TeamJaded Zombie Apocalypse: a long (overdue) update

First off, apologies to anybody who got used to the daily updates in October. I had a lot more free time then, and I was experimenting with what a daily TeamJaded.com would look like. The updates slacked off because Abby and I got married on November 1st. Yes, you read right. Thank you. After the wedding we headed to Rome for our honeymoon. Both were awesome. So let that be the first status report for a post that will include many. I’ll link to pictures of the wedding and honeymoon when we have them.

I could have jumped back to daily updates when we returned, but I chose not to. Before the wedding, I was spending a little too much time scouring the web for anything to move the site just to satisfy the few people who randomly stumble here looking for Mac Dre information. And the updates about local skate events were purely self-satisfying. I don’t think any of it was worth the time. If I’m wrong about that let me know.

TeamJaded.com
is not a daily blog. I’d love to say that it will be, or could be, but that’s just not going to happen anytime soon. It is time for Abby and I to put our energy towards tasks a little more important like:

Earning some cash
Getting Jaded Multimedia off the ground
Updating JadedMultimedia.com
Moving Make It Happen to the next phase
and Starting Pre-Production on Mulch (much more on that later)

TeamJaded.com will continue to be what it has always been: a place where we share things that we think our cool. It will also continue to be the spot where we post updates about our company and our projects.

If you read the blog, then you know I was laid off from my web 2.0 gig in October. I used those first couple of weeks off to handle wedding details (and blog). After the honeymoon I started looking for work. It’s been difficult. I’m tempted to blame the recession. All the major players in my network are laying off (Current, Rev3, CNET). Luckily Abby is still employed so we have some income. However, San Francisco is an expensive town. If I don’t get some cash flowing quickly, then it’s going to be difficult for us to achieve anything on the list posted above.

In some ways we’re in a similar, if not slightly better position to the one we were in when we got back from the Make It Happen road trip last January. So please indulge me while I revisit that time. It will help to establish where we are and where we’ve been.

Abby and I left for the Make It Happen road trip in September 2007. We planned to travel the country and also shoot a collection of stories loosely tied to together by the concept of D.I.Y. We called the project Make It Happen. We honestly had no plan for what we were going to do with those stories when we were done. We were in Current TV “pod mode” and so we pre-produced them like pods. However, we both wanted to produce feature length documentaries. So half-way through the trip, and without any of the planning necessary, we decided that’s what we were doing. Four months into the project, we were exhausted and broke. Out of cash, we headed back to San Francisco with our Civic running off fumes and hours of footage that we didn’t know what to do with.

Some positive things about the trip were that we spent a lot of time with our families in Colorado and Louisiana. We hung out with some of our best friends in Austin, TX and New York City. We also worked with some incredibly eccentric (Lost Film Fest), creative (Okay Mountain, Bling Kong, Austin Craft Mafia), and inspiring people (Chuck Perkins, Lowcard).

…And most importantly, we got engaged on the Brooklyn Promenade.

We also learned a lot about ourselves. We learned about how to plan a long project and how not too. We learned our professional limitations. We planned too many shoots in too short of a time without considering how exhausting the road trip would be. By the middle of the trip we were burnt out. I believe the remainder of our work suffered because of it. That was a hard lesson, but we grew from it. We also became better crew people. When I look through the tapes, and then look at my work now, the improvement in shooting, lighting, and sound is mind-boggling. I believe that Abby feels the same way.

I wish that I could go back in time with the skills I have now and do it all differently. That is not to say that any of our footage is bad. I am incredibly critical of my own work. I can always look at what I’ve done and find ways that it should be better. With over a year between now and when we set off for America, it’s glaringly obvious to me what could have been, perhaps should have been done differently.

But I digress, Abby and I were also forever spoiled by our life on the road. Since we’ve been back we’ve both been ancy about civilian life and eager to hit the highways again. If we did, I’m not sure that we’d come back. Adjusting to the “real world” nine-to-six lifestyle has not been easy. I’m actually thankful for my lay-off for giving me a break from it.

