With todays prompt from Jetpack via WordPress, I was pretty pumped to share my story… because it’s a SPOOKY one! Bwahahahahaahahahaha!!!
Okay, maybe not spooky enough to warrant all the maniacal laughter but it does had a nice chill and thrill to the day. I’m speaking of my favorite online radio site; Halloween Radio.
While there are a handful of Halloween themed online radio stations and playlists available, they all pale in comparison to what you will be treated to at Halloweenradio.net . Plus, being working as a traditional radio station, the playlist never stops and you never know exactly what your going to get. So suspenseful! However there are options available via the main page.
You can choose from oldies, the main feed, kid friendly or ambient sounds in regards to the channels they offer. Each and every one of them go far beyond “The Monster Mash” and Michael Jackson’s “”Thriller”. Way beyond!
There are so many tunes from the genre out there that if you’re a fan of the creepiest time of the year, Halloween Radio will most seriously make you scream with delight all year round!
My name is Jim Bumgardner, life long learner and storyteller. It is in that truth that I open myself up to you in this “brave new world” not for self aggrandizing but instead to allow you to get to know the person on the other side of your screen who is working diligently and with intent to share with you the skills and talents that I have acquired during my journey that I have no doubt can and will add value to both your and my life.
As of this writing, I am 49 years old and have lived in Harrison, Arkansas since 2008. I have been married to Alicia for 15 years and am the father of Kaitlynn, who is now 13. I am originally from Little Rock, Arkansas where I began my professional career in radio broadcasting in 1990 while I was still in high school. Prior to radio I had served for a time as a correspondence writer for both the Arkansas Democrat and Arkansas Gazette as part of the schools journalism program where I also served as features editor for the school paper for all three years of my time there. During that time I was also in a band with some friends playing a weird mix of covers and original songs that had a 90’s acoustic rock vibe.
Following graduation in 1992, I began taking my radio career seriously and went on to work in the industry through 1997 at radio stations in Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. I served as an on air talent as well as program director during those years. I stepped away from the business in 1997 and went to work for a major movie theater chain as a General Manager through 2001. It was at that time, the broadcasting bug returned but more importantly the movie making bug had also settled in.
As it would go, the desires of making moving pictures overtook the limitations of what a changing radio broadcasting industry had become. I then set my sights on producing films and television programs up until 2006 when I felt I needed a break from it all and settled down for two years in Branson, Missouri. It was in this time that I retreated back to the “safety and security” of a regular retail job lifestyle that wasn’t really “regular’. During that period I was working two full time positions and 2 part time. The two full time were diametrically different niche’s. One being selling dishes and other table top dining accessories and the other being toys at one of the major retail toy companies. The two part time jobs involved casual clothing and shoe sales and the other , professional and formal wear for men.
The reasons for all of the work was less about the money as it was about helping out some friends I had made a long the way. There simply wasn’t enough people to fill the slots and my personality made me a great salesman and my organization skills made me very handy in the warehouse and on the floor. To note, I was also single at the time and had no desire to settle down. The work ethic that evolved during my “previous careers” made me a very reliable, go to guy. The reason for this, that those around me never could put their fingers on was that more than anything, I appreciated time and efficiency more than most. There is no industry like broadcasting (as it was back in those days especially) to really shore up one’s appreciation for every second on the clock. It was that ingrained training that kept me punctual and respectful of the commitments I would make to my fellow workers. Those principles remain my driving force and barometer to this day and surely on through to my last day.
It was in 2008 that all of that came to a halt as the time for change had been forced on me as the primary job was shuttered and the others were cutting back. Plus, an opportunity in radio threw itself at me and I was highly compelled to take the job. It was far from something I was actively pursuing but that soft voice that commands attention whispered in my ear and told me that was the direction I needed to go. I am so very grateful and thankful that I did. It was in this new chapter that Alicia and I met, married, had Kaitlynn and have shared quite a lot of awesome adventures together and as a trio.
It was in this whirlwind that I transitioned from radio to television to freelance video productions and then online content creation. Summarizing that very broad term, I began blogging, live streaming, creating targeted campaigns specifically for the online and social platforms and so on. It was a fantastic run through 2018 but then it was time to again step away, take a breath and a break and do something a little different. It wasn’t really all that different as I retreated once again to full time retail management all the while offering limited video production services to select clients. Then along came 2020.
It was during the period of 2020 thru 2023 that I stepped away from everything. Not in retreat as much as in reflection. I explored and participated in the “gig economy” for a couple of years, made a lot of observations along the way and then decided to reenter the “safety zone” that is full time retail management employment. As my cycle goes however, the need to throw caution to the wind and embrace my better nature as a content creator and service provider / consult and coach, I am now happily returning into that space with a fresh and clear understanding of where my skills, talents and abilities better suit those that I am fortunate enough to cross paths with on this journey of life. I’ll explain:
The principles, lessons, purposes and responsibilities of broadcasting will never leave me. Specifically speaking to my internal need to inform and entertain, to serve and to share. It is with that framework in mind that I make this promise to you: Rather you are a customer or highly respected audience member, I pledge the best form of myself as a creator, entertainer, and most importantly teacher. That last label is the one in which I truly strive to excel at because it is in that effort, I can add value to your and my life and in that there is no higher calling.
