Being Kenneth Branagh: 11 Tips on Filming a Book Trailer (Part Four)

And here we are — the final part of the mini-series blogpost! (See? Aren’t you glad I broke this up into segments?)

Now as I mentioned, I have saved the best tip for last; but before getting to what I believe is the most imperative thing you can do in planning out a book trailer, let’s quickly recap those previous 10 tips from Parts 1-4:

  • Know what you’re shooting. You’re shooting a book trailer, the emphasis on trailer. Not book.
  • You don’t have to understand the process, but take time to understand the process. A book trailer doesn’t just happen in your basement one weekend afternoon. There’s steps to follow and processes to adhere to.
  • For your first book trailer, keep it simple. You might want to go full-on epic for your first book trailer. Don’t. This is your first step. Think smart.
  • Set up a budget. Best way to avoid going broke.
  • Figure out ways to stretch the budget. Did I mention “avoid going broke” earlier? Yeah. I did.
  • When the trailer needs artwork, imagery, or music, make a financial investment. When it is time to spend money on your trailer, particularly in stock audio and video, do’t flinch or take shortcuts. Do it.
  • Be patient and understanding with your talent. Cast and crew. Especially if they are giving of their time and talents, roll with the challenges and make things work to the best of their abilities.
  • Make sure your cast and crew understand their responsibilities. Remember though that your trailer is the top priority, not hanging out or chilling out. That happens after the work is done.
  • Trust your editor, especially if he or she has a track record. Sometimes the toughest thing is to surrender your work to an objective party, but it also the best thing you can do in order to make it shine.
  • Never forget: It’s YOUR trailer. Don’t let others render your vision so blurry that it’s no longer yours. It’s your book’s first impression. You make the final call.

It’s all been leading up to this one key piece of advice I’ve been sitting on since Part One. You all have been patient and (for this, I am really thrilled!) attentive on what makes a good book trailer happen. Now comes the most essential thing you need to know before making that jump from the printed word to a visual medium in order to help your book sales reach a wider audience.

Are you ready? Continue reading

Being Kenneth Branagh: 11 Tips on Filming A Book Trailer (Part Three)

So, two weeks ago, I started this mini-series of a blogpost. Honestly, I thought I could encapsulate everything I wanted to say about this experience in about 1000 words, maybe 2000 if I was feeling eloquent.

Yeah…um…Part Four will drop next week and wrap everything up. I promise.

No. Seriously.

Stop laughing.

The thing is this blogpost is a lot like the book trailer itself (which, if you look up in the right-hand corner of the blog, you will see it there…). This is the biggest blogpost I think I’ve done since ending my two-year job hunt. This mini-series blogpost is epic…but so was the education I received on the set. There were a lot of lessons I walked away with this time, and already within the trailer’s first 24-hours on YouTube I have people asking me about what it takes to make something like it.

So, let’s continue with these 11 tips I’ve been sharing, starting off with one that I think is essential when marshaling your creative troops together to make magic happen… Continue reading

The Ministry MAY-hem Wrap-up at Balticon 45!

So, I’m all rested up and recovered from an amazing weekend at the Steampunk World’s Fair (review in the works). What’s next?

Why, another con appearance, of course…

Concluding The Ministry MAY-hem Tour (at least, this part of it) is an old favorite of mine — BALTICON. It was nearly ten years ago when I first arrived at this event with Morevi.  I looked something like this back then…

This was before the time of facial hair, before the days of podcasting, before the days of Facebook, Twitter, and Social Media. Right now, I’d love to go up to that guy and say “You have no idea what’s in store for you, bro.”

What a long strange trip it has been. And with the premiere of Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel, it may just get a wee-bit stranger at Balticon 45 as tea parties, time traveling dances, rock-and-roll courtesy of Ditched by Kate, and panels-panels-panels are all in store! Here’s my schedule for the next few days… Continue reading

Black Friday: The Dark Side of Viral Videos

Social Media carpetbaggers (as I call them here, and I’m liking the term the more I use it) would challenge me on many of my work beliefs and ethics, two of which that have been brought to light just this month:

    • You can’t make a viral video. They just happen.
    • There is such a thing as bad publicity.

      I have seen this as a topic on many a conference track — “How to Make Your Videos Viral!” or some such nonsense — and I also get the “Let’s make a viral video…” request a lot from my day job. After my skin stops crawling, I pull no punches and speak the best-kept-secret truth that the carpetbaggers won’t admit: you can’t make a viral video. A video goes viral due to traffic on social networks increasing awareness (of a product, person, or cause), and through self-replicating processes that gain momentum on both the Internet and mainstream media.

      Did you catch that “self-replicating” part? That’s key. No one can make self-replication happen. You can promote a video, sure, but that does not necessarily guarantee it going viral.  The constant thread (if there is one) is luck. Good or bad, it comes down to luck. You can’t predict it. You can’t produce it. You never know what will strike that nerve. Viral videos just happen.

