It’s about time we all experienced Brother X

This is a very important post to me because it is about a family dealing with gender transition. We have seen and heard so much about this topic but I feel like we still haven’t really begun to understand it. It seems like empathy is one of the most difficult things we allow ourselves to feel and it appears to be even more so when it comes to issues of gender. I’m not sure why that is, perhaps none of us want to face our own inner turmoil. Although not all of us struggle with our gender, each of us sure do struggle with something in our own lives. Maybe we just don’t want to face all of our own emotions and for some, I am sure the unknown scares the hell out of them.

Brother X is a very personal story of a brother struggling to come to terms with his new brother’s gender and his own inner turmoil at the same time. I’m hoping it helps all of us to understand this issue of transgendered and transitioning people and that it will help us find empathy for them. No one deserved to be ostracized for who they really are and no one should ever have to suppress their true selves to please family, society, or anyone.

Connor DeMita and Elliot Fletcher were so open in our interview. It was truly an honor to be able to talk to them about the film, about life, and about what they feel the transgendered and transitioning community need from us most. I hope everyone will consider supporting this film because I feel it is a story that must be told and one we need to hear. This isn’t just a news story or a passing phase. This is real life for so many and something that doesn’t need to be such a burden nor a struggle.

Elliot will also be on The Fosters on Freeform TV and I am sure his storyline there will help many as well. I am so in love with that show and the way they handle the issues families face today. Please be sure to check him out there too! I know I will be watching!

Q: Tell me a little about Brother X. What made you want to tell this story?

Conner: BROTHER X is a semi-autobiographical independent short film. It’s the story of a young man in suburban Los Angeles who must learn how to cope with his sibling’s gender transition. While he cannot bring himself to understand his new brother’s experience, he himself spends his nights clubbing in Hollywood dressed as a woman.

The root of the film is derived from personal experience with my own brother, Elliot. When Elliot was transitioning, I was not considerate or even very friendly. I failed as a brother. But my resistance to his transition was not because of any ideological disagreements I have with the concept of being transgender; it was due to a resentment I felt as a child who grew up making a point of never asking anyone else for help. In realizing that I held this resentment, I started to gain a greater understanding of the machinations of my own identity. I began to look at the beliefs I held and inspect them without passing judgment, but attempted to learn their origins and appreciate how they influenced my actions. Throughout that process, I began to understand the dissonances in myself, and that experience is what Brother X is about.

Q: What do you think transitioning and transgender individuals need the world to understand the most?

Conner: The world needs to understand that the trans experience is just as valid and important as all human experiences. All people undergo a process of discovery and development of identity, regardless or their denomination. It deserves the respect that all experiences of self-discovery should receive.

Elliot: The world needs to know that trans people are just people, and the fact that we’re being alienated and discriminated against is unjust. We are just human beings like everyone else. We’re just being our authentic selves, we’re not hurting anyone.

Q: Did you have any reservations or resistance from others about telling the story?

Conner: I personally had a fear of telling the story because of the very personal nature of it. It depicts a character that behaves in a way that reflects how I behaved to my brother, and that I’m not proud of. Elliot also had concerns when I approached him to make the film, because he knows better than anyone that this story is incredibly personal for both of us.

Q: Where can we find out more about the film and the crowdsourcing?

Conner: You can learn more about the film at http://brotherxfilm.com and you can donate at https://igg.me/at/brotherx/x/.

Even after the IndieGoGo ends, you can donate directly through our website. And because of our partnership with Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts organization, all donations are tax deductible!

Q: Where can we find each of you and anyone involved in the film online?

Conner: @connerdemita on twitter and instagram. https://vimeo.com/connerdemita

Elliot: Twitter: @elliotfgf , Tumblr: efgf.tumblr.com , Instagram: @elliotfgf ,

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elliotfgf/

Q: What is the best advice you’ve ever received? Who was it from?