All around me I have surrounded myself with the plastic doppelgangers of my childhood. It’s at this moment I realize why: It was a time where we children of the children of the Baby Boom were granted an amazing opportunity to believe in something: The American Dream. From the Michael Jackson and Brooke Shields Dolls to the Super Hero action figures (celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Mego Corporation) to so many other memory triggers that I myself didn’t realize were so ingrained in my subconscious and personality thanks to these flashy totems. Each one for me serve as silent reminders of this for sure and it all came into focus after finishing up Michael Malice’s “The White Pill” audio book.
In this book Malice has weaved together an incredible telling of the rise and fall of the Soviet Union. From it’s shiny birth under Lenin to it’s gritty reality under Stalin, to it’s almost cartoon-ish evolution through Khrushchev and to it’s final demise under Gorbachev, “The White Pill” is one hell of an adventure story so full of tragedy and triumph that it is riveting from start to finish. I can not recommend it nearly enough. And not only for its impressive documentation of the for Soviet Union’s rise and fall but for me the importance of how that former “super power” shaped all of our Gen X lives. While there are plenty of things that happened that were very much sugar and candy coated for us growing up in the 70’s and 80’s and into adulthood in the 90’s, with the conclusion of the book, I can’t say I’ve ever felt as grateful to have been a child of the American Dream as I do now. We really had it incredibly good. Hell, even better than good.
It was in that decade of decadence that the 80’s are so famously recalled, that while there are some of those illusions that did bite us in the ass (hello large portions and diabetes and the belief in a retirement at 65 that would allow for a well earned break into our “golden years”, syke!) there are so many other things that we had and took for granted that the generations following us have been stripped of. Diluted and degraded with each new one. It’s in this that I do feel horrible for the Gen Y’s, Z’s, Millennial’s and whatever classification we’re up to now. From my perspective they really have been robbed. But ten again also tempered to see past a lot of the bullshit that we believed in and many still do. However. Not all of that bullshit was bad and it’s importance should be revered and remembered. I’m speaking now to that belief that while we all had responsibilities and obligations to be a good American (go to school, do your homework, get a job, and “do the right thing”) we were rewarded with some fantastic treats that I fear so many of aforementioned generations missed out on and will never get an opportunity to truly appreciate as we did.
Capitalism appeared to be working then. Not only that but winning. For the most part at least. It was certainly better than the lives lived by the communist counterparts that shared the timeline with us. Listening to Michael’s book did an amazing job of reminding me of that reality. Of course we as children were fed tons of rah rah and propaganda by the news and entertainment industries along with our sugary sweet cereals and Happy Meals which served as bookends between Saturday morning cartoons and trips to the malls, amusement parks, movie theaters, arena rock shows and of course the toy store. We really did have it good and have it all. And to think we weren’t even connected by way of a world wide web but instead prime time television, top 40 radio, movie theaters, video rental stores and “The Weekly World News”. Hell, for the first half of my childhood I didn’t even have cable television. More importantly however is that without that web, we still had a luxury that is most certainly a crime to have taken away from our children and grandchildren; a culture that kept us in real, organic communication and interactions with commonalities to talk about.
*** It’s at this point I am reflecting on how good a book “The White Pill” truly is as it has inspired these reflections and writing. For me that is the sign of a sincerely great piece of literature as it inspires critical thinking, reflection and a strong desire to collect all of those thoughts in a tangible and worthwhile manner. All the while I have a 3D model of a Mego Joker head printing behind me. Talk about taking stock in the blessings we have experienced in a mere 50 years!
Still, the main takeaway I want to emphasize in this write and recommendation, do seriously consider giving “The White Pill” a read or listen. I myself have become a big fan of audio books as they allow me to take it in and do other things since I’ve been programmed to multi task. Can’t say that’s good or bad but it is the way that works for me. Well worth the little over 9 hours time it takes to get a great recap of a truly dark and HORRIBLE system that was heartless, brutal and frankly, evil to those that its dictates and ideology was imposed upon. I will also go so far as to say that regardless of the label you ascribe to in this post pandemic world, know that the promises of socialism and communism that are being wrapped in packages of “equity and inclusion” are eerily and in some instances shockingly direct copies of the ideologies that led to that most horrific of societal systems.
The secondary takeaway is that I know for me the conclusion of that book has led to me rethinking a lot about aspects of my life as an American. While I can reflect on both the good and the bad, with the completion of that book, I can honestly say that I have never been more thankful and grateful to have been born in these 50 states. I hope and pray that you will experience the same or similar reaction and not take even one more moment for granted or be so dyed in the wool to your own perspective that may or may not be entirely your own.
Collecting nostalgia in a nostalgic way (and it’s as tough now as it was then).
Act 1 – The Challenge
If you were like me back in the golden age of going to the store with your Mom and Dad, I know you faced this challenge while standing in front of them with an armload of toys; “You have to pick one.” They delivered it in a way that made it sound so easy. Of course it wasn’t but you had to do what you had to do or be a brat about and loose the negotiation completely. Nobody wanted that.
