NewTeeVee on Public Interest Video
Thanks to Jackson West, the forthright gentleman filmmaker-journalist, for writing about non-overtly-commercial video:
Without financial support from viewers and distributors, some of the most valuable work connecting communities and informing the public won’t be able to continue.
Alive in Baghdad, which brings the unvarnished truth from civilians in Iraq, is struggling to cover its costs. And after years of serving his local community, Chuck Olsen, unable to scare up a buyer among local media organizations, is shuttering Minnesota Stories — a model of online video aggregating, publishing and community in service of the public interest.
Please note, I think MN Stories will "rise, zombie-like" in a more community-powered fashion. I'm hoping we can get something happening by the time deep chill sets in.
MN Stories reminiscing
A little blast from the Minnesota Stories past, when it was one week old. Just a baby!
This is one of my all-time favorite MN Stories videos.
RONDO DAYS REUNION (July 18, 2005)
My life is happily consumed by Minnesota Stories. Right now it's all pro-bono, but I hope the site attracts sponsors so I can support the production of mini-documentaries every day. Really, think of it as an all-Minnesota online TV channel. How often does that happen? The potential is huge. Original compelling content, every day. Email me if you're interested in a banner ad or video ad. Help this project grow and thrive.
I'm the first to admit I'm a poor businessman/salesman. I did try contacting a couple of local businesses about sponsorships that didn't lead anywhere. I think a dedicated person, maybe even an intern, could drum up some ad support. I never found that person, though I could've tried harder. At a certain point I think I became resigned to MN Stories being a non-profit project, perhaps because I subconsciously didn't want to pollute the site with ads.
I'm still disappointed no local arts or media organizations wanted to become the new parents of MN Stories. Granted, I haven't talked to all of them, but I've talked to a lot of them. (MPR, TPT, IFP, The Rake/MNspeak, Metro Magazine, City Pages, Vita.mn, mnartists.org, etc.) I believe MN Stories has value and is vital to this community in many ways. I've invested 2.5 years of my time and energy, posting 540 daily videos including many of my own. It has a decent audience - really it deserves a bigger audience, which is something an organization with a marketing budget could make happen. But that particular path isn't in the cards right now.
I don't know if I should announce anything yet, but one prominent local vlogger has volunteered to take over the site. YES! And another local podcast luminary might be able to automate it to some degree. Another good idea: I'd like to see guest curators take over the site for a week, posting their own videos or local stuff they like. Taylor, Courtney, mnartists.org, local filmmakers, and so on. That could be very cool.
Here's the post announcing the birth of Minnesota Stories and ye old NY Times mention.
(Sorry for my reminiscing and wallowing. There's light at the end of the tunnel, I think?)
Minnesota Stories: A lovely two years
Here's a buttload of MN Stories history. Oh man, what a ride. Like many an indie media project, it may return someday.Yes I am sad, and just plain exhausted.
PZ Myers Interview
Check out this insightful interview with Pharyngula conducted by my favorite Prince collaborator-turned-amateur astronomer, Michael Koppelman. If you've ever wondered stuff like, "What is life?" then get ready for the answers, jocko homo.
I'm sorta like, on Future Tense
Videoblogger Chuck Olsen was abouot the leave
for Chicago when he learned about the bridge. An advocate of citizen
journalism, Olsen rushed to the scene, shot some video and posted it to his "Minnesota Stories" site. "I don't think we got anything that was all that different from
what you would see on television, although it does feel different, I
think the footage that I captured, because it is more first person,
it's more raw, and it doesn't have anyone talking over it or sort of
like commenting on what might have happened. Just sort of just the raw
footage of what I saw when I got down there."
Videoblogger Chuck Olsen was abouot the leave for Chicago when he learned about the bridge. An advocate of citizen journalism, Olsen rushed to the scene, shot some video and posted it to his "Minnesota Stories" site.
"I don't think we got anything that was all that different from what you would see on television, although it does feel different, I think the footage that I captured, because it is more first person, it's more raw, and it doesn't have anyone talking over it or sort of like commenting on what might have happened. Just sort of just the raw footage of what I saw when I got down there."
