling of resolve lasts past, like, today, here are some of the things we have in the revised playbook:

  • regular weekly video content – at least once a week, and while not always interviews per se, the hope is to have as many guests as possible, and some different fun things rotated in once a month or so. The main goal, though, is to establish some sort of routine wherein we are posting video content at least once a week. We need to get that going and stabilize it a bit so that we can branch out more in the direction we want to go
  • build our reach and fanbase – we want to get our stuff out there more, and try to break out of our circle of friends to grab attention from strangers around the world. This all started in part because no one was really covering the things we liked in the way we would have liked, so we started doing it ourselves. For sure there are others out there who just don’t know about us yet, but who would appreciate some of the things we’re doing, and thee ways in which we are doing them
  • having gotten our feet wet moderating some celebrity panels at Hamilton Comic Con last year, we’re hoping to do the same this year, as well as branch out to other conventions in the area. The more we do it, the better we get at it, and having the addition of a live audience to interact with only heightens the fun, really! It definitely changes the dynamic each time, and that’s a challenge I want to keep taking on, for however long they let me!
  • If we can get some sort of regular show format going, and build our reach more, then the eventual goal is to launch a Patreon page and try to start bringing in a bit of cash each month, even if it’s just enough to cover some of our brand-related expenses which are currently all out-of-pocket. I mean, I’m not foolish enough to hope that we could be like the two teenaged boys on there who pull in over $10k per month by making silly YouTube videos of them eating various foods and rating them on a scale of sour-ness, for example. But at the same time, why couldn’t we create content that people want to see enough to throw $5 a month our way, in return for said content and some pretty excellent rewards? That being said, though, while it’d be wonderful to make a living wage doing something we enjoy (see my previous post about adulting), I certainly don’t expect to. But I would love to have a little help paying for some of the things we use regularly as it is, and upgrade some other things to make our passion project even better than it already is.

So we’ll see how things go. Once Hot Docs is over, I have a list of first steps to take, and we’re hoping to set up a meeting with our producer soon to go over a few ideas, as well. Once the flush of excitement from this week and next wears off, we might go back to stagnating again, I know.

But, then again, we might not.

Toronto Comicon 2016

So hard to write right now because a certain Mr. Brodykins wants to play.

However.

Today I went to Toronto Comicon.  Naturally, I stayed out far too late last night (but it was worth it), and then lots of little things went wrong this morning, so I was very nearly late for the 9am media photo call, but I managed to squeak in just in time.  Thank goodness!

Tim and I had an amazing time, chatting with guests, other media, and of course the most excellent folks at Touchwood PR, who set us up with so many incredible press opportunities.  This morning was no exception.  Watch the Mind Reels page for the video footage, and check out our goofy selfies with everyone!  So much fun – everyone was in a great mood and came to play.  It was the perfect start to the day!

Once the con officially opened, we headed to the show floor and wandered around to check things out.  I saw so many things I wanted to buy!  I had to keep reminding myself that I don’t actually have any money.

A couple of t-shirts caught my eye, as did several Star Wars toys – original trilogy and Force Awakens.  Probably the greatest things, though, were these Star Wars 3D holograms.  I’ve never seen anything like them!  You can walk around them and see pretty much the whole thing, as it appears to poke out of the picture.  The one being released in a few weeks features R2-D2 projecting a hologram of Princess Leia.  A hologram within a hologram!  Does it GET any better?!

The hits and highlights kept coming as we took in the Killjoys panel, then got the opportunity to speak with the cast ourselves after.  We’d been able to interview Aaron last year, but getting to talk with him, Hannah and Luke together was a real treat.  They all have such genuine and kind personalities, and a great sense of humour.  They play off one another really well, making them an incredibly fun trio to chat with!

Or with whom to chat.

Up next was the Dark Matter panel.  Given that we’d shared a bowling lane with half the crew a couple of weeks ago, I was eager to see them all together again!  It’s ridiculous how pretty that cast is, and the comrade tie between them is obvious, and a ton of fun to watch.  I’d gotten there early enough to snag an autograph ticket, so I jumped at the opportunity to say hello to the cast members I know, and to introduce myself to the ones I hadn’t met yet.

Plus, I’m just not sure I could possibly adore those people more.  They make me happy.