It’s with that perspective and memory, I challenged myself as a parent now, to treat my collector habits like they did then. I could only pick one. Considering the choices it was just as tough now as it was then. Even though it was MY money! Still, it was a fun idea and would be a practice in self control. “What could warrant such a highly dramatic approach to buying a toy, Jim?” Four letters that followers of my online exploits know very well:
M E G O
Having went a little crazy on picking up the first series of 50th anniversary Worlds Greatest Superhero’s (Superman, Batman and Robin), the second series arrived at my local Walmart and I promised myself (and wife and daughter) that I would be a little more restrained in my impulses. But come on! There were now faithful reproductions of Aquaman and Shazam joined by new offerings (as if Mego made them back in the days of disco) of The Flash and Green Lantern to add to my block o’ nostalgia and collectors dream come true. It’s with that in mind that the challenge was born. And today was the day that I had to face the challenge.
Act 2 – What are the factors?
With the self imposed restrictions of my purchasing power agreed to, I walked into the Walmart here with a bunch of determining factors to consider:
So which one do I go with? What will the final decision be based on?
A. A faithful reproduction? Aquaman or Shazam
B. The new and exciting? The Flash or Green Lantern
C. The short packed? This was interesting too as it was a split between one of each classic vs new (2each Aquaman and The Flash’s and 4 each of Shazam and Green Lantern)
It was a serious dilemma I was facing but I was determined to make a logical (by my definition of logic that is) decision as to which one it was. One factor that was starting to come to the forefront of my selection process was to make it easier on myself by going chronologically. To go with which came first in the old days: Aquaman or Shazam. The newbies could wait. And as I was looking at them all and reverting back to my 6 year old self in 1979, something happened that was completely unprecedented in my neck of the woods:
John showed up.
Before I get to who John turned out to be, I must share the background and why his appearance had to be of some sort of dimensional enigma wrapped in a quagmire. You see dear reader, I am pretty much if not the only dyed in the wool, hardcore Mego fan in this neck of the world. I can prove this by point you back to earlier on this article of how I went a wee bit overboard with the series 1 assortment. I literally bought them all. Not at one time though. I spread the purchases out over several weeks as to not be one of “those guys” who hoards things. Sure it may look like it if you don’t know the story, but I don’t care. Those were fair shipping terms as far as I’m concerned. Plus, literally no one else was buying them here. Not one. To me that was a disrespectful shame and not an Afro t to the things I love to be allowed for too long. Hence my surprise when John walked up and politely asked me if I had grabbed the ones I wanted.
“What is happening here?” was the first question that popped into my head. “I’ve never seen this guy before. Is he a reseller? Is he looking to snatch away my precious plastic memories? What was this guys deal?!?” My rational journalistic mind snapped back into play and decided to just ask him. His answer was one for me that was of a serendipitous and maybe even divine intervention.
He was a fan.
Not only that but he was also a really good dude. I told him about my challenge and asked him if it was cool that I interview him for this most monumental encounter. He agreed and not at all awkward. You see, dear uninitiated to the collector world, we fanboys and fangirls share a kinship that knows no labels or limitations. It’s a wonderful thing.
Along with sharing his story of being from out of town but making it a point to pop into Walmarts along the way in search of these little prizes, he also shared so much about his connection to the toys and his hopes for kids to discover them as well. So many times his answers sounded like my own thoughts, words and deeds. I’m telling ya, gang, it was a fantastic exchange. That is until he posed the question back to me that I had started this journey off with; “So, which one are you going to pick?”
I had to pause due to this new x-factor which came in the form of John and the figures in his hands. I shared with him my points of consideration to which he completely understood. He also understood how the scale was now tipped with his selections. I’m not aging this was like a scene in a movie where the camera cuts into an extreme close up of the heroes eyes and we see the one bead of sweat appear and slide down his eyes… but it was close.
Scarcity. That would be my determining factor! But… it is MY money and this challenge is dumb and I might miss out on the one if I pick the other… damn it! So I grabbed them both. There was no shaming glance from John as it appeared my will power fell through and I put both Aquaman and The Flash into my handcart and we both headed toward the registers.
Before we made it all the way up though, I did need to touch base with my wife to see if there was anything else I did need to pick up before I left. Perhaps it was in this moment of responsibility, I made the internal judgement call to put one back. And I did.
*To note, John saw his three selections all the way to the end.
Act 3 The decision
So what did I do?
Who did I choose?
Why did I choose this one?
What is the moral of the story?
As I walked away from the collectibles section having returned The Flash to his spot amongst the remaining Shazam’s and Green Lantern’s, I looked down at the Aquaman in my hand basket and smiled. I had practiced self control and used (once again) my own form of collectors logic and justification in making this choice. I decided to proceed forward by staying chronological in my selection. Way back when, Aquaman was one of the original four including Superman, Batman and Robin so that made sense and also set the order of operations for my next pick ups in the coming days or weeks. I still want to give other fans a shot at them although, jumping ahead of the four Shazam’s to get to the now one lonely The Flash will be a chore I’m sure.
So the moral? Self control is still possible in an on demand, I want it now and not only that, it’s incredibly satisfying to know that in the most unexpected ways and at the most unexpected times, we all have opportunities to connect with like minded folks and share stories and moments so long as we’re willing to accept a challenge.
Now, Go Play!