Conner: The best advice I’ve ever received was from one of my college professors. Darrell Wilson, who teaches experimental film at NYU, has always encouraged me to embrace the un-embraceable, both in myself and in the world.

Elliot: To be open. Don’t be afraid to do what you want to do, and be who you want to be. And to make friends. From my mom.

Q: What is the best advice you’ve ever given? Are you good at taking your own advice?

Conner: If you don’t like the food you don’t have to eat it. No.

Elliot: Take care of yourself. Make sure to always check in with yourself and make sure you’re okay. No.

 Q: What’s one thing you absolutely cannot live without and one thing you wish we could all live without? 

Conner: I could probably live without the Internet, but I would struggle greatly not having the ease of access to a nearly infinite pool of information. It’s too addictive. I wish we could all live without having to sleep. As much as I enjoy sleep, I wish it could be an act of leisure and not a necessity.

Elliot: My phone. Our phones.

 

brotherxfilm.com

https://igg.me/at/brotherx/x/

Allow Aris to Raise your Pulse with his Music

I have been friends with recording artist and performer Aris for a few years now. I enjoy the conversations we have off the record but am honored to be interviewing him so you all can get to know him a bit better! Since the first time I sat down to talk to him, I have found him to be insightful, authentic, and passionate about his work. As a fan of music, I find him to be unique, talented, and genuine as an artist. I believe those of you who read my blog, follow me on Twitter or anywhere in social media will enjoy his music as well. If you live in the NYC area, you may want to catch him at one of his upcoming performances as well!
Q: First, congratulations on the new album, Pulse! Tell me a little about the process of making this album and your process in general when creating new music.

Aris: Thank you Tommy!! I feel like I’m having a baby! I’ve been working on this album for the last year and a half. I started writing it when I finished writing my last album “Twilight Revival”. I set out with the goal to write an album that would celebrate love and life and keep people on their feet dancing.

My last album was more of a rock record with dance elements, where this album is primarily a dance album, weaving in rock, soul and world sounds. I set out to right a really universal, uplifting album. The last album was written while I was going through a lot of heartbreak and stresses in life, so the themes were darker. I wanted this album to be a solace, a shinning light. I channeled a lot of 90s pop and dance influences, soul music and eastern soundscapes. There’s a lot of soaring hooks and big choruses, and really emotional vocals.

I set out to keep the lyrics more universal, and for every track to move not only your heart and soul but also your
body. Even the slower tracks are built around solid grooves. I named the album Pulse because our heart and our pulse
are our body’s drum, carrying us through the rhythm of life. In the past I’ve let the songs have more space to fall
into other genres, but this time around I wanted a thematic record that would work great live and on the dance floor,
and I drew elements of inspiration from albums like Madonna’s “Confession on a Dancefloor” and Kelis’ “Fleshtone”.
Q: I know you have a Kickstarter for this album. What goodies are you offering fans who contribute? Where can we find out more about it?

Aris: Yes! I have  3 weeks left on my Kickstarter campaign (ending on February 21st!)

I’m utilizing the platform to help finish funding and distribution of the record, and I’m using it as an album pre-sale.
I’m also offering a variety of special merchandise and experiences for higher pledges.
I’m offering a deluxe digital album with several exclusive bonus tracks, and also offering original pieces of art,
private concerts, songwriting sessions, even home cooked meals, nights on the town, and all access passes for life to
all my live shows.
Every pledge of $20 or more also comes with a “best of” EP, and there’s a bunch more goodies too!
You can join the pre-sale, get a sneak peek of some new music and find out more at:

Q: How important is crowdfunding for today’s artists and have you seen it change in the last few years?

Aris: Crowdfunding is a huge platform for independent artists. Over the last couple of years I’ve seen a lot of artists use sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo to back their albums, generate buzz and also connect with their fans and offer a special pre-sale experience.