I headed home after that, because I was determined to walk Brody in daylight.  It’s been awhile since I’ve been home while the sun is still up.  I stopped at McDonald’s, though, because I was hungry and it’s been a long time since Brody and I shared the most delicious fries in the world.  Sometimes I just need to hang out with the fur kids and bond for awhile.  It soothes my soul.

As does the McD’s maple blueberry pie that’s available right now.  Good grief!  So good!

Now I’m watching some stuff off my PVR (Survivor and Elementary, so far) and planning to go to bed early.  Tomorrow at the con is a later start, but I am exhausted as heck these days.

Time to put my feet up and relax.  More tomorrow!w

Time To Run

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Tonight, Tim and I welcome back the subject of our very first real interview, director/writer Jeremy Lalonde! Our friendship with this incredibly talented and funny guy began after we caught the opening night screening of his first feature film, The Untitled Work Of Paul Sheppard. We’d originally gone as a show of support for a couple of the cast members, but by the time we left, we were both quite in love with the film itself. Tim wrote a glowing review, then contacted the director to see if he would be interested in speaking with us for our podcast. It felt like a Hail Mary at the time, but Jeremy responded with an enthusiastic yes, and before we knew it, we were sitting down with him in a pub and sharing laughs over a couple of pints. I’d say the rest is history, but in fact I think we’re all still writing our histories as we go, so I am super excited to embark on this next chapter with Jer, and see what all he’s got on his plate now!

This episode will mark our second time in the studio this week, as well as our second time in the studio this year. Which is…kind of sad, really. We have periods of frustration every once in awhile, and this is one of those times. We recorded our final episode of 2015 back in December, and it’s still not posted yet – and it’s awesome, so I really hope you guys get to see it! The Mind Reels welcomes Robin Dunne, whom we’d met in the home stretch of our Guinness World Record attempt! It was even more amazing to have him in the studio once we were more awake!

And there are guests we hope to have coming up very soon, but I’m finding it difficult to invite anyone to come in when I have no idea how long it will be before their episode goes up. It’s like we keep taking a step forward – and then a couple back. We just can’t seem to really get going. My level of frustration merely increases with the addition of several ideas that I want to implement, but when we can’t even seem to get a basic foundation going, it’s hard to see any way to build on that.

I feel much the same way about really all of the projects – and ideas for projects – that I have on the go these days. I can’t get anything flowing, it seems. In fact, there are so many now that I can’t even get started, let alone flowing along, that it’s actually kind of depressing sometimes! It’s still really exciting, though, so for the most part, it’s just the frustration that gets to me. I want to run, yet we can barely walk.

The other thing, too, of course, is that it’s all really more than enough for a full time job, if it’s done properly. Merely lining up guests and shooting episodes is just the basics. A lot of work has to go into marketing, and researching and pounding the pavement to keep growing the show and the entire Smithee.TV channel. We have the basics – a social media presence on several platforms, a physical studio to work out of, we even have our own app – but we lack consistency. In programming, in advertising, in finding sponsors, and in remaining a presence online. We need to do all the legwork, and do it all the time. So far it’s all been sporadic at best.

We need to really get known with conventions in the area so that we either have a booth where we can conduct live interviews with the guests on site, and/or get in there moderating celebrity panels more often. We need regular sponsors looking to advertise on the channel. We need the equipment to work properly, and we need to post content on a regular, at least once a day, basis. We also need to promote that content over the course of each day, more than once, so that it turns up in people’s feeds on a regular and consistent basis. We need to be more mobile and have the ability to conduct interviews and shoot episodes on-the-go. We need more new content, and different types of content, to build on top of what we already have on the go.

We need to really pull together and get this team off the ground. Right now we’re just bouncing around a bit, like a balloon that’s losing its helium.

We also need more volunteers to do the off-camera work – switching camera angles and monitoring the sound quality while a show is filming, getting the episodes ready to post, and uploading them to YouTube and iTunes, including proper tags and the like. We need people – everyone, really – promoting the shows online via Twitter, Facebook, etc, all the time, and tagging everything so it turns up in search engines. We need to get people talking, watching, and listening, and then keep them tuning in as we grow. We need to build a real audience, then maintain it, and grow it from there.

All of these things take time, and since we all have full time jobs keeping us busy as it is, it’s pretty much impossible to devote the kind of time required to do all of these things properly.

But I believe it can be done.