If you liked this article, I’d truly appreciate it if you would take the couple seconds to time to like, comment, subscribe and share it far and wide. It would also be swell if you are in the market for Mego toys to stop by your local Walmart and pick one up there. I can’t speak from a position of authority in this but I do believe the more that sell at retail the longer the line will go on. But of course, supporting your favorite online retailer is a great thing to do too as they are truly committed to helping folks bring the magic literally home via the various shipping services available. Yet if all that fails or those avenues are out of stock, I would ask you to consider buying a Mego their official store on Amazon where I do get a piece of as an Amazon affiliate. And if you want to learn more about all things Mego consider joining the official Mego Ambassador group on Facebook for the latest news and informs straight from the source.
Consistent, far reaching content creation as easy as 1-2-3…
Having seen so many changes in the information and entertainment space over the past 30 years of my professional life, I’ve had the opportunity to become a dinosaur of sorts. Well, that is bad I allowed myself to go “extinct”. Instead, it was always a priority of mine to take the bill by the horns and learn and appreciate the pros and cons of all of the latest tools, techs and tactics that had come to improve or replace the last. It’s in this that I’ve come to understand that one thing is a constant throughout them all: the need for consistent content.
It’s in this that I have been wrangling for years with developing a method that would help those I had helped for decades in the broadcast space with content creation. Until the last ten years, commercial and non commercial copywriting, audio and video production and distribution especially where ruled by the gatekeepers of the transmitters. Those days are certainly long gone thanks in one part to the internet and the other 99 parts to social media platforms. There in lies a double edged sword for both myself and my former clients.
Recollecting the time way back in 2010 when Facebook, Twitter and even YouTube were still in their infancy (of sorts), I was thrilled at the possibilities. At the time, I was working at a small, sub market television station that even by then, was struggling for viewership. Shortsighted as I was, I saw the social landscape as a way to grow the audience by reaching more people. That was true of course but it was also like picking your own switch as we would say in the old redneck south (that’s a living term btw).
What I mean by that is that in pushing the social media platforms I was in effect poisoning my own waters. As my social media engagement grew, the demands and limitations of “must see TV” time commitments on viewers was becoming far more of a burden then before. I was fortunate in that I got to have one more “big broadcast hoorah” with an American Idol piggy back I put together. Just like the big guys version, folks could vote on that weeks talent roster following the airing of the program. I made it as simple as possible for them to do so by allowing folks to call, email, snail mail and even fax in their votes. The response was fantastic. Especially with the mail in option. I got stacks of letters in every day satisfying my feelings of success for the program and adding quite a few bucks into the USPS’s coffers for postage. Dopamine hits for likes are great and all but for me nothing can replace the feelings that came when the mail came to the office everyday. Digital encouragement can never compare to the physical for me. But I digress
Keep in mind you this was 2009 so even the smartphone was in its infancy among the masses in my region. But then came 2010 and things started moving at a warp speed as the smartphone quickly and rightfully so, made television and radios all the more irrelevant in instant information, this is where I get back on point with the need to evolve with the tools and tech. And why I at the time saw the benefits of social media outweighing the negative impacts it would have in an even shorter amount of time. Boy was that switch I picked far bigger and full of more thorns than I could have ever realized.
The positives however were really good at the outset. The social landscape actually helped sales for the station as the clients could then take the commercials produced and share them on their personal streams and they did… but… they then discovered that their customers were telling them how they saw their commercial on Facebook and not the broadcast airwaves. Uh oh. Oops. However, the opportunity still remained in producing the videos for the clients. That is until people really embraced that the selfie could be used for more than just duck lips. Welcome to the world the beginnings of the influencer. Oops and oops again.
The next few years continued to where we are today with all of the micro messaging hitting you from all sides. Now everybody everywhere is an influencer. The tech has allowed for anyone with a message to DIY the production and distribution processes. I won’t say if that’s any more good or bad because the outcome is in general, the same. Except of course for those who still remain scared of the modern tech. On some cases that even includes the most basic of websites.
As I write in free flow here, and the reflections of the past 14 years slamming into my mind like a hurricane season from hell, I must stop myself from recollecting too many details and getting back to the reason I invited y’all here today: the 1-2-3 Content Creation Method I’m now offering as a service or course. It stems from talking to many businesses around the state (Arkansas) that have the fears I mentioned. They also shared numerous horror stories of how they were taken by those who sold them web and content creation services over the decade that left them either cold or ripped off. In many cases those experiences left them as seeing only one option: just don’t do it. Period. That I feel and know is a mistake just as much as cutting advertising budgets during lean economic times. It’s in all of that I took to creating this stream lined and organized method that anyone can do and learn. Proof? It all starts with a story and I’ll guarantee that you have a million to tell about your business, civic organization or charity.
I truly loved telling those stories. Not just for commercial sake but more so for the human interest side of them. The good news if you will. It was and is great to learn about and taste test the offerings of the new BBQ joint on the corner but even more satisfying and flavorful for me was learning the story of how the place came to be. That’s where this modern era of information and entertainment distribution brings me lots of happiness: people are sharing those stories every day all day and available on demand. Sadly though there are those that I mentioned before gave up on this highway. Well, this is my way of helping them shake the nerves and embrace what they too can benefit from todays methods and tech if only they believed they could. I for one know they can. But I also know a little help is in order. In that is where I also know I can help.