What we did not learn, was how to fund a project as large as the one we undertook. For that matter, we did not learn a method to sustain ourselves long enough to finish it.

In January 2008 we got back to a rainy Bay Area broke and in need of shelter. (Full disclosure we could never have made it back without the financial help of our friends and family, especially my Dad.) Nobody would rent an apartment to us because we couldn’t provide proof of income. The last paycheck we had received was from Current TV for the Sisterz of the Underground and Displace Me pods. Neither of us had earned a “real” pay check for months. So, in San Francisco where renting an apartment is similar to applying for a job, complete with references and background checks, the landlords were just not having it. We were terrified that we’d be completely out of cash before we found either work, or a place to live.

Fortunately the job hunt was not as bleak for me then as it has been lately. I reached out to the Tech TV alumni list and that’s all it took. Before the end of our first week back, I had an interview at Seesmic. A couple of days later, we got lucky with the apartment search. We had literally been trudging through puddles auditioning for apartments for days when we finally found a landlord willing to give us the benefit of the doubt about our self-
employment. Strangely enough, we landed a place in a much nicer neighborhood than any of the ones we had shopped in before that day. Five minutes after we signed the lease, I got a phone call from Vinvin at Seesmic offering me a Preditor job.

Everything seemed to be going well, except for one tiny detail: Make It Happen was pushed to the backburner. Everything that had been our work, had been our lives for the last six months was pushed aside. Our freedom was gone. Our project was shelved.

Why? Well, in the two months that followed I worked consistent 60 hour weeks leaving me no energy to work on Jaded projects. Abby spent those weeks desperately searching for work herself, because even with the 60 hour weeks, my paycheck simply couldn’t support us. San Francisco is not cheap. I don’t mean to make it sound like we suffered, we did fine. But we were both scared, and the stress of hanging on in S.F. made us ever more exhausted.

Eventually Abby found work at Harper Collins. Then my hours dropped to a more “normal” rate. When the dust finally settled, it was time to plan our wedding. Make It Happen had already been on the backburner for months, so it stayed there. Planning a wedding is a monumental task, and it took everything we had up until the minutes before the ceremony to make IT happen. Thankfully we did. The wedding went great. Everyone who attended seemed to genuinely enjoy themselves. Abby and I certainly did.

With that said, as the year dragged on I began to feel increasingly bitter about the lack of progress on Make It Happen. I became dissatisfied with the work I was doing to earn a paycheck while our dreams evaporated. Increasingly I felt that we had made a mistake accepting full-time work, maybe even by coming back to the Bay Area at all because it is so expensive to live here.

Abby and I both began to feel that we should have held out for part-time gigs so that at least one of us could have worked on the project. I also began to feel very guilty because I thought the people we worked with were waiting for us to do something with the material. Scott Beibin and Lowcard Rob have each been in touch once. To that I say, it’s coming guys, please be patient with us.

I feel their pain. I come from a television background were material is turned around as quickly as possible. It eats me up inside to have all that footage sitting in dust covered external hard drives. BUT, we did everything we could have done. We took the jobs because we had to. We needed the money. For what it’s worth, my gig wasn’t a bad one, my heart just wasn’t in it.

The bottom line is that we chose to come back to San Francisco for a reason. The Bay Area is a hub for documentary filmmakers and also for do it yourselfers. We came back because we wanted to get involved in those communities, hopefully finding support for our work here. That decision carried a hefty price tag, which has kept us from enjoying the advantages we thought the Bay could provide.

That just about brings us to the present.

I’ve been busy during this time of post-wedding unemployment. Abby and I have talked quite a bit about where we are and where we might be going. We know this: we very much want to produce meaningful content that positively influences the world.

Our primary medium is video, so if we achieve that goal through feature length docs, web videos, television shows, or any similar means it’s fine by us. Now is the time to rally our creative energy and move in the direction we want to be going.

