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Author: Dutiful Scribe (page 1 of 6)

Owning It

An recent message exchange with a friend went something like this….

Friend: “…and for god sakes put your name on something”
Me: “I’m more public than I’ve ever been….”
Friend: “You deserve to own your content. If Ben Kuchera can do it, you can!
Me: “Oh, you mean like the Byline?”
Friend: “Yea.”
Me: “Thought about it. But when it’s a one man show, it’s weird having literally everything ‘by: Ben Dimagmaliw’.”
Friend: “I hear ya, no harm in a pseudonym for that use either. But just as an observer, seeing only “staff writer” makes it look a little fake. When Kuchera ran that game news site, literally very article was by him, and you know don’t be afraid to own it. In the proud sense, not the ownership sense. You are the extension of your brand after all, or vice versa.”
Me: “I see your point. Will look into an elegant way of doing it.”
Friend: “Hey…I really admire how much you put into it and people should know!”

As I’ve previously stated, I am normally not the most outgoing person in the world. I prefer to be behind the scenes rather in front of the camera. I’d rather let my work speak for itself. But we live in an age when self-promotion is every bit as important and for this reason, I have put myself “out there” more than I have ever before or am personally comfortable. Thus the design of the magazine site acknowledges ownership on the About page, but deliberately favored a “plural” persona in hopes of conveying a more “professional” image. The effect, at least to my friend, was the opposite; generic “editor-in-chief” and “staff writer” bylines worked against credibility. I equated showing who made the site with ownership, but owning it in the sense of being proud of what I have built and the articles I have written is just as vital for Indievisual’s overall presentation.

To be honest, putting my name on everything just seemed weird to me, maybe even a little embarrassing. However, my friend raises a good point: “I am the brand and the brand is me.” That is a fact I can not deny. Indievisual is a labor of love and as I have pointed out occasionally in the past–even in the exchange above–this is a one-man operation and perhaps that, too, needs to be a part of the overall image, not just explained in blog entries like this, but through communicating whose name is on each and every article and, most likely in the near future, photograph. I thought about my friend’s words for a brief period and considered perhaps playful pseudonyms, but in the end, a voice inside me just kept repeating, “Why not? What could be the harm?” Therefore, I have changed the settings on the backend of the site so that my name is displayed on the bylines of articles. In so doing, my intention is to reinforce the human element other one-person magazines, products, apps, etc. have advised to do in their own blogs, pointing to the importance of connecting with one’s audience as a human being which gives them a sense of personal investment in one’s efforts. People are most likely to root for an individual through thick and thin rather than some anonymous group. Given Indievisual’s core principle–to root for independent Japanese filmmakers and bolster their name awareness–my initial attempt at feigning an organizational structure now does seem silly at best, somewhat hypocritical at worst. Thanks to my friend, this has now been remedied.

Dreamhost v. DoJ

Back in August, Indievisual’s web hosting company reported a request they received from the Department of Justice to provide the data of visitors to a political activist site. Dreamhost respectfully declined, but was then met with an order to compel. Ultimately, they went to Superior Court and prevailed. Read the posts from Dreamhost to learn the complete details, but the TL:DR version is this: Dreamhost fought to defend/protect their user’s (and in effect all web users’) data from unreasonable and unjustified requests by the government.
Without taking this blog into the political arena, I wanted to acknowledge and applaud their efforts to keep the internet free of privacy exploitation whether by private, corporate, or political entities. Dreamhost is an independently owned and operated company which allows them to maintain a core set of values and a commitment to customers other companies funded by corporate or venture capital may not. Dreamhost has won an important skirmish in the fight for internet user rights by standing up to the Department of Justice and Indievisual is proud to be hosted with them.

Hal Hartley on independent movies in the digital age

In an interview with Emily Buder on on the site, No Film School, indie filmmaking pioneer Hal Hartley spoke frankly about the state of independent film in the 21st century. Surprisingly not railing against the present state of the industry, he had this to say:

From the beginning of cinema, models of production and distribution have changed almost every 10 years. I mean, filmmakers thought the end of the world was happening when sound was invented because there had been this whole silent movie thing, which made a lot of people millionaires and certainly famous. And then sound came along and this whole silent thing just fell off the edge of the earth. I remember, in my youth, when VHS tape and home video became a reality, everybody thought, “Oh my God, movies are finished.” But it didn’t really happen.

Things change. The internet and computers changed everything. As I continue to make work, I’m just trying to adjust my creative and business aims to this technological reality that keeps changing.

The interview also allowed Hartley to promote a Kickstarter campaign (now ended) to fund an HD restored, handsomely presented box-set of his Henry Fool trilogy (some of you might recall he made indie filmmaking waves by successfully funding the third in the trilogy, Ned Rifle, through Kickstarter). Since this was successful, Hartley will do the same with other movies in his catalog. As he reported in an update to his backers, “Reaching my existing audience as well as expanding that audience—reaching new audiences directly—that’s the aim. And with the success of this Kickstarter campaign I think we can lay the foundations for a small but effective business that will look after and distribute my films going forward.”

Much like his 1989 Sundance alum, Steven Soderbergh, who has been rolling and adapting with the times, Hartley seems to be conscious of the effort (and that is key) to utilize new technologies to their advantage; to stay creatively independent.

Side note: Hartley’s wife is actress Nikaido Miho who starred in the adaptation of Murakami Ryu’s Tokyo Decadence as well as Hartley’s own Kimono, Chain, and Henry Fool.

And so we put goldfish in the pool

Besides having one of the best promotional images of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Nagahisa Makoto’s And so we put goldfish in the pool also had a strong enough story and vision to take home the Short Film Grand Jury Prize.

Nagahisa’s script was selected as the inaugural project to be produced by the Moon Cinema Project (Japanese only), a talent development and production support initiative established by the Inoue [Umetsugu] / Tsukioka [Yumeji] Foundation headed by their daughter Inoue Amy.

Based on an actual incident which took place in 2012 at a Saitama Prefecture junior high school in which 400 goldfish were released in the school’s pool by four female students, Nagahisa’s movie attempts to explore the feelings and motives of the four girls. It can be said the movie’s visually striking style and expectation defying storytelling are what set it apart from other fare at Sundance (certainly not an easy feat).

The short is available online through its distributor, Koto Production’s Vimeo. Watch it right now here.