The Hunt on Bar-Neth

Entry to Lightsaber Choreography Competition XIII.
Directed by Adam Werth
DP Miguel Amodio
Starring Gedaly Guberek & Michael McIntyre
Fight Choreography by Gedaly Guberek

Good Morning

Here’s my first film I created on my YouTube channel. This was based on a stage piece I created some years ago, but I adapted it with new music and of course… it’s on video.

This, along with upcoming projects, are heavily inspired by Rowan Atkinson’s character Mr. Bean. His physical comedy and finding humor in everyday activities are not only super fun, but can be easily viewed and enjoyed by anyone. Especially since there is usually no dialogue.

Silent film carries this unique ability to be universally understood. I won’t be doing silent films exclusively, but the ability to limit my communication to the visual (plus music) is an attractive challenge as an artist.

Please let me know what you think!

Introduction to My First YouTube Short

On Friday I shot my first short for my new YouTube channel. It was lots of fun!

I didn’t realize until later how much fun I was having while shooting it. But I was in the zone, the fun creative state of play that is natural to artists. I’m so glad I’ll be doing this every week or so… This is exactly what I’m meant to be doing.

Anyway, I filmed this intro to put something up to get you guys excited for the piece, and so I could create the channel and not keep it empty for several days.

Leave your comments here or on YouTube and let me know what you think!

I am the Awesome Web Guy

Sort of sounds like a super hero. Hadn’t thought of that before. But that’s not what it is, at least not yet.

It’s my latest business project!

Awesome Web Guy is my new moniker for doing web work. My services have evolved since just doing custom web design. I tend to do more random web help, plus instruction, and website set up. Plus my previous work was either just me as me without a formal business behind it, or behind a boring sounding business…

So I’ve created something that’s a little more me.

The first stage in the launch of this project is a free email newsletter. This will give subscribers weekly tips on web tools to make their lives easier. And it will give me an audience of people who are interested in what I do.

I’m excited for this one! Lots of people ask me for help, now I’ll have a central spot to send people. And if they need a quick bit of info, I can point them to a tutorial I created, and if they need more they’ll be able to hire me for whatever 1-on-1 work they need.

So head on over to AwesomeWebGuy.com and check out what I’ve got… and then sign up for the newsletter.

Calling all actors who need websites

This week I launched a new service for actors in LA.

I’d grown tired of seeing friends with an embarrassingly amateur looking online presence… Either from paid services that just aren’t up to snuff, or lack of funds to get those services.

There are an infinite number of ways for actors to write a check, and websites are no exception.

But when online business is the norm (and acting IS a business), these artists should be able to present themselves online in a professional manner.

And not be at the mercy of the myriad out-dated products and services that exist in this industry.

I want to empower others to take control of their own acting businesses by teaching them the skills necessary to create and maintain their own website.

Will I squeeze every last cent out of my clients with this service? No. Will I provide great value? Yes.

Many of the actor-specific services I see out there I feel are unfairly priced once someone has spend a small amount of time researching. A lot of businesses make plenty of money making actors dependent on them. I don’t like it.

Honestly, I’d rather spend a day with someone (and support afterwards) giving them all the tools they need and building it with them, instead of crafting something on my own over the period of a few weeks and charging a lot more. I also think this creates more value. And gives an actor a type of service that nearly no one else is doing.

So take a look, tell your friends. Check out YourActorWebsiteNow.com

Any questions? Suggestions? Leave a comment!

Arts Reach Conference Time!

Somehow I’ve been asked to speak on a panel at an arts marketing conference. I’m an actor, so I should be able to pretend like I know what I’m talking about.

But seriously folks, there’s gonna lots of cool people talking about lots of cool things. I’m excited for it. Let me know if you’ll be there too!

Why Being Shy About Promoting Your Show Could Be Hurting People

From a very young age we learn that selling is bad. Anyone who is constantly pushing their goods or services and doesn’t take no for an answer shouldn’t be trusted. We’re taught that any sort of marketing might be unethical. We’re taught to be bashful when it comes to promotion.

Bashful
We don’t want to bug people or seem needy so we don’t promote. Do you think marketing is a bad thing?

If you answered “yes” and you’re still wondering why you don’t have anyone coming to your productions. It’s time to STOP THINKING THAT WAY.

If you’re not so shy and do plenty of promoting but it’s still not working, I’ll have another post for you soon.

Let’s look at it from another point of view…

Have you ever been to a performance and been inspired? Did it brighten your day? Did it teach you something about yourself? Did it make you laugh or cry? Did you feel more alive after going? Did you get ideas for your next show? Did you find new meaning in your life or career?

I’m guessing you have.

So now that you have a production that could have the same effect on someone. By not actively promoting it, you may be DEPRIVING SOMEONE OF THAT SAME EXPERIENCE.

That’s right. You could be doing a disservice to the world by not promoting your show.

So find those people that your show appeals to, who you think would be inspired by what you have to give. Don’t say everyone or anyone — be specific — there’s no way that one show appeals to everyone in the world, let alone everyone you know. Give it a try. Remember that you could be helping someone, hell, maybe even saving someone’s life. So stop being shy, emerge from your chrysalis of bashfulness and emerge a beautiful marketing butterfly!

What other obstacles stand in the way of you feeling comfortable promoting your show?

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This Post is About the Human Condition

I had been thinking a lot last month about the silly cliches we use to tell people about the shows we produce, largely inspired by a post by Howard Sherman.

There are some gems on there. Oh, and there’s a follow up post with even more good ones.

Then I stumbled across an article on LA Stage Times about Waiting For Godot.