We want to work for ourselves. We want to produce meaningful content. We need to cut the Make It Happen stories and publish them in a manner that honors our subjects and also the work we put into them. We want to start production on a new feature length doc about deforestation of the cypress swamps in Louisiana, and the impact that deforestation has on people in the region.

The reality is that Abby is working full-time, and I am broke and therefore looking for work. It all comes back to money. It always does.

Now maybe you can see the similarities between the present and last January. We can’t survive off of Abby’s checks, not in this apartment, not in this city. So what do we do? How do we move forward creatively in this climate? How do we make progress on our projects when we can barely buy groceries?

What about our company? Jaded Multimedia was off to a good start before we left, but stalled out when we took full-time jobs. We have only about half the gear we need to run a legitimate production unit, but we’ve been able to rent and borrow when necessary to make it work. Therefore, what we really need is clients. To have clients we need to offer services. We need to figure out what those services are, update our website, and start reaching out to people.

At the moment our method to get the company off the ground is me looking for freelance gigs. I am doing this for the obvious reason of earning income, but also to increase our network, and hopefully learn more about the business side of things. My goal is to land enough freelance work to keep us afloat while building a sustainable business model beneath us. Once that is off and running we can go on to produce the meaningful work that we both yearn for so desperately. With so much at stake, I am cautious about getting into another full-time position that would further compromise our projects. However, it could come down that. I will do what I have to do to bring money into our house.

I have spent the last two weeks reaching out to everyone I know in the Bay Area production community. I’ve also sent out dozens of resumes answering ads for Producers, Shooters, and Editors on Craigslist and BAVC. So far I’ve had very little luck.

I applied for unemployment and was denied because they consider Jaded a full-time job. (More on that later.) So far the only gig I’ve found is a spec “audition” edit, which I’m working on now, and a temp position that I can take when I really need it. I’m also working on a new compilation reel, because the reel on Jaded is no longer fully representative of my abilities.

The good news for followers of TeamJaded is that I’m going to include work from the Make It Happen project in my new reel. That means that I’ve been digging through all that footage for the last couple of weeks. As I move along I’m setting up Final Cut Pro projects for each story and prepping them to cut after I’m done with my reel.

Lowcard and Lost Film Fest will be the first on the list. I cannot make any promises as to when that will be though. It depends on this spec job I’m working on, and whether it turns into a source for regular work. It also depends on how long it takes me to cut the comp reel, and if I can get other work coming in the meantime.

However, there is some PROGRESS ON MAKE IT HAPPEN.

I’m also researching documentary funding. I’d like to get back to researching the Louisiana documentary soon as well. I failed to mention that I started research on it a few months ago. Abby and I really want to do this one right. We are going to invest a lot of time into planning and research before we hype the project. With that said, we are doing that planning around everything else. In addition to all of that I’m trying to get into classes at BAVC to expand my motion graphics skills. (More on that later as well.) Abby is doing the honorable work of earning an income.

So that is where we stand. I hope you a
ll understand that although it doesn’t look like much is going on with us, there is actually quite a bit bubbling below the surface. We need help though. If you know of gigs in the Bay Area please pass them along. As always any tips about funding films is greatly appreciated. And any web designers out there who might like to contribute their skills to us for free, we very much want to revamp the blog and website.

Until next time…

4 Responses to “TeamJaded Zombie Apocalypse: a long (overdue) update”

  1. voa says:

    Congrats TeamJaded!!! We’re excited about the work you’re doing. The cypress swamps doc sounds like a relevant and important idea to explore. Can’t wait to hear more. Yeah, money. We will continue to put the word out about your crew. We may need some business cards. We are proud of you TJ. Keep us updated!

  2. Jeremey says:

    Thank you very much. It’s encouraging to us when people are excited about what we are doing. So thanks for you support. And we can send you business cards if you want them ha ha. We will definitely keep you updated on our progress.

    Is that VOA as in Voices of America?

  3. sarah says:

    I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

    Sarah

    http://www.thetreadmillguide.com

  4. teamjaded says:

    Hey Sarah thanks for your support.

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