Here’s something a little different. A dream of mine would be to have a themed fast food joint. To this end I took some characters I created years ago, mixed in some Showbiz Pizza with a splash of Space Ghost Coast to Coast and pack it all into a location similar to the house that Kroc built and I welcome you to “Max’s Monster Burger” where you can test the menu by trying our decedent and delicious “Monster Meal” with a burger, fries, drink, ghost shaped monster nuggets and of course a toy packed up in a cute box for easy eating on the go. This is of course a tie in to the TV show; “Conspiracy Cinema”. Welcome to the show, foolish mortals!
Let your imagination fly and watch what happens! Jim 03/06/2033
Time. The one thing everyone says they don’t have nearly enough of. In some ways that’s true but with the help of one of the greatest tools I’ve ever been exposed to, you can learn as I did how you can truly maximize every second. That tool? The “broadcast format clock” that has ruled radio and television stations and programs since 1922. And while those industries are pretty much passé in this modern era of on demand, whenever and whatever you want, when you want it, this foundational tool is still a valuable one that certainly has helped me in all things that go beyond the broadcast industry.
This course is totally free and for now only available through the website. I share this one as it is one that I’ve used successfully and feel it is my duty to share this insight and perspective to give you a very pragmatic way to achieve your goals, organize your life and spaces as well as many other uses in business and personal matters.
If this speaks to you then please follow Jim’s Toy Box and invite anyone you know to come along. The full course will be rolled out the week of March 6th.
Greetings dear readers! Getting back into the groove of being a good online neighbor, I wanted to share something with you that could very well help you if you are / have been struggling with video content creation. I will be updating this in the very near future but honestly, not much has changed fundamentally from when I first put this workshop together in 2014.
It will help you, your business and organization because these are the bare bones basics of going from idea to final cut. Do with it as you will and feel free to reach out with any questions you may have. Now, Class is back in session…
6 HourVideo Workshop
The method that helps you take control of your message, marketing and memories.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted
in any form or by any means without written permission from the author.
This workshop series is dedicated to all of the people who have ever wanted to learn something new but were never allowed to look behind the curtain. Never forget that education is a personal mission and one that you never have to give up on no matter your age, race, creed or religion.
This workbook is also dedicated to my wife Alicia and my daughter Kaitlynn for encouraging me to create this program as well as allowing me the time to write, produce and create.
And one final but very important shout out to my mentor and hero for life and beyond; Mr. Bob Gay. Bob was “that teacher” that took me under his wing, taught me how to speak, nurture my natural talents and inform me when I was being a complete idiot. For all of those things Bob I owe you so very much and will never forget that. Ever.
Jim – 10/21/2014
Table of Contents
Hour 1- History / Forming the Crew 7
Hour 2 – Brainstorming / Writing 10
Hour 3 – Storyboarding / Rehearsing 12
Hour 4 – Production 13
Hour 5 – Pre-Production 15
Hour 6 – Distribution / Marketing 17
About the Author 19
In 1999 I got bit by the film bug. Hard. I had been in broadcasting since my junior year in high school and fell in love with the art of creating entertainment for your ears. Prior to that I had already been introduced to the world of mass communication by way of serving as a correspondence writer for the town’s local newspaper. While I was never a fan of deadlines I did enjoy seeing my words in print. Sharing information and entertainment blossomed into what would become my career in multi media. But that blossoming didn’t come quickly or easily. In fact if not for sheer determination and being really stubborn it may never have happened at all.
You see, once the bug bit I knew I had to make a movie! But how? Where did you start? How do you start? Those questions led me on an almost Wizard of Oz like journey. The trick however was that there was no Tin Man, Cowardly Lion or Scarecrow or even a clearly marked Yellow Brick Road to help me on my journey. For that matter I didn’t even have a Toto to keep me company. There was one “good witch” at the beginning of my journey. His name was Joe and he worked at the Little Rock (Arkansas) film commission. I figured if anyone could point me in the right direction it would be those folks. He did but not in the way I was hoping. When I asked him how I should get into making films Joe very succinctly said to me; “First get a camera and then start shooting.” Of course at the time I had no idea how simply brilliant that statement was. Still that didn’t offer any true guidance and inspiration.
Having been fortunate to have went to a fantastic broadcasting class led by the man who would become my teacher, mentor and friend, Mr. Bob Gay I assumed that such an avenue existed for film instruction. I was wrong. There were courses available at the four year college in town but that was not what I was looking for. I wanted practical application not theory and a high price tag (and algebra). But at this same time technology was making a huge left turn and the curtain was becoming more and more shear. And today the walls of that celluloid auditorium are virtually gone along with the impossibly high costs of film and video production.
And now here we are with me offering to you my insight and experience with the hope that it will help you avoid the same pitfalls, detours and distractions that I wrangled with for a decade. While there are no guarantees for success in this rapidly changing industry, at the end of this workshop I do promise you this; you will have participated in a program that will have shown you the basics, allowed you to immediately apply what you have learned and have created a team project that will hopefully instill within you the desire to create more visual entertainment. All in the span of 6 hours.
With all of that said I want to strongly emphasize that the techniques I am sharing with you today are not the end all be all to video production. Like many things in this world there are many paths you can get to the same destination however these steps have served me well for a very long time and they work. And like all forms of art there is no “right or wrong” way to create entertainment. That’s talent and it can not be taught. It can be nurture and developed but not taught. The equipment however is more absolute. There’s only one way to turn stuff on and off and in some instances there are formulas that can actually help free up the creative process. I promise to show you those too. Now, let’s get to creating!