Someone actually  raised $55,492 on Kickstarter to make Potato Salad! It’s hard to grasp that, but it actually happened! In comparison,  my goal to make and distribute my new album “Pulse” is far more modest, and it will last much longer and be more universal than any combination of potatoes and mayonnaise!

For me as an independent artist, I’ve self-funded all my work every step of the way for the last 5 years. In that
time, the music industry has changed so much, and few people actually purchase music. This Kickstarter is a huge help
to me in that it allows me to actually have a budget for recording the album, to do it in a timely fashion, and to be
able to give the recordings value via the pre-sale. It also allows my listeners to be a part of the process from early on.
Q: More Congratulations are in order on your OUTMusic Award nominations, can you tell me a little about why it was important to you and how it felt to be recognized by such an organization?
Aris: When I found out I was nominated in 5 categories at the 9th annual OUTmusic awards, I was beyond thrilled . It was a

huge honor to have the work from my last album “twilight revival” recognized. I was most moved by the nomination for
producer of the year. The organization in the past has honored a lot of prominent LGBT artists, and to me being
nominated felt like the community understood and appreciated what I’m doing. It felt like coming home.
Q: The honor was sort of bitter-sweet. I’ve read that they were charging the artists $100 per ticket but that the 

event was postponed without a new date. We’ve spoken about it but can you tell us a little about that?
Aris: Yes, it was definitely bittersweet. Shortly after the nominees were announced, the artists involved received an email

from the organization telling us we had to purchase $100 “nominee tickets” or else we would not be allowed to walk the
red carpet, to sit with the other nominees or to be featured in the documentary the organization was filming.
Something felt very wrong about paying the highest ticket premium to be in attendance to possibly win an award. It
seemed really lob sided especially since they were selling general admission tickets for $25.
Many artists like myself took the risk because sometimes as independent musicians you have to invest in things hoping
they carry you further. It was money I otherwise would have spent recording new music, but it seemed like it could be
a good promotional opportunity.
It really was a huge shock and very alarming when an email came roughly 24 hours before the event saying it was
postponed until an undetermined date, for reasons not disclosed, and that the organization would NOT be issuing
refunds. This actually wasn’t the first time that the OUTmusic awards were postponed, and there seems to be a trail of
murky business practices in the past, so it’s all very disheartening.
Q: Do you think they took advantage of the artists so that they could afford to hold a different ceremony that they held for bigger names like Deborah Cox? I’m sure the bigger names would not be happy if they knew these circumstances.
Aris: I wish I knew the real motivations of the organization and I wish there was a lot more transparency about how the

money they collected was spent.  It was very disappointing to find out that in place of the awards ceremony, the
organization would be having a “reception for the celebrity artists, such as OUTMusic Award Honoree Deborah Cox and
Monifah Carter, Omar Thomas and superstar recording artist Jonte Moaning as well as many others who journeyed to New
York City for the Awards.” (to quote the official email from OUTmusic)
What’s most upsetting about what happened is, none of the actual nominees were celebrated, and instead the focus was
put on “celebrity” artists the organization hand-selected. Since we really don’t have any transparency about their accounting
practices, we can only speculate that the nominees’ money went to fund this other event.  Also OUTmusic claims non-profit
status, but when looking into their organization, it becomes clear that they may be fudging their taxes and
involved in unethical business practices. I think it’s sad that an organization that frames itself as champions of LGBT
artists would take advantage of the very artists it was supposed to be celebrating. I seem to have been one of the
most out-spoken artists regarding this situation, and it’s also caught the eye of former Village Voice columnist
Michael Musto. Hopefully soon we will all be able to get to the truth about what really happened and why.
Q: What do you think artists can do to avoid being taken advantage of or do you think this is all part of the business and learning process?
Aris: I think the best lesson to be learned is, do NOT pay to play. And do your research! Google is an amazing tool to help