      And in the case of Rebecca Black, that is exactly what happened. What two comedians referenced off-handedly has now become 2011’s viral sensation. Continue reading

      A Crossroad Remembered

      This weekend, Pip and I took off for a Valentine’s Day weekend. Instead of getting our lovey-dovey on today, we dropped off the Boom with grandparents, and enjoyed a quiet pre-Valentine’s Day weekend in Staunton, Virginia. If you are not familiar with Staunton, this is truly one of the crown jewels of Virginia’s crown. It is a fantastic town nestled within the Shenandoah Valley, just about 20-30 minutes away from my alma mater, James Madison University. Why I chose Staunton as our getaway weekend, though, wasn’t for its historic architecture, quiet setting, or quaint downtown shops. It was for The American Shakespeare Center.

      You probably don’t think “Staunton, Virginia” when you think of William Shakespeare, but you should. The American Shakespeare Center (ASC) is located in downtown Staunton, and they manage the Blackfriars, the world’s only reproduction of Shakespeare’s indoor theatre. This weekend, the ASC was putting on The Comedy of Errors, a show that holds a very special place for me. As Pip had never seen a production of Comedy nor a show at the Blackfriars, I thought this would be a great opportunity. Better still, the Frederick House offered a Shakespeare Package that included tickets and a backstage tour. As you can see by the photos (click on them to view in full), the Blackfriars is gorgeous, and how you see the stage—even with the lights up—is how the ASC does Shakespeare. The show itself was tremendous, and Pip and I are still talking about it. The actors (including an old friend from JMU who is still performing with the company, I am proud to say) gave high energy with every line and every comic moment, making the less-than-two-hours traffic fly by. So yeah, when you think of Shakespeare, you should also think of Staunton, and you should make it a priority to catch a show here. It was a terrific choice Pip and I made, and we’re heading back to Staunton in May. (More on that trip to come…)

      What I didn’t expect from this trip to the Blackfriars was a memory from the past, back when I was a professional actor and facing a tough call. Continue reading

      My Story So Far…

      “I’ve put this off for far too long” — Bilbo Baggins, The Fellowship of the Ring

      This is something I’ve wanted to do for myself, for you all, and more importantly for my daughter whom you may hear me refer to here and elsewhere as Sonic Boom. I closed Comments on this entry as I think condolences and criticism people would express have already been made on Facebook, Twitter, and on my 5-word blogpost. If you have something to ask, something to share, or otherwise, it’s not like it’s hard to find me. I am visible on my respective networks once again, and my virtual door is open.

      I’ll also tell you straight-up a motivation behind this posting has been the conjecture and criticism that others have expressed at both my expense, and at my daughter’s. As it is in a Community, there are a few that have been accusing me of not being up front, of misleading the Community, and taking advantage of the support and compassion I have been receiving over these past two months. Sure, you can’t have the positive without the negative, but this for them, too. “Put up or shut up,” you say? Gladly.

      I don’t consider this blogpost “total transparency” because even with my love of Social Media I still believe some things are best kept private. This post is my perspective on a relationship spanning over ten years that took an unexpected turn and then came to a tragic end. No mudslinging. No ugly, sordid details. This will be my story, from the beginning.

      I hope you will take a moment to read it. Continue reading

      The New Gig: What I’m Doing and How I’m Doing

      IMG_0584With a whopping 42 comments to it (and as that is the big answer, I thought the time was right for this post…), I think it’s pretty much common knowledge by now that I got a new job. I didn’t really consider how quickly the wheels got rolling on getting me in there; but on retrospect, this place did not diddle around. I was offered the job on August 4, taught my final class on August 14, and then on August 17 I walked in, filed paperwork, went through the orientation, and was then literally thrown into the thick of it. I didn’t hit the ground running. I bitch-slapped the ground, made it call me a pretty girl, and had it beg for more when I was through with it.

      And the really frightening bit? After a week, I’m still not sure how my voice mail works.

      But what exactly is the job? I didn’t really go into detail on that in “Perseverance and Peter Gabriel” as that post was less about the job itself and more about the job hunt. Amidst the comments of congratulations and inspiration, a few of you have wondered “So what is this job you got?” I wanted to wait until I finished the first week before I shared details, and I’m glad I did. Last week was overwhelming, amazing, and eye-opening, on a lot of levels.

      I was also beat at the end of every day. Slept a lot. Now, with some of the blur that was last week processed, here it is…

      Intersections is a security firm, based out of Chantilly, VA. Since 1996, Intersections has dealt with credit history and digital identity protection. They are in the business of making electronic transactions, be they financial or personal, safer; and I have been hired as their Social Media Manager. (I’d like to point out that this job falls under Corporate Communications, not Marketing. That thrills me like you wouldn’t believe.) They were looking for someone who could not only apply Social Media, but understand the different initiatives out there and what they offer.

      They were also looking for someone who could write. Yeah, I think I got that covered, too.

