This situation with 59bloggers is getting still more attention today. I'm frankly a little befuddled by a few of the responses, dismissing it as a "pissing match."

I'm not sure what more I can say... I'm exhausted with this whole ordeal. One factual note though - I actually started work on Blogumentary in 2002, and only recently finished it. I'm trying to get it out into the world, into film festivals, wherever it can find a home.

I'd also like to say this. If you had spent 3 years of your life pouring your heart and soul (and time and money) into a project, you would do everything I did - and probably more. I was completely justified asking John Hart to simply discuss his heavy use of "Blogumentary." My film is open source - believe me, I get what's wrong with Big Brother Copyright and all that jazz. That doesn't mean creators simply lie down and give up any control over their work and identity. All I was doing is trying to ask Hart to refer to his film by it's name in part of his web site. At every turn I have been polite and respectful with my very legitimate concern. And at every turn, Hart has either lobbed insults, been completely unresponsive, tried to strongarm me with legal threats, or now this incredibly dramatic narrative filled with lies and veiled threats.

People say I shouldn't have named my film the same as a genre. When I thought of the name in 2002, it sure wasn't a genre - it was just a film idea in my head, and then the name of my blog as I developed the film idea. Sure, now it's a genre, and in retrospect maybe it was a bad choice. But who would have imagined blogs would become so pervasive as to require multiple documentaries, and indeed it's own genre of documentary? If you imagined that, good for you, but I sure didn't.

Do I take some responsibility for the blogosphere's response? Sure. But I certainly did not anticipate or ask for people to attack Hart or his project. I'm not in charge of the blogosphere. I asked for help because I was getting nothing but insults - followed by silence - from Hart. Yes, the response was overzealous. I don't think anyone should have emailed the 59 bloggers. I would like to see this project happen. Ultimately, John Hart is responsible for John Hart's project.

I made my project without any investors. My own money. Furthermore, I don't believe Hart has any investors. He's been asked for proof by people trying to mediate or report on this situation, and he doesn't respond. I believe in transparency, I believe in treating people with respect.

I stand by my work and I stand by the way I treat people in the blogosphere.

Chuck Olsen

PS - To the bloggers that were excited to be in 59bloggers, or those that didn't "make the cut" - why not start a videoblog and interview yourself? Or each other? Look, you don't need to wait for a filmmaker to get your stories out there. "We are the media" isn't just an empty mantra. You could even edit those clips together into... a documentary film.

Also: What kind of passion to you think he has for this film and for the blogosphere if he pulls the plug at the first sign of trouble? Most every documentary film I know of has little or no funding. The documentary filmmakers I know do it because the HAVE TO, because it's in their blood. They use their own money, they get in-kind services, they do it any way they can. That's what you want in a documentary filmmaker. Not somebody looking to cash in on a hot topic with some corporate sponsorship, who disappears when the (imaginary) suits disappear.

FINAL UPDATE! We've made peace. Group hug everybody!

  • Jeff Jarvis | Stuart Hughes | BC Beat | David Weinberger | Google Blogoscoped | Euphoric Reality | BlamBlog
  • Eric Rice podcast: The 59 Bloggers PR Crisis (starts about 6:14 - great stuff!!)
  • Kent Bye: Citizen Journalism Implications of Blog Doc Controversy
  • Will the real Hulkumentary please stand up? (heh)
  • Lighten up Chuck! Yes, we are all flame warriors. I'm in there somewhere...

    June 8, 2005 at 03:29 PM in Blogumentary | Permalink


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    I've been gone for a little while and it's only now come to my attention that you are indeed the Author of All Lies, the Prince of Darkness, He Who Shall Not Be Named, etc.

    I was wondering what your plans are regarding the Final Battle against Light, the Boiling of the Oceans, and The Burning of Skies as I have a number of upcoming home-improvement projects and wish to schedule accordingly.

    Also, let me know when the beasts will turn foul and black, cats marrying dogs and the like as I'm curious about what kind of licensing such unions will entail.

    Finally, I have several younger associates interested in internships, to which Imp should I direct resumes and apps to?


    Posted by: cweagel at Jun 8, 2005 3:56:55 PM

    I am new to this dust up, but it is painfully obvious that John Hart needs professional help - and perhaps large doses of medication. Looking forward to a chance to see your film.

    Posted by: Vox at Jun 8, 2005 4:01:29 PM

    My beloved succubus just suggested that instead of mowing the lawn, why don't I call down a plague of locusts to do it for me?

    I'm still getting used to being Satan, who controls the entire blogosphere.

    I've been advised by my hordes of lawyers not to comment on the timing of my plans, but please direct internship applications to Mr. John Tesh.

    Posted by: Chuck at Jun 8, 2005 4:04:05 PM

    I was actually one of the bloggers involved in this whole 59 Bloggers doc (supposedly) even though my blog was not included on Hart's site for whatever reason. Although I'm far from an A-List blogger (C+ on a good day) it seemed like an interesting project.

    I did not know about your blog or your film before signing up and I didn't know who Hart was either so I'm coming into this situation with a pretty open mind.

    It seems as though you were fair in asking him not to confuse people by using the word blogumentary on his site because that's the name of your film even though it was pretty clear (at least to me) that he was using it more as a phrase to help people connect with the project.

    I will admit though that his reaction and subsequent post was a little, um, weird.

    If I wanted to take a guess as to these "investors" that pulled out of this project, I'd say that they probably did exist and thought this project was one of a kind, until, whoa -- there's another one out there. And another. And we're not the only ones -- not the first ones = bad investment. Maybe Hart got pissed too. Maybe he thought he was the first one to do this too. Maybe he freaked and thought, why am I going through all of this trouble if I'm not the first one?

    But that's just a guess.

    Anyway, as I'm also an amateur filmmaker myself -- I wish you good luck with your film.

    Posted by: fat dude at Jun 8, 2005 6:09:27 PM

    You trackbacked to my piece from earlier. i'm curious as to where the link is here. Maybe I missed it.

    Thanks for your comments earlier today.


    Posted by: Kit Jarrell at Jun 8, 2005 6:22:52 PM

    Oops! Link added.

    Posted by: Chuck at Jun 8, 2005 6:30:14 PM

    Hi Chuck,

    I've never been to your site before, but read about the dispute on Steve Rubel's MicroPersuasion...and followed the links. Yikes!

    Don't second guess yourself, you did what any reasonable indie filmaker would have done. Anyone who has poured personal reserves and financial resources into a film, or a blog, would have "got" your original e-mail. I see no compelling reason why he would need to use "Blogumentary" to describe his project. "Documentary" still has a lot of prestige.

    The other guy seems to have a short fuse. Maybe when the smoke clears from his super-hothead, he'll feel sheepish. And, maybe not.

    Remember, you didn't set out to have a "pissing match." You set out to ensure that as you promote your project's distribution it won't be confused with a similar project. It was good business strategy.


    Posted by: Eileen at Jun 8, 2005 8:23:26 PM

    Eileen -- thank you!
    I needed to hear that.
    It's so good to hear from filmmakers like yourself.
    In fact, every filmmaker I've heard from completely understands what I'm going through, and would have done the same thing in my shoes. I need to keep that perspective.

    Posted by: Chuck at Jun 8, 2005 8:35:12 PM

    Hi Chuck - you had emailed me when you were in Phoenix, but I was in NY on media tour, but still wanted to connect with you, and see if you will be back here again (and, btw, how did it go??).

    Check out the piece I wrote on libel and blogs (it's listed as one of the favorites). There might be some good information for you to use.

    Posted by: Jeremy Pepper at Jun 8, 2005 11:16:02 PM