artists understand the validity and reputation of organizations/groups/etc. Before getting involved in something, do
your homework! Also, never lower or diminish your self worth to be included in anything!
Sell up, don’t sell out. Choose your partnerships and associations wisely!
There’s a certain level of investment that comes with the territory of being an artist. Just make sure you are
investing in something that is honorable, effective and beneficial!
Q: What else is coming up for Aris, the artist? Performances? Appearances?
Aris: I’ll be spending the next couple months finalizing my new album and preparing the release of the first single and

video from the album, along with putting together several photo shoots to accompany the release.
I also have some upcoming performances in the next 6 weeks in NYC that I am excited about!
* Friday February 13th at BPM in NYC (time TBA)
* Sunday March 1st at the LGBT expo at the Jacob Javits Center (time TBA)
* Friday March 6th at Triad in NYC (time and additional info soon to be announced)
(Updates regarding these appearances will be posted on my official website at www.aris.fm)
Q: Where can we find you online to keep up with you and your music?
Aris: I’ll be sharing updated about my upcoming album “Pulse” on social media, as well as on Kickstarter.  I also archive

everything on my official website. Connect with me! Share your voice, your feelings and your stories. I read
everything!

Throuple is the Little Drama that Should and Could with your help

I have known James Townsend for a few years now as an artist and photographer but I was recently introduced to another side of him, Filmmaker. I came across some information about a film he is trying to fund called “Throuple” when I found a group he has on Facebook.
The concept of the “Throuple” is fascinating to me from a psychological standpoint because relationships have changed so much and continue to do so all the time. Traditional values may not work for some people while for others it is all they are comfortable with. Is there a right and wrong or does it depend on the individuals involved and the circumstances?
I was very happy to be able to interview James about it since this is the first time we have really gotten to talk in depth and I was interested to learn more about him as well as “Throuple”.
Q: Throuple was originally a 2007 project. Can you tell me a little about what happened that stalled it and why you decided to resurrect it?
JT: THROUPLE began in late 2007 as a small character drama centered on what attributes define, make and break a relationship. At the time, I had just wrapped production on another psychological-thriller, A SIREN IN THE DARK, and THROUPLE was to be a quick little project to stir some creative drive until a larger project would move forward. The original idea of THROUPLE had been there from the start. Some of the story was sparked from personal experiences with cheating boyfriends of the past and the conflict of having been in a long-term relationship previously with someone myself, but knowing I was still in love with someone else outside of things. While I had the basic plot in focus, there was still a lot to be explored by it. I wanted the film to be small, intimate and even claustrophobic, with its minimal locations and next-to-nothing list of characters… think Richard Linklater’s “TAPE”… or Roman Polanski’s “Carnage”– pieces that resulted in great tension and character breakdowns without much overall action… 

In trying to bring the story full circle, my friend Caleb Carter got involved. We had a lot of similar tastes in film and in turn, our storytelling meshed well. With Caleb, as a co-writer, the film started taking a darker twist, allowing it to meander from reality to dream, present to past and future, in a more philosophical yet nightmarish way…

Originally we had very little budget for THROUPLE… We had cast and crew working for meal/credit and hopefully deferred pay. We were filming it on nonconsecutive days in our spare time when we were able to get everyone together based on their work schedules, etc. We were paying for everything needed from our own pockets. Needless to say, it was a difficult task and wore people thin on patience. We were having to cut a lot of corners due to certain agreements falling through with locations originally offered for free, having people simply not show up to help out as promised for various reasons etc. It got to the point that we actually built the recurring “dive-bar” in the story, in my living room, since the location we had planned to use backed out… THROUPLE was really pulling at our creative drive and making us utilize what we had on mere pennies. 