      What I’m particularly excited about with this job is the angle Intersections takes with Social Media. Obviously, I’m being called upon to manage blogs, create podcasts, edit video (which I’m doing right now), and manage an outreach program with Twitter and (soon) Facebook; but I am also being asked to investigate and research security in Social Media, something I’ve touched on in Bird House Rules but only scratched its surface. On Friday, I was forwarded some news about Social Media from a security perspective and I was floored. The ironic bit is, that morning I was catching up with The SpyCast and listening to a fantastic interview with Dr. Terry Gudaitis who specializes in cyberintelligence gathering. (That’s the June 15, 2009 show if you’re interested.)

      I feel as if I am starting all over again in Social Media, this time from a new perspective I hope Blogworld will let me speak on this year. I am officially on their schedule. I’ve confirmed “But Honey, It’s For the Studio” but am working to change topics concerning my second talk. So, if you’re at Blogworld this year, stop me and say “Hi.” It should be good fun in Vegas this October!

      24497409

      A cublicle in transition

      So in the end, I am using my knowledge and background on Social Media for good, not for evil. While I will help in the promotion of what Intersections does, I will also be their on-call specialist in Social Media while I find out more about security matters with Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, and the like. My brain has been firing on all cylinders since Day One, and I’m soaking it up like a thirsty sponge. The first week just blinked by, and I’ve not slowed down yet.

      If you were wondering, though, how the day job will affect my writing, it will only make me more productive. Now that I know my hours, I can regiment and manage my time efficiently. I’m still writing for AppAdvice; and this weekend Pip and I completed the first draft of Books & Braun: Phoenix Rising, our Steampunk CSI peppered with hints of James Bond. I’m also planning to dust off Whiskey Tango Foxtrot and start working on that. I’ll give up details with an upcoming Survival Guide to Writing Fantasy…and yes, that will be its final episode.

      It’s a long story and a hard decision concerning The Guide, and I’ll save the rest for that show.

      My job at Intersections is now underway, and my writing is moving forward. From here, all that I have to face now are the possibilities.

      Flutter…the Next Big Thing! *LOL*

      This morning, I completed the ninth chapter of All a Twitter, but I may have to reconsider everything — and I mean, everything — and call up Que Publishing to renegotiate the book we agreed I would write.

      This is going to be the next big thing in Social Media, and I want to write the first book on it!

      Say hello to “Flutter.”

      My editor at Que reads this blog, so let me say I’M JUST KIDDING!!! Seriously. I’m three chapters from wrapping up, and you think I want to do a rewrite from the beginning?!

      Been there, done that, got a tee shirt, and I had said tee shirt ripped off me when the publisher tried to stiff me out of the advance.

      I am hoping with where I’ve seen this video mentioned on Twitter that it goes viral on an apedemic scale. This is some funny, funny stuff. Consider me the first in line for “Sttr” and a pair of “Flutter Eyes.”

      The ONE Video Podcast Your Social Media Life Depends On…

      Imagine That! Studios presents…

      A FIVE-PART
      EPIC MINISERIES
      VIDEO PODCASTING
      EVENT!

      *explosions — screams — kittens and puppies*

      Yes, Tee Morris premieres his seminar, ANTI-Social Media: What NOT to Do with Web 2.0, today! Running exclusively at Imagine That! Studios, Tee brings his opinions and commentary on Social Media askew in this…

      FIVE-PART
      EPIC MINISERIES
      VIDEO PODCASTING
      EVENT!

      *explosions — screams — kittens and puppies*

      …and critics are raving!

      @PodcastJunky says:

      “It’s coming from the house of awesome so it is nothing less than fabulous.”

      @akaMonty raves:

      “Tee Morris once again proves that he’s more than just a beefcake”

      Social Media trendsetter Chris Brogan

      …didn’t return my calls and I don’t know what the restraining order is all about.

      @zard proclaims:

      “Tee Morris is holding me at ransom unless I write this blurb. Send help!”

      Podcasting’s Rich Sigfrit pushes you down, presses his foot against your trachea, and states:

      “If you can’t be a good example, be a bad example: Tee Morris brings you Anti-Social Media.”

      So you — yes, YOU — must stop whatever you’re doing, focus on the screen, and bask in the awesomeness that is this…

      FIVE-PART
      EPIC MINISERIES
      VIDEO PODCASTING
      EVENT!

      *explosions — screams — kittens and puppies*

      (And if you really dig what you’re seeing, the rest will be made available in installments at Imagine That! Studios. Thanks for playing along, everyone, and thank you, Jason, for the “Epic Miniseries” idea. Nice way to kick off a week!)

      Some Halloween fun…

      My kid’s day school teacher heard (from my mother-in-law) that I used to be a professional puppeteer. She asked me if I would be interested in putting on a show for her kids. Even with the schedule I have, I couldn’t refuse because this was for Sonic Boom.

      I was told to come up with something that the kids would enjoy, and following a History Channel documentary on Halloween, some shopping on the official store of TAPS and Puppet Universe, and a night of testing sound equipment and recording rigs, this was the end result. As I found myself flying completely solo in the morning, I can’t say this footage will be winning me a Parsec anytime soon…

      …but it was a lot of fun, and it will probably not be my last trip there. Laugh with me, or laugh at me — you choose. Whatever the case, Happy Halloween!