Hour 1 – History of Mass Communications and forming the crew
Today’s interconnected world of information and entertainment can make many of us take for granted the journey that came before. The history of mass communication is a fascinating one and to see how one grew from the influence of the others is actually pretty neat. Plus understanding where we came from can most certainly help us as to where we’re going. And that’s why I’d like to start the workshop off with a trip through time to explore the evolution of mass communication. Don’t worry I won’t go all the way back to cave paintings or hieroglyphs. The late 19th and all of the 20th Century’s will suffice.
*To note there is actually a lot of history prior to the dates listed below. Again for the sake of time and commonly accepted timelines of development we will go with these dates. I do however encourage all of you to do some of your own research into this fascinating history.
As we review we’ll discuss origins, peaks and valley’s for each of the mediums and their relevancy today. At the end of this discussion we will also form the teams that will make up our production crew.
Newspaper- 1690: Okay so this one dates back a little further. But for our purpose I’ll just point out that newspapers were the first form of affordable mass communication.
The Telegraph – 1830: Dots and dashes didn’t make for much entertainment but the letters formed from them sure made getting the word out a much faster process than going to press.
Still Photography 1838 – : This advancement was a real game changer. No longer did history have to rely on the talents, interpretations and style of a particular artist to capture the image of people, places and things.
Audio Recording1877 – Good ole’ Thomas Edison and his crew in his workshop figured out fascinating ways to actual capture and play back the spoken word or any other sound.
Film 1896 – : And then the pictures started moving! Now not only could you see images from the past you could now see them in action. * It wasn’t until 1919 that the sound and video were coupled together effectively by Lee DeForest who was also the genius behind the triode vacuum tube that led to the development of our next two advancements; Radio and Television.
Radio – 1920 (commercial radio): Okay so up until this point we could read stories in newspapers, pull a thousand words out of a single picture or watch a million silent films play out on the screen but now thanks to those magical wireless waves we could now hear music and voices from around the world.
Television: – 1947 (commercial): So now we could not only hear people and music but we could also see them too. This also led to a big game changer for the motion picture industry. Now people didn’t have to go to the movie theaters to see films. They could watch them from the comfort of their own homes.
Video Cassette Tape – 1970: Now it was possible to record the television broadcasts for playback at a later time. This technology really took off in the 1980’s.
Satellite Television – 1976: Although this tech didn’t really take off until the 1990’s due to equipment cost limitations the ability to transmit signals from space, free of the restrictions of terrestrial radio and television waves broadened the reach of the smallest network.
Internet: – 1995 (commercial) – The ultimate communication tool was released on the world. Literally the whole wide world. From it’s inception to today the Web has made possible nearly instantaneous communication possible between people on opposite ends of the planet. Increasing broadband and data streams along with more and more advancements in coding and compressing techniques have made audio and video transmission possible and mind blowing speeds.
Name your favorite form of mass communication and why it appeals to you the most.
Why is this important?
Now let’s create our crew teams:
Writers / Producers – Handles the main writing duties and planning as well as ensuring that everything needed for the production is ready to go (location, cast, props). This group is crucial to the production starting and continuing smoothly.
Camera / Sound – These folks are going to handle the actual production equipment including cameras, microphones, lights etc…) This group has the burden on translating and capturing what’s on the written page into the real world.
Editor / Graphics – Members of this team will be responsible for the post production equipment and second unit images, video, sound, and music. Once everything is shot the production shifts to these folks to put it all together. These folks are the cleaners so to speak. Their final artistic expression will add the final shine to the shoes.
Distributor / Marketing – Now that we’ve got a video we’ve got to get it out to the world. To clarify the Distributor in this instance is going to be responsible for finding and managing all distribution sites (i.e. YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook Fan Page). The Marketing person(s) wil be responsible for coming up with the clever copy (text) to describe the video as well as generating a press release to share on both social media platforms and to traditional media outlets. These folks are crucial to making the video appealing to the masses without the audience having seen even one frame.
Director / Assistant Director – These two folks are the President and Vice President of this production. The Director who is responsible for everyone on the crew. If something doesn’t get done the Director has to pick up the slack. The Assistant Director is of course there to help in all of these things and to serve as the second set of eyes and detail checker. A Director rises to this position through experience, artistic vision, a strong work ethic and even stronger managerial skills. The attitude, patience and talent of these two people are what make your project either a pleasure or a terror to work on.
*To note we are going to be moving at a much faster pace than what would be considered normal so don’t allow yourself to get frustrated as you learn something new. We’re a crew and in this together. But with that said also note that you don’t have to have all of these people to bring your project to life. In fact you can even do all of it by yourself but at the end of today’s workshop I think you’ll see how much fun and inspiring it can be when collaborating with others. But if you are a lone producer know that you can do it and knowing all the bases will make it much easier to make great work even as a solo act.
In this second hour we are going to do three very important things. In fact these are the most important things we will do all day.
First we’re going to brainstorm an idea for our video-
What will our video be about?