We reached the point that we had about three days of filming left, and we found ourselves at a stand-still… People had left town for work or vacations, school had started back up again– I was moving to a new apartment, which became a huge obstacle, as 90% of the film took place in my current residence… With so many holes in our path, we decided to take a breather. 
With everyone being so busy with conflicting schedules, it was difficult to get back on track but we knew it had to be done. We were so close to being finished. Several months passed and I wound up calling Caleb specifically about the film and we brainstormed on how we could make it work, being that we no longer had access to the original apartment, etc. We decided to just utilize what we had, establish in the story that the characters had moved or whatnot– implement some lines and a scene or two to warrant such changes… We were going to make it work. Caleb seemed energized and ready to go. I immediately started putting word out to those involved, so that we could schedule things out… It never panned out.

About a week or so later, in February 2009, I logged onto Facebook one morning as I always do and stumbled upon some posts… Caleb had passed away. Over the next few days, more would come forward about his death… he had taken his own life. I instantly lost interest in the film. We had lost one of our lead actors, and more importantly a good friend…

Over the years, THROUPLE, has come in and out of my mind. At some point we did try to finish it by pulling a David Lynch type trick and having characters change identity so that we could finish their roles with new actors. It was a disaster and I shelved the project feeling that it would be unfair on too many levels to pull such an antic.

For the past year or so, the film hadn’t really crossed my mind much. But, recently I found an original hardcopy of the script in a box I was going through. It had all of our handwritten notes, doodles, inside jokes, etc. scribbled on its pages. I sat down to read it, following along with the notes included. I just had this huge urge to make it all come to reality… with a new cast and a few rewrites and needed updates. I hope to move forward… to make the film from start to finish with the budget and attention it deserves… while being able to show some of the original footage, behind the scenes moments, etc. to shed light on the history of the project and bring it to a close properly… That strong urge do to get it produced and released feels a lot like Caleb yelling at me to simply do so! 

