By Jennifer Huang
After 6 weeks and more than a few sleepless nights, we're 33 hours and $157 away from the end! Like everything related to film, there is always more you can do --better outreach, networking with bloggers, press releases, cozying up to journalists, improving the video, cultivating more twitter followers, being a better friend and human being.
So I am going to focus on what we have accomplished --almost $12,000 raised --fingers crossed that the final funds make it in by tomorrow! Plus, a lot more people know about and support the project; plane tickets have been bought, lodging arranged. This crazy idea I had is really going to be a reality because almost 80 people believed in it enough to put their wallet behind it. That's so amazing to me. It makes me so happy I took the plunge; it gives me confidence to move forward with the support and encouragement of a whole community behind me. It makes it all very real.
On top of that, I've been so blown away by the generosity of the artists who are giving their work --Mia Nakano, who makes custom tintypes, soo cool, and my brother Jonathan Huang, who is making mugs and ceramic sculptures. Plus, Equal Exchange and their generous donation of chocolate. Amazing!
Even with the matching, the funds we've raised will actually raise only 80% of what we need for this first shoot. So if you're reading this after the indiegogo campaign is over, it's not too late to donate! Your gifts are always tax-deductible, and they will always be used with great efficiency and thrift to tell the stories of sex trafficking survivors.
Our first shoot is happening in February! If you want updates on the shoot please sign up for our newsletter. Thanks so much for your interest and support of this project --that's literally what has made it possible.
By Jennifer Huang
So much to be thankful for this year!
It looks like the development shoot trip will happen in early 2015, as planned. Stay tuned for updates! Thanks again for supporting the project and look forward for your honey bears soon!
I've been kind of MIA lately, burning the midnight oil to prep for my indiegogo campaign which I've soft-launched today. Doing crowd funding is such a great concept, but in practice it puts together all of my phobias --taking the stage, asking my friends and family for money, being open about my needs and dreams. It's all very insomnia making.
But I am so humbled and blown away by people's generosity. My friend Yuki, who was the first to donate. My friend Diana, who is starting up a business and doesn't have extra piles of cash exactly lying around, third to donate. And of course my friends Liz and Dan, who not only introduced me to my husband Doug, but have seen me in some of my lower points in life -- donated. I feel very undeserving, and also like I have a lot to live up to. It's true what they say, that the crowd funding creates a community, because I feel like I owe it to every person who donates to make every penny count.
When looking for perks, I remembered Equal Exchange, a great organization that works with local farmers around the world to make organic, fair trade chocolate, coffee, tea, nuts, etc. It's really high quality product, and so I gave them a call thinking I might get a bit of a discount. They did me one better, and are donating chocolate for the campaign!
I mean, it actually tastes even better than it looks, if you can believe it.
This is all part of what it means to be a documentary filmmaker these days. I thought it was about filming and editing, but so much of the stuff that happens around the outside of that --the fundraising, the relationships, the approaching of scary, famous people, the searching for a photo of yourself that you don't hate to post around the internet --that's just as important.
I am thinking about doing a podcast about the journey of a first time filmmaker. I don't know, would that be interesting to you?
Spent the morning at the Twitter for small biz workshop (#smallgoesbig) in their downtown San Francisco headquarters. Even though i'm not a for-profit business with holiday sales to drive, i just started really tweeting in earnest oh, last week, so i thought i could use all of the help i can get.
The whole experience was like a step into the other side of this fabled tech world we hear about. Free breakfast at this free event, with coffee and a fridge full of beverages (coconut water, yum!) heaping bowls of fresh fruit and yogurt, pastries. An incredible roof deck with a succulent garden that is just plain art. And a big ole cafe that i considered sneaking into when i went to the bathroom but a security eventually called me back upstairs.
I met a bunch of people from hootsuite, a woman who bought a bookstore in north berkeley called Bookish, a guy running the San Francisco Tea Festival, a woman who wants to do growth/expansion in texh startups, and an acquaintance from theexpatwoman --so that was fun. Talks were peppered with acronyms like CTA (call to action), CLA (cost per lead), ROI (return on investment), and lingo like lead gen (eration), and conversion (wha?). All the presenters looked under the age of 32, and there were 2 independent mentions of Sightglass coffee (#who'sthehipsterestofthemall). It reminded me that I actually really like meeting new people!
At two breakout sessions I learned about twitter "cards" which are just photos with a headline and a call to action that you can attach to a tweet (free to use!) and apparently generate 43% more "engagement" than text alone. You can also do lead generation cards, which gives you the contact info of a user when they click on it.
However, I just tried to sign up for Twitter ads, which you have to do to create a card, and I can't because my account is "ineligible." I can only take that to mean that I am too small potatoes. Which is true, but that's why I want to use the cards! Not cool, Twitter.