Another viewpoint from blogger emlarson:
But when a bridge falls down in Minneapolis, I'm not going to fire up Chuck Olsen's blog to find out what happened. It's time for WCCO, KSTP, KMSP or KARE -- all of which had choppers in the air and reporters on the ground within a few minutes.
PiPress article about 35W citizen journalism
Cameras in hand, citizens take over
Witnesses to the I-35W bridge collapse post the news online
BY JULIO OJEDA-ZAPATA
What the heck... more MN Stories kudos
I also stumbled upon a really delightful blurb from Broadband Jungle Blog:
The ingredients are simple: Information, humor and lots of very specific details about the urban Midwestern identity. Calling it This American Life from Lake Wobegon would be quite appropriate.
Note to self: Work on Ira Glass/Garrison Keillor/Morris Day hybrid look.
It's not very midwestern to gloat, but I'm really proud of the stuff on MN Stories lately. The "I Hate My Job" song/animation is pretty cute. Nobody else has video of the DFL blasting Norm Coleman about his recent re-commitment to the Iraq War. Butterfly Pee - that was actually filmed last year. So much good stuff waiting to be edited. Two Prince-related videos. Mike Hazard sent in a video of Mpls Institute of Arts curator Ted Hartwell right after he died. A documentary on rock climbing and another on sex education. A beautiful serene loon video, Miss Hmong Minnesota, kiteboarding on Mille Lacs.
What a freaking schizoid site, and I love it so. People are watching but they don't comment very often. So seeing some love in the Vita.mn poll means a great deal to me.
5:15 am, bird are chirping... time for bed.
MNstories: Stay awhile!
There are plenty of more interesting/important things to blog about, but I wanted to share this graph comparing the average time a visitor stays on Minnesota Stories to Mpls.St.Paul magazine and MPR. Of course you might expect this, since video can take longer than skimming text. I was surprised to score higher than MPR, though this might be misleading if people are listening to audio in an external player.
My artist's statement
Just what the heck am I doing here? It's hard to figure that out, but here's what I've come up with. This is one part of my longshot application for a McKnight Filmmaker fellowship, otherwise knowns as a cool $25,000. I'm also submitting DVDs of Blogumentary and Welcome to the Future. Wish me luck.
. . .
I've always been a geek. Imagine an isolated suburban 80's pre-teen, playing Dungeons & Dragons and afflicted with something called "Pac Man Fever" - that was me. One day we brought home a modem and plugged the phone line into the computer. Suddenly, I was not alone. Life hasn't been the same since.
My journey as a filmmaker is intertwined with my relationship to technology. I'm passionate about the ability of technology to change lives because it has changed my life for the better. It's led me to new relationships, political activism, and my current perch upon the fast-changing intersection of filmmaking and the internet. My mission is to dive headfirst into that crossroads of old media and new, come up for air and ask: How is technology affecting our lives?
Working for public television gave me a deep appreciation for documentary filmmaking and for the public interest. I became enthralled with the digital video revolution: Anyone can be a filmmaker. So I picked up a camera and became a filmmaker. The only problem with cameras as a democratic media tool is they can't talk to each other. The internet lets you talk to other people and tap into an unprecedented global conversation. My filmmaking world collided with the chaotic interconnected online world. I embarked on a journey exploring people's lives on the internet with the big screen in mind. I came to realize my work is native to the small screen.
I take a first-person approach to my work. Our world is full of large, top-down, impersonal institutions. Politics and the media are being transformed by individuals connecting and creating their own stories on the internet. Likewise, I must create my own story, rather than remove myself and pretend to be a neutral observer. I'm not just an observer; I’m a participant.
The audience is invited to participate in my work and my journey. The stories I tell often find me through connections I've made online. It's a social environment filled with raw ingredients, ripe for a story. I gather those ingredients and go offline, where I add my voice and craft a story. I return to the internet, where the audience is, with my finished (though often raw) video where it finds new life and can even multiply, spread and evolve. I can’t imagine filmmaking without this social interactivity. I would probably suffocate if I had to wait months or years to get feedback about my work. My process happens now, urgently and connectedly.
My vision is really about power. Technology gives us this incredible power to tell our own stories. I created a videoblog called Minnesota Stories that’s all about bringing untold stories to light – my own, and those of any mediamaker with a Minnesota connection.
We got the power, now what are we going to do with it? I aim to find out.