Q: The concept of Throuple is about three people getting into a romantic relationship. Do you think that such a thing is possible without it getting complicated or someone getting hurt?
JT: Everyone is different on their ideas of love and relationships. I have known most people to believe that strictly one partner is the correct thing… Yet, others believe in open-relationships… And, I’ve even known some that believe in “sets” (whereas there are multiple partners all under one roof and everyone belongs to everyone). For me, I can’t say anything but one person at a time would work romantically. But, there are so many different forms of love and understanding when it comes to relationships, that some of these less common make-ups could definitely work better for others…
In THROUPLE you see these characters move forward with what seems to be one-on-one relationships… But, as the layers are pulled back, things are not quite what they seem. They sort of find themselves in this forced situation of “love” as they are unable to define what it is one or the other wants. There is a lot of compromise involved that leads to people getting hurt, going behind each others’ backs, manipulating events for their own attention, etc.
Every relationship has moments of hurt and jealousy and complication… Nothing is ever perfect. With THROUPLE, we see that from the one-on-one on into the “permanent threesome” (as some have called it) that occurs. However, how it pans out in the end– that is all up to the individual and their own personal beliefs and paths of love. 
Q: Do you think the theme of the film is more controversial because it is about three homosexual men? Do you think it would be less so if it were two men and one woman or two women and one man?
JT: We tend to only really see these sort of “threesome” relationships when it comes to comedy films. Even then, it is usually a case of trying to keep “so and so” a secret from one another… I really can’t think of a film that has explored such subject matter in a dark psychological way as THROUPLE attempts to do.
As for all male… or two women and one man… or vice versa… Hate to say it, but society is still more accepting of such a plot or relationship device if it is a mix of man-woman.
THROUPLE would be controversial on any level though as it does explore relationships with more than one person involved, cheating, addiction, abuse, and some other dark and twisted things we shall keep as a surprise! 
Q: Do you think we will ever see a day where art is not described as “gay themed”? Are we making strides in the direction where all films would be human stories?
JT: “Gay Themed” has basically become its own film genre. While there are so many facets to it– comedy, drama, horror and everything in between, it still seems that if you have gay characters or plot lines, a lot of people are still going to refer to it as “that gay movie”. I do think it is getting better though… the ‘gay themed’ tag doesnt seem to be as prevalent as it was a few years ago. Even despite all the critical and audience acclaim for BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN the joke or reference of “that gay movie” was very strong… Today, you have films like THE NORMAL HEART sweeping the Emmy nominations and getting the same critical acclaim but the tag of “gay themed” has seemed to lesson. Perhaps people are starting to focus more on the actual storylines rather than just the sexuality of the characters. 
I think as long as “gay themed” films focus on creating well rounded characters, rather than stereotypes, and allow themselves to tell stories that could easily be told with a straight cast as well, we break out of that box of categorization that we were put into. For so long, it seemed that the gay character always had to be the closeted or flamboyant guy, trying on his best girl friends shoes and delivering every line with sass. Films are getting away from that… There are more and more films where the gay character are real life, well-rounded, everyday representations… The gay characters are slowly but surely being written and portrayed not as “characters” but as believable, real life people… 
Q: In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge facing Indie artists and projects today? Has it gotten easier as time has gone on and people have become more familiar with crowd-funding?
JT: Technology! The technological advancements have been amazing and yet at the same time, they have made the indie world of film so much more difficult on so many levels. As cameras and other equipment get smaller and more powerful, and even more inexpensive compared to years ago, it seems that anyone and everyone that has a camera is out there producing content. It has gotten very competitive because with so many positive attributes of today’s technological advancements, it is really easy to put together a web series, or get some friends together and make a film on limited funds, etc. The need to have huge trailers of equipment and large crews etc is diminishing in many levels for film. Another facet is distribution! DVD sales are far from being as successful as they were just a few short years ago. So many things are going digital and V.O.D.– people are not buying films in a tangible medium like they used to. So, profits are obviously down. And, with so many low budget films being made so quickly and easily, the options are much greater… Distributors are feeling the crunch too. Rather than invest to produce actual original content, they are relaying on pre-made films that they can scoop up from the festival circuit and license cheaply for distribution…
With crowd-funding, there seems to be an over saturation. Going onto social media, it seems everyone is crowdfunding for something these days. I admire the people that set out, do it and make it happen, for creative causes or things more important like health matters, etc. But, as crowdfunding becomes more and more popular, a lot of people are using it as a quick money maker and it is turning away a lot of people that have lost patience for it. For, now we have college kids funding their spring break vacations and people making $50,000 for raising funds for potato salad. It has become a joke, or sort of a competition in a way– like, what stupid idea can we do to make money?! It can be very frustrating to see some guy post a potato-salad joke and bring in endless cash… while you see struggling artists and people in even more important need, raking in a few pennies despite their drive, talent, and passion  or overall need. 
Q: Where can we find you, James Townsend, online?
JT: Oh, I am not hard to find. Simply google my name or “JTownsendPhotos” and I usually turn up a lot of pages… 
For photography, we my official site is down you can find me on Tumblr (http://jtownsendphotos.tumblr.com) as well as related sites such as ModelMayhem and OneModelPlace…
Facebook: facebook.com/jtownsendphotos
Q: Where can we find out more information about Throuple and donate to the campaign?
JT: THROUPLE’S official facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/ThroupleMovie
Our indiegogo crowdfunding campaign is: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/throuple–4/x/33566 
Q: I know you have other projects going on and you are also into photography. Anything to share on those fronts? 
JT: The most recent project was a horror-comedy entitled KISSING DARKNESS. I wrote and directed the film and it starred Sean Paul Lockhart and Ronnie Kroell. It is newly available on Amazon. I hope to have more information on its overall distribution/release soon!
Aside from that, I am also in preproduction for a comedic webseries entitled DOG HAUS (
https://www.facebook.com/doghausseries ) . It is in association with LA Based clothing company WhiteyTighties.com and follows the antics of a gay couple that find themselves out of work unexpectedly. In a chain of comic events, they wind up launching a hot-dog company and things get even more complicated. It’s like THE ODD COUPLE meets 2 BROKE GIRLS! We are currently recasting a few roles and then hope to film our pilot and launch crowdfunding for the rest of the season, which we have planned at 10 episodes, within the next several weeks. 
While all this is happening, I am available for photographic needs!!! Check out some of my photography at:http://jtownsendphotos.tumblr.com and/or follow me on FB at: https://www.facebook.com/JTownsendPhotosPage (note the Tumblr gets updated almost daily, but it does contain some NSFW photographs!!!) 