I also sat in on a talk from Square, the credit card payment company... Which could possibly come in handy some day. If you want to give me money using a credit card, I can now accept it!
What was most useful to me was the basic stuff that was mentioned almost in passing --personal engagement with followers should be 80% of your tweets. 80% of twitter access is mobile, so your site better be mobile friendly (mine isn't, argh!), follow hashtags to get involved in conversations (duh! Hadn't really thought of that. Lord i am old). There is more traffic on weekends so be sure to tweet then.
What a bubble. One of the presenters actually said, "there are 250 million users, so your audience is on Twitter. It is." And I am thinking well, there is AN audience, sure, but with 7 billion people on the planet there are still a lot of people who aren't on Twitter. So lets keep it in perspective.
Overall though, it was an informative day, and I have learned a bunch of ways to step up my game. Thanks for breakfast, Twitter!
Because it was already 1 am when I set my alarm, and also because I am an idiot, I woke up at 4 this morning to participate in a webinar about participatory video. I'm an idiot because the webinar didn't start until 5 am, but I got confused with British Summer Time vs GMT and before you know it, I was staring at my immobile computer screen, wondering why no one else had come to the party.
I passed the hour eating cereal and picking out new photos for my desktop wallpaper. Here's a random selection:
But I digress. The webinar finally started. Organized by InsightShare, it was an online gathering of people around the world to talk about legacy and lasting impact of participatory video. The InsightShare team had some great examples of NGOs in South Africa and Cameroon, including one group that has made video a central part of their identity. Insightshare has run more than 200 trainings and it's so inspiring to hear of people that have carried on the work. They also have a great blog discussing the question of legacy in PV.
Chris Lunch, one of the founders of Insightshare, also talked about how they are working on a PV app (so cool!) for tablets that will give people a simple entry point into the process, and they are developing a fellowship program, because it's usually one or two key people who keep these projects going in the long term.
We also heard from Jay Mistry of Project Cobra, a group that works with indigenous groups in Guyana. Project Cobra uses PV for topics ranging from tourism practices to local farming and fishing to community radio. Their participatory process is strictly for research, not advocacy, but they are looking for ways to expand their impact to the regional and national level.
To be honest, I was so sleepy I wasn't able to focus with my normally razor sharp mind (ha ha). But fortunately the whole session was recorded so you and I can go check it out --they'll post them in a couple days.
Here's a couple more links with PV projects, I haven't checked them out yet but sound like good stuff:
Plan International has supported Filipino children promoting climate change adaptation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1upkBQ0tOeM
Oxfam's PV project in Nepal:
To learn more about COBRA's work in documenting and sharing Community Owned Solutions using PV and PP you can download their Handbook here:
Child Led PV Project in Southeast Asia:
I just checked out an ebook from the library on my phone, Total Memory Workout: 8 Easy Steps to Maximum Memory Fitness. I thought the memory workout might help, because my mind is like my DVR, bookshelves, and closets: all filled up.
The last several months I have been doing all kinds of crucial, life-saving, incredibly dry and boring business stuff. Registering an LLC, finding a fiscal sponsor (a nonprofit that will lend me their nonprofit status so that I can accept tax deductible donations and grants), putting together this website, researching insurance, writing grants. Right. Painful. Nothing you want to make space for in your brain.
Today I went to file some more paperwork with the state --and I almost fell for a Nigerian-prince type scam. I got a letter that looked a LOT like a letter from the government, and since I knew I owe them some more money, I was literally on the verge of writing them a check. egads.
When I went to pay for REAL bill, which you CAN'T pay online, I ran into another question: the form asks for your "registered agent." This is the person who is designated to accept the papers you get served when someone sues you… Ya know, like on TV all the time. It turns out that this person is supposed to be available during business hours at their address, and if they aren't, you don't get your papers, don't know that you have to show up in court, and so you lose by default! So even if you do NOTHING wrong, someone can file a totally fraudulent lawsuit against you and you might not even know til you get the bill. This American Life did a show about this and I didn't understand why the people didn't show up for court. Now I do.
So the solution is to pay a business to be your registered agent. What did people do before the internet? I found a place in the Haight that for $50 will get served for you, and will accept and scan all of your mail so you can get it online. I figure $50 is cheap insurance against predatory lawsuits. Yes, I am paranoid. Our crazy litigious society has made me so. You should be, too.
So now I have a login and password for the registered agent, for the Franchise Tax board, for weekly and twitter and Facebook but also for Sparkwi.se, the dashboard that tracks all of my social media activity --and how is a girl supposed to keep all of this stuff straight? Hence, my memory exercises. If any of it works, I'll definitely let you know about it.