…talks about what he focused on while directing – “revealing human condition through real character and behavior.”

What the fudge does that mean? Everything is about the human condition. Why just say “we’re doing a play with people in it.” OH GOOD. THANK GOD IT’S NOT CATS.

Howard Sherman defines it as…

“It’s about the human condition” = a) we don’t understand it at all, or b) if we told you what it’s actually about, you wouldn’t come.

I think that’s pretty much accurate. But what’s worse than hearing it from the director talking about his work is a marketer using it to try to motivate people to come see the show. Their plan must be following:

A patron gets a postcard in the mail from a theatre company he occasionally attends. He looks at the the title on the front with his usual disinterest when reading mail. He turns it over and reads the brief summary; suddenly he is filled with energy. “Hey honey! So-and-so Theatre has a play about the human condition! Let’s get tickets.”

Now that I think about it, I doubt that marketer (or whoever wrote the copy on that postcard) put that much effort into thinking it through.

My father recently told me about a positive experience he had with a local theatre. “It had everything I liked in a play: comedy, drama, and an intermission.” You know what I’m gonna tell him the next time I’ve got a play I want him to see?

Know thy audience.

But before I wrap up…. just WHAT IS THE HUMAN CONDITION?

Wikipedia says

the Human Condition is “The human condition encompasses the unique and inescapable features of being human in a social, cultural, and personal context. It can be described as the irreducible part of humanity that is inherent and not connected to factors such as gender, race or class. It includes concerns such as a search for purpose, search for gratification, sense of curiosity, the inevitability of isolation, or the fear of death.”

Oh, got it. I love shows about that stuff.

What silly things have you heard people say about shows?

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Stop Making Excuses for Non Profits

Non Profit is not a business model. It’s a tax distinction. It means the organization fits within a set of guidelines created by the IRS to allow them to accept tax-deductable donations and not have to pay taxes on income related to their mission.

THAT’S ALL IT MEANS. Nowhere does it say that we can let these businesses suck and people will understand. Bad business is bad business, no matter what status the IRS decides to give you.

And yet…

“As a non-profit theatre, [some theatre company] is run entirely by a volunteer force.” – Some job posting

NON PROFIT DOESN’T MEAN NO MONEY! There are 501c3 organizations that have multi-million dollar budgets, and there are regular businesses that can’t seem to turn a profit.

“If it’s not chaotic, it’s not non-profit.” – Paraphrase from a board member from some organization.

NON PROFIT DOESN’T MEAN BAD BUSINESS! Some very successful non profits are run very smoothly, just as there are tons of for-profit businesses that can’t get their shit together.

Haters gonna hate. We can’t change what the world thinks, but it really pisses me off when people working for a non profit say these things. The lack of confidence and lack of caring about good business practices suggests to me that this business is unlikely to amount to anything in the near or distant future.

How about we commit to BETTER BUSINESS? Time to draft contracts for everything, create a company handbook, document all processes, research business and marketing, start caring more about budgets, do better financial planning, create the awesome website you should have, and raise more funds to PAY PEOPLE. Let’s stop depending on passion to fuel these businesses; it’s enough to get one started, but not enough to keep one going or growing.

Why do you think the excuses exist for NPOs? What do you think we should do about it? Let me know in the comments.

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Making Your Website “Grandma Proof”

Nothing against grandmas or their computer skills, and yes their are many grandmas who are quite computer savvy. That said…

Old Laptop
Back in my day, laptops were the size of many people's laps.
A big way I hear people reference usability (or lack thereof) of websites is “even my grandma can/can’t use it.” Now that flashy, sparkly, sardine-can-style-packed-information is no longer the norm for websites (but still present — yuck) and having been thinking about who uses the websites I’ve been making (now that I make more for others than for personal projects), I’ve been giving usability a lot of thought.

These are some easy design principles that I think are pretty easy. Some my fellow designer friends will think are obvious, but I’ve navigated many websites that just aren’t user friendly — even from companies that have large budgets to hire good designers.

1. Generally speaking, the navigation should be the same on every page
Same links, same colors, same location. In a book I always know where the next page is. The contents of the table of contents are always in order, nor does the table of contents move elsewhere when I come back to it.

2. Text should be BIG.
Not huge. But if you don’t think grandma can read it without a microscope, don’t put it on the page.

3. Clickable items should be easy to find
A) If it’s clickable, it should be noticeably different than other stuff.
The default for text is black and links is blue and underlined. This is what many people have come to expect. Make it clear what I can click on. To help that I suggest…

B) If it’s clickable, it should change somehow when cursor hovers over it.
Not everyone does this, but I’m a fan. If I hover over a menu item, text link, or clickable image it should change somehow. Background changes, border color changes, underline goes away, text color changes. Something like that.

4. Make it clear what to do next
When I land on a page, what am I supposed to do next? Sign up for your email list? Buy tickets? If I don’t know what the next step is or why that page exists within 3 seconds of it opening… goodbye. Tell the user what to do. Part of that is making it big. And at the top of the page. If someone doesn’t want to be told what to do, let that be their choice, not their inability to find the “buy now” link that’s tiny and at the very bottom of the page all the way to the right after some very large and unrelated images.

5. Minimize scrolling
If your header image and navigation take up half the height of the page, users probably won’t see what you really want them to do right away. I don’t care how pretty the header image is or how well you think it represents you or your company. Your losing sales because someone didn’t scroll down the 800 pixels to get to the info they were looking for. Put headlines and other general info “above the fold.”

That’s just a few I thought of off the top of my head. There’s a lot more that can be said on the topic, and an increasingly important one as the number of internet users continues to increase.

What usability features do you like to see on websites?

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