Vampire Mob is Transforming Into a Graphic Novel and YOU can help!

I have had the pleasure of knowing Joe Wilson, creator of Vampire Mob and PlayShorts for a few years now and I know a few things about him FOR SURE. He is someone who has storytelling in his blood, he HAS to tell those stories, he knows how to tell a story, and he knows how to bring those stories to life.

Joe has navigated the ever changing world of entertainment with the most inspiring attitude and ingenious ideas. It isn’t always easy to stay afloat in a sea that is rough, cut throat, and sometimes just doesn’t make any sense. The atmosphere of television and movies has changed so much. After speaking with Joe, and others, I think it has changed for the good because it had changed for the bad and there was just no other way to make it in the business unless the players found ways to change the rules themselves.

This change created a whole new field where fans can benefit from being involved in projects, giving input, and having more access to the people telling stories and creating our entertainment. Of course, this also allows anyone with a camera and knowledge of the lingo a shot at breaking in now too but with the fans being more involved, I think we are seeing that we are a little smarter than the Hollywood executives give us credit for.

Joe knows this and utilizes social media to stay in touch with savvy fans from all over the world. He created Vampire Mob for the fans and was such a fan of the actors involved that the Graphic Novel was born from that admiration.  When Marcia Wallace passed away, Joe needed a way to continue to tell the story with her character still involved and a Graphic Novel was the way to do it!

You tell me what Hollywood execs would be that dedicated to their stars?

I have had the honor of interviewing Joe Wilson a few times and the joy of meeting him for coffee when I am in LA for some of the best conversations ever!

I hope you enjoy the interview and are inspired to visit the Indiegogo page to donate even just a little. Every bit helps but there are some awesome perks to check out that I am sure you will enjoy!

Click the image to see for yourself:

Q: How did the idea to turn Vampire Mob into a comic/graphic novel come about?

Joe Wilson:  I really love this story and wanted to continue telling it, but without Marcia Wallace I would either have to recast her character or rewrite the story, neither of which felt right.Creating a graphic novel of Vampire Mob would let us imagine it’s Marcia saying the words on the page and that feels like the right way to continue this story.

Q: Do you expect the comics/graphic novels to open Vampire Mob up to a whole new fan base?

JW: Anything is possible.

The people who are contributing to create the graphic novel (Like you! Thank YOU!) are some of the same audience members who helped created the live action series and the anthology series I started last year, PlayShorts (http://www.PlayShorts.com), but I’m definitely seeing a lot of new names, which is extremely cool.

Because the show started in June, 2010, there’s been time for more people to find it and that has been a lot of fun to watch happen.

Q: How has the reaction been from the existing fans? I know they are an extremely supportive and vocal group. 

JW: I have heard nothing but good things from the killer audience who helps make Vampire Mob.

As I’ve been leaking parts of the graphic novel, more people are getting an idea what the world will look like and the response has been like coffee for me to keep making it happen!

There would be no Vampire Mob without the Supporting Mob who helps me tell this story.

Q: What have you learned from the process of turning a show into a comic/graphic novel?

JW: I kinda had to go back to school to learn how to do this.

I was not familiar with any part of the process and spent a lot of time talking to people and reading and learning, something I am still doing.

A giant resource for this project is Scott McCloud’s three books on the art form of comics, starting with “Understanding Comics.” It took a long time to wrap my head around the ideas and, again, I’m still doing so with a lot of help. If you’re thinking a graphic novel or comic book is just a storyboard with words, you’re wrong. I also read a lot of comics and graphic novels. “Torso” bent my brain.