What type of video will it be? Silent, Documentary Style, etc…
Secondly we’re going to outline our idea. – Here we lay out the agreed upon idea in broad strokes to figure out the three acts of our play. We’ll work a little backwards in our thinking here. We’ll start with the end (what we want to accomplish) and then go back to the beginning where we describe the details of how we’re going to get to the end and then we’ll lay out the middle where we show our work. The process if you will.
Thirdly we’re going to write our script. – The script is a much more defined and refined version of the outline. Without a fine tuned script your heading for disaster. Even a silent film needs a script. This is where you get your first opportunity to work out details on paper before you shoot the first frame of video.
*Of course when shooting home videos or live events and gatherings it’s tough to plan everything out because of the spontaneity of reality. Even some scripted videos can find moments of “accidental magic” so please don’t misconstrue the need for planning with containing your creativity into a box.
Let’s write this sucker!
*Remember, we are writing a script for video so be very descriptive in what we should be seeing on screen.
*A writing rule of thumb: If there is going to be narration or an on camera person, dialog times out to 90 words per 30 seconds. That breaks down further to 9 lines featuring 10 words per line. This formula allows for a very natural pace and delivery for your announcer.
Why is this important?
Hour 3- Storyboarding and Rehearsing
Now that we have our script the second most important aspect for the creation of your video project is to “block” out the action and prepare the materials (equipment, props, cast) that will be needed.
Placing your primary equipment – Tripod – Camera – Microphone – Lighting; No matter the size of your production those four tools are essential to good quality video. Also drawing up a diagram of where everything is on set can help tremendously if you have to split the shoot up over several days.
A master shot list is also a very important tool and step you can take. This checklist can help make sure that no detail is missed.
Since we are working as a full crew everyone has a specific duty. And not unlike a larger production there will be times when each division may not be able to talk with the other and that’s where the script and story board will come in very handy. Plus the other members of the crew will be working too so professional courtesy dictates that you want to keep from interrupting them as much as you yourself don’t want to be interrupted.
*The storyboards do not have to be works of art. So long as they convey the major camera set ups and motions that you want. You can also use a digital camera (or smart phone) and some stand in actors to create your storyboard panels. The main thing is making sure they are accessible to the rest of the crew.
Rehearsing with actors is very beneficial for every member of the crew. One tip to remember however is to make sure the camera is rolling during these times. You never know when you might catch a perfect all be it accidental performance.
Create the Storyboard, Shot list and master equipment list
Hour 4 – Production
It’s time for ACTION! Believe it or not this is the second easiest part of the process. With
the pre production having been through you’ll find that when it’s time to shoot your crew is a well oiled machine. Everyone knows their part and roll. And if not that’s okay but odds are things are going to go pretty smooth.
Three set ups for each scene /principle actor is an incredible way to take your production quality to the next level. The three main set ups are the Wide – the Medium and the Close Up. It is also very important to note that when shooting your videos to “zoom with your feet” and not the camera’s built in zoom lens. To a point using that feature is okay however no matter how great the camera is you risk losing some fidelity of your image. Also using a zoom feature adds to the cameras potential to shake.
Another very solid rule to follow is to always use a tripod. Steady shots will always come across as more professional and clean. In the even that your action calls for some panning or tilting a good tripod is going to give you a much smoother end result than trying to follow the action by hand.
Audio can be even more important than the video. Not all consumer grade cameras are going to give you the option of plugging in an external microphone but if at all possible this is a feature that should be a must have when purchasing a new camera. In the event you do not have an external microphone available all is not lost but you have to use your ears very deeply. Turn off air conditioners and fans. Avoid high traffic or high wind situations. In the instance where you are going to be shooting an outdoor event plan on dubbing your audio or replacing your audio track with a music bed.
*Many off the shelf editing software programs will allow you to mix, edit or replace your audio tracks. This is a wonderful resource but do your best to be mindful of the sounds on your set.
*Another tip I would strongly encourage you to get in the habit of is not reviewing your footage on set. Video cameras make it easy to do this but it can lead to headaches and problems. The first being that you could accidentally erase or corrupt your footage. Secondly the potential for an actor crew member to become “too self analyzing” and as such want to get another take. That can eat up precious time and resources. Trust your camera person and your director as well as your editor. This is a team effort and the team isn’t going to let anything terrible fly.
Get everything shot with script and storyboards in hand. Also have a member of the writing staff designated to take notes to any “magic moments” or trouble spots that may have arisen during your shoots. This type of set diary can come in very handy once we get into Post Production.
Hour 5 – Post Production
Now that we’ve got all the ingredients for this soup let’s make the soup! At this point the Editor and Graphics person get to put everything together according to the script, storyboard, and set diary. It is highly recommended that only the director be involved in the process other than the Editor and Graphics person.. Again other crew members or actors could become problematic.
*While it is important to trust your equipment it is also important to be safe. If and when possible you should create an archive back up of all of your raw footage. Also if space allows on your primary editing computer making a copy on the original video and project files could be a saving grace. Externally is even better but regardless a back up is always a good thing to have.
Beginning Editors and Graphic Designers would be wise to remember a very important rule: Less is more. Having the luxury of three setups gives an Editor the ability to change perspectives often. If you pay attention to most every good video you see these days and count the cuts you’ll find that even the most mundane video has a crazy number of cuts. Also Graphic Designers while you may a wiz bang in Photoshop or other such programs keep it simple and clean. Too much or too busy can really take away from your project.