Maybe we just need some kind of schedule, wherein everyone gets a bit of the task list to do on certain days and/or times. If we get a few more volunteers to help with some of it, and maybe write up a couple of templates to make some of the written tasks faster and easier (Tim and I have a basic pitch letter that we send to agents and the like when we’re looking into getting new guests – it’s pretty much copy/paste and fill in the blanks), then most of those things would be a 5-10 minute time commitment, instead of longer. They could happen much more regularly, too, which would help boost our presence.

So many quick little things can make all the difference, but we really need to hammer out a basic foundation for the show and the channel first and foremost. Until we can say with at least some certainty that an episode will be up within a specified timeframe, complete with credits, tags and any other pertinent information required by the guest, we’re kind of just treading water. We need to know when we can go live consistently, too, and promote the crap outta that before even beginning to shoot the episode.

We need a plan. We need to be consistent with its implementation. And then we need to market and promote and shout it from the rooftops. Every day. More than once.

I believe it can be done. I believe we can rise up and be amazing.

I believe it’s time to take the first step – and then keep stepping.

I believe – with a little more work on everyone’s part – it can soon be time to run.

What To Do?

To be honest, I have something specific on my mind today – a super secret project – but it’s a surprise, so I can’t talk about it publicly at all, and that’s killing me! Haha

If you are one of the folks who knows what I’m talking about, you shouldn’t mention it publicly anywhere, either. The first rule of Fight Club is… 😉

Anyway, I’ll talk about other stuff, instead.

As you can likely tell from some of my previous posts, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do with my life. Or how I want my life to look, both day to day, and in the future. It seems a tad late to be trying to figure this all out, but they say better late than never, and I think it’s probably good to have goals and things to aspire to. It would likely make a difference to do something I can get excited about occasionally, too, and to feel like I am contributing and have value.

I know I’d love to work with animals, but unless I can get paid enough at some kind of doggie daycare, or something, I don’t think that would work out financially for me and the critters in my care. I do hope to supplement my existence with an opportunity to volunteer with the Toronto Wildlife Centre, preferably in their Nursery, feeding baby squirrels and the like, until they can be re-released back into the wild. I would gladly do that for no pay, and I think between something like that and the sillies who live with me – and regular zoo trips, of course – I could at least get my animal therapy fix often enough to make me feel content.

The Mind Reels is still growing and has become a wonderful creative outlet, in addition to writing and crafting and all the little things I keep trying to find time to work on.

But what of my day job? I don’t need to love it to be content, but I do need to feel like I am contributing instead of failing all day, every day. It’s a heavy thing to walk around with all the time, and I’m not sure how long I can really keep doing it. I am actually afraid that everywhere will feel like this, but logically I know it won’t. I guess I’m just worried that most of it comes from inside me, and that I won’t be able to leave it behind.

That’s for another blog post, though. This one is more to explore things I think I might like to do, instead of just the constant retail environment I seem to have needed 2 Bachelor degrees to spend the rest of my life doing. It’s great to have been employed pretty much constantly since I got out of University, but I can’t say as I really have developed any marketable skills as a result of said employment, apart from more retail, of course.

But I have learned and done things as a result of being alive, and I’m hoping to delve into more of those things with respect to potential future employment, instead. I feel like The Mind Reels and my Guinness World Record event garnered me some basic experience in marketing/promotion/public relations areas, as well as … what would I call it? Interviewing skills? Hosting a show, conducting casual interviews, and now running celebrity panels at fan conventions – those things aren’t easy to do, especially for shy people. Yet I feel quite comfortable in those environments now. On camera or off, in front of a crowd or in a quiet room (or a hotel lobby with no sleep), with a stranger or someone I’ve met before. I feel like I’ve gotten better at it all as I go along, and that I don’t freeze up with nerves and stage-fright is a good thing.

Of course, I have a great interview partner, so that definitely helps, too! 😉

I’ve learned a lot about promoting and publicizing things in recent years, particularly when it comes to using social media effectively. I’d be even better at it if it was my job and I could focus on it more! I’d love to administrate social media feeds for an employer, and since everyone has social media pages all over the internet these days, I feel like I could really grow something like that and be a positive influence on branding for a company or what-have-you.

Actually, there are a few other areas of interest that I have right now, but that one seems the most suited to the skills I already have, with tons of room for growth.

As well, my lunch break is over, so I should stop typing and get back to work!

More on this tomorrow, perhaps!