Corey Blake (http://www.comicbookresources.com/author/corey-blake) is the creative consultant on Vampire Mob, Issue 1 and he knows a fuckton more about the story-form than I do. Corey’s been giving notes on the script and all the drawings for each page.

Currently the cover of VMob Issue 1 and three pages have been drawn and inked by Artist JM Ringuet (jmringuet.com) and Letterer, Deron Bennett (http://andworlddesign.com/) is putting the words and sound on the pages.

We’re creating the graphic novel at the same time we’re raising the budget to create it.

Q: What were some of the challenges you faced taking on this project?

JW: I can’t draw for shit.

When I’m normally the person who writes, directs, operates one of the cameras while we’re shooting and I do all the post-production, this has been quite the transition.

I love the work of JM Ringuet and Deron Bennett and they’re creating ways of telling the story I couldn’t come up with. The process is going really well and watching the story go from script to finished page is a tremendous amount of fun!

The big challenge at the moment is raising the budget to create the rest of the book.

Q: Will we see any new seasons of Vampire Mob, the show?

JW: I honestly don’t know.

Continuing the story as a graphic novel creates a lot of options I didn’t have shooting Vampire Mob as a live-action series.

There were some mistakes made creating VMob as a series and the biggest one I made was waiting instead of asking the audience for help.

Anything can happen, but at the moment, I don’t see the series returning to production any time soon.

There’s a lot of Vampire Mob written and waiting to be told and I think telling that story as a graphic novel is the best way to continue without Marcia Wallace.

I’ll be shooting the next episode of PlayShorts very soon and there are over 30 scripts for that series written and waiting, with me writing more episodes.

There’s also some more stories cooking!

 

Big thanks to Joe for doing the interview and for all the chats in LA over coffee. Also, look out for Issue #1 of the Vampire Mob graphic novel, you will see me in there too!!!

Social Media is not a Genie

I have noticed as of late that more and more people have been treating Social Media as a wish granting mechanism. It really isn’t a magic fix-all, nor is it something you can just turn to when you need something like publicity or to raise money.

If you suddenly join social sites or become highly active when you weren’t previously, you aren’t getting the point of the platform at all. It takes years to build a community (not an audience) and to create trust. If you are authentic, genuine, and contribute as much as you take, you will have a chance to introduce your idea or product down the line.

Unless you are a true celebrity, and not one because you say so, you cannot blankly tweet or post things without interaction. Very few people want to be posted at. They want to be spoken too, engaged, and know you are more than just a fat head who thinks they are THE expert on anything.

Just as in dating or creating friendships, you don’t start off by asking for favors upon your first meeting. If your product or service is worthwhile, people will see that and your community will respond in kind. If you jump on, ask for money or support without ever having created the relationship, you will most likely be met with much opposition and understandable suspicion.

Having a phenomenal idea, being able to make it look fancy and flashy, and saying all the right buzzwords is a complete waste of time if you haven’t established yourself first. There may be those few ideas that are so incredibly desirable that you knock it out of the park without following the formula but those are such long shots, I wouldn’t take the chance.

The average person on social media is much more savvy than most people who are preying on us think.

I see individuals doing this fundraising thing right and I see them doing it wrong every day. You don’t have to be a Veronica Mars to be successful but you do have to play by the rules and follow the formula if you even want to have a shot at a successful campaign. Approach it from the wrong angle and you will most definitely create a reputation for yourself that you don’t want and one you may never recover from.

Also, be aware that if you aren’t 100% genuine about your pitch or the reasons behind your plea, most people will smell it in an instant and others will catch on in time.

It may sound cliche but there really are no shortcuts in life. You must do the work in order to succeed, there is no way around that. I’m no expert but you try doing it another way and please let me know how that works out for you.