Music, Magic and More! While in most instances the writer and director have already laid out the music, sound effects and enhancements they want for a video as Editor and Graphics in Post Production you may find that something else works better. Play with it, try it out and experiment. However this is a team effort and collaboration as well as there being a deadline of some sorts so don’t make permanent changes without talking to the rest of the team and don’t insist on “playing around” too much. As a director I would encourage and appreciate this departments input but I would personally prefer that the original cut be completed first.
Credits are crucial. Everyone deserves credit when and where it is due so it is of the utmost importance that the Graphics person handle this duty with an extreme eye for detail. Make sure names are spelled correctly and proper title is listed. Also as a matter of personal taste may I stress keeping the major credits at the end of the video. Let’s face it opening credits are interesting to the crew and the crews family more so than anyone else in the viewing audience. Even your friends and colleagues want you to get to the point or action when watching a movie. Remember to always put your audience first. They will appreciate you for it.
This is it. The final stage of getting it all together and seeing the scripted page come alive. In this process it would also be a great time to make notes for the Marketing and Distribution team of the scenes that stand out the most and would be what your team considers to be the strongest element.
Hour 6-Distribution and Marketing
This part seems like it only applies to businesses. Not true. Every video must find its audience. Your organization needs sponsors or recruits to see it. Your family videos must get in front of the eyes of the family members that were either in the video or wanted to be but couldn’t. Plus you never know who you may inspire! Here is where the marketing folks get to shine!
The designated marketers on the team will now create the “sizzle” for the press that needs to accompany the launching of the video to the world. While a brief synopsis is necessary in promoting the video it is much more important to generate interest and curiosity about the video. So as you write your copy thing in line of open ended and teasing questions. Never pose Yes or no questions in your marketing materials.
Wrong way – Do you remember how much fun you had in class?
Better way – What was your most fun thing about being in class?
Seems simple once you thing about it but like most things you’ve learned today, I lot of things we simple don’t think about until someone points it out.
For the person handling Distribution your job is one of pure organization. Keeping up with sites, passwords and scheduling is no easy task. And if you are part of a group that is wanting to continually spread your wings and reach it is most certainly a bear keeping up with all of the new outlets that are becoming available every day. And with that said…
DO NOT TRY TO DO THEM ALL. Well not at first. Do yourself and our team a favor by mastering one outlet at a time. While it may appear beneficial to be everywhere it could actually hurt you and your message if you aren’t using the outlet properly or consistently. There is still a lot of truth and merit in focusing on Quality over Quantity.
The same message there rings true for the Marketing team members as well. While some marketing strategists say sending your message out everywhere is THE way to go, I again must disagree. Master your avenues. Press releases can be shared cross platform but do so sparingly. Otherwise your spamming folks. If your group has a newsletter or subscription email list great, forward it on but never do it blindly. Same thing with fax campaigns or traditional media outlets. If you haven’t made at least one real contact (be it face to face, phone, email, fax etc) don’t automatically start bombarding the entity with your stuff. Reach out to them yes but don’t just throw it away. Your teams message is far more important and valuable than to be categorized as junk mail.
Exercise – Let’s screen it! – Once we’ve got the video uploaded to youtube let’s have everyone in the class share the link however we can. Let’s see the response we get by the end of the hour.
Action – What should be the next video?
Also once you’ve created this video it is possible to take all of the raw elements and convert them for use in the other forms of mass communication that we outlined earlier. Imagine that, we’ve already done the main meat of the work and now we have content that can be repurposed for radio, television, print and so on. Efficiency!
So, are we going to carpool to the Oscar’s? If so I want to drive.
Thank you for allowing me to take you on this journey and I hope that it was only the first of many, many more to come.
About the Author
About the author and your director …
Jim began his professional mass communication career in 1990 while still in high school. Beginning with newspaper his interests morphed from that to radio, then television and finally the web.
Jim created this video workshop to empower folks of all ages to use video effectively in a fun and entertaining way.
Happiness. Enlightenment. My perspective on it so maybe my journey can help you too. I share this as a life long broadcaster who took my pledge of responsibility in informing and entertaining the audience in a very mindful and meaningful way.
Greetings dear readers! I’ve been adding some new fear to the site and would appreciate your help in testing the functionality of it all. What I’ve done as you can see at the top of the page on your PC or from the drop down menu button on your phone, is a link to a new shop page. There you find the freebies teased in the title.
It’s a very rudimentary listing for a “Paranormal Party Pack” that I’m offering for free to thank you for your time. With your “purchase” you get a feee pdf copy of the “Uncovering the Secrets of the Supernatural “ guide book as well as a video download of one of the original “Case files of the Ozarks Ghost Research Society” programs from way back in 2008. From the testing I’ve done on my end it all goes pretty smooth with a note that the video file is kinda big so it may take you a few minutes to download it. The book however is super quick.
I’ll be discussing my reasons for doing this in todays episode of the podcast if you care to listen. That episode should be at the top of the playlist found here on Jim’s Toy Box.
I truly appreciate you participating in this test and forever grateful for your ongoing interests in the machinations of my mind that will hopefully help expand yours!